of communication, they could actually broadcast the 24-hour satellite coverage to the entire nation at a lower cost than they would be able to for landline regional coverage in the New England area. With this knowledge, they began looking for a good spot for their headquarters, landing in Bristol, CT, the perfect place for the satellite signal. Now, with their company, their location, and their airing out of the way, Rasmussen and his team began initial discussions with the NCAA in order to draw in sports that would attract a large amount of viewers. After a few productive meetings, the NCAA agreed to 2
a two-year contract for ESP to cover eighteen different sports, including championship games. One of the most defining moments of ESP’s early years was it’s hosting of the 1979 NCAA Men’s national basketball championship game in which Larry Bird and Magic Johnson squared off. The 24.1 million viewers helped to propel the network to be known as the “the channel with all of the basketball games.” With this success of coverage, ESPN began to sign large deals with advertisers such as Anheuser-Busch for millions of dollars. Continuously, with this success, ESP decided it wanted to separate itself from the idea of “3-letter networks” such as ABC, CBS, and NBC, ultimately coming up with the name ESPN. From there, the network soared, signing long term deals with the NBA in 1982, the NFL in 1987, and the MLB in 1990, all creating more and more viewers. However, despite the increased expansion, ESPN was not done. By separating certain anchors to different sports, such as Mel Kiper to the NFL Draft, Peter Gammons to baseball, and Chris Mortensen to the NFL, ESPN popularity went through the roof. In 1992, ESPN radio was created and shortly after that, in beginning in the early 90s, the network went international. Despite many criticisms of bias and the exploitation of athletes, ESPN reigned over the sports broadcasting world for several decades. However, with their success, ESPN further prompted the creation of dozens of more sport-dominated networks, inherently beginning a trend of twenty-four hour networks solely devoted to sports. With the new foundation of twenty-four hour networks now entering the sporting world, these channels were forced to find material to discuss. While shows such as SportsCenter were able to air throughout the morning and day in order to fill time, channels such as the NBA Network, NFL Network, and ESPNU did not have the fan 3
base, nor the luxury. While the networks did eventually thrive and still continue to exist today, it was this problem that led to an over-analyzation of athletes and their actions with an attempt to one, fill space, and two, provide adequate entertainment. However, this over-analyzation, as mentioned earlier, created several issues for athletes and their personal lives. As a result, this essay highlights three examples that have taken place in recent years in which this over-coverage of events and instances have produced both a harm and an exploitation for the athletes.
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- Spring '14
- Lebron James, ESPN