ESPN

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Scott Van Pelt to bring unique voice to new solo edition of SportsCenter

Scott-Van-PeltWhen ESPN approached Scott Van Pelt about going solo with the midnight (Eastern) edition of “SportsCenter,” he initially said no.

Van Pelt was the co-host of a popular midday radio show on the network, which gave him the opportunity to express his views about various issues in sports. Typically, “SportsCenter” hosts aren’t given as much latitude in that regard. It’s mainly scores and highlights.

“I pushed back,” Van Pelt said. “I loved the radio show where I had the ability to have an opinion. They came back to me and said, ‘No, we’re encouraging that [if he did the ‘SportsCenter' show]. We want you to bring opinion to that space.’ That made it an incredibly compelling opportunity.”

As a result, Van Pelt said good-bye to his radio show in June. Read more

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Mary Byrne wants to make it less newsworthy for women to be the APSE president

Mary Byrne at her new job at ESPN in Bristol, CT. (Photo by Rich Arden / ESPN Images)

Mary Byrne at her new job at ESPN in Bristol, CT. (Photo by Rich Arden / ESPN Images)

When Mike Sherman of The Oklahoman served as the president of Associated Press Sports Editors in 2014-15, nobody wrote that he was the 39th man to hold that position.

However, there are numbers attached to Sherman’s successor. Each story dutifully notes that Mary Byrne is APSE’s third women president, and the first since 2000.

“I hate the fact that it’s still newsworthy,” Byrne said.

Byrne’s goal is to make it less newsworthy for the next wave of women in the business during what should be one of the most eventful and busiest periods of her career. Besides being inducted as APSE’s new president at its convention in San Diego in June, Byrne, the former USA Today’s managing editor for sports, also is in her early days at ESPN as its new senior deputy editor for NFL, NHL and NASCAR coverage. Read more

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Bill Simmons to host talk show on HBO

The New York Times

When ESPN announced that Bill Simmons would be leaving the network, speculation on his future job prospects were rampant. Some guessed he would join Fox Sports. Some floated Turner Sports as a possible destination. One report even suggested that he and departing “Daily Show” host Jon Stewart would go into business together.

According to a new report from The New York Times, none of those reports proved to be accurate. Instead, the prolific columnist turned website co-founder turned documentarian will be headed to HBO, where he will host a talk show. Here’s the Times’ John Koblin:

HBO announced Wednesday that it would be the exclusive television home for Mr. Simmons and that he would get a talk show that will debut in 2016.

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Margaret Sullivan: Article on Serena Williams and body image ‘a missed opportunity’

The New York Times

New York Times Public Editor Margaret Sullivan wrote Monday about Friday’s article by Ben Rothenberg on female athletes and body image.

I see this article as a missed opportunity to really get under the surface of a pervasive and troubling issue in women’s sports and, particularly, women’s tennis.

Mr. Rothenberg had enviable access to top players and the kernel of an important, provocative idea. But the piece was “just so uncritical,” said Pat Griffin, professor emerita at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, the author of “Strong Women, Deep Closets,” and a consultant on sports and discrimination.

“Sacrificing your femininity is a really old narrative in women’s sports,” Ms. Griffin told me by phone. “There is a whole new narrative breaking through — that women athletes come in all sizes, shapes and forms.

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Outside the Lines celebrates 25 years of hard-hitting journalism

Bob Ley boils down the essence of “Outside The Lines.”

“Let’s go commit some journalism,” Ley said.

There isn’t another show on sports television — and few others in television, period — that can match ESPN’s crown jewel when it comes to committing quality journalism on a regular basis. “Outside the Lines,” also known as OTL, will celebrate its 25th anniversary Tuesday with a one-hour special on ESPN at 7 p.m. ET.

Ley, who was the anchor for the first OTL on May 7, 1990, admits the landmark anniversary caught him by surprise.

“A bunch of us were sitting around and we went, ‘Holy crap, we’ve been doing this for 25 years,’” Ley said. “They cleared out an hour in primetime for us to do a show. Read more

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Jeremy Schaap honored for uncovering deplorable work conditions in Qatar

ESPN commentators Jeremy (left) and the late Dick Schaap. (Photo by Steve Fenn/ABC)

ESPN commentators Jeremy (left) and the late Dick Schaap. (Photo by Steve Fenn/ABC)

It isn’t every day that Jeremy Schaap gets a call from Ethel Kennedy.

