|Around the Horn|
|Presented by||Max Kellerman (2002-2004)|
Tony Reali (2004-)
|Theme music composer||Umphrey's McGee (2015-2018)|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||18|
|No. of episodes||2,580+|
|Executive producers||James Cohen|
|Running time||30 minutes (with commercials)|
|Picture format||NTSC (2002-2010)|
HDTV 720p (2010-present)
|Original release||November 4, 2002 -|
Around the Horn (ATH) is an American sports roundtable discussion show, conducted in the style of a panel game, produced by ESPN. The show premiered on November 4, 2002, as a replacement for Unscripted with Chris Connelly, and has aired daily at 5:00 p.m. ET on ESPN ever since. The show has been recorded in New York City since September 8, 2014, and has had over 2,500 episodes aired. The program emanated from Washington, D.C., where it was located in the same studio as Pardon the Interruption (PTI). The moderator for the show is Tony Reali, who has hosted the program since 2004, replacing Max Kellerman, and also served as the statistician on Pardon the Interruption until the show's relocation to New York.
Around the Horn premiered on November 4, 2002. From its premiere until January 30, 2004, the show was hosted by Max Kellerman, who at the time was largely known strictly as a contributor to ESPN's Friday Night Fights. In late 2003, Kellerman announced that he would depart from the network for Fox Sports; after the show tried out several replacements, current host Tony Reali was named the permanent host on February 2, 2004, three days after Kellerman's last episode aired. As of September 23, 2019, Woody Paige has the most wins in the history of the show, with more than six hundred. Despite early negative reviews due to its argumentative formatting, the show has lasted more than seventeen years on the air, remaining a staple on ESPN.
The show went on hiatus from March 16, 2020 to May 8, 2020 as a result of a national emergency being declared due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which caused the suspension of sports leagues around the world. Between May 11, 2020 and July 10, 2020, Around the Horn aired for 20 minutes with commercials at 4:40 p.m. EDT as Around the Home under a new format where Tony Reali, along with three panelists, discussed sports issues from their own homes. The Around the Home format became semi-permanent beginning with the July 13, 2020 episode, which saw the show expand back to its normal length. The show returned to its regular format when it returned to the studio in September of 2020, although the Around the Home format is still used occasionally.
The original set was in the same Atlantic Video complex as the set for Pardon the Interruption. It featured the host's desk with the point triggers and mute buttons. The judge of the show scores four panelists, that are shown on four different screens. Behind the host's desk was a map of the contiguous United States of America with the cities the sportswriters on the show appeared from. The map, divided into time zones, displayed the names of five newspapers representing each time zone. The Los Angeles Times represented the Pacific Time Zone, the Denver Post the Mountain Time Zone, the Dallas Morning News and Chicago Sun-Times both represented the Central Time Zone, and the Boston Globe represented the Eastern Time Zone. This was to create a regionally biased discussion, but this was later phased out.
When panelist Woody Paige was based in New York, the logo of Cold Pizza was added to the Eastern Time Zone side of the map as Paige also appeared on that program. Eventually, the logo of the Boston Globe was replaced by the word "Boston" as many of the contributors from Boston were no longer writing for the Globe. The map was eventually revised in this way for the other cities on the map, but there cities of other contributors were not added to the board (possibly due to a lack of space) before the map was removed. Panelists still appear from left to right as on a map of the United States, from the westernmost on the left to the easternmost on the right.
On September 27, 2010, Around the Horn and Pardon the Interruption began broadcasting in high definition and moved from the Atlantic Video complex to facilities in the ABC News Washington bureau, where high definition sets were built for both shows.
Each panelist appears either in the offices of their newspaper, in front of a screen representing the city in which they are located, or in another studio. Dallas, Denver, and Los Angeles (when Bill Plaschke is appearing) still use their newspaper offices as studio space while Washington, Miami, Chicago, and Boston each have their own screens. (Los Angeles employs this as well when J.A. Adande is a panelist.)
The current Around The Horn format consists of the following:
Before the format of the show was changed in early 2003, the format was similar, wherein the first two rounds were largely the same but with different titles. There was a bigger difference after that. The show ran like so:
Despite the change in format, Reali still occasionally announces "ten topics, one winner" at the beginning of the show regardless of the number of topics.
