SI.com vs. ESPN.com

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I was speaking with B.J. Schecter, my editor at SI.com, earlier today. Told him that I honestly believe SI.com is now a better sports site than ESPN.com.

I truly do.

I wrote for ESPN.com for about two years. Loved the people, left on good terms, etc. I think many of their writers are truly excellent. Bill Simmons is fantastic. Jemele Hill is one of the best—but she’s rarely there these days. I loved working with Rick Reilly, and consider him one of the top writers of my generation. But they’re using him terribly. My biggest complaint about ESPN.com is that it’s sorta like an exploded burrito. There’s cheese here, tomato there, beef here. Stuff all over the place, but no centralized anything. Back when I wrote for Page 2, I felt like it had a solid mission—be funny, but mainly write great columns. These days, I don’t get it. At. All.

Plus, ESPN really needs to stop taking credit for every piece of news. It’s ethically deplorable, and also seriously annoying. Seriously, I don’t need to know that so-and-so reported that Derek Jeter plays shortstop for the Yankees.

Is SI.com perfect? No. But it’s improved 8,000 percent in the past year or two. A big part of that credit should go to B.J., who has added a fleet of extremely good writer/reporters from around the country. Joe Posnanski, Dan Shaughnessy, etc. ESPN.com’s management fancies itself as the Dan Snyder of the sports web landscape—land every big name, and hope it gels. But SI.com plugs holes in a smart, crafty way.

Yeah, I’m biased. But I wouldn’t write this if I didn’t believe it. Right now, ESPN.com and Yahoo Sports are the two most-visited sports sites on the web. ESPN puts out a better product, but not the best product.

SI does.

Disagree?

17 thoughts on “SI.com vs. ESPN.com”

  1. I go to Page 2 for Simmons and that is it. It baffles me why they continue to waste space with fluff pieces on uniform changes (Lukas) and the like. One must have the endurance of a sherpa scaling Everest in order to get through any Easterbrook column.

    Plus the recent redesign of Page 2 has the look of a blog so maybe the WWL is attempting to visually reinvent itself to hang on to readers who haven’t jumped ship to places like Deadspin, Fanhouse, etc.

  2. Any outlet/channel that employs Sal Paolantonio sucks. I’ve never seen any reporter that tries to become “the story” vs. report it more than this blowhard. He should go pound sand.

  3. I agree wholeheartedly. I go to espn.com for Simmons, my fantasy teams, and that’s it. Even the headlines usually link to a video instead of the actual story, which drives me nuts. Meanwhile si.com has 4 or 5 writers I look forward to updates from.

  4. I am a senior in college and I know I have preferred SI.com in my four years here. The best part? MMQB. Pearls of Wisdom isn’t bad, either.

  5. 1) ESPN.com practically eats up my entire bandwidth.

    2) I hate it when ESPN does a documentary piece, they interview one of their commentators and call him/her an “expert”.

    3) There are other teams besides the Yankees, last time I checked.

  6. I would say yes, but until SI gets Bill Simmons they will always be in second place. I go to SI for my sports news, but I always check Page 2 first to see if the Sports Guy has checked in.

  7. Whats with all the love for The Sports Guy? To me, his novelty has worn off. The same jokes are funny a couple of times…but I’ve read enough about his dorky friends and the Sports Gal/wifey. Really, what is so great about a guy who takes forever to tell something that is sorta funny? Plus, any sportswriter that loves the NBA as much as he does, should be looked at bit closer. Really, what is to like about 6’5 and 7 footers who can dunk, but can’t pass, shoot or defend?

  8. I think Bill Simmons is terrific. No one knows more about the NBA than he does, plus he’s a really funny writer on everything else he covers.

  9. My biggest gripe with SI.com is box scores. When it comes to reading specific columnists, the website is irrelevant to me–I’m there to read. Looking at a box score is different. SI.com’s box scores are so large that I just can’t take it. ESPN.com’s are smaller and easier to read. Also, during baseball season, it’s nearly impossible to see probable starting pitchers for the next 2 or 3 days. ESPN handles that much better.

    When SI gets that straightened out, I’ll probably quit ESPN for good.

  10. No one knows more about the NBA than he does? That is a very strong statement, MattP. Would love to hear how you can back that up? I would contend that there are thousands of historians of the game that know more than he does.

  11. I didn’t know I was in a court of law here where I’m forbidden from engaging in any kind of hyperbole whatsoever. So let me rephrase: I think he’s the best basketball writer in the country: The most informed, the most descriptive, the most thoughtful and, by far, the most entertaining. It’s incredible that his 700-plus-page book has topped the NYT best seller list and that is just one example of his popularity and prominence. I’ll also add that if there is a more well-known sports writer, I don’t know who it could possibly be.

  12. I agree with Jeff here. From a design standpoint ESPN.com is a complete mess.

    And from a content standpoint,there are a lot of guys that I like reading: Simmons, Gammons, Neyer, Onley and Lukas (I have no idea why, but he’s pretty decent). But you have to jump through a lot of hoops to get to them.

    Rick Reilly sucks though. He doesn’t even give a shit anymore.

  13. MattP, you are forgiven. But, again, I would question your opinions on whether or not he is the most informed, descriptive, thoughtful and entertaining.

  14. I agree totally that the web content on SI.com is superior to ESPN’s, especially with baseball and tennis coverage. Overall, the writing is better on SI.com; the reporting about event. SI.com’s content in many casese is superior to that of the magazine, like Peter King’s Monday column. However, I totally dig ESPN’s podcasts, and I don’t understand why they bury that content. I’m sure Wertheim and Wahl could do great tennis and soccer podcasts. I’d listen.

  15. Issue has been resolved. SI.com totally screwed the new website and viewers are abandoning it in droves. ESPN is now the clear winner.

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