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October 24, 2014

Happy 30th birthday, ESPN!

by Allison Waldman, posted Sep 7th 2009 2:03PM
ESPN_logoToday marks 30 years since the premiere of ESPN. Happy birthday, ESPN! Hard to believe there was actually a time when there wasn't a cable channel devoted completely to sports. In fact, the idea of a cable network that just covered sports was considered as ridiculous as one that only reported the news. Don't even get me started on the radical notion of an all-food channel or one that specialized in weather!

Yes, once upon a time, all those concepts were deemed losers. Back in 1979, if you wanted to know the score of a game in progress, you had to hope it was playing on the radio or TV to tune in. Or, more often than not, wait till the local news broadcast at six o'clock for the score. How did we ever get by?

There's an entire generation that has no conception of life without SportsCenter, ESPN's first broadcast and the centerpiece of the network. My 14-year-old nephew, Zachary, for instance, begins every day by watching SportsCenter. He's grown up watching ESPN. He's not alone.

And SportsCenter has produced stars, too, including the likes of Keith Olbermann, Dan Patrick, Chris Berman and Craig Kilborn. But more importantly, it's changed lives. Today, it's hard to imagine not having SportsCenter to summarize the day's events around the world of sports. If you're a sports fan like me, it's second nature to click on SportsCenter to find out what's happened and what it means because beyond the score, the show incorporates analysis. Again, that's something a two-minute local sports anchor never did and still doesn't.

Not everything about ESPN is great. It's expanded a lot -- probably too much -- and some of the newer personalities define the word obnoxious (Colin Cowherd), but overall, it's been a good thing. Happy Birthday, ESPN. You've done more than put Bristol, Connecticut on the map.

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