This format ran from 2003 thru 2015:
The show "scores the argument" by awarding points or deducting points from panelists at the discretion of the host depending on the strength or weakness of their arguments. The awarding and deduction of points has changed throughout the series. Originally, under host Max Kellerman, being muted cost a panelist five points. Later, Kellerman changed the scoring whereby "good" answers received two points, "great" answers received three, and a mute subtracted three points from a panelist's score. Shortly before Kellerman left the show, the mute was reduced to its current -1. After Tony Reali took over the show, the number of points awarded or deducted was randomized at his discretion. For example, Reali might give a single point for a weak argument, or many points for a particularly strong case backed by statistical information, or not. Points may also be taken away for self-promotion, such as bragging about a good column or a successful upset prediction. (According to Reali, "Self-promotion is the mating call of the mute button!") In addition, complaints about how many points that they or another panelist received, usually results in a deduction and/or mute. Reali uses the mute button when a panelist interrupts another panelist, begins to ramble, or changes his or her previous opinion on a given topic. Mutes are also given for "banned" buzzwords, such as optics, narrative, elite, or problematic.
On October 31, 2018, Sarah Spain (dressed up as Freddie Mercury) set a new points record with 74 points. On January 9, 2012, Woody Paige set a scoring record with 71 points. Michael Smith had held the points record before the showdown with 64 on January 20, 2011. The record had been set by Jackie MacMullan in 2011. In the episode airing the day after Stephen Strasburg's debut, Woody Paige entered the showdown with 53 points despite having received a 25-point penalty at the beginning of the show due to a lost bet with Reali. The record for most points in the first round was set by Woody Paige at 41 points on October 30, 2009, that record was broken by Jackie MacMullan on May 12, 2010 with a score of 48, after she received a 25-point bonus for being named a recipient of the Basketball Hall of Fame's Curt Gowdy Media Award. On November 18, 2011, Woody Paige reclaimed the title for most first round points and on January 9, 2012, increase the title to 55 points, after receiving 30 pre-topic points for correctly predicting a Denver Broncos win the night before. The highest margin of points going into Showdown was set on June 13, 2011, with Jackie MacMullan scoring 60 points, a 61-point lead over Kevin Blackistone with -1. The highest margin of points after a round was set on June 28, 2013, with Woody Page having 11 points, a 497-point lead from Jackie MacMullan, who had -486 points going into Buy or Sell. Subsequently, on that June 28, 2013 episode, Jackie MacMullan was eliminated at the First Cut with a record low score of -474 points, due to starting with -500 points because of incorrectly predicting that Doc Rivers would not leave the Boston Celtics. Her losing effort was applauded by host Tony Reali and other panelists, including Tim Cowlishaw and Woody Paige.
Reali also makes bets occasionally with the panelists on sporting events, with the panelist gaining or losing a lot of points based on the outcome. For example, in summer of 2007, Woody Paige made a bet with Reali that he could drink a gallon of water during the 30 minutes of the show. At the end, the tank was empty. On the next show, secret cameras revealed Paige dumping most of the water in a cooler. Rather than receiving the promised 100 points, Paige received several mutes. Paige also received 10 points from Reali on January 22, 2009, when on the previous episode's "Face Time" Paige cheered on the New Jersey Institute of Technology's basketball team to snap their 51-game losing streak, NJIT won, Paige received points and won again. Paige used the time to offer his "service" to any other failing team at any level.
Reali occasionally will deduct or award points of a panelist who had a strong opinion on a sports-related matter predicted earlier in time, which then turned out to be the staunch opposite of what truly happened when the topic showed itself on the show again. For instance, in the August 30, 2010, episode, Woody Paige was awarded points after it was learned Stephen Strasburg would need Tommy John surgery, this coming after Paige was docked points in the July 29, 2010, episode when he suggested the Washington Nationals should shut Strasburg down in his first trip to the disabled list.
There have been some topics, most during the Out of Bounds segment, which have not been scored due to their sensitive nature. Such examples include Bob Ryan's suspension for his comments towards Jason Kidd's wife, the Duke lacrosse case, former White Sox manager Ozzie Guillén calling Jay Mariotti a "fag", Ben Roethlisberger's motorcycle accident, Michael Vick's dog fighting and animal abuse, Rick Pitino's extortion scandal, Jay Mariotti's 2010 arrest, Aaron Hernandez first degree murder arrest in 2013, and other discussions of deaths. Other sensitive topics that do not award points are held at the beginning, such as the Penn State child sex abuse scandal, the Boston Marathon bombing, and the death of Maine Black Bears football player Darius Minor. The January 27, 2020 episode following the sudden death of Kobe Bryant had no scoring at all.
