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We are dusting off the SportsClicker Awards to look back on 2018 and ahead to 2019. As much as we can, we try to not just rehash what we have already written all year because that would be boring. So without further adieu, the SCAs …
Memory lane award
When we one day look back at 2018 and sports media, it will be most remembered as the year of gambling. We aren’t fully there yet, because there needs to be a federal bill or more states need to properly regulate it, but the Supreme Court opened the door this year for legalized sports betting outside of Nevada.
In the years to come — the next five to 10 years or so — this decision is likely going to transform sports media. The biggest eventual impact will likely be in-game betting. This will affect presentation across all media.
The Neymar award
This goes to the biggest dive of 2018, and the winner is … Michelle Beadle. Former ESPN president John Skipper kept asking Beadle to do “Get Up!” and she kept saying no. Finally, for a new $5 million-per-year contract that added “Get Up!” to her NBA duties, she agreed. She seemed uninterested and had little chemistry with co-host Mike Greenberg. After just half a year, her dive worked, as she got out of “Get Up!” and left New York for the West Coast. Strangely, she even got years added to her contract.
The rookie of the year
ESPN president Jimmy Pitaro takes the award as he brought stability to ESPN and returned to many of its core production values. Pitaro has a lot to sail through, perhaps first and foremost, how to develop ESPN+ with cable-subscriber numbers tumbling. He has implored his top executives to be creative in an attempt to be like that hip, up-and-coming place from years ago, but “fail fast.” They tried to be creative with the Booger Mobile, but should disconnect that idea soon. But Pitaro did well in replacing Skipper.
The GPS award
Turner’s Players Only broadcasts are terrible. If play-by-players ever want to show their value, just call up one of these messes. They are directionless.
The GPS award II
Fox’s “Thursday Night Football” studio show went with Michael Strahan as a pseudo-host with Terry Bradshaw and Howie Long. It was awkward to watch. Vince Wilfork may have potential as an analyst, but those comedy features that Fox had him do were seriously lacking.
The escalator award
ESPN’s Maria Taylor is on the way up. She is already on the sideline on the network’s top college football and basketball teams, while also a host for the women’s basketball Final Four and “College Football Live.” She is a part of “GameDay” and is on “Get Up!” regularly. If she isn’t already, you can tell she is going to be a big star.
Gene “Stick” Michael award
We try to scout out who deserves more chances. On Westwood One’s radio calls of “Thursday Night Football,” Tony Boselli was excellent. While Ian Eagle usually brings the best out of his analysts, Boselli weekly showed a willingness to make strong comments. Boselli — who may make the Hall of Fame one day — had a previous run with Fox TV on games, but he is someone TV executives may want to take a look at again.
Swami Says award
You are going to hear more about Chris Berman potentially adding assignments on ESPN. We wrote about this last year, and it didn’t fully come together. While Berman will become more of a presence, it is unlikely at this point he hosts “NFL Countdown” again, even if that show is revised.
Swami Says II award
Fox continues to spend big on sports rights. For those in the business, this is like predicting the Warriors will be in the NBA Finals. We get it, but look for Fox to potentially add one of the new football leagues’ games — likely the XFL — for its spring lineup.
The Costas award
The granddaddy award of them all, the sportscaster of the Year: Mike Tirico takes the honor. Tirico followed Bob Costas on the Olympics and Dan Patrick on “Sunday Night Football.” He did so with ease. Next up, he will be Al Michaels’ replacement on SNF play-by-play, but that may not be for a while because Michaels is still close to top form and has shown no indication yet he will retire.