If you have $100 laying around, it’s a safe bet you have the exact amount of money that changed Scott Van Pelt’s future.
It was a wager with his Golf Channel producer, in the form of SVP’s doubt he would ever be on ESPN. That came with an “I’ll never work at ESPN” post-it note that he still keeps on his desk. And it’s a bet he lost, of course.
“The real reason I said that … I think it was protecting myself,” he told GOLF.com during his Masters coverage. “In my mind, I was thinking, ‘Why would they hire me? I wouldn’t.'”
What was he thinking?
Van Pelt is one of the more popular sports figures; he’s one of the last voices we hear before we fall asleep when he hosts SportsCenter at night.
“It’s the imposter syndrome, right?” he added. “I couldn’t get into journalism school. I had horrendous grades. I wasn’t trained in anything. I was just a guy who was winging it — and I still am, to a degree.”
His big break happened when an opportunity rose from an old friend at the “Golf Channel” and it didn’t take much convincing to have him be a part of the new network. He went from accepting the new gig, to knocking it out of the park.
Yes, I know — not the correct sports analogy here.
There was a fight in him, but more with himself. You can see that in how humble he is. He remains who he is once the lights go off and the cameras are stashed away; he’s still Scott. Perhaps that’s why his interview with Tiger Woods was requested by the golf legend himself. A chat that originally had a slot time of 15 minutes and turned into 45.
That was one of many career moments he’s shared with the world. A world in which he knows is very exposed to the public.
“You have to become really comfortable with the fact I think you might screw up, but when you do, the people become your net,” he added. “People really called my performance ‘heroic.’ I’m like, ‘Garbage. That was terrible.‘ But for whatever reason, I’m lucky to have people who are rooting for me.”
In March, ESPN put out a release saying that SportsCenter with Scott Van Pelt is averaging 903,000 viewers in 2023. That’s a 45% increase from the same time period in 2022.
A big viewership boost occurred on January 2 when the show began early due to the postponement of the Bills-Bengals Monday Night Football game because of Damar Hamlin’s on-field cardiac arrest. It was a show-record audience of 5.164 million viewers.
How lucky are we to have SVP?