For years now, it’s been my dream to one day work for ESPN. After what I’ve seen occur today, I’m not so sure. It’s not that it wouldn’t be amazing to one day work for the “Worldwide Leader,” and have my dream job, it’s more how I would have to get there.
The precedent that ESPN set today is that the “talking heads” are more important to the company and its viewers than the reporters that actually follow their beats, accumulate the sources, and tell the actual story. I’ve spent the last four years working toward a career in sports media, whether it be print or broadcast. I have learned the practice of gathering news, obtaining usable actualities and telling the story the way it needs to be told.
Now, it feels that if I just shout a bunch on camera, I’ll get to work for ESPN forever, regardless of the garbage I spew.
It’s frustrating that Screamin’ A. Smith will get to keep his three million dollar per year contract but a guy like Jayson Stark gets laid off a month after the MLB season kicks off. No disrespect to Stephen A., get your money my dude, but it’s just sad that Stark has put in 17 years of covering Major League Baseball at the highest level, has his job and his life ripped away. On the other hand, Stephen A. Smith gets his money to go debate the NBA, when he’s incorrectly picked the winner of the last six NBA Finals. He really doesn’t provide a whole lot of insight if he can’t get at least one of those right. Zero for six, really dude? I can go zero for a lifetime if I’m going to get three million bucks out of the deal.
The point is, we need to stop paying so much attention to the Stephen A. Smiths and pay more attention to the Ed Werders: who has covered the NFL for ESPN for the past 17 years and got laid off, effective immediately, on the eve of the NFL Draft–– tell me that isn’t one of the most disrespectful things you’ve ever heard of.
As if that isn’t bad enough, a majority of the NHL staff for ESPN has been cut during the heart of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. I understand that the NHL isn’t super popular, but it’s not as if it has no fan base at all.
I attribute this to ESPN trying to do a couple of things.
Number one, I feel that they’re trying too hard to fight the “stick to sports” crowd. It’s okay to discuss social issues and have the talking heads, but there are no storylines without the objective reporters. ESPN is falling victim to the industry, when I was hoping that it wouldn’t. ESPN is migrating to the CNN, FOXNews, MSNBC mold, where it’s nothing but a group of people shouting at each other for hours on end. For years, ESPN was the place we went for respite. So, where are we supposed to go to get away from that now? Because it sure as hell won’t be ESPN.
Secondly, ESPN is trying, at least it seems to me, to be solely focused on the NFL and the NBA. But, keep in mind, ESPN gets dogged by the NFL because they had a big influence on the concussion issue. Why else do you think ESPN only gets one NFL game a week and had to pay 100 million dollars to televise one crappy Playoff game between the Texans and the Raiders? I love the NFL, and the NBA for that matter, but we need more than just round-the-clock coverage on the NFL Draft and whatever LeBron or Steph has been up to.
This whole situation is just really depressing, and my heart goes out to those that have lost their jobs today.