An Open Letter to ESPN

by Dan Berkman

Dear ESPN,

We can’t take it anymore.

It’s 1 in the morning and we come home from a night of drinking, or it’s 1 in the afternoon and we wake up after a night of drinking. We flip on ESPN, looking for our beloved “Spotes,” a.k.a. Sports Center, hoping that Ron Artest has started a fight in an Uno Pizzeria or that the Raiders have signed a La-Z-Boy sectional to play left tackle. We’ll even settle for a Top 10 Plays made entirely of diving catches in the outfield, because, you know, those are really special since they only happen five times every single night.

But then you sock us right in the gut. I want to say, “when we least expect it,” but these days we can anticipate it. If things are bad, Skip Bayless will be on yammering about how everyone is poor at what they do. He needs to be kidnapped by Cambodians and fed to snakes. If things are really bad, which they usually are, there is a heart-warming story. An NFL player has just set up a rescue camp for hamsters and gerbils. A pitcher is wheeling around a disabled kid in the dugout. A college coach recruits a kid whose entire family was slaughtered on live national television in Peru as part of an Independence Day celebration. It’s too much. We do not want heart-warming. We want Bears-Packers at Lambo in minus-Jesus-Christ temperatures. We want shirtless men who spent money on body paint instead of the crayons they promised their daughters for their birthdays.

In addition to the tear-jerkers and endless controversies highlighted by Outide the Lines, hosted by the twin that was living inside of John Candy for all those years, Sports Center has the kind of ADHD that would have gotten one of us an extra week to take the SATs. They jump from sport to sport, never showing highlights from two similar games in a row. They have a little bar on the side of the screen to tell us what they’re going to tell us in eight minutes because they can’t even keep themselves organized. Just show us Kobe Bryant embarrassing white people that try to guard him for 15 minutes and move on. Don’t come back to it every 20 minutes with interjections from Kansas City Royals games and updates on our World Cup team.

Lastly, enough analysis of what’s going through everyone’s heads. The only people in sports who think anymore are Phil Jackson and Charles Barkley. Everyone else’s strategy for the game is, “don’t die during the game,” so no more courtside interviews. Only Ron Artest fights.


Daniel Berkman

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