By Rick Teverbaugh
— — Is it too much to hope that another sports entity could come and relieve our suffering at the hands of ESPN?
Perhaps the genesis of it may happen this August when Fox Sports 1 starts airing.
When I originally thought about this subject, I envisioned it would be one that would extol the virtues of Fox Sports and point out all of the resources that network can offer. But as it turns out, this will mostly be about why I am so anxious for Fox Sports or anybody else to displace the ESPN monster.
In short, ESPN has become way too big, way too powerful and irresponsible to continue unabated at the top of the sports fans’ must-watch list for very much longer.
I have mostly confined my ESPN viewing to live events and even those are often painful.
Take the recent NBA national broadcast between Chicago and Indiana. It was the most one-sided offering by a national network that I can recall.
Dave Pasch, who once worked for a radio station in Chicago, and Doris Burke were so pro-Chicago in the telecast that it should have embarrassed Bulls fans. I could easily be convinced that the duo flew back to Chicago on the team plane. But it isn’t going to embarrass ESPN because the network is above all that.
Pasch and Burke were so impressed by the fact that the “depleted” Bulls were competing with the “superstar-laden” Pacers that they almost neglected to mention that Indiana led nearly all of the game and won. Of course, a closer examination would reveal that both teams have played virtually the entire season without their best scorer of the previous several years -- the Bulls' Derrick Rose and the Pacers' David Granger,
The current version of those teams contains exactly one NBA All-Star. But that’s just the beginning of what ESPN does wrong.
The overall content of ESPN’s non-live event programming is about 35 percent fact and 65 percent opinion. What’s worse, much of that opinion is delivered by people who want to be as much a part of the story as the athletes themselves. Skip Bayless and Colin Cowherd are the first two offenders who come to mind.
ESPN further pollutes the airwaves by injecting those two and their kin into the network’s best non-event programming like Mike and Mike. It makes almost the whole network unwatchable.
It is my hope that Fox Sports 1 will be such an improvement that sports fans will choose it over ESPN in large numbers. Perhaps that will then cause ESPN to do an intense re-examination of its programming and choice of personalities. Then perhaps we could have two sports networks worth watching.
ESPN’s questionable choice of talking heads becomes even more apparent when Fox’s announcement that Regis Philbin would have a sports show seems like a breath of fresh air by comparison.
ESPN has turned into EPSN — Essentially Poor Sports Network. It’s time we had a choice.
Rick Teverbaugh is a columnist for The Herald Bulletin in Anderson, Ind. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.