The New York Times recently ran a feature story on sportscaster Mike Tirico, in which a question that has loomed for some who’ve read about him over the course of his career comes up for conversation. A remark Tirico made in the press 26 years ago undoubtedly left some scratching their heads and wondering how it is that the Queens, N.Y. native doesn’t consider himself Black.
During what would turn out to be Tirico’s 1st of 25 years with ESPN, he was covered in a piece published by The Post-Standard (a Syracuse publication).
But, you know, in my whole family, there’s nobody I know who is black.” He’d go on to explain that he is the biological child of an Italian home, and claim that he has never found a photo of his parents, Donald and Maria, or any of their relatives, that would reveal that he has any Black (or African American) ancestry.
“Does it matter to me? Yeah, I’d like to find out the truth at some point, so I can answer questions for my kids. But me? I’m living, I’m working, I’m leading an upstanding life. I don’t worry about it,” Tirico said at the time.
Fast forward from 1991 to 2017 and in the NYT piece, titled, “Mike Tirico Would Like to Talk About Anything but Mike Tirico,” Tirico’s response to questions about his race show that he may have never actually done the digging he supposed he’d someday get around to doing about his African features, and if he did, it didn’t have an impact on how he sees himself in the mirror. The gentle and well-respected journalist rather submits to the notion that it should not matter what color his skin is, so to him, it simply doesn’t. “Why do I have to check any box? If we live in a world where we’re not supposed to judge, why should anyone care about identifying?” Tirico told the Times. “The race question in America is one that probably never produces a satisfactory answer for those who are asking the questions,” he says