Once upon a time, ESPN, a 24-hour sports network was known as “The Worldwide Leader in Sports”. It was considered a paradise for sports fans to get lost in hours of sports-related content. Whether it was the NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB, NASCAR, Golf, Tennis, etc if there was one thing you knew you were going to get with ESPN, it was sports…sadly, those days are over.
Over the last decade, the Disney owned sports giant has decided to take a sharp turn away from what brought them to the dance and decided to jump into what literally no one asked them to…politics. It should go without saying that if you are trying to find the score of the Magic/Celtics game or you want to know if the Cubs are going to be sellers going into the trading deadline, the last thing you want to hear is the paid talking heads discussing how much they hate Donald Trump. The only group that has a hard time understanding this is ESPN themselves.
Last week, ESPN host Dan Le Batard has called his network “cowardly” for not criticizing President Donald Trump and the “Send Her Back” chant at the president’s North Carolina rally earlier this week. What does this have to do about sports? Absolutely nothing. Le Batard called the president and his voters racist on his Thursday radio show.
“What happened last night, this felt un-American. It’s not the America that my parents aimed to get for us, for exiles, for brown people. There’s a racial division in this country that’s being instigated by the president, and we here at ESPN haven’t had the stomach for that fight because Jemele Hill did some things on Twitter, and you saw what happened after that and then here, all of a sudden, nobody talks politics on anything unless they use one of these sports figures as a meat shield in the most cowardly possible way to discuss these subjects.”
Le Batard also attacked his network for not being woke enough about politics.
“We don’t talk about what is happening unless there’s some sort of weak, cowardly sports angle that we can run it through when sports has always been the place where this stuff changes,” he said.
Le Batard is a symptom of a larger problem at ESPN. You have a bunch of people who work for a sports network that don’t want to talk about sports, they want to lecture their audience on left-wing dogma. Over the last decade, ESPN has become a place where pundits romanticize Barack Obama and demonize Donald Trump. It has become a place where you can’t even talk about the retirement of Tony Romo without a discussion on race in America. It has become a place where the lead of Sportscenter became more known for labeling people white supremacists than anything related to her job.
Just like every industry controlled by progressives, they see it as a platform to lecture and demean everyone who doesn’t think exactly like them. They believe everyone needs to listen to their opinion about politics, no matter what the medium is. The problem is, no one watches a sports channel for politics, even those on the left. Now, of course, you’ll hear the excuse “well sports has ALWAYS been political” when it comes to them injecting their unwanted opinion onto others. However, people who watch their network don’t want to hear a political opinion. If someone wants to listen to political banter, they can watch CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, Sunday Morning Talk Shows, etc. When people watch ESPN, all they want is sports, but they are dealing with a network that doesn’t want to give it to them.
Over the years, ESPN has lost MILLIONS of viewers as well as laid off hundreds of employees due in part to the network becoming the Rachel Maddow show with a sports ticker on the bottom. ESPN has lost roughly three million since February of 2017. People have simply had enough not getting sports when they watch ESPN and the company knows that. ESPN recently created a policy barring their on-air employees from talking politics unrelated to sports stories because so many of their customer had left the base platform. A rule that had been put in place when Jemele Hill had become the most divisive personality in the company. But just because ESPN told their anchors to shut up, it doesn’t mean that they actually want to, case in point Le Bastard who now looks to carry the far left mantle that Hill left behind.
ESPN President Jimmy Pitaro stated earlier this year that “Without question, our data tells us our fans do not want us to cover politics.” While ESPN has tried to correct their sinking ship, there are far too many people still employed by the outlet who are a hindrance in ESPN’s attempt to get back to sports and until those people are gone, many of their former viewers will be highly unlikely to give them a 2nd or 3rd chance to give them what they want…Sports.