Monday, July 23, 2007

Beckham = Bang 0, Hype 5000000

This is a bad month for ESPN. Perhaps not financially or from a ratings perspective (although the latter will improve with Saturday night college football instead of MLS), but the sanity and credibility of the network is completely in the Diaper Genie right now.

First, July is the month of the All-Star game. The game is on FOX, the overhyped and overlong home run derby is on ESPN the night before the game. Much like the NBA Slam Dunk contest, the home run derby is drawing fewer and fewer top players each year (no A-Rod, Barry or Junior this year). But ESPN hypes it to no end, even if finding a fourth NL player for the competition was a near-Herculean task.

Second, the ESPYs -- ESPN's version of the MTV Movie Awards that are full of self-promotion, sucking up to Hollywood stars, brown-nosing the athletes (more than usual) and a full black-tie presentation show.

Third, the Who's Now featurette on the ESPN SportsCenter broadcasts. This is journalistic integrity meeting the Rose Law Firm shredder. No feature on any sports show this year could top the vapidity and uselessness of Who's Now.

Finally, the Beckham Debut. Imagine if the guy was at his 1998-99 peak and one of the top players in the world, instead of a downside-of-the-career man who's lone notable ability today is his free kick prowess. Worse yet, Beckham is not the next Pele; he never was even close to that class, thus the notion that he may be the savior for MLS is wishful thinking. As Richard Dietsch details (click title of this post), the Beckham showcase showed how a hyped event, without journalistic detachment and rational parameters, turns into a tsunami of self-parody for the network.

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