The History of Sportscasting – Presented by Will Selva

Currently serving as an anchor at ESPN, Will Selva hosts some of the network’s most prominent shows, including NBA Tonight, First Take, SportsCenter, and College Football Live. Mr. Selva holds a degree in Broadcast Journalism from ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. He has served as a sportscaster with a number of networks and stations prior to accepting his current position.


Sportscasting originally began on the radio with a number of famous radio announcers. Radio sportscasters focused on the excitement of the game, conveying the atmosphere of a sporting event as well as the score and other vital information. During the early days of radio, sportscasters often worked from studios away from the action, recreating the game from basic wire service reports.


Sports programming helped make television popular soon after it began gaining appeal with the mass market. During the late 1940s, as much as 30 percent of the television schedule during primetime was composed of sports programming. Sportscasters became the voice of sports for many viewers, as fans identified the announcers with a given sport or team.


In 1960, instant replay technology debuted, allowing television viewers to closely examine plays, making chaotic sports like football much more accessible via television. Soon after the development of instant replay, CBS paid a then unheard-of $28 million for the rights to broadcast National Football League games and established two major sponsorship contracts.


In 1979, ESPN debuted, establishing a new era for television sportscasting and becoming the first profitable network on basic cable. Currently, viewers in more than 59 million American households receive ESPN. Today, many sportscasters are prominent figures in their own right, having established strong relationships with viewers and the sports they announce.

Will Selva on the History of SportsCenter

Throughout his career as a broadcast journalist, Will Selva has had opportunities to work with a wide variety of sports programs, including College Football Live, NBA Tonight, and SportsCenter. Far and away the most popular sports news show in the United States, SportsCenter is a daily show that serves as the flagship program of ESPN.

SportsCenter traces its roots to the late 1970s, when Executive Editor John A. Walsh developed an idea for an all-inclusive daily sports news program. SportsCenter made its official debut on ESPN in 1979, anchored by George Grande and established New York broadcaster Lee Leonard. Grande served as the anchor of SportsCenter for more than a decade before retiring from the show in 1989. Another notable figure during the early years of the show was Chris Berman, who quickly rose to popularity during the 1980s and continues to contribute to SportsCenter today.

First Sportscenter Broadcast (1979) posted by

In the late 1980s, the show changed its format from a “sport-by-sport” structure to a news-style broadcast, which reported on the most important stories of the day regardless of the sport. The show also began to garner attention for its unique presentation, which included a fast-paced electronic audio track and animated sports balls flying toward the screen. By the mid-1990s, the show had begun to adopt its trademark three-count musical theme. The 1990s also saw the rise of anchor pair Dan Patrick and Keith Olbermann, who hosted the show until Olbermann’s departure in 1997, at which point Rich Eisen and Stuart Scott took over the top anchor spots.

The show continued to build on its successes throughout the end of the 1990s and, in 2004, made the switch to high-definition broadcasts. That year also coincided with the 25th anniversary of ESPN, which SportsCenter honored by replaying the top 100 sports moments of the past 25 years. Over the past 7 years, SportsCenter has significantly expanded its programming, launching segments such as 50 States in 50 Days and Baseball Tonight Extra, which contains highlights from Major League Baseball games currently in progress.

ESPN Baseball Tonight theme posted by ESPN