ESPN Veterans Week initiatives source of pride for Sr. CP Fountain
As part of its seventh annual Veterans Day “America’s Heroes” salute, ESPN is in a week of special programming and initiatives.
For Michael Fountain, senior coordinating producer, being part of ESPN’s planning and execution for the week is a source of pride: family pride.
“To me, it’s about paying tribute to those who protect us,” he said. “I come from a military family. Both my dad and older brother were Army officers, so I grew up Army, know the sacrifices that families have to make, and it’s something very near and dear to my heart.”
Fountain and Tavia Fisher, senior manager, Corporate Citizenship, work together to coordinate all of the content pieces across the various ESPN platforms into a comprehensive plan for ESPN’s Veterans Week programming. The goal of ESPN Corporate Citizenship is to work with the Programming department to create cohesive, compelling campaigns that invest in sports fans interests and help build community. Fountain is in his third year in the role.
In honor of those who have served, ESPN will be supporting Operation Homefront’s transitional housing programs for wounded military with a $100,000 grant to provide these veterans and their families a financial bridge back into civilian life as they are discharged from service. Veterans from Operation Homefront will be in the audience during SportsCenter’s telecast at the Air Force Academy.
ESPN employees will be stuffing care packages for Operation Homefront and have the opportunity to create video messages thanking veterans and active military members for their service.
Additionally, UP2US Sports will receive a $100,000 grant from ESPN to hire and train veterans to serve as youth-sports coaches in underserved communities.
One of Fountain’s largest responsibilities is organizing the yearly Veterans Day appearance by SportsCenter at a military-related location. This year, segments hosted by Hannah Storm and Kevin Negandhi will air from the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Col., from 9 a.m.–1:30 p.m. ET.
In recent years, SportsCenter has been to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and the U.S. Naval Academy, while last year’s program aired from the Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio.
For the Air Force Academy segments, which will air within SportsCenter programs originating from ESPN’s studios, the on-site team will have use of the facilities in the SportCenter on the Road bus, a mobile production studio.
“One thing we like to do with the Veterans Day shows is get the talent off the desk as much as possible to try and showcase other areas of the campus or location that we’re in,” Fountain said. “So we’ll pre-tape some elements on Monday and Tuesday that will run as part of our program on Wednesday.
“SportsCenter’s celebration will focus on veterans as well as those preparing to enter service,” he said. “By integrating elements across shows and platforms, and having SportsCenter’s presence at the Air Force Academy, we are providing fans diverse content honoring our veterans and men and women in the service.”