Why ESPN hired “big, bald headed guy” to anchor SportsCenter – by Scott Van Pelt

Scott Van Pelt

Scott Van Pelt is an American sportscaster and anchor for the 11pm edition of SportsCenter on ESPN in the US and host of The Scott Van Pelt Show on ESPN Radio.

Van Pelt spoke to Insider Journalism Secrets about how to become a journalist including how he went from Golf Channel reporter to hosting the iconic SportsCenter TV show on ESPN.

By SCOTT VAN PELT

“The gig came about because there was a guy who worked [at ESPN] called Jimmy Roberts, who left to go to NBC. They [ESPN] wanted someone to cover golf. This was at the height of Tiger Woods mania in 2000.

“I was at the Golf Channel and they said, ‘Would you be interested in coming here to be a reporter?’ I said, ‘OK.'”

“[I started working as a golf reporter for ESPN] and did the odd story on American football, basketball and such.

“[About four months in], I was at the US Open in 2001 in Southern Hills, Oklahoma. The [ESPN] guys are sitting around talking about SportsCenter and they said, “We ought to get Van Pelt to do a show.’

“At the time I lived in Florida and I said, ‘I’m not going to Connecticut [where ESPN is based] in a million years!  I’m not moving all the way up north where it snows and whatever else.’

“Then that fall, probably four or five months later, they said, ‘We would like you to come up and do some.’ And I said, ‘Fine. But I’m not moving there.’

“So I came up and did some and went back home to Florida.

“I’m not moving there”

“Then they said, ‘We would like you to come do some more.’ I said, ‘That’s fine but I’m not moving there.’

“I came up and did some more. They said, ‘OK, now we want you to move here and do this.’

“I would say part of me fought them tooth and nail but I think all along I was saying I wouldn’t do it because I never thought that the option would present itself. Then it did.

“I didn’t arrive with a game plan. I didn’t set out to become an anchor on [SportsCenter].

“Again, it never seemed that it would even be possible. So when they said they really wanted me to do it I thought I would be an idiot not to.

“I would be a fool not to do it simply because I love sport, I enjoy it, I enjoy the daily process of telling the story. So see what happens, come up and take a shot and if it works it works. That was 10 years ago and here we are.’

“There was no reason I thought I would be anchoring shows, I didn’t live close enough to do it.

“[But], I think if anything, there are people in our business who like sports but don’t love them. I really love sports. I don’t watch the reality TV here. I find it ridiculous. It is all very contrived and non-sensical and shallow, empty and sad.

“Sport is true reality TV”

“Sport on the other hand is true reality TV. Every day something happens and you can’t script it. Remarkable things you can never in your life imagine.

“I think that they [ESPN] knew I was passionate about it. As for why, you would have to ask them. I think if I’m good at anything it’s that I’m authentic and I’m not out there trying to be bombastic or saying, ‘Look at me and how I present what I’m saying.’

“To the folks who don’t know who I am, I am some big, bald headed guy. You look at me and…you’re not put off by, ‘he’s too good looking.’

“You can look at me and say, ‘This is a guy, just the same as us.’

“I think ultimately that hopefully connects with people because they feel like I’m one of them. Because I am. And I don’t carry myself as anything but.”

For a full downloadable audio interview and transcript of Van Pelt talking about his journalism career, visit here…