Alex Roux scores success in journey from DI Sports to Big Ten Network

By Adam Rosen and Lisa Chasanov

Each University student chooses to live and learn in Champaign-Urbana for their own reasons — to attend a prestigious degree program, participate in a vivid and exciting social life, see a new part of the world or even participate in a generational family tradition.

For 2016 University graduate Alex Roux, the University seemed to be the only option from the very beginning.

“I chose U of I because of the proximity I had my entire life,” Roux said. “I grew up in Champaign. I was born and raised an Illini fan and really lived in that bubble. There weren’t too many other options I seriously considered.”

Roux explained that his high school sports career was not quite impressive enough to land him a prestigious athletic scholarship.

“The only other thing I really did think about was a small Division III basketball school, but I knew my career was coming to an end,” Roux said. “It was probably best to put that out of its misery.”

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    While working on his bachelor’s degree in sports management at the University, Roux found time to try his hand at sports writing. The now-professional sports journalist got his footing as a member of the sports section at The Daily Illini. 

    “I had a knack for writing,” Roux said. “I would consider myself a sports media junkie, reading authors like John Feinstein and learning from Will Leitch, who passed through The Daily Illini.”

    Roux currently works at BTN in Chicago, crediting his time at The Daily Illini with enabling him to grow in the media world. Roux said that the experience of covering sports at a school in the Big Ten paved the path towards a job covering the entire conference. 

    “The Daily Illini is what made this possible, it gave me a platform to cover Big Ten sports basically from scratch,” Roux said. “I was able to hear about the opportunity at the network and end up there because I started to look for ways I could stand out covering Illini sports and separate myself from my peers and other local media.”

    Roux took a recruiting angle in his work at The Daily Illini, which he says prepared him for a career in sports reporting. 

    According to Roux, he had an edge against his competitors in the field because he constantly sought out information about where recruits were leaning. The Champaign native explained that he was able to grow a following on Twitter due to his keen interest in recruits across the country.

    “I took (social media) more seriously in the first several years out of school,” Roux said. “I’ve been out of U of I for almost seven years now. In the first several years, I was really trying to build my profile up and still maintain a presence on Twitter to stay relevant.”

    Roux explained that social media was not just a springboard for his sports reporting career, but a means to express himself and engage with the community.

    “Relevance in the social media news is like a personal pursuit, and that was really being sprayed on Twitter,” Roux said. “Even now, I still tweet out memes or just reactions to sports events in the world in order to keep my page fresh.”

    Roux leaned on his experience and ability as a writer in order to build a social media audience, which helped him to launch his career at BTN. Roux credited his friend and fellow Illinois alum Taylor Rooks for his help in achieving his prestigious position.

    “It’s because of the connections I made while there,” Roux said. “Taylor Rooks is now at Bleacher Report and Amazon — she was a few years ahead of me at U of I. We were friends (from college) and she was leaving her BTN job as I was getting out of school. She was able to show the door for me.”

    Roux’s day-to-day role with the network requires him to oversee BTN’s lineup for media personalities. Additionally, he works to create content for others through the network as well as brand content and partnerships.

    “The way Twitter has changed now has kind of coincided with my own advancement in my career,” Roux said. “I have different priorities now. My current day-to-day role is overseeing our data network lineup of personalities, so it’s really about making great content for others.”

    Roux explained that along with cultivating an image and brand for himself, he now uses his social media to contribute to his partnerships and professional relationships.

    “For me now, as opposed to worrying too much about what I’ve put into the space myself, I have other responsibilities that involve corporate partnerships and working with brands to create content,” Roux said.

    Roux also said he wants to not take things too seriously, dipping instead into the fun side of sports, which is why people scroll on social media.

    “My personal talents involve maintaining (Twitter) to this day, I want to not take things too seriously,” Roux said. “We give things the appropriate weight when something serious or meaningful happens, but also lean into the fun side of sports.”

    Roux said that sports evoke a variety of emotions for viewers, explaining that the role of sports journalists is to be there for their audiences through all of it.

     “People scroll and follow their teams to have fun or also to share maybe some mutual misery of when teams lose or things don’t work out,” Roux said.

    Roux can be reached on Twitter at @a_roux.


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