Saturday, April 19, 2008

ESPN: Stephen A. Smith steps down.

Sad face!

The most controversial voice on ESPN radio called it quits last week, citing an increased focus on television analysis for ESPN.

The repercussions have been immediate.

I now am subjected to an extra hour of Sports Nation, the second-most tedious radio show ESPN airs, behind only Between Rounds, a horribly dithering and painful, one-hour, once a week mixed-martial arts show. At least the two blokes on Sports Nation have voices which are distinguishable from one another's, even if their analysis is weak, and their content over-reliant on input from their "co-pilots" (the American public), as they gauge and measure the publics opinion on increasingly desperate topics.

Essentially, it's a show about pie graphs.

Smith's shows were filled with intrigue. He's a guy who spoke his mind, and although he spoke sometimes ostentatiously, filled to the brim with his own image and power, it made for great radio. He is one of those rare guys that just sees things how they are, and can express it simply enough to get everyone nodding.

In contrast, a stoic company man like Mike Tirico (who hosts a show each morning on ESPN Radio) guarantees average ratings devoid of controversy.

Smith, though, was forthright, loud, and even often hilarious, and provided much more entertainment, analysis, and provocation, although at greater risk to his employer.

Maybe it's time to give Doug Gottlieb a better time slot.

ESPN pioneered sports coverage in America, a market they now virtually monopolize. (deservedly)

They are the undisputed world-wide leader in sports.

They should afford to take some risks!

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