Active panelists based on list from Around the Horn website.
Rapper Snoop Dogg appeared in early 2009 as a "guest" in the J.A. Adande lounge and contributed to an NBA-centered discussion, but left after the first segment after apparently being offended by a remark made by Paige.
Statistics correct as of September 17, 2021.
|Name||# wins||# appearances||winning %||Special Notes|
|Woody Paige||632||2,801||22.6%||All-time leader in wins and appearances, 2015 Tournament of Champions; 70-69 versus Bob Ryan|
|Tim Cowlishaw||500||1,866||26.8%||2018 Tournament of Champions, 78-77 versus Woody Paige, 18-8 versus Frank Isola|
|Bill Plaschke||399||1,603||24.8%||2014 Tournament of Champions, third lowest score (-108), 71-60 versus Woody Paige|
|Kevin Blackistone||341||1,412||24.2%||2011 Tournament of Champions|
|Jay Mariotti||329||1,549||21.2%||Has not appeared on show for over 8 years|
|J. A. Adande||320||1,235||25.9%||2012 Tournament of Champions|
|Jackie MacMullan||258||889||29.0%||Lowest score (-474); 37-35 versus Woody Paige; Last show 8/31/2021, retiring after 19 years on ATH & 39 at ESPN|
|Frank Isola||142||653||21.7%||2016 Tournament of Champions, lowest winning percentage (minimum 100 appearances)|
|Michael Smith||136||451||30.2%||Highest winning percentage (minimum 200 appearances)|
|Sarah Spain||103.5||348||29.7%||First appearance: February 25, 2016; 2017 & 2020 Tournament of Champions; highest score (74);|
|Pablo S. Torre||102.75||445||22.9%||2013 Tournament of Champions, most points ever (136), most points lost (-336), second lowest score (-286), 9-5 versus Sarah Spain|
|Clinton Yates||89||339||26.3%||First appearance: September 6, 2017|
|Mina Kimes||55||183||30.1%||First appearance: March 30, 2017|
|Kate Fagan||41||157||26.1%||First appearance: October 22, 2014|
|Ramona Shelburne||41||148||27.7%||First appearance: July, 2016|
|Jorge Sedano||19||64||26.6%||First appearance: October 19, 2018|
|Emily Kaplan||18||62||29.0%||First appearance: May 10, 2019|
|Elle Duncan||9||24||27.5%||First appearance: June 22, 2020|
|Justin Tinsley||7||19||29.4%||First appearance: January 28, 2021|
|Monica McNutt||5||16||25.0%||First appearance: February 17, 2021|
|Jon "Stugotz" Weiner||4||16||25.0%||First appearance: April 1, 2019|
|Joon Lee||4||20||20.0%||First appearance: April 28, 2021|
|Domonique Foxworth||3||7||42.9%||First appearance: May 9, 2019|
|David Jacoby||3||5||60.0%||First appearance: September 13, 2019|
|Dianna Russini||1||4||25.0%||First appearance: June 27, 2019|
|Malika Andrews||1||1||100.0%||First appearance: December 12, 2019|
During the show's long run, it has developed certain comedic long-running gags, much like its sister show Pardon the Interruption. The most recognizable gag is the chalkboard in the top-left hand corner of Woody Paige's square on which he writes witty phrases that are different for each segment of the show, usually puns, such as "I'm chalk-bored" (which are sometimes directed at Cowlishaw, Isola, Plaschke, even Reali - and formerly Mariotti). Paige started using it while in New York, then brought it back to Denver a few shows after his return. In January 2010 Paige added an electronic ticker beneath the chalkboard and with shout-outs or other messages to athletes, viewers, or the show's competitors. Due to the chalkboard's popularity, he published a book entitled I Almost Ran Out of Cha... as well as having the saying available for viewing online.
Another running gag involving Paige was his friendly rivalry with Mariotti, playing off a real-life dispute the two men had while working in Denver. The two have appeared in more shows than any other panelist, and have also faced each other in the Showdown the most times. Paige often mocked Mariotti on his chalkboard, and also repeatedly muted him and deducted points when he guest-hosted the show.
After the title sequence, Reali will greet the audience with a lines such as "Hey, now!", "That's right!", or "What do you say? What do you know?" Frequently, Woody Paige will attempt to say one of these lines before Reali gets the chance.
