J-Dub and SportsChump discuss the ESPN firings

Fox News just fired Bill O’Reilly.

Neither one of us ever really made much time for either Fox News or O’Reilly, but his dismissal made huge news. After all, he was one of the most recognized if not controversial talking heads in mainstream media, drawing well millions of viewers per broadcast. Today he’s looking for work.

Apparently, he’s not the only on-air personality for a major network that’s unemployed because…back, back, back, back, back, back, GONE! It looks like Chris Berman retired just in time, because there’s been heads a-rollin’ at what J-Dub calls the Worldwide Bottom Feeder.

It’s at times like these, when the four-letter takes another steaming dump (a common occurrence) on our beloved world of sports, that I turn to the man they call J-Dub who absolutely lives for these moments. His series of posts titled “The Sports Sewer” chronicle the absolute uselessness of the monopoly of modern sports media known as ESPN.   The news of the “Wednesday Massacre” in Bristol must be like Christmas coming early in the Dubsism household.  We’re also pretty sure Dubs isn’t the only one who thinks plenty of people at ESPN deserve a firing for polluting the airwaves.

But there’s more to this Bristol bloodletting than just a hit-list.  What really brought this all about? Are ESPN’s chickens coming home to roost? Did the sports consumer finally get his fill? Clearly this was a business decision, but what could they possibly be thinking?  Sit back while J-Dub and I break down the breakdown in Bristol.

J-Dub:

Let’s start with who got escorted off the property with all their bric-a-brac in a Georgia-Pacific paper box like some sort of cube farm refugee. That list will tell you a lot about what the thought process might have been.

1) Ed Werder

Let’s talk about obvious choices.  If you looked up “talking pile of pig shit in the dictionary,” there’s a front-and-side view of Werder.  Having this pineapple with a mustache covering the NFL was like letting that shithead at your office who thinks he impresses people by parroting shit Jon Gruden says do it.  The difference is that Werder was supposed to be a professional and add something more to the discussion than did Phil from Accounts Receivable. He didn’t, and that’s why he is filling out a Connecticut unemployment insurance application right about now.

2) Trent Dilfer

Dilfer got the gas pipe because he committed the cardinal sin in sports media…he admitted when he was wrong.  There’s no room for shit like that at the Worldwide Bottom Feeder because if that were allowed to go unchecked, ESPN might have to dedicate one is it’s 200 cable channel crap-spewers to issuing retractions…”Coming up next on ESPN 17…Stephen A. Smith admits he has no proof Phil Jackson was a member of the Hitler Youth.”

3) Danny Kanell

His problem was simple.  He made Joey Galloway look knowledgeable about college football.  This was a bit like interviewing Dr. Frankenstein on the Do-It-Yourself network.

4) Jayson Stark

What the fuck? Jayson Stark still had a job? You could have taken a lot of money off me on that bet.  But then again, the last time I watched ESPN for anything other than a live event, I was coming off a leg surgery, my remote batteries were dead, and well…oxycodone is no joke.  Besides, being the guy who creates a baseball trivia question that outsmarts Mike Greenberg has to have about as much job security as an Uber driver in Nunavut.

5) Britt McHenry

Oh, what bitter-sweet irony it would be to see this bleached twat end up working the gate in a parking garage? Either way, the question is how will she get her next job…on her back or on her knees?

But here’s the real problem.  If you’re like me, you read that list and didn’t see any names that matter. I already mentioned Stephen A. Smith. How did that ass-gutter not get handed his proverbial hat?  The sad but simple truth lies in this quote from Sports Illustrated.

The company is focusing on its personality-driven SportsCenter​ shows, developing its app and social media presence, it said in a statement Wednesday.

So, they fired people, but they fired the wrong people.  The list of people who got the axe is less “Who’s Who” and more “Who’s That?” Coupled with the fact the Worldwide Bottom Feeder intends to double-down on its “personality-driven” shows means the brass in Bristol doesn’t get why they are hemorrhaging faster than Moe Green after he gets the bullet in the eye.  Obviously, the punch in the board room has been seriously spiked if they think their problem is too much Dr. Jerry Punch.

SportsChump:

Like you, my friend, I enjoy a good sleep, a healthy nap to reset my brain from the daily grind.

