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“I feel extremely privileged that we were able to contribute in some way during these difficult times.”

As SportsCenter with SVP transitions from Bristol to D.C. next month, producer Marco Alfandary reflects on the challenges of building a show in this era

On July 2, SportsCenter with Scott Van Pelt aired its final episode from ESPN’s Bristol, Conn., studios. After a break, the program will return in late August from its new home in Washington, D.C.

Marco Alfandary has been the producer of the program since February 2019; he has worked on it since its inception in 2015. For the past four months, the show team has created an hour of television four nights a week with few live sports events to produce highlights.

Alfandary, who will continue to produce the show from Bristol when it resumes, spoke with Front Row about working during the pandemic:

What was the most challenging aspect of producing the show?
The past few months have certainly had their challenges, but they have also been the most rewarding of my time at ESPN. When the sports calendar was wiped clean in mid-March, everything about how we prepare for and structure the show changed completely. We went from prepping for Selection Sunday and the Masters to not knowing if we’d be on air the next week.

SportsCenter with SVP producer Marco Alfandary (Marco Alfandary/ESPN)

Then there was our evolving work environment: social distancing, masks – there was a lot of fear and uncertainty early on as we tried to adjust. But the level of professionalism and commitment from our staff never slipped, and I am extremely proud of the way we not only kept the show going but put a product on the air we could all feel good about.

What is your favorite memory from this time?
The shows I will remember the most are the ones that followed [the 30 for 30 film series] “The Last Dance.” An extraordinary amount of preparation and collaboration went into those shows, from the talent producers lining up great guests to a brilliant idea from our research department to do “Bad Beats” segments around those ’90s [Chicago] Bulls teams. Those five weeks were a saving grace, helping drive our content and giving us something to look forward to each week in the absence of live events.

When the last Bristol show arrived on July 2, it was bittersweet. It brought to a conclusion a 100+ day stretch that nobody involved will soon forget. [ESPN NBA play-by-play commentator] Mike Breen was a guest on that final show and ended the interview by saying our crew made him proud to be a part of ESPN. Hearing sentiments like that make it all worth it, and I feel extremely privileged that we were able to contribute in some way during these difficult times.

EDITOR’S NOTE: SportsCenter with Scott Van Pelt’s “Senior Night” resonated across ESPN platforms

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