I used to love ESPN, to the point that when I had to leave Sportscenter on an endless loop during bartending shifts in my youth, it didn’t bother me that I had them subconsciously memorized by the second go-round.
Now, outside of game broadcasts and the “30 for 30” series, I’d rather take a 12-gauge to my flatscreen than endure one minute of the tired, bombastic sensationalism and lameness endlessly churned out by the network.
Granted, we owe a lot to ESPN, as its creators brought us events and coverage once unavailable. But like MTV turning into a symphony of asininity instead of being about music, ESPN’s migration toward babbling nitwits and hypocrites has essentially made it unwatchable.
The clown show was at its doltish worst during last week’s lead-up to Peyton Manning’s return to Indianapolis, and Colts owner Jim Irsay’s comments regarding his time here. In saying there was a lot of disappointment in the Manning era because it didn’t net more rings, Irsay told the truth, and was obviously taking a shot a team designer Bill Polian. While I’m a proponent of Irsay disappearing from Twitter or any other outlet, he wasn’t knocking Manning, just stating the fact that it was a flawed design that eventually came crashing down.
Hearing the unintelligible ESPN stance trumpeted by its mouthpieces of varying levels of ignorance regarding Colts history, the uneducated viewer could be led to believe Irsay stabbed Manning in the back, all in the network’s familiar effort to create false stories out of nothingness.
Unsurprisingly, Polian was there on ESPN saying how wrong Irsay was. Of course, that’s ironically hilarious when you consider what an antagonistic twit he was toward the media during his time in Indy, but now happy to pile on in that capacity for a paycheck. In fact, along with Polian, ESPN has another legendary hypocrite on the payroll in Bob Knight, who once equated sports writing to prostitution, but is now a whorish paid analyst.
The phony Irsay-Manning feud is just the latest chapter in ESPN’s devolution into often producing sports entertainment of the lowest common denominator. The network is poisoned by the same moronic back-and-forth practiced by Fox News and MSNBC – take two people, have them bring separate arguments to the table and let them shriek like babies until the next commercial break.
ESPN’s silly yet sad version is worse, however, because its blathering subjects are often transparent in that they clearly don’t believe what they’re saying, they’re just paid to say it, whatever “it” may be. Like the equally indigestible NFL pregame shows on other networks, ESPN is littered with former athletes trying to hang on to faded glory, who are willing to put on the dunce hat if that’s what the boss calls for.
For all of its positives, ESPN has led the charge in the bastardization of American sports media. Ridiculousness instead of reporting, dimwitted conjecture masquerading as news, and over-the-top dramatic performances have left it with a pro wrestling-type quality.
Like most things in life, there’s no putting the genie back in this bottle. As our 140-character universe slowly slides toward idiocracy, ESPN is there, truly as sport’s Worldwide Leader.
— Brent Glasgow is a sports writer for the Hendricks County Flyer. He may be reached by calling 272-5800 ext. 190 or by e-mailing to email@example.com.