White Sox announcer gives play-by-play on finding success with cerebral palsy

The Axe Files, featuring David Axelrod, is a podcast distributed by CNN and produced at the University of Chicago Institute of Politics. The author works for the podcast.

Phoenix (CNN)He is one of the great young broadcasting talents in sports. But it's the obstacles Jason Benetti overcame to be the Chicago White Sox play-by-play man that truly distinguish him.

Born with cerebral palsy, a neurological disorder that affects body movement and muscle coordination, Benetti wasn't deterred from pursuing a path to sports broadcasting, though even he did not envision how high he might rise.
"I never had any aspirations of being a TV person," Benetti told David Axelrod on "The Axe Files," a podcast from the University of Chicago Institute of Politics and CNN. "I was self-conscious about it."
Benetti is a graduate of Syracuse University, whose public communications program has produced titans of the sportscasting industry such as Bob Costas and Mike Tirico. Benetti kept to radio during college, but support from his producers at ESPN pushed him toward television.
    "It was probably a couple years into it that I felt really OK on camera," Jason said. "And then at some point, I said, 'You know what? It's gonna look how it's gonna look. And whatever flows from that is gonna flow from that.'"
    What has flowed from Benetti's broadcasting career -- in addition to popular and critical acclaim -- is a public platform to articulate the struggles that people with disabilities face and demonstrate what is possible when looking past someone's perceived deficiencies.
    "My concern is that there will be people who are like me or like somebody else who are 'out-group' who won't be able to have the feeling that I've had," Benetti said. "To be able to embrace the thing they love because there were no barriers to that."
    "First-blush barriers," he elaborated. "First reaction detractions."
    Benetti was hired by the Chicago White Sox in 2016.
    Some of those struggles with perception came to the fore when then-candidate Donald Trump appeared to mock a reporter with a disability.
    "I never thought the person saying that would end up being the President," Benetti said. "It was hard, it was really hard for me, honestly, to see that happen and to see people rally behind it."
    Nevertheless, Benetti draws hope from his own journey. "Once people around me learned to look past their first reaction, my disability is gone to them," he said. "It's in all of us ... we all have the ability to go past our first reaction."
    To hear the whole conversation with Benetti, click podcast.cnn.com. To get "The Axe Files" podcast every week, subscribe at itunes.com/theaxefiles.