Those Guys Have All the Fun
It's big and it's bloated but – like the sports empire that it covers – this is a book that you don't want to miss.
(Page 4 of 4)
Such problems pop up through much of the book’s second half. Thus the reader is granted insights such as why political columnist George F. Will voted for Jackie Robinson as the best athlete in the “SportsCentury” series. With a knowing nod to the late, great Kurt Vonnegut, the reader can only say, “So it goes.”Skip to next paragraph
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In a book this lengthy, it is to be expected some typos and errors would slip through the editing cracks. Still, it is distracting to see the surname of one of the best-known sportscasters of this generation misspelled over and over (CBS’s Jim Nantz is, in this book, Jim Nance). A similar tic miscasts Texas Longhorns head football coach Mack Brown, whose first name becomes Mac on more than one reference. Deadspin.com founder Will Leitch, a well-known figure in sports blogging, is, instead, Will Leach.
Some strong insights emerge from recent years. Among them: ESPN executive John Skipper’s love of soccer leading to an overhaul of World Cup coverage and the indefensible decision to ignore NFL star Ben Roethlisberger being accused of sexual assault. College football sideline reporter Erin Andrews and several colleagues offer candid assessments of her being stalked and filmed through hotel-room peepholes, a harrowing episode that became an online nightmare for Andrews and the network.
There is also an interesting section on the highly rated but equally loathed LeBron James interview special to announce his free-agency decision. None of the principals emerge with much dignity intact, a sign of how ESPN’s extensive investments in the various sports leagues often leave it functioning as little more than an industry cheerleader.
Which goes to show that while life at ESPN is hardly just fun and games, it is all but impossible to ignore. After hundreds of pages and perspectives, leave it to comedian Jimmy Kimmel, whose show once employed ESPN.com’s Bill Simmons, to put it all in perspective.
“The truth of the matter is, ESPN is great,” Kimmel says. “It’s just when you make the mistake like I did of thinking you can do something edgy on that network and you can’t. You just can’t. It’s McDonald’s.”
And, yes, “SportsCenter” is serving millions and millions even as you read these words.
Erik Spanberg is a Monitor contributor.