You probably don’t care about ESPN’s new-ish morning talk show, Get Up, because why would you? It’s a glossy, inoffensive talk show meant to be half-watched by people who fell asleep watching a game on ESPN the night before and are too lazy to change the channel in the morning while getting ready for work.
One of the hosts of the show, Michelle Beadle, did manage to make headlines yesterday when she revealed on the show that she no longer watches college or NFL football. She said this during a discussion of Ohio State’s handling of the Urban Meyer investigation, citing the fact that, in her view, the sport of football has repeatedly demonstrated it does not care about women.
Various ESPN observers seized on Beadle’s comments and got right to the concern trolling. They were assisted by the fact that ESPN just announced that 11 different football experts will be rotating as guest hosts on the show throughout the fall. At the New York Post, Andrew Marchand wrote, “it is hard to see how [Beadle] can be a regular part of the conversation” if she doesn’t watch football. Yahoo Sports’ Liz Roscher struck a similar tone, writing, “That doesn’t seem like a strategy that will cause viewers to flock to ESPN every morning.” The Big Lead’s Ryan Glasspiegel called Beadle’s credibility into question:
How can she participate in these discussions if she didn’t watch the games? She will not have any credibility now if she discusses football on a panel, and that is going to have to be a big part of the programming over the next several months.
(Given the number of sports media fixations Deadspin has harbored over the years, I’m loath to tell anyone how they should be expending their energy, but Glasspiegel needs to relax. Ever since Get Up premiered, he’s been covering the show with all the gusto and severity of a reporter on the White House beat. He writes about it a lot, and somehow manages to tweet about it even more. It’s an empty-calorie morning show, man.)
Such as it is, this is a pretty silly controversy. In large part because those doing the handwringing seem to be operating under the assumption that sports pundits and hosts have ever needed to pay extremely close attention to the sports they yap about in order to be good at their jobs. Does anyone think every Around The Horn panelist watched every single sporting event they discuss on the show, or that various sports radio donkeys were really up until 1:30 a.m. watching the NBA game they are braying about at 5:30 a.m.? Hell, walk into any press box and you’re likely to find a bunch of reporters fucking around on their computers instead of watching the game right in front of them.
Beadle’s job is to host what is basically the sports equivalent of The View, and that does not require her to be able to explain the intricacies of a zone blocking scheme or break down a jet sweep. She’s there to guide discussions about narratives and broad storylines, which she can do just fine without watching football.
So then the question is why Beadle’s admission that she doesn’t watch football caused the sort of uproar that was missing when, say, Bill Simmons was a panelist on ESPN’s NBA draft show despite his repeated admissions that he doesn’t really watch college basketball. You don’t have to strain too hard to hear the echoing cries of “fake gamer girl!” that so many gibbering masturbators made during Gamergate, and that tells you a lot more about the credibility of those criticizing Beadle than it does Beadle herself.