SBD/October 24, 2013/Media

People & Personalities: Scott Van Pelt Does Not Back Down From Being A Fan

Van Pelt is Terrapins royalty at UM, but is not concerned about his ability to be objective
In Baltimore, Jeff Barker writes ESPN's Scott Van Pelt is in "unusual territory" in that he "discusses sports and sports fans for a living and is clearly a fan himself." Many broadcasters "avoid public discussions of their own sports loyalties in the same way that many political reporters avoid talking about their party affiliations." But "not Van Pelt," who is treated on the Univ. of Maryland campus "as Terrapins royalty." He "not only attends" UM football and basketball games, but he also "communicates regularly with the school's current and former athletes." Van Pelt said that he is "not concerned about his ability to remain objective professionally." Van Pelt: "If I am off work and choose to go to a game and cheer for Maryland, who am I bothering? I didn't sign some media version of the Hippocratic Oath to be on TV or radio" (Baltimore SUN, 10/24).

A PERFECT 10: NBC Sports Group yesterday announced that former U.S. Winter Olympians Johnny Weir, Tara Lipinski and Tanith Belbin will join NBC Olympics' on-air team for coverage of the '14 Sochi Games. Weir and Lipinski will serve as figure skating analysts, while Belbin will be a reporter for NBC Olympics' Sports Desk and will present features for the 30-minute daily show "The Olympic Zone" (NBC Sports). Weir said that despite being gay he "planned to hold his tongue in Sochi, at least when it comes to speaking out against" Russia's anti-gay laws. Weir: "I risk jail time just going there, but the Olympics are not the place to make a political statement." NBC Olympics Exec Producer Jim Bell said that the net "had not -- and would not -- muzzle Weir" (N.Y. TIMES, 10/24).

FLY LIKE AN EAGLE: SI's Andrew Lawrence writes CBS' Ian Eagle's "disdain for cinematic flourishes is what makes him so pleasant on Sunday afternoons, when he calls NFL games" for the net. Eagle's "enunciation isn't forced, nor is his vocabulary self-coined." He "doesn't get carried away," and his "niche is keeping things honest." Eagle "doesn't just have the correct down-and-distance or the obscure rule or the stakes of each situation -- he also knows exactly when to layer each detail on the viewer." His "magic is as much about patience as it is precision." Eagle is the "safecracker of announcers, breaking into the scene with a touch so light you'll barely notice" (SI, 10/28 issue).

SEEING RED: USA TODAY's Chris Strauss notes DirecTV host Andrew Siciliano and VP/Production James Crittenden run the company's NFL RedZone Channel, "attempting to show viewers as many real-time scoring plays" as they can. Siciliano "frantically clicks his pen between voice-overs, cracking one-liners as if he were a viewer watching with his buddies." Perhaps the "only one who can sympathize with Siciliano's game-day routine" is NFL Network's Scott Hanson, who runs the similar NFL RedZone. Siciliano said, "It's the greatest job on earth. I get to stand here and watch every game and lose my mind within reason" (USA TODAY, 10/24).
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