This year in sports can’t be summed up with Top 10 lists and reels of game clips. So ESPN is going to try some different tactics.
ESPN plans a three-hour primetime event to bid farewell to year in sports that often involved events that took place well off the field. The show, “SportsCenter Presents: 2020 – Heroes, History and Hope,”will air as three one-hour programs and will kick off on Thursday, December 24 at 8 p.m. Jeremy Schaap and Lisa Salters. It will also be available on the ESPN mobile app
“We’ve done all different kinds of year-end specials. Some of them have been anthologies of our best stories commentary. Five or six different panel shows do ten best things, then worst things,” says Schaap, in an interview. “For obvious reasons, that wouldn’t have seemed an appropriate way to look back at a year with so much devastation and heartache that touched the world of sports.”
Each hour will have a “Moment in Time” segment that focuses on specific days like March 11, when sports shut down due to the coronavirus or January 26, the day Kobe Bryant died. Each hour will also feature an in-depth feature on a 2020 sports newsmaker, including Utah Jazz player Rudy Gobert, whose positive coronavirus test spurred the NBA to suspend its season and Bubba Wallace, the only Black driver in Nascar’s top series.
Inspirational moments will also be highlighted. The special will put a spotlight on people such as WNBA player Sue Bird and Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, the Kansas City Chiefs guard who opted out of the NFL’s 2020 season to return to the medical field and help people in Canada against the coronavirus pandemic.
Many ESPN personalities will contribute essays to the programs, including Mike Greenberg, Mina Kimes, Adam Schefter, Stephen A. Smith, and Wright Thompson.
ESPN has been considering what to do about a year-end wrap up since August, says Andy Tennant, a senior coordinating producer at ESPN overseeing the project.
“This has been the most unprecedented year of our lives, the most unprecedented year in sports,” he says, in an interview. “These stories are going to put a punctuation mark on 2020.”