Thursday, August 2, 2012

ESPN Training Camp Coverage

Alarm goes off.

Turn on coffee.

Hop in shower.

Pour cup of coffee and big bowl of cereal.

Sit on couch in boxers and business socks to drink coffee, eat cereal, and watch SportsCenter.

Now you’re stuck in your boxers and business socks watching SportsCenter show Tim Tebow run across the field shirtless followed by a small video montage about how jacked Tim Tebow is and now you feel a bit awkward because you’re still only wearing boxers and business socks.
How many times have you woken up to this?
For the past week now, this has been the morning routine for men that wake up and try to catch some highlights from the previous night before they head off to work.  Instead they tune in to find live coverage of NFL Training Camps.  Alright, that’s not too bad. 

What’s bad is that ESPN has decided to cover the training camps of the New York Jets and the Denver Broncos to a nauseating extent.  Does it take Neil Everett and Tom Jackson multiple days to knock home the message that it’s weird to see Peyton Manning in a Broncos uniform?  I don’t think so.  Does it take Hannah Storm or Sal Paolantonio and Keyshawn Johnson multiple days to place thoughts in our minds of a nonexistent quarterback controversy between Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow?  I don’t think so. 
I've lost track of how many days they've been live from Cortland, NY.
It seems that New York Giants owner John Marra tends to agree as well.  After the brash Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones took an unprovoked cheap shot at John Marra and the Giants, Marra was asked about it on Mike Lupica’s show on ESPN Radio.  Marra responded, “I have been so caught up in the (Tim) Tebow coverage that I haven't had time for anything else.  Clearly, people are taking notice.

Then again, we all did see this coming.  Plus what else would they show?  Breakdown MLB trade deadline trades?  Show extensive highlights of the London 2012 Olympics (you know because the Olympics aren’t an every year occurrence)?  No, let’s “report” on two NFL training camps.  If there was a more balanced approach to covering NFL training camps, then there wouldn’t be so much backlash.

ESPN would argue that they are just trying to give the people what they want, but how many people really want this type of coverage?  Maybe I find myself in a circle of avid sports fans where the criticisms against ESPN are abundant.  I wonder though, is this really what the casual fan wants?  Tebow shirtless.  Erroneous “stories” of quarterback controversy.  Minute by minute updates on Peyton Manning’s surgically fused neck.  Maybe I’m na├»ve, but I don’t believe it. 
We need a new story.
My harsh criticisms of ESPN could hinge on one important distinction: is ESPN’s SportsCenter sports news or sports entertainment?  ESPN constantly defend their journalistic integrity which would indicate that they believe they fall under the news category.  However, their television coverage is much more entertainment.  Admitting this fact is something that will never be done by ESPN, it just won’t happen.  Would the avid sports fan (that ESPN was built off of, mind you) stop watching if ESPN admitted this fact?  Probably not.  But would the avid sports fan be able to watch more comfortably knowing that they aren’t being lied to?  I speak for myself in saying that I would. 

If there is a time for a network to break into the sports television industry with an unbiased sports news show, then the time is now.  Criticism against ESPN has never been higher.  NBC Sports Network has some big kinks to work out.  Fox Sports Network looks to break into the landscape.  Network suits are hearing the cries of the avid sports fan and they are responding.  The avid sports fans want more news, and ESPN just isn’t giving the news.

For weekly updates on SportsCenter’s coverage take a look at Deadspin’s Bristolmetrics page.


  1. Great article Kev. Its unbelievable how much I complain about SportsCenter. The constant Tebow talk just kills me....

  2. "TebowCenter" the flagship program of the Worldwide Leader in Tebow. Or would they go with the Canadian spelling and go with "TebowCentre". I don't know. I'll shaddup now.