By Zach Goins
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — SportsNation aired its annual “Summer Jeers: Red, White and Boos” episode showcasing the 44 best sports bloopers and follies of the year so far, but the ESPN show should have added itself to the list.
SportsNation serves as another disappointing indicator of the direction the network seems to be headed — fluff pieces centered around pop culture and social media with little to no connection to actual sports.
The episode was hosted by former NFL player-turned-host Marcellus Wiley along with ESPN guest anchors Pablo Torre and Amin Elhassan. But other than to wear ridiculous Fourth of July outfits for cheap laughs, Torre and Elhassan had no business being on the show, because Wiley did nearly all of the talking.
But even when Wiley was talking, there wasn’t much being said. It doesn’t seem like a bad gig getting paid the big bucks to read the already written title of a clip and laugh at it on the air.
In Wiley’s defense, it’s pretty hard to get any words out in between his co-hosts’ constant oh’s and whoa’s.
When the broadcasters actually took a stab at any sort of commentary for the clips, it came across in the form of poorly executed puns and cliches.
During a clip showing one mascot tackle another, Wiley said, “Ordered delivery but ended up getting take out.”
I applaud Wiley’s effort to utter more than three words at a time, but when it’s that cringe worthy, I think he’s better keeping his mouth shut.
While ESPN was looking to create a show inspired by fan content and viral videos with SportsNation, it’s parent channel ABC already has that covered. SportsNation is a glorified episode of the spectacularly worn out “America’s Funniest Home Videos.”
Although the clips themselves were fairly entertaining, it’s sad to see that this is what ESPN’s programming has become. After watching the episode, I felt like I’d just wasted 30 minutes scrolling through Vine, not an ESPN television show.
To be kind, it’s not quite what I would consider hard-hitting sports analysis.
I mean, one segment was called “Boogers in Sports,” while another celebrated the best flops of the year. The number one clip featured a cyclist pooping on the side of the road for crying out loud.
And at times, SportsNation looked desperate for content, even using a clip of a regular woman taking out her trash.
Now don’t get me wrong, I love funny videos as much as the next guy, but last time I checked, this was the Entertainment and Sports Programming Network, not YouTube. No wonder ESPN’s profits are plummeting.
It’s a shame to see the network cutting so many talented journalists while it leaves cheap, filler shows on the air with hosts who offer about as much insight as the viewers at home.
Maybe SportsNation is usually a thought-provoking show full of commentary and in-depth analysis, but if the Fourth of July special is any indicator, then you’re better off spending your time scrolling through Twitter instead.
Zach Goins is a member of the North Carolina Film Critics Association based in Raleigh, N.C. Zach co-founded Inside The Film Room in 2018 and serves as Editor-in-Chief of the website and co-host of the podcast. Zach also serves as a film critic for CLTure.org.