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.

Continue reading “Weekly media notes version 07.23.15 — How ESPN plans to specialize its undertaking of Special Olympics World Games 2015” »

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Olden on Enberg, thankful for mapping a career

By Jim Thompson from @sportsbronze on Twitter

By Jim Thompson from @sportsbronze on Twitter and SportsBronze.com and www.facebook.com/sportsbronze

Before he leaves today for Cooperstown, Dick Enberg, who will be honored with the Ford C. Frick Award and going into the broadcasters’ wing of the Baseball Hall of Fame on Saturday night, responded to a column we did on him Sunday that explains some of his baseball roots:
“Thanks for the salute to Stan Charnofsky. They should name the baseball stadium after him. … Getting nervous. Off to Cooperstown on Thursday. Can’t wait to rub shoulders with the greatest in the game … Biggest challenge is giving a decent acceptance speech, while thanking so many who helped me get there, enough to consume the allowed ten minutes.”

Photo: New York Times

Photo: New York Times

More memories of how Enberg impacted the career of others are coming in as well, in spurts of 10 minutes of more on the computer.
The best of them so far has been from Paul Olden, the current New York Yankees public address announcer who ended up following Enberg’s career path in one form or another on the Angels, Rams and UCLA during his days in L.A., out of Dorsey High and LA City College.

As Paul wrote:

Continue reading “Olden on Enberg, thankful for mapping a career” »

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So LACC has cleaned up its act for a U.S. Open? Sorry, Riv

Los Angeles Country ClubAfter a 75-year absence, the United States Golf Association will bring the prestigious U.S. Open championship back to Los Angeles.
But it might not be at the course many expected based on recent golf history here.
The Los Angeles Country Club, which has two courses that opened on Wilshire Blvd. near the Beverly Hills Hilton Hotel in 1911, has been officially selected to host the 2023 major event, the USGA officially announced Wednesday.
USGA-LogoThe North Course, redesigned by the famed George C. Thomas Jr. in 1921 and currently under renovation to bring back many of its original features by architect Gil Hanse, will provide the 18-hole test for the U.S. Open. The club’s South Course will be used to accommodate the media, sponsor tents and concessions.
In 1948, when Ben Hogan won the last U.S. Open held in L.A., it took place seven miles west of LACC – at the famed at Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, which, like LACC, is a private course.
But without as much baggage.
The exclusive club that many Hollywood stargazers may not even know exists in such a congested urban part of L.A. because of its fences protected by tall trees has previously turned down numerous attempts by golf’s governing bodies to have an event on its facility.
The LACC for many years existed, like the Wilshire Country Club, without allowing Jewish members. A 2011 story about the club in the Hollywood Reporter called it “a bastion of bankers and corporate execs” that “remains hands-down the most clannish and is known for shunning entertainment types in general.”
But situated on one of the most valuable piece of land in the world with downtown L.A. as the backdrop to the 11th hole and the back of the Playboy Mansion sharing a wall, the LACC started serious discussion last year with the USGA about connecting on the 123rd Open in 2023. The course’s board of directors approved it last fall, said club president John Chulick.
“The city of Los Angeles takes pride in hosting national championships – whether it’s a football national championship to a Super Bowl, the Olympics and even the Special Olympics,” said Chulick. “The region is going to be ecstatic to host this event. The region will embrace the event.”
The last event of any magnitude that LACC hosted was the PGA’s Los Angeles Open five times, the last in 1940. That annual event, currently called the Northern Trust Open, has been at Riviera almost exclusively since 1973. Riviera is also set to host the 2017 U.S. Amateur championship.
However, because of all the extensive space needed to accommodate the elaborate setup for the U.S. Open, the landmark Riviera, an 18-hole course off the windy Sunset Blvd., with limited parking and shuttle service, may have the most history on its side but not enough land.
In the latest Golf Digest list of the 100 greatest golf courses in the U.S., Riviera’s par 71, 7,040-yard amphitheater, also designed by Thomas, ranks No. 24. That’s two spots ahead of the LACC North Course, a par 71, 7,236-yard track. A year ago, LACC was ranked No. 41.

== Our column from the final round of the 2015 Northern Trust Open about Riviera’s future as a major host.


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HBO makes Bill Simmons its latest baller, coming to a platform nearest your wallet

simmons2HBO may have been one of the first logical landing spots for former ESPN writers/website chief/documentary producer Bill Simmons when it was revealed in May his contract would not be renewed, but it wasn’t official until Wednesday.

