Nothing against the
If a Martian just landed anywhere in America that has cable, it would sure think so. Then it would fly to Sochi to have dinner with Jeremy Schaap, who must be feeling pretty lonely.
Schaap is the Worldwide Leader's intrepid correspondent in Sochi. Before we detail how scrawny the coverage is, it should be noted that ESPN has its reasons.
Then again, ESPN doesn't broadcast the
If a biathlete falls in the forest and Mel Kiper Jr. doesn't announce it, does it make a sound?
"With the restrictions in place, we are limited, but we strive to do as much as we can with the access we have," said David Scott, an ESPN spokesman. "Jeremy's hourly updates on 'SportsCenter' are thorough and deliver the pertinent news of the day."
OK, here are some news totals. Women's basketball came in at about 30 minutes over 24 hours. In that same time, ESPN devoted 25:05 to the Olympics. That's about 1.7% of a day for the biggest sporting event not involving a soccer ball. There were a couple of extenuating circumstances, however. Namely
Smart is the Oklahoma State basketball player who shoved a Texas Tech fan Saturday night. The 6 p.m. "SportsCenter" was devoted to the news conference announcing his three-game suspension.
Then we got a documentary on the 1951 University of San Francisco football team and two hours of drag racing. Up next was the 8 p.m. "SportsCenter." Sam, Missouri's All-American defensive end, had announced he is gay.
"A monumental moment in sports," anchor Steve Levy said.
It was, and ESPN spent the next 14 minutes on it. Then came five minutes on Smart, NBA highlights, a UConn-Louisville women's basketball recap with an interview of Coach
Miller had bombed in the downhill that day, so it's not as if there wasn't Winter Olympic news to report. But to be fair, ESPN did show a Taco Bell commercial in which Kevin Love threw giant snowballs at some kids.
Then at 9:43 p.m., Schaap appeared from his Sochi perch. Behind him was the Olympic stadium and flame.
Schaap is a pro, easily capable of finding good stories despite the IOC restrictions. But he's largely reduced to a human wire service, reciting a few results before ESPN scurries back to Kiper-ville. Schaap's report lasted 80 seconds, then came seven minutes on Sam and a six-minute piece on Sam featuring tweets from Tom Arnold and Lance Bass.
The goal was to clear America's confusion over Sam's past and future as the first openly gay NFL player. In the next 17 hours of "SportsCenters," "NFL Live," "NFL Insiders," "Outside the Lines" and "Around the Horn," Sam's announcement was dissected by Kiper,
All of which led to "Pardon the Interruption," on which Michael Wilbon said, "I don't know what effect it will have on his NFL career."
Glad we cleared that up.
The grand 24-hour total: 509 minutes on Sam, 186 on Smart, a cup of coffee on the Olympics.
The thing is, as monumental as Sam's story was, that's not why Sochi might as well be Chernobyl to ESPN. If it wasn't Sam, the network would have loaded up on
You can see why a Martian would be confused.
The whole world watches the Olympics. But if they fell in a Russian forest, you'd barely hear it on the Worldwide Leader.