The Disney-fication of Sportscenter

By Jeremy Batka

   Before school everyday growing up, I used to watch my favorite TV show, Sportscenter. The show was simple and a.m.azing, it showed highlights of nearly every single sporting event that occurred the day before,and it even included multiple hockey and soccer highlights. However, nowadays, Sportscenter is to sport highlights as MTV is to videos and it’s been a while since I’ve seen The Buggles on MTV.

   Sportscenter has clearly changed over the past few years;  when I was little the sa.m.e episode of Sportscenter would air from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m., which was fine because it was so full of highlights and moved so quickly from sport to sport that it was almost like watching a new episode every time. Now that Sportscenter has gone live, the show has become terrible. The show now airs live from about 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. and barely shows any highlights. In fact, it has basically become Entertainment Tonight: Sports Edition. The anchors only cover the highest profile athletes and teams, and read more tweets than highlights. So how did this happen? How did ESPN’s best show and possibly the best show on TV become a sad former shell of itself that aches to achieve the prosperity of its old self? The answer is simple: Disney.

   Yes, as many sports fans know, ESPN is now owned by Disney, which means Sportscenter is run by Mickey Mouse, or at least that’s what it feels like. Now there is a more diverse range of anchors. It used to be just a small privileged section of reporters who were allowed to be on Sportscenter which meant everyone involved was knowledgeable and had a great on-air presence. But shortly after Disney took control, we saw a change; there are now younger and more ethnically diverse anchors and also more women anchors in an obviously pathetic attempt at sex appeal and an appeal towards minorities. Now I’m not saying that diverse crew isn’t a good thing, in fact I’m happy to see such local stars like Sage Steele and Lindsay Czarniak finally make the big time, but the truth is the majority of the younger anchors not only know less about sports than the old crew, they just aren’t as entertaining or professional either. Long gone are the days of Dan Patrick and Rich Eisen making you laugh as they cleverly describe a highlight that you may have overlooked; now we have Kevin Negandhi and Chris McKendry stumbling through the teleprompter as they check their Twitter and keep us up to date on Tim Tebow’s golf swing. The truth is live highlights just don’t work as well–half the time the pictures and the commentary timing is way off.

   The problem with Sportscenter now is that it’s filled with speculative sports analysis instead of showering you with the video evidence of what is going on in the sports world, not the entertainment world. Saturation is another big problem with this new format, Sportscenter is trying to become a 24 hour news cycle, and the truth is there is simply not enough news in a day to fill that cycle so they have to blow some stories out of proportion, evident by the recent Lin-sanity, and Tebow-mania.

   Just bring back the highlights, the clever phrases, and anchors who actually understand the sports world, instead of anchors who mindlessly read the prompter with a brain void of any prior sports knowledge. Maybe I’m being picky, but the truth is this is their job, they could at least pretend they know what they’re talking about.

   But of course, just like with everything else Disney owns, Sportscenter is a monopoly and the new format won’t change until we stop watching. I’ll admit I sometimes find myself floating along in the crap heap known as Live Sportscenter but there are better options out there. Comcast Sports Net gets it right, a half hour show filled with nothing but highlights, or if the local scene isn’t your bag, there is always the Dan Patrick radio show which airs on TV, either way, it’s time to start boycotting the Sports Entertainment Twitter Show, oh I mean Sportscenter.

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