Power couple Megan Rapinoe and Sue Bird have entertained the masses on Instagram Live throughout the coronavirus quarantine, giving us all of the tea we didn’t know we needed. But next month, they will take their act to the ESPYs.
ESPN announced Tuesday Rapinoe and Bird will host the annual award show alongside Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson. For the first time, the program will feature hosts in remote settings and celebrate heroism and humanitarian aid in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
Making the logistics easier, all three athletes live in the Seattle area, and Rapinoe and Bird live together.
“We liked the idea of having athletes from diverse sports that represent something for every fan,” show producer Jeff Smith said. “We’re finding ways to make this feel really connected to the audience. They’re so ready to reach out to this community.”
Usually, the ESPYs broadcast from Los Angeles with 5,000 attendees, including some of the biggest names in sports and entertainment. This year, the event, usually held in mid-July, will be moved up to June 21, and the repurposed telecast will be two hours. The signature Arthur Ashe Award for Courage, the Pat Tillman Award for Service and Jimmy V Award for Perseverance will still be presented, but there won’t be acceptance speeches. Instead, the producers hope to show winners receiving the call when their names are announced.
While Rapinoe and Bird will likely be given plenty of opportunities to entertain, the ESPYs will have a more reserved feel this year. It’s appropriate for the times.
But given the ratings success of the NFL Draft and new sports content — “The Match” drew an average of 5.8 million viewers Sunday — this could be the most-watched ESPY’s in history. Luckily for us, Rapinoe and Bird will have starring roles.