Home News How ESPN Just Lost Its Last Shred of Credibility

How ESPN Just Lost Its Last Shred of Credibility

President of ESPN Inc. John Skipper speaks at an event.

President of ESPN Inc. John Skipper speaks at an event. ESPN executives were not smiling after the sports network made several bad decisions. | Anna Webber/Getty Images for Hearst Corporation

There are several ways for a brand to lose credibility. In the auto industry, Volkswagen showed everyone how it’s done by deceiving the public on diesel emissions. The Chipotle brand took a hit from an E. coli outbreak; it was an accident but worked just the same. If you want to say politicians have brands (and the 45th President’s name appears on buildings), once they tell a few lies their credibility disappears.

For a TV network, the job gets harder. In general, people watch TV to see shows that entertain them. If network executives try to overthink things, they find themselves in trouble. ESPN recently took this concept and ran with it. It began with a harmless coincidence — a college football announcer sharing the same name as a Confederate general — and became an embarrassing episode when network officials pulled him from the game he would have called in Virginia.

However, ESPN was merely putting the final nail in the coffin that was its credibility. The network began years ago by tolerating obnoxious behavior from employees, firing ones who actually have talent, and otherwise remaining clueless as to what sports fans want. Here’s a brief history of a once-proud sports network losing its dignity.

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