Having Fun With “Those Guys Have All The Fun”

Justin May 31, 2011 0

On May 24th, 2011, The book “Those Guys Have All The Fun” hit stores nationwide. In the run-up to release, the authors had been doing the press rounds and a few juicy excerpts had been released online. SportsCracklePop had always covered the release of new books by publishing an interview with the author. In this case, though, it seemed obvious that a small site like SCP would have to get way in the back of the line to speak to the writers. So, instead, the site decided to take a different tact, inviting a group of regular readers to take part in a weekly SCP book club. And because they like a challenge, they decided to write the book club entries in the same format as the book itself, with quotes making up the majority of the copy and italicized asides helping move the action along.

The first edition covers the book’s first three chapters, a total of 214 pages.


JUSTIN, Senior Writer-SportsCracklePop

I’ve always laughed at people who line up outside stores for a new phone or to see a new movie. Don’t they know that it will still be available three days later? What’s the rush?  Now I get it. I have never been so excited to read something in all my life. I woke up the day this book came out, went right to Barnes and Noble, then started reading as soon as I got home. And I had a houseguest staying with me at the time. No matter. He bought it too.

ALEX, commenter “Beltway Buddy”-SportsCracklePop

The leaked excerpts were fantastic and bordered on scandalous. I watch ESPN, this book had to be good

KEVIN, commenter “Scott Salley”-SportsCracklePop

I read every blurb and excerpt that I could find online before it came out.  I think its what got me excited about the book, and I probably wouldn’t be reading it if it wasn’t for those.

DAVE, contributer and reader- SportsCracklePop

I would add here that I bought the book because of peer pressure.

JOHN, blogger-200 Miles From The Citi

There’s the Rex Ryan book sitting right next to it – I can’t believe I’m reading a book about ESPN before I read a book by the coach of my favorite team.”  I have a bit of a love-hate with ESPN.  I’ve really soured on ESPN over the years…but I used to love it and I still rely on it pretty heavily.  But I rarely ever watch SportsCenter anymore (I watch ESPN for sporting events and ESPNEWS for quick highlights and scores), and I get tired of the personalities (which, when I was younger, was the primary draw for me).  So I thought about all of that when I picked up the book, and realized that for the majority of my life I was an ESPN fan, and I’ll probably enjoy reading about the company.

DAVE

My initial impression was that the cover art had a clean design. I also wondered how they chose the people whose faces appear on the cover.

JUSTIN

What is Shawn White doing on the cover? I can’t imagine him being very important.

KEVIN

I took the book out of the package from Amazon and thought, “what have I gotten myself into?”  Keep in mind – I haven’t read a book cover-to-cover in over two years because I’m a magazine/internet reader. So for my first book in a long time to be a 750 pager seemed a little daunting.

JUSTIN

A few years ago, I bought Live From New York, the oral history of Saturday Night Live that these authors had done previously. I started that book one morning, expecting to read a few pages before starting my day. Fast forward 12 hours, I’m still sitting on the couch without having taken a shower and I’m closing the back cover. 600 pages in one day. And I could have read more. I expected this to be the same way. But, initially, I was surprised by how business heavy “Those Guys Have All The Fun”  was. I had a little trouble getting going.

CRAIG, reader-SportsCracklePop

It took me about 3 pages.  All the initial stuff about how the idea came about was very interesting to me because I am a history guy.  Majored in it in college and to see how something was created and brought along in the first few years was fascinating to me.  Also interesting I didn’t know that the E in ESPN stood for entertainment and that Bill Rasmussen wanted to show “Lifetime” type movies on Saturday afternoons to bring in the female audience before SportsCenter back in the early days.

ALEX

I’m reading this book on my iPad (yeah, that’s right, I’m that douche bag who mentioned he has an iPad without being asked). The Kindle app doesn’t show me what page I’m on regularly, so it’s tough to say with exactness. But, I can tell you, it took some time.

DAVE

I was interested pretty much off the bat, because the business side of broadcasting and journalism entrepreneurship are things I think about a lot. However,I found the format tough to adjust to. My eye wants to jump from paragraph to paragraph without reading who is speaking.

KEVIN

Since I spent so many years working in a TV station a lot of this stuff is interesting to me.  The early years of ESPN really remind me of my years in small market television – everyone working there is in their early 20′s, no one has any idea what they’re doing, the bosses are all A-holes, and everyone basically hooks up with each other.  The parallels are actually kinda striking.  That’s really kept me interested in the beginning chapters.

