There is often a lot of criticism for how ESPN covers sports news. And based on their coverage of the major sports, it is easy to see why.
This week seemed like a good time to test the theory that ESPN is more concerned about ratings and taking care of business partners than they are with presenting the sports news on “SportsCenter” in a fair and balanced manner.
In the last two days, the NHL, a league that does not have a television contract with ESPN, had five playoff games, including four game 7s. The NBA, an ESPN broadcast partner, had six games over the same period and none were a game 7. Meanwhile, Major League Baseball, another ESPN partner, had two full slates of action, but the season is early and there were no important rivalries going on this week.
Is ESPN biased? Here is a breakdown of how much time was dedicated to each sport during the 11:00 pm (ET) episode of “SportsCenter” over the last two nights …
Over the course of the two hour-long episodes, there was approximately 80 minutes of sports news coverage. 20-six of those minutes were dedicated to the NBA playoffs, while less than 16 minutes were spent on the Stanley Cup playoffs and their four game 7s.
To be fair, ESPN did lead with the NHL on both nights. And one game seven (Chicago-Vancouver) was still in progress during SportsCenter. But after those opening segments, there was very little coverage of the Stanley Cup playoffs. In fact, hockey coverage took a backseat to both Major League Baseball and ESPN’s coverage of the NFL’s draft and labour unrest.
On the one hand we can understand the bias. After all, the “E” stands for “Entertainment” and the “N” does not stand for “News.” The four-letter network is a business and sometimes news doesn’t sell.
On the other hand, there are a lot of sports fans out there that depend on ESPN for their sports news and expect a certain level of objectivity.
And without any decent alternatives, sports fans will continue to be stuck with sports news coverage that is more concerned with fattening wallets.