ESPN Apocalypse is today


For me, it was definitely an “oh wow” moment. I hadn’t followed Jenner on the Kardashians. I didn’t even know Bruce was married to one of them. So the whole thing was kind of a shock. Wait, Bruce is becoming a woman? Wait, Jenner is on The Kardashians? Wait, she was married to one of them!?

It was a parade of “Whoah! I didn’t know that.”


She was rumored to be trans in the trans community for a bit, so it wasn’t a surprise to them- her outright Trumpism afterwards was a surprise.

BTW if I had to pick a timeframe for ESPN’s woes to really start a domino effect, it will be sometime during the next big recession- so somewhere between 3-8 years- that’s when cord-cutting will really become irreversible.


ESPN will make some move to make their product available to the cord cutters (aren’t they already available on Sling?) which will actually encourage more people to dump their cable contracts. In doing so they will hasten their own demise I think. I don’t think business wise they have proved to be very smart for at least a decade.


Meanwhile at ESPN…


I’m sorry to see Woj leaving Yahoo. His Vertical podcast, and entire hoops sub-site, have been awesome. Just great, insightful, 1-1 conversations, and his columns are great. I guess I assume ESPN is going to make Woj chat in a panel of talking heads and not give him a podcast. I hope I’m wrong.


Sling, Vue, and DirecTV Now all have packages with ESPN – amusingly enough (to me) the people who cut the cord to get away from sports carriage fees are still stuck with them.

To the original topic – sitting at lunch today ESPN was on the TV. They did a segment on SportsCenter about the LA Riots 25 years ago. Good opportunity to tie it into sports, maybe do some quick interviews with athletes who were in LA at the time, whatever. From what I could tell they didn’t do any of that and it was a simple “This Day in History” kind of thing. I would have liked it if they did actual sports reporting but this came across as lazy and made me wonder why a supposed sports network was showing it.

The optics on this are… not great.


Not sure why you don’t understand that the conservatives complaining about the station are your data point - that’s what primary evidence is, and there’s no shortage of people online openly saying that they dislike the leftist politics of the network - not even just because they disagree with those politics (although it doesn’t help that any non-leftist viewpoints like Curt Shilling are silenced or sanctioned), but rather just because they’re included at all when as viewers they’d prefer sports and other entertainment to be an oasis from politics. It’s not exactly a silent minority viewpoint among conservatives and they are telling you that but you’re disagreeing

If you don’t understand why they’d be disappointed by the current direction of the network and the insertion of feminist poetry into their sports network feeds, read any of the many articles in the conservative media expressing that disappointment. Who wants this shit?

One of the more interesting data points that I’d like to know is how much cable-cutting in general has been accelerated by ESPN’s political slanting – for most people I know who cut cable, the main reason they waited as long as they did was because they didn’t want to cut off sports, but ultimately they decided they could do without cable sports. If the sports coverage is less satisfying, or outright annoying, that could easily accelerate cable cutting in general.


So, I don’t think Schilling is a good example, since a lot of the stuff he got in trouble for was actually pretty damn stupid and insensitive – comparing Muslims to Nazis, for example. He always reminded me of that guy who would drop some comment just to get people riled up and then go, 'What, I was just kidding. Jeez, lighten up."

I like Curt, actually, but I had to unfollow him on Twitter because it was just too out there.

For me, I don’t really watch ESPN unless I have to. Sunday Night Baseball being the rare exception, but I didn’t watch the Cubs/Red Sox game. The only ESPN reporter I follow on a regular basis is Mike Reiss, whose Patriots coverage is first rate. I followed him at the Globe, and I’ll follow him wherever he goes next. That’s not because of anything on the ESPN side. The local guys here in Boston are just that good on the Globe, and to a lesser degree the Herald. I actually thought the Herald was a great sports paper until Tomase went off on that bender about the Pats filming the Rams walkthrough.


I’m not sure you understand what a data point is.


This response makes it certain that you do not.


Is it measurable? Are there numbers to be broken down that establish a correlation?


Curt Schilling wasn’t just “non-leftist” with his rhetoric. He got in trouble for being straight-up offensive. Surely you acknowledge that you can be politically on the right without being an ass on Twitter? There are probably plenty of people at ESPN that share Schilling’s politics, but they keep their jobs by not being complete idiots on social media.


Total subscriber numbers for all those services combined is pretty terrible. Under 3 million and not growing appreciably. The problem with them, as people find out, is it is not true ala carte. You’re swapping one crappy model for another one, that may or not be much better.

When Sling or Vue says, “Pick any 15 channels you want from these 200 popular ones and pay a reaonsable monthly fee”, that’s when I and many others will look at this model. Until then, it won’t pick up steam to stop the bleeding.


You are missing the point. ESPN is fine with people being offensive on Twitter as long as they are antagonizing the right.


I mean that’s not really offensive. It’s just!


Can you point out a broadcast personality on ESPN at the time that was posting offensive social media messages for the left and did not get in trouble?


I bet at least one probably tweeted how cops shouldn’t be shooting black kids for no reason. That’s probably offensive to many hardcore Trump supporters these days. #BlueLivesMatter


Well, I’m bored this AM, so let’s look at some ESPN hijinks. There’s the “cornball brother” incident of December 2012, wherein Rob Parker expressed his doubts about Robert Griffin III’s boba fides as an authentic member of his race.

But that was on air and Parker was suspended and left the network in 2013. So all we have right now is misbehaving on air receiving the same punishment as misbehaving on social media (seriously how many jobs has Twitter ended?).

Jemele Hill tweeted that the US has “done everything possible to undermine the LGBTQ community,” and suggests that the country has no business “lecturing Islam on homophobia.” More about Hill’s controversial pronouncements on and off social media here.

So Hill takes pretty much the opposite position than Schilling. But Hill didn’t get disciplined at the time or laid off in last month’s mass terminations, to the contrary she was recently promoted to the 6pm Sports Center.

So what can we conclude?

Criticize from the left = no problem, ESPN will say publically that you did not violate the company policy that its employees “refrain from making political statements.”

Criticize from the right = you are fired.

That said, I agree with the WEEI article that part of Schilling’s problem was his crudity. But then, he’s far from the only ex-jock to frame his expressions that way.

EDIT: special bonus link.


Cool! Thanks! So we have incidents at ESPN that sometimes resulted in firings, and sometimes did not. Is it maybe just corporate incompetence, rather than a unified policy?

I’m genuinely asking since I don’t follow ESPN and I don’t know who any of the people in your links are. I knew Schilling because of his ties to gaming and how the broughaha followed him wherever he went after Amalur.


This is basically a re-hash of how conservatives decided ESPN was the enemy, but it’s a pretty good re-hash: