ESPN (The Walt Disney Company)
United States of America

Here's the thing about ESPN: for a sports fan, it's still the greatest thing since the invention of the inflatable ball, and, no, I don't think that's overstating it.

ESPN changed almost everything about sports- not all for the better, but I think the sum total of the Worldwide Leader's contributions is overwhelmingly positive. That's why it's so frustrating to watch what has happened (and is still happening) to it since being acquired by Disney in 1996 as a part of its purchase of ABC (ABC acquired ESPN from it's original investors, Getty Oil, in 1984).

This petition was written to remind ESPN who their real target audience is, and to let them know that they are alienating us.

You can read the entire five-part piece at The Phat Phree.

ESPN Plaza
Bristol, CT 06010

I am the average American Sports Fan. I love Professional Football, College Football, Major League Baseball, Professional Basketball, and the NCAA Tournament. Sometimes I enjoy Hockey, NASCAR, The Olympics, and a few other sports, but I'd trade any one of those wholesale for a single championship by the [insert favorite major sports team].

I used to love ESPN, but I have grown tired of being taken for granted. I know you are a business and I don't expect you to cater to my tastes personally, but I will no longer sit silently while you destroy the one good and fair thing in this world: sports.

I know you don't care what I think, but at least now you won't be able to say you don't know.

Stop the tabloid journalism. I know you think it's great because ratings went up when Kobe got arrested for rape, Ron Artest went into the crowd, Pacman Jones made it rain, et al., but it's irresponsible, dishonest, and it's ruining sports. These athletes aren't role models for anything other than how to play a game. You vilify twenty-year-olds for making bad choices because they are celebrities that children look up to, but the fact is you made them celebrities. You build them up so you can tear them down to the applause of the worst in us. If you would act responsibly and just cover athletic accomplishments, perhaps the kids watching could see the difference between a good player and a good man.

Sensationalism and exploitation are the lowest form of entertainment, and have no place next to the greatness that is sports. They belong in supermarket checkout lines for old, fat housewives who are too stupid and lazy to do anything aside from gestate more useless apes in their stretch-marked gunts and gossip about people who have actually accomplished something. I don't care about athletes' personal lives. I don't care about their "character issues". I don't care if they are dating Eva Longoria. I don't care if they are racist, homophobic, or illiterate. So quit being celebrity pimps and stick to covering sports.

On a related note…

Stop with the race baiting and social commentary. I know racial bigotry has been the biggest social issue of the past 70 years, and will probably continue to be for the rest of my life. It's an unfortunate, depressing reality that frustrates anyone with half a brain. It is exactly the kind of thing I watch sports to forget.

I watch sports because, unlike life, success in sports is based on merit, talent, skill, dedication, execution, and focus, not nepotism, sex, race, money, or physical beauty. Sports are fair. Sports are just. Sports are good. Stop ruining it with stories about how ignorant and hateful most of the other people on the planet are. I know. I just want a precious few moments a day where I'm not being sucked into the vacuum that is humanity's despair.

Stop covering the WNBA. I don't care about the WNBA. I never cared about the WNBA. I will never, ever, never, never, ever care about the WNBA. I would have thought that after five years of impossibly low ratings, you would get the picture. Do you think we just don't know when it's on? Trust me that is not the issue. No one wants to watch. I bet even the players would rather be left in the stable with their oat bags than trotted out on the court to further defile the game of basketball. Title IX does not apply to you. It's time to put this animal down.

Stop trying to pass off commercials as programming, or worse, news. I know the only reason you put shit like "Ali: Rap" on the air is because you are publishing the book. But that was only half as reprehensible as the John Amechi coming out (with a book) coverage. That was covered like it was news with no disclaimer about your conflict of interest being that you were also the publisher of his memoir.

I don't want to hear from Matthew McConaughey in the booth on "Monday Night Football" talking about We Are Marshall, or see a ten-minute sketch about Ron Burgundy trying out for "SportsCenter." I do not want to see Owen Wilson talking about NASCAR and his new movie, Disney & Pixer's Cars. He doesn't know shit about sports. He was the voice of a cartoon car, for Christ's sake. By that logic, we should ask Mel Gibson about American history because he voiced John Smith in Pocahontos. I guess it's a good thing Disney doesn't own The History Channel.

The Budweiser Hot Seat and Gatorade Ultimate Highlight must go. Immediately. Why is it necessary to cram advertisements into the content of "SportsCenter"? You are already burning the candle at both ends and in the middle. You charge me as a cable subscriber, you sell commercial time, and you give preferential coverage to sports you own a stake in. Is it really necessary to turn your news programming into infomercials for bad sports movies? I know Disney's has had a bad run at the box office in the last few years, but why is it your responsibility to prop them up by compromising the flagship program on your network?