JOHN

The style of the book helps get through the ‘boring’ stuff – there’s enough shifting that nothing bogs you down, really.  It probably also helps that I was in the TV business, so it was kind of cool to read about the very early satellite acquisitions…I’m curious if people who are not television-oriented give a crap about satellite booking and other minutiae from the TV business.

ALEX

I just joined a very young start-up company last year, and there are a lot of parallels between the long hours and great effort to make that bird take off the way it did. I can relate to the people who talk of wanting that challenge, who wanted to be a part of something special, who could make an impact and do things they way they know it should be done. I actually highlighted a few passages to pass along to my team to lift us up in some more trying, tiring times.

ALEX

My biggest gripe from the beginning is the lack of head shots for the many characters. Being the visual person I am, I was finding it tough to keep up who was who as more and more people came into the story. Especially the suits and non-athletes and talent mentioned.

KEVIN

I feel like the book should have come with a “cheat sheet” of sorts – or recommended the reader make one as we go along.  There’s too many people telling stories for me.  Some little pull-out would have been nice so I could have quickly answered, “who was this person again?”

JOHN

I have a small problem with books written this way.  Someone is introduced early on, then they don’t get quoted for a bunch of pages, and then when I come across their name later on, I have no idea who they are.  That’s a problem for me, because I have to go back to figure out the context of their comments related to who they are.  (Helpful hint – I go to the index now and go to the first page they are mentioned.)

DAVE

I’m looking forward to getting to a point where I recognize all of the names in a chapter. I’m not sure whether this will come.

Eventually, though, certain individuals begin to shine through, despite an initial lack of name recognition.

ALEX

It was pretty cool to read about the father and son dreaming this concept up. Even cooler to realize the kind of capital it takes to get something like this off the ground. I was really getting into it. And then all of the sudden my interest level drops around the time Stu Evey hits the scenes.

CRAIG

Does anyone else wonder how Stuart Evey is still alive to give these interviews?  The way it sounded is that he literally drank all day every day and smoked like a chimney.

KEVIN

It was clear he had no idea what he was doing.  I kept waiting for the next story about how he screwed something up or was drunk at a meeting.

CRAIG

Also, talk about ego, his was the biggest in the room every time.  An example was when he sent the portraits to Bristol of himself and another Getty bigwig to be hung up in the reception area.  I actually laughed out loud as I was reading it.  ESPN was truly a vanity project for him and, the amazing thing is, ESPN is here today because of the dirt Stuart Evey had on all the higher ups at Getty Oil and the fact that he knew the truth about how Getty’s son died.  It is all very fascinating.

The person who really left a bad taste in my mouth was the co-Founder Bill Rasmussen.  He went to his family and begged for money and then went ahead and diluted their holdings in the company while increasing the shares for him and his son.  So when they sold the shares he ended up with seven figures and the rest of them ended up with much less. It was very Social Network but with family which is extremely wrong.  Then after Bill gets booted out he tells his brother that he is going to get fired also.  So his brother foolishly believes him, quits then finds out he was going to get a promotion and a nice raise.  Some of that is the brother not thinking clearly but also Bill really not wanting anyone in his family working for ESPN after he was forced out.

DAVE

I figure everyone in it is lying either intentionally or because of a faulty memory.

CRAIG

My favorite part so far has been reading about the evolution of SportsCenter.  It was one of the few money makers that kept ESPN afloat until the late 80′s because everything they got from it was pure profit to use to secure the rights to sporting events like NCAA basketball, the America’s Cup, etc.

DAVE

What ESPN did with the America’s Cup — turning it from something Americans neither understood nor cared about into something that was tremendously popular — reminded me of the model they used to make televised poker so successful. It makes me wonder what heretofore unknown sport is next for the ESPN treatment. I’m afraid it’s UFC.

ALEX

I feel bad saying this, especially with all of the focus and attention on the chauvinistic atmosphere there. But I’ve lost a lot of respect for Andrea Kremer, and to some extent Berman. I get she is setting up where she’s coming from, how she got there. But she really seems to share her stories of her self-importance and supposed greatness highlighted more so than the other talent. Berman’s self-assured greatness shines through his commentary a lot too.  As if they realized there’s no chance a biography on them will ever come out (or be nearly as big as this book), so this is their time to shine and self-promote their greatness.

