Growing up in Ohio, I was a sports fan at a young age. The Indians, Cavs, and Browns delighted me and angered me as any group of sports teams will do. I collected the baseball cards, cheered at the Richfield Coliseum (!), and groaned at John Elway. I was your typical youthful sports fan, and I devoured the sports section in the morning newspaper. Cleveland's Plain Dealer provided me with the foundation of stats and scores that would later fuel a horribly unhealthy fantasy sports drive (I'm comin' for you, Edwin). A later move made the Dayton Daily News the sports page of choice for yours truly.
Reading in the paper the next day was all fine and good for the budding obsession, but TV sports were better. I enjoyed watching the games on TV as much as possible and on occasion (Monday Night Football comes to mind most readily) avoided the newspaper until I could watch my VHS tape of the game from the night before so as to not ruin the suspenseful outcome.
Then somewhere in the time frame of 5th grade, I began to consume ESPN.
Most definitely during summer vacation, the thirty minute Sportscenter was a necessary viewing before doing anything else. With a full day's highlights packed into a half an hour, Sportscenter became my greatest media delight. This was a time before Make-A-Wish, "Who's Now," and 38 analysts per sport watered down the program. No, this was the glory time for the show when the beloved recap screen actually showed stats from the game with the lesser teams (think Royals) were sometimes only allowed said recap screen without highlights. This was a time when Peter Gammons was the only damn baseball analyst you needed (that may actually have not changed).
Oh, how I loved Sportscenter. It was reading the morning sports section on steroids. But there was one thing greater - the Monday morning Sportscenter.
Due to Sunday being packed full of games and coverage - the overlap of the baseball season and football season was overwhelming - Sportscenter extended to one full hour. It took a full hour to get through all of the games, and the extra time even allowed for a non-irritating feature segment in the Top 10 Plays of the Week. The segment was must see. Hold the rap music and fancy video distortion at the door, Mr. Ultimate Highlight. No social commentary with commercial segment in between numbers six and five, Mr. Berman. This segment belonged to the plays and two goofy anchors who usually put some theme to the plays and then listed a slew of sports names who would not be appearing despite the connecting theme.
Keith Olbermann and Dan Patrick were my favorites. I was physically violent anytime one of them would not host the Monday morning Sportscenter, taking a break where Bob Ley and/or Charlie Steiner would fill-in. It was Olbermann and Patrick that fostered my love of the show, ESPN, and sports in general. I even went out and bought their book, The Big Show, and read it cover to cover to absorb more of the their insights and wit.
Later, Keith Olbermann would leave the network and the team was broken. He now hosts The Countdown, some NBC cable show that counts down the top 10 news stories of the day, no doubt a nod to the gimmick that originated on Sportscenter. He would pop up on various news shows, and even returned to sports on a case-by-case basis. Lately, he's been regularly appearing on Patrick's radio show, which I have never listened to because I just cannot get into sports radio regardless of who does it.
But now I have just read that Dan Patrick is also leaving ESPN. I can't say that I have seen him host a Sportscenter in months or maybe even years. As mentioned I can't say that I have listened to his radio show. And I also cannot say that I have enjoyed his work now, when I have consumed it, as I used to ten years ago. While to a lesser degree than Stuart Scott, Patrick gets ridiculed for his over-the-top, pompous attitude and annoying catch phrases. I give Patrick a pass. He did it before the rest, before it was the "you have to do it this way to get face time" mentality. I'm sure much of the disaster of the current Sportscenter is attributable to his mannerisms and tendencies, but I'm going to revert back to my 5th grader self and say that I will miss Dan Patrick.
Photo from Sportsanimal 1300