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ESPN should hire Kugler and Lofton for MNF

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Network reportedly considering moving over to college duo

Never mind Fowler and Herbie. ESPN should hire Kugler and Lofton as its new Monday Night Football broadcast team.

According to the New York Post

, ESPN is considering sliding over its No. 1 college football announcing team of Chris Fowler (play-by-play) and Kirk Herbstreit (commentary) on Saturday nights to the NFL on Monday nights.

They’d replace Joe Tessitore and Booger McFarland, the unsatisfactory duo of the past two seasons.

Tessitore seems like a nice guy, he really does. But he inadvertently comes across as a 21st-century version of gratingly over-earnest, overstating late-night talk-show host Tom Snyder from the ’70s.

Good play-by-play men stop just short of getting too sappy on the heart-tugging stories. Jim Nantz barely does so. Al Michaels became expert at it decades ago. Similarly, Nantz and Michaels understand that not everything is an epoch.

Tessitore, alas, does not seem to know such lines exist, let alone where they’re at.

McFarland, meantime, sometimes offers really good, insightful commentary but too often doesn’t. But Monday Night Football is a tough seat in which to cut your big-time commentator teeth, and he’ll get better.

It seems now merely a matter of who replaces Tessitore and McFarland, not if they’ll be removed.

Moving over Fowler and Herbie would be a bold move by ESPN. I don’t think it would work.

Not because of Fowler. He is an excellent play-by-play man, one of those diverse talents who has proved himself in professional tennis and even soccer for ESPN. He’d be fine.

But Herbstreit — as excellent as he is as an insightful college commentator — never played in the NFL and never has worked in the NFL.

Sure, he has familiarity with many star NFL players, having called many a game over the past 10-15 years involving Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State and the like. Especially those from Ohio State, whose games he seems to call about once every three weeks, and where he rose to become starting quarterback in 1992.

But Herbstreit’s lack of either long-standing or expert NFL knowledge would be exposed early on. Why would he want to do that, when for more than 20 years he has been a co-host of ESPN’s iconic College Game Day show on Saturday mornings, and for 15-plus years he worked as commentator on ABC/ESPN’s Saturday night game of the week.

In my opinion, as I’ve been tweeting for years, by far the best up-and-coming play-by-play man in the business is Kevin Kugler.

For years he has expertly and entertainingly called Sunday night NFL games on radio for Westwood One. Kugler furthermore has shown his diversity by doing likewise but on TV for the Big Ten Network, both in football and men’s basketball.

He furthermore is Westwood One’s lead college basketball radio announcer, and even calls college baseball World Series games on radio, all in his signature smooth, upbeat, professional style.

Kugler deserves a long look.

I’d rejoin him with Pro Football Hall of Fame receiver James Lofton. Before Lofton jumped to CBS three years ago as an analyst on its NFL telecasts, he and Kugler were paired for years on Westwood’s Sunday Night Football radio broadcasts. They had a blast together and really made it fun for listeners.

I’m sure Kugler and Lofton would do likewise on Monday nights for ESPN.

NEW/OLD UNIFORMS FOR BUCS

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are so anxious to move on from their anemic recent past, they’re reaching back to their now-distant past.

When they were Super Bowl champions.

On Tuesday, the NFL team unveiled its new uniforms for 2020. And the new look is a throwback to its old look. Specifically, in 2002 when then-head coach Jon Gruden led the Bucs — wearing pewter-coloured pants and darker red jerseys —in Super Bowl XXXVII (37), a 48-21 win over the then-Oakland Raiders.

The team said the change was “inspired largely by fan feedback.”

Well, duh. Ask devout fans of any sports team and they’ll likely be most partial to uniforms worn in an era when the team didn’t suck. Hello, jaggedy Toronto Maple Leafs logo.

Most sports teams that constantly unveil new uniforms seem to do so to try to jump-start a more successful era. Exhibit A: The Cleveland Browns promise to introduce yet another tweak to their orange-and-brown unis.

As well, the team’s owner at change number umpteen-six explains the exciting reason for the exciting change, in exciting language. Such as Buccaneers owner and co-chairman Ed Glazer on Tuesday, in this statement:

“We are excited to return to our classic Super Bowl era uniforms while also introducing a sleek Colour Rush uniform that showcases our signature pewter in a new and dramatic way. The refreshed classic design of our home and away combinations bridges our past with our exciting new future, and we are confident it will resonate with our fans.”

Much of the 2020 uniform is identical to what Buccaneers players wore from 1997 to 2013, including the font of numbers, black facemasks and the darker hue of red. The pewter colour is unchanged from recent uniforms.

An alternate, all-pewter uniform also is new.

“The new uniform also retains the modern flag-and-crossed-swords logo, while incorporating the original shade of red,” the team’s website said. “The side of the flag on the helmet has been reduced to ensure the sword is visible on all helmet types used by players. The new uniforms also feature the modern ship design.”

