Tuesday Pop Review: “Those Guys Have All the Fun: Inside the World of ESPN”

Hello all, and welcome to Pop Review Tuesday here at the blog.  Today we look at the relatively recent non-fiction biography of ESPN, or as I like to call it, my television’s “home page.”    The authors, James Andrew Miller and Tom Shales, previously did a similar piece on NBC’s late night franchise Saturday Night Live

The book, which we will refer to as Inside ESPN, is an in-depth cover to cover documentary of the company’s history, from its initial start up phase, to the days of Australian Rules Football, the breakthrough programming of NFL Football and Major League Baseball, to its present day global icon status, which includes a hand in virtually every single major sporting event, multiple television stations, a radio station, websites, restaurants, video games, etc. 

The layout of the book is in true documentary format, with portions of interviews stacked together with minimal monologue from the authors which is used for little other purpose than to transition from topic to topic. 

The book has a little bit of everything, from giving us behind the scenes looks at how ESPN was first formulated and put together, to chronicling some of the more notorious incidents at the network (i.e., the Jim Rome/Jim Everett altercation and the drunk Joe Namath pass at Suzy Kolber, to name a few),  to giving us a behind the scenes view of the brand’s personalities. 

These authors literally interviewed everyone, including Chris Berman, Dan Patrick, Keith Olbermann, Bob Ley, Craig Kilborn, Mike Tirico, Erin Andrews, Kirk Herbstreit and dozens more. 

The book is truly all access and for fans of the network or sports in general, a must-read.  Now, granted, I do have a handful of nitpicks, including a dislike for 80-100 page chapters (the book is over 700 pages and only has 9-10 chapters) and at times, the discussions of some of the revenue issues relating to cable operators tend to drag. 

Still, these minor flaps are no reason to pass on this book, which also makes a great gift.  (I know I know, you’re waiting for me to say “Now HERE’S how to order!!”). 


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