Weekly media notes version 07.23.15 — How ESPN plans to specialize its undertaking of Special Olympics World Games 2015

Former Special Olympics athlete and coach Dustin Plunkett poses with the Special Olympics' Circle of Inclusion during a recent ceremony at the StubHub Center in Carson. Plunkett is helping organize this year Special Olympics World Games, which will feature thousands of athletes from over 100 countries competing in more than two dozen sports when it begins Saturday. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)

Former Special Olympics athlete and coach Dustin Plunkett poses with the Special Olympics’ Circle of Inclusion during a recent ceremony at the StubHub Center in Carson. Plunkett will be involved in ESPN’s coverage of the Special Olympics World Games, which starts Saturday with the Opening Ceremonies from the Coliseum.  (AP Photo/Nick Ut)

What we anticipate writing about for Sunday’s weekly media column:

A billboard promoting the Special Olympics World Games, from the 405 freeway near LAX.

A billboard promoting the Special Olympics World Games, from the 405 freeway near LAX.

The 14th Special Olympics World Games, spanning nine days in Southern California with the events beginning Saturday, has a powerful media partner with ESPN committed to not just covering it an event, but giving credence to it as an athletic endeavor.
A daily 30-minute recap of the events will start on Sunday, with Dustin Plunkett, a former Special Olympics World Games athlete and coach and global messenger, involved in the ESPN production as a reporter.
We’ll get into the details about the content of those shows and who is involved.
Here is also a link to the Los Angeles News Group continued coverage.

What we feel is prudent to get out into circulation now:

Eunice Shriver awards metals to those competing in the Special Olympics in 1968.

Eunice Shriver awards metals to those competing in the Special Olympics in 1968.

== Prior to the Special Olympics Opening Ceremonies on Saturday — ESPN starts at 5 p.m. with the special by Robin Roberts, then at 6 p.m. with the official event, which is then repeated from 9 p.m.-to-midnight on Channel 7 — a  documentary called “Brave in the Attempt” airs.
Maria Shriver is the executive producer on this half-hour piece that focuses on her mother, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, and the creation of the Special Olympics in 1962 based on her sister, Rosemany Kennedy’s struggle with inclusion — airs on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. Maria Shriver was on ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” this week to talk about it (video above).
Peabody- and Emmy-winning filmmaker Fritz Mitchell is the director for the Shriver Films company producing the story, whose title comes from the Special Olympics Athlete Oath:  “Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me brave in the attempt.”
The film will appear on Grantland.com starting Tuesday and re-airs several times throughout ESPN’s coverage of the Special Olympics World Games, concluding with the closing ceremonies on Aug. 2.
Roberts’ one-hour special that airs Saturday also airs thursday at 6 p.m. on ESPN.

== As part of ESPN’s multi-platform coverage of the Special Olympics, a 2 1/2-minute video story has just posted about how some athletes have dealt with bullying and name calling during their lifetime and how they’ve used that to fuel their pursuits.
There’s also this piece by Steve Wulf about the “R-word” as it relates to Cleveland Browns cornerback Joe Haden and his brother, Jake.

Los_Angeles_Country_Club_-_North_331116== As John Strege reported for Golf Digest in 2014, part of the sales pitch to push members of the Los Angeles Country Club in approving the 2023 U.S. Open golf championship coming to their Wilshire Blvd. venue bordering Beverly Hills was how big an event this would be in concert with Fox Sports’ recent 12-year contract with the USGA.
Fox’s network studios, you see, are just a couple miles as the crow flies, or a 25 minute drive in rush hour traffic away, depending on if you take Beverly Glenn, Avenue of the Stars or detour through the Holmby Park Lawn Bowling Club.
B9RIXCDIEAAc1DlWhen it became official Wednesday that the USGA reached an agreement with LACC, those who matter most at Fox were overjoyed.
“Nothing like a home game!” wrote Bill Wanger. Executive Vice President Programming, Research and Content Strategy for Fox Sports, in an email. “Having the U.S. Open in our back yard about a mile from the Fox lot will allow us to utilize every single resource in our arsenal to provide the ultimate coverage of our national championship.
“LACC is one of the true treasures on the west coast that most American audiences have never seen.  It was designed by George Thomas, who also designed Riviera Country Club and Bel-Air Country Club. Many consider LACC the best of the three.”
Fox’s deal with the USGA began with last month’s U.S. Open at Chambers Bay in Washington.

== Yup, the DirecTV and AT&T merger appears to be closer to getting done — thus creating renewed hope that negotiations with Time Warner Cable over distribution for the Dodgers’ SportsNetLA in these parts can move forward. But this take on the whole situation by Deadline.com has a whole other way to look at it.

== In case you missed this SI.com story this week posted by David J. Halberstam headlined: “Vin Scully on life and lessons from his rookie year with the 1950 Dodgers,”  enjoy it now as we await Scully’s return from what seems like a month-long absence due to the All Star break and 10-day road trip.
41vhtIsPSHL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_Halberstam, a former play-by-play man for the Miami Heat and the author of “Sports On New York Radio: A Play-By-Play History,” has Scully recall the last game of that rookie season, where the Dodgers lost to the Phillies, 4-1 in 10 innings to miss the playoffs:
“I took the antiquated elevator down and went to the clubhouse. One of the big doors from Ebbets Field to the street was open and there was a station wagon parked outside. It was heaped with clothing and trunks and suitcases. Walking by, I asked whose station wagon it was. It obviously belonged to someone prepared to leave town in a hurry. I was told it was (Carl) Furillo’s. He had fouled out with the winning run at third base. Had he hit a fly to the outfield the Dodgers would have won.
“I said to Furillo what a young kid would, ‘Tough luck.’ And Furllio looked at me and responded, ‘You either do or you don’t.’ That was it. It was the most professional approach and because it was my first year, it stuck to my ribs.”

