The era of big cable sports is over.
It ended on Wednesday, April 25, 2017, when ESPN began laying off 100 writers and on-air radio and television talent.
The era began after 2011, ESPN’s high water mark, with the network viewed in over 100 million households. Then, resulting from a combination of cord-cutting and wanton leftist propaganda disguised as sports coverage, the cable dinosaur saw its once flourishing empire reduced to a relative fiefdom.
ESPN lost over twelve million subscribers since 2012, and according to some reports, 10,000 subscribers a day. The subscriber losses led to layoffs in 2013, and again in 2015.
For much of America, and certainly most on the right, the message of ESPN’s historic setback seems clear: stop bringing leftist activism into our sports escapism. Cease using sports as a Trojan horse to masquerade a social justice agenda, and maybe people will want to watch your network.
But, what lesson did ESPN take from their setback? For the purposes of this discussion, it’s more important to take a look at who ESPN didn’t layoff, as opposed to who they did.
According to the sports media site Awful Announcing, which kept a tracker of the ESPN layoffs throughout Wednesday, of the 60 on-air talent and writers who publicly acknowledged being laid off before midnight central time on Wednesday, none of them, not a single one, were among the usual suspects when it comes to purveying leftist activism at ESPN.
Tony Kornheiser, who once likened Tea Party Republicans to ISIS remains at ESPN. So does his race-baiting on-air partner Michael Wilbon. Bomani Jones, who once appeared on Mike & Mike in a “Caucasians” tee shirt remains at ESPN as does Kevin Blackistone, who once ripped Michael Jordan for donating one million dollars to the police.
Granted, only 60 of the reported 100 have been laid off, and some of the more liberal personalities at ESPN could very well find themselves without a job on Thursday. However, as of the time of this writing, one thing is clear: If America’s cord-cutting and ratings killing of ESPN was an attempt to send the message that we wanted less politics in their sports coverage, that message fell on deaf ears.
Not that anyone should shed a tear about what happened on Wednesday. ESPN losing influence and power is a great thing. Anytime the people who gave Caitlyn Jenner the Arthur Ashe Courage Award lose the ability to influence young minds, that’s a win for America.
However, the fact that ESPN laid off none of their worst political offenders, clearly shows that the leftists are still very much in control in Bristol, and if that didn’t change after losing twelve million subscribers, it won’t change anytime soon.
Why does that matter?
ESPN may have laid off nearly half their total talent on Wednesday, but they didn’t hang the “going out of business” sign on the door either. The era of big, cable sports died Wednesday, but the era of big liberal sports will go on. ESPN is currently investing massively in their digital properties, sensing that digital and online offerings will become the wave of the future as more and more people move away from cable and traditional television.
But, if the same people who turned the ESPYs into an anti-Second Amendment infomercial are still calling the shots, then ESPN’s future digital properties will represent just as big a threat to our culture as they did when they appeared on Channel 206 of your DirecTV package.
In fact, if anything, ESPN will likely become more political in the future, especially after their social justice agenda was so roundly rejected by so many.
Sports fans who want to watch games and debate free of political persuasion won a battle yesterday. But, the war will go on.
Follow Dylan Gwinn on Twitter: @themightygwinn