Photo credit: Getty

ESPN is hemorrhaging money and laying off employees. This is because it is having trouble paying billions of dollars in rights fees while also losing millions of subscribers to cord-cutting. People cancel their cable subscriptions because advances in technology have allowed them to consume all the TV, movies, and sports they want without paying for cable, but a lot of morons out there want you to believe that people are cutting the cord because they have been alienated by ESPN’s supposedly liberal politics. Some of those morons emailed me.

Here is a conversation I had with a guy who believes ESPN is suffering because it “left behind Joe Sixpack in favor of Perez Hilton”:

From: Don

To: me

Subj: ESPN layoffs

Hello. I just your piece online, and thought it hit most of the mark. Here’s what I think it missed. I don’t know how far you go back, but my generation (I’m almost 65) remembers the infancy of the network. They made their original credibility by coverify things that Widea World of Sports used to televise, such as different forms of motorsports, ie, off road racing, Indycar, and yes, NASCAR. They became important because of Guys like Bob Jenkins and Larry Nuber, who put themselves out there on the line to break new ground for everyday people. It wasn’t a network for white collar types. There is a sage bit of wisdom on posters going around these days that reads: Men in denim built this country, men in suits are destroying it.

The analogy is there. ESPN has gotten away from it’s successful roots. They believe they can leave behind Joe Sixpack in favor of Perez Hilton, and still keep ratings. They don’t get that minorities are just that, a minority. As far as talent goes, you nailed it. They probably could have let go of Jones and Hill, and there would have been a vocal outburst, but viewers overall would be pleased. So yes, there has been a backlash to the new style, partly racial, partly, quality, and owing to a perception of the corporate leaning. The only thing I listen to on ESPN radio is Mike & Mike, but not for four hours anymore. Dan Patrick is less grating than the neurotic Greenberg.

Thanks for your time.

Maybe you could entitle your next piece,

“Will the last one to leave ESPN please turn out the lights?”

From: Me

To: Don

Don,

Thanks for the email. Just out of curiosity, have you cancelled your cable subscription?

From: Don

To: Me

No, I’m a prisoner of AT&T Uverse, and package deals. I do miss the old days when TBS carried all the Atlanta Braves games, lol.

I’m slowly discovering online publications, which is good since I’m on the road so much. Print isn dead, but it could be on life support.

Thanks for your reply.

Here is a conversation I had with a guy who thinks the new 6:00 p.m. SportsCenter is “the Malcolm X fist for black power”:

From: Hugh

To: Me

Subj: Four letter network layoffs

Mr. Ley,

While I agree with a majority of your article. Your comment it has nothing to do with ‘liberal politics’. You are correct, not directly, but it does with viewers and why they don’t want the four letter network anymore, like myself. When I watched, I wanted a story on a game, a few highlights, and maybe a knowledgeable persons take. Not anymore, now it’s blowhard, hootin & hollerin, jibberish. Blowhards like Cowherd (I know Cowherd is gone) and Stephen A, can’t respect them when they just babble. Politics & government have become more & more common. The new 6pm anchors open is the Malcolm X fist for black power. Viewers want to turn on a sports station to get away from politics, to get away from reality, to enjoy a hobby, or love, sports. MTV fell off the face of the earth when they stopped playing music, now a sports station veering outside the sports world with people who are half ass on their sports takes, let alone trying to kick their political agenda at us. Stick to sports, it’s pretty simple.

From: Me

To: Hugh

Hi Hugh,

Thanks for the email. Just out of curiosity, have you cancelled your cable subscription?

From: Hugh

To: Me

Hey Tom,

Thanks for the reply. I hope I didn’t come across as negative to you at all. I am a sports fan and am just discouraged how the four letter network has gone. It was journalists who cut their teeth in sports radio before tv. It was games, sports stories, and replays. Now it’s a plethora of blowhard jibberish shows (First Fake, His & Hers, etc) where they have to push realities & embellishments to get seen or get clicks.

No, I have not cancelled anything, everything is bundled in packages. Maybe at some point we can do more al a carte or on demand if it’s financially smart for the viewers. The cable & satellite companies have control. I could probably push to have that deleted, but I just choose to not watch the majority of their programming.

Here is a conversation I had with a guy who thinks I should “call a spade a spade here and move on”:

From: Anon

To: Me

Subj: ESPN

To say the recent round of layoffs has nothing to do with their left leaning political agenda I think is at the very least partially incorrect. I’d venture to say these days 90 percent of all media is liberal biased so for you to point that out is basically an attempt at self preservation on your part. Absolutely ESPN’s slow deliberate move to liberalism over the years has caused a drastic decline in views. Whether you want to pin the blame on cable companies or not doesn’t change that fact. Even ESPN.Com has experienced a decline in hits to the site. You should call a spade a spade here and move on.

From: Me

To: Anon

Hi,

Thanks for the email. Just out of curiosity, have you cancelled your cable subscription?

From: Anon

To: Me

Of course not. As liberal as ESPN has gotten over the years to me they are still the Worldwide Leader in Sports. I started watching Sports center as a young child in the late eighties when it was just sports and no hidden political agenda. I realize that was not part of your question I just want to get my point across as to why I think this once untouchable powerhouse is faltering. However, I will continue to watch and will go down with the mothership if she sinks.

From: Anon

To: Me

To further elaborate on your question to me, many of my fellow soldiers have cancelled subscriptions and depend on Fox sports [Ed. note: it is impossible to cancel ESPN and still get Fox Sports]. Of course that’s a small sample size but country wide I think it’s an indication of what is a big part of ESPN’s problem.

From: Anon

To: Me

Also, and as a managing editor I would think your smarter than this, but just because the folks who blame a left leaning shift as the reason ESPN is bleeding money have not cancelled their subscription doesn’t mean it’s some kind of small moral victory for you. For everyone one that hasn’t there are two or three that have so if that’s your measuring stick for proving your point then your assumption is wrong. Minus the BS social programs I can stand it long enough to catch the Braves but that’s me, alot of people can’t even watch it that long.

Is this a small sample size? Absolutely! Is it entirely possible that a perceived liberal bias has caused some former ESPN viewers to watch the network less? Yes! Is that supposed liberal bias also what is causing people to cancel their entire cable packages, thus causing ESPN’s massive losses in subscribers and revenue? Hell the fuck no!

Advertisement