The Bucs released many more paragraphs explaining uniform details than this.

Now, this may come as a shock but the Buccaneers immediately began selling new-look jerseys, the moment they were introduced on the team’s website. (Yes, that was sarcasm.)

The first three player-specific jerseys on sale are No. 13 (wide receiver Mike Evans), No. 14 (wide receiver Chris Godwin) and No. 12 (newly acquired quarterback Tom Brady).

The Buccaneers haven’t made the playoffs only twice since winning the Super Bowl 18 seasons ago (in 2005 and 2007), and lost in the first round both times. In that span the Bucs have had only five winning seasons, and just two double-digit-win seasons (2005, 2010).

New uniforms probably can’t hurt — a thought that every sports team with a revolving-door on the equipment room says before making yet another change.

Coulda been worse. The club could have returned to its “Creamsicle” original uniforms of 1976-1996.

Gaming

The Video Games That Could Land You a Job

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Video gameplay has attracted negative attention in some parts of our culture. It has been seen by some as unproductive, time-wasting, and preventing people from going outside.

This has changed a lot in recent years, though. Video game players have turned pro, taking part in competitive leagues and tournaments. These esports events often have large pots of prize money that is handed out to the participants, depending on their final position. Are you ready to enter the world where top players can potentially earn millions of dollars?

 

The Early Days of the Professional Esports Player

Video game competitions are called esports and have grown into a billion-dollar industry in just a few years. Some of the esports tournaments and leagues that we know today began in the early 2000s and have developed strong followings.

These include multi-discipline competitions like Major League Gaming, the Intel Extreme Masters, and the World Cyber Games. A range of titles are played by their participants, including Dota 2, Hearthstone, CrossFire, FIFA, World of Tanks, and Super Smash Bros.

If a game is popular, it’s likely to have an esports competition that uses it too, although some titles are more present than others. For example, Hearthstone, Fornite, and iRacing are commonly featured in competitions.

It is only within the last decade or so that we have seen esports grow into a professional discipline. Like all sports, as the number of spectators has increased, businesses have become interested in sponsoring events to get their brand in front of excited fans. This has driven up the professionalism and commercialism of esports and led to large prize funds.

While in the first few iterations of Major League Gaming, the World Cyber Games, and the Intel Extreme Masters, competitors shared prize purses of a few hundred thousand dollars among their competitors, but this has grown to millions in 2020.

The International (Dota 2) tournament awards more than $30 million to its competitors, while it has been estimated that global prize money now equates to over $700 million each year.

 

Top Players

Thiese huge payouts spawned some wealthy esports gamers. The Danish player Johan Sundstein, who goes by the name N0tail when is thought to have earned almost $7 million from esports. He earned nearly half of that just in 2019, bringing in more than $3 million of winnings.

Additionally, professional esports players can boost their earnings by broadcasting their gaming on streaming platforms like Twitch. A report by the Hollywood Reporter claimed that some are making as much as $15,000 per hour doing this.

This money is generated through donations, paid channel subscriptions and advertising, and sponsorship deals, similar to how YouTubers make money.

 

 

 

Anyone Can Get Involved

Unlike many traditional professional sports, there are a lot of esports tournaments where members of the public can qualify for a place. This is most common with esports that are organized by traditional sports leagues, that help run the marketing for the video games and the sport itself.

Although competition for a place is fierce, it is a genuine route into professional video game playing. So anyone who wants to have a career in esports may wish to consider one of these games.

 

NBA 2K

Launched in 2018, the NBA 2K League is the official NBA esports league. It has teams that are affiliated with the teams in the real NBA, although the divisions remain independent of each other. Therefore NBA championship outcomes or betting odds are not affected by the performance of teams in the 2K League and vice versa.

Players can take part in the NBA 2K League Qualifier to earn a place in its draft. Those that get drafted go on to represent their team in the main league, with live events taking place across the US.

The 2019 qualifier rules required players to win at least 50 games and maintain a win percentage of at least 50% in online games during the qualifying period. Therefore, if they played 120 games, they would have to have won at least 60 of them.

They also had to complete an online application form, which was designed to test their understanding of basketball and the NBA 2K game, as well as their commitment to fair and respectful competition.

The draft then took place in four rounds, with a total of 75 players being picked by the teams. In 2019, teams didn’t take up the option, but they also can forfeit a draft selection to retain a player from the previous season.

 

Formula 1

Racing simulation video games are perhaps the most realistic of esports. While the NBA 2K game has ballers controlled by joysticks, the Codemasters Formula 1 games are usually controlled using force feedback steering wheels and pedals that make racing as close as possible to the real thing.

This can be seen in Nissan’s GT Academy that takes the best players of the Gran Turismo video game and turns them into professional race drivers. Past winners of this competition include Jann Mardenborough, who has been successful in Super GT and Formula 3.

