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ESPN v. Caitlyn Jenner: Who’s Exploiting Who?

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It’s no secret that ESPN has been steadily losing fans over the past decade. By many reports that number is somewhere to the tune of 6 million viewers since 2011.

So what do you do when your ship is sinking and investors, advertisers and your parent company (Disney) are yelling ‘abandon ship’? You make Caitlyn Jenner your captain and you fill that ship’s hole with big, fat, Kardashian asses, that’s what!

The whole ordeal seems a bit contrived and it’s not just me that thinks so.

In an effort to destroy any credibility that they have left as a sports news network, ESPN has managed to round up 10 or 20 Kardashian/Jenners to accompany Caitlyn when she is presented with the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at their ESPY Awards show tonight, July 15th 2015.

The whole ordeal seems a bit contrived and it’s not just me that thinks so. In a call to The Dan Patrick Show, veteran sports analyst Bob Costas said:

Lauren Hill and Noah GallowayIn the broad world of sports, I’m pretty sure they could’ve found someone — and this is not anything against Caitlyn Jenner — who was much closer actively involved in sports, who would’ve been deserving of what that award represents.

And he has a point. In the weeks leading up to the Caitlyn reveal, the sports world was abuzz about two brave, but lesser known athletes. One, Lauren Hill, a Mount St. Joseph basketball player who raised $1,000,000 dollars for pediatric cancer research before dying herself on April 19th 2015 of complications due to cancer. The other, Noah Galloway, an Iraqi War veteran and double amputee who is most famously known for his 3rd place finish on ABC’s Dancing With the Stars, but also competes in various distance races. Reportedly, Lauren will be honored at this years ESPY’s.

ESPNCostas then continued:

I think this is just a play to pump up the audience, the way lots of things are put on television to attract eyeballs — not because of the validity but because of whatever the kind of gawker factor is.”

Bingo! And, of course, with the inevitable book deal, reality show, endorsements and Lifetime movie in the works, Caitlyn is no innocent bystander in this fiasco. Surely she’s picked up a thing or two about exploiting every possible opportunity to make money from ex-wife Kris Jenner.

The executives at ‘the worldwide leader’ tend to disagree with Mr. Costas’s perspective. In an interview with SI.com, ESPY co-executive producer Maura Mandt stated, “I think Caitlyn’s decision to publicly come out as a transgender woman and live as Caitlyn Jenner displayed enormous courage and self-acceptance,

with the inevitable book deal, reality show, endorsements and Lifetime movie in the works, Caitlyn is no innocent bystander in this fiasco.

While I don’t necessarily disagree with Mandt’s all too tidy reasoning, I have to believe that ESPN “knew what they were doing” when it selected Caitlyn as this year’s recipient. What’s left of your fan base is not as naïve or stupid as you think. There are plenty of arguments to be made on either side, whether you are for or against Caitlyn getting this award.

You could argue that it’s just a dumb award that ESPN made up for their award show and that they can give it to whomever they see fit. But to counter that, you would also hope that a journalistic juggernaut such as ESPN would have the integrity to make a decision not based solely on what would get them the highest ratings, but who was most deserving of their ‘made up’ award.

One thing is certain, and that is that ESPN will get the much-needed attention it was seeking. Unfortunately, that attention may be for all the wrong reasons.

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