May 28, 2012

Where Has Your Integrity Gone, ESPN?

By - Kyle Malinowski

Do you remember when sports commentators (i.e. everybody on ESPN -- or, the "Mothership" as Dan Patrick refers to it) simply covered sports and didn't think they were the sports masters of the universe?

Oh the fond memories of 1990s ESPN, when SportsCenter was the only program that simply covered the sporting events, but didn't hire analysts to give ridiculous and over the top opinions like they do now on shows such as Numbers Never Lie, The Herd, First Take, Mike and Mike in the Morning, and Around the Horn.

I normally write articles about actual sporting events themselves, because they're the more important thing to talk about. However, I have had enough of ESPN and their ridiculousness. Now, they care more about creating sports entertainment than they do carrying out professional journalism, which I believe is largely due to the fact that they are owned by Disney.

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And I'm not the only one sick of "journalists" on ESPN ranting and raving and making absurd statements either; professional athletes are getting tired of it as well.

A few weeks ago, this topic was given the full show of First Take to be debated between Jalen Rose, Chris Carter, Stephen A. Smith, and Skip Bayless. During the show, Rose really brought forth what I have grown sick and tired of with ESPN talent, and that is making personal attacking statements on athletes' character. No longer is it just assessing athletes' play, but now it has gone to a personal level.

For instance, Skip Bayless is given the platform to insult athletes with mocking names such as LeBrick James, Russell Westbrick, and Tony Romeo. I'll admit I watch First Take often, just so I can yell at my television set and try to channel Darth Vader and Force Choke Skip Bayless into admitting that he is completely ignorant about Tim Tebow and that he is a jerk to people he has never met.

Hey Skip -- Tom Brady doesn't need to win games in the fourth quarter by 3 points like Tim Tebow; he usually just beats teams by the third like a real quarterback.

Let's run down the shows and prove how ESPN may be in jeopardy of losing its label of being a professional journalism company, at least in my opinion.

Mike and Mike in the Morning has one guy who is the anti-sports image metro man in Mike Greenberg, who is scared of his own shadow, conducts the softest interviews known to man (except for the Bo Ryan interview a month ago), and continuously name drops that he went to Northwestern (la dee freakin' da Greeny). Then you have Mike Golic, who I know is a nice guy, but is no smarter than any person I can find in a sports stadium, and who constantly takes the "I have to be manly about everything" approach because he was a second-string lineman.

The Herd with Colin Cowherd is just as unprofessional. Cowherd is an elitist radio host that thinks he knows all and frequently hangs up on callers and verbally makes fun of them. He also makes ridiculous predictions all the time, and if they go wrong, it's perfectly alright because he manages to talk around them. But on the rare occasion he's right, all should bow down to Colin's infinite wisdom.

Colin -- go watch the Dan Patrick Show and learn how to be a real studio host and not just a blowhard who worships Warren Buffett and tries to prove Americans are ignorant.

A professional host like Dan Patrick listens to his callers, conducts the best and most thorough interviews of sports figures on TV, and always admits if he was wrong with a prediction.

I must end my ESPN critique with First Take, because I can't tell you how much this show angers me. Between Jemele Hill, Rob Parker, Skip Bayless, and Stephen A. Smith -- I need a Tylenol to avoid a splitting headache from the ignorant comments I hear over the two hours of airtime. Every day it's about Tim Tebow, or who is the Batman and Robin between LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, and what's wrong with the Lakers.

The point I'm trying to make is, Skip and Stephen A. demonstrate on occasion that they actually think about what they say, don't say over the top comments, and respect each other's opinion -- but only when serious topics come up, such as Junior Seau's death.

During those instances, that is real sports journalism.

I believe ESPN should have more professional sports opinion shows such as PTI, which has mastered the craft. People love Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon because they are literally the opposites of Skip and Stephen A. Outside of PTI though, ESPN really needs to get its ducks in a row and try to regain some integrity.

