Bill Simmons suspension: No ‘I’ in ESPN; shouldn’t knock the team

I don’t know of a place where an employee gets away with ripping other people or enterprises within the same company on social media.

I know the two places where I worked the bulk of my career, the Chicago Tribune and Crain’s Chicago Business, wouldn’t have allowed it. I believe that holds true for countless newspapers, magazines, and networks throughout the media business.

So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that ESPN disciplined the franchise, Bill Simmons, for ripping First Take last week via his Twitter account. Kudos to Deadspin’s John Koblin for breaking the story yesterday.

ESPN has a highly defined policy for its employees in regards to social media. It includes this edict:

“At all times, exercise discretion, thoughtfulness and respect for colleagues, business associates and fans.”

Indeed, in a place with several thousand people, virtually all of whom are highly opinionated, it would be chaos if ESPN allowed rampant criticism of the brand on social media from within. Gripe all you want within the walls of Bristol, but don’t air it in public.

In athletic terms, keep it in the locker room.

Also, I wouldn’t be surprised if this is the first time ESPN had a discussion with Simmons about its social media policy. Usually, there is more than one instance before action is taken.

How would Simmons feel if fellow ESPNers started knocking NBA Countdown? I expect ESPN president John Skipper would get an angry knock on his door.

When I heard about the suspension last night, I immediately thought of my interview with ESPN head of news Vince Doria last year. He called Twitter “a headache.”

Asked why he doesn’t tweet, Doria said: “It provides a great risk in terms to entities in terms of putting their foot in their mouth. I’ve seen plenty of examples. That’s the reason why I’ve resisted.”

I’m fairly sure the latest incident only reinforced Doria’s sentiments.





One thought on “Bill Simmons suspension: No ‘I’ in ESPN; shouldn’t knock the team

  1. I understand why he was suspended, but it was refreshing to hear somebody who matters at ESPN criticize ‘First Take’. That trash has devalued their brand, including the fantastic stuff that Simmons does.

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