Exploring Scott Van Pelt’s Strange World of ‘SportsCenter’

When I heard that Scott Van Pelt was getting his own SportsCenter years ago, it seemed like a silly idea. It’s highlights. I didn’t understand why they were making it about the host. It’s not a show on WFAN. I thought it was unnecessary for somebody to put their own spin on things. We want news, scores, and video from the night’s games. Anchors seemed pretty interchangeable. Usually there wasn’t an emphasis on the host’s personality. Plus, I thought of Van Pelt as a golf guy. Not my area of expertise. It didn’t seem like my cup of tea.

However, something new entered my life. Bad Beats came along and convinced me to tune in. The talk of games suddenly going over in awkward and perhaps painful fashion intrigued me. I also agreed with most of Van Pelt’s commentaries. Not everything, but he seemed to blend passion with common sense when providing logic not often heard in the sports world. My mind was changed. After giving him a chance, I was sold.


Now, I’m starting to have second thoughts. Almost as if I was right in the first place. Although I appreciate Van Pelt’s honesty in terms of ESPN’s limited chances to show highlights for March Madness and World Cup action, it’s annoying. Van Pelt mocks it by showing drawings from kids. Stick figures. A sun and soccer ball. Young children using crayons. Maybe it was cute once, but wasting time each night with this nonsense instead of providing analysis seems ridiculous. Taylor Twellman joins the program, but he shares drawings and Van Pelt jokingly calls him a summer intern. There is some serious soccer talk, but not much.

Van Pelt often has guests, but his interviews sometimes seem short or rushed. Obviously he isn’t grilling players, but we might be getting just a few quick questions before letting players go. Also, he starts shows with the best thing he saw. You would expect a major news story to start. This should go last, but no. That is where the best available video goes. Don’t get them mixed up. Even though they sound like the exact same thing. Apparently, they are very different.

The only major sport in play right now is baseball. With the exception of occasional basketball news, most summer programs should be focused on the MLB. Now we have World Cup games, but as I mentioned this topic gets very little coverage. Van Pelt will show highlights from a couple marquee contests. Later, he’ll speak about going around the baseball world. Gumbo is a segment that quickly gives us a look at what else is happening in baseball. That word has nothing to do with the sport, and personally I find it insulting. Let’s look in the pot and see what we can find. Although my favorite sports are football and basketball, I believe baseball should get proper respect and coverage. Some games aren’t acknowledged. They can’t even make the pot segment.

Baseball highlights are often different than the ones shown on MLB Network’s Quick Pitch show. Plus, Jamie Hersch is more attractive. Now I’m spending two hours every morning just to see some baseball highlights during what should be a calm part of my sports calendar.

Usually I tune in at midnight to catch the banter between Van Pelt and whoever is wrapping up on the previous SportsCenter. Lately Van Pelt has been making a lot of mistakes. This morning his teleprompter appeared to go down during his commentary, so I’m not blaming him for that. Sometimes he jokes that they will clean it up on the overnight reruns. Some mistakes are fixed, but apparently not everything is detected. Plus, some games are not over when he finishes. These finals might also be added to later editions.

If I tune in for a later version, that is now three hours of my morning going to what is again basically baseball highlights. Even Van Pelt confesses that he doesn’t know when shows will be replayed. I have recorded shows listed as Van Pelt’s program only to watch later and find different people hosting SportsCenter. Although he is not at fault, it’s an issue. His SportsCenters after basketball playoff games are basically just postgame shows. They are chaos. You never know when they will end. Even adding 30 minutes doesn’t always prevent them from cutting off before he finishes up.

The show sometimes goes more than 90 minutes despite being listed for 60. Maybe I will cut back and try to just catch episodes with Bad Beats. At least in the summer. Before you know it, footballs will be flying again. For now, I will try to solve my first world problems.