The Elon alumnus and members of the ESPN graphic design team were honored at the 41st Sports Emmy Awards ceremony and recognized in the Outstanding Post-Produced Graphic Design category.
“Monday Night Football” has been must-watch sports television since its debut in 1970. In recent years, the program’s graphics have been critically acclaimed, with expansive packages featuring animations and visual content bringing topical narratives to life every week. Behind the scenes is Elon alumnus Joe Accordino ’11, who was awarded a 2019 National Sports Emmy for Outstanding Post-Produced Graphic Design for his contributions to the nationally televised broadcast.
Accordino and his ESPN graphic design colleagues were recognized at the 41st Sports Emmy Awards ceremony, held virtually in August. It was one of seven Emmy Awards earned by ESPN this year.
At ESPN, where Accordino has worked since 2011, he oversees the production of graphics in an associate producer role, helping create the artistic graphics shared with MNF’s prime-time audience.
His ascension from production assistant to Emmy Award-winning producer is pretty straightforward. After graduating in December 2011 with a degree in communications, Accordino landed in Bristol, Connecticut, home to ESPN’s broadcasting headquarters, about a month later.
“I interned with ESPN prior to my senior year, which was facilitated in large part by Elon,” Accordino said.
J McMerty ’00, director of the Elon in Los Angeles program and assistant professor of cinema and television arts, along with Scott Gustafson ’00 helped Accordino land an internship at the often described “Worldwide Leader in Sports.” Gustafson just celebrated his 20th year with ESPN and is a live game producer for Major League Baseball, the College World Series, and an array of other programming.
During his tenure, Accordino has steadily climbed the ranks, from working on X Games to college football games and, most recently, “Monday Night Football,” now in its 51st season.
“The nice thing about ‘Monday Night Football’ is that we have a lot of creative tools at our disposal and a team of the most talented animators in the business,” Accordino said. “My job is to come up with creative ways to display some of our top graphics.”
Throughout the broadcast, Accordino helps implement the graphics in real time from the production truck, pitching producers and directors statistics throughout the game, which appear on screen at the click of a button. Here is an example of Accordino’s work.
“We get nominated for Emmys every year at ESPN, whether it be the World Cup, college football or ‘Monday Night Football,’ and I never really though too much about it because I don’t do this job for awards,” Accordino said. “I do it because it’s so fulfilling to work with such a talented team and to be part of a product that rates similarly to the Grammys every week.”
During his time at Elon, Accordino jumped right into on-campus media, launching “One-on-One Sports” during his freshman year along with Mike Heil ’11 and Chris Bunn ’11. More than a decade later, the show still broadcasts through Elon Sports Vision.
“Our first semester, me and a few friends decided that we wanted to start our own sports show, and model it after ‘Pardon the Interruption,’” Accordino said. “In our first year, after starting ‘One-on-One Sports,’ we won a college Emmy for it. It’s just a testament [to Elon] because it was three freshmen that started a show that’s around 13 years later.”
Like many Elon students and graduates, Accordino credits his early success to the university’s commitment to getting students involved as soon as possible.
“At Elon, I certainly worked hard in my classes, but Elon is really about how much you want to put into your extracurriculars because that will determine your collegiate and professional success,” Accordino said. “That’s such a unique opportunity that Elon gives its students. You’re able to be as great as you want to be.”