The Sports Common Denominator
What is ESPN, is it the basis for all guys’ common knowledge of major American sports or is it incessant background noise? The short answer is that ESPN is both. Guys love to sit around and spout off their sports knowledge. We all tend to know the same things because many of us get our sports commentary straight from ESPN. The prevailing wisdom on a given subject by way of ESPN becomes the standard expression of conventional wisdom or sports intelligence for the masses.
Given that men aren’t going to stand around the water cooler at work and discuss their feelings, having common sports knowledge gives us all something to talk about in semi informed fashion. ESPN tells us what is currently occurring in the sporting universe and spoon feeds us the primary topics of conversation. We don’t so much create the conversation now, we just plug ourselves into the discussion when it’s our turn to pipe in a comment. This is very convenient for us.
Remember how your grandmother or grandfather would have on the news station to act as background noise? ESPN now serves that vital function for most guys. You want to have something playing in the background while doing something mindless, let ESPN drone on for a while. You can even look up from time to time to check out the scroll to see the latest headline of an athlete arrest or coach firing. All that information is readily available.
Sports Center Anchors
I’ve often been fascinated by the Sports Center anchors. Each of them has to be supremely talented to keep the show flowing. Almost all of them are masters of their craft. You can tell how good they are when an athlete is allowed to participate even momentarily as a guest host. No matter how informed or intelligent the athlete is, the show sounds uneven and choppy. The actual hosts make it flow seamlessly. It appears effortless because they make it look that way, sort of like a sweet golf swing. It looks as if anyone could host but nothing is further from the truth.
The only ESPN host that comes to mind for me that actually was permitted to stamp their
The Danger of Over Exposure
ESPN can surely help an athlete’s bank account balance by giving him or her wide exposure to the sporting audience. After some lead stories by ESPN, the athlete can go straight to Subway to start hawking subs or Campbell’s to sell soup. On the other hand, a more recent phenomenon is that ESPN can give a guy such mind numbing overexposure so as to limit endorsement opportunities or even hurt their sports career.
Overexposure by ESPN also turns interesting stories into mush. Every year they made a huge
College Recruiting Commentary
We’ve all grown accustomed to the endless NFL and NBA draft analysis. ESPN can fill up air time during the off season for those sports with draft discussion. I enjoy all of that, even the endless jokes about Mel Kiper’s hair. I bet his hair has its own agent. What I am troubled by is the increased nature of discussion regarding college football signing day. Having “experts” discuss what is going on in the mind of a high school kid as he decides on a college is somewhat weird and creepy to me. First off, we’re talking about kids, which is bad enough. On top of that, grading college recruiting classes’ right out of the box seems to be a worthless endeavor. No one will know how well a coach recruited until a couple or three years pass. The grading is just a wild guess.
I am also intrigued by the required profile to commentate for certain sports. Notwithstanding the nationwide popularity of soccer in America, at least one talking head in a group discussing soccer on the air at ESPN must have a British accent. You can’t talk soccer without at least one Brit. It apparently can’t be done. Likewise, no one can really know anything about NASCAR without a southern accent. You need to have at least one drawl on the panel to have reasoned race commentary and discussion. For some reason that I can’t quite fathom, the same holds true for women’s basketball. Although it’s played all over the country and seemingly no more in the south than anywhere else, any ESPN discussion of women’s hoops absolutely has to include some twang in it.
I’m currently monitoring ESPN’s hockey commentary to see if Barry Melrose’s long hair type is a must have for hockey discussion groups. I’m not sure of that one yet. Part of my indecision
ESPN continues to be the standard bearer for sports coverage in America. Most of my complaints are minor in the big picture of things. After all, without ESPN how could a group of guys actually carry on a coherent conversation? Not sure if we could pull it off without ESPN.
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