Tuesday, July 19, 2011

ESPN: The dominant party of sports

Throughout the history of the modern state system, there have been a great number of one party or dominant party states. Dominant party states differ from autocratic states because they occur in young democratic states where the institutions of the state haven‘t fully been formed. Mexico was largely dominated largely by the PRI party for four or five decades until they began losing localized elections in the 1980’s and their first presidential election in the early 2000’s. The Congress party dominated India for decades until opposition parties gained in strength because of increasing dissatisfaction with the ruling party. A modern example of a dominant party system is United Russia in Russia. The advantage of the one party system is that the growth of the state can remain stable over a period of time. The disadvantage is that these types of systems can often turn into autocratic nations where democracy suffers.

I am very much afraid that ESPN is becoming the dominant party of the sports broadcasting world. In recent years, ESPN has launched bids to acquire the Bowl Championship Series, NCAA Basketball Tournament, The Olympic Games, and several other big name sporting events. Although these efforts are not always successful (The Olympic Games, and NCAA Tournament retained national broadcast rights on NBC and CBS/Turner respectively, ESPN has acquired full broadcast rights to the BCS football games and full broadcast rights to Wimbledon. The effect of ESPN’s acquisitions is a lack of meaningful sports programming on broadcast over the air television during the weekends.

 Weekends are spent watching poker, taped action adventure sports programming, golf, edited movies from the 1990’s- 2000’s while ESPN and related sports networks have days worth of baseball games and other notable events like the weekends World Cup final, depriving thousands who didn’t want to visit a sports bar of the opportunity to see the game. ESPN gobbles up all the big dollar sports contracts and leaves the broadcast networks with the meager leftovers. Domination is not a good policy in politics or sports.

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