by Julian Spivey
ESPN has decided to part ways with Keith Olbermann after just under two years of his daily sports show “Olbermann,” which means the network is losing its finest show.
It also means the network has lost its credibility as an unbiased sports journalism entity and is obviously in the NFL and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell’s pocket.
ESPN wants to act like the decision to not renew Olbermann’s contract is about money, and it somewhat is – but it’s more about the content of his show and the fact that he’s repeatedly taken on the world’s biggest sport, the NFL and its dictator of a leader.
ESPN released this statement on Wednesday, July 8: “Keith is a tremendous talent who has consistently done timely, entertaining and thought-provoking work since returning to ESPN. While the show’s content was distinctive and extremely high quality, we ultimately made a business decision to move in another direction.”
The fact that Olbermann’s 30 minute daily show, which began its run as an hour-long nightly show, was “thought-provoking” is what ultimately did it in. Olbermann is likely the smartest and certainly the wittiest guy in sports journalism with a penchant for wanting to do good and this lead to him taking on high profile figures like the NFL and commissioner Roger Goodell when they erred.
The “business decision” ESPN made was to kowtow to Goodell and the NFL and forget ethical and responsible journalism. The NFL makes and breaks ESPN and both ESPN and the NFL realize this and so morals go out the window and Olbermann is out the door and his legions of loyal viewers (including this one) are left without a voice on the network that we can trust to give us unfiltered and ethical news.
It isn’t the first time ESPN has stooped beneath itself to please the NFL. One of ESPN’s first forays into scripted entertainment was an hour-long drama called “The Playmakers,” which premiered in 2003, and featured the behind the scenes of a fictional professional football team. The series was a critical success and beloved by viewers, but the NFL didn’t like the negative portrayal of the sport the show featured and despite its successes the network scrapped the show after just one season even though it was its most watched original program even over SportsCenter at the time.
ESPN has bended over backwards to please the NFL before and the network will certainly do it again in the future. All the NFL has to do is ask ESPN to jump and the network will immediately respond with “how high?”
Olbermann’s contract with ESPN ends on July 31 and “Olbermann” will end sometime later this month.