The premium cable network said the 45-year-old who is “one of the most influential figures in contemporary sports media” agreed to an “exclusive multi-year, multi-platform agreement” starting in October that includes a weekly series starting in 2016.

Simmons’ deal with ESPN expires in September, but he has not been involved in any of the network’s platforms since news came out that ESPN did not want him back.

“It’s no secret that HBO is the single best place for creative people in the entire media landscape,” Simmons said in a release. “From the moment I started talking to Michael (Lombardo, HBO president of programming) and Richard (Plepler, HBO chairman and CEO), it was hard to imagine being anywhere else.”

Key to this is Simmons having a production deal to produce content for the network and its digital platforms. He will also “be consulting” with HBO Sports and its division president Ken Hershman on “non-boxing-related programming” that include documentaries and shows.

Simmons, who was included in the L.A. Daily News’ Top 50 recent most powerful in L.A. Sports list, started at ESPN.com in 2001, and a year later was a columnist at ESPN’s magazine. He also wrote on ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live” from 2002-04 when he moved from Boston to L.A. He and ESPN launched Grantland.com in 2011.

== From our column about Simmons’ departure in May: “Whatever galaxy is left to accommodate Simmons, whose fame we’ve never completely understood and really aren’t that motivated to investigate despite others who begrudgedly give him props, we can’t wait to hear about from those independent bloggers who are now begging him to bless their site with his presence.”

== All Simmons had to do this morning was send out this tweet and it’s already been retweet 1.4K times:

== What doomed Simmons at ESPN? Author James Andrew Miller explains in Vanity Fair.

== What we found to be most appropriate from Twitter feeds today includes this:

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Play It Forward July 20-26 — The specialness of the Special Olympics World Games

Details/TV: At the Coliseum, Saturday at 5 p.m., ESPN

If you recall the joy of watching Chris Sutter, the son of Kings coach Darryl Sutter, give pep talks on the bench to members of the NHL All-Star team last January, or the exuberance of Champ Pederson, the older brother of the Dodgers’ Joc Pederson, greet the Angels’ Albert Pujols during the Home Run Derby in Cincinnati at the MLB All-Star game, then you’re already dialed into to what kind of all-star moment is about to happen — more than 7,000 special-needs athletes from 177 countries will walk into the Coliseum to officially launch the World Games for what’ll be labeled as the “largest sports and humanitarian event anywhere in the world” this year, and “the single biggest event in L.A. since the 1984 Olympics.”
imagesConsider the contingent from Nepal. Five athletes are attending, four of them competing in track and field. But because of the recent earthquakes that have devastated their country, there was some doubt they could make it. Dr. Jyoti Sherchan, the chairman of the Special Olympics Nepal, recently sent an email to organizers in Manhattan Beach, the host city for the group when it arrives, that explained how thousands of temples, monasteries, school buildings and heritage sites have been destroyed by the quakes of April 25 and May 12, with more tremblers coming all the time. “Special Olympics Nepal is planning to get involved in the reconstruction and social rehabilitation, for the humanity, Special Athletes and their family, which is most challenging,” Dr. Sherchan wrote. “We will request all the friends to join hands in this mission in Nepal.”
Competition in the 25 events actually begins Saturday morning, including the Nepalese competing in track and field on the USC campus, which also has basketball and swimming. UCLA is accommodating soccer and tennis, and the downtown Convention Center puts on bocce. Sunday’s events include the triathlon in Long Beach; handball, table tennis, badminton and roller skating at the Convention Center; bowling at Lucky Strikes at LA Live, softball and gymnastics at UCLA and beach volleyball in Long Beach.
ESPN coverage of the ceremonies begins at 6 p.m.; KABC-Channel 7 re-airs the event from 9 p.m. to midnight. Closing ceremonies are Aug. 2 at the Coliseum. More info: www.la2015.org


The wind-delayed 144th British Open has a special Monday conclusion — and beyond, if there’s a tie — starting at 3 a.m. on ESPN … The Dodgers end a 10-day, 10-game post All-Star break with four games in New York against the Mets from Thursday-Sunday on SportsNet LA  … the MLB Network has the Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremonies (Sunday, 10:30 a.m.) for Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz, Craig Biggio, Joe Torre, Bobby Cox and Tony LaRussa  … The CONCACAF Gold Cup final is set for Philadelphia on Sunday (4:30 p.m., FS1), should the U.S. team make it past Wednesday’s semifinal … The Galaxy faces FC Barcelona (without Messi) in the International Cup match at the Rose Bowl on Tuesday at 8 p.m. …  More to read at this link ...

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