I generally fall asleep with the television on. I know it’s bad for me, but it’s my baby-sitter. The only two things that will wake me from my blissful slumber are the Guns of the Navarone, “shoot-em-up” style movies and ESPN talk shows, anything starring the aforementioned Stephen A. Smith the most disturbing of the bunch.

Somewhere along the lines, ESPN went from being a network that covered small time sports like women’s lacrosse to programming featuring people shouting at the top of their lungs. Seriously, thumb through your ESPN channel guide and count how many shows they don’t shout on. Somewhere along the line, someone convinced ESPN that debate consists of who can raise their voice the loudest.

Furthermore, how many people do you see on that network whose opinions you actually respect? This is supposed to be the “worldwide leader in sports?” More like the worldwide leader in ass-clowns. It’s no shocker they just let go of half their network. Finally, someone got wise. I think we can both agree, however, it still wasn’t enough.

We can easily make a top five list, or top hundred list for that matter, of on-air personalities that should have been fired but let’s face it.  Any sports fan that tunes into ESPN for hard-breaking news is the same one who goes to McDonald’s to eat healthy.

I enjoyed Danny Kanell, only because he was easy to nap to. He had quarterbacking experience at the biggest programs in both the NCAA and NFL. Plus, I never heard him once shout, which apparently is a prerequisite for maintaining an ESPN gig. Maybe THAT’S why he got fired.

I didn’t have a problem with Trent Dilfer. We just expected too much from him.  I mean, come on. The running joke in Tampa Bay for ages is that they changed the color of their uniforms so that Dilfer would think he was throwing to the opposing team.

The fact that Britt McHenry wasn’t fired after going full “white girl wasted” on that poor garage door attendant was a sign of the times. Too bad that garage guy wasn’t “Mike” from “Breaking Bad.”  We would have never seen her again, saving us and ESPN a lot of trouble.

Here are two thoughts for ya’ that probably led to the upheaval.

Disney’s ownership of ESPN allowed it to become a self-serving, festering bastion of liberalism… AND I’M A LIBERAL.

Secondly, they wrote a blank check to land the MLB, NBA, and NFL contracts without recourse. Again, this is a network that went from covering bullfighting and barrel racing in prime time to owning the rights to our country’s three major sports.

I’m still not impressed though, and that’s not only because Scott Van Pelt anchors his own personalized late night talk show, er… sports broadcast.  Putting on Jemele Hill and Michael Smith, two perfectly qualified yet obviously black analysts, is not going to make me forget that this network is evolving into something far from legitimate sports journalism.

A recent Yahoo article claims the network is going more digital. Looks like Max Headroom will be taking over PTI. That’d be an improvement too.

J-Dub:

Chump just identified himself as a bartender and a liberal. I used to be a bouncer, and politically I’m slightly to the right of Genghis Khan. The fact is that we couldn’t be more in agreement on this matter.  Sports are one place where people go to escape the bullshit of everyday life, and while we understand perfectly that sometimes the world of sports and politics will intersect, ESPN has made it a point to ensure that intersection gets rammed down our throats on a daily basis, which is why it’s officially a sinking ship.

The trouble here is actually much deeper than Chump’s assessment.  Speaking of Jemele Hill and Michael Smith, I haven’t watched a second of that 6 p.m. ET SportsCenter because even before the promos told it would be politically-charged, the time slot did.  Think about it. Why else would a network that has become what Clay Travis calls “MSESPN” make it a point to put two “obviously black” anchors in a time-slot which is a virtual sports desert? The vast majority of sporting events don’t start until at least 7 p.m. ET, which means there’s nothing new to discuss and we’ve had a full 12 hours to hash over last night’s happenings.  Once I saw a promo with Hill dressed up as an Angela Davis-like character, I saw exactly how they were going to address the lack of sports.

Even worse is that Chump and I aren’t the only ones who see this.  These numbers from Travis are eye-opening to say the least:

Every single day this year ESPN has lost roughly 10,000 cable and satellite subscribers.

Per day!

