The Things ESPN's Complaints-Page Robots Expect You To Be Mad About (Besides Female Commentators)

Jezebel alerted us to this on Tuesday: ESPN's feedback page allows you to pick from a menu of presumably common complaints, sorted by sport. For both men's and women's college basketball, for instance, your choices include "Schedule," "Bands/Halftime Performance," "Technical - Audio/Video," and—until Wednesday—you could select the following:

Commentator - dislike female commentators.

The Association for Women in Sports Media—AWSM, awesomely—complained (even though the real scandal would be if there were no female commentators to dislike in the first place); ESPN apologized and changed the template. It was a Thing and then it wasn't, and it all happened so quickly no one stopped to consider what ESPN's "Contact Us" page actually is. My guess is that "Commentator - dislike female commentators" has less to do with ESPN itself than with the type and volume of complaints the network receives (and then promptly ignores). It's recourse for the kind of people who, as the great Abe Lemons once said of a fellow basketball coach, "like to make waitresses cry." The feedback page is just a reasonably efficient way for the Worldwide Leader to sort its garbage.

Which is why it's funny to go through the full range of complaints listed in the page's source code. (Again, my assumption is that the template is based on the type and volume of complaints ESPN has received in the past.) Most of the list is boilerplate: "Schedule," "Technical - Audio/Video," etc. But the occasional variation is telling. College basketball fans, as noted, "dislike female commentators." NASCAR fans don't like it when they "Can't hear announcers crowd noise." Tennis fans hate it when "Final score revealed during taped telecast." CFL and American Amateur Football fans whine about "Rain delay," as do IndyCar fans, at least when they're not whining about "Commercial breaks - Timing and Amount." "Music" complaints come from Aussie Rules Football fans, baseball fans, American Amateur Football fans, Arena Football fans, all motorsports fans, NASCAR fans, and the folks who look up from their second bowl of the evening to find that the X Games are on television. Just about everyone bitches about "National Anthems." What do baseball fans bitch about? "East Coast Bias," of course. This is the id of the disgruntled ESPN viewer, filtered through Bristol's almost delightfully PG-13 notion of what disgruntlement with ESPN looks like. If there's a problem with the options presented here, it's that there aren't enough of them.


ESPN Creates Special Place for People to Complain about Female Sports Commentators [Jezebel]