March 11, 2019

Podcast

#44 – Jeremy Schaap, ESPN journalist: upsets, doping, triumphs, and the importance of sports

"Fairness is the underpinning of everything. It's not just about being fair to the subject. It's about being fair to the audience. It's about being fair to the story, and fair to the truth.” —Jeremy Schaap

by Peter Attia

Read Time 29 minutes

In this episode, Jeremy Schaap, preeminent journalist at ESPN, discusses two of the most incredible upsets in boxing history, both of which Jeremy has expertly covered during his illustrious career, most recently culminating in the 30 for 30 special, 42 to 1. We also discuss his infamous Bobby Knight interview, his coverage of the doping scandals in baseball and cycling, as well as the pressures of following in his father’s enormous footsteps who taught him the importance of fairness in journalism. Additionally, we also try to extract the deeper meaning of sports, what it teaches us, and how Jeremy uses sports reporting as a platform to bring light to greater societal issues.

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We discuss:

  • Jeremy and Peter’s shared obsession with boxing history [5:15];
  • Cinderella Man: The incredible upset of Max Baer by James Braddock, and the rise of the great Joe Louis [9:00];
  • 42 to 1: Buster Douglas beats Mike Tyson for one of the most unlikely upsets in the history of sports [23:30];
  • Contrasting fighting styles from “destroyers” to “artists”, and comparing the auras of the all-time greats [36:30];
  • Mike Tyson’s take on the Douglas fight, what went wrong for Buster Douglas following his victory, and other incredible upsets in sports history [45:30];
  • Ranking the greatest boxers since the 1960s [54:00];
  • Jeremy’s famous Bobby Knight interview: A career defining moment [57:00];
  • The pressures of following his father’s career path, and what it means to be a fair journalist [1:01:30];
  • The meaning of sports: how it brings us together and gives us a platform for bigger discussions [1:11:00];
  • Jeremy’s biggest regret in reporting, the 1998 home run chase, and the doping scandals of baseball and cycling [1:17:30];
  • The biggest and most underreported stories in sports [1:26:45];
  • Best 30 for 30 episodes: Jeremy and Peter pick their favorites [1:31:30];
  • Baseball: Steroids and the hall of fame [1:34:30];
  • Final thoughts on what makes sports so special [1:37:45]; and
  • More.

§

Jeremy and Peter’s shared obsession with boxing history [5:15]

  • Peter and Jeremy are both obsessed with the history of boxing
  • However, Jeremy admits that boxing has “lost a lot of its luster over the last several decades”

Jeremy’s history of covering boxing

  • Jeremy was a ringside reporter for some time
  • Assigned to cover Mike Tyson for about 10 years (1995-2005)
  • Mike Tyson final fight was against Kevin McBride

Peter’s obsession

Jeremy grew up watching his father, Dick Schaap, covering boxing

“These guys were such big stars and so many of them were outsize personalities and there was nothing else in sports that even approached the significance of the heavyweight championship of the world. That was it.”

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Jeremy Schaap

Jeremy Albert Schaap is an American sportswriter, television reporter, and author. Schaap is an eleven-time Emmy Award winner for his work on ESPN’s E:60, SportsCenter, and Outside the Lines. He is a regular contributor to Nightline and ABC World News Tonight and has been published in Sports Illustrated, ESPN The Magazine, Time, Parade, The Wall Street Journal, and The New York Times. A native and resident of New York City, Schaap is the author of Cinderella Man: James J. Braddock, Max Baer, and the Greatest Upset in Boxing History, a New York Times best-seller, and Triumph: The Untold Story of Jesse Owens and Hitler’s Olympics. Schaap is the son of the late journalist and broadcaster Dick Schaap. Like his father, Schaap is an alumnus of Cornell University and a former editor at The Cornell Daily Sun. Schaap was also a member of the Quill and Dagger society. He won the Dick Schaap Award for Outstanding Writing at the 2005 Emmys, an award named after his father, for an Outside the Lines feature titled “Finding Bobby Fischer.” Schaap and his wife have three children, two girls and a boy. [wikipedia.org]

Windsor Locks, CT - August 9, 2006 - Mike Patrick

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