Nearly every week on Twitter, Facebook, or whatever fancy social media platform you young people use, there are complaints about ESPN and how it is not honest or fair or any list of daily gripes. I see all these, and I respond to most of these with "change the channel" or "read another site." Unlike most, I know and understand the network's built-in conflict of interest, and understand that short of separating ESPN into two different companies there is no real way to prevent that conflict. So, instead of complaining about ESPN and its standards of journalism I am going to do something different. I am divorcing ESPN.
A few months ago, a friend of mine we'll call "James" (@j_cynic) basically told me he was done with ESPN, and I challenged him to find something better or less controversial for his sporting news. Guess what, he did. He switched to CBS Sports for his primary source of news, and as far as I know he does not watch SportsCenter or any of ESPN's journalistic programming. He watches ESPN only when it's required to watch a game. That's it. He put his money where his mouth is, and it is about time I did the same. You should, too.
The lesson here is simple; if you hate ESPN for its failings at being good at journalism, then change the channel or go to a different web site. There are many options that are just as good - or bad - as ESPN, so do yourself a favor and change.
I'm one of the few that enjoy Mike & Mike, PTI, Sports Reporters, and yes, parts of First Take. Leaving ESPN is a decision I am making on my own, but I am doing it so I do not become one of those that constantly complains how bad the entire network has become.
James tells me he watches "The 'Lights" daily on NBC Sports Network as a replacement to SportsCenter. So if you're sick of Chris Berman or Stuart Scott or whomever, watch "The 'Lights," because there's no anchor…at all.
For my radio listening pleasure, I'll listen to CBS Sports Radio and Fox Sports Radio; both have 24-hour shows just like ESPN.
So here is what I'm going to do, for the entire month of March I'm divorcing ESPN. No SportsCenter, PTI, First Take…nothing. If there is a basketball game on ESPN I'll watch it there unless I can find a radio feed instead. They say it only takes a few days to change a habit, but to help facilitate the transition I'll delete all of ESPN bookmarks and channels from my computer, phone, and television.
To give you a scope of how big ESPN is let's review their properties. The network has a hand in almost every sport. One big sport where they have no presence? Hockey. How do I know ESPN doesn't care about hockey, because it's never on SportsCenter. Sure there is some token coverage once or twice per week, but generally the network doesn't care about sports that it doesn't cover.
Honestly, I don't blame them. The network pays billions in rights fees and to expect them to give the NHL the same coverage it gives the NFL is laughable. What else is laughable is that many all of you complain about how bad ESPN is without even attempting to discover what your other choices are.
And you wonder why they call themselves the "Worldwide Leader." They've earned it.
The network has a built-in conflict of interest. They pay rights fees to broadcast sports then ask the anchors and analysts that broadcast them to be journalists. ESPN is a monopoly, in fact they're probably the 21st century version of AT&T. Will the network be broken up? No, and they shouldn't be, but as consumers you have other places in which to consume sports journalism.
Last month many eviscerated ESPN for not running the story of Manti Te'o while praising Deadspin for the feature, but I have two questions for you. 1. Did you read Deadspin before that story? 2. Have you been back to Deadspin since? My response to both is no, because it is easier to get everything from one source.
Remember James? He reads Deadspin, CBSSports.com, and others daily, and so will I for at least the next 30 days.
So I have radio, web, and television covered for the next month or so. Right now, the only thing I can see myself watching on ESPN is parts of the Women's basketball tournament and ESPN's MLB coverage.
Where will you be watching sports other than ESPN? Follow @damienbowman //