The ESPYS are going remote for the first time ever due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and there are more changes in store for ESPN’s annual sports awards show.
ESPN announced on Tuesday that Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, USWNT legend Megan Rapinoe and WNBA superstar Sue Bird will host the first-ever remote ESPYS, which will take place on June 21. It’s the first time there will be three hosts, and with all of them playing different sports, it’s meant to welcome fans of every kind to the broadcast.
"We liked the idea of having athletes from diverse sports that represent something for every fan," ESPYS producer Jeff Smith told ESPN. "We're finding ways to make this feel really connected to the audience. They're so ready to reach out to this community."
All three are located in Seattle (Bird and Rapinoe are partners and share a home in the city, and Wilson lives there with his wife, Ciara), but it’s not clear if all three will be physically together for the broadcast. ESPN did say that their shared location “conveniently eases some logistics,” so it seems possible that the show could be hosted by three people who are actually in the same room. Progress!
The ceremony itself will also be revamped and reoriented due to COVID-19. While awards are normally given to sports figures, this year the focus will be on “heroism and humanitarian aid.” It’s unknown what form that will take during the broadcast, but Smith promised that there will still be plenty of athletes involved.
While the regular awards won’t be given out this year, the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage, the Pat Tillman Award for Service and Jimmy V Award for Perseverance will still be presented. Smith told ESPN that he wants the audience to find out who the winners are at the same time the actual winners find out, and hopes to capture those reactions on the broadcast.
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