We all hate ESPN, but need it too
July 30, 2007
Larry Brown Sports had an excellent post the other day about how hypocritical sports bloggers can be. For those of you who are too lazy to click the link, basically, he writes that even though we all bash ESPN, we continue to link to it.
That reminds me of something I’ve always suspected. The overwhelming majority of sports bloggers, myself included, feel that the quality of the ESPN networks has declined over the years. ESPN is full of self-hype, self-promotion, making controversial and loud statements, and less about pure sports than it used to be.
But we still watch it. We have to — ESPN has a virtual monopoly in the sports world. They televise games we watch (Monday Night Football, Sunday/Wednesday/Monday Night Baseball, NBA, college football and hoops, etc.) And on TV, there’s few other places to turn to if you want to watch sports news. Fox Sports Net seems to have focused on regionalized programming, and reruns a lot of old games and programming. And the other sports networks that exist seem to focus on one sport (NFL/NBA network, The Golf/Tennis channel), one team (YES) or sports that few people watch (CSTV).
So we’re stuck with ESPN. And I hate that we are.
Growing up, I’d watch SportsCenter, Baseball Tonight and College GameDay religiously. Now, I still flip to those shows when I have free time and I’m watching TV, but a few minutes later, I flip away, disgusted at something stupid I just saw or heard.
If anyone was ever going to build a serious competitor to ESPN, now is the time. Now is when its viewers are getting sick of what they do. But until then, we have no choice — we’ll keep watching, at least a little.
Edit: As OSQ commenter Noah pointed out, I forgot to include the Versus and NHL argument. Versus is another example of a sports network that has mostly non-mainstream sports. And how little has ESPN covered hockey the past two years now that Versus has the rights?