Earlier today, the live daytime episodes of SportsCenter once again relapsed into an episode of TebowMania. Much to the surprise of nobody who has observed ESPN over the last year and a half, SportsCenter went all in on Tebow, dedicating almost half of their airtime to a man who faces a struggle just to make another NFL roster.
But this morning in particular was distressing because ESPN remained with Tebow as their lead story in spite of other highlights and a story that is garnering national attention – Jason Collins being the first active athlete in the four major pro sports to come out. In spite of the positive steps ESPN has made in the last several months journalistically (their new sourcing policy, coverage of the Boston Marathon, etc.), today showed there was still a sense of warped priorities in Bristol. In other words, Tebow still trumps all. It took several hours for Jason Collins to replace Tim Tebow as ESPN.com's top headline and the 12 PM ET SportsCenter mentioned Tebow's name 25 times before it did Collins' once.
On his ESPN Radio show today, evening SportsCenter anchor Scott Van Pelt let it be known he wasn't happy with talking about Tim Tebow as his "One Big Thing" and called out his brethern at the daytime edition…
SVP: "I vowed when we got up today and saw the news that Tebow'd been released by the Jets we weren't going to go all in here because he's a backup quarterback who was responsible for zero touchdowns last year and if SportsCenter wants to turn it into a carnival in the morning then that's on them. I don't get it but if you want to talk about that for an hour and not show Golden State highlights then I would disagree with that and people would be happy I'm not anchoring cause my thing is show me highlights."
And therein lies the inner conflict that is ESPN. The evening SportsCenters are often times just as good as the classic episodes of yore fans yearn for. SVP and anchors like Steve Levy, Robert Flores, John Buccigross, and others can stand up to any era. SportsCenter has worked for three decades because of its emphasis on highlights. When SportsCenter devolves into tabloidesque TMZ crash test television, as they often do before 3 PM ET and they always do with Tim Tebow, they run into problems.
Thankfully for Van Pelt, he said this on his radio show and not Twitter. We've seen what happens when Bristolites are critical of their own in social media.