Who truly deserves the credit for ESPN's initial vision and leadership?
Chris Berman: When cable TV was a neophyte, our founder, Bill Rasmussen, figured out a way to get us up on the satellite - all he originally wanted was to get us on in the state, but he got us across the country for the same price. He'd already bought land in Bristol - Holy Moly, it was kind of the Beverly Hillbillies discovering oil. Then the people who took us through our "Wonderbread years" were our president, Chet Simmons - the visionary - and his right-hand man, Scotty Connal - the nuts and bolts. They encouraged us young folk to reach for the sky. Their spirit and entrepreneurship, along with their professional TV savvy, was a great combination.
What role does sports play in contemporary culture?
Linda Cohn: Sports is such a great escape, especially like after 9/11 when baseball started up again with the Mets and Mike Piazza hits a home run and it was just so moving. It's a cliché, but it gets us away from our problems. Speaking as a fan, we live for the drama and unpredictability. How many times have you heard it said, "It doesn't get any better than this." That's the magic. Sports gives you something to look forward to. And isn't that what we all want, to be surprised?
Berman: I'm an idealist, growing up in the '60s and '70s. So, on the good side, sports still plays a role in bringing people together from different backgrounds. Giving people a common cause to be with others in their community. I view it as much more good than bad, with invaluable lessons when you're young - like, win or lose, be a good sport. Being in a sports setting for kids can provide some of the best teachings and idealistic tools that we have.
Tell us some personal stories that explain ESPN's influence.