SBJ/November 21-27, 2011/Idea Innovators

Gary Hartley, Fox Sports

Photo: FOX SPORTS

Define innovation: Making the complex accessible.

What’s the innovation you’re most proud of? Our design approach for presenting real-time race information for our launch of NASCAR in 2001.

What’s the future of your industry? A la carte mobile access to everything everywhere at any time … and robots!

What inspires you? Beyond my wife and kids, I would have to say all the talented people I work with every day.


Gary Hartley

Executive Vice President, Graphics
Fox Sports

The person most responsible for conveying Fox Sports’ irreverent, smash-mouth attitude just might be a graphic designer. As executive vice president of graphics, Gary Hartley has had a hand in just about every on-screen innovation Fox Sports has used during the past 16 years.

“It’s impossible to describe how important Gary Hartley has been to the development of Fox Sports,” said Fox Sports Media Group Chairman David Hill. “He has the soul of an artist, the mind of a producer, with a sense of humor verging on developing adolescent.”

One of Hartley’s best-known creations is probably Cleatus, the football-playing robot that has become the most recognizable symbol of Fox Sports’ NFL coverage. In 2004, Hartley’s son gave him a drawing that eventually became Cleatus. Working with Blur Studio in Venice, Calif., Cleatus made his Fox Sports debut during the 2005-06 season.

Hartley has been with Fox Sports since 1995 and has been part of every technical innovation the broadcaster has rolled out in sports, including all updates to the original “Fox Box” that showed the score and clock. As technology improved, Fox executives fought the urge to cram too much information into the box.

“There’s a fine line to where you have too much going on,” Hartley said. “David Hill always wants us to use the ‘bar test.’ He wants to be able to read any graphic from the back of a smoky bar.”

Hartley credits executives like Hill for creating an atmosphere that allows for technical innovation on-screen.

“If you look at the management structure of Fox Sports, the senior executives are, by and large, producers,” he said, referring to Hill, Eric Shanks and Ed Goren. “The focus of Fox Sports has always been wrapped around building a better product.”

Hill is effusive in his praise of Hartley.

“Who else could have created Cleatus, or Digger, or worry endlessly that our NASCAR graphics weren’t good enough?” Hill said. “There is not one single aspect of Fox Sports that doesn’t have Gary’s fingerprints all over it — and I can’t offer any higher praise than that.”

— John Ourand

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