Thursday, July 22, 2010

My Beef: ESPN

Just read this interesting article concerning ESPN's "The Decision", which was a pure travesty concerning sports. I've been disgusted with the LeBron way ever since he said (and I paraphrase), "If I wanted, I could score every point." Now, he is under some of the heaviest scrutiny of his young career over his behind-the-back way of signing with the Miami Heat.

Can I blame the guy? Hardly, since we, as a society, have gone down the road of 24 hour coverage of everything from the Gulf Oil Spill to Lindsey Lohan's prison trip. I can say that mass media is not about newspapers and magazines anymore - they go out of date too fast in today's world. The world wide web has taken media to new heights, which is a shame for some mainstays in the printing press world - local Sunday papers hardly get late sports scores in, much less the latest word from Paris Hilton, Paris France, or the French Open.

That being said, I have to express my shame in ESPN these past several years. It's getting to the point, just like with the news outlets like CNN, Fox News, and CNBC, no one ever reports the news, there is always needless speculation, argument, and commentary from people who are deemed "qualified journalists". I feel like for every two stories ESPN "breaks", they bring in two "insiders", as if they really know anymore than the writer at the Associated Press who actually wrote the story that is regurgitated by ESPN. Don't get me wrong, I love to hear opinion and take part in commentary as much as any avid sports fan in the world, but when I turn on my television to the "Worldwide Leader in Sports", give me my sporting news, unabridged, the highlights to all the games, and move on. Often they spend an entire segment on one of the following topics:

1) Brett Favre
2) LeBron James
3) Boston/New York/Los Angeles sports
4) The NFL

The fact they begin their NFL Mock Draft special DURING the NCAA Tournament is ridiculous - the fact they don't air the tournament is no reason not to cover it 90% of the time. I love the NFL, but I want my basketball front and centre when its March/April.

Then comes LeBron James. When I found out that he asked ESPN for a full hour to make his decision was absurd, and I am not the only one. The commissioner of the NBA, David Stern, even said "this decision was ill-conceived, badly produced and poorly executed." He has become the black sheep of the NBA for the antics he has displayed - Kobe looks like a saint now, and he is the one building a legacy for himself with five championships now, and it looks as if LeBron is just building a posse for himself.

But, my real beef is still with ESPN. The fact that their own "in-house referee on journalistic matters" called the programme a "failure". I have no doubt it drew ratings ESPN benefited from, but their image as a legitimate news outlet has been tossed out of the window. The whole idea from the LeBron regime was to gain more publicity, get his name out there even more than before, but I fear their decision backfired, because of the newly found hate for James. ESPN could have said, "we are not putting together the staff and production for a television programme, but we will allow you to hold a press conference that we have exclusivity to" or something along those lines. The fact ESPN took this as an opportunity for themselves without foreseeing the effects it would have against both parties involved was selfish, short-sighted, and ill-advised. LeBron may claim himself to be a king, but to allow him to dictate a multi-billion dollar network is rubbish.

I still tune to ESPN nearly every morning, because I want to see scores, highlights, and breaking news before I leave for my job - but writers are always trying to be front and centre with their content, regardless of their bias, which is my main beef with the four-letter.

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