It is true that ESPN does stand for Entertainment and Sports Network but in the dog days of sports, which are rapidly approaching, ESPN reaches down deep to fill it’s 24 programming. Some of the sports and competitions they create themselves. The World’s Strongest Man Competition and the ESPN Outdoor Games are a few of the Summer staples for ESPN and are legitimate in their own right. Who doesn’t like to watch a little log rolling or dog agility competitions?
ESPN has even further diversified their scope for summer events. Ranging from the World Series of Poker to the Coney Island event of the Summer, the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest. The average citizen has the opportunity to vault into their 15 minutes of fame in any of these ESPN televised events in the Summer months.
ESPN Responsible For the Wild Popularity of the World Series of Poker
ESPN started the boom with poker as a sport many years ago with their coverage of the World Series of Poker. The World Series of Poker is the premier poker tournament in the world and it owes all of its success to ESPN and their innovative coverage. ESPN showed the world anyone could plunk down their hard earned $10,000 and play for a world championship.
No one can pay money to play in the NFL’s Super Bowl or Major League Baseball’s World Series but anyone with minimal poker skills can take their shot at over $12 million if they have the scratch to buy in. Year after year ESPN makes celebrities out of the average man that catches an unbelievable stretch of luck and beats the best poker players in the world.
It is called “The Moneymaker Effect.” Named after Chris Moneymaker, who defeated poker professional, Sam Farha to win the World Series of Poker Main Event. Since Moneymaker’s unlikely victory, more and more unknowns invade Las Vegas in search of that one run that will land them their 15 plus minutes of fame in the World Series of Poker.
The World Series of Poker Main Event will see a potential 10,000 entrants this year each shelling out $10,000 dollars a piece for the privilege to play alongside their heroes. ESPN has cultivated this event and tapes each event. Throughout the Summer, ESPN releases one event each Tuesday night and then re-runs it throughout the week. ESPN now shows the World Series of Poker Final Table live and has dubbed it the November Nine. The remaining nine players wait four months to play the final table but all nine players can cash out on their fame while they wait.
ESPN Has Attempted to Create a NASCAR Like Atmosphere for Pro Bass Fishing
ESPN will do whatever it takes to fill Summer programming and the Bassmaster Tournament Tour is proof positive. The Bassmaster Tour has created a sponsor-friendly sport in one of the most unlikely venues. The fishermen are decked out like NASCAR stock car drivers with their uniforms and their boats in full sponsor regalia.
ESPN has even cultivated a few of the more eccentric fishermen. Look no further than Kevin VanDam a boisterous sometimes obnoxious angler that doesn’t always endear himself to the old school anglers. The Bassmaster Tour schedule is perfect for ESPN since it takes up vacant space during the lazy days of Summer.
ESPN Loves PBA Bowling Because of the Almost Year-round Schedule.
Bowling has been on television for decades. ABC featured the PBA tour on Saturday afternoons starting in 1965. The PBA telecasts garnered big ratings and big-time sponsorship from companies such as Ford and Coca-Cola. The best bowlers became household names through the 60’s and 70’s. Bowlers such as Earl Anthony, Dick Weber, and Mark Roth were as well known as NFL legends Roger Staubach and Terry Bradshaw back in the day.
The PBA Tour isn’t what it use to be but ESPN now schedules it opposite the NFL during football season. The ESPN telecasts of the PBA begin after the ESPN Sunday Morning NFL preview show. The ESPN telecast on Sunday mornings doesn’t get the same ratings as the PBA did in its heyday on ABC Saturday afternoons but it does give ESPN some solid alternative niche programming.
Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest on the Coney Island Boardwalk
The Fourth of July is now synonymous with one thing. The Coney Island Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest. The event has spawned an actual league, Major League Eating (IFOCE). It has also spawned celebrities that are featured across the country. Eating legends like Kobayashi and Joey Chestnut do battle on the Coney Island Boardwalk every Fourth of July and believe it or not it is compelling television on a slow holiday.