Agenda Setting and ESPN

It’s common knowledge that NBC appeals to liberals and FOX news appeals to conservatives, but can bipartisanism exist outside the realm of politics? Call it a conspiracy theory, but I believe ESPN has their own agenda; and I’m not the only one who thinks so. I’m not talking about a liberal or conservative agenda, I’m talking about how they disproportionately give coverage of certain sports and players compared to others. Think about it; when’s the last time you watched sports center without Tim Tebow and the Jets being mentioned? How come last year Sportscenter gave barely any NASCAR coverage before the chase and this year every race has in depth analysis because Dale Earnhardt Junior is in contention. How long are golf highlights when Tiger Woods is not competing? And why does baseball essentially fall off the face of the earth when the NFL preseason begins? The fact of the matter is, ESPN has such a monopoly on the sporting world that they literally shape the reality of sports. ESPN has become bigger than the sports they cover and that gives them the freedom to convey the sporting world in whatever way is most profitable. According to James Andrew Miller, author of  Those Guys Have All the FunInside the World of ESPN, Miller describes ESPN’s control over the sports world as “A license to print money”. I’m not saying they are doing a poor job of covering the sports world, but they could be doing a better job. Apparently NBC thinks so, because they launched their own sports network to compete with ESPN last year. The news is supposed to provide us with unbiased and proportional coverage of all important events occurring in the world. But ESPN constantly provides disproportional coverage of players like Tom Brady, Lebron James, Kobe Bryant, Peyton Manning, Jeremy Lin, and Mike Trout. The interesting thing with Mike Trout is that ESPN is so enamored by him you wouldn’t even know that the team he plays for is underachieving and in danger of missing the playoffs. Being a Giants fan, I was disgusted by how little credit ESPN gave to Eli Manning after winning his second Super Bowl MVP, compared to golden boy Aaron Rodgers who won his first one a year earlier. This is because Rodgers sells and Eli dosen’t. But news shouldn’t be about what sells, even in sports. I feel bad for the Milwaukee Bucks fans, the San Jose Sharks fans, the Oakland Raiders fans, because those are the teams and markets that ESPN constantly neglects. College Football gets more coverage than professional Baseball in the fall and there is something seriously messed up with that. But all this being said, sports is a business and as long as certain teams and players fail to sell, they will be largely neglected by ESPN and subsequently, the sporting world. 

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About Matthew Speiser

I'm a 21 year old Communication major attending the University of Delaware.

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