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Sun, Nov 23, 2014

Blog: ESPN has issues

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While growing up, most of my classmates were watching cartoons; however I spent most of my time watching the Total Sports Network.

My teachers were amazed on how much sports knowledge I knew. At the same time, those same teachers would tell me I needed to spend more time on learning more important things like how to spell words.

As I have become older, I started to become better-rounded and my support of the network has dropped for many reasons. I have noticed in the past few years that some people have also stopped watching the channel, while others have even named their kids after the network.

Next week, a very conversional book about the inside works of the popular sports channel comes out, “Those guys have all the fun: Inside the World of ESPN written by Andrew Miller and Tom Shales. About a decade ago, those two same authors wrote a book that told the inside story of “Saturday Night Live”. I have already read a snippet of the ESPN book courtesy of the latest issue of GQ.

The article was a real eye-opener, and I could not believe some of the stuff that happened behind the scenes. Some of the employees have had incidents that have put the network in a very negative light, but the channel thinks they do not any issues. This book has been kept under wraps from everybody, and it will probably be a quick seller. It is one of those that really digs deep inside of the company and gives scoops of the things you don’t see on “SportsCenter.” I’m really excited to read the book, but good luck finding it.

ESPN has done a lot of things that has made a lot of people turn the channel and find their sports news elsewhere. Some of those include their coverage of lesser sports and how they only focus on the so-called big events. Also, during their endless “SportsCenters”, they take one sports story and tell it over and over every few seconds with no new details. I had never been a big fan of the program, because the anchors try to use the highlights as their chance to try their new comedy bits.

As for their coverage, they keep saying they are “The Wide World Leader in Sports” however, its seems like the coverage only focus on the big events and they could care less about anything else. For example, during their college bowl coverage this past season, the announcers would talk non-stop about the BCS title game and not focus on the one they are covering even if it is a close game. One of my favorite channels is ESPN Classic. When I’m viewing a game on that network I notice in their coverage of that particular event back then, they would treat each game like it was important regardless of who is playing that night.

For the so-called less popular sports like any women’s professional sport or something like bowling, as always find an excuse to move the coverage or cut it short with little notice because of some pointless sports story from a major sport. Also, ESPN does a poor job of promoting the so-called less popular sports, and then complain that nobody watches them so why should they spend the time and money trying to get viewers to watch the event.

However, they believe it or not they still have programs that helps make them one of the best networks on television. Some of their investigating work on shows like E: 60 and Outside the Lines affects every emotion and touches on subjects that need to be out in the open. Also, writer and podcast host Bill Simmons does a terrific job of making sports fun and thought-provoking. He also has a new website coming next month called grantland.com named after legendary journalist and Murfreesboro native Grantland Rice. The first couple of preview stories are really good and you should check out the site.

ESPN believes it does not have a problem with its coverage or how their employees act off the screen, but this book might change the way fans view the network.

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David Hunter, ESPN, Sports, Voices
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