Episode 1 - September 14
At the beginning of this year, Mike Hall lived a
dream: he outlasted thousands of contestants and became
an ESPN sportscaster (complete with
a new car and a $95,000 'salary' for a year-long
Well, apparently, ESPN needs more than one new face on "SportsCenter"
because the call for the next DREAM JOB started not too
long after Mike received his contract. Thousands of
wannabes gathered in cities across America for the slow
process of chipping away the stragglers. In the end, ten
people were chosen by ESPN experts and two wound up in
the competition via "Wendy's Wild Cards". Now this dirty
dozen starts the task of EARNING a one-year contract for
ESPN and a Mazda 6 5-door SUV!
And these twelve anxious men and women are:
Arnish Shroff, 22, student and radio host at
Whitney Scott, 24, sport info assistant in
Brian Startare, 33, health care manager from
Winston Bell, 35, banker from Cleveland, OH
Grant Thompson, 28, Harvard grad and actor from
Stephanie Rich, travel coordinator from
Jason Ashworth, 23, "Hoop It Up" Asst. Tour
Manager and MC from York,
Joe Voyticky, 37, attorney from Carmel, NY
Valerie Hawrylko, 31, management consultant from
Jason Horowitz, 21, from West Bloomfield, MI
K.C. James, 44, Wendy's Wild Card and salesperson
from Los Angeles
David Holmes, 22, Wendy's Wild Card and Kent
State student from
This year, our esteemed judging panel consists of two
veterans and two
Woody Paige - sports reporter; regular on "Around the
Horn" and "Cold Pizza"
Stephen A. Smith - rather vocal basketball analyst for
Kit Hoover - one of the stars of ESPN2's morning show,
Al Jaffe - VP of Talent; the one who has hired every
sportscaster on ESPN
And, of course, your host is veteran sportscaster Stuart
Like last year, six of the anchor-wannabes will
participate tonight, while the other six play next week.
The way the judges (and the American people) decide who
advances is through "My SportsCenter". This week, the
task is "Highlights". Each of the six participants have
been given a highlight reel of two games in football and
baseball and a "shot sheet", telling how long each
individual play is in the clip. They will do the
highlights as any anchor would do, using a teleprompter
for their lead-ins and a monitor for the highlights.
They will be judged on knowledge, writing ability,
personality and delivery.
Our first victim... er, contestant is Grant Thompson,
who thinks there's a connection between acting and
sportscasting. He has his shot sheet ready and his
intros in the teleprompter... and away he goes. His
first highlight is the season premiere of "Monday Night
Football" between the Green Bay Packers and the Carolina
Panthers. He's... well... he seems better suited for
Comedy Central than ESPN. And he draws out his intro and
outro for WAY too long. He doesn't improve much in his
second highlight, the Florida Marlins paying a "home
game" against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field thanks
to the rash of hurricanes that hit the state. Oh, his
jokes are MILDLY clever... but hardly "Last Comic
Standing" material. And the judges clue him in on this,
starting with Woody actually acting like he was ASLEEP.
He felt Grant didn't project FEELING in the delivery,
though he admits the writing was creative. Kit commented
on the length of the intros and outros. Stephen A., like
he does ALL the time on ESPN, picks on EVERYTHING Grant
did wrong. And Big Al agrees with the others about it
just being way too long and way too "shticky".
K.C. James is next up, and he used to talk BACK to
SportsCenter broadcasts as a kid (some of us still do,
K.C.). His first highlight is the Cleveland Browns vs.
the FORMER Browns, now known as the Baltimore Ravens. He
doesn't do anything exciting; no catch phrases, no
stats, no nothing... and he overplays the highlight
read. He even keeps his head down as the second
highlight, New York Yankees at the Baltimore Orioles,
cued up. He tosses a FEW clichéd phrases in... but his
energy is WAY low. Woody thinks, as I did, that the
energy was low until the outro and has a lot of work
ahead. Kit agreed abut the energy, but feels he SOUNDS
like a sportcaster (I disagree). Stephen A. comments
that his highlights were slow and he shouldn't copy
other people's catch phrases. And Big Al agrees that K.C.
should just be himself.
Anish Shroff is next up, who's from the same school that
produced NBC Olympic anchorman Bob Costas... so he has a
lot to live up to. His first game is Denver Broncos
hosting Kansas City Chiefs (on ESPN, no doubt). He has a
decent intro to it and did the highlights well, though
without too much flash. "From Redskins to red birds" is
his transition to the St. Louis Cardinals at the San
Diego Padres and he talks about Rick Ankiel's return to
the majors after over four years. He stumbled on
the outro and "basket weaving"... but it seemed like a
solid performance. Woody thought he was very creative
and was impressed. Kit said he "hit it out of the park"
in almost every aspect. Stephen A. had only had one
complaint about energy at the right time during the
football highlight... but, other than that, he was
solid. And even Big Al is impressed. In fact, he says he
was "perfect" and had "not much to improve on". Can you
say "early favorite"?
It's half-time, which means it's time for another
sports-related game. This time, it's "Get Off the
Fence"! The six are split into pairs and Stuart will
give a recent sports topic. One must argue a point about
the topic and the other - even if they really AGREE with
the point - must do a counter-point of it. It's
basically a sports debate and they'll be judged on
knowledge, quality and persuasion.
Anish and Joe Voyticky start us off by discussing the
Texas Rangers' pitcher James Francisco tossing a chair
into the crowd the other night and whether or not he
should serve jail time. Anish says he does because it
was essentially assault, and Joe thinks it's the FANS'
fault for not being under control and yapping to the
pitcher to start. Then they talked about whether there
should be instant replay in tennis, since there were a
number of bad calls during the U.S. Open match with
Serena Williams. Joe says they should to keep the line
calls honest, but Anish thinks human elements play an
important part in sports.
