ESPN: A Victim of Itself

Justin CatesCorrespondent IApril 5, 2009

TAMPA, FL - FEBRUARY 01:  The ESPN pregame show with host Mike Tirico and analysts Trent Dilfer, Steve Young and Ron Jaworski before Super Bowl XLIII on February 1, 2009 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

The best thing about ESPN is that it’s a 24-hour sports channel. The worst thing about ESPN is that it’s a 24-hour sports channel.

Such is the nature of the 24-hour news cycle. You can get up-to-the-minute information at literally any time, no matter where you are in the world. Whether it’s the Internet, television, or even print and radio, the story is out there for you to consume.

It’s no different in the world of sports.

There are only so many sporting events to show live, so much of the ESPN programming must fill time when there’s nothing really going on.

It’s just like when CNN learns of “Octo-Mom” and jumps all over the story, carting in plenty of “experts” to debate the topic and fill air-time with mind-numbing analysis from people sometimes only vaguely familiar with the situation.

Likewise, ESPN is often left to simply pound home the one or two little news nuggets of a given day, or if they’re lucky, they can continue to milk a “big” ongoing story like Brett Favre or Alex Rodriguez.

That’s all well and good at first, but after a while there isn’t anything new to report. Driving home the same few details and speculation is neither entertaining nor informative.  

Chris Mortensen and John Clayton are great reporters, but I hate to see them speculating over the same story for so many hours of the day.

The network tries to fool us by rotating the talking heads and changing sets and panels. I’m smarter than that, Bristol. I can tell that you’re talking about the same thing on the NFL Live set as you were at the anchor desk.

But perhaps excessive coverage isn’t even the worst problem plaguing this behemoth of sports journalism.

There’s the ever-present and exceedingly annoying cross-promotion of platforms.

“If you’re sick of hearing about A-Rod on SportsCenter, flip it on over to ESPNEWS for complete coverage, or check us out online, or in Spanish. We have a Spanish network too!”

ESPN is everywhere and they cover everything, with a significant bias towards sports they have the rights to show on one of the many ESPN networks or on ABC.

I’ve come to grips with it and have forced myself to abstain from too much ESPN, be it online, in print, on tv or anywhere else they might pop up.

If you can successfully wean yourself off the beast, you can again begin to enjoy life. You won’t feel like you have to pay attention because they claim the news they’re telling you is “breaking” or some kind of urgent development.

You can go outside. Maybe even pick up a ball or a bat and play something. But be careful, ESPN might send out text message updates about your progress.