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Those Guys Have All The Fun: Inside The World of ESPN

1 rating: 3.0
2011 nonfiction book by James Andrew Miller and Tom Shales

ESPN began as an outrageous gamble with a lineup that included Australian Rules Football, rodeo, and a rinky-dinky clip show called Sports Center. Today the empire stretches far beyond television into radio, magazines, mobile phones,the internet, video … see full wiki

Tags: Book, Entertainment, Television, Sports, Sports Broadcasting
Genre: Sports Broadcasting
Publisher: LIttle, Bro
Date Published: May 24, 2011
1 review about Those Guys Have All The Fun: Inside The...

ESPN: Classic? (Yeah, they got that channel)

  • Jan 21, 2012
Rating:
+3
Bestselling oral history of the ESPN corporate family of sports programming (covering every delivery channel imaginable from dozens of cable channels to the internet) will be of interest to every fan who ever turned on SportsCenter the find out how there team did, or to admire the top 10 plays of the day.  That would be every sports fan, tuning in to the Worldwide Leader hatched from an idea bandied about between a father and son stuck on traffic on a sweltering New England summer day in 1978.

The history of the early days is a revelation, as we have quickly forgotten how absurd and fragile the idea of a 24-hour network devoted to sports once was.  It is easy to cheer for the underdogs, as the small, underfunded, and loosely-controlled team was then.  We learn the source of the E in the four-letter network name (SPN was already taken, and TV networks only ever had three letters then!), and we learn the real spirit of ESPN:

At ESPN, you find the other people who cried when a team lost.  If you had never cried when your team lost, you really shouldn't work at ESPN.  You just won't get it.  But if you cry . . . If you're able to really touch into that feeling, then it's a dream job and a dream place to work.

When ESPN reached the tipping point on the climb to Worldwide Leader, the history, along with the story of it, sometimes loses its way in the arcania of success (a struggling enterprise can't afford the introspection and infighting that could destroy its fragile ecosystems).  While the story of how ESPN and NBC ended up with the Monday and Sunday night NFL football lineups on the channel listings and in the booth is fascinating, although too much time is spent obsessing over the failures of ESPN's booth personalities and experiments with Rush Limbaugh, Tony Kornheiser, and others.  

At times, the story drags, so I can't rate it an (ESPN) classic; this is nearly 800 pages of interviews with minimal interstitial narrative driving it forward, so there is a ton of material here, with massive and often wounded egos on display on nearly every page.  But anyone even tangentially interested in sports or popular culture in the last 30 years will find this well worth the reading.  It works as history of the cultural institution, and as the personal history of the participants, and as the docudrama of their relationships in and out of the public eye; it would make a great miniseries on one of the cable networks like HBO or Showtime--or maybe on one of ESPN's own outlets!

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January 24, 2012
I barely remember a time when ESPN, Sportscenter, et al weren't part of the nightly programming but, I can understand how the idea must've come off as at first...something ridiculous. Isn't that what they say about any specialty programming? Like reality TV or MTV? Nice write-up, thanks for sharing!
 
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