I have been reading the book entitled “ESPN – Those Guys Have All the Fun.” It is one of the few books I have read in a couple of years. I want to get back into reading but have found it difficult after completing my Masters Degree. I think I just got burnt out. But, I feel revitalized and have recaptured my love of reading!
The book is written in a very unique format as it is a collection of interviews from employees (and former employees) of ESPN, sports personalities, as well as personalities from music and entertainment. The book transitions from how ESPN came to be in 1979 to 2010, when the book was published. It is divided into time periods capturing what was happening during those pivotal years.
The interview format is very intriguing. The format jumps between topics with testimonies from individuals involved. It is so interesting to see how different perspectives and the years that have passed have shaped people’s memories or perhaps changed them. Scenarios are discussed where conflicting memories are presented concerning what occurred. It is amazing to see one person’s perspective of an event and in the next testimony a perspective that is completely 180 degrees from the last one.
Some highlights of the book include:
– the dream of father and son team Bill and Scott Rasmussen to develop and bring to life a 24/7 sports programming network
– the roles that each individual head of ESPN played in shaping the company during their years in charge
– how the company was basically the Wild West in the early days all the way into the 1990s complete with wild parties, drinking and drug use at work, interoffice relationships, and rampant sexual harassment
– ESPN’s rise to dominance through multiple revenue streams and partnerships with major sports organizations such as MLB, NBA, and NFL.
– How important NASCAR was to ESPN’s development and how devastating it was when they lost the the rights to air it
– The legend of Sportscenter
– The saga of Keith Olbermann
– The Jim Rome and Jim Everett encounter
– ESPN and 9/11
– The Suzy Kolber and Joe Namath “I just want to kiss you” moment
Those are just a few of the many highlights. I have read some negative reviews of the format of the book but I enjoyed the interview style and the movement through topics. I think it was important for the story of ESPN (much less anything) to be told by the people that were there. Granted, part of the intrigue is the drama between parties, and the contrasting viewpoints but nonetheless, any entity, agency, or company deals with this regardless of whether it is the mighty ESPN or your local Mom and Pop shop.
I would recommend this read to anyone who is a fan of ESPN or sports in general. Besides that, I would also recommend it to anyone who is interested in business practices. There is a large amount of discussion concerning the business practices and decisions that helped forge and shape ESPN into what it is today. I found the business plan interesting and the means in which it was executed. There were some real visionaries involved in the company that were able to see future trends and capture them before competitors jumped on them. This allowed ESPN to make some really great business decisions and calculated risks which helped to build the empire.
Look for it in your local library. But, be warned, the book is an absolute animal at 745 pages. Though having a large volume of pages, the read is fluid due to the way that the information is presented and the interest that captured this reader.