Do Americans Have SportsCentre Envy?


I was fortunate enough to spend enough time south of the border when ESPN was guys like Dan Patrick, Keith Olberman, original Chris Berman, Bob Ley, Charlie Steiner. ESPN ran against CNN’s Nick Charles and Fred Hickman. There was only 1 ESPN and the nightly Spors Center was awesome.

So much has changed in so little time.

So much so that a writer for The Wall Street Journal was left a little envious on a recent trip to Toronto:

“ESPN’s “SportsCenter,” which debuted some three decades ago, grew into a cultural icon in the U.S., spawning network superstars and sister broadcasts around the world. Its theme music is instantly recognizable to millions of sports fans.

But critics have complained it has lost some of the panache of its heyday in the 1990s. Meanwhile, a handful of competitors offering up their own sports-highlights broadcasts have piled in.

Now, Canada’s version of the program is trying to reinvigorate the genre.

That from an article entitled “Why Can’t We Have Canada’s SportsCentre?”

It’s a rather funny article if you are familiar with the Canadian product especially when it critiques, or “praises” the hosts:

It is a loopier, freer-flowing affair—with substantially more hockey coverage—than its bigger American cousin. And it is wildly popular north of the border.

Co-anchors Jay Onrait, 37, and O’Toole, 36, have become national celebrities in Canada, akin to the star status afforded SportsCenter stars Keith Olbermann and Craig Kilborn in the U.S. in the 1990s. YouTube clips of the pair’s antics have racked up hundreds of thousands of views

Oh, it’s loopier alright!!

Isn’t that just a polite way of saying it’s very Canadian?

“ESPN defends its flagship U.S. show. “We certainly do encourage personalities on the air,” said Mark Gross, a senior vice president and executive producer at ESPN’s SportsCenter. “Where we can fit in some humor along the way, when appropriate, we do it. But we’re conscious of not trying to force it. We don’t have comedians working here.”

I love that last line the best.

Personally, I think it’s a combination of two things. ESPN has changed dramatically from the good old days (and good help is just plain hard to find) and of course the grass always being a little bit greener.


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July 19, 2012 7:59 pm

Unlike when former stand up Rich Eisen was there.

I guess now, having a schtick doesnt make you a comedian. Booyah!

Jim Todd
Jim Todd
July 19, 2012 9:29 pm

“SportsCentre—using the British spelling” – also using the Canadian (and the *correct* ) spelling.

July 20, 2012 4:36 pm

Yeah, what’s not to be jealous of SportsCentre? 20 minutes CFL, 30 Minutes NHL, and 10 minutes for MLB/NBA/NFL highlights !

July 20, 2012 5:19 pm

I’m surprised that so many people still pay attention to it. Once upon a time you had to sit through all or most of it to wait for the information or video you wanted, but those days are long gone. I’d have thought by now it would have become as antiquated and irrelevant as the guy in the plaid jacket on your local TV station’s six o’clock news reading scores from games that happened the night before.

July 21, 2012 8:13 am

BTW, TSN and Sportsnet will almost certainly have fewer potential viewers in the near future. The CRTC is compelling cable and satellite providers to give us more choice in what individual channels we can elect to pay for. A significant percentage of the population who are not sports fans will almost certainly choose to not pay if they can, meaning the rest of us will pay more, maybe $10 a month or more if getting TSN alone outside of a package of other channels, according to this story.

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