Behind The Scenes

A night at the Sports Emmys

NEW YORK — The 32nd annual National Sports Emmy Awards were held at Lincoln Center Monday night, and it was a tremendous evening for ESPN.

Lee Fitting, Kirk Herbstreit

The network landed seven awards, including three for its 2010 FIFA World Cup coverage, including Best Live Special for the championship match telecast, Spain versus the Netherlands.

College GameDay earned two citations, including one for top Weekly Studio Show — its third in four years — and one for best Studio Analyst as Kirk Herbstreit won for the second consecutive year.

Sports Science (Graphic Design) and the program I work on, E:60 (Long Feature: Survival 1), also snared Sports Emmys.

I’m a Senior Producer and this year I was nominated in both the Outstanding Long Feature (for Josiah’s Time ) and Outstanding Short Feature (A League Of her Own: Chelsea Baker) categories.

My wife, Christina, and I enjoy attending the Sports Emmys. It’s great to see the spectrum of work nominated and to mingle with colleagues.

Monday night, Lifetime Achievement Award winner Al Michaels’ speech was another highlight. His “Do you believe in miracles” call is legendary. Yet, before his memorable stint as play-by-play announcer for the 1980 Winter Olympics, Michaels had only called one hockey game in his career.

E:60‘s entry in the Outstanding Short Feature category featured a 13-year-old girl named Chelsea Baker, an accomplished knuckleball pitcher. Actress Geena Davis, the star of the film A League Of Their Own, narrated.

It was one of two ESPN nominees in the category, the other being Outside The Lines: Santa Anita: A Dark History.

But our congratulations go to the winner, the NFL On CBS’ Super Bowl XLIV: Wynton Marsalis’ ’43 Years.’

The Outstanding Long Feature category had three E:60 nods — including Josiah’s Time and two Outside the Lines entries.

Josiah’s Time is a story that I learned about from my mother, Cheryl. She received an email chain about a six-year-old boy with progeria, a rapid-aging disease that is one of the rarest on earth.

Josiah got to live out his dream and play baseball, and E:60 was blessed with the opportunity to share his story to the world.

Still, I applaud E:60’s win for Survival 1. It’s a brilliant piece that chronicles a Liberian amputee soccer team; rapper Nas provided the voiceover.

Feature Producer Yaron Deskalo is one of the brightest stars at ESPN, and he directed, wrote and produced Survival 1. I am truly thrilled for Yaron and E:60.

Our E:60 management team of Andy Tennant, Robert Abbott, Michael Baltierra, Robbyn Footlick and Martin Khodabakhshian has created an environment of imagination and risk-taking.

As the nominees were announced, I was thinking about what ESPN reporter Tom Rinaldi wrote me in a short note before the evening began about our efforts on Josiah’s Time.

“Thank you. The simple message is heartfelt, but woefully incomplete,” he wrote. “All my gratitude does not depend on a trophy or a walk to the stage.”

Winning is nice, no doubt, but the essence of what we do is serve fans.

After midnight, while my wife and I were driving back to Connecticut, my mother sent me a concise text message.

“People’s lives changed for the better because their stories were told.”

If we are doing that, Mom, then we are all winners.

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