Sports broadcasting is not, as the saying goes, brain surgery. Still, the hours can be long, the travel unending and the preparation gets grueling. . . or as grueling as reading bios, clips and stats can be.
In a bygone era, broadcasters were more accustomed to bouncing between sports and studio assignments with regularity. The age of specialists arrived and by and large there are now more defined lanes established for sports TV professionals.
Which brings us to ESPN’s Kevin Connors, who, over the next seven days will play the role of a true throwback with a schedule that will see him in his regular gig anchoring the Saturday late night SportsCenter (ESPN, 1 a.m. ET Sunday) with John Buccigross, followed less than 12 hours later by a play-by-play stint alongside analyst Seth Greenberg for Arizona and UConn (ESPN2, 1 p.m.).
He will conclude his week as part of ESPN’s expansive coverage of the Vasily Lomachenko vs. Jose Pedraza fight (ESPN and ESPN Deportes, Saturday, Dec. 8, 9 p.m.) beginning with Friday afternoon’s weigh-in live from New York City.
Such a demanding, cross-discipline itinerary requires elite level training, the type rarely seen by the viewing public. In an absolute coup for Front Row, Connors shared a few elements of his training regimen. His colleagues then shared some snark in return:
Connors: “SportsCenter will be my carb load to start the ‘marathon’. Bucci and I will have a hearty portion of college football – 70-80 percent of the calorie intake (no heavy sauces.) We’ll stay hydrated with NFL, NBA, NHL and college hoops too, maintaining a laser focus on putting the show to bed so we don’t have to run it through the room. (This makes zero sense to anyone other than those who it makes perfect sense to).”
Buccigross: “So, apparently, I’m the mythical ‘Carbo Load’ bread and pasta dish to begin this (Chris Farley finger quotes) arduous week of covering sports? We’ve been over this, Kevin. Cut out sugars! That includes bread, pasta and grains. To get through this (more finger quotes) demanding week you want high fat. Eggs, bacon, cheese, sausage, steak. Lots of water. At the end of the week, I’ll make you my world famous Chicken Parm. And I think we all know this is just a week vacation from your screaming newborn son. So, on second thought, give the Parm to your wife, please.”
Connors: “The rooster, aka my 3-week-old son Liam, will be up early Sunday morning and the Old Man will be joining him – probably while doing some last minute prep. From there it’s off the XL Center in Hartford to call Arizona-UConn. Mentally preparing my broadcast partner (two-time ACC Coach of the Year) Seth Greenberg for the wealth of knowledge this former Division III 11th Man of the Year winner [at Ithaca College] is about to impart on him will be my biggest pre-game challenge.”
Greenberg: “Yeah, my guy KC is killing himself. I feel terrible for him having to work three such taxing events. Heck, me and Jake the Wonder dog get that much done before breakfast daily. And to think I get to be a small part of this backbreaking week for him? AND I get to listen to an Ithaca legend – not to mention an almost honorable, honorable 11th Man of the Year recipient – pontificate on the finer points of Naismith’s game? I should be paying ESPN to do this game. [Editor’s Note: He’s joking.] I’m bringing an extra large notebook in hopes of capturing KC’s magical morsels that could one day save my career in broadcasting or if I ever return to the sideline.”
Connors: “Then Friday all the work in the gym, all the rounds of sparring .. . it all comes to a head. I’ll host the weigh-in show for the Lomachenko-Pedraza fight (ESPN2, Friday, 1:30 p.m.). Timothy Bradley and Andre Ward, two of the best fighters AND commentators of their generation, will join me – as well as our outstanding Top Rank Boxing on ESPN reporters Mark Kriegel and Bernardo Osuna. We’ll set the stage for next Saturday’s showcase fight featuring the pound-for-pound king, Lomachenko.”