I would like to start off by saying that this is not a contrarian post about the ESPYs. I'm not here to say the ESPYs are a worthwhile endeavor, or needle you about the good, charitable things that the awards ceremony does.
The ESPYs are, in fact, are a bloated, unnecessary awards show in a world full of bloated, unnecessary awards shows. There is the obvious factor that these athletes already have awards to win. While a Golden Globe doesn't diminish an Emmy or an Oscar, winning the Stanley Cup could make you give less than a damn about an ESPY. I could name about 45 Emmy nominees at this second, but I couldn't name one ESPY winner... ever.
That said... the comedy ain't bad. If there's one thing the ESPYs have done over the past couple of years, its bring on a known funny person (or at least somebody with enough Saturday Night Live experience) to deliver about 10 minutes of comedy that's usually worth at least checking out on YouTube. Seth Meyers, Rob Riggle, Justin Timberlake, and this year Jon Hamm have been entertaining and charming. Enough so that it got me thinking... what if that was the entire show?
Now, I'm not about ESPN doing an annual version of the Comedy Central roasts, though the idea of a roast of Chris Bosh seems very appealing after Jon Hamm's material last night. But what if you kept the party/lifestyle aspect of the ESPYs, which is obviously the reason so many A-list athletes show up, and turned it into more of a comedy/variety show, sort of a salute to the year in athletic achievement? Essentially, turn it into the Montgomery Burns Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Excellence.
Here's my idea: ESPN spends way too much money on the ESPYs anyway. Put it to use on some excellent comedy writers. Give them 90 minutes of airtime. Use a host and find athletes who will play ball and participate in sketches. I mean, the more I write about this, the more it sounds like a sports-themed episode of Saturday Night Live, but keep a professional host around to keep the proceedings light.
You can add a charity element -- keep the V Foundation and Arthur Ashe Courage Awards presentations -- to the show, without going full telethon. I mean, even people who absolutely hate the ESPYs and don't see a point to them existing at all can get behind what the show did to honor Robin Roberts last night. To get more moments like that one in the future is basically the only current reason for the awards show to exist.
No self-respecting athlete would say no to this. A chance to see some of their best clips on a big screen in front of millions of viewers, and to be funny and poke fun at themselves and other athletes. Add in a huge charity element, and inform them that they'll still be able to party and keep all the swag they get by coming out to Los Angeles for the show. This is something we'd all watch, right? This is the way that we can all spend the day after the All-Star Game on which there are no major sporting events and we all need to find ways to fill the gaping hole in our lives. Why not fill it with making fun of Chris Bosh?