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ESPN show changed our culture

September 23, 2012
By CRAIG REMSBURG - Senior Sports Writer ( , The Mining Journal

It's a milestone not every sports fan knows about.

ESPN has aired its 50,000th telecast of "SportsCenter," the network's show of highlights, news and analysis that has changed this nation's sports culture.

Instead of just watching a sporting event on television like they did more than 30 years ago and then seeing a wrapup during a few minutes on the local news, viewers can now see game highlights as soon as a contest is over.

Studio analysts - often former college or pro athletes - break down the game(s). "SportsCenter" also invites debate with the opinions expressed by its studio sportscasters.

It has changed the world of spectator sports, so much so many people now watch "SportsCenter" instead of reading game stories in a newspaper. The latter has had to report games differently through personal features and other methods.

As Scott Van Pelt, a veteran anchor on the show, says, "It's just where you go when you want to know what happened and why it happened."

What sports fan has not heard of "SportsCenter's" Top 10 plays? It's a regular, popular feature that highlights the previous day's top plays, ones that often make you say "wow."

Athletes who make the list revel in the inclusion, knowing they've "made it" when they've been highlighted on "SportsCenter's" Top 10.

It's probably a badge of honor for those athletes for weeks.

That list, of course, eventually spawned the Not So Top 10 plays, where flubs/mistakes by athletes are showcased. These can sometimes be more entertaining than the regular Top 10 list.

To top it off, "SportsCenter" now has a feature in which viewers can vote on the best Top 10 or Not So Top 10 play of the day, week, or longer.

A youth trying to jump over a golf cart who got his shorts snagged in the attempt was the No. 1 Not so Top 10 event for a long time.

It's also nice to turn onto ESPN - either during "SportsCenter" or a game being televised live - and finding a score updates on various college or pro games running at the bottom of the screen.

A sports fan can keep up with what's going on across the country when the games are being played.

Another feature of "SportsCenter" is the list of topics to be covered at the left of the screen. It enables the viewer to stay tuned if interested, or simply turn to another channel if not.

The network often spends too much time on the New York Yankees, New York Giants, New York Jets and the Boston Red Sox. But it's not too surprising, considering ESPN is based out of Connecticut and the East Coast no doubt holds a huge viewer base.

In addition, too much time is spent on talking and not enough on game highlights. Maybe that's because so much TV air time has to be accounted for.

Maybe in the future, the viewer could personalize "SportsCenter," where only the topic(s) he or she is interested in could be broadcast into their home.

In my household, "SportsCenter" is the first TV show to be viewed every day, either in the morning before school or work, or later when sports events are held.

I'm sure The Lovely Linda Lou is tired of turning on the TV and finding the channel that first appears is ESPN. She'll just have to continue to turn the channel to the show she wants to watch, though.

It's just the way it is and won't likely change any time soon, if at all.

Back when the first "SportsCenter" was aired in 1979, about 1.4 million homes could get ESPN. Now, that number is more than 98 million.

"SportsCenter" may be one of the most recognizable names/shows in the world of sports.

Craig Remsburg can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 251. His email address is



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