I have to admit, watching ESPN burn to the ground this year has been far more entertaining than any sports game I’ve seen. It’s not that I want to take pleasure in ESPN’s downfall, I don’t, but I do feel a small amount of schadenfreude given that ESPN could have stuck to, you know, sports and not injected far-left politics into everything and that NFL players and owners, which have close ties to ESPN, could have stuck to, you know, football and not protested the anthem and not taken the bait from Trump to protest it even more.

So, ESPN is certainly entertaining, just not in the way it intended. It’s pretty tough to keep count of all the protests, but Clay Travis seems to be doing a good job. Al Sharpton and gang’s protest of ESPN after Jemele Hill got suspended for two weeks by ESPN – because she told people to protest ESPN’s advertisers – makes his protest a protest of the protest of the protest of the protest of the protest. If someone protests that, it will be a protest of a protest of a protest of a protest of a protest of a protest.

Personally, beyond the NFL being dead to me, I have a rule that protests have to be at least ten layers deep before I formally decide to join and protest…whatever it is at the time. But you can be assured that the outrage will be strong from me and that I will knit some sort of hat for myself to show just how outraged I am as I march for whatever it is.

More important than documenting the amount of protests, ESPN has now pissed off the left, which was inevitable, in addition to already having pissed off the right and center of the political spectrum. Given this, ESPN now rivals Blackberry in speed of going from hot to not, as Blackberry killed itself via stupid decisions in the last half of 2011 and was virtually dead by the end of 2012. At the beginning of the year, ESPN was a company with a few problems, now it’s a dumpster fire that has burned out the dumpster and spread out of control beyond the dumpster. After ESPN continues to burn, it will live on, much like Blackberry still does, but it will be a ghost of its former self, just like Blackberry.

I will be curious to see what Disney ultimately does with ESPN. I figure they may transition off a live sports streaming app for a loss a year from now, or maybe dump it altogether towards later 2018 or early 2019 and let someone else deal with it. Bob Iger’s obvious upcoming 2020 presidential run will be a factor in the fate of ESPN, as the public view of ESPN may overall become too negative for it to be a Disney brand at the time of his run starting in later 2019 even though he will have stepped down and won’t formally be a part of Disney by that time.

A year and a half ago or so, I reduced my FiOS television package to have only the kids and entertainment packs. This cut out sports, which I was not watching. I checked to ensure ESPN was not available to me and it wasn’t. Then, on Labor Day weekend, I accidentally switched to ESPN and found it was available. I thought it must have been one of those promotions where you get free channels for a long weekend. I went back yesterday and found it to still be available.

So, I went to my Verizon online and found that I have been given the sports lineup for free to include a number of channels including ESPN and the NFL Network and Red Zone. The situation immediately reminded me of my cancellation of the Baltimore Sun back towards 2003 or 2004. After a few weeks of not receiving the paper after cancelling, it suddenly started showing up again. My wife called them (in CHICAGO) to see why they were doing that and they said that “the computer says someone called and asked to have it delivered again.”

That was obviously bullshit and I knew exactly what it was at the time – they wanted to keep delivering the paper to keep their numbers up for their advertisers. We had them stop delivering the paper again after making it clear we would not be paying for it. With ESPN and the NFL Network, I believe they are giving themselves away to keep their numbers up. Verizon seems likely to be chipping in too, since cord cutting is now admitted to be occurring even more frequently than before and they may be willing to play a part in the free channels to try to keep people from cutting out traditional cable-like TV entirely.

My two year agreement with FiOS has expired and I think I will renew (my kids watch plenty of the children’s channels) while calling them to ensure I am not given the sports pack for free. While I previously stated I stopped watching ESPN due to the all talk format they implemented with its left of center politics only being a minor issue with me, ESPN has gone way too far left for me to take seriously at all anymore and all of the left-of-center columnists who loudly insist that ESPN’s politics are not turning people off are incredibly annoying to read.

Most recently, ESPN was perfectly happy with its own Jemele Hill (who is black) calling Trump a white supremacist. This comes after ESPN suspend Linda Cohn (a long-time white ESPN anchor, who I have the utmost respect for as a sports commentator) for saying ESPN talks too much politics, something virtually everyone in the entire world, except ESPN itself, is in agreement with. This comes after ESPN fired Doug Adler (white) for using the term “guerilla tennis,” a term that has been in use since the 90s when Andre Agassi and Nike popularized it because black people on twitter thought he meant he was calling Venus Williams (black) a gorilla. This comes after ESPN fired Curt Schilling (white) for discussing right-of-center politics.

