I won’t lie, I stopped watching ESPN more than a decade ago. This train wreck was coming for a long time, but I didn’t think the nail in the coffin would be due to virtue signalling politics overriding its core mission as a company. The reason I stopped is because of the extreme east coast bias and the complete disregard for baseball and hockey. Since my two favorite sports took a back seat to sports that ESPN had more broadcast rights for, I never found it that compelling to watch. Compound that with the fact that they would talk about NY and Boston teams on a 5:1 ratio or more of anyone else… it was worthless. I didn’t need yet another commentator to tell me how Eli Manning is the greatest quarterback of all time, because he’s not.
But over the last year we saw something more insidious develop with ESPN. They followed the same path as their sister Mega-Corporate Disney-owned Marvel Comics, in that they hired a bunch of social justice warriors, and started rambling about politics. This of course coincided with Colin Kaepernick’s anti-American sit-in of national anthem at game, of which ESPN was all too gleeful about. Fans, being normal Americans, found it insulting and hated it. Like the readers of Marvel Comics who didn’t want to read “Occupy Avengers”, ESPN viewers tuned out.
But ESPN didn’t just stop there, because as we know, social justice warriors always double down in these situations. Their First Take became a political rant fest. They gave awards to Bruce Jenner for his “bravery”. All sorts of non-sports related nonsense that made their viewership drop even more. They covered the anti-Trump marches and praised them on twitter… I mean, seriously? What happened to sports?
That’s what happens when an organization converges. It only takes a couple of social justice warriors in different positions to shake things up, and completely ignore the real focus of the organization, which quickly transforms it into something that no one can even recognize. The end result is always the same, especially in entertainment media: the customers and viewers disappear.
We’ve see it in science fiction publishing, in Marvel Comics, in the NFL’s lack of viewership early last year, and now ESPN. We want entertainment to be fun. We want sports to be intense competitions between elite athletes. We don’t want a finger-wagging political messages. We get enough of that from idiots reposting clickbait on our facebook feeds.
And yesterday, the result of that hit ESPN as they laid off more than 100 of their journalists. They took the wrong message for what’s wrong with their network and made cuts primarily to baseball and hockey reporters. I wish I could say I’m surprised. I have yet to see a statement from ESPN or Disney about how they realize they erred in focusing on politics, so I expect the situation will get worse. We see that Marvel had taken the wrong lesson as well, thinking a “reboot” of characters to “iconic forms”will help them, ignoring their blackballing practices and the fact that their writing staff hates half of America. These half-measures do little good to rescue an organization from the pits they’ve become. I saw a post on twitter yesterday stating that ESPN is going to become to sports what MTV is to music — and I think that’s the spiral we’re going to see. What Disney group is next?
Independent Journalist Mike Cernovich has called for average people to stop watching ESPN completely,stating: “If you watch ESPN, you are paying the enemy. If you can’t give up ESPN to win a culture war, that’s on you.” At this point, if you want to see a change back to real sports, this is exactly what needs to be done.
Susan Slusser, sports writer for the San Francisco Chronicle has stated “Someone could start a really excellent sports network focused on real news, information and insight with these layoffs. Please do so.” And I agree. I would love to run something like this if I had the proper financial backing. It’s what Americans want out of sports and right now is an ample opportunity to provide what Fox News did to CNN more than a decade ago — provide real news as a counter to the nonsense. The ratings follow suit, as we’ve seen for so long. I think there was a movie, about an unrelated topic that said “If you build it, they will come.” Who can we turn to for a new sports platform?