E$PN Sold You Out a Long Time Ago

onezuke18Correspondent INovember 28, 2008

So it's been a few days since I've last graced you with an article, (I know
you've been waiting with baited breath for my next words).

And I'm still basking in my beloved Buckeyes proving me 100% correct by beating Michigan all the way back to Ann Arbor this past weekend, (but I still have it ALL
wrong about the thought that the Michigan program is in the tank and has no
direction under Rich Rodriguez). But with the Ohio State season on hold now
until bowl season, (by the way by FAR Zuke's favorite season), I found
myself searching for something to write about.

I could put in my take on the joke of a program that Notre Dame is right
now following their defeat to the football powerhouse that is the now 3-9,
Syracuse Orange, but I'm pretty sure Mr. Weis has enough people who want
his head on a platter.

I could go into further discussions that Michigan fans need to realize that
Rich Rodriguez is not the right guy for Michigan. But they are still
celebrating their 42-7 stunning upset over Ohio Sta ERRR....wait a
second...they lost? Oh, nevermind.

But then ESPN came in and saved my potential writer's block by littering
their programming a few days ago with the topic of LeBron James. LeBron James,
gold medal winner, No. 1 overall pick in 2003 to the Cleveland Cavaliers, host
of SNL and the ESPY's, posterboy for Nike, Ohio native, and global icon.

Why was LeBron James the topic of the day? Because LeBron James and the
Cleveland Cavaliers were in New York to play the Knicks at MSG. What was
all the hub bub about? Was it the 10-3 Cavaliers playing terrific
basketball early in the season and their chances in the Eastern Conference?
Was it the addition of point guard Mo Williams to the Cavaliers, his
stellar play, and the improvements to the Cavaliers? Was it New York's new
head coach and their changes? NOOOOOO...of course not. That would
constitute REAL SPORTS NEWS TOPICS...something ESPN the "worldwide leader
in sports", abandoned about 10 to 15 years ago now.

No, the raging topic was whether or not LeBron James was going to leave
Cleveland in free agency in 2010 to sign with either the New York Knicks or
the soon-to-be Brooklyn Nets. ESPN and its entertainers (Skip Bayless, the
"Two Live Stews", Steven A. Smith, Tony Reali...etc.), and yes they are now
just entertainers in my book, continued with comments along the lines of
'LeBron James is too big for Cleveland,' 'LeBron James needs the lights of
New York to be a global icon,' 'The NBA needs the New York Knicks to be
relevant and good for the NBA to thrive.' I'm not kidding with you.

ESPN, considering their financial ties to the NBA to me, is borderline tampering in the case of LeBron James and if I were the Cleveland Cavaliers I would bring it to the attention of David Stern and have it stopped.

I would officially like to give my response to ESPN, WHAT ARE YOU INHALING,
calendars ESPN, its 2008, NOT 2010! Where LeBron James is headed in 2010
isn't relevant until the 09/10 NBA season is over in June of that year!

But this is an example what ESPN is and has been doing for about 10 to
15 years now. They are no longer a news outlet. A network that
delivered you coverage of sports from here and around the world. A network
that did actual broadcasting and journalistic work and found the story
wherever it may be. There was a time when ESPN held some respect in my

Watch ESPN today, it is all sensationalistic garbage. Its homerish, it's
biased, it's about ENTERTAINING FIRST, then informing. I think back to guys
like Bob Ley and Charley Steiner, Dan Patrick, guys who were informative
and insightful, but also sprinkled in humor to that network. But they
informed you first and foremost. That is what made ESPN what it is today
because the audience loved it.

Now you look at Steven A. Smith, Skip Bayless, Mark May, Peter Gammons,
Buster Olney, John Clayton etc...and I can barely stomach watching these
entertainers. Entertainers, because they aren't journalists or
broadcasters, they are entertainers who have been given the ESPN soapbox to
wave their arms around and out-shout one another. When did this revelation
happen? I think it pretty much coincided with the development ESPN original

It was also about this time that ESPN starting getting its piece of the pie
in sports programming. College football was growing into a bigger business,
NASCAR was starting to really find the mainstream, and ESPN merged with
ABC. From there, ESPN has expanded its baseball coverage, the NBA is now on
ESPN, as well as Monday Night Football and NASCAR races. Most recently, ESPN won the bid for the BCS for college football and struck a huge deal with the SEC conference for exclusive football coverage as well.

My point to all of this? ESPN is no longer a sports news source, it is a
sports entertainment source, and now has a vested BUSINESS interest in the
NFL, NBA, NASCAR, MLB, etc...so ESPN wants to protect its investment, and
it wants ratings for commercial dollars.

Back to ESPN and its original entertainment...ESPN has developed many
successful shows from this branch of marketing and development, (Around the
Horn, Pardon the Interruption, Jim Rome is Burning, First and Ten, and one
of its earliest shows The Sports Reporters). All of these shows have things
in common, they all feature sports journalists from the Boston, New York,
Los Angeles, and Chicago predominantly. "Journalists," who started humbly
as beat reporters for these cities and have an incredible bias toward their
respective cities.

Back to ESPN and its agendas...

