By Ray Glier
I was looking at the casualty list of ESPN people who lost their jobs this week and it was heavy, heavy on college basketball reporters.
The NCAA should be worried about this.
Granted, CBS and Turner have the rights to the tournament, but the viewership all around is down. Interest is down. I see stuffed Big Ten arenas, but it does not translate across all platforms of coverage. ESPN, I’m told, was getting very little traffic on its college basketball site.
Why doesn’t this game resonate any longer? It is a great game, but has it lost its star appeal with so many fouls called and defensive aggressiveness? Offensive players get mugged. Teams work 90 minutes of a two-hour practice on defense.
I think about why I don’t go to more games and some of it is poor parking choices. Another part is that monied fans are given all the benefits and the casual fan is made to “sit here, go there, you’re not important.”
Now, another way to look at the firings of ESPN is that fans will watch games but they will not read in-depth stories. Still, the viewership numbers are also down.
It is telling that breaking news guy Jeff Goodman is still there and former breaking news guy, Andy Katz, is out. He was doing TV. ESPN has two college basketball people remaining as writers.
I will say one more thing. My resentment to leagues, agents and athletes is up this morning. ESPN made terrible rights deals with the NBA, MLB, and NFL. They were out-witted, out-foxed, and out-everythinged. ESPN overpaid and now it is paying these fixed costs and it has to fire people.