Admittedly, it was something I had a little extra interest in that drove me over the edge with ESPN, but finally I reached my limit this morning. Why? Yesterday, ESPN devoted its online front page ALL DAY to the "controversy" over whether the Spurs or Mavs was the best team in the NBA, based on John Hollinger concocting some formula that from what I gather places extra emphasis on point differential in the last 10 games. Based on that, he had the Spurs as the best team in the league. This in spite of them being 9 games behind Dallas and 5 behind the Suns, and 9-8 against the league's other elite teams, while Dallas is 11-4 (not to mention 34-2 in its last 36). But, it's not even necessarily the logic that bothered me, it's the fact they hyped it as if with close to 30 games left in the season anyway actually cares, and based on the absurdity of the math, it's something worth such coverage. Even San Antonio agrees it's foolish (http://www.mysanantonio.com/sports/columnists/bharvey/stories/MYSA022707.01D.COL.BKNharvey.spurs.17cf111.html) But what made it all the more ridiculous is last night, Dallas beat a hapless Minnesota team by 26, and suddenly the Mavs are #1 in Hollinger's rankings. Does that mean the "controversy" is over, or does that mean readers should check in every morning if they really want to know who's best in the NBA. Because the sole goal is to drive readership.
Now obviously, the dispute itself is irrelevant, since the playoffs start in less than two months and that'll be the ultimate barometer. But the relentless self promotion of ESPN only continues. I forget who cued me to the fact that, last Sunday, in spite of a great Kobe/Lebron showdown, ESPN led off the first 10 minutes with some inconsequential Nascar race. Why? Not because it was a significant race, but because ESPN had broadcast it. The list goes on and on (e.g., X Games).
I don't expect ESPN not to advertise what it does, but has it not become another brand now like Johnson & Johnson or Proctor Gamble that merely is out to market all of its products and, above all else, increase its profits? That would be great, except for one problem, isn't it supposed to be part of the "objective" media? I don't pretend to be naive, and even something like them muting the boos directed at Bush 41 in New Orleans last fall was more silly than anything, but when you read ESPN now, do you not think that they're presenting almost entirely based on marketing? I've noticed Bill Simmons in the last year has been increasingly less subtle in alluding to this fact.