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At the risk of turning this into a theme, ESPN is on my mind. Again. Making this a whopping two, consecutive, back-to-back in a row (or column, whatever suits you) entries focused on the media behemoth. But there is a method to my madness. Plus it’s my blog so STOP TELLING ME HOW TO RUN MY LIFE. Whoops, lapsed into an argument with my parents there for a second, sorry about the tangent. The fact that you’re reading this says one thing about you: Hi Mom! Ha! I just insinuated only my mom reads my blog … god I hope that’s wrong. No, the fact that you’re reading this says you’ve bothered to venture outside the realm of big sports media. And that’s a good thing. Unless you simply typed \x93I love hogs in fishnet\x94 into a search engine and are disappointed by the lack of hot hog action. That’s a bad thing, you are sick in the head. But for those of you who don’t enjoy hogs-in-drag, this site is a refreshing break from the mainstream. I recognize ESPN does not represent the totality of modern sports media. I single them out because they are an easy target and play the largest role in everything I dislike about modern sports media. I don’t know that sports media ever had a heyday so to speak but, if it did, ESPN has moved us well past that point. The central problem with ESPN as I see it is the copy-cat syndrome that has infected virtually every aspect of television. The thinking (if it can be called that) says whoever is leading the ratings charge is doing things right and, therefore, should be emulated. Were ESPN consistently producing quality programming, this would not be an issue. To put it simply: they ain’t. I used to be an ESPN devotee, SportsCenter was as integral part of my daily ritual. My parents had some bizarre notion that too much TV was a negative thing and insisted that it be shut off after 10PM. That would have been fine save for the fact that the midnight SC was my favorite. So I’d go into stealth ninja mode at 11:45PM and sit and smile as the duh-duh-duh duh-duh-duh theme kicked in. Now? Not so much … except for the stealth ninja part. That’s intact. At some point ESPN became less about content and analysis and more about style and flash and personality. And we, as sports fans, were left adrift. Now ESPN bombards us with the likes of Jay Mariotti and Woody Paige and Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith and Jim Rome and many, many other dolts. And being on ESPN lends these people some legitimacy. ESPN reinforces their self-inflated notions of themselves as entertaining and well informed when they are neither. What they are is cast members and the \x93outrageous\x94 things they say are calculated to maintain that veneer. And because staking-out-an-opinion-with-no-regard-for-logic + yelling = ratings, that’s what we are stuck with. And the other networks are following suit. BUT (you knew that was coming, you just didn’t expect all caps … that’s how I roll) we have options! Internet options! Ah, the Internet. Sure, there is garbage online, but it isn’t difficult to spot quality. Sites like this one and Deadspin and Free Darko and The Mighty MJD and True Hoop and Yay Sports, etcetera, etcetera, offer a viable alternative. These sites, and many others like them, represent a victory for the fan who craves intelligent discourse … and rumors about the sexual orientation of other team’s players and fun smack talking. But this site and others prove it is possible to be both passionate and intelligent. Only at ESPN are those things mutually exclusive*. So enjoy the site, take the time to search for others and spread the word: ESPN is not all life has to offer. Oh, and Michael Strahan prefers the company of men. *Even ESPN has exceptions: Bill Simmons is a must-read as are Peter Gammons (come back healthy) and Marc…

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