For being the self-proclaimed worldwide leader in sports, it’s pretty disturbing how uneven the coverage-per-minute numbers look for sports on ESPN. Anyone who has their TVs pretty much locked on SportsCenter throughout the day like I do knows what I’m talking about, and it can be pretty frustrating at times.
An example: late last week the NHL had two high-intensity Game 7’s going on in the Western Conference playoffs, which featured one of the best rivalries in the game (Chicago-Detroit) and the defending Stanley Cup Champions. While those games did get some coverage, every time I turned my attention towards the TV—it mainly serves as background noise in this household—all’s I would see is LeBron James’s face all over the screen and the commentators and analysts gushing over how he dominated in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Oh, and there was a baseball highlight thrown in every now and then.
I’m only stating the obvious here, and feel free to argue me in the comments, but I think everyone will tend to agree with this: ESPN is head-over-heels in love with the NBA. But not like the cutesy preteens having a crush type thing, no. This is more like the absolutely crazy psycho stalker who has a shrine set up for their one true love in the back of a closet hidden from the outside world. It’s sickening. Night after night I feel like I’m watching ESPN fellate the NBA, and it’s getting pretty tiring. Honestly, I think part of the dislike that I have for the Association—which is dwindling as I go to more games and spend more time acclimating myself to the game (I’m trying to like it, I really am)—stems from the fact that ESPN is so obnoxiously biased in its coverage.
If you don’t believe me, or are blind, or deaf, there’s an archive of articles on Deadspin that prove my point. Bristolmetrics was as weekly post that broke down the coverage of sports on the 11pm edition of SportsCenter over the course of a week. Going back to the week of May 25, 2012, and here’s how that broke down:
TIME DEVOTED TO INDIVIDUAL SPORTS
NBA: 171 minutes (50.9%)
MLB: 72 (21.4%)
SportsCenter staples (things like the “Top 10,” “Encore,” “What 2 Watch 4,” etc.): 51 (15.2%)
NHL: 16.5 (4.9%)
Other sports: 10.5 (3.1%)
NFL: 9 (2.7%)
Golf: 2.75 (0.8%)
NASCAR: 2.75 (0.8%)
College football: 0.75 (.2%)
College basketball: 0 minutes (0%)
What’s more, even the roster of ESPN analysts is incredibly unbalanced—though not the way I would have imagined. Have a quick look.
Nearly 75 percent of the talking heads for the network are dedicated to covering football and basketball (college and professional are included in the numbers you see below). That’s 65 individuals out of the 88 employed to break down the world of sports—per Wikipedia. Baseball’s 11 make up 12.5 percent. And Barry Melrose, the lone NHL analyst makes up one whole percent.
Nothing’s ever going to be done to fix this unbalanced coverage, so these words are basically throwing out there more as a rant than anything else, but it’s something that’s been bothering me more and more recently. It’s almost as if ESPN goes out of its way to force basketball down the throats of its viewers. The emergence of new 24/7 sports networks like NBC’s Sports Network and the soon-to-premier Fox Sports 1 are some intriguing alternatives to the Worldwide Leader in sports but aren’t viewed as staple sports networks like ESPN… yet.
Guess I’ll just deal like the rest of the sports-crazed country.