Jon Stewart will be back behind an anchor desk Friday, but it will be on ESPN. The longtime “The Daily Show” host is set to co-anchor an hour of “SportsCenter,” alongside Hannah Storm.
Stewart and Storm will do the show from Chicago’s United Center, site of the 2017 Warrior Games. The event, organized by the Department of Defense and featuring 265 wounded, ill and injured service members and veterans, began on June 30 and ends Saturday.
ESPN has been running features from the Warrior Games, including some involving Stewart, and on Friday, the comedian and Storm will anchor live segments from United Center during the 6 p.m. “SportsCenter” before hosting the 7 p.m. episode. According to ESPN, Stewart, who hosted the Games’ opening ceremony, will also do a live interview from the arena during the 11 p.m. “SportsCenter.”
Stewart attended last year’s Warrior Games, held at West Point, and he recently told the Chicago Tribune that he had the idea then that they should be televised on ESPN. “It was great, but it was (just) the athletes, their families, their caregivers and it felt like something that the public should be involved in,” Stewart said.
“On the way home, I was saying, ‘This is where the cameras should be, this would be perfect for ESPN.’ And my son just said, ‘Well, why don’t you call them?’”
Of his interest in helping the Games reach a wider audience, Stewart told the Tribune, “We ask an awful lot of the veteran community. The least we can do in return is support them when they’re home.
“If a shot-put falls in the forest, does it make a sound? It’d be nice if it made a sound.”
The Warrior Games’ website announced that “teams from the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard and U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM), as well as the United Kingdom Armed Forces and the Australian Defence Force” are competing this year. Those teams include “active-duty service members and veterans with upper-body, lower-body, and spinal cord injuries; traumatic brain injuries; visual impairment; serious illnesses; and post-traumatic stress.”
“When you come back, and you’re not with your unit anymore, it’s isolating to begin with. When you come back with an injury, it’s even more isolating,” Stewart said in a segment on ESPN’s “E:60” that aired Sunday.
“The adaptive sports and the Warrior Games can almost bring them back, to remember who they are and what they can do,” he added. “Boy, you see them light up.”
Stewart, 54, has been a relatively infrequent presence on television since stepping down as host of “The Daily Show” two years ago, but he’s provided reminders of his interest in sports, including popping up at events such as the 2016 NBA All-Star Game and a pair of 2015 WWE extravaganzas. Later this month, Stewart will continue his involvement at the intersection of veterans issues and athletics, as he is reportedly set to present U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Israel Del Toro with the Pat Tillman Award for Service at the ESPY Awards.