Stop bitching about fights in Hockey. The disingenuous condemnations narrating clips of Hockey fights are absurd. I am not die-hard Hockey fan, but I like watching the highlights. I love the big hits, great saves, and the fights. The fights are exciting, and they are part of the game. They are one of the only part of the game the casual fan cares about. I know you recognize that because the only time hockey is in the A group on "SportsCenter" is when there is a good fight. You gladly cover Boxing, so I'm not sure what moral ground you think you have to stand on.

Stop ignoring Mixed Martial Arts. Boxing is dead. "Friday Night Fights" is a relic, and "The Contender" is a joke. The only boxing fans left are sustained by nostalgia and not any real hope that the sport will rebound. MMA is the future of prize fighting. For an audience that grew up with Bruce Lee movies and "Mortal Kombat", Boxing as a fighting style is boring. Not to mention that boxing as industry is the worst run, most corrupt organization of thugs, pimps, and criminals this side of Caracas, Venezuela.

Long removed from the days where a fighter entered the ring wearing only one boxing glove and 150lbs. man fought a 400 lbs. Sumo wrestler, the UFC is now a licensed, regulated sport with a sustainable corporate structure not unlike that of the major sports. If the UFC's live fights on Spike TV out drawing NBA games on TNT wasn't enough, their record breaking pay-per-view revenue in 2006 (over $220 million) should clearly indicate the sport's entrance into the mainstream. So why are you completely ignoring it while propping up WNBA, MLS, Arena Football, and Bowling? Oh yeah, because you don't own any broadcast rights...

Stop pushing soccer on me. I don't care about the MLS, The World Cup, or any other league of professional joggers. Forget the flopping for a second; that would be an easy thing to get rid of with some rules that wouldn't otherwise affect the game. The bigger issue is that the game in general is flawed, perhaps hopelessly so. The offsides rule as written specifically reduces the action and limits the frequency of scoring chances. It would be like making it illegal to have a fast break in basketball, a deep pass in football, or a homerun in baseball. And that's not even the worst of the anti-fan rules. The lack of a meaningful clock all but guarantees the absence of any real end of match drama, and the ridiculous two-substitution limit means that not only can't you use your hands in soccer you can't use your brain either. Without substitutions and timeouts, there's no meaningful in-game strategy to compliment the physical competition—and that's the difference between a sport you want to watch and a game you like to play. Soccer is a game, and a boring, first draft of a game at that—something you realize when you watch indoor soccer, which addresses almost all of the issues above and is still terrible.

The fact that half the world watches it doesn't mean anything. Half of the world still shits into a hole they dug outside their hut, but I'm sticking with the toilet. And American Football.

Stop scheduling Poker 12-hours a day. First of all, Poker is not even close to a sport. It's a game, and it belongs on the Game Show Network. With the exception of the World Series of Poker Main Event, no other poker tournament is worthy of broadcast, and even the WOS ME should be limited to a single two-hour program. I like playing poker and even like watching it from time to time, but what you're doing is ridiculous. Not to mention that the professional poker players are some of the most despicable, obnoxious "personalities" on your network—and that is truly saying something. If I am subjected to another second of Phil Hellmuth, Mike Madusow, or Sean Sheikhan I'm going kick a hole in my television.

Please go back to filling your schedule with World's Strongest Man Contests, Timbersports, and Sumo Wrestling.

Stop the East Coast bias. I, like 95% of America, do not live in New York or Boston. I don't want to hear about the Yanks and the Sox constantly. Every baseball fan who doesn't root for those teams absolutely despises them. They have an unfair financial advantage that undermines the integrity of baseball. I don't know why MLB fears parity and a sensible salary cap, but I must say, they've certainly cast great villains. New York and Boston fans are the most annoying, obnoxious, and pretentious dickheads in all of sports.

Also, Derek Jeter isn't that good. He's never been that good. And certainly isn't worthy of almost constant attention. For two weeks this spring you subjected us to a story about he and A-Rod not being best friends! This is just another in the long line of over-hyped, over-rated New York/Boston athletes and sporting events: Joe Namath's fluke Super Bowl win, Willis Reed's game 7 return, Buckner's error, the supposedly golden '50s in baseball, Jeremy Shockey, etc. etc. etc.

Stop driving me away. I love ESPN. I grew up with ESPN. That is why it pains me to see it transformed from a specialized cable channel catering to sports fans into another soulless network so worried about pleasing everyone that it appeals to no one.

Please return ESPN to its roots. Go back to objectively covering the games we love, and stop trying to influence sports culture. You aren't up to the task. If you don't let the fans dictate the culture, you risk killing your golden goose and alienating the very audience you were created to serve.

Also, please rehire Doc Rivers. He must be stopped from coaching any more NBA teams.

You can read the entire five-part requiem for ESPN at The Phat Phree (pops).

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The I am the average American sports fan petition to ESPN (The Walt Disney Company) was written by Charlie DeMarco and is in the category Sports at GoPetition.

Petition Tags

sports disney nfl MLB NCAA ESPN NBA