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What we learned about applying sports journalism to risk taking

Jason Benetti is a compelling figure in sports media for two key reasons: he’s risen through the ranks to become the television announcer for his hometown team, the Chicago White Sox, and he has cerebral palsy, a neurological disorder that affects muscle coordination, movement and balance. At a recent event in DRW’s Chicago office, Jason shared how living outside of his comfort zone has propelled him to think differently and be more successful.

Before his talk, Jason sat with a small group of DRW employees (and baseball fans) to reminisce about some of his early career milestones, including his first minor league baseball games in Auburn, New York. He shared one particularly memorable bus ride, “longer than any person should be on a bus,” when the driver stopped for 30 minutes for a bite at a roadside diner, leaving the entire team on the bus. A less than auspicious start to his career, but a good lesson about putting in the hard work and long hours to get where you want to be.

Jason first became interested in sports at a young age. Playing the Madden NFL video game and attending games at Chicago Stadium and the United Center, he was drawn to the strategy and high energy of sports. Growing up as an avid Sox fan in a South Side Chicago suburb, Jason spent years listening to the announcer he now calls a colleague, Ken “the Hawk” Harrelson.

As he progressed into sports media, Jason attained many notable achievements, including calling his very first game on ESPN and, most importantly for him, his first game as the Chicago White Sox announcer, just 20 miles north of where he’d first started calling games at Homewood-Flossmoor High School. His most memorable moment was a Sox home run in the eighth inning to come back against the Cleveland Indians that drove him to tears for first time in his career. His emotional reaction initially worried him – and put him way outside the traditional comfort zone – but then he realized that kind of release is sometimes the “fun of the performance.”

Diligently preparing (for Jason, this mean 50+ hours of prep per game) and using that preparation to move with precision and make quick analytical decisions is something Jason prides himself on as a sports announcer. That type of preparation is a cornerstone of working in the financial markets too. His advice to us? Moving quickly matters, but you must keep your eyes on the bigger picture and think creatively through the process, even if that means pushing yourself to do something new. He offered as an example the time he called a basketball game from underneath the basket on the baseline – a nearly impossible task given what you can see from there: “If you make it tough on yourself, you can force yourself to do a little bit extra.”

Thank you to Chicago native Jason Benetti for wrapping up this year’s speaker series, which brings our employees big ideas, breakthroughs of interest and exceptional people doing exceptional things from outside the company.