The San Francisco 49ers home opener on Thursday will also celebrate Latino Heritage Night as both the team and league want to do more to acknowledge their Latino fans as well as the players and staff in the NFL. One way the 49ers are growing their global audience is by broadcasting their games in Spanish to fans around the world.
"It's amazing, it's something really special, a dream come through," said Jesús Zárate, who does play-by-play for the team in Spanish. He started working for the team in that role beginning in 2018. "In sports, football in this case, brings everyone together, no matter where you're from."
Born in Mexico, he became a fan early on in life after his father gave him a classic team gold jacket. He moved to the Bay Area in elementary school and went on to study sports broadcasting at San Francisco State University.
"It's very important to make people feel a part of this and I think the 49ers do a great job with that," he told KPIX.
Zárate says it's a special responsibility to connect the team and this sport to fans across Latin America. Through social media, he has heard from those listening in to his live broadcasts in Mexico, Costa Rica, and Spain. But even though he takes his job seriously, he still has moments working for the team that bring out the childhood fan.
"During game days we always have like Jerry Rice on the sidelines and when you look at him, it's like unreal, that's Jerry Rice, that's the G.O.A.T.," Zárate said.
As part of the programming planned for Latino Heritage Month, the 49ers will have Latin artists perform as the entertainment during the game on Thursday. Zárate has developed his own style and leaned into his culture to make the broadcast connect with its global audience.
"I'm like, okay, 'Adios Todo Mundo,' which basically means 'Goodbye Everybody' and then 'Touchdown 49ers!'" he explained about his signature call for major plays during a game. "When you say 'touchdown,' everybody understands it no matter what language they speak."
You can listen to Zárate on the team's website or by downloading the team's app.
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