In 2010, ESPN pulled back the curtain on some of the behind the scenes scrambling that sports broadcasters endure when unexpected yet monumental news breaks during a live sporting event. Tonight Dan Shulman and ESPN were pressed into action again on this front as millions watching Sunday Night Baseball were informed of the news of Osama Bin Laden's death. Many people have praised how the matter was handled and it is in fact how I caught wind of the historic news.
While Twitter, text messages, IM, news channels, and the web also played a pivotal role in spreading the news, Sunday Night Baseball was probably one of a handful of programs that were being broadcast live and to an audience of millions. Looking back at somewhat similar moments in time when unexpected news and a major sporting event clashed, we know it's quite stressful to scramble to inform the American public that something unexpected and riveting has happened.
For the 30th anniversary of the death of John Lennon, ESPN had a a great special on Howard Cosell's famous late game Monday Night Football announcement of the star's unfortunate passing. I highly recommend you check it out as it's on Youtube here.
1980 is ages ago, way before all things internet and the explosion of cable television. Cosell's announcement of the news which was an ABC scoop that no other network had, was the first announcement on the matter and one that millions watched. Below is that now famous call.
This special about the back-story of this moment was extremely telling, especially for those too young to have any connection to that moment in history. The news came in the final moments of the game, a game that was hotly contested all the way to the final seconds. Once Cosell had Lennon's death confirmed by ABC news, they had about a minute before going back on live air for the final seconds of regulation to determine if and how to break the news.