AnchorsBehind The ScenesSportsCenter

Noon SportsCenter’s “Top 5 Belt” is something to behold

David Lloyd wears the championship belt in style
David Lloyd wears the championship belt in style

It used to be if you wanted a championship belt, you had to box or wrestle your way to the title. In recent years, though, belts have left the comfy confines of the squared circle and now pop up in sports of all sorts.

But last Friday, a championship belt appeared in the most unlikely of places around the most unlikely of waists: during the noon ET SportsCenter around anchor David Lloyd’s midsection.

It was Lloyd’s crowning achievement after “winning” the week’s Top 5 lists competition with co-anchor Cari Champion. On each show during the week, a topical Top 5 list from each anchor is revealed and a guest “judge” declares a daily winner.

“We both spend an inordinate amount of time on our Top 5 lists,” said Lloyd who is now in his fourth week pairing with Champion in the 90-minute, noon edition of SC. “No peeking at the other person’s picks before the show. Usually we’re going in different directions because we’re coming from different places.”

A stellar first month for the noon SC

The new daytime lineup for SportsCenter enters its second month next week and early returns for the 7 a.m.-1:30 p.m. ET slate of shows have been quite positive. Noon SC anchors Cari Champion and David Lloyd offer some thoughts on how their slice has been going:

“Cari and I hit it off from the get-go. I knew I liked her the day of the “football toss.” End of show, we’ve got a football, we’re just supposed to have a friendly catch. For some reason, I snapped a little and showing no touch on my short ball, threw a seed at Cari from about 7 feet away. Almost took her head off. She just laughed, retrieved the ball and threw it back. As our NBA people say about “length,” you can’t teach that.” – Lloyd

“The show has been an amazing experience. The first few weeks have been a mix of let’s see if it works and we’ve had so many wins! There’s a super creative staff. Producers are buying in and the powers that be are allowing us to express our creative sides – enter the BELT! The noon has been fun. It’s a reminder that at the end of the day we want to learn and be entertained!”
– Champion

NOTE: Watch David Lloyd deal with “the media” as Top 5 champion.

“Lists make people feel some type of way – don’t I know!,” said Champion – who, oddly, isn’t the reigning champion. “David is a wonderful person and a great anchor so it’s easy to bounce of off him. His humor and his style make the segment work – we try not to take ourselves too seriously or the reaction/response to a LIST seriously.”

To say the competition got ratcheted up last Friday is a bit of understatement. The reason? There’s now a big, blingy, belt for the weekly winner.

“[Associate producer Kat Seelig’s] creation blew us all away,” Lloyd said. “In addition to the long hours she puts in at ESPN, Kat goes home and manufactures a title belt, bejeweled with studs and real words and everything, out of thin air. Simply the most jaw-dropping creation our show unit has produced to date. Bravo Kat! Above and beyond the call.”

Champion concurs: “Kat is more than an AP – she brings so much to the show, including the belt!”

“Cari and David (as well as the rest of the show staff) had talked a lot about what the belt might look like after we debated using a WWE belt the Baseball Tonight crew had,” said Seelig, who has worked at ESPN for 10 years. “I thought we could make something more ‘ours’ for the show.”

Key word: “make.” Although all sorts of gaudy belts can be purchased online, Seelig took the project on herself, leaning on some past SC arts and crafts projects including: life-sized anchor cutouts; pies with for “Pi day,” a stuffed raven and an old timey ESPN mic flag.

“The belt is made out of a double layer of upholstery vinyl, about 200 hand-applied studs, three pieces of worbla (a moldable thermoplastic. I got a sheet of it for Christmas), three types of spray paint, model paint, and about a million adhesive crystals,” she said. “The lettering was done by melting the worbla over cork letters from the craft store.”

Closely following instructions she found online, (minus the chemical etcher used by that crafter) Seelig got all her supplies at a craft store and created the bedazzled belt over the course of a week, “in about 10 hours. (Note: The slide show above chronicles Seelig’s process.)

“I am not the least bit artistic,” Seelig said. “This is not an art project at all. I can’t draw a stick figure. This project is 100 percent duplicable by anyone who has some time on their hands.”

And some worbla.

“Yeah, I got it for Christmas,” she said. “It’s a big component for a lot of cosplay costumes (cosplay = geeks dressing up like fictional characters for geeky things like conventions.) I knew I’d need it sooner or later for a costume and I wanted to get some practice in before I had to throw a costume together with it. I did not anticipate needing it for work.”

The belt will go to this week’s winner during today’s show. Will the defending champion retain it? Or will a new Champion emerge?

“I’m OK with David winning the first round,” Champion said. “But. . . I’m not going to enjoy a losing streak!”

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