You shouldn't feel bad if you remember when it was kind of cool to watch ESPN; we recall it vividly ourselves. (We will confess to once quoting Kenny Mayne in our daily life. Hey, we were young.) Another guy who used to love the Leader is Grant Farred, who wrote a famous academic paper in 2000 praising the network for raising the level of discourse and intelligence in the sports world. Uh ... he doesn't quite feel the same way anymore.
Gelf Magazine, brilliantly, digs up Farred — now an associate professor of literature at Duke — for an interview, and he now seems almost embarrassed of his paper.
I look at [Who's Now] and think it's just crap. At the moment I wrote the paper, I believed it raised the IQ, but by now it is responsible for the deterioration of all sports talk. SportsCenter elevated sports talk because it was unique and singular, but now you have stuff like Rome is Burning. Proliferation is the death of intelligence. SportsCenter thrived because it was expansive and smart and because it stood in sharp contrast to other forms of sports talk. Part of [the decline] started with Keith Olbermann's departure. These guys have become parodies of themselves and haven't been replaced effectively.
Later on, he says Stephen A. Smith "has the intelligence of a Philadelphia mall rat." Fun!
Lamenting SportsCenter's Baroque Period [Gelf Magazine]