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.