ESPN is the Wikipedia of television. Any time a college student is bored and on the Internet, he or she usually visits the free encyclopedia Web site, not with any specific intention, but just to pass the time. Sports enthusiasts do the same with ESPN – any time we’re bored and watching TV, we flip to the 24-hour sports network to fill the void left by the uninteresting programs on cable. But by watching ESPN, we start to believe the unbelievable and the ridiculous.
ESPN’s obsession with telling viewers which athletes to support, which ones to follow and which ones to hate has led to our constant bombardment of being told how to feel.
This was evident during last weekend’s NFL Draft. Talk of “game changers” and “difference makers” make any football fan salivate at the idea of watching these titans of the turf hit the field in August.
Sports analysts talked for months about Darren McFadden, Matt Ryan and Glenn Dorsey, about how great they are and how great they will be. But there are no guarantees in pro sports. In 1998, former Kentucky quarterback Tim Couch was drafted with the first-overall pick in the draft by the Cleveland Browns.
ESPN’s analysts praised Couch, just like they do for every big conference QB, but he did little to nothing in his stint in the NFL and was released last fall by Jacksonville, according to Yahoo! Sports. The player who won the starting job is David Garrard – a quarterback drafted in the fourth round of the draft in 2002.
The list of busts and beauties goes on: Ki-Jana Carter and Ryan Leaf were touted out of college and drafted first and second, respectively, but did nothing in the pros.
Tom Brady and Terrell Davis were both drafted in the sixth round of different years, but went on to win multiple Super Bowls and should one day join the other greats of the game in the Hall of Fame.
It is examples like this that meant I didn’t cry when Jordy Nelson wasn’t drafted in the first round on Saturday, because draft order means nothing. Former Wildcat cornerback Terence Newman was drafted fifth overall in 2002 and went to the Pro Bowl earlier this year, but Mark Simoneau wasn’t drafted until the third round in 2000 and has had nothing less than a great career.
So, who cares if K-State had fewer players drafted than the other Big 12 school in Kansas? And who cares if Aqib Talib was drafted ahead of Nelson? ESPN wants us to think a player can’t succeed if he isn’t drafted in the first hour or first day of the draft. Nelson will be fine, and Talib will probably get in trouble for substance abuse – again.
ESPN’s talking heads don’t know what they’re talking about this time, and they rarely do. They think they know what’s best for fans and which players will be superstars.
They tell us McFadden will be the second coming of Marcus Allen and that he will be the next big thing. But they also thought that about Rush Limbaugh.
Owen Kennedy is a senior in print journaism. Please send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.