In today's news that will make you feel really old, Around the Horn celebrates its tenth birthday today. Seriously, ten years old… it feels like just yesterday when Max Kellerman was moderating a contentious debate between TJ Simers and Jay Mariotti, and every panelist on the show actually worked at a newspaper.
Things are different now. Kellerman is gone, and PTI's Stat Boy Tony Reali took over more than eight years ago, thriving in his new role. Around the Horn's talking heads aren't nearly as insufferable as Stephen A Smith and Skip Bayless on First Take, but they do have their quirks (especially Woody Paige). The crew of panelists that Around the Horn employs still have the "embrace debate" mentality that has thrown First Take into the dumpster, but they tend to actually argue legitimate points without devolving into baiting and name calling (usually).
But let's be honest here for a minute. The star of Around the Horn is Reali, a guy who went from a bit part on PTI to becoming one of the most likeable ESPN personalities. His engagement story from this summer remains one of the highlights of the year in sports broadcasting.
Despite all of the awful publicity that First Take gets with Bayless and Smith screaming at each other, the hour-long block of Around the Horn and PTI gives ESPN's debate shows some sort of informative, entertaining aspect without consistently driving people insane. Around the Horn has always had its detractors for scoring the arguments, but Reali largely makes it work by keeping the mood light and they've found a successful format.
While other shows have been added to the schedule that encourage the mindset of "I'm winning the argument because I'm louder than you," Around the Horn and PTI are the original ESPN debate shows, and they're still going strong and keeping us sane.