As the sports television industry continued to add more and more alternatives to the late-night edition of SportsCenter, ESPN decided to mix things up a little bit with the late-night edition of their flagship program. One year ago, Scott Van Pelt was handed the main role to host a unique version of SportsCenter that was designed to be part late-night talk show and part traditional SportsCenter.

Van Pelt, of course, got a chance to mix in his own dose of personality and together, the combination seems to be a solid hit. Most importantly, the show is more popular among young men aged 18-to-34 than more celebrated, traditional late-night hosts such as Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel and Stephen Colbert. That appeals to advertisers, and obviously appeals to the higher-ups at ESPN.

“I resisted it for quite a while simply because I liked the radio world I was in,” Van Pelt told the Associated Press’ David Bauder. “I just never thought they’d give me the latitude to be myself. I never believed that they would just give me the easel and say, ‘Paint what you want.’”

One of the things that truly stands out about Van Pelt’s flavor of SportsCenter from the long-standing formula for ESPN’s sports highlights program is his willingness to actually discuss a sports topic that has generally been considered taboo in this medium: sports gambling.

“People bet,” Van Pelt said. “It’s pretty simple. I choose to handle it like an adult.”

Van Pelt makes looking at the betting world fun with his “Bad Beats” segment, where he breaks down a play that swings a rather bland game in Vegas upside down on a whim. It’s fun, entertaining, and informative. It manages to offer a mature look at a different aspect of the game that has a definite audience, and is one that ESPN has probably overlooked for years. No more.

“He does it in a way that celebrates the lunacy of sports fandom and the ongoing sort of calamity of thinking you can actually beat the system,” senior vice president for SportsCenter Rob King said. “It’s done with humor. It’s done with love.”

And we love Van Pelt for it. Here’s to another year of SVP’s late-night SportsCenter.

[Washington Post]

About Kevin McGuire

Contributor to's College Football Talk, Athlon Sports and The Comeback. Host of the No 2-Minute Warning Podcast on iTunes, Stitcher Radio and iHeart Radio. FWAA member and Philadelphia-area resident.