During Black History Month, the Women’s Sports Foundation is highlighting some of the African American female champion athletes, coaches and members of the media who are leading the way for the next generation of black girls and women.
A college basketball and WNBA reporter and analyst for ESPN, LaChina Robinson has successfully navigated the challenges of working in a male-dominated sports broadcasting industry. After a standout basketball career at Wake Forest University, she worked in basketball administration at Georgia Tech University before pursuing her dream of becoming a reporter. The rest is history – Robinson has become a fixture on ESPN’s college basketball and WNBA broadcasts, covering everything from the WNBA draft to the NCAA Women’s Final Four and serving as a social media correspondent for the NBA’s Playoffs and Draft.
WSF caught up with LaChina as part of our monthlong celebration of black achievement to discuss her passion for basketball and sports media, breaking barriers as a woman in a field that men have traditionally dominated and what Black History Month means to her.
WSF: How did you initially get involved in sport?
LR: I had two older sisters that played basketball but it wasn’t my thing. I was 6’4 at 14 years old so of course everyone always asked me if I played. One day a guy named Michael Johnson came by my house and mentioned that I could get a college scholarship. That is all it took for my mom to change her tone. I was at practice the next day, and basketball has been a big part of my life ever since.
WSF: When did you know that you wanted to have a career in sport after your playing career was over?
LR: I knew my senior year that I wanted to stay around the game. The thought of not playing anymore, of basketball not being a part of my life was a painful one. So I started my career in athletics administration at the college level and in my late 20’s made a pivot into sports broadcasting.
WSF: What drew you to sports media?
LR: I was drawn to sports media because it combined so many of my passions and natural abilities. Covering women’s basketball would allow me to give back to the game that means so much to me while also having an impact on the lives of young woman as a role model and vision of what they can be after sports. I was also a natural talker and felt energized by the game environment — I am at my best when calling a game.
WSF: What are some of the challenges that you face working as a woman in a male-dominated industry?
LR: The challenges we face as women in male-dominated industries and more specifically for me, covering a women’s sport are many. It all stems from the lack of value our society places on women as a whole. Whether we are fighting in salary negotiations, or for equal resources and respect for the sport you are covering, it’s an uphill battle, but one that I welcome.
WSF: During basketball season, what does your schedule look like? What do you most enjoy about your job?
LR: My schedule is crazy during basketball season. I am watching film, attending shootarounds, crunching stats, reading stories, learning team tendencies, studying conference trends, analyzing the national landscape, taping a podcast, booking travel, turning in expenses, prepping for special events, posting on social media, it never stops! That brings me to what I enjoy most, working hard to bring women’s basketball fans, coaches and players the coverage that they deserve. Only 4 percent of sports media coverage is dedicated to women, I am going to make sure that I do my part with excellence so we can move the needle.
WSF: At WSF, we admire the work that you and other female sports journalists are doing to pave the way for more women to break into the field. What is it going to take for more women – especially more women of color – to get into what has traditionally been a space primarily occupied by white men?
LR: It’s going to take people that are in positions of power giving women of color a fair chance. Going the extra step to make sure there is a diverse pool of candidates when opportunities open up, diversifying the room of decision makers, and cultivating a culture where their organizations look like the rest of the world.
WSF: February is Black History Month. What does the month and all that it celebrates mean to you?
LR: Black History Month is a celebration of the spirit of black men and women who have had to fight for everything they have. Their right to freedom, to vote, to live, to be educated, to be equal. We elevate black people during this month as an inspiration to anyone that feels suppressed, denied, unwanted or uninvited. You can STILL RISE and accomplish greatness in this world, just as we have seen black men and women do since the beginning of time.
Covering women’s basketball would allow me to give back to the game that means so much to me while also having an impact on the lives of young woman as a role model and vision of what they can be after sports.
WSF: Is there an African American woman – either from history or today, either in sport or not – that inspires you?
LR: Wilma Rudoph! What a story! She went from being paralyzed and disabled as a kid to the fastest woman in the world. How inspirational is that journey? Keep the faith, even when it looks impossible you never know what God has planned for your life!
Want more Black History Month content from some of the top women in sports? Check out these other women talking about the celebration (the list will be updated throughout the month):