Pay No Attention to the Man Behind the Curtain

USA Today does its best to disentangle the World Wide Leader’s role in the current conference realignment mess:

For all that ESPN has lent to the growth of major-college athletics — through on-air exposure and with rights-fees payouts that schools have fed into stadium improvements, luxurious locker rooms and huge contracts for top coaches — there’s an undercurrent of concern about the influence of the self-proclaimed Worldwide Leader in Sports.

It’s not just that its tentacles are everywhere: They’re everywhere at once.

As a TV rights holder, ESPN is a business partner to a wide array of conferences and schools (its total college outlay will average more than $700 million annually by next year).

And as a leading broadcast, print and online news outlet, ESPN also reports the news it’s often a party to making.

Although I wish it delved more deeply into the ethical/journalistic issues involved in ESPN reporting on events that it has a substantial financial and controlling interest in, the article is still a great read.

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