ESPN history: Network goes 24/7 on Sept. 1, 1980

Thu, Sep 1

People who spend too much time looking backwards when they should be focused on what's ahead invariably trip over the ottoman.

I try not to be that guy -- except for today.

Today I have been asked to write a post about the mood around here on Sept. 1, 1980 -- the day ESPN, almost a year into its existence, finally began televising sports 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

People tend to memorialize the past, put a polished sheen on times that perhaps in reality were much less glorious. One could look dreamily at Sept. 1, 1980 as the dawn of a new era, when the promise of sports available to fans 24/7 took seed. Or, for those of us at ESPN who were here on that date, we could remember it as a day like many others back then  a day where we showed up early, across the street from a side-of-the-road scrap metal dealer, and went about the work of building a network, too busy to fully engage the gnawing notion that if this gamble didn't work, perhaps we'd end up in a scrap heap of another kind.

The funny thing is, both points of view ring true.

The sports world did change that day, and for fans it's never been better. Sports when you want them, any time of day?

What fan wouldn't want that? We were alone then in creating that vision. We are not now. ESPN has launched a plethora of 24/7 services through every available technology around the world in the 31 years that have passed since that day, and on each of those platforms, we have vibrant competition -- a terrific thing for fans.

But this is also true: when I showed up for work that day, I entered a trailer that I shared with several other people. We didn't have desks; we sat in front of folding tables parked along the back wall. I didn't have a file cabinet; whatever paper I felt the need to keep I placed in a cardboard box. We shared phones; if one person had a cold on Monday, by Friday we also shared tissue boxes.

• Click here to read the rest of the story at Front Row, ESPN's corporate blog