== Brian Anderson and Ron Darling have the TBS duties of calling the Dodgers’ game at the New York Mets at 10 a.m. on Sunday — this time, going into the L.A. market.

== Do you realize it was 30 years ago this week when NBC finally had the technology to do the first MLB All-Star Game in stereo?

== Personnel changes for the upcoming college football coverage announced this week by Fox and ESPN reflect a domino effect when one person’s career change/personal issues come into play.
90buhvFox’s upgrades are a bit more dramatic — Joel Klatt has been finally promoted to replace Charles Davis as the lead game analyst with Gus Johnson and Molly McGrath on the top broadcast team, starting with the Sept. 3 Utah-Michigan game on FS1.
Klatt, the former Colorado quarterback who has been part of Fox’s broadcasting for the last several years, is on par — if not surpassing — the polished presence of ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit in the college booth.
The move comes as Fox puts Davis on NFL game coverage on the Thom Brennaman team. Former NFL star Donovan McNabb had been set to do that, coming out of the FS1 studios, but his recent DUI issues have forced Fox to go into a new direction. Fox now go with former USC Heisman winenr Matt Leinart, whose 15 minutes apparently are not up yet, to replace Klatt in its college football pregame studio with Rob Stone and Dave Wannstedt. Fox says it will also keep using Petros Papadakis, Mike Pereira, Bruce Feldman, Stewart Mandel and Clay Travis as studio show contributors.
With Chris Fowler sticking to play-by-play on ESPN’s Saturday prime-time contests, Rece Davis takes over as fulltime host as ESPN’s “College GameDay,” although Kirk Herbstreit remains on both the Saturday morning pregame (6-to-9 a.m.) as well as the prime-time game crew with Fowler, necessitating some quick private jet travel from site to site.
On the ABC studio show, Mark May moves over from ESPN to join Mack Brown and John Saunders since the May-Lou Holtz ESPN tag-team is finished with Holtz’ retirement.

== A look via MMQB.com at how Fox NFL insider Jay Glazer really does have a second job that’s pretty impressive as an MMA trainer in West Hollywood.

== Fox’s Jamie Horowitz is starting to hire, Variety reports. Aside from the upcoming announcement on Colin Cowherd.
Via a transcript on the Sports Business Daily, Cowherd actually addressed his future during his ESPN Radio show on Wednesday, saying his parting is “amicable” and after replacing Tony Kornheiser in 2003, “I worked my tail off and they’ve treated me fabulously. I’ve got no complaints. … They offered me a great new contract, incredibly fair, could not have been more reasonable, never argued, totally transparent. It wasn’t about the money, it was about the funny.”

== Things BIll Simmons once said about HBO, from an AwfulAnnouncing.com post in 2014. Our post on Simmons going to HBO from Thursday is linked here. Will Leitch at SportsOnEarth.com calls this a perfect pairing of Simmons and HBO.

== In the wake of a Matt Yoder piece from AwfulAnnouncing.com about how “nobody is bigger than the four letters,” the final episode of “Olbermann” airs Friday.

adges== The NBA’s new League Pass option for buying out-of-market games will begin taking orders Sept. 8, with this twist: Single games can be purchased for $6.99, or you can get an particular team’s schedule of games for $119.99. It’s still subject to local blackout policies.

== John Strong, Tony Meola, Julie Stewart-Binks and Francisco X. Riviera have the anticlimatic U.S.-Pamana third-place game from the CONCACAF Gold Cup on Saturday at 1 p.m. (FS2). Sunday’s title game between Mexico and Jamaica goes at 5 p.m. on FS1 with the same crew except Brad Friedel is in for Meola. The studio show continues with snippy comments from Alexi Lalas and Eric Wynalda. For the first time live on U.S. TV, Fox also has the preliminary draw for the 2018 World Cup in Russia on Saturday at 7:55 a.m. on FS1 with Kate Abdo on site from St. Petersburg, Russia. Lalas, Wynalda and Rob Stone comment from the L.A. studios.

BT-AC972B_ESPN_16U_20150709134507== Interesting number crunching by WhatYouPayForSports.com editor Dave Warner, via AwfulAnnouncing.com, on how the cost of ESPN’s subscriber fees have escalated from $4.55 to $6.61 over the last five years, while those homes who have ESPN have decreased over the same time from 100.1 million in 2011 to 92.9 million this month. Keep doing the math, and by 2020, could ESPN be looking at just 43 million homes paying $9.30 a month? How much is it worth to keep cord cutting? Or have more people watch from their iPhones and computers without a TV in their homes at all?
Something to think about as you perhaps skip around to find ESPN and ESPN2’s coverage of the CrossFit Games from StubHub Center in Carson, starting Friday.

== How the Clippers’ Ralph Lawler let everyone know he’ll be back broadcasting for a couple more seasons:

So, “TheWaterBoss” is apparently some fan, and “ClippersTVSmith” is Lawler’s TV partner, Michael Smith.

== And here’s where we’ve seen the latest with TNT reporter Craig Sager’s recovery from leukemia — a tweet from his son: |

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