Journalism Showcase

ESPN’s “Journalism Showcase” – November 18, 2016

What’s the most popular NFL team in Mexico? As ESPN SportsCenter news anchor Toni Collins learned, it’s the Dallas Cowboys – by a wide margin.

And the NFL itself, while not surpassing soccer, also has a rabid and growing fanbase south of the border.

With ESPN’s Monday Night Football airing the first NFL regular-season game in Mexico in 11 years on Nov. 21, Collins and producer Barry Abrams traveled to Mexico City last week to shoot a report on Mexican NFL fans (see below). The piece debuted today on SportsCenter and will air on NFL Countdown on Sunday.

Collins, who provides news updates and conducts interviews with guests during SportsCenter editions airing between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m., spent part of her childhood in Mexico and is bilingual. She knew the Cowboys were popular in Mexico but didn’t realize how popular.

Through a contact in Mexico City, she became aware of a local Cowboys fan club that was planning a large gathering for this past Sunday’s Cowboys-Pittsburgh Steelers game.

“The fans regularly meet every Sunday but this one was extra crazy and different because of the Steelers and the Cowboys,” she said. “In the 70s when they started broadcasting the games in Mexico, the Steelers were the biggest rivals for them. And for Mexican fans, many in the group go back to the 70s.”

You would usually relate Mexico to soccer or boxing but everyone I talked to decided to start liking football because their father used to watch it or they just started watching it.

– ESPN’s Toni Collins on her experiences with NFL fans in Mexico

The fan club met at Monumento a la Revolucion, a landmark commemorating the Mexican Revolution, for a pep rally, with some 500 members present, and then migrated to a sports bar to watch the game.

“They took over the club,” Collins said. “And there were all ages – babies of two months, three-year-olds, young people, parents.”

With Dallas pulling out a 35-30 win, the back-and-forth contest gave Collins a close look at how much the game meant to the fans.

“You saw the roller coaster of emotions and just the passion that they have,” she said. “You would usually relate Mexico to soccer or boxing but everyone I talked to decided to start liking football because their father used to watch it or they just started watching it.

“They were beyond kind,” she said. “Everyone was so nice and happy – it was a really good experience. It was a long day but it was fun.”

The game between the Houston Texans and Oakland Raiders airs at 8:15 p.m. ET on ESPN and Spanish-language coverage will air on ESPN Deportes and in Latin America. The game will also be broadcast on ESPN Deportes Radio.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Watch Collins’ report on youth football in Mexico in the video below.

Large presence for SportsCenter in Mexico City

With the NFL returning to Mexico City for its first regular season game in 11 years, SportsCenter will have a large presence surrounding Monday night’s game between the Houston Texans and Oakland Raiders.

Hannah Storm will anchor Sunday morning’s 8-10 a.m. ET edition of SportsCenter live from Mexico City with a preview of that day’s NFL action as well as a look at activities leading up to the Monday night contest. In addition, Storm will host Monday morning’s SportsCenter Face to Face program from Mexico City at 10 a.m.

Also on Monday, Sage Steele will anchor SportsCenter on the Road segments all day from Mexico City, joined by reporters Toni Collins and Bernardo Osuna. And as usual following Monday Night Football, anchor Steve Levy will lead SportsCenter’s post-game segments from the stadium.

ESPN’s Monday Night Football will televise the game at 8:15 p.m. Full coverage plans available here.

By Andy Hall

Journalism on Display

  • Hasheem Thabeet and Kevin Durant were both No. 2 overall picks in the NBA draft. Durant rose to NBA stardom while Thabeet played for seven teams in four years and is now out of a job. Thabeet spoke with The Undefeated’s Marc J. Spears about his bleakest days in the NBA and where he will go from here.
  • ESPN.com writer Eric Gomez tells the story of a Mexican football powerhouse. With 16 national championships, the University of Alabama has been the dominating college football team in the U.S. South of the border there is another team, one with 21 national titles. Monterrey Tech is Mexico’s Alabama. Tech is working its way into the national conversation.
  • ESPN The Magazine’s Kevin Arnovitz writes about the evolution of the big man in the “Tall Ball” issue, on newsstands today. The NBA big man is more important than ever before, and the epitome of this evolution can be seen through rising superstar Karl-Anthony Towns. In addition to defending the post and rebounding, Towns can also shoot from the perimeter, guard multiple positions, and handle the ball in transition. KAT is the future of the NBA landscape. Learn more about the cover shoot.
  • Senior writer Don Van Natta Jr. will be a guest on “Only A Game,” the award-winning weekly sports magazine hosted by NPR commentator Bill Littlefield on Saturday at 7 a.m. and 7p.m. ET, other times listed here.
  • Panelists on Sunday morning’s The Sports Reporters (9:30 a.m., ESPN2; 10:30 a.m., ESPNEWS) will be Mike Lupica (host), Mitch Albom, Ashley Fox, and Manish Mehta.

By Molly Mita

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