An Open Letter to “First Take”

To First Take:

I am a sports fan. I was not a huge fan of your show for a long time, back when it was Cold Pizza, and later First Take; even so, I would watch it on occasion, and was quite disappointed when (a) it transitioned into a full debate show, as opposed to a sport-oriented morning show, eventually leading to the departures of both Dana Jacobson and Jay Crawford (no offense meant to current staff), and (b) it seemed like every “debate” became an argument that Skip Bayless dragged Tim Tebow into.

However, the Tebow discussion could only last for so long, at least I thought, and I held on hope that First Take would eventually come back and begin achieving its potential, which is why I started watching, or rather trying to watch. However, one big, lingering issue is really annoying me.

ESPN, and by extension its networks, radio, and other subsidiaries, likes to present itself as the center of all sports, which means all sports, all teams; this implies that all their programming adheres to that corporate philosophy as well. I do not hold First Take accountable for ESPN’s lack of MMA coverage, but do hold it accountable for what has become a blindingly obvious East Coast bias, at the huge expense of coverage of events occurring in the Mountain and Pacific time zones. First Take has failed to properly give fans of the San Francisco 49ers, San Francisco Giants, Los Angeles Dodgers, and other West coast teams equal time as teams closer to ESPN’s east coast studios, where First Take is shot. For a long time, I thought that an event big enough would break it. However, you failed that as well.

After watching, and getting confirmation from friends, that you failed to talk about the San Francisco Giants winning the World Series, which is only one of the most historic championships in the history of sports, if not the most historic, at all the day afterwards. I know that Skip Bayless, being an old, stubborn man was doubtless asleep when the Giants won, but there’s nothing wrong with having him look over statistics and highlights, and having a lively debate about it.

You also failed to discuss Matt Cain’s perfect game earlier in the season, which to me is atrocious. First Take needs to fire their producers, and whoever else sets the agenda for discussion, because it seems funny to me that whilst the Yankees getting routed by the Tigers, the same Tigers the Giants routed in the World Series, was worthy of three days’ discussion, complete with discussion about A-Rod’s future, the Giants winning the big one failed to hit your radar.

Is there something wrong with San Francisco? Or do you only prefer to discuss events you’re actually awake for? If it’s the latter, you need to find yourselves a new profession. When the 49ers narrowly beat the Seattle Seahawks on Thursday Night a few weeks back, complete with a then-questionable decision by Jim Harbaugh to forgo two points and a safety in the interest of his players’ health, you didn’t touch on it once. I wonder if maybe your personal preferences are clouding your debate topics; the Knicks and Yankees (Stephen A’s favorite teams) and Cowboys and Jets (Bayless’s favorite teams to discuss) are always on deck. The teams that are actually playing well seem to fall by the wayside.

You have a major problem. Seriously, I could produce your show better than whichever idiot is running it right now. Whether or not you’re aware of it, you are screwing half your potential audience, and thus fans on the West Coast. I wonder if you would have been at Yankee Stadium if the Yankees had won the World Series, and it doesn’t take much of an imagination to think you would have.

Now, ESPN is trying desperately to cover their bases here because of your incompetence. Mike and Mike in the Morning is now getting a full rerun (all four hours) on ESPNNEWS, thus allowing us on the West Coast to hear and see them discuss the major topic, and unlike your idiot producers, they not only hit the major topics, they discuss them in detail; this includes serious topics such as all the MLB playoff series, which they recognize as being far more important than the NFL regular season and thus treat it accordingly. They still discuss the NFL, but put it in the proper place in their schedule. As such, I don’t mind when they talk about the Cowboys game, since they’ve already hit the relevant issues.

I was willing to be patient; I thought you’d give the winner of the World Series their due, but I was wrong, so wrong. The only mistake the Giants made, as I imagine your view is, is that they play on the West Coast, which doesn’t seem to be on your radar at all.

Clean your house, fix your issues, and when I am confident that you will rectify what ails you, including keeping Skip on a leash whenever the name “Tebow” comes up, then I will be interested in your show again. Until then, it’s just a bunch of guys arguing over topics that I quite frankly do not care about.

Finally, I will add that this is the only ESPN program that is so guilty of this offense. The bulk of ESPN’s programming, including such afternoon staples like Around the Horn, Dan LeBatard is Highly Questionable, and my personal favorite, Pardon the Interruption, have not shown a serious bias against the West Coast; they cover the major, relevant stories in a fashion befitting that status. Sportscenter is the same, and they actually put off post-game coverage of Monday Night Football, after the game was over, to cover MLB’s playoff games, including the Giants game; putting things in proper perspective.

In short, First Take needs to seriously rethink their show; their choice of topics, order of topics, as well as their demeanor; Skip Bayless is becoming a cartoon version of himself, and Stephen A., although better and more controlled, sometimes seems to feel compelled to match with Skip’s baboonish antics. Whoever runs the show needs to rethink everything top to bottom, to have it fall more in line with how other ESPN shows handle themselves. ESPN, as a programming corporation, is far from perfect, and itself needs to review their policies. However, First Take needs to be fixed, and sooner rather than later, and although flawed, they need to fall in line with the rest of their programming siblings, lest much of their audience leave because of continual bad decisions.

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About brettryanclu

I reside in California, and I am a graduate from California Lutheran University, where I received my Masters in Public Policy and Administration. I like to write, talk politics, and exchange comments and opinions.
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5 Responses to An Open Letter to “First Take”

  1. Pingback: MSR’s Random Sports Thoughts: Vol. 9 « The Macho Sports Report

  2. Paulo C says:

    You know, I was going through First Take’s Facebook page, and other than the a-holes who didn’t care about the World Series because they were a-holes, I read one post that actually made sense – Stephen A. Smith knows basketball; Skip Bayless (supposedly) knows football. The only baseball they really know is the Yankees. It may not be an excuse that they didn’t even acknowledge the Giants’ World Series title, but if you think about it, is it worse than them phoning it in on a topic they know little to nothing about? It’s something to think about, I guess.

  3. brettryanclu says:

    (A) They discuss baseball at great length when it’s one of their teams (namely the aforementioned Yankees), so I don’t buy the whole “it’s not their thing” argument, and they go into the stats and performances, so they know what they’re talking about. (B) Even if they phone it in, which I actually would have preferred to them straight ignoring it, you would think that a show on ESPN would acknowledge that a team won their league’s championship series, with the two of them discussing the Giants and their achievement. In any case, I’m done. I’ve had it. I lodged my formal complaint with ESPN and that’s it as far I’m concerned.

  4. brettryanclu says:

    Also, I trust Stephen A to discuss basketball; I don’t trust Skip on anything, ESPECIALLY football.

  5. Pingback: Sarah Spain & The ESPN Machine: A Critical Perspective | The Macho Sports Report

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