In Honor of Being Snowed in with my Family for Two Days: My Dad’s Top 3 ESPN Shows

Everybody knows that Syracusians are no strangers to a good old fashioned white out snow storm.  We brag about our immunity to snow on a regular basis.

I’ve never been one to let the snow stop me from making any plans or carrying out my day to day routine.  But on Monday night, as my younger sister eagerly watched the snow accumulate, we knew we were in for the snow storm of the century.

On Tuesday morning we woke up to a foot of snowfall and plowed snow pushed up to our driveway.  Travel was officially out of the question.

My so called, “spring break” was to be spent trapped in my house with the majority of my family.  Both of my parents were called off work due to the excessive snowfall, much to their pleasure.

Needless to say, two days trapped in your house with most of your family involved A LOT of quality time. Lucky for us, all this meant was bonding over March Madness, filling out brackets, and countless other things.

Being home and watching sports with my parents is what I always look forward to most when coming home.  Well, that and seeing my dog of course…

But there’s nothing like observing how passionate my parents get about any sporting event they stumble upon.  They treat every game like there’s a championship title on the line, and they’re on the sideline’s cheering their own team on.

Honestly, you’d have to see it to fully understand their intense dedication to the sports world.

On my second day of snowfall, just as our cabin fever was reaching its peak, I joined my dad for our typical morning coffee session.

“Favorite sports shows on ESPN. Go.” I said, taking a sip with my eyebrow raised.

“For the blog?” He asked.  (Eager for his time to shine).

“For the blog.”

So without further ado; Greg Langdon’s Top 3 ESPN Sports Talk Shows 

  1. Pardon the Interruption (PTI)
  2. Around the Horn
  3. Mike & Mike

For the sake of time, I’ll stick to PTI for now.

Pardon the Interruption (PTI)

 Before I even asked, I already knew what his favorite would be.  I grew up knowing that the second dinner was over, so was our access to the television.  Not because we weren’t allowed to watch TV, but because my dad’s favorite shows were about to start.

Pardon the Interruption features the opinions and often arguments of its founders, Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon and rakes in more than one million viewers every day.

According to Kornheiser, the show focuses on the day’s top stories in “sports and other stuff,” and has been doing so since its original air date, back in 2001.

“This one’s my favorite because of the personalities,” my dad said.  “Kornheiser and Wilbon are all around likable guys”.

Tony Kornheiser’s dry wit and sarcasm is something my dad has always been able to appreciate (and if you ask me, emulate).

“I also admire that he’s a SUNY grad,” he added.  Kornheiser graduated from SUNY Binghamton in 1970 with a degree in journalism.

Then there’s Michael Wilbon, a Northwestern grad.  My dad described him as being sincere and affable.  “He talks in such a genuine nature, you can’t help but respect what he has to say.”

Michael Wilbon of ABC/ESPN was one of the members of the Shirley Povich Symposium panel. Charlie DeBoyace/The Diamondback

The set of PTI features a plethora of cut-out heads of various celebrities, bobble-heads, Elmo, the leg lamp from A Christmas Story, and countless other knickknacks the duo have received over the years.

On special occasions, such as Halloween, Christmas, St. Patricks Day, the set is decorated to fit the theme.

Here’s a segment from their Thanksgiving episode a few years ago.

As for the format of PTI, it follows a countdown of topics to hit as well as a list of what’s to come, similar to Sports Center.  Each topic, however, is timed and interrupted by a bell, ending the discussion and moving on to the next topic.  That’s not to say that in heated debates the hosts won’t ignore the sometimes pesky bell.

The two open their show with their usual banter and a run-through of the day’s hottest stories.  Most days the following segment is “A Few Good Minutes,” which is approximately a five-minute interview with a sports figure, analyst, writer, etc.

What comes after A Few Good Minutes varies from day to day.  Some segments you might come across include; “Over /Under,” “Role Play,” “Odds Makers,” “Food Chain,” and other favorites.

Of these miscellaneous segments, my dad’s favorite is Role Play or “Heads on Sticks.”  This is when the two hosts hold cut out faces of athletes on a stick in front of their own faces.

“I like that Kornheiser and Wilbon get to speak vicariously through the athlete’s faces as if there were no media presence.”  He explained.

My personal favorite is Report Card, where they give letter grades to given sporting events and moments.

Next is “Happy Time,” where Kornheiser and Wilbon send out a Happy Birthday/Anniversary/Trails.  A Happy Birthday is pretty self-explanatory, but in the world of PTI, Happy Anniversary and Trails, require a bit more attention.

A Happy Anniversary is said in recognition to an event that happened on the day of the broadcast.  While a Happy Trails signifies a firing, a retirement, injury, or death.  In the case of a death, it is often referred to as a “melancholy” happy trails.

The Big Finish takes place in the closing 60 seconds of the show, allowing for Kornheiser and Wilbon to alternate making comments on the last few things on their run down.

 Still not entirely convinced?  Check out this video of Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon on Jimmy Kimmel, talking about getting their start on ESPN.  You won’t be disappointed.


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