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ESPN: The Uncensored History Hardcover


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Taylor Trade Publishing (April 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0878332391
  • ISBN-13: 978-0878332397
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 6.4 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,148,982 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

New York Times sportswriter Freeman has delivered exactly what the title promises: an uncensored history of a media phenomenon of the cable TV era, ESPN. When ESPN was formed 20 years ago, television sports reporting was limited to snippets on local newscasts. ESPN changed that and, in so doing, also changed the way sports was covered, society's viewing habits, and sports itself. Freeman traces the history of the all-sports network from its inception as the brainchild of Bill Rasmussen to its status today as a part of the Disney media group, reaching over 60 million homes. This is really less a sports book than a warts-and-all examination of a media giant. Despite the obstacles placed in Freeman's path, the whole story is here--the struggles between management and its on-air personalities, the anchors' conflicts with one another, and the sexual harassment complaints, racial discrimination allegations, and employee drug and gambling problems that have long plagued the network. Freeman uses network documents, court records, and (often anonymous) interviews with past and current employees to make this a compelling read. Highly recommended for all libraries.
-William Scheeren, Hempfield Area H.S. Lib., Greensburg, PA
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

This is a must-read for ESPN and sports fans alike. (Gadflyonline.Com)

The tale of ESPN's rise digs deeply...into behind-the-scenes shenanigans... (Sports Illustrated)

...powerful and entertaining. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

Extensively researched, ESPN: The Uncensored History presents a fascinating, candid, revealing story in clear, unambiguous, and highly evocative language. A singularly memorable and compelling 'tell-all' book, ESPN: The Uncensored History is strongly recommended reading for all sports buffs. (Library Bookwatch)

Network stoolies are buzzing about a...book on ESPN by New York Times sports writer Mike Freeman...sounds real juicy (New York Daily News)

...a fascinating new book...might make you watch ESPN in a whole new way. (Book Page)

Michael Freeman tells the story with the same urgency and breathlessness that ESPN brings to its coverage of sports.... a dazzling American success story .... (American Way)

Freeman uses network documents, court records, and (often anonymous) interviews with past and current employees to make this a compelling read. Highly recommended. (Library Journal)

After reading this explosive book it's hard to believe that a network owned by the squeaky-clean Disney Corporation could allow the sexual hijinks that go on at ESPN to escape their corporate scrutiny. A devastating read. (Publishers Weekly)

Michael Freeman provides the first book of critical analysis of the original and largest sports network. (Sports Collectors Digest)

Give Freeman points for diligent research [and] for his no-nonsense history of how the all-sports network evolved. (Philadelphia Daily News)

... compelling subject matter for any sports fan. (Daytona News-Journal)

Freeman, a skilled and concise writer, does an exceptional job of telling the entire story—warts and all .... (Baltimore Sun)

... sizzling expose ... truly shocking. (Publishers Weekly)

This story would make a terrific Outside the Lines. Yet ESPN's investigative series ... wouldn't touch the material ... with a 10-foot TelePrompTer. (Orlando Sentinel)

Michael Freeman has captured the essence of the freewheeling, 24-hour cable network that pioneered not just sports television, but the cable industry itself. (Fort Worth Star-Telegram)

... give[s] the reader a real insight to the early days at ESPN. (Tampa Tribune)

