Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – August 7, 2014 – ESPN Founder Bill Rasmussen, the legendary entrepreneur who founded ESPN, is featured in an article by writer Steve Rushin in the 60th Anniversary issue of Sports Illustrated, on sale this week.
In the 20,000-word article, ”There and Back,” Rasmussen’s comments are incorporated with those of Los Angeles Dodgers broadcasting legend Vin Scully, Dodgers CEO Stan Kasten, and sports executive Arn Tellem to weave a tale of the past 60 years of sports history.
A key part of the story incorporates Rasmussen’s recollections on the birth of ESPN, including the significance of one particular date in ESPN’s early history – Wednesday, August 16th, 1978. August 16th is also the date of Sports Illustrated’s very first issue in 1954.
But on that date in 1978, Rasmussen and one of his sons were backed up in a massive traffic jam on Interstate 84 in Waterbury, Connecticut, en route to Rasmussen’s daughter’s 16th birthday party at the Jersey Shore.
As Rasmussen wrote in his best-selling book “Sports Junkies Rejoice! The Birth of ESPN” about that fateful day, “Stuck in traffic, with both the temperature and humidity approaching 90 and riding in a Mazda GLC with no air conditioning, it didn’t take long for tempers to fray. We were still trying to figure out what to put on that transponder when my son said, ‘Play football all day, for all I care’.”
During that car ride, Rasmussen sketched out the idea for what became Sports Center, what the first sports programming would be (primarily NCAA football and other sports). Upon returning that night, they laid out a rough draft of what would become the first ESPN studios, eventually built in Bristol, Connecticut.
A little over one year later, on Friday, September 7, 1979, ESPN went on the air, and history was made, with the first 24-hour cable network, delivering sports programming throughout the United States and Canada.
Starting this month, Rasmussen is partnering with The Guild Agency on the ESPN 35 Speaking Tour, celebrating the 35th Anniversary of the launch of ESPN.
Rasmussen is one of three scheduled guest speakers in the Creative Success Alliance event, The Secret Underground 3, at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Boston. He will speak on Friday morning, August 15th. Additional information about the corporate event, along with ticket information, is available at http://secretunderground3.com.
Try to imagine the world without ESPN and Sports Center, and for many, it is impossible. It is safe to say that Rasmussen changed the face of sports, and the face of television. His brainstorm for a 24-hour cable sports television network, born out of adversity, has become the Worldwide Leader in Sports, ESPN.
A former radio and television sports broadcaster, Rasmussen had been the Whalers Communications Director, but when the Whalers didn’t make the 1978 WHA playoffs, Rasmussen and others on staff were fired. His idea for an all-sports cable TV network captured his imagination, and he incorporated the fledgling network on July 14, 1978. He had already begun to seek out cable television companies, sponsors, investors and partners.
With an idea that was truly ahead of its time, and running out of cash, Rasmussen found one investor who believed in the concept in February, 1979, and by September 7, 1979, ESPN was on the air for the first time, 14 months from Rasmussen’s moment of inspiration.
A life-long entrepreneur and sports fan, Rasmussen’s innovations in advertising, sports and broadcasting are numerous, including the creation of ESPN, the concepts for “Sports Center,” wall-to-wall coverage of NCAA regular-season and “March Madness” college basketball, and coverage of the College World Series. He broke the advertising barrier to cable television by signing Anheuser Busch to the largest cable TV advertising contract ever.
Rasmussen is the author “Sports Junkies Rejoice! The Birth of ESPN,” which was recently published in a brand-new paperback edition, and is also available in a Kindle edition at ESPNFounder.com and at Amazon.com.
He is a gifted raconteur and a popular public speaker discussing American entrepreneurship, innovation, and the birth of ESPN, and a frequent guest on radio and television shows. His recent appearances include nationally-syndicated radio shows “Sports Byline USA with Ron Barr”, “The Dennis Miller Show” and the FOX News Channel’s “Red Eye with Greg Gutfeld.”
Named “The Father of Cable Sports” by USA Today, Rasmussen was named to The Sports 100, honoring the 100 most important people in American Sports History. His place in sports history was further recognized by Sports Illustrated in 1994, when he was honored as one of the “40 for the Ages,” one of 40 individuals who has significantly altered and elevated the world of sport in the last half of the 20th Century. Rasmussen was named to the 2011 class of “The Champions: Pioneers & Innovators in Sports Business,” an award from the Sports Business Journal and the Sports Business Daily recognizing the architects and builders of sports.
In October 2012, another chapter in Rasmussen’s illustrious career began when he was named Executive in Residence at The Robert C. McDermond Center for Management & Entrepreneurship at DePauw University. In this role, Rasmussen met with students on the DePauw campus, particularly with the Management Fellows Program and the Media Fellows Program. He also delivered a lecture at DePauw University as part of the college’s 175th anniversary Distinguished Alumni Lecture Series, received the Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award for Media and was inducted into the Media Wall of Fame at the Pulliam Center for Contemporary Media at DePauw University.
Rasmussen’s speaking tour has included private and corporate events, as well as public engagements at Ball State University, The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, Rutgers University, University of South Carolina, University of Kansas, Villanova University, Bay Path College, Princeton University, Quinnipiac University’s School of Law, the University of Florida School of Law, Azusa Pacific University, Lindenwood University, Saint Xavier University, Indiana Tech, Auburn University, Arizona State University, Union College, University of Texas at Arlington, Calvin College and The Center for Sports Leadership at Virginia Commonwealth University, among others.
Media Contact: Jim DeLorenzo, Jim DeLorenzo Public Relations, 215-266-5943, firstname.lastname@example.org