May 17, 2011
Blood pressure may be on the rise at ESPN headquarters in Bristol, Conn., this week as anticipation grows surrounding James Andrew Miller and Tom Shales’ upcoming book, “Those Guys Have All the Fun.”
The book, which will be released on May 24, apparently will expose tales of sex, drugs, bloated egos and arguments in the lives of some current and former ESPN employees.
I’m left wondering when, and if, the network’s public relations team will enter into crisis communications to counteract the tell-all. In the past, much of the network’s dirty laundry was aired on Deadspin, which is not always considered a reputable source of information. Anonymous sources shared information about inter-office relationships, sexual harassment charges and frat-boy behavior. This was paired with ESPN’s lack of comment and created a sense of bewilderment in trying to sort out fact from fiction. However, the book is different. Miller went straight to the source; 560 past and present ESPN sources, to be exact.
The noise building around ESPN scandals and network culture over the last couple years has magazines and news outlets clamoring for a preview. However, most will have to wait until the release date to get the dirt. GQ published a relatively mild excerpt about Keith Olbermann and Dan Patrick, but most of the content is on lockdown due to a decision by Miller and Shales’ publishing house, Little, Brown (unless A.J. Delaurio, editor of Deadspin, succeeds in finding a leak).
Is a preview being withheld to build secrecy and generate hype, or avoid an injunction?
It’s hard to know. The book, already garnering media attention, is sure to be in front of those unfamiliar with Deadspin’s salacious Horndog Dossier, sparking conversations about the behavioral expectations of ESPN employees and, perhaps, the practices of the network as a whole. But, will ESPN comment on the tell-all?
To a certain extent, I think that there isn’t much concern about how the frat-boy behavior in Bristol will affect their audience. Now a corporate giant, ESPN is established as the go-to for television sports news. People reading the book may be shocked to hear about the seedy behavior of employees, but it’s doubtful that most will be turned off from watching the network.
I’m curious how others feel about “Those Guys Have All the Fun.” Will you read it? Do you think ESPN should be concerned about the effect on network viewers? What about the relationship between ESPN and parent organization, The Walt Disney Company… should the corporation be concerned about the brand?