Think about that for a minute. If your business was losing 10,000 customers every single day, how panicked would you be? But that’s the exact case with ESPN. Every single day the equivalent of a decent sized American town stops paying ESPN for content. This is the continuation of a trend that began in 2011 when ESPN peaked with 101 million cable and satellite subscribers according to Nielsen. Per Nielsen’s most recent estimates ESPN now has 87,859,000 cable and satellite subscribers. That’s a loss of over 13 million cable and satellite subscribers in the past several years, costing ESPN in the neighborhood of $1.3 billion dollars per year. ($7.30 a month in affiliate fees x 12 months x 13 million households). That’s money that will never return and that’s money that is incredibly significant when you consider that ESPN is on the hook for $7.3 billion in yearly sports rights fees, the most any company in the world is paying for content.

There are some who say that those staffers at the Worldwide Bottom Feeder didn’t deserve to lose their jobs and in some cases that may true.  But it’s also true that a lot of people who should’ve have been canned weren’t; executives and on-air talent inclusive.  The reason is simple.  It’s one thing to order an action; it’s another thing to carry it out knowing it’s wrong. “I was just following orders” didn’t work as a defense at Nuremberg and it didn’t get William Calley off the hook for My Lai.  The comparison is not in the actions, but rather the ability to see when something is a terrible idea; it’s all about understanding when an action is going to back-fire in the worst possible way. Clay Travis also had an interesting graph showing what a terrible idea preaching liberal politics to sports fans was.

Forget about graphs, statistics, and over-the-top analogies to war atrocities.  Let me take a moment to make this all about me.  Pretty much anybody who knows me would say I’m the biggest sports fan they know.  You want to talk baseball? I’m your guy.  Need an opinion on the Stanley Cup playoffs? You can find me at @Dubsism on Twitter.  See, unlike most Americans sports fans, I can talk about more than the NFL and maybe one other of the “Big Four” sports.  Look at where the NBA and European soccer are on that graph.  Want to talk about how Giannis Antetokounmpo and Kristaps Porzingis are the future of the NBA or why can’t English teams get past the quarter-finals of the Champions League? You know where to find me.

Right now, you are asking yourself why the fuck should you care about my sports fandom? Because I’m one of the biggest sports fans on earth, and outside of live games, I absolutely refuse to watch ESPN.  I’ve even written the primer for ESPN-free living for sports fans. In other words, the Worldwide Bottom Feeder has become a sports network which sports fans won’t watch.  That can’t be good no matter whose numbers you want to believe.

SportsChump:

What I find interesting about this whole situation, Dubs, is that no other network has stepped up in the wake of ESPN’s futility. Sure, the occasional dinosaur network will throw us a bone with a decent show every now and again but if there can be eight different food networks and five different travel networks, why can’t there be one single, good, all-around sports network?

Or maybe that’s us, the blogger with a keyboard and an opinion, writing day and night about a variety of topics as we see fit. Here’s an analogy to which you can probably relate. ESPN has gone by the way of the porn industry, a formerly entertaining but now unwatchable medium, overtaken by the quite often, highly-qualified individual who is not in the industry and thus not forced to adhere its perennially, sub-quality standards, making his or her own personalized form of entertainment right from the comfort of their own homes.

So basically, what I’m saying is… we are the ever-evolving, sports porn.  And boy, are my arms tired.

J-Dub:

Luckily, before he wore his arms out, Chump pointed us at the answer. I wondered about this very same thing years ago.  Do you remember the first channel which was dedicated to one sport exclusively? It was the Golf Channel over twenty years ago.  There was a guy out there who thought the pre-Tiger Woods golf world merited a channel all its own… and he was right.

Ron Burgundy was wrong.  An all-sports network can work; it did for close to two decades before those turd-swallowers at Disney PC-raped it to death.  There came a day when ESPN made the same deal with the cable-TV devil.  It has happened to so many channels that started as great and/or practical, then they swallowed the demon seed for the false promise of “a broader appeal.”

Once upon a time, MTV was all about music; now it’s dominated by a 40-year-old guy hanging on to his skateboarder days by hosting a show full of his brethren blowing their nuts out on stairway railings.  I can remember when I could tune into the Weather Channel and actually get a forecast; now it’s just guys trying to get killed by tornadoes and a bunch of climate-change propaganda.  There’s a place for such whining about polar bears and the ice caps but I also need to know if I need to wear a hat today.

