If you would like a piece of SportsCenter history, you are in luck. If you visit eBay’s website, you can bid on pieces of the set, including the old desk used on the show. The auction will conclude on July 16th and all the money raised will be given to charity. Each year ESPN auctions off items before the premiere of the ESPY Awards. Other prizes up for grabs this year include watching a Mavericks game with Mark Cuban or playing catch with Steve Young then attending a Monday Night Football game. Here are ten interesting facts about the sports program SportsCenter.
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1. SportsCenter will be celebrating its 35 anniversary on September 7th of this year. Back in 1979 when the show premiered, the very first score announced to viewers was that of the U.S. Open Semifinals. Chris Evert Lloyd defeated Billie Jean King in a 6-1 and 6-0 sets. In 1995, the show would surpass The CBS Evening News as the the live show with the most televised newscasts. The reasons for this is because multiple fresh episodes of SportsCenter air on the exact same day, while The CBS Evening News will only have a new live telecast once a day every Monday through Friday.
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2. The idea for SportsCenter came from Chet Simmons and Scotty Connal in 1979. Chet Simmons was previously the President of NBC Sports before he headed up ESPN in 1979. He became the first Commissioner of the United States Football League in 1982. Connal received an Emmy for being the Executive Producer for the coverage done during the 1975 World Series. George Grande, who is currently a broadcaster for the Cincinnati Reds, and Lee Leonard, who helped launch ESPN and CNN, were the very first co-anchors when SportsCenter premiered.
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3. John Colby is the man behind SportsCenter‘s famous dah-dah-dah musical introduction. He has also produced the soundtrack for Ken Burns’ Civil War and the Music Director for the ESPY Awards that are featured each year on ESPN. Colby got his start at the sports network by cold calling different television executives. The theme song did not debut until 10 years after the show had been on air in 1989. Different variations of the tune have been used in every episode since. Unfortunately for Colby, he does not receive any royalties from ESPN for using the music.
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4. At 11:05 AM on September 11, 2001, ESPN would interrupt its regularly scheduled programming to cover the terrorist attacks that destroyed the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. ESPN thought about postponing the air date for that night’s scheduled episode of SportsCenter. The management team at ESPN spent an hour deciding what to do. A half-hour version of the show was aired that evening. The major topic of the night was how the attacks had impacted the world of sports and the announcements of what sporting events had been cancelled.
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5. In 1988, Charlie Steiner joined SportsCenter as an anchor. During that time, Steiner would also be ESPN’s lead boxing analyst. Before Steiner joined the network, his beard had to go through an approval process by the heads of the network. Steiner was unaware this was even an issue when in talks to join SportsCenter until it was communicated to him that he was allowed to keep his beard. Steiner has appeared in many comical commercials for SportsCenter over the years, including ESPN’s Y2k Contingency Plan and a promo where he was replaced by Andrew Shue from Melrose Place.
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6. It has been over ten years since SportsCenter began broadcasting their episodes in high definition. The first one aired on June 7, 2004 and featured a new set created by Walt Disney Imagineering. That same year marked the show’s 25th anniversary. Each day the network would name one of the top 100 moments in sports from the last 25 years. The number one moment was shown on September 7, 2004 and was when the United States Men’s National Ice Hockey Team defeated the USSR at the Winter Olympics that were held in 1980.
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7. There have been numerous spin-off series created from SportsCenter. The first was BassCenter which premiered in 2003 and focused on the bass fishing industry. It ran for three years, but was cancelled when the network was spending more money on the show than it was making. X Center was the next spin-off to air and focuses on X Games coverage. It has been on since 2005. In 2006, SportsCenterU premiered and is the college version of SportsCenter and is broadcast on ESPNU. In 2007, ESPN debuted ScoreCenter on ESPN Mobile TV. The app will allow fans to view scores from all over the world.
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8. SportsCenter has received numerous accolades in the 35 years it has been on television. The series earned a Sports Emmy Award in the category of Outstanding Studio Show Weekly back in 1996. That same year, SportsCenter received the Outstanding Achievement in Sports Award from the Television Critics Association Awards. It had been nominated in the same category from 1989-1995. SportsCenter was the recipient of a GLAAD award in 2006 for the segment about Lacrosse player Andrew Goldstein, who was the first openly gay athlete on an American male team sport.
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9. The first female anchor on SportCenter was Rhonda Glenn, who joined the series in 1981. Glenn was 34 and had been working as a Women’s golf analyst for ABC Sports when she was selected to work for the show. She would work for SportsCenter for two years before returning to the world of golf. She had been employed with the United States Golf Association since 1996 and retired last year. Since Glenn, their have been many female co-anchors on the sports program including Shannon Spake (2007-present), Lisa Salters (2202-Present), and Wendi Nix (2006-Present).
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10. February 11, 2007 was a special milestone for SportsCenter. The show aired its 30,000th episode after the Chicago Bulls game versus the Phoenix Suns. During the show, Bob Levy discussed events and bloopers from the first 10,000 outings. Chris Berman would remember the next 10,000 episodes, and Dan Patrick recapped the final 10,000 episodes. This episode also marked the first time that SportsCenter Minute aired on ESPN.com. Later that year, SportsCenter would introduce the “rundown” graphic that appears on the right hand side of the screen.
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