I used to love SportsCenter. I would watch it everyday, using it as a tool to catch up on the highlights of games I missed, seeing the very best plays that sports had to offer. Sure, I had to sit through a segment of baseball highlights I didn’t really care for, but what other choice did I have? I wanted to see what was coming next, highlights from games that interested me. There weren’t a whole lot of options as far as sports highlights go, SportsCenter was the definitive place to get caught up on the world of sports. And then it wasn’t.
Now, you can get the latest highlights just minutes after they happen on platforms like Twitter and Instagram. Podcasts contain a much more detailed analysis than anything you can find on SportsCenter because of time constraints. The downfall of SporsCenter has been much discussed over the past few years, and ESPN has seemingly acknowledged it by tinkering with the format and offering a more condensed show on Snapchat.
The problem is, there really is not a point to tuning into SportsCenter right now. When you can find any highlight you want, minutes after it happens, without sitting through segments of other stuff you don’t really care about, the whole purpose of SportsCenter has been defeated. The shortened edition on Snapchat is a move in the right direction, but there are other things that can be done.
Right now, one of the biggest mobile apps is HQ, a live trivia game. HQ goes live twice a day, at 3 pm EST, and at 9 pm EST. The latter game gets over one million users playing against each other live. It is one big communal event, and you have to be there to experience it.
Riffing off of the idea, why can’t SportsCenter do something similar? Get people engaged with the content and have one time a day where thousands stop what they are doing and tune into SportsCenter. That’s a lot easier said than done. Here’s my proposal: SportsCenter: Fan Edition. This program airs (both on television and via an ESPN app) once a day and features highlights that are narrated by fans. Fans submit their own clips, and the best ones are played live on the show. Think of the young kids, aspiring broadcasters, YouTube personalities, and just overall huge sports fans that would love to narrate a sports clip on television. People would definitely tune in to see if their clip made the show. For people not interested in submitting their own content, they are still treated to a very diverse and different cast of voices. While Scott Van Pelt, Steve Levy, and Linda Cohn are all SportsCenter staples, SportsCenter: Fan Edition would be a drastically different show everyday because of the thousands of different fan submissions that can be used.
SportsCenter: Fan Edition may not have the broad appeal of something like HQ, but it encourages fan engagement. It also offers a unique experience from the traditional highlight show and a reason to tune in live. It isn’t perfect, but it’s a SportsCenter for a new generation.