... stunning ... fascinating .... (Chicago Sun-Times)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 28, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Mike Freeman, one of the New York Times top sports reporters, has written a gem of a book, ESPN: The Uncensored History. Through diligent reporting, Freeman traces the history of the most powerful cable network in the world from its humble beginnings to the 800-pound "mouse" it is today. Along the way he startles the reader with tales of drugs, gambling and sexual harrassment at ESPN, revelations that surely won't make the folks at Disney -- or in Bristol-- very happy. Buy this book; it's a great read.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 5, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I bought this book because of all the buzz about the shenanigans that go on inside ESPN's headquarters in Bristol, but I was surprised to discover that the real meat is in author Freeman's chronicling of the early days of the network; it's fascinating stuff. The material about sexual harassment, though compelling, only represents one part of the book. The rest is the best.
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31 of 37 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 21, 2000
Format: Hardcover
As a former ESPN employee, I caution most readers to take most of the "gank" provided in this book with a HUGE grain of salt. The sexual harassment incidents described are anecdotal at best, and even if they are indicative of a "bigger problem" throughout ESPN Plaza, what else would you expect with a company when you throw a bunch of young twenty-something males who are all self-proclaimed "sports experts" with no social outlets in a sleepy little town in central Connecticut? (Freeman's characterization of Bristol as a "city" is laughable)
Freeman does do a good job of painting the painful sacrifice young singles must make to join this odd corporate culture. But maybe also mentioning the sacrifices the married employees and their families have to make (e.g. the intense travel demands levied on many ESPN employees, the quirky weekend hours, the extramarrital activity), would have helped give this book more balance.
The book also neglects the overall stress on a given night in the screening room where every sporting event is being monitored. A brief synopsis of how a game becomes a highlight and the people involved -- from the PA logging the game to the highlight supervisor to the anchor reading it on the air -- might also help readers understand the electricity in the air on a given night at ESPN Plaza.
Other than that, though, the book is a compelling read. Many of the personnel mentioned in the latter half of the book, both talent and production, are still at ESPN. The timeline of ESPN's evolution from cable start-up to the model cable network is great. Freeman's assessment of ESPN as a "sports news" network and not just a "sports network" is very well done.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 29, 2000
Format: Hardcover
As a former member of the sports industry and a recovering SportsCenteraholic, I am very glad I read this book. Anybody who enjoys ESPN will find this book interesting. That said, it is not a masterpiece, and I found myself wanting "something more". I wanted to know what happened to all of the characters, especially the anchors, reporters and founding team. In essence, I wanted to know WHERE ARE THEY NOW? This could have been handled in an appendix, and would have made this more of a reference book than a gossip book.
To me, the best theme is the evolution of Sportscenter from a highlight show to a must-see event. In the mid-to-late 80's, I thought CNN had surpassed SportsCenter, with better stories, better anchors, and better sets, as well as a partner network in CNN Headline News. John Walsh's iron will reversed that trend, and some of the best CNN personnel (Dan Patrick, Gary Miller, etc.) defected to ESPN. Subtly, over the years ESPN became a credible journalistic organization with multiple networks, and SportsCenter left CNN in the dust.
The pre-1978 Bill Rasmussen story moves slowly, and I don't think I have a full understanding of the important events leading to September 7, 1979. I would like to have had clearer information about how Rasmussen expected to pay for his vision, and why his son (theoretically the least experienced of the principals) was sent out to look for money. What kind of deals did they offer investors before Getty came in and took 85%? How soon did they expect profitability? Did they have a backup plan? I think the author wanted this to be perceived as a business book instead of a gossip book. It fails on that count, in my opinion, because the author does not seem to have a business background.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 5, 2000
Format: Hardcover
You will look at ESPN in an entirely different way. This is one of the best books about the building of a corporation that will you read. It gives the good and the bad. This is what I wanted to read, a book about the total ESPN network, not what ESPN wants me to believe with its fluffy ads that I know now aren't true.
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19 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Adam J. Morris on October 8, 2002
Format: Paperback
I'd read mixed reviews when Freeman's history first came out, so I wasn't anticipating a great book. Unfortunately, ...ESPN: The Uncensored History... fell fall short of even my rather tempered expectations.
A large part of the problem is that ...Uncensored... can't decide whether it is a corporate retrospective or a tell-all expose. Freeman spends the first third of the book on a rather dull detailing of how ESPN was founded, the close calls it encountered in finding financing and trying to stay afloat, and the power struggle that ensued among the founding fathers. Only the principals and their family would find this portion even mildly interesting.
As the book progresses, it switches into expose-mode, teasing the reader with hints of scandals behind the scenes. However, even though the author spends page after page dwelling haughtily on the personal foibles of ESPN personnel, particularly focusing on a culture which seemingly encouraged sexual harassment, Freeman mostly avoids naming names, with one very notable exception.
Freeman then goes back and forth, between a dry rendering of ESPN's corporate evolution from a backwater independent cable channel to the crown jewel of Disney's purchase of ABC, and a bowdlerized tale of malfeasance among the employees of ESPN.
Occasionally, Freeman tries to focus on some of the anchors which the so many viewers have seen so often, but even then, the portraits seem two-dimensional. Other than Mike Tirico, who is portrayed as a Jekyll-and-Hyde family man/sexual predator, and Keith Olbermann, cast as the tortured genius, the sketches of the on-air personalities seem rather hollow.
All in all, disappointing, and not worth the time.
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