The NFL, ESPN, and the Decline of All That Was Once Good

Anyone born before about 1982 knows that the National Football League has ruined a perfectly good sport. I feel pity for the younger generations who think it is normal to spend the afternoon watching an alleged football game that consists mostly of over-paid and over-concussed players standing around waiting for the result of a booth review. The NFL has, over the last couple decades, managed to produce a product that is longer but somehow contains much less action than it did in, say, 1976. I now prefer to spend my Sunday afternoons dumping trays of ice onto my driveway and watching them melt.

Anyway, hand it to the product of such a deteriorating institution to come along and have a go at wrecking our language, too. I am referring to Chris Carter’s ESPN segment, “Where You At?”

“Where you at?” Well, if I happen to have used this expression in a job interview, I’m probably back at the local unemployment office.

Okay, I get that it is a slang expression, that it has its own significant history in urban culture, and that it is quite possible this post will open me to the charge of cultural insensitivity. But it is simply a fact that making this expression the title and recurring motif of a major media broadcast will have consequences. Chris Carter and ESPN are now forever associated with grammatical embarrassment, not to mention reinforcing the stereotype of the “dumb jock.” The consequence is loss of respect. Hell, I even lose a bit of respect for myself just watching it.

The idea of the segment is to call players out on their underperformance. Essentially, it is an exercise in public humiliation. In this spirit, I call out the folks at ESPN. Quit making yourselves look stupid. It’s embarrassing, or at least it should be. And if it’s not, then go watch some reruns of football games from the sixties and get a better idea of how things are done right.


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