After graduating in 1986 with a B.S. in journalism, Rob Parker translated his skills into a decades-long career in sports journalism, starting at a Pennsylvania newspaper, but quickly landing a job as a sports reporter for The Daily News in New York City. Later, he was the first Black sports columnist at the Detroit Free Press and Newsday, and worked for ESPN Radio. He is now the co-host of The Odd Couple with Chris Broussard and Rob Parker, on Fox Sports Radio, and sports columnist for Deadspin.com. Parker is also an adjunct professor of journalism at University of Southern California.
How was your first working experience after you graduated from Southern?
It was different not being in school any more, you know, having a job. But I enjoyed it. And I embraced it. I had bigger goals and aspirations, but it wasn’t like I thought it was all going to happen overnight. It was just like, OK, this is what you have to do. Experience small-time newspapers, building your experience getting reps, writing more and more game stories and columns. And it was crazy because I only lasted there for five months. And then I got hired at The Daily News in New York.
Do you have a favorite reporting moment?
I’ve had 37 jobs in 36 years. I’ve done everything and worked for everybody. But the job that’s most dear to me is when I became the first Black sports columnist at the Detroit Free Press. The paper was 161 years old when they hired me. They never had a Black sports columnist.
As a practicing journalist and a teacher, what advice would you give to students?
My advice is to learn as much as you can. Be versatile. And adapt to what’s happening before you. The reason that I’m still as viable now, 36 years later, as I was 25 years ago, is that I’ve adapted. And I think that’s what you have to do. You have to adapt to the time as times move and things change; you need to move and change. That’s how you stay relevant.
I think the reason most people don’t succeed in life is because they’re afraid to fail. And you can’t be afraid to fail, especially when you’re young, and you’re out there trying. Bump your head a couple times, try something new. Don’t be afraid.
Can you tell us about the scholarship you started at SCSU?
I’m here to inspire students at Southern Connecticut State University, plain and simple. I want them to know that they can come from this school and work anywhere in the country and be anything.
I think it’s important to see people who were in the same classrooms you are in and say, that guy made it to ESPN, that guy made it to Fox, that guy wrote for The Daily News in New York. And he was on this campus and learned here. (See details about the scholarship here.)
Interview by Tyler Fisher, SCSU JRN ‘23. Answers were condensed and edited in 2022.