The League

Josh Zerkle
National Blogger

Josh Zerkle

Editor of the sports gossip and humor site With Leather

Highlight Jockeys, Nee SC


ESPN is many things. It's a sports entertainment monolith, a destination for your favorite games, athletes, and highlights. The Worldwide Leader in sports, they call it. But the cable outfit has lost their lead in at least one trade--sports news reporting.

The "Leader" has lost credibility after completely ignoring the appearance of Ben Roethlisberger's name on a civil lawsuit filed earlier this week in Nevada. The woman who filed the complaint has stated that the Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback sexually assaulted her at a hotel where she worked on July 11th, 2008. Big Ben's lawsuit was the lead story yesterday on my website, With Leather. The news dominated discussion elsewhere as well, including Mike Florio's Pro Football Talk. But the story was nowhere to be found on ESPN. Why not?

Florio would find his own source inside the Worldwide Leader. The source explained, anonymously, that ESPN had issued a Do Not Report memo regarding the Roethlisberger suit. The biggest sports story of the day, amazingly, was buried by the biggest sports news network. We'd all suspected for years of ESPN practicing favoritism toward certain athletes. News of the memo served as a smoking gun.

It's colossal evidence that ESPN's newsroom has finally been engulfed by its boardroom. Preserving the relationships of its subjects has officially taken precedence over preserving the relationship with its consumers. But that awkward marriage is now over. Starting today, ESPN is not a sports news network anymore.

Starting today, SportsCenter anchors will now be referred to as "Highlight Jockeys." Non-numeric facts shall be abolished from the program. It's batting averages and BCS rankings the rest of the way.

The network's hit show, "Pardon The Interruption" will now be interrupted constantly...with live cut-ins of Brett Favre every five minutes, regardless of whatever Favre happens to be doing at the time -- driving his truck, throwing with high schoolers, negotiating a contract with the NHL (to stick it to the NFL, of course). PTI will now come to be known as PTF. Pardon The Favre.

In lieu of the traditional Sunday Conversation, we'll have the Weekend Slurp, a short reality-type segment where five of the network's Highlight Jockeys will compete to win the favor of a new athlete each week. Points will be awarded for Least Substantive Question, Best Bromance Moment, and Avoidance of That Whole Rape Thing In Colorado Back In 2003. Soft piano music playing in the background is optional.

You may laugh now, but realize that this is the direction your favorite sports network has chosen. And that's fine with me. I'll continue getting my hard sports news from Mike Florio and other independent media. ESPN can keep broadcasting their games and their highlights. The network still does those things very well. But they can leave the news to the people that intend to get it right, and then ESPN can make way for the next worldwide leaders to go where a great sports news network once stood.

By Josh Zerkle  |  July 22, 2009; 7:51 AM ET  | Category:  Crime Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Well said. It was just a matter of time before they overtly began dismissing true stories (no matter how far-fetched) in order to hype up the current ESPN darling of the moment.

Posted by: OArcher | July 23, 2009 9:35 AM

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