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Those Guys Have All the Fun: Inside the World of ESPN

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3.72  ·  Rating details ·  12,208 ratings  ·  616 reviews
In the exclusive behind the scenes look, sports fans can unlock the fascinating history of the channel that changed the way people watch and interact with their favorite teams.
It began, in 1979, as a mad idea of starting a cable channel to televise local sporting events throughout the state of Connecticut. Today, ESPN is arguably the most successful network in modern tele
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Hardcover, 763 pages
Published May 24th 2011 by Little, Brown and Company (first published January 1st 2011)
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Average rating 3.72  · 
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 ·  12,208 ratings  ·  616 reviews


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Katie B
I loved the author's previous book about SNL so much I've read it twice. While this book is certainly a comprehensive look at ESPN throughout the years, it's not always the most fun read. There were sections of the book that were boring, particularly when the focus was on the financial side of the network. There were definitely stories of behind the scenes drama, but to be honest I was hoping there would have been more. Maybe since so many of the people interviewed still work for the network, th ...more
Justin
Jun 06, 2011 rated it liked it
This was essentially two books in one, and was wildly uneven. The first hundred pages or so were the grindingly slow recap of the origins of ESPN, and the detailed description of chasing down financing and pricing out satellite transponders was less than riveting. (Having said that, I am now well prepared to start a fledgling cable company, and am currently finalizing a bid to purchase the rights to broadcast old episodes of Entertainment Tonight.) I am not one to flip ahead in a book that I'm r ...more
Bro_Pair أعرف
Nov 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
This might be five stars, except that authors make fun of the Irish sport of hurling at one point. Assholes. Fuck you.
Michelle
Jun 19, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2011
3.5 stars. A fascinating (sometimes more than others) look at the lifespan of EPSN. As an oral history, this book really isn’t “written” but instead involves the cobbling together of various firsthand accounts, with the occasional commentary by the authors thrown in. This works for the most part because you get a sense of the various personalities. Also, it’s fun when people contradict each other.

The thing that struck me the most, at least at first when my husband asked why the hell I was readi
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Kirsti
The most interesting stat in this book: About $4 of every monthly cable bill in the country goes to ESPN . . . even if the customer never watches ESPN.

"If you never cried when your team lost, you really shouldn't work at ESPN. You just won't get it." --Jean McCormick

"This place is really like an island of misfit toys, like who else would employ these people? What would they do?" --Steve Berthiaume

"Ted Williams was actually setting up snacks for us because he was afraid we would be tired, hungry,
...more
Rick
Jul 27, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, sports
If taken literally the sub-title would suggest that if all the fun to be had has been had by the guys at ESPN then none is left for the reader, which is about right. This book is as much fun as the worst high school reunion you ever went to—mostly boring stories, hyped glories, and stabs at score settling by ESPN’s mostly male “mean girls.” Basically ESPN was a brilliant idea, well-executed (minus the sexist shenanigans that plagued its early years and the infighting for credit), particularly fr ...more
Amber
Jul 03, 2011 rated it liked it
This is an interesting, but flawed, book about the history of ESPN, full of lively stories and good analysis of the network's rise to prominence, but ultimately rather soft. It's an oral history, which I didn't realize going in and found off-putting to read at first. Ultimately it's an effective story-telling mechanism, but it really limits the extent of distant analysis of what happened, and especially criticism of the parties involved.

Nonetheless, you do get a good feeling for a few of the mai
...more
Margaret Schoen
Jun 06, 2011 rated it really liked it
This book is great if you love sports. Rather, this book is great if you love watching ESPN, which is not the same thing. Shales does the same basic trick he did with the SNL book -- interviews anyone who had anything to do wit the subject, and strings the interview quotes into a story, with a few bits of exposition tucked in here and there. That sounds easy, but making it all come out coherently, with some semblance of order, must have been a monumental task, and my hat is off to him.

That said,
...more
Kate
Sep 01, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: books-about-work
It's obvious that this one is too long. The book is 763 pages, and the audiobook, which is what I'm doing, is 24 CDs. After the book gets done chronicling "the rise of ESPN," it really loses steam and starts to meander -- just covering the big headlines from the past decade or so, one after another. My impression, whether or not this is true, is that the authors did a mountain of interviews, selected every halfway interesting tidbit, and then arranged them in chronological order. This may be goo ...more
Brian Eshleman
Dec 30, 2014 rated it liked it
My kingdom for a storyteller! This book consisted of snippets from interviews along the inside players at different phases at ESPN. For that reason, it was interesting, but there is good enough material for a five-star book. The decision to just include quotes after quotes after quotes decreased the enjoyment of the final product. The reader hears from a lot of people whose perspective is interesting, but the narrative is never woven together in a way that, ironically, made ESPN famous.

