Sports may still be on hold for weeks, but a few of Seattle’s top athletes will still take center stage next month. ESPN has announced that Storm guard Sue Bird, OL Reign forward Megan Rapinoe (yeah, Tacoma, we're claiming her), and Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson will host the network’s remote ESPY awards ceremony on June 21. Though the annual event recognizes Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly by stars around the globe and typically features a lone emcee, its organizers couldn't resist selecting multiple hosts from our city's eclectic sports potpourri.
“Part of the fun of the ESPYs is bringing together athletes from across a spectrum of sports, and Sue, Megan, and Russell represent a diverse lineup of teams,” ESPN executive Rob King said in a statement. “We’re excited to see them bring their passion to hosting the show.”
The sports world’s annual chance to play dress-up on the red carpet has long been a bit of a snooze, mostly proof that famous people often aspire to swap roles with other famous people—athletes want to be actors and rock stars, and vice versa. After all, individual leagues dole out the truly meaningful trophies and awards in the athletics realm.
But amid the coronavirus pandemic, ESPN promises that this year’s event will deliver more cultural resonance. The ESPYs will shift its usual focus from athletic achievement to highlighting “narratives of service, perseverance, and courage within the world of sports,” which will include honors like the Billie Jean King Youth Leadership Award and the Muhammad Ali Sports Humanitarian Award, according to a release.
Statements from Seattle’s star hosts suggest that the programming change inspired them to participate in the event. Their actions throughout the coronavirus crisis do, too. During the recovery effort, Wilson has pledged to donate one million meals through Seattle’s Food Lifeline with his wife, Ciara. And Bird and Rapinoe’s sing-along home videos have offered sorely needed levity during tough times.
No word yet if the power couple will don these ’70s looks when the ESPYs air beginning at 6pm PST on the 21st. But either way, you might want to set your calendars.