Industry News:

ESPN to Spotlight Neglected, as Well as Wacky, Sports on 50-State SportsCenter Tour

Inline Skating Will Be Featured Along with Baseball, Foosball, Pie-Eating

By Robert "Just the Factoids" Burnson

As previously announced, one of the stops on ESPN's "SportsCenter Across America" tour this summer will be the St. Paul Inline Marathon on Aug. 21st.

But inline skating won't be the only neglected sport basking in the ESPN spotlight.

The 50-day, 50-state tour will make stops at just about every imaginable sporting event from the mundane (baseball and football) to the archaic and grotesque (jousting and pie-eating).

Along the way, there will be stops at the:

  • Snake River Professional Rodeo (Idaho)
  • Foosball Spectacular (Virginia)
  • U.S. Windsurfing Championships (Oregon)
  • Lost Prairie Skydiving Meet (Montana)
  • Freestyle Frisbee Championships (Washington)
  • Hawaiian Canoe Racing Championships (Take a guess?)
  • Battle Axe Throw of the Highland Games (Wisconsin)
  • and Blueberry Pie-Eating Contest (Maine)

So what's it all about? ... Ratings, of course.

ESPN hopes that by getting its show on the road it will connect with and win new viewers in all 50 states.

But along the way, "SportsCenter Across America" is likely to provide a healthy shot of media attention for neglected and deserving sports, like inline skating.

"What we are hoping to do is parlay this into a way to get more people into inline marathons," said Mike Cofrin, cofounder of the St. Paul Marathon.

SportsCenter will broadcast live from a stage in front of the St. Paul finish line on the morning of the race.

"The anchors will be on stage with the athletes finishing over their shoulders," Cofrin said.

Later in the day, ESPN will rebroadcast race highlights and viewers will be directed to the St. Paul Inline Marathon web site for more information, he said.

There, they will find a link to the new Skate A Marathon web site, posted jointly by the St. Paul and Northshore inline marathons to draw skaters to their events.

Of course, some viewers might prefer pie-eating!

(posted on June 22, 2005)


Related reading ...

St. Paul and ESPN press releases about "SportsCenter Across America (includes list of all 50 stops on tour)



Copyright © 2005 by Robert Burnson

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