End of an Era: ESPN lays off 100 Staffers

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Employees of ESPN, such as NFL Insider Ed Werder were released of their duties Wednesday. Some will be relieved effective immediately, other employee contracts will not be renewed through July.

If you’re a fan of sports, this is a big day for you.

ESPN, the self-proclaimed worldwide leader in sports, gave some of their on-screen talent and some of their columnists their walking papers. The total is approaching 100, but has not been reported any higher as of me writing this post.

Personally, this is pretty shocking for me and sports-lovers everywhere. I know that they have laid-off their employees in the past, especially in 2015, when the last wave of people were relieved of their contracts.

300 people were laid-off then, but they were all off-camera.

This is much bigger than that. Long-tenured news anchors and columnists were let go.

Recognize the name Ed Werder? Yeah, so did I. He was let go. 17 years at ESPN and he’s gone. The days of his tentative reporting and insights into team locker rooms during the NFL season have officially gone by the wayside.

Jeez this is rough. It’s a constant stream of “Oh, not you too!”s and “Oh God why”s every time I see names of people I have come to recognize. Most of them being inspiration for me and several others trying to get into the sports journalism industry.

Former Baltimore Ravens Super Bowl-winning Quarterback Trent Dilfer came onto the show in 2008.

He was well-known for his “Dilfer’s Dimes” bit. He would put together clips of quarterbacks around the country at all levels of play making impossible throws and even better catches by wide receivers and compliment both on their precision. Great bit.

Here’s what he had to say via Twitter:

To be honest, that bit isn’t common, but it is what most of us had come to expect from ESPN. An expectation that we are going to see engaging content.

To be quick I’ll just list a the ones most fans know:

Jay Crawford, news anchor (2003-2017 @ ESPN)

You more than likely saw his picture up top and my reaction to him;

Ed Werder (2000-2017 @ ESPN)

This is all so surreal: I can’t believe this is happening right now!

It’s comforting to hear that he’s not calling it a career. Everybody breathe.

Another interesting trend I’ve seen with these layoffs, is that either these employees are being released immediately or ESPN is letting their contracts run their course.

Anyway, here’s more names.

Pierre LeBrun, hockey writer

Jayson Stark, baseball writer (2000-2017 @ ESPN): yet another immediate layoff

For those who love college basketball, this next one will hurt.

Analyst Len Elmore is gone after coming in 1996 (21 years @ ESPN):

To make this clear, these are all employees of ESPN that made a public statement. There are several more, but they are names most of the sporting world won’t recognize.

These layoffs came as ESPN is hemorrhaging money from deals with the NFL, MLB and NBA and their respective game broadcasting rights. Their viewership has also gone down in recent years as well.

In a letter from the president of ESPN, in order for the company to stay alive, their content has to reshape itself to meet company demands. The intended shift is oriented towards streaming and online content.

The letter also said that it was a hard decision, but wanted to get the most value for the people they kept.

So they’re saying that their staff was a bit bloated with talent? Isn’t that a good thing?

As a fan of sports, ESPN is the go-to for sports news. Their change in focus will definitely shake things up a bit. It could probably do some good.

Looking at this situation right as the dust is settling, this really freakin’ sucks. I haven’t watched ESPN recently but when I’m back home, I watch the show all the time. It will definitely be weird without some of these analysts, writers and anchors.

I think it would be a fair assessment to say that the journalism world was shaken to its core today.

If we look on the bright side, at least there will be openings for people like me to enter the fold eventually. I’ve always wanted to do hockey content for them. It’s the reason I’m here at JMU.

But such is life. Things must come to end. We go on to bigger and better things. I wish these people all the best in their next venture.

This is my last post before the end of the semester. I’ve got projects and exams to study for. Total chaos.

See y’all on the other side,

Ethan

 

 

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Football fans in California: What are you going to do now?

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In the events before and right after the epic New England Patriots’ comeback in Superbowl 51, the buzz surrounding the NFL has not ceased.

On January 12, just a few weeks before the big game, the Chargers announced that the team would be moving to Los Angeles. Most fans and reporters don’t have the complete picture as to why, but are left to pick up the pieces.

The move came 364 days (January 13, 2016) after the announcement that the St. Louis Rams would be moving back to Los Angeles, the city they relocated from in April 1995 after playing there for 49 years.

The Raiders quickly followed suit, as they moved to back to Oakland two months after the Rams decided to up and leave. Now they are moving out to Las Vegas, where the expansion NHL franchise, the Vegas Golden Knights is set to play out its inaugural season in early October.

Rams owner, Stan Kroenke, is a St. Louis businessman, and most fans thought that the ties to home would keep the team in the city on the Mississippi River. However, stadium rights, a botched proposal for a new stadium and the economy of the city were not enough to sustain the team for long enough.

For football fans in St. Louis, this would be the second time a team had left them behind. In 1988, the Cardinals relocated to Arizona.

But I have a question about all of this noise going on with these relocations: Why are they going back to a place they used to play at, knowing why they left in the first place?

The football fan in me immediately wants to blame ownership for all of these moves. As a Washington Redskins fan myself, I find that their owner, Dan Snyder has not done much good for the franchise since he purchased the team after the death of the previous owner, Jack Kent Cooke in the late 1990s. Concession prices and terrible traffic are all that is left behind, but that is beside the point.

People are very angry about these teams moving while owners leave their fans behind.

Just ask this Chargers fan how he feels:

However, I come from the understanding that business, especially ones on such a scale, dealing in the billions of dollars, can be a fickle and divisive venture. After all, we are talking about money being tossed around that can equate to most countries’ GDP for a decade or more. There is a reason why California by itself has one of the biggest economies on the planet.

The LA area has also been known by most to be the second biggest media market, so that helps in the publicity department. Potential money pot for the Chargers and Rams.

For those that are still fans of the Chargers, Rams and Raiders, I commend you for your bravery. I have never experienced a relocation of the franchise I love before.

There is the fact that they are gone, long gone even, but it still lends the to fact that some people can’t afford to pay for the gas and/or the season ticket prices to go to these games eight weeks out of the year.

Good news for people in LA and Las Vegas, bad news for those in San Diego and St. Louis.

How many more times will these teams move before they make fans in each city angry and give up on their football teams?

St. Louis has been kicked in the gut twice now, they are angry that they had yet another professional sports team taken from them.

For those in the STL, they took out their anger by chanting “Kroenke sucks!” at a St. Louis Blues NHL hockey game: Can’t say I blame them.

It’s like you had a girlfriend dump you for some dweeb out west and spat at you on the way out. You don’t want anything to do with them, but yet you can’t let go of the memories you had of them (or a football team in this case).

The biggest overall thing that I have come to understand about these moves is that most people are afraid that the NFL in allowing these teams to leave their cities in record time, would shake up the stability of certain markets and the parity of teams in the NFL. It doesn’t seem fair to have fans suffer for the sake of making an extra dollar or two off of new fans.

History has told us that having two teams in Los Angeles could work, but when will the line be crossed where too much money is being spent? These types of things are what sports fans have nightmares over.

The dominion of sports is a powerful thing. It has the power to instill passion and hope in people that wouldn’t otherwise have either of those things. It can get people out of tough spots in their life and teach several life lessons. Sports fans like us live for the big moments in those big games during the year, playoffs included. We hope that one day, a championship will be had by our team.

The unfortunate part of all of this over the past couple of months, is that these fans from San Diego and St. Louis have been deprived of future happy memories of winning and all the highs and lows in between and all of the things I mentioned above. Both cities have other sports teams to root for, but it doesn’t change the fact that there are two empty fan bases that are now searching for answers.