It’s going to be a pantheon week in the world of sports, on a level with the first week of April (MLB Opening Day, Final Four and the start of Masters Week—Chris’s personal fave) and the third week in June (NBA and NHL Finals, U.S. Open, and soccer tournaments like the European Championships and World Cup every couple of years—Mark’s choice).
Perhaps you’ve heard that Tom Brady will return to the Patriots this Sunday, after serving his four-game suspension for Deflategate. Texas and Oklahoma will face off on Saturday in the Red River Rivalry, which suddenly seems like it could be a loser-leaves-town matchup for two coaches on the hot seat. And the best team in baseball, the Chicago Cubs, are set to see if their s--- works in the postseason as they begin their pursuit of a first World Series title since 1908 Friday night against the winner of Wednesday’s Mets-Giants National League wild-card game.
It’s weeks like these that sports fans live for. We’re ready to cheer, to boo, and most of all, to talk and argue about the games that fuel our passion. That’s why it’s the perfect week to launch a transformational digital partnership between Sports Illustrated and Fox Sports. More than a year in the making, it’s a combination that will join two of the most powerful voices in sports to set up and drive the deepest and most important conversations in the sports world in real time.
After all, it’s the conversations and connections that sports create that draw us to them. This year has been one of the most thrilling, challenging, and in time may be revealed to be the most transformative in sports history. And for each of those moments, from the death of Muhammad Ali to the Cavs stunning comeback to win the NBA title to Peyton Manning’s Super Bowl win and retirement, we’ve come together to think about what the moment meant, to share our perspective, and to understand its impact. Both Sports Illustrated and Fox Sports have been crucial contributors to that conversation; now, as we join forces, we’ll lead them even more.
To be clear, this is a partnership between two digital properties and not a television one. There are no plans for, say, a Richard Deitsch-Clay Travis talk show, but we will bring together top talent for digital collaborations around Fox’s biggest TV events. Tomorrow, for example, Tom Verducci and Ken Rosenthal will preview the MLB playoffs in a special live MLB postseason edition of SI Now (Airing at 1 p.m. ET on SI.com). It won’t be the last conversation between arguably baseball’s most two connected voices, as Verducci and Rosenthal—friends for more than two decades—will be manning opposite dugouts as reporters for the NLCS and World Series. Beginning with the NLCS, which will be carried by Fox/FS1, Verducci and Rosenthal will be part of a Fox/SI co-produced pre- pregame show that will be hosted by Kevin Burkhardt. On Friday, SI’s Andy Staples will join Joel Klatt’s college football live show from the grounds of the Texas State Fair in Dallas, previewing the Red River Rivalry and all of college football’s big Saturday games. The show will be streamed on Facebook, and will also feature former Texas and Oklahoma greats Vince Young and Brian Bosworth.
You’ll also see Sports Illustrated’s content on foxsports.com, as well as both SI and Fox Sports social media teams working together to keep you better informed about—more deeply involved with—the people, issues, and games that you love. Over time, we’ll find new ways to collaborate, marrying the deep traditions of storytelling and innovation that we both bring to this partnership.
P.S.: A big welcome to SI to Mark, who joins us as the Time Inc. Sports Group digital editor after 10 years of excellence at Wired. Mark knows a little something about SI, having begun his career here as a reporter and editor from 1993–99. He knows a little something about partnerships, having helped lead the SI/Wired collaboration last winter that took a futuristic look at Super Bowl 100. Expect an insufferable amount of Cubs and Dubs coverage in the coming centuries. — C.S.