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Opinion

ESPN brings disappointment to long-time viewer, columnist

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February 28, 2008

Just like many of you, I wake up and wonder just where the hell I am. Then I stumble into the shower and wake up, brush my teeth and all of that stuff. Then I promptly turn on ESPN to watch Sportscenter. 

  Normally, I don’t have a problem with it, but this morning something really rubbed me the wrong way and I came to the conclusion that a lot of people already have. ESPN sucks.

  ESPN has been a staple of my life since childhood. It’s actually the reason I went into a broadcast journalism major. I remember when I was in second grade and I’d get up way too early every morning to watch Sportscenter. I would watch guys like Dan Patrick, Keith Olbermann, Kenny Mayne and Stewart Scott run through highlights with their uncanny wit and catchphrases.

  Unfortunately, as I’ve gotten older, the station has lost its luster. ESPN has become a mega power in the sports broadcasting world. The mega power has continued to grow until it lost sight of its main goal: to entertain and inform the casual fan.

  I take this Wednesday’s edition as an example. ESPN has created a segment called “Sportscenter Right Now.” This segment gives fans the news as soon as it happens. For example, the morning that Redskins safety Sean Taylor passed away, ESPN cut out the part about Taylor’s condition and ran a segment on his life.

  On Wednesday morning, ESPN broadcasted that Boston Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein called out Yankee pitchers Kevin Brown and Mike Mussina on the fact that they hated the trip to Japan that the Yankees took to open the 2002 season. The Red Sox will open against the Oakland Athletics in Japan this year. That’s it. Oh, and Mussina shot back that they won the division. 

  Is this something that someone in Minnesota or Wisconsin cares about? Sure, there are many bandwagon jumpers all over the country, but the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry is simply two runway models trying to trip each other in competition ala Zoolander.

  ESPN also tends to blow news stories out of proportion, such as the Roger Clemens case. I signed up for ESPN text message alerts for Major League Baseball on my cell phone this winter to see who signed where and who got traded. Instead, I signed up for the Roger Clemens suicide watch update.

  I have to be more careful with what I’m signing up for I guess. Every time I get a text now it says, “Roger Clemens called Brian McNamee a poopy head.” Then I’ll get a text saying, “Brian McNamee responds to Clemens by saying he’s a dorkface.”

  Enough already. We get the idea. Roger Clemens took steroids and he has too big of an ego to admit it. I don’t care that he “misremembers” conversations.

  I don’t care that his wife took HGH so she could be a he-she. I don’t care that his wife was at Jose Canseco’s 1998 party comparing boob sizes with Canseco’s wife. Enough. Stop this madness. It’s getting as bad as the coverage of Favre Watch after every football season.

  Then there’s the fact that ESPN has completely ignored hockey. Granted, hockey isn’t the most popular sport in the United States because of the lockout, but nobody knows anybody outside of Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby and Washington Capitals wing Alexander Ovechkin. 

  We do know, however, about the 12th man on the Los Angeles Lakers bench. The NHL did make a horrible decision after the lockout by broadcasting their games on Versus instead of ESPN.

  However, ESPN needs to have more hockey than Barry Melrose dissecting two highlights. Melrose could be the smartest analyst on ESPN right now, which gets me to my final point.

  Apparently, to get a job at ESPN you have to meet two of the three following criteria. a) Be a washed up professional athlete. B) Be a lousy columnist. C) Scream as loud as you can. C has been the most important in the ESPN food chain. Why else would Stephen A. Smith, Woody Page, Sean Salisbury, Jay Marriotti, and Skip Bayless (and his $5 million Botox bill) still have jobs with the network?

  Please, get somebody that doesn’t make my eardrums bleed when I hear that person break down something. (For those who have listened to my show, the Crishad Experience with Ben Quayle, which can be heard Thursday nights from 6-8 p.m. on WRFW 88.7 FM, I guess that eliminates me from an ESPN job.)

  With all of that said, ESPN does do a good job on some things, but they really should take a look back at what made them popular in the first place: covering all sports, and informing the casual fan. I don’t see that happening in the near future.

Chris Schad is a student at UW-River Falls.