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.
– 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.”