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ESPN: Why I'm Joining the Mob of the Disenchanted

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Yeah, I know there's very little in the way of Cyclone news right now, so bear with me. When there's no summer sports (read:  baseball), no actual football news until I start to preview the season (which will be coming) and little more in the way of basketball tidbits than the occasional schedule addition, it's hard to come up with random crap (read: yes, I meant crap) to fill up virtual space.

This post was prompted mainly by T. Kyle King at DawgSports, a guy who I've heard writes some sort of diary of his thoughts on the Georgia Bulldogs. His wonderful piece on how the Worldwide Leader in Sports has seemingly lost its way is a pretty apt observation of why the die-hard, or even just moderately fanatical sports fan doesn't really care anymore about much of the crap that has made its way onto the television lineup.

Of course, I'm not the only blogger that's had issues with ESPN. Ask TheBigLead about Colin Cowherd's douchebaggery. Of course, I seriously doubt anyone from ESPN reads this blog (and, yes, I'm aware of this, but I don't think that's due to anyone at ESPN), and I really doubt they give two microcraps what I think, but hey, this is a blog, and part of the territory is that I can go off on wildass tangents about what I think has gone wrong in the world of sports (and so can the three people that have signed up to comment on my site).

Anyone who knows me knows that my second sports passion is the Chicago White Sox. As a Cyclone fan, I know that ESPN is hardly my source of sports news and scores on the boobtube, unless we've just seen Marcus Fizer posterize Chris Mihm or Seneca Wallace has just made another lineman wet his pants. And while I know I shouldn't expect a whole lot in the way of Iowa State coverage, I do head to ESPN for coverage of my Sox (yes, even this year).

It seems for all that ESPN has done right, acquiring viewer capital for people that got hooked on their stuff way back when (it was good), they've done their best to alienate some of the people who are the biggest sports fanatics around (although I seemingly doubt Red Sox fans have much issue with their coverage) with curious programming decisions and features and anchors that would rather play make-believe. Maybe that's why I dig Comcast SportsNet Chicago, but, alas, they aren't really a source for Cyclone news either.

For that matter, it seems like what ESPN is doing is fueling online coverage of sports (but don't let them catch you), especially those darned bloggers. I mean, I could watch 90 seconds on College GameNight about the Texas Longhorns as we prepare to play them, listening to Lou Holtz spit on about how Texas would get an off week against Iowa State, or I could point my browser over to Burnt Orange Nation for actual insight and analysis. Yes, I realize time is short on these shows, but it makes more sense to hit up Peter's blog.

At some point, ESPN has seemed to shift its focus from entertaining us with sports to entertaining us with random crap that is loosely associated with sport (or, you know, crap). Sure, there's still good stuff there. Bob Ley and the Outside the Lines crew bring stuff that's actually interesting, but that stuff is unfortunately shoehorned into the tv lineup at times that aren't really conducive to easy viewing. There is always Jaws breaking down film on NFL Matchup, giving us a look at game films that were seemingly just exclusive to locker rooms. But for all of that, there's a Bonds on Bonds, an ESPN Hollywood or Poker.

What could ESPN do to reverse the current? Axe stuff like the ridiculous Who's Now tournament on ESPN. I don't care if Freddy Adu is more popular that Kobe Bryant. ESPN does not need to be an MTV for sports. (Needless to say, they're still going to make more than enough money, not just on the sports they televise and the branding, but for the sky-high rates they charge cable companies - rates they won't get turned down for.) Maybe they could just stick ESPNEWS in the ESPN slot, and put the rest of the stuff in the ESPNEWS slot, because what we get on ESPNEWS is what we expect when we want sports coverage. To that end, I have no problem with shows like Pardon the Interruption, but there's good sports commentary, and then there is pointless sports commentary - stuff that's been far too prevalent.

I don't expect ESPN to change it's ways anytime soon, and its a shame there's no viable competitor out there to either keep ESPN honest or to even provide a better product. Don't get me wrong, what ESPN has done in years past to advance the access to the world of sports should not be forgotten. It just seems that the higher ups there would be well served to look at what put them on that pedestal.

There ya go, my first long-winded rant here at Clone Chronicles. I'm a bit of a rambler, aren't I?