Keith Olbermann has only been back on television and back at ESPN for a little over a month, but he already has the best sports show on all of television.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anybody familiar with Olbermann’s passion for sports and body of work. He is incredibly smart, witty and capable of forming and telling a story with the best journalists (not just sports journalists either) in the history of the medium.
Olbermann’s only real issue is that sometimes his ego takes over and problems arise. This isn’t so much a problem on the air, but with his bosses/networks off the air. This is why a guy of his caliber has moved around so much from network to network and job to job in his career and why he was jobless for over a year before recently reuniting with ESPN.
“Olbermann,” which airs Monday through Friday on ESPN2 generally at 10 or 11 p.m. depending on the network’s schedule, follows roughly the same format each night. Olbermann begins with a monologue covering one subject, followed by a serious-style interview generally about the subject from the monologue, followed by game highlights, a segment called the ‘Worst Persons in the Sports World,’ a second interview, usually lighter in tone, a wild-and-wacky segment called “Time Marches On” and the show wraps up with more game highlights.
The biggest highlight of “Olbermann” is the show’s opening monologue, which generally runs for about six to 12 minutes of the episode and features seemingly whatever Olbermann wants to intelligently riff on from the day in sports – topics have ranged from the Boston Red Sox’s odd tribute to retiring New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera and inept sports reporters essentially making up news to the NFL’s concussion suit and the infamous play that made Fred Merkle famous from all the way back in 1908. The first glimpse into what this show truly could be – and that’s the greatest thing for sports journalism in a very long time – came on Olbermann’s second night back on air when he told the story of a little known football running back by the name of Doug Kotar, who suffered major head trauma from the game he loved and died at an early age. It was purely fascinating storytelling, which seems to be the key to the Olbermann brand.
Olbermann’s interviews are certainly another highlight of the show as they don’t lead to horrendously laughable debates and arguments the like that you’ll see of somebody like Skip Bayless on the tripe that is ESPN’s “First Take.” Olbermann has smart conversations with some of the brightest minds in the sports world, many of whom are colleagues of his at ESPN, like Jeremy Schaap, Tony Kornheiser and Michael Smith.
As for the game highlights, that first made Olbermann a star in the ‘90s on “SportsCenter,” well, there’s nobody in the business who can do highlights like Keith Olbermann. He brings his own brand of humor and intelligence to highlights and makes them incredibly fun, as well as informative.
Simply put, “Olbermann” is a smart sports show for the smart sports fan … something that we just don’t see very often in the world of sports broadcasting. Olbermann definitely hits the ball out of the park. Knowing his history though there’s really no telling just how long this wonderful program will be on the air, so you had better enjoy it while you can.
“Olbermann” can be seen locally on Conway Corp. Channel 33.