And sometime between Adler and Cohn, ESPN did one of the stupidest things the world has ever seen by removing Robert Lee (ASIAN) from broadcasting a game because his name was Robert Lee and might remind people of confederate general Robert E. Lee. You can’t make this stuff up and it really speaks to how stupid ESPN believes its target audience to be. I’m sure there’s plenty more nonsense that I can think of given time, but ESPN is dead to me given their asshattery, so it doesn’t matter.

As for the NFL, the national anthem protests continue, so I have no interest in the NFL beyond a passing interest in the Ravens, which I can watch on local channels if I want to.

I saw a rather balanced article on the possible demise of ESPN here. To recap, competitors of ESPN and right-leaning news outlets have been signaling the demise of ESPN due to falling subscriber rates and the network being on the hook for lots of money for future sporting events with a bunch of money (and trouble) coming due in 2021 for ESPN. The right-leaning news outlets are claiming the falling subscriber rates are probably due in large part to ESPN injecting left-leaning politics into their shows. In the article, I came across this section:

As a former ESPN subscriber who has not fully cut the cord, I believe I’m in a unique position to give some insight as to why I dropped ESPN. I used to watch ESPN primarily for two reasons:

1. To watch sporting events, and
2. To watch sporting events’ highlights or lowlights.

My ESPN viewing started dropping in the last half of the 2000s because the network became more and more talk heavy. SportsCenter, where I previously could see highlights, transitioned to mostly talk. I still watched ESPN, though, but not as much. By the early 2010s, I was watching ESPN for some shows with sports personalities that I liked, mainly Pardon the Interruption with Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon and SportsNation with Michelle Beadle and Colin Cowherd. But, I wasn’t watching sports or the sports highlights shows because,

1. There was little actual sporting events on ESPN, and
2. The sports highlights shows showed few highlights.

Then Michelle Beadle left SportsNation and Pardon the Interruption became too political. I stopped watching PTI at some point in the summer of 2013 when Kornheiser and Wilbon were on one of their extended breaks from the show and I looked up on the internet where the hell they were and I found that they were golfing with then-POTUS Barack Obama. Honestly, this really annoyed me for two reasons:

1. I was finding Obama’s and the left’s politics to be increasingly annoying at the time, and
2. PTI golfing with the POTUS confirmed to me that PTI would continue to inject politics into the show and that injection of politics would continue to annoy me.

After that, I didn’t watch ESPN or its sister channels anymore. It wasn’t a boycott, there just wasn’t anything on the channel that I was interested in. If I didn’t have kids, I would have cut the cord several years ago, but my kids love some of the shows on the kids channels and basic cable. A couple of years ago, Verizon FiOS (which I have and like the service) made an option where you could subscribe to two channel packs for a low price. I got on the offer to reduce my bill and chose the kids channels and stupidly, sports. After almost a year, I found that I never watched ESPN at all and when I went to watch a game that I wanted to see, it was on a channel that was not in the sports channel pack. So, I switched it to kids and basic cable channels and have never looked back, as I don’t watch cable TV anymore (only my kids do).

As for politics, I’m politically interested and those on the left would consider me right-leaning now, even though I don’t consider myself to be. I stopped watching any news channel towards the beginning of the 2000s because they’re the worst channels on TV beyond QVC and I got higher speed internet then. The author’s assumption that I would have to do away with my news channels is wrong, because my political news has come exclusively from the internet for 15 years.

So, several factors have gone into my dropping of ESPN. While my dropping of ESPN was not exclusively due to it becoming left-leaning, it can’t be denied that I was watching ESPN when it used to show sports and the final nail in its coffin occurred when it became too political for me. Perhaps if its politics were a little more balanced I might have watched more, but I doubt it – I wanted to watch sports, not listen to talk. While this article I read had some valid points, the ones predicting ESPN’s collapse (here’s one the original article was referring to here and another one here) have some valid points too. It’s never wise to alienate potentially half of your viewership, either intentionally or unintentionally, and it’s something that ESPN seems to want to admit to having done here, although they recently denied it here. It will be interesting to see how it plays out through 2021.