We got unreasonably bitter a few weeks ago, so let me just quote what I wrote about the ESPN-Miami Heat coverage then:
Like ratings-crazed moths flocking to the Heat's flame, ESPN can't resist.
They don't do this with everything, and ESPN has a lot of stuff that sports fans love. But with the big stories, this is their biggest problem. It's like they're addicted to crappy, redundant coverage. They lack an off-switch.
Hey, have you guys heard about ESPN's new Heat Index™? What a clever name! It's going to revolutionize the way we beat stories into the ground! Details after the jump.
From an ESPN press release this morning:
- breaking news surrounding the Miami Heat;
- coverage of every Heat game and team practice;
- constantly updated aggregation of all ESPN stories regarding the Heat;
- Chase for 72 – an automated, daily forecast of how many games the Heat will win including ESPN.com’s John Hollinger projecting the odds of the Heat matching the Chicago Bulls’ record of 72 wins;
- Tracking the Big 3 – an automated tracking of how James, Wade and Bosh stack up against the best trios in NBA history;
- Heat Tweets – a module that collects tweets from Heat players and fans;
- complete video, podcast and story contributions from ESPN reporters Marc Stein, Chris Broussard, Chad Ford, Chris Sheridan, John Hollinger and Ric Bucher;
- Heat content from ESPN TV analysts;
- Hollinger Stats – automated applications featuring Hollinger’s analytics on the Heat team and players;
- Hollinger’s All-Time Power Rankings – a ranking pinning the Heat against the NBA’s all-time great teams;
- Triple-Double Tracker – a module tracking James’ progress towards averaging a triple-double for an entire season;
There so many different things about that list that make me upset, and that's not even the full list. We're tracking LeBron's triple double progress before his first game? An automated tracker of how the Heat stack up against the best trios in NBA History? A "chase for 72" module?
THEY HAVEN'T PLAYED A SINGLE GAME.
What's funny, though, is that ESPN's hitting on the right storylines. The hype, the magnified spotlight, the outsized expectations. Thanks to ESPN, it'll all be in one, easy place, for everyone to find. The problem is ESPN doesn't get the joke. We're not looking for this stuff out of genuine interest. We just want to see how out-of-control this can get, purely as a spectacle. Until the Heat win something in June, that's the only story that matters. And so far, its scale is astonishing.
But for the record, ESPN: We're not gawking with you, we're gawking at you.