Journalism Showcase

ESPN’s “Journalism Showcase” – February 26, 2016

Sgt. Kevin Downs, who nearly lost his life in a 2005 Humvee attack in Iraq. is a paid assistant football coach at a Tennessee high school and the subject of   SC Featured segment Sunday.
Sgt. Kevin Downs, who nearly lost his life in a 2005 Humvee attack in Iraq, is a paid assistant football coach at a Tennessee high school and the subject of an SC Featured segment Sunday.

Sunday’s SC Featured segment on ESPN SportsCenter will tell the remarkable story of Sgt. Kevin Downs, who nearly lost his life in a 2005 Humvee attack in Iraq. Now, 76 surgeries later, he’s a paid assistant football coach at the high school in Kingston Springs, Tenn., where he once played.

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“The Volunteer,” narrated by Marty Smith, will debut in the 10 a.m. edition of SportsCenter and will re-air in other editions of the program throughout the day.

As viewers will learn, Downs lost both legs, some fingers, an ear and the use of an arm in the attack. But he drives a car. He operates a tractor to mow the football field, and he helps paint lines on the field before games. He climbs to the top of the bleachers for games and keeps stats on an iPad. He works with the players.

“He spends his whole day doing all these things, and you just kind of sit there and are amazed because of how gruesome his injuries were,” said Scott Harves, who produced the piece for the ESPN Features Unit.

Downs (left) lost both legs, some fingers, an ear and the use of an arm in the attack.
Downs (left) lost both legs, some fingers, an ear and the use of an arm in the attack.

Harves came across Downs on the Internet while searching for feature ideas last August.

“I just thought there had to be more to the story,” he said. “The first time you see him, you just wonder how he does it, and how he got from the battlefield to where he is now. When I saw his picture and heard him talk, I was drawn to want to know more about it.

“One of the things that stands out about our first conversation was the fact that he didn’t want to hold anything back in a story,” Harves said. “Knowing what he went through and seeing all the wounded warriors he had seen through his three years in and out of the hospital, he always thought that if someone could see what he’s done with his life, maybe he can motivate them to do something with theirs.

“No one could blame him if he wanted to sit on a couch the rest of his life, watch football and do nothing, but he chose to get up and do something.

“The head coach [Doug Loope] put it best,” Harves said. “He said it reduces the amount of whiners they have on their football team. When you see a guy like Kevin do what he does, it’s hard to complain about anything. Certainly for any coach or any sports team that can be sort of a clichéd thing, but for Kevin, in all facets of life, it’s really incredible.”


Sunday’s Outside The Lines examines lack of Hispanic managers in MLB

Fredi Gonzalez of the Atlanta Braves is the only Hispanic manager in Major League Baseball, despite the fact that the number of Hispanic players has increased and now represents nearly 30 percent of the players in MLB.

In a report airing on the Sunday, Feb. 28 edition of Outside the Lines (9 a.m. ET, ESPN), reporter Steve Delsohn and producer Michael Sciallo sought to discover why more Hispanic managers aren’t hired by MLB teams.

“This can be a sensitive topic for those who are actually trying to get hired, so it was difficult getting Hispanic candidates to talk on the record,” Delson said. “Several told us they declined [to speak] because they didn’t want to say something that might hurt their chances with potential employers.”

In addition to Gonzalez, interviews were conducted with MLB commissioner Rob Manfred; Omar Minaya, who in 2002 became the first Hispanic general manager in MLB (Montreal Expos); and ESPN Deportes Beisbol Esta Noche analyst Ozzie Guillén, the only Hispanic manager to win a World Series (Chicago White Sox, 2005).

“Ozzie Guillén was especially candid, which I guess is not a surprise,” said Delson. “But I also thought Commissioner Manfred addressed the issue without appearing to be threatened by it.

“Manfred has been with MLB for a long time but has only been commissioner for one year, so to some extent he inherited the current situation. But now the onus is on him and his office to try and create more opportunities for qualified Hispanic candidates — and there appears to be plenty.”

Ozzie being interviewed by Steve Delsohn. (photo courtesy Michael Sciallo)
Steve Delsohn (right) interviews Ozzie Guillén. (Michael Sciallo/ESPN)
Journalism on Display:

  • This week, ESPN has been providing comprehensive coverage that led up to today’s FIFA Presidential Election. Included were daily Outside the Lines shows hosted by Bob Ley, live reports from Jeremy Schaap in Zurich, Switzerland, and special editions of ESPN FC, the daily soccer news, information and highlights program, previewing the election. Andy Tennant, E:60 and Outside the Lines executive producer, discussed how the company’s years-long coverage of the global governing body provided the foundation for how ESPN approached this week.
  • These three words in a basketball recap got the ball rolling for espnW writer D’Arcy Maine: “Scoreless second half.” Turns out, in Las Vegas, that’s pretty normal. Thanks to a Nevada rule that requires coaches to submit paperwork any time their team wins by 50 points or more, coaches and players do everything in their power to keep the margin of victory at 49 points or fewer. Maine’s findings? The rule leaves no room for winners — on either side of the court.
  • Rob King, ESPN Senior Vice President, SportsCenter and News, was named one of the 25 most influential minorities in sports by Forbes Magazine, coming in No. 20 on a list that was headed by Michael Jordan. ESPN college basketball analyst Jay Williams and His & Hers co-host Jemele Hill were among the eight-member voting panel for the list.
  • Panelists on Sunday morning’s The Sports Reporters (9:30 a.m. ET, ESPN; 10:30 a.m., ESPN2) will be John Saunders (host), Frank Isola, Pablo S. Torre and Bob Ryan.
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