Okay, so I don’t work for ESPN in any shape, form or fashion. I’m just a dissatisfied sports fan, a guy who follows college football religiously, and someone who used to depend on their coverage for information about my favorite sports teams.
But then some things happened. First, there was the ridiculous debacle of LeBron James’ “The Decision,” which no news outlet in their right mind would have ever aired. Then the network suspended Bruce Feldman for collaborating with former Texas Tech coach Mike Leach on a memoir, Swing Your Sword — a collaboration the World Wide Leader approved before the book was ever released. Feldman has since left the network for the greener pastures of CBS.
And now Pat Forde is leaving at the end of October. Forde is the author of The Forde Yard Dash, a slapdash column full of 40 items that covered the good, the bad, and the ugly about college football. It was required reading on Tuesday mornings. ESPN has apparently suspended that column for the remainder of Forde’s tenure. One of the chief reasons to read ESPN.com’s college football coverage will no longer be there. ESPN is taking a massive hit in talent (sorry Ivan Maisel and Gene Wojciechowski and Mark Schlabach). Forde is moving on to Yahoo! Sports, and I plan to follow him there.
The straw that broke the camel’s back, though, is the way ESPN.com treats video on its pages. See a story you want to read? Click on a link — go ahead, I dare you. The first thing you’ll see is a video that starts whether you want it to or not. It’s as if ESPN.com was taken over by a 13-year-old girl who thought it was really cool that you could start media playing as soon as the page loads. I guess we’re lucky she didn’t put sparkles in the borders. Seriously, that crap has been going on for years, and it’s annoying as hell. If I want to watch SportsCenter replays, I now how to hit the play button. So does anyone with an IQ in the double digits.
I know I won’t be able to avoid the ESPN networks for game coverage. But I don’t really watch SportsCenter anymore, and other than live games, none of the networks carry anything that interests me. I don’t need anymore talking heads in my life, thanks.
You’re not just losing talented staff, ESPN. You’re losing readers, too. And that’s too bad, because you had the potential to be something special.