I became a big fan of ESPN when I first subscribed to cable TV in the spring of 1980. At that time the fledgling sports network was in its infancy, having debuted in late 1979. It bore little resemblance to the Disney-owned network that we see today. It did not yet carry games from any of the four major professional sports leagues. Nor did it carry college football or basketball.
It did have its trademark Sports Center – albeit with a much more modest set and lot less hot air – along with stuff like ping-pong (the first thing I ever saw on ESPN), rugby, Australian-rules football, lacrosse, gymnastics, track and field events, amateur golf, and some college baseball games. It was a veritable wasteland of sports that most people never watched. However, I would rather have the ESPN of then than the ESPN of now.
The behemoth which ESPN has become has not been a good thing for sports in this country. It fact, I think it has ruined televised sports as we know them. Thanks mainly to ESPN, all of the major pro and college sports in the U.S. have been overexposed. This has led me to become bored with many sports which I used to find exciting. When they are on TV every day, they cease to become special. The saturation level has been hit and passed. My anticipation of seeing any particular game has long since vanished away.
In addition, Sports Center and all the sports talk shows now carried by ESPN have become boring and useless. They have degraded to nothing more than trash talk and over-analysis provided by people who are in serious need of an attitude adjustment. Pre-game shows have become endless periods of spin and prattle. The results of any particular game are repeated over and over again until it makes one sick. And how many different ways can a single sporting event be analyzed or recapped?
I never thought I’d be longing for the “good old days” of one or two televised games per week and 10-minute sportscasts on the 6 o’clock news, but that’s where I find myself. I wish I had never heard of ESPN.