In 1980, when Jed Drake joined ESPN, Inc., as a producer and director, the network was in its infancy. It had just begun broadcasting 24/7 but did not have Major League Baseball or National Football League (NFL) games to air. Early on, the eager production worker lived in Australia for six months to cover America’s Cup sailing for the network. He also spent some cold days in Calgary, Canada, directing luge and bobsled events at the 1988 Winter Olympics. ESPN began broadcasting NFL games in 1987 and Major League Baseball in 1989. Promoted to Coordinating Producer, Jed Drake played a key role in developing the format for presenting 11 games per week by interspersing live action with studio cut-ins.
Today, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN HD, ESPN Classic, and ESPN on ABC air college and professional football, baseball, basketball, volleyball, soccer, lacrosse, hockey, and other sports. The networks broadcast SportsCenter, College Game Day, Baseball Tonight, NFL Live, SportsNation, and numerous additional commentary shows. ESPN and its sister stations also cover golf, fishing, NASCAR events, horse racing, boxing, poker, and the Scripps National Spelling Bee. And that’s only a sampling of the 24-hour programming sports lovers, including Jed Drake, enjoy.
Sports bring people together in a way not many activities can. On a crisp fall day, 60,000 people file into a stadium to watch their favorite college football team compete, or millions tune in to watch runners vie for the title of “World’s Fastest Human” in the men’s 100-meter Olympics final on television. Now we can watch in person, on TV, record what we’ve missed on our DVRs, or view updates or even events online. Thanks to ESPN and its people behind the scenes, such as Jed Drake, people can unite in one purpose (the defeat of the other team or of competitors) for a few or many hours each week, or just enjoy the beauty of an athletic performance.
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