Wednesday, August 18, 2010

ESPN Shits the Bed

Regular readers of this blog know that I don't have a lot of respect for ESPN.  It does a few things right in terms of sports coverage but it does far too much wrong and damage to the whole arena of this sports loving nation.  The latest casualty of ESPN's master plan for world wide domination could seriously damage a renaissance that started about 14 years ago.

A man by the name of John Dye created a simple board which tracked high school track and field.  It quickly grew into something of a phenomenon for those of us who love high school track and cross country.  As the board called Dyestat grew in popularity amazing things began to happen.  Kids, coaches, and crazy fans like myself began to share stories and information. Then along came Alan Webb and Dathan Ritzenheim touching off a running revolution that the American high school's hadn't seen since the likes of Gerry Lindgren and Jim Ryun.

Dyestat nurtured and encouraged a generation of high school athletes to dream and dare to be great.  I tend to focus on distance runners but this "fire on the track" spread across all the events.  The last five years have been amazing, from Galen Rupp to German Fernandez, to a decathlete like Curtis Beach or a weight man like Mason Finley, the marks and times have been stunning.  And you can include the girls in on the act as well, from distance stars like Jordan Hasay to the middle distance ace Laura Roesler or javelin specialist Hannah Carlson to this list of future Olympians.

Enter ESPN, looking to expand its sports brand into high school sports.  I am sure they offered John Dye a bundle of money for the site, I can't blame him for taking the money.  Dyestat was folded into ESPN Rise effectively killing Dyestat.  The vibrant chat boards have fallen silent.  The insightful articles written by Dyestat's tiny staff of devoted fans gone.

In its place ESPN has turned to a staff of youngsters who while well intentioned, have produced some laughable material.  Not all of the stories are bad but ESPN has blundered and the fans of Dyestat are crying out.  Certain states like California are really feeling the pinch with the start of cross country just around the corner.  Athletes, coaches, and fans that had grown used to a wealth of information leading up to the season have nothing.  Maybe it's just growing pains but sports leader has once again blundered badly.

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