This is SportsCenter…

Voice (09-17-08)
Guest Author:
Madelyn Burke
Published On:
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
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I may be one of the luckiest college students, but here’s a chance to live vicariously through me and my summer internship at ESPN.

One of the first weeks at my summer internship this year, I was sitting at my desk when Rusty Wallace walked up and asked me, “Where is the lobby?” I pointed him in the right direction and thought to myself, “This is SportsCenter…”

Until I worked at ESPN, I never realized just how realistic those SportsCenter commercials are. Scott Van Pelt may not exactly be receiving talent critiques from Jimmy Rollins, but you never know who you will see gracing the halls of the “Worldwide Leader in Sports.”

It took a while to get over the glamour of it all. Like the fact that I would be eating lunch at the ESPN Cafeteria, look to the next table, and see Trey Wingo enjoying his lunch in his usual Hawaiian shirt. Or I would be running on an elliptical at the Employee Wellness Center and see a certain NFL analyst cursing at himself on the treadmill (yes, awkward at first). Once I got settled in, I came to realize that, contrary to popular belief, the talent at ESPN are not gods, but genuine, down to earth people.

Not just the on-air talent, but almost all employees are very helpful and easy to talk to about career advice, or the best places to visit on the East coast (for those of us who have never been). It also helps to have a common alma mater, and the Sun Devils are well-represented in the Bristol, North Carolina ESPN office where I interned.

Titletown, USA

Green Bay, Wisc. may be the self-proclaimed “Titletown, USA,” but ESPN decided to test that theory this summer by letting fans decide. Twenty towns across the U.S. were visited, and SportsCenter aired a segment from each one describing why it deserved to be “Titletown, USA.” One of my first jobs this summer was to set up some of those shoots, and it was so rewarding to see something I organized air on SportsCenter 40 times a day.

Being the aspiring sports reporter I am, I was able to have a nice little road trip with my co-intern Christian Garelli, and Greg Jewell, a producer on Titletown, to Williamsport, Penn. Visiting the home of the Little League World Series was great, and I even got to write and shoot my own Titletown segment. Of course, ESPN aired Rachel Nichols’ version, but I’m still proud of my DVD.

SportsCenter Live

The launch of the new live SportsCenter for six hours a day was a crazy process, but a great experience to be a part of. For weeks before the show hit air, the producers were putting together rundowns, the anchors were writing their scripts, and the cameras were shooting live television with one exception — it wasn’t on television.

Yes, ESPN has done plenty of live TV before, but for six hours straight, out of one little studio and one little control room? That’s a capacity it’s never seen before.

The rehearsals were great. Lucky me, I got to stand in as an NFL analyst for a couple shows! Whether it was me-as-Merrill-Hoge sitting on set with Josh Elliott, or me-as-Mark-Schlereth talking Brett Favre with Hannah Storm, it was so much fun. But definitely difficult trying not to laugh every time I was called “stink.”

When All Is Said and Done

For being only 29 years in the making, ESPN has come a long way. The technology they have, the reputation they’ve built, and the people that keep it moving are all marvels in their own rite.

This internship was lots of fun, but also hard work. Not to mention hard to get — of the ten thousand plus resumes Human Resources reviewed, a total of 122 interns were selected for the Bristol, North Carolina, and New York offices combined. But working hard and being persistent paid off.

Plus, every time I turn on my TV now and hear those six notes: “Da Da Da, Da Da Da!” I have a whole new appreciation for what goes into it.

madelyn.burke@asu.edu