Jeff Harvey

Is it me or has ESPN really gone downhill in recent years?

When it started in 1979, the studios were basically half-finished and the building grounds were mud.

As the years went by, ESPN grew to be the Worldwide Leader in Sports, bigger than the traditional networks, although the older entities held on to the major events.

Chris Berman was the first star of ESPN, doing SportsCenter anchoring and branching out to do football and baseball highlights with his cultural references and nicknames.

Fellow ESPN original Bob Ley was more straightforward and eventually moved into the host of ESPN’s news program “Outside the Lines”.

The late Tom Mees and John Saunders influenced ESPN as well. The former served with his smirk as a role model for the Dan Patricks and Keith Olbermanns who came along later.

Saunders influenced the various minority anchors like Stuart Scott. He served as the second host of ESPN’s talking heads showcase “The Sports Reporters”.

As the years grew longer, ESPN grew in size, eventually branching into various channels and absorbing ABC Sports, including the Monday Night Football franchise.

That was the beginning of the end as Disney, a corporation built on satisfying audiences with its product, took over ESPN and began changing it into a political network which covered sports.

Personalities such as Bomani Jones, Michael Smith and Jemele Hill, all three who were writers before venturing into broadcasting, turned ESPN into MSNBC sports. Shows like High Noon and Around the Horn frequently ventured into politics at the cost of entertainment.

Washed-up Jose Canseco ruined people’s lives and honors to sell a book, aided by ESPN.

I guess what I want to say is: I want ESPN back from the way it is now.

Let me know what you think.

Jeff Harvey is a freelance reporter and columnist for the Princeton Times. Contact him at

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