ESPN: Killing the Dream and Out of Touch

I think every sports crazed human at one point or another has wanted to work at ESPN. Just the thought of wall-to-wall sports coverage makes a grand portion of the population start to drool. If a Disney executive showed up at my door and said that I’d be paid mucho dollars to go and talk sports, I’d probably give it a listen, but I don’t know if I’d accept it. Not anymore.

ESPN seemingly can’t tell the difference between actual controversies and controversies they dream up in their own head. Two things have happened on the airwaves of ESPN in the past couple of weeks that have grabbed outside headlines and each has been handled quite poorly by the network.

First, Stephen A. Smith, commenting on the Ray Rice case, said that women provoke abuse. Smith implied that women are to blame for domestic assault. How can a guy that claims to have so many sources be that out of touch? Maybe it’s the corporation he works for.

ESPN made him tape, TAPE, an apology. Let’s record it to make sure he doesn’t say something else that is so blatantly horrible. Then they later suspended him for only a week. A week. Five working days off from his TV show, First Take (probably more of a vacation not to speak to Skip Bayless for a string of days) and his ESPN Radio show.

The suspension was too short in my opinion. A lot of people were calling for Smith to lose his job and I’d have to say that his punishment should have been much closer to that side of the scale, but ESPN only cares about ratings and apparently people are still watching the TV filth that is First Take.

That brings us to the even more recent events of the suspension of Dan Le Batard.

Le Batard is well-known in the Miami area and has now moved on to national prominence on the stages of ESPN TV and radio. Le Batard bought billboards in Cleveland to mock LeBron James in his return to his home state. The billboards say ‘You’re welcome, LeBron… Love, Miami’ with a picture of the two NBA championship rings that James won with the Miami Heat.

ESPN thought this stunt was so horrid that it suspended Le Batard for two days from ESPN TV and radio. Two days for a joke on a billboard. A joke that is actually kind of funny.

Let’s translate what we are really learning from ESPN: saying that women provoke domestic violence is only three days worse than a billboard joke that literally harms no one.

How out of touch are you, ESPN?

Yes, we can have our own views in this country, but there are also views that you can’t let the public know about. Your views have to be ‘politically correct’ in order to not be beaten down with every move that you make. Stephen A. Smith’s comments were far from being ‘politically correct’ and so farfetched that it almost seems like a story from the satirical newspaper/website The Onion.

Dan Le Batard on the other hand made a joke. A joke he’s been talking about openly on ESPN platforms ever since LeBron James officially returned to Cleveland. If you can’t stop your own employee from doing something you don’t want them to do when you have fair warning, that’s a management failure and shouldn’t be taken out on the talent.

Get your head out of your ass, ESPN. Realize what’s a joke, what simply can’t be said and that First Take might be the shittiest thing that’s ever been on TV, which is saying something since we’re living in the era of Jersey Shore and Keeping Up With The Kardashians.

Stop giving the shaft to great shows like Outside the Lines and Olbermann. Stop killing the dreams of intelligent sports nuts. There’s a reason I watch my Canadians.

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