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“Bill Belichick never taught me how to do the Obi-Wan lightsaber flourish from Revenge of the Sith”

ESPN The Magazine's David Fleming reflects on profiling a champion of one of #TheOcho's showcased sports

Alain Bloch is the 2017 World Champion of The Saber Legion, a sport featured on ESPN’s #TheOcho on Aug. 8.

ESPN8 “The Ocho” is going intergalactic.

As part of the one-day, multi-platform event ESPN The Magazine senior writer David Fleming takes us deep inside the life, and training regiment, of self-appointed Jedi master Alain Bloch, the 2017 World Champion of The Saber Legion, the galaxy’s biggest lightsaber dueling organization and The Ocho’s next breakout hit.

Read it, you must. The article will be available on ESPN.com on Wednesday, 8.08.2018. Fleming answered some questions from Front Row.

What was different about this story from others you have worked on previously?

Well, this might perfectly sum up my role at The Mag: The last two world champions I profiled in the San Francisco area were Jedi master Alain Bloch and some other guy named Steph Curry.

ESPN2 becomes ESPN8 on Aug. 8

Visit Front Row every day between now and Aug. 8 to see new “ESPN8:The Ocho” videos from Jason Fitz and Mike Golic, Jr.. They will demonstrate selected sports that will be televised as part of the #TheOcho lineup. Full programming details available on ESPN MediaZone.

What surprised you most about the interview?

The idea that even though these are not the typical kind of elite athletes we normally cover, the opportunity to train and compete and grow through sports was every bit as important and transformative, if not more so.

How much knowledge of Saber Legion did you have before this assignment?

I knew nothing about it until Ryan Hockensmith, my co-conspirator on most of these awesomely weird ideas, called to tell me about it. But that’s always a huge plus for me: the chance to try something completely original and risky. I supposed you get more attention from a cover story but [NFL coach] Bill Belichick never taught me how to do the Obi-Wan lightsaber flourish from Revenge of the Sith.

Talk about being a part of something like The Ocho that is a little more offbeat and fun.

I’ve done a lot of these kinds of stories — Musical Chairs, Smelling Salts and Butt Fumble to name a few — and I actually think they are increasingly vital to the success of The Magazine and ESPN because they remind us, and our audience, not to take this all too seriously and that, at the end of the day, sports are supposed to be fun.

Journalism On Display

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Sunday, Aug. 5, “SC Featured” segment on SportsCenter will follow Alabama coach Nick Saban in an all-access feature as he prepares for the start of the season. The segment will debut in the 10 a.m. ET edition of SportsCenter and re-air in other editions after. PREVIEW