ESPN long ago went down the same dark, brimstone-paved road that MTV blazed back around the time it decided that music videos were yesterday's news. The sports network -- +1 million internet points if you even know what "ESPN" stood for when it launched -- used to be a nice little channel where you could see sports highlights and live events that centered around Australian Rules Football. It was the Little Network That Could.
Then it got too big and bloated and began breeding networks (did you know there are currently seven networks in the ESPN family, and that only includes the non-internet stuff?) like the last two rabbits on Earth. It started with forays into "serious journalism" as the network made a play for the prestige ostensibly enjoyed by "real" networks. Outside the Lines, The Sports Reporters; these were efforts by ESPN to gain credibility as more than a place for jocks to get their sports fix.
At the same time, ESPN went after various other audiences; it tried to woo the teen demographic by trying to singlehandedly elevate skateboarding, motocross, snowboarding, and other "X-Games" to the status of "real sports" among mainstream America. It went after the fantasy crowd by running stories about how Stephen Strasburg's Tommy John surgery would affect your fantasy rotation. Sure, that he would miss the pro season was news, but so was how that would affect draft strategies for rotissiere leagues. It shows Little League games. College softball. Scrabble. It wants to be everything to every sports fan.
Which makes it more than a little odd that it would jeopardize that in the name of politics, of all things. Why ESPN (or any network that wasn't involved in, you know, politics) would start wearing its politics on its sleeve is beyond me. What possible reason could the network have for announcing to the world that it leans one way or the other when it comes to something so unsporting as politics? Hubris, I guess. ESPN considers itself so big and untouchable that there will never be repercussions for its actions. Or maybe they just think sports fans won't care.
I care though, and when I see that ESPN has begun picking forks in the road of partisanship -- a road it never needed to go down in the first place -- I have to shake my head and wonder why. Oh, and begin to wonder if I need to go elsewhere for my sports.