In Those Guys Have All the Fun, the Sunday morning edition of SportsCenter is envisioned like the Sunday newspaper. Big and bulky, with lots of feature stories. Going beyond the typical highlight show segments. 

You can see the spirit of that idea in the 'SC Featured' series, which returned to the Sunday morning SportsCenter on Feb. 9 (the segments also air during Outside The Lines and later editions of the show). Bringing longform storytelling within various sports and also different tones — dramatic, comedic or just plain weird — it's one of the subtler ways in which SportsCenter has beefed up in a myriad of sports cable networks and highlight shows. 

This week's story is no different in how it takes a unique look at a situation that wouldn't typically be covered by a mainstream sports show. The 'SC Featured' crew spent six months with a high school football team in Mendota, California. Their coach, Roberto "Beto" Mejia will supplement the feature with an extended interview with Lindsay Czarniak after it airs. 

Mendota High School is in an area in which unemployment and poverty are at a high level. Most of the team — made up largely of Hispanic kids who immigrated to the United States — must work agricultural jobs during the season. Yet, the school has won state championship two years in a row under Mejia, before moving up into a class full of larger football schools for the season that ESPN followed them around.

The stuff 'SC Featured' does is always shot in such a cinematic, compelling manner that — when you get a larger-than-life lead character like Mejia — almost seems too good to be true. Then again, who would make up features like "Tag, You're It!," the story of a high school group of friends that have a long-running game of tag? Who would make up any of this?
That's kind of the defining aspect of these stories, which always impress us quite a bit: they seemingly come from nowhere, they're like nothing else you've seen, and they're done really, really well. They're proof that SportsCenter can find ways to be unique and relevant in a 24-hour news cycle world. They're proof that there's still room for good sports storytelling on television.

About Steve Lepore

Steve Lepore is a writer for Bloguin and a correspondent for SiriusXM NHL Network Radio.