Friday, February 16, 2007
Note - This isn't a commentary about the Amaechi story, it's about ESPN's circumstances surrounding it. I wouldn't want to stop anyone from buying it out of desire to read 'Man in the Middle,' and in fact, it's gotten great reviews from places like Outsports.com. Had to throw that disclaimer in there.
The Worldwide Leader, despite spurning me recently in my efforts to acquire an internship with them, have been my surrogate family for the better part of two decades. One of their family of networks is essentially all I watch on television - which has, sadly, been the case for most of my time here on this planet. Bill Simmons has evolved into my favorite sportswriter (save your cynicism, I still enjoy his work despite his rampant popularity), and closely trailing him are ESPN.com mainstays Len Pasquerelli, Buster Olney, Tim Kurkjian and Chad Ford. I listen to Mike and Mike in the morning on the way to class/work, and Dan Patrick in the afternoons when possible. So take this for what it's worth - it's not an absolute seige of Big Bristol.
This being said, they have slowly evolved into an amorphous, conglomerate blob of a sports news monopoly since Disney/ABC purchased their souls several years back. The increase in fluffy feature pieces on SportsCenter was digestible, but delivering a quasi-cloaked marketing campaign for Disney-sport-flicks (i.e., The Rookie, Miracle, etc.) has become the status quo. They've tried slapping ESPN's name on a litany of shit: from restaurants to video games. Some of this has made Michael Eisner more money, some has not.
This week, the John Amaechi story has gotten fresh legs since ESPN personality Dan LeBatard evoked caveman-jock-speak from Tim Hardaway regarding the situation. What does this have to do with anything, you may ask? Well, Amaechi's story has been put into book form, and is being produced by... of course! ESPN books. Allow me to run down the various list of items I found interesting in this dynamic.
1. Amaechi's story becomes public, drawing attention primarily just from ESPN's coverage of such a revelation.
2. The NBA and general public's collective yawn lets the story settle.
3. ESPN clamors for any sort of virulent reaction from an NBA personality.
4. LeBatard reveals Hardaway's idiocy.
5. Debate about gay athletes gets new legs, as book is readied for release.
6. This is all happening during the slowest sports month of the year - the time between the Super Bowl and March Madness.
ESPN is aware of its monopoly status is currently holds on national sports news in this country. Don't think that they, combined with the colossus that is Disney, won't put that to use to get you to buy shit. I'm just sayin'.