September 27, 2008

ESPN a.k.a East Coast Sports Programming Network

by Abdullah Faisal

"East Coast bias means every Red Sox-Yankees showdown, even a meaningless series in the middle of May, is treated like the entire season rides on who wins the series."
- David Schoenfield, ESPN Page 2 Writer

ESPN or "Entertainment and Sports Programming Network" claims to be the worldwide leader in sports coverage. This claim is somewhat accurate, considering ESPN has channels in Asia, Latin America and Africa, along with its main channel broadcasting from Bristol, Connecticut. However, as a former resident of the West Coast, I have a bone to pick with the "Entertainment and Sports Programming Network" or shall I say the "East Coast Sports Programming Network."After watching ESPN's programming for the past seven years on the West Coast, I have come to the conclusion that ESPN has an East Coast bias.

ESPN's East Coast bias is even more transparent than FOX News' claim to be "fair and balanced." Although, ESPN does not claim to be fair and balanced, they haven given themselves the title of worldwide leader in sports. With that title comes some responsibility. A responsibility to cover world sports not just what happens on the East Coast, more specifically, East of the Hudson River.

My issue with ESPN started with the 2002 Major League Baseball (MLB) World Series. The coverage of the World Series was average at best, perhaps because both of the teams in the World Series were from the West Coast. You would assume that the top sports story of the night would be the World Series, but the Red Sox and the Yankees were still covered extensively. This annoyed me because the ESPN should cover events according to their importance.

The 2002 MLB World Series coverage was not the only thing that annoyed me about ESPN. SportsCenter's unequal coverage of specific sporting events (SportsCenter is ESPN's nightly sports highlights show) upset me as well. On September 13th 2008, Tim Lincecum of the San Francisco Giants pitched a shutout in San Diego and won 7-0. For those unfamiliar with Tim Lincecum, he is a 24-year-old phenomenon who is major candidate for the National League's best pitcher award, the Cy Young. I saw the score on Yahoo! Sports and waited for SportsCenter to show the highlights. I waited exactly 54 minutes for Stuart Scott and Scott Van Pelt to show the highlights from the San Francisco Giants game. Sure enough ESPN showed a whopping thirty second clip showing Lincecum dominate hitter after hitter. Then, they briefly commented on his Cy Young candidacy and concluded the show.

Throughout the show, there was no shortage of New York Mets coverage or Boston Red Sox coverage. Now, to be fair, these two teams are in line to make the playoffs in October, but I think fifteen minutes of coverage is far too much for just two teams in a league of thirty teams. This incident and many others have added me to the ranks of people who believe ESPN has an East Coast bias.

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