As someone who loves sports but was never a great athlete, my sports roles models were often people like Stuart Scott rather than Derek Jeter or Peyton Manning.
With that in mind, I thought it might be fitting for the first post on the blog to be about the figures in sports media today with the best jobs:
Mike Tirico: heir apparent for SNF, Olympics, Golf, Tennis
So as I’ll talk about later, in my mind NBC Sports does most things right. Over the past several years, Bob Costas and Al Michaels have led what is an absolutely stacked lineup of broadcasting talent. Sunday Night Football is the most popular TV show in America, so it could be argued that hosting it is the biggest job in television. There will never be another Al Michaels, but Tirico has the talent and the resume for the job. Tirico will soon replace not one but two broadcasting legends, as he’ll take over from Bob Costas as the lead anchor of NBC’s Olympic coverage. There is no bigger production in televised sports than what NBC does every other year for the Olympic Games, and any broadcaster would consider it an honor to lead. Mike Tirico also gets to call two of the sports I can competently play: golf and tennis. He got to cover the Masters for ESPN and will almost certainly lead the broadcast team for any premier golf tournament NBC televises. More importantly, he probably gets the chance to play a bunch of phenomenal golf courses as a result (and also probably for free), which is a phenomenal perk. Finally, Tirico helped cover Wimbledon and the Australian and US opens for ESPN and will almost certainly be a part of the French Open coverage with NBC. World travel, tennis, sounds pretty good to me.
Tony Reali: Around the Horn, PTI
Toni Reali doesn’t have the biggest job on TV, but man does he have fun doing it. He’s spent his time at ESPN as part of what I would argue are the two best daily sports TV shows in Around the Horn and PTI. On AtH he gets to arbitrarily award or deduct points from competing sports journalists on more or less how good they are at their jobs. It’s really a no-lose situation and Reali is great at it. I’d kill (figuratively) for a day in that chair. While his PTI appearances have become minimal in recent years, the feeling that comes with being able to mess with Kornheiser and Wilbon must be great. Also, he gets to live in Washington DC instead of Bristol, CT while working for ESPN.
Liam McHue: Primary studio host for NBC NHL coverage, occaisional studio host for EPL coverage, host for various other events
I think I’d really enjoy the opportunity to work with multiple sports, but even more so multiple sports that were more niche and that I have a particular passion for. That’s how I feel about soccer and hockey. Of the several sports teams I support, I devote the most attention to the Blackhawks and Chelsea so I see a lot of McHue. He covers every big game for the NHL and gets to dabble with the Premier League on occasion. He also has the perk of not having to constantly be traveling. As much as I think the type of job that would suit me best would be being a play-by-play guy, working near home is a nice perk. McHue can also be seen hosting portions of events like the Olympics and Kentucky Derby.
Chris Fowler: play-by-play for ESPN college football and tennis coverage
Chris Fowler gets to cover the highest profile events of two very different sports that I love: college football and tennis. I fell in love with college football in middle school, and it consistently produces some of the best moments in sports. Fowler took over the lead PxP gig from Brent Musburger over the past couple of years and will surely have that job for years to come. The sport I’ve been “best” at in life relative to the average person was tennis, playing competitively in high school and recreationally to this day. Fowler is the lead PxP man for the Aussie Open, Wimbledon, and the US Open and has gotten to call some of the best matches in tennis history during this unbelievable era of Federer, Nadal, Djokovic and the Williams sisters.
Jim Nantz: Lead NFL and College Basketball announcer for CBS (includes having called Super Bowls and Final Fours), lead commentator for the Masters
Perhaps no broadcaster is more important to his network. If CBS Sports is covering a big event, you can bet it will be Jim Nantz leading the coverage (“Hello, friends”). He gets to call the biggest AFC NFL non-primetime game every given weekend, the culmination of the greatest event in sports in the Final Four, and the most prestigious golf tournament in America (and perhaps the world) at The Masters. CBS loves to mention how they’re America’s most watched network, making Jim Nantz America’s most heard sports broadcaster.
Network I’d most want to work for: NBC
NBC cares about all the sports ESPN doesn’t, basically. Coincidentally, these are many of my favorite sports: soccer, hockey, tennis, golf, you get the idea. It’s also a network full of legends in the industry like Costas, Michaels, and Dan Patrick, as well as phenomenal hosts such as McHue and Rebecca Lowe. In addition, their play-by-play ranks include Mike “Doc” Emrick and Arlo White.
Arlo White: A man who has wonderfully helped bring English soccer to an American audience. He deserves a ton of credit for the success and quality of the EPL on NBC.
John Buccigross: gets paid to be a SportsCenter anchor who focuses on a sport (hockey) that ESPN doesn’t care about. I’d love that freedom to pursue what I wanted to cover even if my employer wasn’t all that interested.
Martin Tyler: the best soccer announcer in the world who taught me (largely through FIFA) so much about soccer terminology. World Cup finals, Champions League finals, EURO finals. You name it, he calls it.