This morning marked the final broadcast of “The Sports Reporters.” ESPN ended the provocative roundtable discussion show after 29 years.
Westport has many connections to the Bristol-based broadcast. For the past 27 years the producer was Joe Valerio, a longtime resident whose son Brian graduated from Staples in 2003.
Former Westporter Dick Schaap was the 2nd host. On September 16, 2001 the show expanded to an hour, to explore (from a sports perspective) the terrorist attacks of 5 days earlier.
Schaap delayed hip replacement surgery in order to host that show. It was his last, as he died from complications 3 months later.
Another former Westporter — New York Times and Sports Illustrated writer Selena Roberts — was a regular panelist.
“The Sports Reporters” will be replaced by a morning edition of “E:60,” ESPN’s news magazine. Co-hosts are Bob Ley — and Jeremy Schaap.
The 1988 Staples High School graduate has returned to his hometown.
The other day, Schaap wrote about growing up with “The Sports Reporters.” He began with a tribute to Valerio:
When I think of The Sports Reporters, and I do, often, I think of the big brown paper bags filled with dozens and dozens of H & H Bagels that producer Joe Valerio brought to the set every Sunday morning—when the show was still in New York and before H & H went out of business. (By the way, how exactly does the best bagel bakery in New York go out of business, ever? A pox on Atkins.)
I think of those early mornings, still kind-of-warm bagels — the obvious but still true New York analog of the Proustian Madeleine — and, as they were being consumed, the pre-taping banter among the panelists. In the tradition of producers of talk shows everywhere, Valerio, who’s been producing the show since 1989, would tell everybody to save their best material for the set, not to leave it in the makeup room, but there was never more than semi-compliance.
Click here to read the rest of Schaap’s thoughts on “The Sports Reporters,” as he brings the Westport/ESPN Sunday morning connection full circle. And click here, to see some of the top reporters in the sports world give the show — and Joe Valerio — some love.
(Hat tip: Tom Haberstroh)