And therein lies the fatal flaw in the thinking of ESPN’s management.  I should have seen this coming when this collection of crap-wads found a way to make a show exclusively about baseball completely unwatchable.  When I tune into SportsCenter, there’s two things I want to see; Nicole Briscoe’s tits scores and highlights. I’m a former bookie; I don’t need to hear Scott Van Pelt’s tales of “Bad Beats;” I’ve lived plenty of them.  Besides, if you are betting second-half over/unders on Utah State basketball, you really need help. You can spare me the “sick/dying kid” stories; I’ve got a niece recovering from a kidney transplant.  Not to mention, those stories are fine for the “Make-A-Wish” kid, but all I think about is the 10,000 “Fuck Your Wish” kids who don’t get on SportsCenter.  I understand Neil Everett is a fan of dogs; many of us are pet-lovers.  But a dog on a surf board is not sports, and the worst time to show me that is 5:30 a.m. right after I’ve stepped in cat barf.  I don’t give a shit how much of an animal lover you are, the feel of regurgitated Meow Mix squishing between your toes gives at least a fleeting moment where you understand Michael Vick.

Back in the 80’s, cable TV was in its ascendancy and we were all worried about getting blown to smithereens in a nuclear war with the Soviet Union.  Thirty years later, cable TV is dying and we’re all wondering about heading into a nuclear war with North Korea. I say if it’s going to happen, let it be.  If the people bringing me sports are so interested in taking away it’s escapist nature, then let it.

6 thoughts on “J-Dub and SportsChump discuss the ESPN firings

  1. ESPN firings ? Damn !!! What no sexual exploitation of female employees to be reported ? No one up-manship of Fox News ? The cash cow that is ESPN will continue to be profitable for the Walt Disney Company and that is all that will matter with the senior executives of the company. Hell , Robert Iger is being paid over $40 million annually to keep the Disney rolling along.

  2. LMFAO
    Sucks that I read this at 9 am while at work because about 5 to 10 times while reading this orgy of sports, politics and pop culture I reached for my ice cold Rolling Rock and joint that sadly weren’t there. The only other thing missing was Cliff and Norm chiming in.

    If by keeping Stephen A. Dickth employed they hadn’t already gone full retard, maybe they’ll top themselves and bring back superdouche Keith Olbermann to complete the decent into communist propaganda machine.

    By the way, I think I’m the middle ground of you two politically. I’m a lifelong registered libertarian who is as liberal as it gets on personal freedom issues, but a full fledged Tea Party type guy when it comes to fiscal issues. In other words, I think people should be able to do whatever the fuck they want as long as they’re not hurting anyone…I just don’t want politicians and their goosestepping Gestapo the IRS raiding my wallet to fund it.

    Hopefully our beloved country can figure out that the middle ground is where the answer lies before the 2nd Civil War breaks out. In teh meantime, I’ll watch MSESPN in very small doses to get what I actually tune in for….. Sports news.

  3. I was wondering a few years back when ESPN was running around throwing cash at everyone to get the TV rights to everything when all this would come back to bite them. And here we are. They simply extended themselves too much and the revenue eventually wasn’t going to keep up with all their spending no matter what else happened in the industry. They wanted to keep properties away from the competition so they bought most all of them up. The question I have is – why did they feel they even had that much competition? They could have passed on a sport or event here and there and still kept the P & L statement balanced. In addition to simply spending too much for rights fees, they now face the reality many are fed up with cable TV’s greed and are looking to shed expenses where they can. ESPN has always charged cable carriers an insane amount for their product compared to other networks and those carriers, under tremendous pressure to offer lower prices, are now allowing customers to “peel off” ESPN from their menu. I only watch live events and the occasional Highly Questionable these days but certainly have noticed they now appear to be all in on sports debate rather than sports expertise. It’s like sports talk radio is what they want to roll into living rooms with going forward.

  4. Al…

    Believe it or not, Bob Iger is actually a family friend from WAY back in the day. Perhaps I should hit him up for a loan. The guy’s making Goodell money.

    It’ll be interesting to see how “cutting edge” ESPN can become with its sports coverage. I think I can summarize the post best in a few words: Keep it simple.

    Oh, and a little journalistic integrity goes a long way although it’s not like any other network practices that either.

  5. Burnsy…

    TNT has aired the NBA for years and their coverage is Emmy Award winning.

    I wanna know how much they paid as opposed to what ESPN paid to air their product.

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