Mrs. Kennedy was on the line with the good news that ESPN had won the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award for Schaap’s “E:60″ story on deplorable work conditions in Qatar in preparation for the 2022 World Cup. It was the first time the network received the prestigious honor.

Kennedy’s widow was extolling the virtues of the piece during their conversation when Schaap interrupted her.

“I said, ‘Mrs. Kennedy, I’ve got to tell you something. You knew my father,’” Schaap said.

Schaap’s father, Dick, wrote a biography, “R.F.K.”, that was published just months before Sen. Kennedy’s assassination in June, 1968. Read more

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The growth of women in sports journalism is stagnant

Flanked by Fred Ridley, left and Craig Heathley, Billy Payne, Chairman of the Augusta National Golf Club speaks to reporters during a practice round for the Masters golf tournament on April 8. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

Flanked by Fred Ridley, left and Craig Heathley, Billy Payne, Chairman of the Augusta National Golf Club speaks to reporters during a practice round for the Masters golf tournament on April 8. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

The sports front page of the April 9 edition of USA Today featured two columns from the Masters. Nancy Armour wrote about Bubba Watson, while Christine Brennan looked at the favorites for the tournament.

Think about that for a moment: Two women sports columnists being prominently displayed by the one of the nation’s top circulation newspaper, and they were writing about the top men’s event in golf.

Did you notice?

“If people didn’t notice, that’s great,” Brennan said.

Indeed, the columns show how far women have come from the days, not that long ago, when they weren’t allowed in locker rooms. Read more

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Bill Simmons won’t appear on ESPN anymore

Sports Illustrated

Franchise sports columnist and Grantland co-founder Bill Simmons will no longer appear on any of ESPN’s platforms, Sports Illustrated’s Richard Deitsch reports:

SI has learned that ESPN and Simmons have worked out an agreement that officially ends his tenure as a front-facing employee for ESPN. Simmons sent an email to Grantland staffers this week informing them that he would no longer be working for the site he founded in 2011. Simmons will also no longer do podcasts or appear on television for ESPN.

The Sports Illustrated report comes after last week’s news that Simmons will depart ESPN in the fall after he and president John Skipper were unable to come to terms during a contract negotiation.

In the wake of ESPN’s announcement, the network emphasized its commitment to Grantland, the sports and pop culture site named for famed sportswriter Grantland Rice. Read more

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Bill Simmons and ESPN will both be fine, and so will sports fans

Bill Simmons in 2014. ESPN says that it is parting ways with Bill Simmons, one of its top personalities who created the Grantland website and was instrumental in the network's documentary series. Network president John Skipper said Friday that he decided not to renew Simmons' contract. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP, File)

ESPN says that it is parting ways with Bill Simmons, one of its top personalities who created the Grantland website and was instrumental in the network’s documentary series. Network president John Skipper said Friday that he decided not to renew Simmons’ contract. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP, File)

This breakup between ESPN and Bill Simmons was inevitable.

Fifteen years ago the two got together and it seemed like they were made for each other. Simmons was the quintessential unsports reporter. He didn’t give a damn about the locker room or the access to celebrity athletes. Instead, he cared about other fans and what their experience was like.

ESPN, the 800-pound gorilla of sports media, was intuiting the future of sports media and trying to translate it’s television dominance to the digital space. Read more

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ESPN asks Adam Schefter to take a Twitter holiday during the NFL draft

AdamSchefter-TwitterAdam Schefter’s lifeline is Twitter. And it is quite a lifeline.

The NFL reporter for ESPN has 3.73 million Twitter followers. They receive NFL tweets from Schefter early and often on most days.

Twitter is a big reason why Schefter carries two cell phones with him.

“There are a lot of times when I’m getting news from someone on one phone and typing [in the tweet] on the other phone,” Schefter said. “Multi-tasking.”

Yet on one of the biggest nights of the year for breaking news in the NFL, the first-round of the draft Thursday, Schefter will tell his 3.73 million followers that he will be going dark on Twitter. They won’t be getting any tweets from him about all the various machinations taking place in draft war rooms around the NFL. Read more

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