Michael Strahan will host Kids’ Choice Sports 2014 on Thursday, July 17 at 8 p.m. ET/PT.
Legendary Super Bowl champion and Fox NFL Sunday analyst Michael Strahan will host one of the biggest sports celebrations for kids, the first ever Kids’ Choice Sports 2014 show on Nickelodeon. We talked to the former New York Giant about sports, his favorite athletes, and who will get slimed! Read on.
Q: As the host of Kids’ Choice Sports 2014, what exactly will your duties be?
Michael: I am the master of ceremonies, the ringmaster, the magic maker, and the slime decider. I am the hype man. My job is to host the show, to go in and make sure that the show is fun and energetic. Maybe I get slimed, and maybe I don’t, but a lot of other people will. It’s a big responsibility because any time you deal with kids, they expect the best of you. They expect it to be fun, and that’s what my job is, to make sure they get everything they want.
Q: When you were a kid, what did sports teach you?
Michael: Sports taught me discipline and teamwork more than anything else. It taught me about working with a team, how everyone winning is better than just your own individual success, and how to work together with other people. It’s hard work. You gotta push yourself farther than you ever thought you could go in order to be successful.
Q: Because of the safety concerns over head injuries, do you think tackle football is still safe for kids to play?
Michael: Definitely. The NFL has its Heads Up tackling program where they encourage coaches to learn the proper tackling techniques. They’ve been signing up schools and teams so they can teach kids from a very early age the proper tackling techniques. I think that’s extremely important for the future of football. As a parent, I’d be comfortable as long as my kid understood the technique of it. There are many concussions caused by playing soccer, which is big now with the World Cup. But I wouldn’t worry about the whole concussion thing as long as kids have a qualified coach who has the qualified training to make sure they are taught the proper way.
[Here is a fact from the United States Center for Disease Control: "High school football accounts for 47 percent of all reported sports concussions, with 33 percent of concussions occurring during practice. After football, ice hockey and soccer pose the most significant head health risk."]
Q: Do your kids play sports?
Michael: I have 3 girls and 1 boy. My son plays football. My twins are the youngest at 9 years old. They play soccer and basketball and everything else under the sun. My oldest daughter ran track and played soccer.
Q: Is there a sport you would like to play that you haven’t played or can’t play?
Michael: I’m an athlete, so I believe I can do anything. [Laughter.] There are so many things I would love to do but I would never try — like snowboarding on that half-pipe. Things like that, I think are absolutely insane. To be able to swim like Michael Phelps would be awesome. To ever bend a soccer ball like Beckham would be incredible. Some of the other extreme sports I think look so cool to me, but at the same time so tough. And you realize the skill level of everybody who does it after you try it a few times yourself. I can barely stand on a skateboard, so I can only imagine the skill they have doing what they do.
Q: What sports do you play for fun now?
Michael: Golf and basketball.
Q: What was the most amazing sporting event that you ever saw?
Michael: Obviously, Super Bowls are always special. But the best spectator sport that I’ve seen myself is hockey. As far as the crowd interaction, the noise of the players, the speed of the game, the teamwork, the passing of the puck, the coordination they display, hockey is actually pretty amazing. Now outside of the Super Bowl, that would, by far, be the best event I’ve ever gone to.
Q: When you were a little kid, who was your favorite athlete?
Michael: When I was a little kid my favorite athlete was Pelé and I was a big Herschel Walker fan.
Q: What about now? Who do you consider like the complete athlete?
Michael: Hmm, there’s so many. Obviously LeBron James. He looks like a guy who can transcend and go from basketball to football in a heartbeat and then play a little baseball in between. I’m a big LeBron fan. I’m a big Tiger Woods fan because I appreciate what he’s able to do on the golf course. In baseball, Derek Jeter’s always been best in baseball. You know, I appreciate him. Name a sport and I can give you somebody I admire. I’m a fan of sports, period. Like Shaun White, I mean, you see what he does? The consistency. I’m a big fan of not only being successful, but being consistent at it. The great thing that has been shown by a lot of these athletes is that, “Ok, I’ve been great one year. I can be great another and another and another.” That’s the hardest thing to do is to be consistent, to stay injury-free and to fight through the challenges. I respect first of all anybody who’s able to play and make it to an elite level, and secondly, the ones who are able to stay at that elite level.
Q: Did you ever imagine that you would become one of the best and most well-loved hosts and commentators around?
Michael: Well, you know, it’s interesting. It’s funny. It’s kind of like me saying I watched athletes and I go, “I could do that.” That was the same thing as far as doing a TV show. Now that I’ve had the opportunity to do it, I’m glad it worked out. It is not something I had on my bucket list or my list of things that I thought I would be doing, but I’m glad I am. I mean, I love it. It’s fun. It’s exciting. It changes every day. I get to meet interesting people, have great conversations, and laugh when I come to work. I think that that’s key to living a long and happy life and a less stressful life. Hopefully, this show will keep me young.
Interview by Marie Morreale