Next up is Valerie Hawrylko and K.C. Their first debate
is whether or not the San Francisco Giants will win the
National League Wild Card. Valerie says they won't
because their pitching staff is busted up and all they
really have left is Barry Bonds, and K.C. retorts by
saying the relief pitching is starting to "come around"
and they WILL hold on to win. The next topic is whether
Tyrone Willingham is off the "hot seat" as head coach of
Notre Dame football after their win against Michigan.
K.C. says he still is because their offense is too
complicated for their players, and Valerie says he's off
it because they beat a Top 10-ranked team for the first
time in two years.
Finally, we have Grant vs. Brian Startare. First, Brian
argues against accredited "Football 101" classes at Ohio
State and Kansas State, saying that the NCAA brings in
the most money for the schools already.
But Grant rebuts that
football players need classes to graduate as well... so
why NOT a class on football? Lastly, they argue about if
anyone will care if there's an NFL lockout. Grant says
no, since the commissioner turns ice hockey into a
"niche sport". Brian argues that the expansion brought
hockey to places that didn't even have ICE (like Florida
and Southern California)... but he stumbles near the
Now, the judging. Woody thinks Anish was worst - calling
him a "hanging judge" concerning the chair-throwing
incident - and Valerie was best - thanks to forceful
opinions. Kit says Brian was the worst due to the
stumbling, and Grant was the best with persuasion.
Stephen A.'s worst is Brian due to stuttering and
sweating and his best was Valerie... which makes him
wonder how a woman "took out" five males. Big Al agrees
with Stephen A. that Brian was worst and Valerie was
OK, back to "My SportsCenter" and Joe Voyticky, who says
sports saved his life. His first game is the Washington
Redskins and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (specifically Joe
Gibbs' return to coaching for Washington). He tossed in
a few phrases like "The Bucs' defense parted like the
Red Sea" but was fairly accurate. His baseball game is
the Giants and the Arizona Diamondbacks. Upon Barry
Bonds hitting his 41st homer of the season, Joe asks,
"Is it surf or is it turf?" Too cliched, too much
stumbling, and FAR too slow. Woody talks about the
cliches and includes his own: "Say it ain't so, Joe!"
Kit says her voice was monotone on the prompter read and
the transition was way to long. Stephen A. says he was
slow on the prompter and that he was boring. And Big Al
agrees with the lack of energy and the lack of
specificity in stats.
Next in the electric chair is Valerie Hawrylko, who had
a crush on Thurman Munson of the Yankees as a girl. Her
football game was the Philly Eagles and the NY Giants...
but not before she starts by saying the Eagles' wide
receivers were "as suspect as a mushroom cloud over
North Korea" (you don't see politics and sports merged
like THIS, people). She stutters a bit on a TD pass, but
recovers with a nice "Schoolhouse Rock" reference. She
was slow to look up once the highlight ended, but she
tried again with the Anaheim Angels playing baseball
against the Chicago White Sox. She stumbled a little
more, but tossed in "kicking it around like Mia Hamm"
when an outfield bobbled the ball. This didn't help her,
though, as the judges let her have it. Woody says,
though she recovered near the end, she still needs a lot
of work on that. Kit says she started off well but was
"too cutesy" and needs more stats. Stephen A. says it
was a decent performance... but TERRIBLE on the prompter
work. And Big Al says she mispronounced Terrell Owens'
name, which was a BIG faux pas in his book, and she
needs to be less shaky.
Our last torture victim is Brian Startare, and he
impressed his math teacher as a kid by rambling off
Philly Flyers' jersey numbers. He starts with food
references leading to the Dallas Cowboys/Minnesota
Vikings highlight. He's a little slow... and says "same
play" for a whole DIFFERENT play, even though the same
QB and receiver were involved. He also overran the
highlight by a WIDE margin. He does school references
before the Boston Red Sox/Oakland A's highlight and
cliches and stumbles his way through it (complete with
"The Gap" for a shot into a gap in the outfield). He has
decent stats... but Woody says it was "brutal" and
couldn't "get into it". Kit disagrees, since he has good
energy, though the references went over her head a bit.
Stephen A. says he made mistakes but it wasn't THAT
horrible; he was fluid and saved himself. Big Al agrees
that he sounds like a sportscaster (I agree this time),
but mistakes in facts are unforgivable in later rounds.
Oh, yeah, and NEVER use "The Gap" reference again!
The first impressions out of the way, it's time to kick
someone out. Each of the four judges have one vote, the
majority of America (who voted on line and on their
Verizon(TM) phones) have another. The one with the most
votes packs up and splits. It there's a tie, the
producers get the final word.
America cuts... Brian.
Woody Paige cuts... Joe. Brian represents "every man",
according to him, and Joe needs to work on his
transition from written words to spoken words... but Joe
had no energy and no enthusiasm.
Kit Hoover cuts... K.C.
Joe & K.C. were her final two, but K.C.'s information in
his writing was too old.
Stephen A. Smith cuts... Joe, after once again narrowing
it down between him and K.C. K.C.'s enthusiasm saved
him. Joe has two votes. One more for him, Valerie, Anish
or Grant and he's gone.
It's down to Al Jaffe. Valerie was disappointing with
the highlights, but the debate was fine. Again, Joe &
K.C. are his final two. But the bottom line is... K.C.
was SLIGHTLY better. Therefore, he cuts... Joe!
That's three votes, and
that's all she wrote for Joe Voyticky. Head back to the
locker room and pack up your briefs.
11 remain... who will be cut NEXT?