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Does ESPN/NHL Deal Leave Bad Taste After Layoffs?

ESPN and a ton of other companies all across America said they had to lay-off people citing the pandemic as the cause.

Not too long ago, ESPN laid off a bunch of it’s workers, and here we are today reading about how Disney signed a 2.8 billion dollar deal for the rights to be the primary media partner for the NHL in the U.S. 

Back when the lay-offs first happened I wrote about it in ESPN LAYOFFS: Necessary or Just Bad Business?, and I said that I felt like there had to have been a better way because saying the pandemic was the reason they had to lay people off just seemed a little too convenient and how much has really changed since then except Disney’s bottom line? 

Back when the Covid Pandemic had really gone full swing everything got shut down. Sports, entertainment, and everything in between. The only thing that was guaranteed to be open were places to keep the country running– it was supposed to be just a skeleton crew keeping the lights on and food on the table.

Then as people start getting antsy you have people arguing that athletes shouldn’t play because the players will be at risk and then you have others who are talking about the millions they will lose in revenue if they shut it down for the season. From owners to players right on down to the spectators and commentators, everyone had some opinion about it but the majority of people were in agreement because they were losing money and stood to lose a lot more.

And I know we all sympathized because we love our sports, but would it really have hurt them to take this season and sit it out? Maybe have an eSports Pro-Athlete league or let them try out other hobbies that allow them to be safe and still flex for their fans in some way shape or form. 

In my mind, they had other options to make money during the would-be season. NASCAR had virtual races and I know for a fact that I was watching some eSports pro-gamers playing 2k-whatever on television, so no one can tell me that there weren’t better options– there was even a women’s roller derby league that came up with safety protocols that even expert institutions were taking notes from. Imagine that, some little roller derby team in the middle of nowhere came up with guidelines a lot of experts used to build their models. 

With all the leagues back on course, I was watching First Take on ESPN and they are arguing that these athletes have to had to make a lot of sacrifices to play and blah, blah, blah– and that’s not to dismiss their argument, but we are in the middle of a pandemic; millions are out of work, scared, angry, confused, and we are being forced to listen to people debate about the plight of a right person during a time when it’s very good to be rich? 

I mean, being rich during normal times doesn’t mean much, right? Because it’s all normal, but it’s not until something big goes down that you really appreciate being rich. Think about it. How many times have you been sitting at home ordering something online– food, clothes, whatever, and been sitting there thinking about how shipping is expensive or delivery is? I do it quite often, especially since I have been on a very reduced and fixed income. 

When you really think about it though, one thing becomes apparent and that is that most things aren’t really expensive we’re all just a lot more broke because if I were rich, or well off financially, I probably wouldn’t be thinking about how expensive something is quite as often. Obviously there are some situations that will cause me to remember that I was broke once, but having food delivered or paying for a service wouldn’t be something to sweat over.

ESPN and a ton of other companies all across America said they had to lay-off people citing the pandemic as the cause, but here today as I know it, Disney is going to pay the NHL 2.8 billion over 7 years. I know a lot of that money is projected, but how is it that everyone says they are reeling from the pandemic but carrying on as if nothing were happening? 

I could see if Disney was reportedly on brink of bankruptcy because of the pandemic and that they had to layoff people, but that’s just not the case. They have huge Marvel Cinematic Universe movies and projects coming up, Disney+ only launched a year ago and they have a bundle with ESPN+ and Hulu to provide live sports and television, but more than 3,000 employees needed to lose their jobs and Stephen A. Smith deserved another ridiculously huge contract. 

That’s not an indictment on Stephen A. Smith, but if I am doing business as the head of ESPN, I am telling him times are tough and his paycheck is too big and I have a lot of mouths to feed. I would have told him he’ll make a killing on his own or wherever he goes and let him do him, but there’s no way I am signing him to some big deal under the misguided notion that he brings in the fans. 

No one is getting anything due to Stephen A. Smith; Smith pretty much comes with whatever you’re paying for and that’s it. I have never heard anyone say that they have to get ESPN because they have to watch Stephen A. Smith. Most people will say they watch First Take because of him but no one anywhere got a Spectrum TV package just so they could tune in and watch him run his mouth for an hour. 

What’s odd to me is that people sympathize with the people who have the money because they act like if they lost their jobs they would really be helpless, but the truth is that if Stephen A. Smith got cut from ESPN he could have easily started and funded his own projects and people would have tuned in. There are guys playing video games on the internet that are far more popular and lucrative than he is and yet he could have started his own thing somewhere and been fine, but the problem is that he’s used to someone else signing them big old paychecks instead of being the one cutting them himself. 

In the end, all I am saying is that it seems to me that the only reason anyone that got laid off at ESPN got laid off is so others could keep getting rich, and while it might be their profession, when you make an excess of a million dollars a year I find it hard to sympathize because there are people out there right now who are out of a job just so Stephen A. Smith could make $8 million a year instead of 4 or 5 because he deserves it with all those people he convinces to get basic subscriptions.

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