What happened? You used to be the best network on the air. You were fresh and hip. You gave an unbiased approach to sports. If we, the collected masses, needed information about sports, we turned to you. Even with the dawn of the Internet, ESPN was still the go to means to scratch our sports related itch. So what happened? Why is it that you kind of feel like an exclusive club that only allows members in if they agree to your terms and conditions? ESPN was built on being there for the little guy, not just by trying to be the Exxon Mobil of sports entertainment. Yes, ESPN, you have fallen off the wagon.
But it’s not all bad. There is still time to save yourself. You just need to be born again. Here are five ways that you could regain your title and return to the once-held position of being the best of the best.
1) The NFL isn’t the only sport in the world. Your constant, 24/7, 365/year coverage of the NFL has left many of us with a disgusting taste in our mouthes. Consider the following embarrassment of yours. Mike and Mike in the Morning, which used to be a wonderfully informative show, does ‘two-a-days’; where they preview two NFL teams each day for almost a month leading up to the start of the NFL preseason. They obsess on every detail and each team gets two of the four hours of airtime per day. How much time do they spend covering the MLB preview? All 30 teams were covered in about 5 minutes on one show. Then they went back to talking about Tim Tebow or some other stupidity that was pointless in SPRING. If I hear one more mention of Brett Favre, I will throw my television off an overpass. Enough, ESPN, enough. Granted, most of your audience is ‘Built Ford Tough’, but some of us prefer the ‘Ultimate Driving Machine’ approach to sports.
2) More freedom for announcers. You have some of the best sports announcers/commentators we’ve seen in the past few decades. Tony Kornheiser, Michael Wilbon, Colin Cowherd, Woody Paige, Mike Greenberg – just to name a few, are terrific. But they don’t get the freedom of expression that they should. Look who you’ve lost – Dan Patrick, Keith Olbermann, Max Kellerman, Jay Mariotti… these guys knew how to speak their minds. And you punish them for that. Wrong wrong wrong. Freedom of speech has been whittled away to a pathetic little shard of political correctness. How sad, and embarrassing for you that you pander to the fearful.
3) Give soccer a fair chance. There is a reason that the rest of the entire world can’t stand US football and loves futbol. Apparently ESPN hasn’t heard the reason. There is life outside of the borders of America. That International market represents about 95% of the Earth. Way to settle for the bottom. If you would just give soccer a fair chance, and not constantly make jokes about it, maybe it would catch on here. People do what ESPN says. If ESPN says ‘soccer bad’ then the mouth-breathers will believe it. Not fair.
4) Bring back MLB. Baseball used to be America’s pastime. It united generations, cultures, families, cities, demographics, children, everyone. Football can not do that. It never will. Football is too violent. If ESPN would take an active stance to promote baseball, it could return to its glory days. Unfortunately ESPN only cares about football. This close-mindedness will ultimately lead to its downfall if they don’t change now.
5) Try Reality TV. Like it or not, reality television is here to stay. Every network has gotten on the bandwagon, even Cinemax. (What the heck?) Why does ESPN shy away from this recent innovation? ESPN is kind of hypocritical because they talk, ad nauseum, about HBO’s Hard Knocks show, but they belittle the notion of having their own reality shows. They have tried a few, in the past, but never gave them a fair shot. Seriously, who wouldn’t watch Woody Paige’s daily life if it were filmed? Seeing Woody at a grocery store would be television gold! Why not have a show to create an ESPN mascot. How about taking all the Around The Horn panelists and put them in a house for a week and see how they get along. Add in Wilbon, too. Do something fun. Please. ESPN is turning into the crotchety old man that nobody wants to talk to.
So, ESPN, it’s not too late. You just need to take action now. If you want to remain the worldwide leader in sports entertainment you need to adapt to a more worldwide attitude. Football is not worldwide. Censorship is not worldwide. Bland vanilla-ness is not worldwide. This is your two-minute warning.
A Frustrated Sports Fan