I Hate ESPN! (Originally Posted on June 16, 2004)

Before everyone goes crazy, let me state that it was the headline that grabbed you, right? Well, I’ll state for the record that I don’t hate ESPN, but I do have an extreme dislike.

When ESPN first began, it filled a void. Sports every day, 24/7. Sure, there was no baseball, the NFL, the NBA or the NHL, but it had an innocent feel. There was SportsCenter, Australian Rules Football, College Basketball, the NCAA Tournament, the College World Series. All of these events were produced rather well and had a major league feel to them.

Cut to the present and ESPN has Baseball, the NFL, the NHL and the NBA. There are four channels in the ESPN Family of Networks. I’m sure we’ll see a fifth and sixth channel somewhere down the line. In fact, if you count ESPN Deportes to ESPN2, ESPNews and ESPN Classic, that’s five already. But I digress.

What is the point of this blog? Well to be honest, I have been down on ESPN for quite some time. The reason? The constant self-promotion. The bombardment of promos during games, SportsCenter, NFL Primetime, it’s endless. The promos are to the point that they are a turnoff.

Granted, ESPN has the number of viewers to watch their programming, but I counter that it is due to the inventory. The avid sports fan will watch because the network has the events that bring viewers to the set. However, that does not give the Power That Be a license to tell us about “Playmakers” the DVD, Gatorade’s ESPN the Flavor, or the X-Games.

The most blatant, overhyped promotion on ESPN are the completely self-serving ESPY Awards. I have never watched this event. The only great moment that came from this event was a cancer-ridden Jim Valvano’s heartfelt speech that urged everyone to never give up. Since then, the Disney Sports Network has been riding on that moment’s coattails.

Who votes on the award for “Best Female Athlete” and does that winner mean she’s better than the other nominees? We know the Academy Awards honor achievement in filmmaking over a certain time period, but what do the ESPY’s honor? ESPN? SportsCenter? Stuart Scott? Who are you? What are they? It’s a complete mystery.

So ESPN will continue to hype itself and its smarmy, smart-alecky, schticky anchors on SportsCenter. What was once a truly great network for the sports fan has become a network that looks for a pat on the back. The problem is that the one patting ESPN on the back is management.

And so it goes ….