We've already handed out some of the more prestigious sports media awards for 2019. Now it’s time to recognize some of the more lighthearted, surreal and downright absurd moments of 2019.
Most Ridiculous Controversy
Dan Le Batard, the son of immigrants, pointed out how disturbing it was to hear "Send her back" chants at a Presidential rally during his radio show in North Carolina. Because ESPN has a "no politics policy," this caused some commotion in Bristol and Le Batard had to meet with network President Jimmy Pitaro because he dared discuss something that wasn't about baskets or touchdowns or trades. Imagine that. You point out that "Send her back" chants are worrisome and you get sent to the principal's office.
On an episode of the Jay and Dan Podcast, Jay Onrait went on a rant about the awful reporting from NBA writers regarding where Kawhi Leonard would sign after he inked a deal with the Clippers. During the rant, Onrait had this to say about FS1's Chris Broussard: "And they were saying that they knew everything! Chris Broussard, who worked at Fox and is the biggest f---ing fraud in the history of sports media, ever, ESPN kicked him out, Fox kicked him out, I don’t know what he’s doing now, saying that the Clippers were out of it for sure and it was down to the Lakers and Raptors, he knew nothing! They knew nothing! It’s all bulls--t!”
Broussard attempted to fire back, telling Pardon My Take, "I had to Google Jay first. Real talk. I didn’t know who it was. And then I laughed, because to me, it was like someone in the G League criticizing Damian Lillard."
Onrait then ended the back-and-forth with this TKO: “Chris, at this point, if you actually had legitimate news and tweeted it out, would anyone believe you, or would they wait for that Woj or Shams tweet to confirm it? I think we both know the answer. I mean, what does it say about you that the only news you made during the entire NBA free agent process was getting called out on your bull---- by a foreign sports anchor?"
Most Depressing Story
When Iowa State student, Carson King, was caught on camera during an episode of ESPN's College GameDay with a sign asking for beer and his Venmo address, people responded in such a big way that King decided to turn this into a charitable endeavor. He ended up donating more than $1 million to the University of Iowa Stead Family's Children Hospital. Sadly, that was not the end of the story. A Des Moines Register reporter ended up digging up old racist and offensive tweets that King had sent eight years prior when he was 16 years old. But guess what? That reporter, Alvin Calvin, had his own set of racist and offensive tweets and he ended up getting fired from the paper.
Most Bizarre Firing
ESPN axed the versatile Adnan Virk after the company discovered that he had been leaking information to Awful Announcing. Virk, who called college football game and anchored studio shows, was not suspended or given a warning. ESPN immediately let him go. Virk now works for streaming service, DAZN.
Worst Take of the Year
College football analyst Tim Tebow came out strong against college players making a profit while playing ball. On an episode of First Take, the former Heisman winner said, “I feel like I have a little credibility and knowledge about this, because when I was at the University of Florida I think my jersey was one of the top-selling jerseys around the world. It was like Kobe, LeBron and then I was right behind them. And I didn’t make a dollar from it, but nor did I want to because I knew going into college what it was all about."
He continued, “But now we’re changing it from ‘us’, from ‘we’, from ‘my university’, from being an alumni where I care which makes college football and college sports special, to then, ‘OK, it’s not about us. It’s not about we. It’s just about me.’ And yes I know we live in a selfish culture where it’s all about us but we’re just adding and piling on to that where it changes what’s special about college football."
Must be nice to live in such a bubble that because YOU don't need or want the money, you don't think any other kid can profit.
Best Use of Social Media
The University of Nevada used The Office to announce its 2019 football schedule in an extremely clever manner.
Worst Use of Social Media
During a dumb back-and-forth the Rays social media account, the Marlins thought it was a good idea to use a joke about Steve Irwin's death.
Most Amusing Use of Social Media
When a baby filter became all the rage with Snapchat users, Baby Stephen A. Smith was born. And somehow, the hot takers diatribes became a whole lot more enjoyable when they were being delivered by someone who looked and sounded like a child.
While James Holzhauer was on his incredible Jeopardy! run earlier this year, people really got into the suspense of watching the show each night to see how long the contestant would keep his streak alive. For many people, though, they found out Holzhauer had finally lost after 32 straight wins, thanks to Darren Rovell tweeting the spoiler at 11:30am ET, a good seven hours before the episode would air for most people. There are a small handful of markets that air Jeopardy! in the morning and once the show aired there and Rovell found out what happened on the episode, he revealed the results on Twitter and got more backlash than he normally gets for one of his tweets.
Top ESPN personalities went out of their way to keep their bosses happy by plugging Disney+ on social media the day the app launched, while that day, the network filled its airwaves with tacky promotional "tie ins" that were nothing more than lame plugs for the app.
During a July concert at a Long Island venue, Knicks owner James Dolan had Bloomberg Businessweek reporter Polly Mosendz kicked out of the show. Mosendz, however, was there as a paying customer. “At one point, he flipped my notebook closed," Mosendz wrote in a follow-up story. "Finally he stormed off and summoned security guards to make me leave. When I protested, one of them offered me cash to cover the cost of my ticket."
Most Un-tragic Death
ESPN killed the "BoogerMobile" this year. After spending his first season as a Monday Night Football analyst in 2018 on a crane, ESPN announced the contraption would be gone for the 2019 season and Booger McFarland would call games from an actual booth.