America has always been a divided nation. We began life feuding between Loyalists and Colonists, fought bitterly about States’ entitlements vs. a strong Federal government, divided ourselves into either Confederate or Union, disagreed on our role in the world and even established a declaration of War on the young people asking for Peace and Love.
For the past thirty-or-so years no matter who was in the White House or what disaster was in the news or who was dating whom, a high percentage of half the population could always find something to talk about, or at least make pleasant conversation. All you had to say was, “Did you catch SportsCenter last night?”
Keith Olbermann, Dan Patrick, Robin Roberts, Rich Eisen, Boomer and the late, great Stuart Scott – as cool as the other side of the pillow! It was the news we needed; the news we waited for and looked forward to, presented with boxers a little bit looser than on previous shows. It was Mike & Mike on the way to work, and SportsCenter once we got home. Every day. We guys who are now between 40 and 70 were as faithful as could be, and to some degree helped make you what you eventually became.
ESPN, I figured we were headed for trouble when you took the excellent, brilliant show called “Olbermann” off the air after Keith called for Goodell’s resignation. I like to watch networks that have not painted themselves in to a corner of conflicting interests, preventing their employees from being critical of a league or even reporting the news objectively. I know I’m weird that way. It’s not you; it’s me.
I knew things were worse than I’d realized once Molly took over on First Take and morning SportsCenter started to look more like The View than anything I’d ever imagined would be on ESPN.
Don’t get me wrong me wrong ESPN, I like pretty women and cleavage as much as the next guy, but I don’t want to look at cleavage while I’m thinking about football.
And middle-aged (anchor)women dressed in prom dresses, apparently believing they are the age they tell people they are, make me queasy in any setting. It isn’t that there are women doing sports – Doris Burke is easily a top-five commentator and Suzy Kolber is the very best.
But isn’t there a ‘setting-appropriate’ way to dress along with an ‘age-appropriate’ and ‘profession-appropriate’ manner? I must be odd that way. It’s not you ESPN; it’s me.
When cable and satellite subscriptions began to droop, and layoffs were inevitable, everyone knew it was just business. It also (I’m willing to venture a guess here) gave you a chance to clear out any ‘dead wood’ and maybe even some ‘old wood’, in line with the shift to programming more suited for the AppWatchers. The bright, younger cheaper personalities that survived the layoffs are all excellent – smart as whips, write great articles, good insight.
But it is a bit hard to swallow having someone introduced as a ‘Senior Writer for ESPN’ that truly looks like the aforementioned prom dresses were recently worn by and borrowed from them, especially when some true hall-of-famers were inexplicably dismissed (we miss you on Mondays MT).
To some of us, a ‘senior’ reporter remembers Mr. October and remembers how their heart was beating as Bird intercepted that inbounds pass and remembers watching Joe Cool march those 9ers down the field – and not someone to whom they are history lessons. Probably no one else feels that way. It’s not you; it’s me.
For these and other reasons ESPN, I planned to break up with you.
But while writing this letter it has become clear that you have already broken up with me. We, the longtime faithful, the initiated, the now in the wrong demographic have been tossed aside with no regard, for a hope that the AppWatchers will make up the difference. Good luck.
Meanwhile, SportsCenter has become a gypsy – a second class citizen that seems to never be on the same channel at the same time in the same format – so I watch PTI to get a little sports news.
Once you decide that Kornhusker is too old I will stop paying DirecTV the $15/month to get ESPN, and watch the few decent MNF games at a bar.
Let’s not think of this as a farewell ESPN, but instead a thank-you; we had a great run.
– REENO –
For more like this,
follow Reeno on Twitter