Big cuts at ESPN – those who got fired might be the lucky ones

Good people got fired today by ESPN – a company that appeared poised for nothing but sustained growth just a few short years ago.

Getting the ax, or being told your role will be significantly reduced, is never pleasant, and we wish nothing but the best for pros like Paul Kuharsky, Eamonn Brennan, Ed Werder, and many others who are already looking for what’s next in their careers.

The people I save my deepest empathy for are the middle managers whose primary responsibility has evolved from driving a staff to excellence to motivating fewer to do more while earning less.

Been there – done that.  And it isn’t fun.

When efficiency becomes the highest priority for a media outlet, middle management becomes a purgatory from which there is no escape – other than being downsized yourself – or walking out in disgust on your own.

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Sadly, those who excel at being employed in middle management at the network ESPN has become are those who must take long looks at themselves in the mirror as lives are changed with the stroke of a pen at the end of a two-minute meeting that usually ends with a security guard confiscating a proximity card.

Upper management never has to do any of the dirty work their poor decisions generate.  They vote themselves giant bonuses for saving the company so much money as the very employees whose salaries drive those savings are escorted to the exit.  I wonder if they even take the time to understand their ironic role in today’s misery.

This is a bad day for everyone in Bristol, but don’t forget the triggermen who have to execute the orders of the suits upstairs or be fired themselves.  Being a downsizer is a miserable way to earn a living.

If there is a silver lining surrounding the giant black cloud hanging over Bristol today, it’s that ESPN hires extremely well, and media professionals like Kuharsky, Werder, and Brennan will likely be on the street for no more than a few minutes.  Of course, that might mean the displacement of others at different companies, but that’s the way the sports media world turns.

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Best of luck to those canned today, but our most sincere good wishes might be better saved for those left behind.

This is likely not that final bloodletting at ESPN – a company that has fallen in love with trying to cut its way to success.

Kent Sterling hosts the fastest growing sportstalk show in Indianapolis on CBS Sports 1430 every weekday from 3p-7p, and writes about Indiana sports at

One thought on “Big cuts at ESPN – those who got fired might be the lucky ones

  1. Veevland Browns

    If you paid attention to the names coming across among those who were let go from ESPN, you’ll have noted that many of them were figures associated closely with ESPN’s “Baseball Tonight” show. The network just announced that it’s cutting that show back from daily (which has been the case since 1990) to a Sunday night only telecast.

    They also announced that the MLB Network produced show “Intentional Talk” (which has the dubious distinction of being the worst program the otherwise excellent MLB TV airs, give or take Mad Dog Russo) will now also air on ESPN…sounds like it’ll be on at 4PM on the WWL and then its normal 5 PM slot on MLB TV.

    So what does all of this say? What it says to me is that one of the things I’ve been anticipating for years is starting to play out…the league owned networks are becoming more and more important in the overall landscape. This is the first step. I think down the line at some point, and it may come sooner than anyone thinks, the reality will be that the various leagues realize there’s more money to be made by them in controlling distribution of their own content via their own outlets than what a 3rd party like ESPN will be able to afford to pay them.


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