Sunday, February 19, 2012

Angry Rant: ESPN is no Longer a Sports Network

by John Huffstetler

ESPN has now firmly crossed the line from once pioneering sports network to trashy entertainment television. Hour after hour of coverage on their many networks is dedicated to fake, manufactured arguments between, quite frankly, unenlightened sports "experts." Skip Bayless is the king of these fake arguments, in which he takes a stand on a currently popular topic just for the sake of arguing. There is no thought or analysis involved, rather just screaming between two "talking heads" anxious to secure their next paycheck. Here is an example of one "argument" between Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith on who is better: Dwight Howard or Andrew Bynum (an obviously terrible and pointless debate).

Outside of live sports and truly interesting documentaries (thanks, Bill Simmons), the programming is purely fluff to fill time on their massive conglomerate of networks. The once proud SportsCenter program is now a televised Twitter feed, attempting to capitalize on the current flavor of the month. Tim Tebow and Jeremy Lin are two recent examples of players who have become dramatically over-covered on SportsCenter not based on their on-field performance, but other factors (Race and Religion). Shown to the left is a hilarious screen-capture of SportsCenter where every upcoming story was about Jeremy Lin. Granted, both players have been successful at times on the field, but dozens of players have had great seasons in the NFL and NBA without receiving close to the same fanfare. Showing highlights of great dunks over actual analysis of the factors that determined victory is now commonplace.

Here is an article by on how ESPN profited from the recent Blake Griffin dunk over Kendrick Perkins. ESPN proudly announced on their network the following day that they showed the Griffin dunk over 300 times during the last 24 hours. WHY ARE YOU PROUD OF THAT!! Do some analysis of something else! Show another play! I jokingly tweeted this after I watched the dunk live that night:

Blake Griffin trending on Twitter after the dunk. Not surprising. 10 segments on Sportscenter will be on that dunk now.
12:14 AM - 31 Jan 12 via web

The fact that they not only showed the dunk that many times but are also proud of showing it over 300 times demonstrates a major flaw in what they believe is sports broadcasting.

The ESPN website deserves blame as well. The front page is a bastion for terrible word puns and over-hyping of topics. The website has attempted to capitalize on the recent Jeremy Lin fervor using their trademark awful headlines. One recent terrible attempt at a pun came when a Jeremy Lin caption read "Chink in the Armor," an obvious racist reference to his Asian heritage. Yahoo Sports' Kelly Dwyer wrote a great piece on this caption and how troubling it was. Other less racist headlines deserve criticism as well, however, because they are just so hacky. Nobody finds them interesting, yet ESPN continues to litter their website with awful headlines. Darvish Yu signs with the Texas Rangers and ESPN's caption is "Yu Better Believe It," The Saints win the Super Bowl a few years ago and ESPN writes, "Party Gras!" Oh, I get it, because the Saints are from New Orleans. That's so funny!

We as a society are to blame. If no one watched this trash, they would be forced to change. There are other networks, such as the newly formed NBC/Comcast conglomerate, attempting to put together sports programming for the intelligent fan. The newly renamed NBC sports network, which I encourage everyone to watch, provides insightful, relevant anaylses on the sports they cover. If ESPN keeps getting viewers and readers, nothing will change. Enjoy your repeated highlights, pointless arguments, and terrible puns, America.

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  1. Wow! You're totally right! I wish ESPN could get back to the good ol' days of talking too much about Brett Favre and Kobe!

    1. Haha, the Brett Favre stuff marked the end of real sports journalism at ESPN. That was unbearable.

  2. Great post! ESPN is boring me to tears with the 7,000 talking heads on their shows. I get sick of seeing these manufactured arguments about people I could care less about. I wasn't aware of the quality of NBC Sports, so I'll start paying attention to them and shifting my focus elsewhere. I was big on Stephen A. and Bayless years ago, but now I can barely stomach through an episode.

    1. Haha, they're absolutely out of control!! Thanks for the positive feedback.