Jason Benetti on AA Podcast Credit: Awful Announcing

Jason Benetti has packed quite a lot into his professional broadcasting career. The Syracuse grad has worked for just about every major network and broadcaster, calling football, baseball, lacrosse, hockey, and basketball. These days he calls national games for Fox Sports and recently ended his eight-year stint as the TV play-by-play announcer Chicago White Sox to do the same for the Detroit Tigers.

At a young age, Benetti was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, which impacted his mobility and balance. While it created many issues and struggles for him, it also is a big part of who he is and where he is today. That he feels comfortable on camera is no small thing for someone dealing with the condition, and the broadcaster is extremely proud, not only for what he’s accomplished but also for what it could mean to someone else out there dealing with a similar situation.

“It means the world to me and I hope it means something to anybody who is different,” Benetti told Brandon Contes on the Awful Announcing Podcast. “I hope it means that people who get poked fun at as a kid for whatever they have, right? I hope that gives them the opportunity to say, ‘Eh screw it. I’m gonna go perform anyway. I’m gonna go be in front of a camera. I’m gonna go dance for a living. I’m gonna go do stand up, I’m gonna go do whatever it is because it doesn’t matter what I look like.’ And so, yeah, it means a great deal.”

The Tigers play-by-play announcer added that he’s always been worried that someone would hire him out of a sense of pity rather than based on his talent and merits.

“To everybody who’s been part of my career, it’s a huge thank you. But then beyond that, I’ve always had the fear that somebody might give me a job just because they like the story or because they think it would win them points or they feel sorry for me,” said Benetti. “I’ve mentioned once or twice in speaking engagements but, I became the sports director at WAER, the radio station in Syracuse, the college radio station. I became the person in charge as a student, as one senior is every year. Somebody put up on their away message, on AOL instant messenger, gosh, we’re old… his away message, because he wasn’t happy that I gave him some assignment, was at least he’ll be a great story in somebody’s magazine one day.

“And so like, when you have a history of those things, I know people probably get tired of hearing me talk about my disability, but it’s part of me and it has created substantial emotional swings. But to not just be a great story for somebody’s magazine and to have reached the point of the caliber that two places, one national and one team would say ‘No, no, no, we want you,’ in the old “Uncle Sam” poster sort of way that, that means the world to me. And it means that there is hope for people who are different, I guess.”

While Benetti has worked hard to feel comfortable in front of the camera, that wasn’t always the case.

“There are old college roommates and friends of mine that could tell you that, to do a 30-second on camera around a package in one of our newscast classes, it would take me like 45 minutes,” he said. “Because I was so mad at myself for my hands or the way I said it or I was nervous and I was going too fast or going too slow or I didn’t like this one or let’s do it again. And it’s just like, dude, shut up. I don’t know how they put up with it.

“I’m glad we didn’t do it on cellphones because those things would exist still. They’re on old DVC Pro tapes that nobody will ever find. I had no interest in doing TV. Like, there are a bunch of TV stations for students at Syracuse and TV opportunities and there was no chance I was doing that. None.”

Listen to the entire podcast interview here. Subscribe to the show on Apple PodcastsSpotify, and wherever you get your podcasts. For more content, subscribe to AA’s YouTube page.

About Sean Keeley

Along with writing for Awful Announcing and The Comeback, Sean is the Editorial Strategy Director for Comeback Media. Previously, he created the Syracuse blog Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician and wrote 'How To Grow An Orange: The Right Way to Brainwash Your Child Into Rooting for Syracuse.' He has also written non-Syracuse-related things for SB Nation, Curbed, and other outlets. He currently lives in Seattle where he is complaining about bagels. Send tips/comments/complaints to sean@thecomeback.com.