When we started to watch ESPN 25 years ago (G-d, we're dating ourselves), there was one show that was different from the rest. There were no highlights or catch phrases; there were men in suits, sitting in chairs, discussing sports in measured, calm voices. The show was called "The Sports Reporters". Presiding over all of it was Dick Schaap.
It was a strange idea: putting newspaper journalists on television to talk about sports. Yet it worked, and Schaap's dignified moderation had a lot to do with it. Not that we really cared; back then, we were more interested in highlights and catch phrases.
In 2001, two things happened that changed ESPN forever: Schaap died, and two of his Reporters regulars, Tony Kornheiser and Mike Wilbon, got their own show, "Pardon the Interruption". The two then-Washington Post journalists had a genuine friendship and rapport; PTI took off. It was very watchable for sports fans; but it was also... a tad less dignified.
Soon, ESPN followed up with pretenders and imitators. Unfortunately, they lacked the wit of Schaap (and Kornheiser, and Wilbon). Soon, ESPN was filled with journalists awkwardly trying to verbally joust, arguing for the purpose of arguing... pretty much just yelling at each other and the camera. Sure, there are still some good ones out there (Bob Ley, Schaap's son Jeremy), but they are a drop in the bucket.
Give us calm, measured discussion. (G-d, we're dating ourselves...)