Joe Rodriguez: talking futbol in English

Hugo Balta

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“Diversity is more than race”, says Joe Rodriguez, Founder of El Tri Online as he recalls discussions and debates with colleagues at ESPN about how to best serve sports fans. “It’s also where you come from.”

Rodriguez drew from his experience living in Los Angeles, California in producing programs like SportsCenter, and coverage of soccer to the sports network based in Central Connecticut.

It was the lack of Mexican soccer at ESPN, Rodriguez told me in an interview on the “3 Questions With…” podcast that inspired him to create a platform that spoke to fans like him, bilingual and bicultural.

According to the 2019 State of Latino News Media, an analysis of media serving the Latino population in the U.S., most Latinos in America are English speaking or Bilingual. There are many media outlets across the country catering to Latinos, but mostly in Spanish. The study found that a majority of U.S. Latinos are American born, English dominant, and prefer to consume news in their native language.

El Tri Online produces updates and features in English about Mexican soccer and Mexican soccer players.

“Mexican players are learning English because they understand the value in being able to do interviews,” Rodriguez said in an interview last year with CTLN. “It allows us to put them in the spotlight here in the U.S. and it’s a stepping stone for those of us who want to feel included in the coverage of the sport that we love.”

SUGGESTION: Bristol entrepreneur bringing Mexican futbol to English language audiences

Despite being the largest growing demographic in the country, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, Hispanic/l-Latinos make up 18.3-percent of the nation’s population and are highly underrepresented in media. 

Rodriguez is also the co-chair of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ) Sports Task Force. In this role he mentors other sports journalists, and helps produce programming for events like this year’s NAHJ International Training Conference and Career Fair.

Rodriguez says the work of NAHJ is important because it advocates for better representation of a group that is increasingly driving the country’s population and economic growth.

A 2019 study by Sports Business Journal found that Latino sports fans are powerful. Latino sports fans are more likely to purchase products from companies that sponsor their teams or leagues than their non-Latino counterpart, 54% Hispanic/Latino – 48% non-Hispanic/Latino.

It’s been a busy summer for Rodriguez who’s been covering major soccer tournaments including to championship titles by CONCACAF arch rivals USA versus Mexico.

As much excitement as soccer fans have seen from the Gold Cup and the Concacaf Nations League final, Rodriguez says the best is yet to come with the final round of World Cup Qualifiers beginning in September.

Publisher’s Note: partners with El Tri Online in best serving Mexican soccer fans.