Sam Borden, who joined ESPN in February as a global correspondent, tells his first story on E:60 with an in-depth and emotional documentary on Brazil’s Chapecoense soccer team whose plane crashed leaving 71 dead.
In collaboration with E:60, ESPN The Magazine, and ESPN Brazil, Borden traveled to South America to share the incredible stories of strength, survival, and pain.
“The emotions were still so raw for everyone. It’s been about six-and-a-half months since the crash happened and that may feel like old news to those of us who didn’t have a connection to it, but for somebody that’s trying to go on without a father, or a husband, or a son it’s still very fresh,” Borden said. “We were trying to be sensitive to that and not wanting to impose or demand a certain kind of emotion from the people we were talking with.”
Borden said the biggest challenge for him personally was putting his emotions aside throughout the interview process so that the interviewees felt comfortable sharing their experience.
“It was hard. When we went to Aline Machado’s [widow of Filipe Machado] house, her and Filipe’s daughter is 3 years old and I have a 3-year-old that has princesses in her room and loves Paw Patrol just the same way Antonella does,” he said. “Those were really emotional interviews to do but I felt like the whole crew was really committed to being open and allowing these people to tell their stories however they were comfortable.”
Along with the E:60 piece, Borden’s written story has been translated to multiple languages including Spanish, Portuguese and Mandarin and will be featured in the upcoming issue of ESPN The Magazine on newsstands Friday, June 16. ESPN Brazil and ESPN Deportes will also air the documentary.“I think that the focus and attention that ESPN has shown towards storytelling is one of the things that attracted me the most about the company,” he said.
“Not just writing, but also the ability to tell stories on multiple platforms is something that was really appealing to me. The chance to go and do this story in such an expansive fashion with ESPN was a great way to start my time here.”Borden says he hopes that this story helps others who are overcoming grief, dealing with tragedy and rebuilding their lives. Although the story took place in a foreign town, the message is universal.
The E:60 will air on Sunday morning at 9 a.m. ET on ESPN.