Pablo Torre of ESPN Speaks at Marist

Lily Caffrey-Levine

POUGHKEEPSIE—“This is going to turn into story time by the way” said Pablo Torre. The senior writer for ESPN visited Marist College this past week, sharing wisdom from his experience working in sports as well as advice for college students of any major, all with an entertaining charm.  Torre talked to students about working in sports, and their importance in society.

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Introduced by the interim director of the Center for Sports Communications, Leander Schaerlaeckens, Torre explained that being a sports journalist was not always his plan.  Raised by a urologist and dermatologist in New York City, Torre’s initial plan was to become a doctor.  He realized, though, that he was not passionate about math and science, and attempted to enter law school.  After taking the LSAT and receiving an unsatisfying score, he took a job at Sports Illustrated as a fact checker. This lead to an enjoyable, unexpected career in sport journalism.

While working at Sports Illustrated, he wrote his 2009 award winning article, “How (and Why) Athletes Go Broke” one of his more notable works.  The piece was later recreated into the ESPN 30 for 30 documentary “Broke.”  Torre said that while working on this article, he realized he really enjoyed what he was doing.  

While working at Sports Illustrated, he pitched a story about Jeremy Lin.  Torre grew up as a New York Knicks fan and Lin has been recently drafted by the Knicks.  Both attended Harvard College overlapping a year, and the fact that Torre and Lin are both Asian American, it lead to a surreal momentt of realization, one that Torre compared to “living in a computer simulation.” 

Touching on some of his early experiences in sports writing, Torre talked about the importance of using what he knew to his advantage.  Although he majored in sociology, he said that his major did instill the value of research, reporting, and being rigorous with research, which helped him as a fact checker at Sports Illustrated.

Torre talked about his transition from sports writing at Sports Illustrated and later ESPN to working on television. Once again, he accredits his hard work and research to his successful transition.  His first television appearance was on “The O’Reilly Factory” to discuss the Olympics. He explained that, although he was not an expert on the Olympics, he was not going to turn down the opportunity.  Torre on the Olympics, another theme often found amongst college students. “If you throw me into a deep pool, at least I’m going to float,” said Torre.

After being hired as a writer for ESPN, he began to take on larger roles on popular sports television programs such as “Around the Horn” and “The Sports Reporters.”  Torre stressed that it is important to learn how to do different things. He elaborated, saying that people in any field take vacations, and someone needs to fill in.  Being able to at least float in the deep end of a pool can help you get to where you want to go in your career. 

As students in the audience asked for advice, Torre elaborated on the importance of a social media presence. He said that it was his Twitter persona that helped him to have a role on TV through his personality being discovered on the site.

These tools of the trade have proven useful for Torre, as he and fellow ESPN sports journalist Bomani Jones have their own show coming to ESPN in January.  The audience left not only with interesting stories of his career this far, but also advice from his own experiences on ways to help their careers and have fun doing it.