Today's Daily Bull was going to be some banal rehashing of NFL Draft takes, just another off-season post with nothing of substance to talk about. Then something actually happened.
Today ESPN announced layoffs for 100-odd sports journalists and on-air personalities. While the layoffs themselves may not be shocking to anyone who's been paying attention for the past year, the list of names is nonetheless surprising. Ed Werder, Brett McMurphy, Eamonn Brennan, and many others got pink slips from the Worldwide Leader today. If you don't recognize some of those names, its because they say and write meaningful things that enhance your understanding of sports rather than shouting at you about Johnny Manziel's escapades or Colin Kaepernick's politics for 8 hours a day.
First things first: layoffs happen. ESPN is not a monster for needing to trim back their staff and reinvestigate their model in order to continue paying the remaining staff members. They are a business, and they gotta do what they gotta do. Railing against a company for layoffs is as meaningful and effective as shouting at a passing train to slow down.
At the same time, these are people (many of whom did not get paid millions) who will go home today unemployed. A lot of them will bounce back at other media outlets. Some will not. It is bad karma to take joy in someone else's misfortune.
Going through massive layoffs at a large corporation taught me early in my career that company loyalty is not a two way street, and only a fool would let it be a one way street. The larger your employer, the more of an interchangeable, replaceable, and possibly completely unnecessary cog you are. Do a good job because they pay you to and because you should take pride in your work. Do not expect a company to stick its neck out for you so long as a person in an office a thousand miles away can prove on an Excel spreadsheet that the bottom line would be improved by $4 if you did not exist. Yes, your boss is a great guy who has dinner with your family and understands that employees like you don't grow on trees. You guys will probably have a lot to chat about as you both pack up your desks into a small cardboard box before being escorted out by security.
Five years ago Deadspin wrote an article about the new direction of ESPN, and the eerie carnival fortune teller's prognostications are coming true. As much as ESPN failed miserably at embracing streaming services and working with cable providers rather than holding a gun to their head, they were light years ahead of their time in ruining sports. Hours upon hours of highlights, SportsCenter reruns, and classic games were steadily replaced by talking heads shouting at each other. Coverage of hockey, tennis, golf, and other "fringe sports" were sacrificed at the alter of demographics as marketing heads doubled-down on non-stop discussion of hot-button personalities and issues. What did Tim Tebow have for dinner last night? What was Johnny Manziel's SAT score? Did you hear that Lebron went Lebron for Lebron in last night's Lebron game?
For all of the click-generating, ratings-drawing, hate-followed talking heads filling this air time there were still quality sports journalists. Were. These people talked about sports, not athletes, and your understanding and enjoyment of those sports were enriched for it. And all of their hard work, dedication, and integrity was rewarded this morning in the only way a soulless business machine could.
P.S. - Still funny:
ESPN is paying Texas 65 million dollars to air a steer crapping in a pasture every Christmas morning. Mistakes were made— RedDirtSports (@RedDirtSport) April 26, 2017