There are more than four total. Each of the above listed networks have at least one secondary sports network, in the case of ESPN there’s at least three or four more as poked fun at in the movie Dodgeball.
America sure likes its sports. I know I do. I was raised to be a sports fan, and played competitive sports for ten years of my life. I watch/listen to PTI on ESPN every morning while I am making/eating my breakfast. Watching Chicago professional team sports has been the vast majority of bonding time with my father for most of my life.
Professional sports these days, are used as a tremendous escape and distraction from the issues of our individual lives and the world at large. I watch pro wrestling for the same reason most people watch football. The main difference, less concussions and drugs, hahaha just kidding the brains of the athletes in both sports have been turned to jelly and dust for our amusement and money.
The latter, the money, is why there are now four major 24 hour sports “news” networks. Obviously nothing that happens in sports is actually news. We might lie to ourselves and each other that it is, but it’s not. The only news that comes out of sports is when taxpayer money is used to build stadiums instead of schools, bridges, or fund education programs. Or when an athlete gets arrested or dies. Those stories often only get reported if violence/blood are involved. If it bleeds it leads after all. Sports are often the lead topic in local newscasts these days. They’re upbeat and entertaining. Sports are meant to entertain. Just like pro wrestling, “real” sports have no dignity or integrity to them, it is all about making money through entertainment.
24 hour sports networks play up smack talk, rivalries, and personal feuds between athletes the same way that pro wrestling promoters, announcers, and managers do. ESPN and FSN are farmed out hype machines, WWE just does all their hyping in-house. The major professional sports leagues provide the content, the networks provide the hype. Highlighting the highlights, spotlighting the star players, dissecting referee decisions, and most importantly promoting upcoming contests.
The biggest job of these networks; is to make children’s games played by men seem more important than politics, environment issues, or economic policy.
The major sports leagues in recent years have all starting broadcasting their own 24 hour networks for their individual league and minor league(s). The NFL Network said it best when they launched; “where football season never ends.” That is the exact purpose AND the exact problem with 24 hour sports networks. The distraction and escapism never ends.
Hard working people deserve a break and an escape via entertainment. They earn it by giving their bodies and/or minds for the bulk of their adult lives, often in the service of other people’s dreams. From movies to concerts to soap operas to hiking to video games to traveling to television; there are many ways to escape reality for a little while to rest and recover one’s body, mind, and spirit.
The problem with professional sports and professional sports networks in America; is the astonishing rate at which time, attention, and money are being siphoned from communities, cultures, and societies in the name of never-ending, passive, spectator based escapism. Playing sports after work is one thing. It is physical exercise and creates real bonds between real people. Watching sports all weekend, every weekend while eating unhealthy foods and consuming large quantities of alcohol while sitting down…Noticed how the leagues and networks are sponsored by fast food companies, soda makers, and liquor distillers? How much advertising for those products are consumers exposed to each game/highlight show?
What would American society and culture look like if the time, attention, resources, and money that are spent on professional sports spectating went to economic inequality, environment concerns, infrastructure development, and/or civics? Everyone who works for a living deserves a break. Part of being an adult is that at some point, playtime is over and it’s time to do the unpleasant work of bettering not just our life but the world we live in. I am as guilty as anyone of trying to stretch my childhood into adulthood. Judging by the ratings and profits of the professional sports leagues, I can see that I’m not the only one.