theScore: An End of an Era (1997-2012)
For the past 15 years theScore was the “different” sports network. Unlike TSN and Sportsnet, it was never owned by major corporations like Bell, Rogers, Labatt, ESPN or FOX. It revolutionized the double-line ticker, a feature uniquely Canadian for the most part. theScore spent 15 years focusing on the sports that TSN and Sportsnet didn’t have time for. Showing segments, such as Cabbie on the Street, that would eventually be eaten up by TSN or Rogers. And so it’s only fitting, and sad, that after 15 years theScore itself is about to become a Rogers property.
theScore created many programs and segments that are as well-known as any on Canadian TV. SportsWorld became the destination for soccer news with host James Sharman. It was succeeded by The Footy Show. Considering Sportsnet already has a top soccer department with a new nightly show, the future of The Footy Show is in serious doubt. Ironically, like so many others, former Score employees Brendan Dunlop (host) and Thomas Dobby (producer) are at the head of the new Sportsnet show.
Court Surfing and its signature segment Court Cuts were appointment viewing for Canadian hoops fans. The Court Surfing format has been adopted by the rest of the North American pro leagues. It also provided a base for theScore to show NCAA March Madness in 2008.
theScore has covered its fair share of major events over 15 years. They had the World Series in 2002 and 2003 when the Angels beat the Giants in 7 and the Marlins upset the Yankees in 6. The Expos last home game in 2004. And many other baseball games in between. Sunday 11am Premier League matches aired on the network for a number of seasons. NBA, college football and basketball, and Serie A fans have also found a home with the network over the years.
The Score Tonight was once the signature program of the network. It was nightly viewing for me. And one of the few Canadian sports highlights shows that I can honestly say was better than SportsCentre. Of course it was dropped long before Rogers became involved, but is nonetheless and important part of the history of theScore.
ESPN’s Adnan Virk; CBC’s Elliotte Friedman; TSN’s James Cybulski, Sara Orlesky and Steve Kouleas; and Sportsnet’s Brendan Dunlop, Tim Micallef and Sid Seixeiro all got their start at theScore. All have moved on to have very successful careers elsewhere.
The saddest part of theScore becoming a Rogers property is it is no longer the underdog. In fact there is no longer a privately-owned underdog in Canadian sports broadcasting. There’s just TSN and Sportsnet, who can spend money out of their ass, and the publicly-owned CBC who would love to be able to do the same. I think that’s what many loved about theScore, they didn’t have a lot of money to spend, but they spent it wisely. Now theScore is just going to become another generic “Sportsnet” in Rogers’ multi-platform brand.
Over the past couple years Greg Sansone, James Sharman and Kristian Jack have been among the best on-air personalities at any network for answering questions and conversing with me. I wish all three, as well as anyone else whose job is in jeopardy due to the takeover, the best. I’m sure they’ll land on their feet somewhere else in Canadian broadcasting because they are three of the best. Sansone’s role behind the scenes at theScore in recent years cannot be overlooked.