ESPN Has Jumped the Shark

By: Jason Colthorp
By: Jason Colthorp

Specifically the segment "Top 10 Plays" has to go.

ESPN is over the top. 
It's too much. 
It's unwatchable. 

These statements are nothing new to real sports fans.  The entire network has been on a downturn since the 90's when it began leading with and focusing on highlights of games they showed.  I.E. "If it's not on our air-- it's not as important."  I was able to get by that.  What drove me away was the endless barrage of ego-laden anchors who jammed catch-phrases and movie quotes into every single highlight-- even Rugby.


Enough was enough.  Only it wasn't.  Now there's a sponsored segment for everything.  How Mike Greenberg (one of the few anchors who don't make me cringe) can say "Mike Ditka, you are now off the Budweiser Hot Seat," is beyond me.  And commentators-- how many do we need?  Every time I turn it on there's a former player breaking down every game.  I just saw Jay Williams (former Duke guard and motorcycle enthusiast) on the college basketball studio show.  Really?  Vitale, Bilas, Hubert, Dickie V, Raftery, weren't enough?  And, you name the sport, they've got a stable of talking heads/former players ready to go and break in.  Some greener than others-- yes, you Jesse Palmer.  I guess really great hair gets you in the studio and into a 3-man booth to call the games.  Watching these guys look at the wrong camera and wondering what to they can add to a football game is painful.  But hey, this is also the company that brought you the Dennis Miller and Tony Kornheiser experiments.

Before I get stuck talking about Stuart Scott, let me get to my point.  It's time to retire the "Top 10 Plays" from the nightly SportsCenter.  Being Tournament time, I've been watching lately and this week I've discovered that if Kobe, LeBron or Dwayne sneeze it will make Top Plays. 

Here's a sampling of the fare I've seen this week:

A deflected puck that went down as a "great save."
A diving stop and putout by a 2nd baseman from SPRING TRAINING MLB.
A catch by a centerfielder on the warning track where the guy slid a little from SPRING TRAINING MLB!!
A behind the back pass from LeBron James that ranked #2.
A swimming relay race that won the NCAA's and broke no records-- AND RANKED #6.
A normal Dwayne Wade dunk that ranked #1.
On that same countdown #4 was a three-quarter shot that won the game for Bradley over Oakland in the NIT.

HOW IS THAT NOT NUMBER ONE?  I can't think of a better play I've seen in the last two years than that!  And yet, ESPN found 3 better plays on the same day, including a dunk by Wade.

Years ago, CNN Sports Tonight had its "Play of the Day."  I always looked forward to seeing it.  Now I know why.  Because it was just one play.  It usually was unusual and left saying, "Wow."  There weren't "Play of the Day" nominees throughout the show, just the "POTD."  I have three words for you ESPN, and if you listen to them and take them to heart, you may regain some of the sports lovers you've alienated over the past decade.  Are you ready for them?  Do you have a pen?  Can you stop Scott Van Pelt from flapping his lips for two little minutes to hear them? 


Write it down... on a big pad of pink slips.

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  • by Sports Sam Location: Baseball Diamond on Mar 24, 2013 at 08:07 AM
    I know this article is almost 4 years old, but it turned up #1 on Google in my search about ESPN having jumped the shark. I totally agree. I used to love Sportscenter back in the early days, but now I can't stand it. You hit on a lot of the reasons, but sadly there are even more. Thanks for the read.
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