Please Don’t Take My SportsCenter

According to the blog The Big Lead – which is one of the better, more connected ones out there – ESPN is contemplating a late night talk show along the lines of Jay Leno or David Letterman. And I’ve just got to ask: WTF?

Just what does ESPN have against actual sports programming during the late night? If I want to watch a talk show, I’ll flip over to Letterman, or wait for Conan or Craig Ferguson. I don’t want to watch this type of thing on ESPN. I want to watch sports on ESPN. And if there are no live sports, then I’ve got an idea, how about doing a little show where you do a wrap-up of the sports day, giving scores and highlights from across the nation, and from across the world? I know it’s a revolutionary concept, but I think it just might work.

What puzzles me the most about this whole thing is that ESPN has tried this approach before, and the network has failed. Does anyone out there remember Mohr Sports? Or Quite Frankly with Stephen A. Smith? Yep, those were talk shows with an entertainment bent meant to play along the lines of Letterman or Leno. And each of those shows failed miserably – then again, can anyone name me a show of Jay Mohr’s that hasn’t failed miserably?

Now I know that ESPN just signed a 15-year deal with the SEC to broadcast their sporting events, but reading about this, and reading about that Daily Show idea, I can’t help but wonder if ESPN is trying to take the same route of MTV. You remember MTV: Music Television? It was this little cable channel that used to show music videos 24-hours a day, but now, it’s nothing but 24-hours of bad reality TV programming.

Is this what ESPN is trying to become? The sports programming network with no sports programming? Maybe I’m just overreacting. After all, ESPN has added six hours of live SportsCenter from eight to two in the morning and the afternoon, which is better than the constant repeats of the late night version the network was airing. But damn, I’m sorry, I just want to be able to turn on ESPN at 11:00 and watch sports. If I want funny, I’ll turn on CBS and Dave.

I might not be able to get my MTV anymore, but damn, please don’t take my SportsCenter. Please don’t give me another bad talk show. Please. – John Royal


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