Last weekend I was sitting around with some friends when I decided to check the score of the Penguins Lightning game. When I clicked on my ESPN iPhone app I was appalled to discover not just that the Lightning were losing (yet again) to the Penguins but that they only had a half to come back. Yup, that’s it, no really wait for it. I want you to consider that statement, they only had a HALF to come back.
Hey ESPN I know you are the “Worldwide Leader in Sports” and all and have only the best of the best working for you doing your sports “analysis” AKA sports drama “Entertainment Weekly” style of reporting but someone please let them know that hockey DOESN’T have halves.
I know what you’re thinking mistakes can happen to anyone although this is the same company that had to let people go in the past week or so because they thought it would be a great idea to have a main article on their website titled “Chink in the Armor” after Jeremy Lin AND the Knicks lost a basketball game. Seriously, if you haven’t heard that story it’s true, that went through everyone in their web department and was a headline on their homepage because we all know that’s not racist.
ESPN calling themselves the “Worldwide Leader in Sports” is like me calling my hockey blog a “weekly” doctrine. Yes if you haven’t noticed I’m lucky to get the time to make it a biweekly blog. However, over the past ten to fifteen years ESPN has lowered their standards, reporting, and programming to the point that today it is hardly watchable. Apparently LeBoob James stating that someday he would play in Cleveland again is as news worthy as Tim Tebow completing a pass, Brett Favre stating he misses football, and Jeremy Lin’s Knicks (yes that’s right there are other players on the NEW YORK KNICKS although you’d never know) losing a game. Each of those subjects ESPN has spent almost an entire hour of Sportscenter talking about, for weeks upon months, upon years.
The best part about ESPN is how they fail to even acknowledge hockey as something that at no time deserves more than 30 seconds of air time in an hour. I had to laugh out loud a few weeks ago after the Super Bowl, not the next day like a week later, when ESPN had a segment where they actually said “now that the NFL season is over let’s catch you up on what’s been going on this season in the NHL.” Once again, think about that statement, I’ll wait. The NFL has games a few days a week where the NHL is played SEVEN nights a week, like the NBA. What does this mean? It means in the eight hours of Sportscenter you do a day, seven days a week, you don’t have ten minutes to even mention hockey as anything more than something that randomly appears during Top Plays. Oh that’s right while I’m on that subject did you know that a seven-foot tall basketball player dunking on a fast break is generally the most impressive sports play of the day? Seriously no disrespect for being able to dunk, at my prime I was thrilled to touch the rim and now I have the vertical of a three-legged alligator but let’s do the math; if you are seven feet tall running down the court alone and putting a ball into a basketball hoop doesn’t take a lot of jumping ability. Is that truly better than a full on team effort, a forward faking out three defenders along with a goaltender, or a goalie standing on his head? That’s up to you to decide although you’re completely ignorant if you believe that hockey deserves no attention or time during an hour long “sports” program.
It’s no secret that ESPN dumped hockey during the year of the Strike and it is a fact that they offered the NHL a major TV deal recently only to be told no we’re sticking with NBC. However their unprofessionalism in about everything they do, minus Baseball Tonight that’s a great show, is taking the things that makes sports fans drool: the actual sports, numbers, and the number one thing in team sports the TEAM.
The thing that worries me the most is this is all the young sports fan knows. Where as myself, Cal, and our other friends grew up studying stats on the back of sporting cards and catching up on all sports through small box scores in the newspaper and yes Sportscenter the young child of today knows nothing but ESPN. NBC Sports Network works but most kids don’t have the attention span for real sport reporting. As a kid that grew up on Sportscenter myself I learned tons about numbers, records, and team sports. Kids today are learning that it’s ok to watch an hour long “decision” about where a free agent is going and that the NBA consists of Kobe, LeBoob, Jeremy Lin, Blake, and a bunch of other people.
All this being said I am glad and very proud to be an NHL fan and am extremely proud on how the NHL has been able to bounce back after the dark ages of the Strike Year and I am immensely disappointed and disgusted at ESPN and try to avoid it as much as possible even though I guess they’re pretty good to fall back on to find out what’s happening in the third period of the Super Bowl, the second quarter of the Yankees game, or if there’s a “Chink” in the armor of the Knicks. Just don’t count on finding out what’s happening in the second half of the hockey game.