As a kid growing up obsessed with sports, ESPN was the top dog for me. While other kids my age spent their mornings watching cartoons before school, I spent mine watching my heroes like Stuart Scott and Steve Levy deliver the latest from the sports world. Everyone hated Sunday nights because it meant school the next morning, but I LOVED it. Why? It meant I got to listen to the legendary due of Chris Berman and Tom Jackson give us the highlights from another day of NFL football.
ESPN was everything a sports fan could ask for, it truly was the hub for information and news. Then, then something changed. The first time I noticed it was as a 12-year-old wondering where all the hockey coverage went. The network blacklisted the sport when they lost the 2004-05 season due to a lockout. The NHL went to NBC and has essentially been second-tier ever since as far as ESPN is concerned. That rubbed young Alex the wrong way. It was a big deal to me then, but now it’s just a minor detail. ESPN, once seen as the invincible worldwide leader to me, is now the worldwide debacle.
Lying about things like Deflategate and carrying the NFL’s baggage throughout all of the domestic abuse issues was bad enough, but what we learned about how they handled Erin Andrews was the last straw for me. As far as journalistic integrity, it all went out the window when they falsely reported information about Deflategate and never corrected it. The approach was highly unprofessional and it impacted arguably the biggest sports story of the last few years. It wasn’t petty and it made ESPN look like they were in the back pocket of the NFL. It’s too bad that this wasn’t the worst thing the network had done recently, because that was pretty bad.
Erin Andrews is perhaps the most famous sideline reporter in sports currently. Unfortunately for her, she was the main target for a stalker who recorded her through a peephole at a hotel a number of years ago and released the tape. It was a traumatic event for Andrews and she disappeared from the sports scene for a while. Interestingly enough, shortly after returning, she shifted from ESPN to Fox, a move not many expected. We now know why she did so. The reason is quite disturbing.
The court case of Andrews Vs. her stalker and the hotel is currently ongoing, and via The Daily Mail, Andrews has made quite a large claim. “She eventually returned to work when college football kicked off in September, saying; ‘It’s me, I love college football, it’s my life.’ The return was a difficult one despite her love of the sport, and she said she cried in her shower before her first appearance back on ESPN. It was ESPN who also told Andrews she needed to do an interview about the video’s release, she testified on the stand. Andrews said she decided to go with Oprah Winfrey because she could have the entire hour of the program to tell her story. She said that Winfrey being a victim herself also played a big part in deciding who to sit down with for the intimate interview. It was a difficult interview for Andrews, who broke out in a rash which she said in court she still suffers from on occasion – including during the trial.”
If that doesn’t bother you, then I’m not sure what will. Erin Andrews being forced to go on air and talk about the event by ESPN is cruel. The network is telling her, through this gesture, that they don’t believe her story. According to other reports, ESPN wanted an assurance that this wasn’t a publicity stunt. WHAT?!
What Erin Andrews went through is difficult to watch from afar, imagine what she is going through? The way the network handled this behind the scenes is absolutely disgusting and it should make all of us think twice about throwing our money hand over fist to this network. Quite frankly, I’m disgusted in the way ESPN approached this and I know that many others are too.
Nothing will happen to the network, but boy, through seeing this I believe ESPN should be held accountable for their actions in this situation. At the very least, I hope they get the pushback they deserve from their consumer base. Allow this column to be the starting point.