Friday, August 7, 2009

Some Rhetorical Questions About ESPN

By: T.R. Slyder,, AndyDisco on Twitter

If ESPN's Chris Mortensen found out that Roger Goddell, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Brett Favre and Adrian Peterson were running a drug-smuggling operation, do you think he'd actually report it? Or, do you think ESPN would even allow him to run it?

Who do you think would go after that story more tenaciously- ESPN or the New York Times?

Would you be more likely to trust the reporting of a sports company that reports news as well as films commercials with the very same athletes that they interview, or a company that is an independent news agency and does not broadcast any athletics?

If runs a story promoting the virtues of Player X, and runs a story promoting the virtues of a Player Y, would you be more likely to question the motives of why wrote a puff piece about Player X?

In July, when baseball is the only game in town, and SportsCenter mentions an NFL offseason trade rumor before they report the outcome of that day's Kansas City Royals game versus the Seattle Mariners, do you feel that ESPN truly believes that possible-news is better than definite news? Or do you think that ESPN's profiting from the NFL far more than it does from the Royals and Mariners is why they have subjugated those fan bases?

ESPN pretended to address this problem by hiring and Ombudsman years ago. Their findings get buried at the bottom of, but all the ones I have read were outstanding and spoke my grievances flawlessly. So what change came of that? Absolutely none. It's just a charade. If you acknowledge that you have a drug problem to your friends at family during an intervention, thank them for their support, then go use again 9 minutes later, your apology is meaningless. As meaningless as ESPN having ombudsmen.

Don't you think that ESPN is aware that no one actually likes ESPN, but that all sports fans simply tolerate it? Do you know anyone who actually enjoys SportsCenter anymore? People certainly did 15 years ago, but now people tolerate it. In the era of ESPNEWS, and the internet, no one has time for all of the fluff and pomp on SportsCenter.

I haven't read one positive piece about ESPN as a whole, in over a decade. I've that people like PTI, Bill Simmons or certain analysts, but never the network, its ethos or the shtick of SportsCenter. If news dissemination and fan satisfaction came before profits, and you ran ESPN, would you keep the status quo as is? And, no offense, but don't you think that their CEO is probably better at running ESPN than you would be? So doesn't that tell you that they're only concern is profit?

I'm not the first person to ever ask this rhetorical questions. And I hope I'm not the last to ask why no other media people have opted to challenge ESPN. If a rival sports news network started, that dealt only with news and not broadcasting sporting events, thereby creating conflicts of interest galore and injuring its credibility, wouldn't you prefer their news over ESPN's? You could watch the game on ESPN, then click over to get the other network's analysis- which you'd trust much more. Who would you trust to be critical of Peyton Manning's performance- an independent news company, or Chris Berman- who is hoping to have Manning headline his charity golf outing this summer? Furthermore, if a New Sports Network (we'll just call it NSN for now) started, don't you think the approximately 6 ESPN personalities with actual journalistic dignity would gladly jump ship? ESPN would keep the soulless Berman, Linda Cohn, Stu Scott, Kenny Mayne, Skip Bayless, and the newest incarnations of screaming-heads like Stephen A. Hole Smith (like Keyshawn Johnson and Michael Irvin). Meanwhile NSN would most likely get at least a few integrity refugees like Peter Gammons, Tim Kurkjian, Ric Bucher, Bill Simmons, Buster Olney and other newsmen who do not wish to be associated with the network of Skip Bayless, Stu Scott and Chris Berman. When Bill Simmons jokingly refers to the future, when he runs ESPN8, he's really talking about NSN. NSN could enlist many of the reputable sports bloggers that have proven to be a valued counter-weight to ESPN's PropagandAdvertisements (I just made that word up). Heck, if they had a Daily Show-like show that lampooned ESPN, everyone I know would watch that show every single day.

ESPN has gotten fat and lazy. Not only are they ripe for a competitor, they are ripe to be bloodied by their competitor.

I'm T.R. Slyder, and that's how you Tangueray.

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