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Last month, ESPN announced another big change is on the way in the form of cancelling the long-running analyst sit-down series The Sports Reporters, which is coming to an end later this year. While the announcement itself offered little by way of reasoning for the decision, reports have surfaced alleging the on-set behavior of longtime panelist-turned-host Mike Lupica played a big part in ESPN deciding to pull the plug on the series.
On The Sports Reporters, the analysts often go over hot button issues in the world of sports, though usually with cool heads prevailing. However, it seems like some involved with the show were really biting their tongue, and everything may have been more heated behind the scenes when the cameras weren't rolling. According to Page Six, Mike Lupica wasn't exactly the most humble and professional person, and he was dubbed a "total diva" and was accused of being mean and "abusive" to the staff and others.
Also, even when Mike Lupico was doing the job that he was paid to do, sources involved with the show have reportedly claimed that he was guilty of talking way too much and not giving his fellow mouthpieces room to get a word in edgewise. In switching from panelist to host, which he did following the death of veteran host John Saunders last year, he apparently never made a point to ease up on his own opinions to allow others' in. Watching it on a regular basis makes this view seems more legit than just a random claim, but it's impossible to judge if him talking a lot was indeed worth cancelling the show over.
To be expected, there isn't really a way to get any kind of definitive proof about this, as it would likely take far more time for any ESPN execs to feel comfortable enough talking specifics about the decision. (Perhaps in a follow-up to the tell-all book They Have All the Fun.) Mike Lupica had his ESPN New York radio show cancelled in 2015 after many years of broadcasting, largely due to him getting buried in the ratings, and while it seemed like the network was giving him a leg up by making him a permanent piece of Sports Reporters, perhaps that decision is the one that sealed the series' fate.
ESPN is also making headlines this week as the target of a lawsuit from former network analyst Doug Adler, who was fired after a controversy spawned by how he referenced tennis superstar Venus Williams during a recent event. While many heard him call her a "gorilla," his lawsuit claims that he referred to her play as "guerrilla" in style, which is a common term in tennis. However that plays out, it's just one more quasi-controversial story for the ratings-troubled ESPN to add to the list.
For now, there are at least three and a half more months to get your Sports Reporters on, so be sure to watch every Sunday morning at 9:30 a.m. ET. And don't forget to keep our midseason premiere schedule bookmarked to see what new shows are hitting the small screen in the near future.