While the Formula 1 game doesn’t offer the chance to compete against Lewis Hamilton in real life, it does give you the chance to take part in the F1 Esports Series. Like the NBA 2K League, teams are affiliated with the official Formula 1 teams and players can be drafted into a driving spot through qualification.

There are multiple qualification routes with a time trial contest, the “challenger series,” and a “playoff,” all adding contenders to the draft event. Each team ends up with a total of three drivers, one for Xbox, PlayStation, and PC versions of the game.

 

The Dream Job?

For many people, playing video games for a living is a dream. Until recently, it wasn’t something that many could believe would happen. However, with competitions like these that are open to the public, it’s possible for truly talented video game players to earn a job as a video game player.

Competition is strong, though, and as the NBA 2K League has demonstrated, there’s no guarantee that you’ll be kept for future seasons. Instead, players will need to use the fame their position attracts to build more sustainable income sources, either through sponsored video game playing or entering into other tournaments.

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Fight to Fame Enters Mexican Market

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Fight to Fame has been touring all over the world and planting roots wherever they can.

Ever since this show was launched, all you’ve probably ever heard about are the deals they’ve closed with big personalities in different continents and legends they’ve secured as ambassadors.

Entering different markets is definitely a tough process because producers need to understand how the market works and what appeals best to their customers. But the team behind Fight to Fame doesn’t seem to be fazed, in fact, they’re planning to enter one of the toughest markets in the world—Mexico.

Boxing Popularity in Mexico

Other than their great culture and beautiful destinations, Mexico is also known as the fighting country. People even say that boxing is surely a topic that will lead to meaningful friendships in Mexico. But why is boxing the most popular sport in the country? Let’s start off with the legendary figures that hailed from this country.

This country has produced boxers such as Ricardo Lopez, Juan Manual Marquez, Julio Cesar Chavez, and Marco Antonio Barrera—all successful and legendary during their boxing time. These boxers serve as inspirations for a lot of Mexicans. Another is the kind of work ethic that ensues with boxing.

Boxing is a sport that allowed these boxers to pour their mind, heart, and soul into training which eventually led them to success. This is a trait that’s innate in Mexicans which solidifies the sport’s popularity in the country.

Lastly, this is a very patriotic country. Whenever there’s a huge boxing fight, everybody will find a way to watch it. It’s basically a sport that can clear the streets and make everybody sit tight on their seats while the boxing match is ongoing.

Everybody loves and supports their national bet on any sport and boxing just happens to be on a global platform. With all these reasons, it’s no wonder that boxing is indeed a popular sport in Mexico.

Will Fight to Fame’s Sports Model succeed in Mexico?

Without a doubt, Fight to Fame banks on Mixed Martial Arts (MMA). It’s not just simply boxing but it’s a mixture of all other fighting sports which is not common in the country.

One of the reasons for MMA’s unpopularity in Mexico is that there aren’t that many schools or places where one can learn other martial arts. Since the country is quite focused on boxing, arts like wrestling or Brazilian Jiu-Jutsu might not ring any bells for most citizens.

Reality TV shows are one thing but Mexicans on reality TV shows are another.

As mentioned in the previous section, as much as Mexican boxers pour their heart and soul into training, Mexicans also go out of their way to support their national contenders. If there’s a Mexican on any show, you’d be sure that Mexicans will support that person.

Not to mention, the show will grant the winner a role in a huge action movie in Hollywood. That’s a ticket to fame that a lot of people, not just Mexicans, want to get their hands on.

This is one of the things that will make Fight to Fame succeed in Mexico. This could also be an avenue to introduce the entire population to MMA easily. Who knows, Fight to Fame might just start a whole new generation of MMA fighters in the country.

Succeeding in Mexico

If Fight to Fame plays their card well in Mexico, they could just be the next big hit in the country. Mexicans will be on the edge of their seats waiting for the next episode to support their contender.

And we all know that Mexicans will try their best to win everything they take part in, who knows, Fight to Fame Mexico might just be the next big thing.

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Matthews’ march to 50, playing with Spezza keep Hyman hopeful for return

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Watching Auston Matthews chase 50 goals and having another chance to suit up with Jason Spezza are among the many reasons Zach Hyman would like to see the 2019-20 season continued.

Matthews was at 47 goals when the COVID-19 pandemic caused the NHL to hit pause, and the future of Spezza with the Leafs could be in doubt as he is eligible to be an unrestricted free agent once the season ends.

“He has had an amazing year and hopefully we can get back to playing so he can finish that off and get to 50,” Hyman said of Matthews. “He has been an elite player since he got into the league and I think he has got better every year, which is hard to do when you are already playing at a high level.”

Hyman and Spezza had side-by-side stalls in the Leafs dressing room.

“I picked his brain a bunch,” Hyman said. “You can ask him any question about hockey and he will have an answer for it.

“He has been through a lot this year and he had a calm and steady demeanour through it and was a great presence for our younger guys. It would be awesome to have him back.”

 

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