Lack of love

This will be quick: I do not like ESPN and I do not like Nike.

Now for the details. Add my voice to the one of many that despises what I believe what ESPN has become: more promotion and hype than a news network covering every aspect of sport.

I grew up in an age when ESPN, and its big-title show “SportsCenter,” gave an even-handed approach to the sports news of the day, no matter the sport. Over the past decade, it’s become increasingly more about what professional and college leagues it has contracts and the screaming heads that push those leagues than actual even-handed coverage to all sports.

Professional, and college, athletics has splintered under the weight of what has been the unchallenged leader in sports. Look at the Big Ten Network, the MLB Network, the NFL Network, etc., etc. ESPN has been under pressure, it seems, to keep these league happy with bigger and bigger contracts and in turn, to get value, more screaming heads. Check out the NFL inventory. ESPN announces it has an extension of its NFL rights and now we get more NFL programming – NFL Live, more Sunday Countdown, more on what was the chapel of SportsCenter.

With the merger/acquisition of NBC/Universal by Comcast, it’s been hoped the transition from Versus to NBC Sports will give viewers the old-school coverage the sports fan wants. But, early indicators are that it’s going to be more of the same. More Notre Dame replays and other replays. It’s becoming clearer that when NBC Sports makes its debut/renaming in 2012, it’s not going to be much different than Versus right now.

Throw in Fox Sports Net, too. It’s got a handful of regional networks, but its “Final Score” doesn’t quite have the following that perhaps it could or should. If Fox were smart, it would go to a national report that’s heavily promoted on its platforms. And, Fox’s local affiliates have gone with an hour jumpstart on its local competitors on local news. Who’s to say there’s not a packaged national report of news and sports taking place when the local news programming is completed.

That’s moving the target off of ESPN. And it doesn’t appear anything is going to change soon.

Target No. 2, though, is Nike and its hideous rebranding of college football programs.

Nike’s rebranding of Oregon is one thing – considering the company’s ownership is so close to the university on the west coast – but to come up what’s basically Halloween costumes for college football programs is disgusting. It was with great acclaim that former Michigan State coach and current Alabama coach Nick Saban said he was against any changes to the Rolling Tide’s uniforms. Penn State is also a classic.

Nike’s Pro Combat uniforms are by far some of the worst looking uniforms in what is an out-right money grab by the universities and Nike. Michigan State’s is one of the worst I seen, with the integration of black – not a school color – and bronze – not a school color. Last I checked, Green and White is what Michigan State’s colors are.

Nike did fairly well on the Ohio State throwbacks – the white helmets with white jerseys – and Adidas nailed Michigan’s throwbacks with the stripes and the block M. I wish more schools had the stripes down the shoulders and sleeves like Michigan did in its first night game at Michigan Stadium.

But it’s more of the universities and the shoe manufacturers selling out to each other, so that little boys and frat boys hit their parents up for some money for the latest fashion statement.

Somehow, the kids these days are into the hype and the gaudy than the classy. Under Armour gets the badge for all-time worst uniform, thanks to the Maryland flag being draped all over their uniform.

As these conferences and universities play with more dance partners than a hopped-up freshman at a campus dance club, expect the dollars and cents to keep flowing and the instances of nonsense to continue.

That is, until this balloon bursts like the ones affecting the stock markets. Maybe then, we’ll get journalistic integrity and integrity on the part of what is supposed to be a higher institution of learning.

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