For many years my Sunday mornings began with ESPN’s “The Sports Reporters.” Sports were my passion for as long as I can remember. Throughout the years I enjoyed discussions about the sports themselves, the players, and the drama surrounding the world of sports.
I remember the original “Inside the NFL,” with Len Dawson and Nick Buoniconti. It was professional and informative, and the real stars were the highlights. Today’s show is composed of commentary by individuals I don’t believe ever watch the entire games.
In 1988, ESPN began “The Sports Reporters.” I’m not certain if I watched the show from the beginning, I’m not even sure if I had ESPN from my television provider in that year. What I do remember was that from the first time I watched the show, I was a fan.
Today was the show’s last broadcast, and I’m a little sad. The intelligent discussions by some of our nation’s finest sports writers, who actually understood what they were talking about has been nothing but pure joy.
Now don’t think that I always believed that they were correct in their evaluations. The great thing about sports is that the beauty and the battle is in the eye, mind, and heart of the viewer; the fan. We all have our prejudices about who were the greatest players, what which were the greatest games, and other issues involving each sport, but that’s what makes it fun. That said, I always respected their opinions because as writers, their insight into the games and players far surpassed broadcasters and ‘color men.’
I often turn off the sound when I watch sports today. Some announcers are so inane that they actually create negative emotions. I have never turned off or muted “The Sports Reporters.”
Today’s final broadcast included Mike Lupica, Mitch Albom, Bob Ryan, and Bill Rhoden; maybe the best America has to offer. Throughout the years many excellent men and women have offered their opinions and insight. Its second, and long-time host, Dick Schaap, was a perfect moderator. With his death in 2001, the great John Saunders replaced him and became the cast’s cornerstone; he died in 2016.
Whatever ESPN’s reason for canceling the show, they are sorely mistaken. This was the last intelligent and civil discussion of the pastimes of millions of Americans who seek sports as a refuge from some of the negativity of daily life.
Until we meet again.
by James Turnage
Photo courtesy of Jeremy Keith
Follow me on twitter; @jamesturnagenov