Look, there's no denying that the world could use some fresh blood when it comes to ESPN's SportsCenter. Even with the show now basically on 24 hours a day (something like 18-20 actually, but whatever, it's there), it still feels like the same people each and every day giving you the same cliches and catchphrases you've been sick of since the late 90s. When you really think about it, SportsCenter hasn't felt important or essential from a sports fan's perspective since Keith Olbermann left.
You can pin it on the rise of the internet, which allows us all to make up our own sarcastic, hilarious thoughts about the evening's sports action, or the fact that Olbermann is a weird, crazy genius who made everyone around him better/crazy/both. You can blame it on it being on, you know, 18-20 freaking hours a day. Whatever it is, SportsCenter just doesn't have the "it" factor anymore.
I've got a suggestion on how to change that, and it involves hockey, which is why it's being posted here.
Lately, there's been a bit of American press attention paid to the duo of Jay Onrait and Dan O'Toole, hosts of the nightly, Canadian, TSN edition of SportsCentre (Canadian spelling!), and for good reason. They're, quite frankly, as hilarious any late night comedy show (back in the day, Olbermann and Dan Patrick would frequently be compared to Letterman), and you can see the proof in any number of tribute videos to the dynamic duo. I can't post all of them, but here's one just to get you going:
As you can see, they're pretty damn funny. So, the question is, what does this have to do with ESPN improving SportsCenter?
ESPN has a 20 percent stake in TSN, and they have the ability to share footage and programming. For example, TSN airs ESPN's broadcasts of Monday Night Football, the NBA and Major League Baseball. Well, why not bring over TSN's Onrait/O'Toole-hosted edition of SportsCentre and air it here in the States? It doesn't have to be highly promoted or on the main channel. Just throw it on ESPNews every night at 1 a.m., or ESPNU after that awful talk show they have planned. The buzz from the Internet would create a built-in audience, and since the show costs ESPN nothing to air (beyond likely a pittance of a fee to corporate partner TSN), it would likely be an easy moneymaker.
It'd also expand ESPN's cred among hockey fans. TSN's SportsCentre -- naturally, being in Canada -- devotes much more time to the NHL than ESPN does. It'd likely give you as much hockey coverage as NHL2Night did back in the day, while also getting all the other important sports news you'd get with American SportsCenter. Plus, since TSN covers the CFL and rugby, it'd be a throwback to the days when that was all ESPN aired.
Think of it as something you can program to a younger audience. Does anyone really believe Stuart Scott appeals to the average college student checking in on ESPN at 1 a.m.? These guys can be ESPN's version of Adult Swim, which out-rates ESPN among younger viewers on a nightly basis.
It won't detract from SportsCenter's audience either, since it'll be on late at night. It'll give you a little extra hockey cred. You don't have to promote it or sell it, just let the internet buzz of "hey, there's this cool thing!" develop via social media.
Seems like it'd be an easy decision to make.
So send e-mails, write letters, do whatever you have to do. If you're a real American, tell ESPN you want your sports highlights done by Canadians! Viva La Jay and Dan!