Malee: A few suggestions to help make ESPN watchable again

To whom it may concern at the WorldWide Leader in Sports:

You don’t know me, but I’ve spent more than half of my life getting to know you. Ever since I was 10 years old, still playing little league and still holding out hope that the Chicago Cubs might win a championship in my lifetime, I’ve turned to you for the latest in the wide world of sports. It was you who told me that Alfonso Soriano was going to be the Cubs’ next $136 million mistake, back when the bottom ticker on SportsCenter was still a novelty and Twitter didn’t exist. It was you who played the “Malace at the Palace” brawl over and over while I watched with a mixture of awe and horror. It was you who announced — or, rather, allowed LeBron James to announce — that he would be leaving Cleveland to play for the Miami Heat.

Over the past decade or so, you’ve taught me to love and hate sports, often at the same time. I’ve grown up with you, for better or worse, and so naturally I am a perfect candidate to pave the way for you as we adjust to a brave new media landscape. Ignore my incomplete college transcript and lack of any professional experience — those are just technicalities that we can work out at a later date. For right now, I’d like to focus on what I’d bring to the table as one of the youngest members of the ESPN family — or, to be more specific, what I would take off the table.

Because, let’s face it — there’s not a whole lot that you, ESPN, don’t have your hands on. From morning talk shows to afternoon shout-sessions, documentaries and, of course, the games themselves, you’ve turned into the 24/7 commodity that founders Bill and Scott Rasmussen always envisioned. Your website is every sports nut’s homepage, your magazine continues to evolve and sites like Deadspin cover your employees like movie stars.

You’ve got it all, really — maybe even too much. And that’s where I come in.

In many cases (see: the Denver Nuggets and Carmelo Anthony), the best addition is achieved by subtraction. With that in mind, I’ve compiled some of my best items for the chopping block. You can thank me later, or just give me a job as soon as I graduate. Your choice. But I fully expect to hear from you once these suggestions have been implemented.

Suggestion No. 1: Convince any and all employees that Jeremy Lin is not, in fact, an Asian-American, and that his real name is Jeremy Alexander

We’re killing about three birds with one stone here. First and foremost, the awful Jeremy Lin puns could be abolished forever and my sanity would be restored. You could also stop invading every Asian hub in New York and cutting to awkward crowd shots during Lin’s games at Madison Square Garden, which would make everyone’s life a little better (starting with your cameramen). And, finally, there would be no more instances of accidental (we hope) racism.

Suggestion No. 2: Put Tim Tebow in a pod and send him into space

It’s for the best, really. There will be some withdrawal symptoms, but don’t worry, that’s an occupational hazard of kicking any habit. You’ll thank me later. Plus, Tebow can get a head start on saving the entire universe. Why should we get him all to ourselves?

Suggestion No. 3: Insert a “try harder” clause in Rick Reilly’s contract

Look, in his prime, Rick Reilly could write circles around me. Hell, he could still write circles around me if he, you know, tried. Did you guys even read his last column on Jeremy Lin before you let it go to print? It was — brace yourself now — 800 words about Lin being overlooked, and the only thing that made it stand out was the sheer amount of bad puns he managed to squeeze in (“…if he can finally get his chance, he can Shu them how.” Please tell me how that even makes sense). Honestly, paying someone $17 million to write a few columns every week is insulting enough. At least make them think outside the box a little bit.

Suggestion No. 4: Or, just send Reilly into space with Tebow 

They’d be plenty comfortable together.

Suggestion No. 5: For the love of God, stop driving stories into the ground

Look, I love the Jeremy Lin story. It’s inspiring, tons of fun, kind of hilarious and, oh yeah, he’s actually really good at this basketball thing. But I fear that you, ESPN, are going to ruin this story in the very same way you do all the others: by dunking our faces in it over and over again until we can’t take it anymore. It happened with Tebow (though I never enjoyed that story much). It happened with Brett Favre (ditto). It happened with LeBron James, and the Penn State scandal, and the Ohio State “Tattoo-Gate” and everything else. That “24/7” coverage that your founders envisioned has, ironically, become your worst enemy. You’re drowning yourself in your own bloviations.

Just let us enjoy these things organically. Report it, cover it thoroughly, but don’t overdo it. We don’t need an entire SportsCenter episode to be overflowing with Lin puns. We don’t need an hour block of only Tim Tebow stories, or an exclusive program telling us where LeBron James is going next. Keep it simple; remember the formula that got you here in the first place.

And just remember me when all this is done and you’re back in everyone’s good graces.

Yours truly,

Patrick Malee

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