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ESPN's signature program, SportsCenter, aired its 50,000th episode on Thursday. (Cue Chris Berman saying what a long, strange trip it's been.)
You've heard the conspiracy theory, maybe even voiced it yourself, stating that SportsCenter pays almost no attention to Buffalo. Leaving aside the fact that Berman is an avowed Bills fan, it is difficult to put that theory to the test until the Bills start winning again. But someday, according to media visionaries, we may be able to customize and personalize our viewing of SportsCenter, so that it covers only the teams we want to see and hear about.
Would that mean more boo-yahs for the Bills? College Football Gameday leading off with the Bulls? Digger Phelps digging Big 4 basketball? John Buccigross talking about all Sabres, all the time?
Those scenarios are hard to imagine, but think about the world in which we lived when ESPN was launched in 1979. The Internet was still just a gleam in the eye of a young Al Gore. Bill Gates was trying to find himself after dropping out of Harvard. Instant replay was seven years away from coming to the NFL.
In light of the program's milestone last week, ESPN asked some of its behind-the-scenes people to imagine what the 100,000th episode of SportsCenter might look like in the year 2028 or so. Nearly all mentioned that the audience would likely be able to customize its viewing experience to teams they care most about.
Mark Gross, senior vice president and executive producer of SportsCenter, said: "It will be a personalized SportsCenter [in the future]. So I think people will have the ability to get SportsCenter wherever and whenever they want it.
"Whether that's on a TV screen, whether that's on their phone, whether it's on a tablet, whether it's on their desktop, whether it's on an entirely new piece of technology that hasn't even been invented yet. I do believe that people will be able to localize and personalize their SportsCenter to the point where they'll get their own SportsCenter each day."
Amina Hussein, a coordinating producer for the program, said episode 100,000 "will be something that viewers will be able to produce from home; the elements will be produced in Bristol, but the viewer will have the ability to dictate what order they receive their news and highlights."
Rob Hunter, whose title is vice president, innovation, said, "There won't just be one SportsCenter; there will be millions of individualized versions, with fans' personal interests reflected in a virtual rundown based on their specific fandom. ESPN Technology teams have already laid the groundwork to make it all possible. We're building systems that can make all of ESPN's content available to all of our subscribers all of the time."
Even using a TV to view the program might seem outdated - so 2012 - when SportsCenter reaches episode 100,000.
Craig Bengtson, senior coordinating producer, said, "In the future, [SportsCenter] is going to be on every platform that exists. Those may be some platforms that haven't even been invented yet. It will be on the iPad, it will be in the mobile space, it will be in the digital space in a more robust way than it is now."

Showtime gets in the game

Showtime is jumping into the sports news magazine business with its partnership with CBS to produce "60 Minutes of Sports."
The CBS News team that produces "60 Minutes" will work with Showtime Sports on the new series set to debut in November on the pay-cable channel.
The format of the show, which will air monthly, will be two original segments plus older story from the "60 Minutes" archives that will be updated or revisited. The formidable talent from that CBS powerhouse show will be needed if Showtime hopes to compete with HBO's "Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel," which owns a bushel of Emmy Awards.
"Real Sports" returns this Tuesday night at 10 with features on Magic Johnson and on fan violence at sporting events, among others.

Sylvester tees off

Kevin Sylvester, the host of "Sabres Hockey Hotline" on WGR Radio and the "Tee 2 Green" golf show on Channel 2, has written a humorous e-book that will be released this week.
"The Married Man's Guide to Golf" is the title, published by All Square Media. Sylvester gives advice to help male golfers negotiate the tricky terrain from bachelorhood to married life, without having to sell their golf clubs.
Among his suggestions are that golfers ask their fiancees to fill out a pre-nuptial agreement, and if things aren't working out golf-wise after the wedding, the man should take the sometimes radical step of asking his wife to take up the game with him.
This can cause certain tensions, such as the fact that greens fees and babysitter costs can add up quickly. Sylvester has a solution, though:
"Spending an extra $200 a month on babysitters so the two of you can golf will be felt fast," he writes. "If that's too much, her answer will be to golf every other week to cut the expense in half. Your idea will be to still golf once a week, just not together.
"The challenge is to make it seem like it's her idea. If you're not sure how to accomplish this, just search your memory banks for every costume party you attended; the kitchen remodel; and the bidet you installed in your bathroom. She made all of those seem like it was your idea. It's time to turn the table, work your charm, and get her to bite the apple that is your golf game."
"The Married Man's Guide to Golf" will be available in the iTunes store and through Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com.

email: gconnors@buffnews.com