JOHN

I have a note in the book, “Let’s see how long it takes for me to get tired of Berman’s schtick.”   Because in real life, I’m way over him. But hearing his stories hasn’t worn me down yet.  Sal Marchiano comes across as likable….I didn’t realize his ESPN past – I only knew him as Marv Albert’s backup at Channel 4 in New York.

ALEX

Sal Marciano’s account of trading his footage of Larry Holmes training/sparring for a sit down interview with Muhammad Ali. His account of Ali springing off of the massage table, with his member swinging freely in the air as he shadow boxes a video taped Holmes is priceless.

JUSTIN

The business stuff is interesting and I’m trying to act like I find it super fascinating, but the internet promised me sex and drugs. Where are my sex and drugs?

ALEX

I’ve got to say the most surprising story by far was the “cutest secretary contestants turning tricks in drug crazed orgies in the company-supplied condo.” Now, what I’m really most interested in seeing is what my fellow readers choose. most of them are in the media business, if this isn’t THEIR choice for biggest surprise, I’m getting out of graphic arts immediately.

DAVE

I’m most surprised by the fact that it was competitive sailing that launched the network onto the national stage.

JOHN

Dan Patrick always came across so professionally to me.  I’m surprised to read about his childish antics. Maybe he was a bad influence on Gary Miller.  Another surprise – we know there’s more sexual harassment coming – there’s an almost unapologetic stance taken already by some of the leaders, and we’re not even at some of the more sordid stuff yet.  It was surprising, too, at just how quickly it took for ESPN to become legitimate – it really didn’t take long at all.

DAVE

My favorite part so far is to learn about how tremendously seat-of-the-pants the operation was in the beginning. No bathrooms, huge financial losses, reels being flown around the country for rebroadcast. It’s crazy, and I wonder if a place as haphazard would survive today.

The first three chapters cover ESPN in it’s infancy, long before it became “the worldwide leader.” But, readers are already thinking ahead.

CRAIG

I am really looking forward to reading about the Dan Patrick/Keith Olberman dynamic as they were my favorite pairing on SportsCenter.  I grew up watching them and they were probably the best tandem that SportsCenter ever put out.

JOHN

I’m looking forward to more that I can personally connect with.  Remember when espn2 (intentionally lowercase) was the hip new station?  Keith Olbermann in his leather jacket on the air?  The all lowercase, sort of slanted writing?  And I’ll always distinctly remember that where ESPN always ended SportsCenter with “Video Courtesy Of:” then listing where they cut their highlights from, espn2 always just wrote “thanks:” I always liked that informality.  I’m looking forward to reading about those parts that I can really remember happening.

ALEX

I can’t WAIT for Mr. Tony to make an appearance in the book.

KEVIN:

I’m very curious to read all about ESPN.com and the successes and failures that happened there.  No debating ESPN dropped the ball on fantasy sports.  They were charging while Yahoo was giving it away for free, and now Yahoo’s readership numbers are the biggest out there.  I hope that’s addressed because the Internet was one place ESPN was behind.

ALEX

I wonder how and if they’ll address the emergence of the world wide web, and the journalistic efforts the network had to give to filling their website, and their creation of Page 2 (and eventually city specific reporting like espnnewyork.com) For a while when I first entered the work force, nothing brought me more joy during my horrible day at the office than a Sports Guy article, especially one of his Mail Bag pieces. Back in the early 2000s, before he became an insufferable Boston fan bragging about the Saux, Pats and C’s, the shaudenfraud factor was off the charts. I was a Yankees, Jets and Sixers fan (chill out, I grew up in central Jersey, it’s an acceptable team to root for geographically). I took so much joy in his pain filled articles. I could relate so well, I felt like we were best friends. And my buddies were on board too. I would get emails almost instantly from them when The Sports Guy posted.

JUSTIN

The sex and the drugs. I can’t emphasize this enough. I want to learn more about Gary Miller pissing off a building and Mike Tirico following ladies home.

Thr first three chapters of “Those Guys Have All The Fun;” Step 1 in SportsCracklePop’s effort to cover the biggest sports book of the year. If anyone else would care to join in, feel free to add your voice to the comments section or email Justin@sportscracklepop.com to become a formal part of the SCP Book Club.

 

 


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