We'll end this scandal-ridden ride on the back of the scorpion with a more general story about the behavior many ESPN employees past and present engage in as part of the "travel" crew. And where's there's road, there is beef.
One former ESPN employee, joyful at the great cleansing that is taking place today, said that many of the staff — from talent, to programming directors, to producers — live life on the road similar to that of the professional athletes they cover. In fact, there's a road code that many a Bristol swordsman abides by when gallivanting across the country. This individual, who started off giving us the definition of "road beef," (thanks for that!) went on to introduce to a couple more words familiar with many a Worldwide-leading employee:
Importing: "This is when you have a girl on the road but then fly her in to another destination. Women of this caliber may or may not be let out of hotel, either for fear of being outed or because they are not that attractive."
Covering Your Bases: "Many of the guys on the road would often import one girl, but then go out at night without her for the chance of an upgrade."
Now, obviously today has caused a "major panic" over at Bristol headquarters according to those who work there or who know people who work there — especially with the many married male employees. Here's a typical email:
I've never had sex w/ anyone at ESPN....
But, uh, I just got to Bristol and between me and you, you've to got a lot of people sleeping with a rosary tonight.
But look at the upside:
And then there's this email, which is a little more typical(UPDATE):
I worked there for 11.5 years from 1985 to 1997...
That Lacey story seems pretty damn tame
Back when the company was much smaller there were regular parties that a lot of the company attended - needless to say there was a lot of fucking going on afterwards.
A lot of that culture remained moreso with the older employees that became executives...they were a scummy lot. smart, sure...talented, definitely....sleazy middle aged guys that felt they could proposition younger female employees with regularity - you bet.
yes, I still have friends there. the guys are by large all "locker room" humor guys, whether in bristol or on the road. I don't view inter-office relationships between people who don't fall under one another's command as a big deal and I don't think anyone else does either. we lived in the middle of connecticut for christ's sake, and trust me when I tell you, when we went out at night to bars in hartford it was slim pickings - the best options were always fellow espners.
What was disgusting were the executives though, even the ones I like and admire professionally. Hey, if a girl wants to fuck her boss, I'm not going to stop her. but when she is viewed in a seemingly preferential manner, then you start to get irritated. the sad part, even with the anonymity of the internet is that you'll never hear 1/10th of the stories. Especially with the fucking that occurs on the road with runners, stage managers, etc - the girls that aren't staff employees in any sense and are making shit money. the majority of the people that stay there more than 2 or 3 years stay there forever - they are the types that max contribute to their 401K, feel that working at ESPN is the coolest place in the world even after making shit money for a few years and working long hours doing work that a "nutless monkey could do".
Along with hiring lots of smart, dynamic personalities, and always a ton of cute girls in the last 10-15 years, they also hire straight up sports nerds who think nothing of working terrible hours and having no life. they can not get promoted for 7 or 8 years and are still happy being grunts.
fact is, working at espn is their life. they are away from family and friends constantly, they start their in their 20s and wake up at 30 realizing they gave the best years of their life to central connecticut. they have no girlfriend, travel all the time on weekends, and end up marrying a production assistant.
there are good, wholesome execs at espn that are surely embarrassed by this and would relish the opportunity to clean up the place. I worked in sportcenter, programming and remote production, a rarity. one area you need to dig into is remote production. you guys always focus on the studio side like it is the only element of production at espn (JED DRAKE). remote has always been responsible to as much and in the past, much more. before eoe, films, game shows, a crazy amount of studio shows, remote was responsible for everything on espn and espn2 but sportscenter.
the (JED DRAKE) guy that runs that dept is world class scumbag - fucking his secretary, production assistants, trying to fuck interns and having to fly across the atlantic to apologize to her parents after an incident
at the wimbledon...
other manager there are equally as bad - one had a fetish for blondes, another certain big time football producer openly hit on girls, another producer propositioned another producers wife and was threatened with a beating...it goes on and on and on... again, production assistants fucking other PAs, APs fucking PAs, producers fucking PAs that don't work under them - I have no problem with any of this, even if they happen to be cheating...
its the sexual harrassment that kills me...and not in a sense that the women are being mistreated because I think in almost every case, these girls are fucking the talent and fucking their bosses for the same reasons any other girl does at a company - she wants to, even if it has no bearing on her role at the company.
what is brutal are these execs that want to fuck anything that moves, then try to remain a respected authority figure and tell their staffs right from wrong, and make their employees feel like they might be getting the shaft for the fat pig that fucked the boss after the latest going away party
it is a weird, and in a cultural sense, very incestuous place! many have always maintained that if not in manhattan, if the place was at least in stamford it would be a lot more culturally normal
PS - I changed some dates, name, departments to protect myself
See? It's the location.
There seems to be no consistency to how the employee code of conduct is enforced over at ESPN. Can you bang an intern? Are you subject to harsher penalties if you're married? It's so murky.
Still awaiting comment on ESPN for that policy...
But, for now, ESPN, go in peace. I hope that 6 p.m. meeting went well. I think the one person who probably enjoyed this the most today (besides Nick Denton) is Sean Salisbury. He's somewhat vindicated.
Consider this your DUAN!
Thanks for your continued support of Deadspin. Barry will be here in a bit. Go Phillies.
Sleep tight, Bristol...