Manning: ESPN, The Worldwide Leader in Sports Entertainmen

I logged on to ESPN as I normally do each morning and the biggest thing that caught my eye was two video clips about who Carmelo Anthony could be traded to in the near future. Having been hearing these rumors myself about potential trades to either Houston, or Cleveland, I decided to watch the clips and see if I could glean some insight.

In the Cleveland scenario, Anthony to the Cavaliers, the intriguing piece in a trade return is Kevin Love. That is a widely speculated rumor. However, the Knicks are outwardly showing little interest in Love. The premise of this segment was just that. How might the Knicks and Cavs execute a trade for Carmelo that did not include Kevin Love.

The analyst stepped up to the fancy smart board as is now the norm with the host facilitating the segment. From there, the entire minute and a half segment if boiled down went a little like this with the analyst speaking first then the host.

“Well the easiest scenario for a trade would be Carmelo for Love. Though the Knicks are not particularly interested in Love, and there are no other potential pieces on the Cavs roster that you would be willing to trade Carmelo for. That means in order to execute a trade; you would need a third team to get involved.”

“And what might that look like?”

“It would be more complicated and I am not going to get into that.”

This is admittedly one clip on the internet, pulled from one of many broadcasts of live shows done on ESPN every day. However, it is emblematic to me of the trend that has gone on at the network. There is a severe lack of actual game coverage on a day to day basis to start with and n overall lack of complex analysis going on. This is particularly apparent during their flagship Sport Center program.

Instead what seems to be more and more of the case is that as has become the trend with television in general, the “Worldwide Leader in Sports,” is more so the “Worldwide Leader in Sports Reality Television’” The stories that are being pushed are public interest pieces and the deep dives into the games itself from basketball, baseball, and football which get a lot of love to hockey which is the ugly step-child of the network have quite literally been replaced with talking heads that say controversial things for the sake of the sound byte that will get play through a news cycle.

This is not the ESPN of my youth (says the 25 year old sounding like a jaded person much his senior) and frankly it’s not good for the public. ESPN just laid off hundreds of employees, many of whom were their actual reporters, paid to get close with teams and track their development and ask tough questions over the course of a season. What we are left with is sports entertainment. And frankly…it’s not that entertaining.

I miss “Did You Know,” and “Back, Back, Back, Back…” as Stuart Scott, Dan Patrick, Chris Berman, etc. changed the way we consumed sports. But those days are gone.

So here is to hoping that there is a balance to be found, because if not, personally, my viewing habits will continue to decrease with the exception of watching games on the network, which of course is bankrupting the network.

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