15 Minutes with Dan Patrick

A 15-year veteran at ESPN, Dan Patrick has come to be known as the face of SportsCenter, TV's most popular sports show. Now that ESPN has built its Digital Center for HDTV broadcasting and is expanding its high-def schedule beyond NFL and MLB games, we decided to see what Patrick had to say about the state of the broadcasting art.

Is SportsCenter better - or more entertaining - today than it was before you went high-def?It looks great, it really does - but that's probably something to ask the viewers. Everything I've heard has been along the lines of, "That is so cool." My kids like it.

Of all the bells and whistles, which impress you the most?There are so many uses for the monitors and so many different shots. From a presentation standpoint, one minute isn't going to look like the next. Of course, in the wrong hands, that could be trouble.

Is it possible that the new technology, whether it's the video tower or anything else, can detract from the SportsCenter experience?Nah. You've still gotta get the information right. As many toys as the crew has to play with, they're very aware that we're first and foremost a place viewers come to for information.

What are some of the key benefits of HDTV? Are there times when you look at the broadcast and think, "Wow"?The crispness, mostly. When I first saw sports in high-def, I knew that viewers would be put closer to the game than ever before. I would have fallen off my chair, but I think I was standing at the time.

Which sports benefit the most from HDTV?Hockey, definitely, because of the wider framing. Aesthetically, golf is the most pleasing to watch - it's almost like looking at a painting. You get a little spoiled.

How will HDTV and other new technologies revolutionize sports broadcasting? Or has their impact been overstated?We'll get to the point where viewers can control the cameras - the viewer as a director. You want to watch the whole game from right field? From the helmet cam? Sure, why not? It's right around the corner, which is exciting for me as a fan. It's one thing to look at a sport and be interested. It's another when you realize, "Hey, this technology is letting me enjoy it more." Cameras on the floor, mask cams. We're going places we've never gone before. You know - space, the final frontier.

How do you see your role evolving in the digital age?As a broadcaster? Not much, to be honest. But as a viewer, even now I'm asking, "How did I get by with the crap I had before?"

So you're surviving?[smiles] Yeah, barely. Truth is, it's kind of intimidating. You go in now to buy a TV, and you want to make sure it won't be antiquated a few months from now. I guess there'll always be something else they can charge us a fortune to buy. [ laughs ] Of course, we'll buy it anyway.

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