If you’ve ever watched CNN, MSNBC or Fox News before and been bored to tears by the constant repetition of topics and apparent sameness of every distinct program on the network, then you know the feeling of watching ESPN’s daytime television lineup.
On any given day, you can turn on the TV at 10 a.m. to watch Stephen A. Smith, Max Kellerman and Molly Qerim argue amongst themselves — and a rotating cast of guest stars — about the sports topics of the day on "First Take." The day then rolls on, and despite each show having its own cast of so-called "experts" and snappy names ("Get Up!," "Around the Horn," "Undisputed," etc.), they all feature the same exact formula: hosts, topic, debate.
This repetition has only become more obvious and grating during the closures caused by COVID-19. Early on during social distancing, I turned to ESPN to satiate my desire for sports content. I then promptly turned away from it, unenthused by the lack of variation and the need every made for television personality had to give the hottest, loudest take, while raucously disagreeing with everybody else’s.
Quarantine or not, this constant, uninteresting stream of television is at best good for background noise while reading the news or scrolling through social media, or maybe for sparking conversations about the same sports topics with your friends — conversations that will likely be far more interesting than the shows themselves.
And muddled among that opinion-filled droning of hosts and programs, sadly, is the show that arguably gave birth to all the “sports debate” shows that came after it: "Pardon the Interruption."