Truth serum time… I LOVE awards and award shows. I watch the Oscars, Golden Globes, Grammys, ACM’s and EMMYs. I am interested in both who and what gets nominated and who and what wins.
I have a particular affinity for the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Sports Emmy Awards. Partly because I am the proud owner of one but mostly because those nominated every year are my friends, colleagues, mentors, protégés, rivals and heroes. Every year the academy nominates hundreds of hard working sports television professionals from dozens of networks and outlets for outstanding work done throughout a variety of sports seasons. The EMMY my co-workers and I won is the same statue, the same size, weight and made from the same materials as ones that have been awarded to Oprah, Bill Murray and Jon Hamm. I have as many EMMYs as Kevin Costner and one more than Angela Lansbury (who was nominated 18 times without ever taking home a statue). But enough about me, let’s talk about the 2016 Sports Emmy nominations.
The academy honored 39 networks, channels and other outlets with nominations. Not surprisingly, ESPN led the way with 40 nominations. Marginally surprising was that FS1 was second with 27. Fourteen organizations received a single nomination including PGA.com, the NHL Network, ESPNU, A&E and the Golf Channel. The program with the most nods was ESPN’s E:60 (it got 8), Super Bowl 50 received 7, Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel, 4 and College GameDay, Inside the NBA on TNT, NASCAR on NBC and the USGA on Fox: U.S. Open all were recognized with 3. You read that right FOX’s coverage of the USGA’s flagship event was recognized by their peers to the tune of 3 EMMY award nominations. That’s the most of any golf telecast in 2016.
The outstanding work by the CBS golf team at The Masters was recognized and did garner 2 nominations. One for Outstanding Live Sports Special (it is up against the 147th Belmont Stakes, NBA All Star Saturday Night, Super Bowl 50 and the 111th World Series). The other Masters nod came for Outstanding Open/Tease. ESPN’s broadcast of the British Open was also EMMY worthy but not for the coverage. It received a tip of the cap in The Dick Schaap Outstanding Writing Award category, for the tremendous work, no doubt, of Tom Rinaldi. My pals at the PGA of America were also recognized one time, in what’s called the Outstanding Trans-Media Sports Coverage category for their work at the PGA Championship. The only other golf related nomination was collected by the Golf Channel in the Outstanding Editing-Short Form category for the creative team’s body of work for its Live Tournament Teases. But let’s get back to FOX.
The first of three EMMY nominations awarded to the network for its first time U.S. Open coverage came in the Outstanding Technical Team Remote category. It is up against a formidable group of broadcasts (the 2015 US Open tennis, Monday Night Football, Sunday Night Football and Super Bowl 50) and it would be a surprise to me if it won an EMMY in this category. FOX’s U.S. Open work was also nominated in the Outstanding Live Event Audio/Sound category. The competition there is also stiff with nods to MLB on FOX, NASCAR on FOX, NASCAR on NBC and NFL on FOX. My prediction here is that FOX gets the EMMY but not for golf. The third category is where I think the network WILL come away a winner, The George Wensel Technical Achievement Award. This EMMY is given every year to the network that made the biggest impact in its broadcast thanks to the introduction of innovative technology. This year FOX got the nomination for introducing the FOX Sports Rangefinder. It was an incredibly informative and visual tool that allowed the viewer to see the exact yardage a player faced on almost every shot. It looked great and it was a terrific addition to golf coverage. Also nominated in this category is the NCAA railcam used in the multi networks of CBS coverage of March Madness, the ESPN Pylon Cam, MLB Network’s Statcast Powered by Amazon Web Services and EyeVision 360 used by CBS at Super Bowl 50. For the most part all terrific technical advances but to me only the FOX Rangefinder and CBS’ EyeVision 360 stood out.
I have served as a judge for the Sports Emmys once and the Daytime EMMYs on several occasions (Ellen Degeneres can thank me, in part, for two of her EMMYs) and I can tell you that the judges take this responsibility of grading their peers very seriously. At the same time, it is almost impossible to rule out any ounce of subjectivity entirely. We were surprised at The Golf Channel when we were nominated in 2007 and absolutely floored when we actually won the award. It was the first and remains the only EMMY Award won by the all golf channel in its more than 20-year existence. Maybe they’ll win number two for the outstanding, creative work they did getting shows on the air in 2015. I hope so.
The hardworking men and women on the FOX Sports golf team should be extremely proud of the recognition it received for the coverage of the 2015 United States Open Championship at Chambers Bay. They may not win any statues but the fact that they were nominated in three separate categories is almost unheard of for a golf telecast. It’s even more exceptional when you consider it was the group’s FIRST crack at one of golf’s crown jewels and only the fourth tournament ever broadcast by this team of outstanding technicians and production people. I’ll be more than curious to learn who all the winners are this year. May I have the envelope please…
You can check out all the categories and nominees at emmyonline.com