The Daily Gamecock

ESPN founder tells story of network

Rasmussen hopes tale of network's humble beginnings will inspire USC students

 About 300 arrived in total — some even standing in the back of the room — as Rasmussen described how he and his son Scott came up with the idea for a 24-hour sports network, and how they made it happen.

He was turned down by many different investors in the late 1970s, but Rasmussen kept on.

Today, ESPN is the highest-grossing network in The Walt Disney Corporation; is broadcast on all seven continents; is available in 52 counties worldwide; and is tied to ESPN Radio, itself the biggest radio station in the world.

But it didn't start out with such success — or even the wide array of sports it broadcasts today.

The National Hockey league was the first to sign with ESPN, giving them privileges to broadcast all their games. The National Football League came next, giving them their first full season in 1987.

Major League Baseball didn't sign on until 1990, and although the NCAA was not entertained by the idea at first, shortly after its first demo on air, they too signed with the network.

ESPN's other popular features and programs, like the Top 10 Plays and College Game Day, just evolved from ideas thrown around in a room full of employees.
Rasmussen's spirit of determination shone through was asked if he had any advice for aspiring entrepreneurs.

"Always have belief in yourself and be positive of the idea," he said.

It was a fitting answer from a man who brought a seemingly silly idea to massively successful fruition.