Wednesday 6th March 2013

by YBrammer

If you begin your television sports viewing day between 7am and 9am (Eastern), you get a show called “The ‘Lights” (short for highlights, get it?). It harkens back to what was the best thing about classic SportsCenter on ESPN in that it consists entirely of rapid fire highlights with a sprinkling of pertinent sound bites from all the previous night’s games in all sports. The show is a half hour long and repeats over two hours. That means you’re never more than 30 minutes away from the highlights from any particular game.

(via NBC Sports Network fills a long-empty void for NHL fans as a legitimate alternative to ESPN)

NBSNC has not filled the void of ESPN… yet.

I think the reason hockey fans disliked ESPN at first is because they tossed us aside and we ended up on OLN. That just feels like we’re being told our sport is not good enough to even be on a real sports channel.

But I think the reason we are less happy with ESPN now has evolved. We are still annoyed that they don’t consider us a sport good enough for the “World Wide Leader In Sports.” But I think more hatred has come from how SportsCenter has changed over the years. The Clark J. Brooks, the author of the article, says The Lights is like the old SportsCenter.

There are no feature stories but there are also no talking heads behind a desk practicing schtick and catch-phrases. Best of all, there’s no contrived debates with pundits shouting their “takes” at each other, something that seems to dominate ESPN these days.

These “debates” seem to be what one might find on Fox News (or MSNBC). The network focuses on the stories which benefit their business, bring in people to discuss the topic. Either the analysts agree with the network or the two debate. But the debate is usually between a stronger debater, for the network, and a weaker debater, against the network. And, of course, the network introduced the topic in their own favor and provide more time for their side; not provider enough time for the opposite side to clearly respond and rebuke their points.

When we had that ass who shall not be named claiming the Blackhawks streak was tainted by ties, we got to see how the network works. We never heard in the first bit anything for the ESPN anchor correcting said ass. Finally we get Barry Melrose – who can just thrown ass into the ground – yet he does not. I’m stumped. I think the easiest thing Melrose could have corrected was parity in the NHL vs the NBA. That day, 4th-8th in the west was tied at 24 points.

Darren Pang mentioned that 4th-14th in the west was only separated by 4 points during yesterday’s Blues @ Kings game. That man is awesome. Panger got it. Why doesn’t Melrose? Melrose was swamped trying to fix all of the things ESPN let slide before he got the chance to correct such horrible lies. The ass also seems to just talk way over his opponents. Also, maybe one too many hits to the head for Melrose.

This just reminds me of the crappy thing we call cable “news.” Once upon a time, news had integrity and only the facts meant to enter the discussion. Journalists told us what happened. They questions and got answers. They did not work to prove their point and make money for others. Then cable news showed up and we got arrogant asses yelling at other arrogant asses; literally repeating the same thing 24 hours a day (except on weekends. That is the time for lockup documentaries).

ESPN’s SportsCenter used to show highlights of all the day’s games without injecting opinion into the mix. We saw the beautiful plays in sports and got a summary of all that happened. If there was news, SportsCenter would investigate and get us answers; hold the leagues and players accountable. Now we get people making up crap to prove their sport is better.

Cable news and ESPN are simply propagandist machines. They say what some part of society would like to hear simply to help themselves. Their is no actual journalism; there isn’t even documenting the day’s events. They simply discuss one topic to an extreme to drive home what is important to the network; hopeful that their viewers will trust the network and come along too.

That is why NHL fans hate ESPN even more. We hate news which is not actually news. We want to know the news of the sports world. SportsCenter once provider that and now they only share one sided opinions for their benefit. It has worked for ESPN the same way it worked for Fox News and MSNBC. People like to be be told what they believe is true to an extreme. Until enough people think hockey is just as good or better than the NBA or the NFL or those few college sports teams, hockey won’t be on ESPN or SportsCenter.

NBC Sports Network might be nice, but it is the MSNBC to the Fox News of sports, ESPN. NBCSN will tell us what we want to hear, but most people will be stuck on ESPN. I need to check out this The Lights though. If it really is only highlights, I would love it. The reason I once watched SportsCenter every morning before school.

Maybe if someone can ever finally disrupt the television industry (please do it, Apple!), a Pandora of highlight reels can come to exist. Know the sports and teams we like. Show the popular and truly impress highlights from outside our comfort zone. Build from there to show us the clips we want to see. Might isolate us even more if done incorrectly, but Pandora-like services are great for discovery if done right. I can dream.

PS Cox needs to bring NBCSN to our dorm. The other dorms get NBCSN, but we don’t.

TL;DR: ESPN’s SportsCenter no longer has the sports journalistic integrity it once had by excessive talk on a single subject, weighted debates and a lack of top plays in all sports. ESPN took the cable news path by trading journalistic integrity for money. This expands the reason hockey fans hate ESPN, but still is not the only reason.

EDIT: Sports journalism is real and analysis should exist. Just check newspapers. But ESPN, like Fox News, acts as news while expressing a partisan issue. Unlike The Daily Show and Colbert Report, both of which act as news to parody the news (particularly cable news), outlets like ESPN and Fox News act like news to express an opinion.

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