Breaking Up With ESPN

Author’s Note: This column appears in the Feb. 2 issue of The Villanovan

Dear ESPN,

I get it. You love the NFL. You love everything about the NFL. You love breaking down game tape, you love previewing games, you love discussing Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers and Tim Tebow. You love Monday Night Football, you love Mel Kiper’s upside and you love Chris Berman. But most importantly, I’m sure you love the ridiculous ratings—and subsequent advertising revenue—that NFL coverage brings.

But I’m here to say: enough is enough. Let me be clear—I love the NFL, and I love you. My roommates and I bought a 60-inch TV for our house this year explicitly to watch sports, especially football. Watching NFL RedZone for hours on end was how I spent many of my fall Sundays, and I’m not ashamed to admit that. When the lockout ended in late July, I was so excited, I think may have prematurely Tebow-ed.

Yes, the NFL is the most popular sports league in the country, and you are the most popular sports network in the country, so it makes sense that you two would work hand-in-hand. But your transformation into an NFL public relations company has made me question our relationship. We used to have so much variety, ESPN. You used to give me college basketball, you used to give me hockey. How much more NFL can you force into my life?

Sure, the Super Bowl is this weekend, but do you really need to lead every hour of SportsCenter with 15 minutes of coverage? I shouldn’t have to wait until 11:15 every night to get my first highlights of a game that actually was played that day.

You’ve even been hyping the Pro Bowl. The Pro Bowl. Do you know how miserable of a sporting event the Pro Bowl is? I’d rather watch D-League basketball (which I did) or write this column (which I am) than watch “All-Stars” play a scrimmage in Hawaii. No thanks.

Let me put into perspective how much your football obsession has gotten out of hand, with a little help from someone who really gets me: “Deadspin.” “Deadspin” crunched the numbers, and from Jan. 7 to Jan. 18, 40.2 percent of your airtime during SportsCenter was devoted to NFL-related coverage. I understand you had playoff games to cover, but 40.2 percent? Featured most prominently in that stretch was Denver quarterback Tim Tebow, a player/missionary/prophet who has quickly transcended sports and prayed his way into popular culture.

I like Tebow, and I like him a lot. In fact, I’m Tebow-ing in this very issue. I think he’s a great role model. I don’t buy the underdog story, but it’s a great story that we as fans haven’t seen before. But listen, ESPN—you have become that guy at the party who kills the pop culture reference by feeling the need to whip it out every 15 minutes. (That’s what she said.)

You’ve done this before. Media saturation (and questionable cellular phone-related decisons) killed Brett Favre’s public image. Lebron has become NBA public enemy No. 1 partially because you anointed him The Chosen One for a solid decade and nationally broadcasted his exodus from Cleveland. (For the record, I don’t blame anyone for leaving Cleveland. I’ve been to Cleveland—the highlight of my weekend was going to the hotel swimming pool.)

My point is, too much of a good thing can be a bad thing, and you have managed to get me to dislike the NFL. I’m sick of hearing about how this Super Bowl is all about revenge, and then hearing about how it’s definitely not about revenge. I’m tired of hearing about whether or not Eli Manning is elite (he’s not) or whether Tom Coughlin deserves a Hall of Fame spot if he wins his second Super Bowl (he does). And if I hear about Rob Gronkowski one more time, I’m going to shoot my TV with a BB gun.

It’s your move. Give me some hockey. I know you don’t have a TV deal with the league, and your top analyst just got arrested for about the 45thtime, but this year’s regular season has been one of the best ever and it needs coverage. Give me some soccer. Fox is broadcasting Chelsea vs. Manchester United this Sunday morning, and more people worldwide (including me) care about that than about the Super Bowl. For Tebow’s sake, give me some regular season NBA action. Except the Heat. Anyone but the Miam-E-SPN Heat. (Get it?)

But instead, I have to suffer through a few more days of NFL propaganda, and I blame you. Congratulations, ESPN. You ruined the NFL and the Super Bowl for me. All I have left now is a Villanova-less March Madness. It’s a shame, really. We could have had something special. Now I’m most looking forward to the Super Bowl for the commercials.

Forever your fan,

Jon

P.S. I graduate in May and don’t have any job offers yet, are you accepting applications?

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