ESPN began as an outrageous gamble with a lineup that included Australian Rules Football, rodeo, and a rinky-dinky clip show called Sports Center. Today the empire stretches far beyond television into radio, magazines, mobile phones, restaurants, video games, and more, while ESPN's personalities have become global superstars to rival the sports icons they cover.
Chris Berman, Robin Roberts, Keith Olbermann, Hannah Storm, Bill Simmons, Tony Kornheiser, Stuart Scott, Erin Andrews, Mike Ditka, Bob Knight, and scores of others speak openly about the games, shows, scandals, gambling addictions, bitter rivalries, and sudden suspensions that make up the network's soaring and stormy history. The result is a wild, smart, effervescent story of triumph, genius, ego, and the rise of an empire unlike any television had ever seen.
©2011 Tom Shales, James Andrew Miller (P)2011 Hachette
I grew up with ESPN, and so had high expectations for the book. And, truth be told, there's more than enough great material in this book to make it appealing to most ESPN fans. But the content is so poorly structured and the narration is so uneven that I've considered more than once just turning it off, never to listen again.
I appreciate that the book is more of an oral history than anything else, but even oral histories can be cohesive, with chapters that follow selected themes rather than meandering from topic to topic. The transitions are jarring at best, and it's almost as if this is a compilation of articles rather than a traditional book.
Two of the three readers are embarrassingly bad, especially Joan Baker, who provides the female voices. Everything comes out as breathy and overly dramatic -- ugh. In retrospect, I wish I had picked up the hardcopy.
I love reading/listening to books which present real points of view from the people who lived the events. However, there are two MAJOR issues with this audiobook.
The first is the editing of the actual book. There are almost no introductions to the change of topics! One minute it's women sideline reporters, then it's about the drama of sportscenter with Olberman and Patrcik with no warning. I had to listen to the book twice in most sections just because I thought I missed something, I didn't. There are times when quotes are just thrown in because the author didn't want to waste material. It made NO sense.
The second major issue is Joan Baker. This reader sucks. I am blind I've listened to more audiobooks than they have on audible. This is the second worst reader I've ever forced myself to endure. Her breathy, over empathetic and miss-timed voice representations make the women who were quoted in this book seem like...like....the producer should have said stop trying to be a oral porn star and read the f'n book.
Buy the written version if you can read print. If you can't, pray another version of this audiobook comes out soon. Otherwise try not choke on your own vomit when Joan gets to read (it's not personal, it's business) it really sucked.
Much like a real marathon I can't finish this one either. Not sure if it's the subject or the content but I can't get into either, and I grew up watching SportsCenter 3x a day.
I listened to the first 30 chapters and couldn't take it anymore. These guys talk about how great and smart they are and how they could drink as they spent millions of dollars of Getty Oil money. Let's see, does it take a genius to know that people like to watch sports? I think it would have been more tolerable if they had examples where they showed some creativity or broke down barriers. But to me, it seems like they would have to be idiots to fail with that much money at their disposal.
They talk like they were the only ones that could have accomplished this but I think that it could have been done quicker and better with a different approach.
ESPN had some great anchors and did think about putting drafts on TV but the behind the scenes people have the biggest egos and I quickly tired hearing their self-important comments.
Stuff like the intoxicated Getty Oil guy repeatedly opening up a helicopter door forcing the helicopter to land multiple times. They all just sound so narcissistic.
This is coming from a huge sports fan and I enjoy watching ESPN. Maybe it gets better but after hours of people continuing to talk about how amazing they are without any example of a particular accomplishment other than they were at ESPN, I had enough. I have listened to about 50 audiobooks and this is the first I could not finish.
One star is too many. Can I give it 0 stars?
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