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If ESPN is Secretariat, does that make Fox Sham?

Belmont Race Track, The Belmont Stakes, Jockey Ron

Belmont Race Track, The Belmont Stakes, Jockey Ron Turcotte on Secretariat, the horse wins going away.Film ? Image-Copy 7x10 Credit: Newsday/Dombroski

I made my first schlep to Bristol in five years Thursday to tour ESPN’s state-of-the-art, never-to-be-obsolete Digital Center 2 complex that opens in June of 2014 – not to be confused with ESPN’s state-of-the-art, never-to-be-obsolete Digital Center 1 that opened in June of 2004.

The new-look “SportsCenter’’ studio will coincide with a revised approach to the show that focuses more on hosts, who will move about the cavernous set. More about that closer to the tentative June 22 launch date.

For now, though, a few thoughts from the always quotable ESPN president John Skipper, who was asked in a Q&A whether the new studios and new look were motivated by competition from the lines of Fox.

Skipper said DC-2 was in the works long before Fox Sports 1 came along, but he went on:

“This is the News Corporation. I’m not sure what century it is, if it’s the 20th or 21st Century Fox. I can’t remember. But we do respect them. They’re a big company with a lot of resources.’’

Still . . .

“The only thing we’ve tried to do recently, and we’ve been very aggressive about it, is try to combat the notion that there’s any sort of sudden horse race,’’ Skipper said. “If it was a horse race it’s Secretariat . . . We’re not a neck ahead; we’re 35 years ahead, and that will not be trivial to overcome.”

New York Sports