It’s Over, ESPN. And It’s All Your Fault


I’m done with ESPN and you should be too.

Understand something… I used to love ESPN.  There was a time when my channel was almost always set to the all-sports network. I loved their coverage. I loved the content and the delivery. I loved getting non-stop information about the teams I loved and the teams I hated. I’d watch SportsCenter all morning long, even on repeat.

But that’s all over now.  And, like any great love affair, I’m going to have to end this romance with some very hurt feelings and raw nerves.  But I can honestly say, in this case ESPN, the problem isn’t me, it’s you.

Let me reiterate: I was a huge fan of this network. And even as they began the slow creep of political correctness and even political activism, I overlooked it and tolerated it because I am a huge sports fan. I overlooked the outrageous and banal political observations delivered by Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon (Obama’s golfing buddies) on Pardon the Interruption.  I overlooked it because PTI is a great show, despite the drift into politics.

But the real reason I’m done with ESPN is that a problem can’t be resolved if one side of the conflict can’t even acknowledge where they are wrong (let alone whether they are wrong.) And ESPN just doesn’t get it.

If you missed ESPN’s latest venture into the absurd, Colby Hall wrote it up here at Mediate last night.

ESPN has announced plans to pull an announcer named Robert Lee from calling a University of Virginia football game. Because his name is Robert Lee.

The sad “punchline” to this blurb is that the Robert Lee in question is of Asian-American descent and has absolutely no connection to General Lee or the Confederacy, but ESPN believed that his name would be a trigger for some of their viewers… or something.

I suspect there are some people at ESPN who think that the Robert Lee decision was wrong because Mr. Lee is of Asian descent and is in no way connected to Robert Lee the Confederate general. I’m sure they believe that the removal of Mr. Lee from the broadcast is asinine on its face because he is being punished for his parents naming him Robert.

Surely that’s the most obvious part of this dilemma but it’s not really the problem.

And even though Tucker Carlson made a great point last night on Fox News about ESPN being wrong on this issue even if the sportscaster Robert Lee was some direct descendant of the Confederate general. As Tucker pointed out, in America we don’t punish the child or the grandchild or the great great great grandchild of a person just because of the accident of their birth.

Clearly liberals in the media understand this point otherwise they wouldn’t continue to have Ron Reagan Jr as their favorite liberal pundit.

But as important as that point is, and as righteous as Tucker is in making it, it still isn’t the biggest part of this problem. It still isn’t the reason why I am completely divorcing myself from ESPN from this point forward.

No, the reason for this separation is the irreconcilable difference between why I watch sports in the first place and what ESPN has decided to become under the guise of a sports network.

Covering sports and all aspects of what happens on the field is boring to ESPN executives and, I suspect, most of their reporters and anchors. They want to be important, they want to make a difference, they want to change the world, they want to bring social justice to our culture. And they want to achieve those goals through their baseball football and basketball coverage.

Whereas I, just want to watch a game.

You see, I watch sports because it entertains me and because it gives me an escape from politics. I watch sports because it allows me to be passionate about something where the stakes aren’t so high… where my society and my country are not at stake. I watch sports because I can bond with other fans over something that unites us and brings us together, either the love of a specific team or the overall love of a great sport. I watch sports because at the end of the day… it’s only a game.

Given how Washington DC, Maryland and Virginia voted in the last several elections I suspect that most of the fans who go to a Redskins game with me have different political views than I. But when we join together and sing “Hail to the Redskins” after a touchdown we find commonality in something so basic and something so wonderfully inconsequential there’s an actual legitimate catharsis to the mere act of cheering a sports achievement.

That’s why we have sports in America. Not to change the world and not to reflect the world. We have sports in America for the same reason we have any other entertainment in America:  To escape the world

And ESPN has forgotten that.

So I am forgetting about them.

This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.

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