ESPEN the Magazine

I've been working out a few days a week over at the Xavier Health Center. I do about thirty minutes of cardio which is more enjoyable because of an mp3 player and a television tuned into SportsCenter. Speaking of SC, I'm really fed up with SportsCenter's new "Who's Now" segment they're thrusting down our throat. They taken some of today's most popular young athletes, put them in a NCAA basketball style bracket and have the public vote on who they think is "most now." I still have no idea what that's supposed to mean. All I know is that it's a huge network-sponsored popularity contest with an end nowhere in sight.

Not only does the entire premise behind this bracket make me want to yak but their feeble attempt at being politically correct adds insult to injury. They named their four brackets after former "now" athletes. Tell me which one of these four doesn't belong:

Babe Ruth, Muhammad Ali, Michael Jordan, Billie Jean King.

If you picked the chick on the end, congrats: you're conscious.

How can you even pretend to put King into that group? Why bypass athletes such as Wayne Gretzky, Jesse Owens, and Willie Mays to include her? King's selection is even more interesting considering that ESPN ranked her the 59th greatest athlete of the 20th century, behind Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova. If she's not better than other female tennis players, how is she worthy of this bracket being named after her?

Obviously, the network felt obligated to include a woman in that group to perpetuate the idea that women's athletics are influential as men's. Even though some would like for this to be true, it's not. Notice that in this current voting, only one woman has advanced in this bracket [and one could argue that Maria Sharapova's athleticism isn't why men watch her]. And included in this comprehensive list was Amanda Beard, an Olympic swimmer who's recent claim-to-fame is that she posed nude in Playboy [no hyperlink available]. Are they really trying to lift up women's sports or objectify them? Sure, I want my daughter to have some role-models, but are they put into that position because they're worthy or because they're hot?

And if they really felt it was necessary to include a female, that's fine. But Babe Zaharias was a much more influential all around athlete than Billie Jean. Choosing her makes no sense. As I stated earlier, this was definitely a PC decision that ESPN made and it was a dumb one at that.

A recent Newsweek article asks similar questions about ESPN, as they not only report sports news but are forced to promote a wide variety of sports to survive [rock, paper, scissors, anyone?]. Was Beckham going to the LA Galaxy really that big of a story, or is it covered exhaustively because ESPN shows MLS games?

Regardless, I'll still keep watching the network. Me loves me some Baseball Tonight.


After doing a little more research, this "Who's Now" segment is even dumber than I thought. The rules behind it states that "The winner of each match-up will advance based upon fan voting (70 percent) and ESPN's three-person panel (30 percent). In the first round, the panel consists of Michael Wilbon, Kirk Herbstreit and Keyshawn Johnson." So this "panel" can actually change the fan voting. Now I like Wilbon and Herbstreit, but Keyshawn is as in touch with the general public as Liza Minnelli. The panel has already overturned four of these match-ups already.