Reali began introducing every episode with "Four of America's most ... sportswriters," inserting various adjectives sometimes, but not always, related to a sports story of the day. That however was phased out by the turn of the decade. He continues to come up with introductions with clever segues based on the day's topics. During Max Kellerman's tenure, Kellerman would begin the show by saying, "These four things, I know are true!" Reali used this early in his tenure on the show, but soon adopted his own phrasing.
Reali is known to regularly hold panelists to their predictions to the outcomes of games and other sporting events in which correct picks are handsomely rewarded and incorrect picks result in a hefty penalty during a given panelists next appearance on the program. Most notably, Pablo Torre has received a hit every year during the NCAA men's basketball tournament in which he has several time incorrectly predicted a 16 seed to upset a number 1 seed. Unlike in prior years, Torre predicted the team to beat the number one seed for the 2016 March Madness tournament before knowing which sixteen seeds won the first round "play-in" games. Following the conclusion of Super Bowl 50, Woody Paige was the only panelist to be awarded points for a correct pick (Denver had beaten Carolina) while the remaining panelists throughout the week had been penalized accordingly their corresponding first episode following the event.
Reali also often introduces the 'Showdown,' the final segment of the show, with the phrase, "Two men enter, one man ..." usually ending with a pun based around a winner. For example, on January 8, 2009, Reali introduced the 'Showdown' by saying, "Two men enter, one man wins a snuggie."
At the end of each episode, as the camera zooms out and some of the production staff come into view, Reali attempts to hit the camera with the rolled up ball of paper from that episode. Reali also ends most episodes with the tag-line "we're on a twenty-three and a half hour break" (seventy-one and a half if it's the Friday show). When it is an extended break in between shows, Reali usually says "you do the math".
During the early run of the show, Disembodied Voice would work in "Around the Horn" into his program breaks, such as "Will Shaquille O'Neal go, or hang around...the horn!" Other times, Disembodied Voice would use a word which sounded similar to "around" ("ground" or "down", for example) before "...the horn!" After Tony Reali assumed hosting duties, however, he stopped using the traditional "around...the horn!" and would instead say phrases such as "Horn me!" or simply, "Horn!" before a commercial break.
Tim Cowlishaw impersonated Raiders owner Al Davis before his death in October 2011 by using his accent in topics that involved the Raiders. This was initially viewed as hilarious by Tony Reali and the other panelists, however, was at times, muted because of the excessiveness of the voice impersonation. In an August 2011 show, Cowlishaw was docked points for not doing the impersonation during a topic regarding the Raiders' quarterback Terrelle Pryor. Cowlishaw has done other impersonations such as Sir Alex Ferguson.
Kate Fagan's Face Times have often been regarding a story featured by her or her ESPNW colleagues.
Certain panelists have certain jokes associated with them. Woody Paige has become famous for urging the others to "Look at the schedule!" Plaschke will often say "It's over" early in a playoff series. For a time, Bomani Jones had appeared with a WWE Championship belt and pinkie ring before losing the ring, which he calls a "panky rang." When J.A. Adande had won, his Face Time was usually spent in the "J.A. Adande Lounge" where he name-drops (and is occasionally visited by) celebrities. In recent years, Tim Cowlishaw has been known to try to earn points by beginning his arguments with "As the only panelist here who actually covered [an event]...." Cowlishaw also frequently adopts teams, calling them "My Cincinnati Reds" or "My San Diego Padres". As the Stanley Cup Playoffs near each NHL season, Cowlishaw will have a miniature replica of the Stanley Cup at the ready, usually during an elimination or Face Time. Additionally, after introducing Kevin Blackistone, Reali used to say "Everything appears to be everything." Blackistone has presented his hand face up and to his left when the two newer female panelists joined the show and is in the immediately adjacent plasma screen as Reali welcomes said new female panelist (Blackistone has continued to do so for both Kate Fagan and Sarah Spain after their subsequent appearances when to his immediate left). Reali usually says "Hello Jackie/Jemele/Kate/Sarah/Ladies" after introducing the female panelists. Jackie will respond politely, whilst referring to Reali as his full first name, Anthony. When Bob Ryan was eliminated in later appearances, he began to mention that another chapter would be added to his book of Face Times you've never heard. Torre frequents the idea of robots taking over the world, particularly involving instant replays and officiating of games.