I've sat and watched, sat and heard the following statements from ESPN
analysts, 'The NBA can't thrive without successful franchises in Los
Angeles and in Boston.' Really? Is that why the NBA is globally now right
below soccer in popularity? Is that why the NBA has more superstars than
ever before?

I mean jeez, I'll be the first to admit that I'm a football
honk, I love college and professional football, and that is my first love,
but I like the NBA product. I think the league is stronger than it's ever
been. You have Dwayne Wade in Miami, Garnett/Pierce/Allen in Boston, Kobe
in L.A., LeBron in Cleveland, Chris Bosh in Toronto, Howard in Orlando,
Shaq/Nash/Stoudamire in Phoenix, Duncan/Parker/Ginobili in San Antonio etc...the NBA is as exciting as its ever been.

And wouldn't you know it? I didn't mention New York or Chicago?! Well
those are huge viewing markets, and their teams are God freaking awful, so
forget all those superstars in Phoenix, Cleveland, Toronto, Miami,
Orlando etc...the NBA is terrible because the New York Knicks aren't relevant. That is what ESPN is telling you and I.

Watch NFL Live...what do you see? The biggest trumped up soap opera ever. I
personally call it the "As The Dallas Cowboys Turn." I've NEVER in my life
seen a mediocre 7-4 team covered more in my entire life than the Dallas
Cowboys. While a team like the Atlanta Falcons with an identical record, a
FAR BETTER STORY, gets a tenth of the coverage.

Here is an Atlanta Falcon football team that was 4-12 last season. A team
whose coach quit in the middle of the night 13 games into the season, a
team whose previous starting quarterback was jailed on dog fighting
charges. The Atlanta Falcons were starting a rookie in Matt Ryan, a rookie
head coach, a roster full of rookies, unprovens, and busts, and expected to
be a laughingstock. Eleven games later they are 7-4 and positioned for a
playoff spot. Why are we talking about the latest Jessica Simpson/Tony Romo
love connection, Tony Romo's pinkie finger, Terrell Owens latest demand for
more attention, when you have a story like the Atlanta, a real FOOTBALL
STORY??? I'll tell you why...because the Dallas Cowboys are allegedly
"America's team."

Don't even get me started with ESPN's coverage of Major League Baseball.
Teams outside the New York Mets/Yankees, the Boston Red Sox, the Chicago
Cubs, and the Los Angeles Dodgers are pretty much irrelevant. But that is
both ESPN and MLB's fault.

Bottom line is that the ESPN has a conflict of interest. ESPN has become
the "worldwide leader in sports," ESPN is now a "family of networks," ESPN
is the ESPY's and original entertainment, ESPN is in bed with the NFL, NBA, MLB, NASCAR, and the NCAA. Understand that they are a business and they are motivated to promote certain agendas.

When ESPN got into bed with these leagues and began vast programming of them, they married these organizations financially. So all of a sudden, the NFL, NBA, MLB etc...financial success became a real priority to ESPN. Its all about viewers. Because viewers equals dollars. So if you are the president of ESPN, wouldn't you prefer a Los Angeles Lakers vs. Boston Celtics NBA Finals as opposed to say the New Orleans Hornets vs. the Cleveland Cavaliers?

Wonder why MLB World Series games are down? NBA Finals games? Because ESPN doesn't promote teams that aren't in Chicago, Los Angeles, Boston, or New York nearly enough.

The worst case I saw was that of the Colorado Rockies in 2007. That should have been TOP OF THE SHOW NEWS, that was a great story. The Rockies were a team that went from .500 in August, a middle of the division baseball team, and won 21 OUT OF 22 BASEBALL GAMES. 21....OUT OF 22 BASEBALL GAMES! I'd never heard of a streak like that in baseball in my life. This was a team that then had a playoff game, to get into the playoffs! A Rockies team being carried by young stars in the making in Matt Holiday and Troy Tulowitzki who had never been in the position they were in. No one expected them to get past Philadelphia or Arizona to get to Boston. But there they were, fighting the mighty Boston Red Sox and ESPN darling.

This should've been billed a battle of David and Goliath, the established stars of Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz against the upcoming ones of Holliday and Tulowitzki. The story was set, the Colorado Rockies winners of 21 of their last 22 vs. the Boston Red Sox...and NOBODY WATCHED. Because ESPN didn't do their journalistic jobs in promoting the Rockies for the true story that they were. Granted, there are huge problems with MLB's playoff setup, but ESPN certainly didn't help. 

Attention ESPN! Not everything revolves around New York, Chicago, Boston, and Los Angeles. The NBA, NFL, and MLB can be just as successful without competitive teams in some of those towns. Good teams, no matter what the towns, have good players, with good stories to tell. It's not ESPN's job to tell me and you, (the viewers), about how the NBA can't be entertaining without a good New York Knicks team. Its ESPN's job as "journalists" to find the teams and players that are electrifying professional sports and introduce them to the viewing masses. That way people know about the 2007 Colorado Rockies before the first pitch of the World Series.

That's your job ESPN...stop trying to "entertain" us so much, stop trying to push your big city agendas to try and garner ratings, and remember that you are supposed to bring us news, wherever that news may come from. Stop worrying about trying to help move LeBron James to New York City in 2010, (because I'm pretty sure he's already there in his mind), no one cares about 2010 right now, its 2008. Cut the agendas, and just inform us. 


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