SportsCenter

‘1 Big Thing’ resonates with midnight SportsCenter viewers

SC_SVP_One_Big_Thing

A little more than two months ago, ESPN launched the new midnight ET edition of SportsCenter. It’s a different version of the show with the world of sports as seen through the unique perspective of host Scott Van Pelt.

Among the feature elements included to set Van Pelt’s program apart from other editions of SportsCenter was “1 Big Thing,” the trademark essay from his former ESPN Radio program. And as the SVP version of SportsCenter rolls into its third month, the TV version of “1 Big Thing” is resonating with viewers.

A “1 Big Thing” Van Pelt did on a simple way to honor veterans touched hearts, as did his commentary on Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia seeking help for alcohol abuse. Pieces on former NBA player Lamar Odom (see video below) and daily fantasy sports touched nerves. A segment on golf superstar Jordan Spieth’s receding hairline drew laughs.

It’s very much a chameleon that can shift to something more silly, whimsical or whatever, and I like it because it’s a place I can squeeze in a story or a thought that otherwise might not make the show.
– Scott Van Pelt on the “1 Big Thing” segment

“It’s difficult to come up with something every day because when you do serious content like I did with Veterans Day, it feels like you’re carving out a space that’s ‘alright this is where we get serious,’’ Van Pelt said. “But it isn’t that. It’s very much a chameleon that can shift to something more silly, whimsical or whatever, and I like it because it’s a place I can squeeze in a story or a thought that otherwise might not make the show.”

Van Pelt originated the idea on radio years ago.

“It was one place a day where I thought it could be something along the lines of commentary,” he said. “Two minutes of what I think about something.”

The show’s production team led the charge in translating a radio segment into one that’s working well on TV.

“They put a great deal of thought and care into those,” Van Pelt said. “It’s an element on television that works even better when you have images. TV is a visual medium so they do a great job of adding to the thought. The thought is the main engine but all the images are what really finish off the idea.

“I’ve been thrilled with how it’s come out, and you just want to meet the expectation,” he said. “I have people who say they look forward every day to seeing what that’s going to be, so you can’t just halfway do it and show up and go. You’ve got to have something to say and fortunately sports provides the fodder pretty much every day.”

SVP’s favorite and most memorable 'Things'


If the video above does not play on your device, click here.

Favorite: Benton Harbor (Mich.) high school football team led to turnaround by 74-year-old coach
SVP on this “Thing”: “It’s a beautiful story of sports and kind of a metaphor of life, how these kids just needed somebody to care about them, and invest in them, and just out of that, what were they capable of? It was the type of story that people outside of the area didn’t know and we were able to share with the rest of the country and that to me is the best of what that space can be: shedding light on a story that illustrates what sports can be and that people might not have otherwise known.”



If the video above does not play on your device, click here.
Most memorable: Lamar Odom
SVP on this “Thing”: “It seemed like it was everywhere, and it was ‘sports anchor blasts the Kardashians,’ and I thought, well all I’m blasting is the idea that the highest rung on the ladder he ever reached in life was being a character on a TV show. I found that distasteful. I thought he had accomplished something of significance that was being ignored and for whatever reason that bugged me. I heard from NBA people, I heard from his agents, I heard from a lot of people who all said the same thing which was thank you for reminding people that Lamar’s an actual human being and not a TV character.”

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