This morning I got up thinking it was a good day for a good old Sunday morning. What is that? I have a few, but the one I wanted today, at the beginning of March Madness, was my newspaper, coffee, and ESPN’s Sportscenter. At one point in time ESPN was essential watching by every sports fan. I used to watch it daily. It was the best there was at delivering a wide variety of sports. They had great journalists such as Keith Olbermann, Dan Patrick, Dick Schapp, and Bob Ley. They covered sports in a way that made missing the big game less unbearable. That means they didn’t just show the dunks or the home runs, but they would show the critical plays of the game; and because they understood sports, they understood that the critical play didn’t always result in points and wasn’t always made by the star player. Those days are long over.
I stopped watching ESPN daily some time ago. I thought it was because my now wife moved in and deserved equal time in selecting what we watched. I think there is something else to consider. Today’s ESPN is highlight clip, after pithy quip, followed by whoring themselves out for some product placement, and then repeat. They’ve designed their show to appeal to the short attention span public. Their flagship show Sportscenter is barely watchable, and isn’t a valuable source of sports information any longer. It is not unusual for them to skip highlights (or even skip mentioning) what happened in a major U.S. sports contest (by major that means NFL, MLB, NBA, and NHL in that order). Sure you can watch one of their other shows such as NFL Live or Baseball Tonight, but I don’t want to watch 3 different shows to find out what happened in the day in sports. Sportscenter used to be enough.
It’s not as if their website is any better.
ESPN takes the fact that they provide the best sports information online, to take advantage of their readers. They inundate the user with ads. They have video, with sound, that starts without the request of the user. The site, aside from the content, is a bloated, slow mess, and I bet it has never been any more successful, because where else are you going to go? Sure Yahoo! Sports does an admirable job CBS Sportsline is a decent alternative; but you generally come crawling back to ESPN.com because they provide better content in an albeit horrible wrapper.
All this goes to say ESPN is one of the worst bests ever. This means they are the best at doing what they do without being good at it. It’s unfortunate for us sports fans who will just have to deal with the shit they deal until they decide to do a better job or someone takes them, because until then, nothing requires them to do a good job.