I mostly loathe the summer because of the heat, lack of in season good television, and most importantly, the thin amount of sports outside of baseball. This is traditionally when ESPN and others get a little too creative in filling the void with a lot of loud fluffy content like Titletown, 50 States In 50 Days, The Decision and generally just making a mountain out of molehill for whatever pops up in between the NBA Finals and the start of NFL training camp.
But fast forward to now, already in a calendar year aided by an Olympics and a World Cup, and there is a heavy amount of ongoing stories ripe for comprehensive coverage. This includes:
– Michael Sam and his quest to the make history by making the Rams roster. Given we’ve also had Jason Collins break through this year as well, I’d imagine there very well could be other significant developments on the gay athlete front.
– Aaron Hernandez and his future court battles. While there is no white Ford Bronco helping to propel this story, as more details come to light, it’s likely many will gravitate to his legal outcome. The indictment this week on additional double murder charges ensures that.
– The NBA and the Sterlings. Will they divorce? If not, can the NBA sell his team? If so, who will buy it? Given the Sterlings seem to be fine staying in the limelight and not slinking away from a battle with the NBA, this is a story many people will stay with until a resolution is reached. Now that Donald Sterling is threatening a lawsuit against the NBA after attempting an apology (wrap your mind around that one), we’ve only just begun with this news cycle.
– ESPN is certainly going to swing for the fences with the World Cup, but they also seem game in covering the civil unrest taking place in Brazil as well as the stomach cringing details of the 2022 Qatar World Cup. Will this year’s World Cup be free and clear from any major incidents and can Qatar keep moving forward as awareness and outrage continues to build?
– You also have your normal sports stories including Johnny Manziel (ESPN’s new shiny Tebow) heading into his first training camp as well as quite the list of possible NBA free agents that includes Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, and gasp… .LEBRON JAMES!
– The state of the NCAA is a very fluid topic and one that seems to be picking up speed with the possible unionization of the Northwestern Football team and the Ed O’Bannon lawsuit. Major reform seems to be where all this is headed but how and when is the big mystery.
– Although not a story yet and falling under your traditional “Man we’re talking about this again?” territory… if the Yankees and Red Sox continue to float around .500, you can certainly bet coverage of those teams heading into the trade deadline will be hot and heavy.
All in all, there is a lot of meat on the bone in terms of stories with staying power that the American public and sports media organizations can sink their teeth into. ESPN obviously will take the lead on many of these developing stories but it remains to be seen if any other sports media company spanning television, print, and online can also make a big name for themselves by being an authoritative voice on some of these topics. Can a new outlet score any big scoops akin to Mike Silver breaking the Michael Sam draft story for NFL.com/NFL Network, Deadspin and Manti Te’o, and hell even TMZ for the original Sterling audio.
A lot has been made about the decline of journalism and news coverage and thus it will be very interesting to see what media companies can capitalize on a slate of big stories that will no doubt dominate the headlines to close out the year. With so many companies looking to challenge ESPN, here are some major stories that will draw massive eyeballs that present opportunities to bolster their brand image and awareness to the American public.
While the list of stories above certainly has my attention, seeing how ESPN juggles these stories and how they cover them in addition to what companies can stand out with their coverage is almost as compelling to me as the stories unfolding themselves. For those looking to make a serious run at ESPN, the stars have aligned as fans are going to be thirsty for ongoing comprehensive coverage spanning these topics. If there was ever a time over the last decade to make a case for the business benefits of a larger news organization, that window is now ajar. Although the question stands to be answered whether or not anyone will fit through.