ESPN host sees IndyCar spat as good news/bad news story

Media Watch

March 27, 1996|By Milton Kent

ESPN's John Kernan is caught between the proverbial rock and a hard place on his feelings about the squabble between the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the CART racing teams.

As a kid growing up in Missouri, Kernan, the host of ESPN2's "RPM 2Night," which airs each weekday at 7 p.m., grew up loving the Indianapolis 500 and, as such, is hurt by the fighting.

As a journalist and race devotee, however, Kernan appreciates the interest the brouhaha has brought to racing.

"I hate that some of these big name guys are not going to be at the Indy 500, but you also have to be realistic and say they didn't make the Indianapolis 500. It helped make them," said Kernan.

"Plus, can you remember this early in the year, when [newspapers] had this much coverage. People have been talking about it all winter long. I can't remember hearing about IndyCar racing this early in the season. I think that's good in that it got a lot of people's attention. They may start to tune in and watch the IndyCar races, get hooked and become a fan."

Kernan, who operates out of ESPN's studios just south of Charlotte, N.C., reported this week that Speedway President and CEO Tony George essentially ordered the CART teams to stop using the term "IndyCar" in 30 days and effectively closed the door on any compromise that would have brought CART racers to Indianapolis.

Oddly enough, ESPN will be carrying the inaugural U.S. 500, the Memorial Day challenger to the venerable Indianapolis 500.

"We'll have people there [Indianapolis]. We also have the Coca Cola 600 [NASCAR race] here in Charlotte at the same time," said Kernan. "We're a news organization. We don't play favorites. We'll cover everything."

Hoop dreamin'

Tonight's "Sports Showdown," will feature a chat with William Gates, one of two subjects of the marvelous "Hoop Dreams" documentary at 10 o'clock on WWLG (1360 AM).

And the nominees are . . .

The ESPN family led the pack with a combined 35 nominations for next month's 17th annual Sports Emmy Awards for excellence in the calendar year 1995, announced yesterday by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

The total sports networks, ESPN and ESPN2, placed ahead of NBC (24 nominations), Fox (17), ABC (13), HBO (12) and CBS (4).

In individual categories, the nominees for outstanding studio host and ABC's and ESPN's John Saunders, who formerly toiled at Channel 2.

Orioles and ESPN play-by-play man Jon Miller has been nominated in that category against NBC's Marv Albert and Dick Enberg and ABC's Al Michaels and Keith Jackson. In the analyst category, both studio and booth, Fox's John Madden and Jimmy Johnson will face ESPN's Tom Jackson, NBC's Mike Ditka and ABC's Tim McCarver.

ESPN's coverage of the game at which Cal Ripken set the record for consecutive games played was nominated as outstanding live sports special, and will vie against ABC's telecast of the Indianapolis 500, NBC's coverages of the AFC championship game between Pittsburgh and San Diego and the Orange Bowl between Nebraska and Miami, and Fox's broadcast of the NFC title contest between Dallas and San Francisco.

The nominees for outstanding sports series are "ESPN Speedworld," Fox's NHL package, ABC's "Monday Night Football" and NBC's telecasts of the NFL and of the PGA Tour.

All of the NFL pre-game shows were nominated for best studio show and will face off against "SportsCenter" and CBS' NCAA basketball tournament studio program.

Pub Date: 3/27/96

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