How ESPN came to dominate the world of sports media

April 10, 2012

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Last week on the show we had a conversation about the explosion in sports media coverage during the last two decades and the effect it's having on our culture and on sports journalism.

The conversation touched on a number of factors, including the web, sports radio and social media, but one force stood head and shoulders above the others: ESPN.

"In so many ways it has become the 800 lb gorilla," said Jonathan Eig, co-founder and editor-in-chief of the new long-form sports journalism website, The Chicago Side. "They're the go-to source for all most everything.  They control the TV, the internet - they have the most popular sites around. It’s something everyone has to deal with."

Just ask Ozzie Guillen.

The former White Sox manager has been all over the news during the last 24 hours for his remarks in support of Cuba’s Fidel Castro and his subsequent five-game suspension as manager of the Miami Marlins.

But that’s hardly the only storyline pulsing through the ESPN machinery this week.

Baseball is back. Basketball and hockey are rolling toward the post-season. Golf and tennis are back in swing. And it's ESPN that even turned the upcoming NFL Draft into a televised sporting event.

So how did a small, upstart cable network based in Bristol, CT come to dominate the global sporting field?  For some insight, we turn to James Andrew Miller, co-author of the 2011 book, These Guys Have All the Fun: Inside the World of ESPN.