Sports Reporter Says Autism is ‘One of the Greatest Gifts a Person Can Have’

Ethan Hanson grew up obsessed with southern California sports. He daydreamed about them at school, read the sports section extensively every day, and wanted nothing more than to be a sports journalist. Hanson recently wrote a piece in the Record Searchlight about how he achieved that goal, and why his autism plays a big role in his success.

The sports reporter says he spent his youth imagining himself calling games, and when he met Hall of Fame Lakers announcer Chick Hearn, that dream felt attainable. Hearn, one of his idols, told him that if he set his mind to it, he could become a broadcaster. Fortunately, he was equipped with some special skills to get there.

Hanson writes, “Each man and woman with autism has a superpower. Mine is my memory. When I picked up those newspapers, I could memorize the box scores and statistics.

“Other kids made fun of me in elementary school because that’s all I ever talked about. I didn’t know anything about Spongebob Squarepants but I could talk for hours about Shaq and Kobe, USC quarterback Carson Palmer and why the Dodgers couldn’t beat the Giants.”

This skill took him far, as he covered more than 200 sporting events between 2011 and 2019 before interviewing for his first full-time job at the Record Searchlight in Redding. He says he was extremely nervous and couldn’t get his thoughts out properly. He even mispronounced regional names. Despite his nerves, his interviewers were impressed and gave him the job.


Though he says he struggles with loud noises and being crammed with people in certain crowded spaces, he’s managing. Since being hired on, he also overcame an intense fear of driving to gain his license, thanks to some tips a college professor gave him on overcoming the overstimulation involved. He said that was the last thing holding him back from an independent life.

Despite some challenges his autism has presented, he also thinks it’s a huge part of what has made him successful.

He writes, “Being autistic isn’t a curse. It is one of the greatest gifts a person can have. Mine, memorization, is critical to my job because I can take what I see from a game or subject and paint a picture with my writing. I love my job and every day I wake up happy. I love sports journalism and this community.”


If you’d like to read more about Hanson’s inspiring story, visit the Record Searchlight’s website.

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