Recently, in both the Syracuse Bernie Fine case and Mickey Loomis wiretapping scandal, fairly spotty journalism has been displayed. I think the problem is though, ESPN knows they are the Wal-Mart of sports coverage and that a lot of people tune in to hear people like Skip Bayless rant and rave, more than those who watch Dan Patrick conduct himself in the proper way, which might be considered boring to some.

Dan Patrick even called out Mike and Mike for not wearing suits while hosting SportsCenter as a sign of ESPN's eroding professionalism. I agree with DP -- they should be wearing suits, because everyone else that hosts the show wears a suit. It's expected in a professional environment.

Today, ESPN reminds me of ballplayers that used to sign autographs when they were rookies, but once they've attained the status of say, an Albert Pujols -- they feel that they are above the rules and lose interest in what is considered professional treatment of others.

In conclusion, while ESPN is integral for watching sporting events, I believe their opinion shows and the talent they hire to appear on them are overall lacking in ethics and quality, with the exception of PTI. Most of the shows never have captivating interviews with athletes like the Dan Patrick Show or 60 minutes does. The athletes who come on ESPN are always protected and are never hit with any daring questions.

There is a reason why Tiger Woods will only go on Mike and Mike in the Morning and never the Dan Patrick Show. It's because he knows on Mike and Mike it'll be a cakewalk in which they only ask him about golf, even though the whole world watching knows the elephant in the room questions that should be asked -- which of course, never are.

Additionally, people such as Skip Bayless make statements that in their ignorance insult my intelligence, and the network gives far too many former athletes the chance to be journalists when they can barely even speak proper English. Just because you're great at a sport doesn't make you an effective analyst or TV personality.

Where is the integrity, ESPN? Why not more Adam Schefter, Chris Mortenson, and Herman Edwards and less Colin Cowherd, Skip Bayless, and Rob Parker types? The answer is that for some reason, a fairly large number of people just don't mind being insulted by hosts like Colin and Skip.

It's sad that ESPN has gotten to this point, but just look at politics right now; it's the exact same. Congress goes to the extreme like Skip Bayless, and there is no Adam Schefter middle ground of class and integrity. Instead, it's let's speak louder and see if we can't make people accept our opinion.

That's not what I call journalism. It's ESPN becoming the Disneyfied Jerry Springer of sports coverage.


  1. Integrity is all but dead in professional journalism. Nowadays its just about how many "likes" or reads you can get and television ratings. Its a total joke.

  2. I honestly don't think Skip Bayless REALLY BELIEVES half of the stuff he tries to argue. I think he just does it for the sake of ratings. Like the whole Tim Tebow thing for example. If he genuinely does feel that way, he needs to be deemed clinically insane. I agree with your post though. REAL journalism is almost a lost form of art.

  3. There's a simple solution if you don't like ESPN's programming. Don't watch it.

  4. While some of the personalitites on ESPN are colorful to say the least, the network is still the "world wide leader in sports" for a reason. They cover more sports BETTER then anyone else. That's just a fact.

  5. Adam, that's a typical answer I was expecting and completely asinine. Don't you think I know that? I watch it because sometimes the shows are ok, I'm just making a point, that they are getting very lax on their professionalism.

    Dave, yeah I totally like watching sports on ESPN, that's not what I'm saying is the problem. It's the way the sports personalities conduct themselves and feel as if they know all about everything.

  6. Isn't this kind of a case of the teapot calling the kettle black? You're being extremely critical of how ESPN guys conduct themselves, but then you're turning around and talking negatively about the same people you're criticizing.

  7. The problem is ESPN's guys seem to think of themselves as being on the same level as the athletes they critique. They all have giant egos. Bayless and Cowherd are so arrogant its sickening. Your just journalists. Get over yourselves already.

  8. I agree with Patrick. ESPN guys think they are just as important, if not MORE important, than the actual athletes themselves.