Please note that this is a furious rant so if I say anything that seems off-topic, please bear with me. Also, please accept the foul language should that bother you.
I’m not going to say anything detrimental to those that have passed this past year in the sports world. After all, it would be ignorant not to acknowledge the impact Al Davis had on football, Joe Frazier on boxing and to the prototypical baseball fan, it’s impossible to reflect on 2011 and not be affected by the deaths of Dodger great Duke Snider and one of the most unsung players to ever play the game, Harmon Killebrew. Plus, there was the tragic death of driver Dan Wheldon who, at 33, was taken far too soon. Plus, for football and Police Academy fans alike, the death of Bubba Smith certainly left an impact. With all that said, certain omissions by ESPN in the “In Memoriam” segment of their Year in Review wasn’t only unacceptable but downright disgraceful.
This past year, the National Hockey League lost three of their players to tragic deaths. If the news of Derek Boogaard, Rick Rypien and Wade Belak weren’t enough, the sports world, let alone hockey itself, had to deal with an unimaginable scenario, one which you wouldn’t wish upon your worst enemy. On September 7 of this year, the aircraft carrying the entire Lokomotiv Yaroslavl team of the KHL perished. Everyone aboard was killed, including many former NHLers from Pavol Demitra, Ruslan Salei and Brad McCrimmon. Despite the magnitude of such a tragedy, ESPN failed to acknowledge the crash or even the three players who died prior to September 7.
This is a flat-out disgusting display of journalism. ESPN should be downright ashamed of themselves for overlooking this. If this were 1986, how would it look had anyone overlooked the Challenger tragedy? With that said, please don’t tell me that said tragedy was more important because it was a world event or that astronauts are “smarter” or whatever. Who the hell cares? A tragedy’s a tragedy. Would ESPN had covered this story had they existed when Marshall University experienced the same fate eons ago? Sure they would have! Why? One, because the students at Marshall were just that: students, thus not greedy, selfish professional athletes. Two, of course, it’s football and in America, nothing tops football!
Nevermind that, though. The point of this is that ESPN fucked up! How can anyone at that network possibly look themselves in the mirror after this? Do they have to like or even care about hockey? No, they don’t. But it is their duty, nay, obligation as journalists to cover these types of stories. This network had no trouble covering the tragedies of Hurricane Katrina, Haiti, the tornado in Joplin, Missouri (all rightfully so) but how is the Lokomotiv tragedy any less important? It’s not! ESPN jumped on the news of golfer Payne Stewart when his plane went down some twelve years ago, they would’ve done the same thing had they been around when baseball legend Roberto Clemente perished to his death and they even covered the crash of John F. Kennedy, Jr. – and he was never even a fucking athlete! So, again, how the hell does Lokomotiv get no respect? Forgot a slap in the face – this is a blatant devastating kick in the nether-regions of every single person and every single family member and friend of each and every one of those people who perished in said crash. Maybe the Lokomotiv tragedy would’ve been news had one of the ill-fated players fucked one of the Kardashians. This is fucking disgusting!
I know they haven’t had a TV contract with the NHL in some time but does the sport of hockey really deserve this type of disservice? ESPN even went out of their way to acknowledge the death of Hideki Irabu, an overhyped Japanese import who hasn’t been heard of in ages. By that logic, why didn’t ESPN just add Jimmy Hoffa or Glenn Miller to the mix?
2011 in sports was one that won’t be forgotten any time soon but ESPN wasted their time talking about the Miami Heat, the Philadelphia Eagles and the Kardashians. The Kardashians? Really? They’re not even athletes! One of them was married to NBAer Kris Humphries for, what, a few days and it’s the biggest news on the network. So, instead of being a legitimate sports outlet, ESPN has reduced themselves to tabloid central. Here’s one question: Who in the blue hell is Kris Humphries? Seriously! I had no idea who this guy was when I first heard his name and I’ll likely never hear from him again because his “marriage” is and will be his only claim to fame! But he gets enough fame for being married to one of the horrid-looking sisters whose skin looks so fake from all that tanning that not only do I want to throw up at the mere sight of them but if all women look and act as fake as those pussies, then I may as well throw in the towel altogether and join the fucking circus or, better yet, ESPN itself since it’s all the same anyway.
What else is there to even say? I suppose we should all put shame on Derek Boogaard for not being as witty as Shaq or Rick Rypien for not having the pathetic golf swing of Charles Barkley, Wade Belak for not ruffling feathers like Rex Ryan, any of the Lokomotiv players for never sporting a Superman cape like Dwight Howard (how original), I can go on and on but I’d like to eventually celebrate the new year.
ESPN spent the whole summer calling LeBron James and the Heat “failures” even though they fell just two games short of a championship. They spent the entire fall talking about “The Dream Team” (coined by backup quarterback Vince Young) that was the underachieving Philadelphia Eagles. How Vince Young thinks he’s credible enough to even open his mouth is beyond me but I digress. And how the hell can this network think the world of Michael Vick? He spent years strangling, electrocuting and drowning poor, defenceless animals and, as a result, gets nothing more than a menial slap on the wrist. Yet, ESPN kisses the ground Vick walks on because he’s just one hell of a quarterback. You call that class? I sure as hell don’t!
This network should hang their heads in shame. Not only did they do this but they employ juvenile perverts like Mike Tirico and conceited pricks like Tony Kornheiser and Stephen A. Smith, both of whom you’d need a lifetime supply of oxygen to reach the tops of their falsely-glorified egos. Then again, for a company whose had more sexual harassment suits than Kellogg’s got Corn Flakes, I really shouldn’t be shocked by the lack of respect.
(If you need more proof anything mentioned in this paragraph, read “Those Guys Have All the Fun: Inside the World of ESPN” – it’s very revealing)
The omission of these tragedies in hockey was nothing more than a classless move by a classless organization. I once dreamed of working for ESPN. Now, I have to a take a shower to rid myself of all that self-disgust and judging by how much there is, I shouldn’t be out of the shower any later than New Year’s Eve 2017.