After some 31,000 shows over 30-plus years it might seem that ESPN's SportsCenter has not only transformed the world of sports news but in the process exhausted any potential for satire through its own relentless self-reflection. But the writers of The Onion Sports Network's SportsDome, which debuted last week on Comedy Central, are clearly determined to take the game to a whole new level—and to stand out amid the increasing din of sports media. The show, a 30-minute SportsCenter send-up that airs Tuesdays at 10:30 p.m. ET, is to ESPN what The Colbert Report is to Fox News. As SportsDome embarks on this bold new venture, SI caught up with anchors Mark Shepard (actor Matt Oberg, far right) and Alex Reiser (Matt Walton).
Viewers so rarely get to see the personal side of broadcasters; maybe start with a word about yourselves?
SHEPARD: I am compassionate, difficult, curious, open-minded, multifaceted and full of love.
REISER: My name is Alex Reiser, and I work for the SportsDome.
How did you two get into this business? Was it something you always wanted to do?
SHEPARD: Oh, yeah. It's all I've ever wanted. I could never play sports as a kid because I was allergic to just about every material, natural or synthetic, so I'd sit in my room watching the other kids, and I'd make up my own play-by-play in a language that I invented. It was good practice.
REISER: I've always liked hanging out with athletes and yelling, "Boom!" So this was a natural fit.
Now that you're in the business, do you two share a SportsDome manifesto?
REISER: Being a SportsDome anchor means reporting on all the bad parts of sports and being as tough and truthful as we can be, without athletes getting mad at us or not inviting us to their exclusive parties.
SHEPARD: Our job when it comes to these complicated issues is to take them, examine them in all their complex and difficult detail, cut away the fat and make them as black-and-white as possible, so fans know who to hate and who to blame.