Tight edi
...more
Michael Berman
Some oral histories are really interesting, because they have a "you were here" aspect to them that a traditional history doesn't have. Others are just an excuse to allow the "writer" to slack off, and not add any context or analysis. While it is interesting (at least a bit) to read about the specifics behind the rise of ESPN, this book, in my opinion falls into the latter category. I made it about a third of the way through before I gave up.
Jamaal Buckley
Jan 10, 2012 rated it it was ok
Is it possible for a book that is 700+ pages to be disjointed? To feel as if it is missing something? Have you ever felt like you didn’t get the full story, or that you were cheated after reading something that could easily be confused for a dictionary? If you have, then you know what I am feeling right now. If you haven’t, and you don’t want to share in this not-so-wonderful feeling with me, then I suggest you stay as far away as you can from Those Guys Have All the Fun: Inside the World of ESP ...more
Jamie
May 24, 2011 rated it it was ok
The last time it took me four months to read a book, it was "Europe Central." Before that, "Infinite Jest," and prior to that one, "Don Quijote."

In other words, the last time it took me four months to read a book, the book had the decency to be good.

"Those Guys Have All The Fun" should have been a breeze for me. I should have had a blast reading it. After all, I'm its total target audience: an ENORMOUS fan of both oral histories and sports. I've never read an oral history that I didn't adore. I'
...more
Owen
Jun 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
I couldn't go below four with this one, even thought I thought long and hard about it. This is an exhaustive tome on the vagaries of all things espn. This book fascinated me for long stretches (and the stretches are loooong indeed), illuminating things going on behind the scenes of events that marked epochs through my childhood. On some level, even though I knew that it couldn't possibly be true, I believed that the espn headquarters was a place where mascost and athletes roamed freely, acting o ...more
Sean Saxe
Sep 11, 2011 rated it it was ok
This book has two conflicting problems. First of all, it is too long to read as a single narrative. Secondly, it is too short to adequately delve into the intricacies of the stories it wishes to tell. For every fully developed and interesting vignette, there are half a dozen 1-2 page summaries of what seemed to be very interesting and nuanced developments in the company. When confronted with these stories, often the editors had a hard time fully contextualizing their importance to ESPN or the sp ...more
AC
May 20, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I grew up watching ESPN. I was a 90s ESPN child. I watched it everyday. I stayed up to watch Olbermann and Patrick. My friends and I would share catchphrases. I loved Craig Kilborn, SO I was excited to read this tome (at 800 pages, it is a tome).

The first 2 chapters were excruciatingly boring. It read like a business text. As a result it was difficult for me to get into the flow of the narrative. Luckily it picked up.

The book is told through first person accounts. However, the chapters are long
...more
Bob
Jul 02, 2011 rated it it was ok
This lengthy oral history of ESPN had a huge amount of buzz before it. There was an embargo on its release to help drum up interest.

But like a summer blockbuster, all the interesting stuff was in the trailer. The book is 700 pages full of TV executives talking about expanding market share, blowhard ESPN anchors talking about how wonderful they are and how awful other people are, and then there are bits and pieces about the seemingly rampant sexual harassment at the cable sports network.

I watch a
...more
Rich Sanidad
Sep 29, 2011 rated it it was ok
I thought this was going to be a lot better than it was. I didn't mind the epistolary-like format; in fact, I thought it was appropriate for this type of book. However, I did have a problem with the inordinate amount of space allotted to executives. If you look at the index which lists where to find quotes from all of the personalities that are featured in the book, you can easily see that the majority of the book is composed of quotes from presidents/vice-presidents/etc. It made sense for the e ...more
Ben
Feb 09, 2012 rated it liked it
I appreciate the fact that the authors put in a lot of work in collecting all of their interviews and in organizing them into a cohesive narrative. At times, I was a little disappointed in what they chose to emphasize and what not to emphasize. For instance, I thought the discussion over the politics of the Monday Night Football announcer booth dragged on for too long. The book also mentions ESPN's reality show "Dream Job" from a few years back and notes that it received an extraordinarily high ...more
Devyn Duffy
Jan 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: ESPN viewers, present or past
Presents itself as "the story" of ESPN, but it's only one possible story. It's in-depth about the things that interest the authors, but the choices of what to cover and what not to cover are seemingly random: for example, pages upon pages of Tony Kornheiser (why?), but little about hockey, not a word about how ESPN came to air Australian Rules Football in the '80s, almost nothing about soccer until more than 700 pages in, and the Women's College World Series is not even mentioned. NFL Primetime ...more
Michael
Mar 07, 2013 rated it liked it
It give it 3.5 stars if I could. Overall, a very well done piece with an exhausting amount of research done by the authors. The executive side of the book is dry and has a lot of self-celebration. It's hard for me to relate to wealthy white men complaining that 250,000/ year wasn't enough for their efforts. The ESPN personalities make this book worth reading. As expected, the Olberman, Simmons and Kornheiser sections of the book provided the most entertainment and candid passages.

The main highl
...more
Bryan
Mar 28, 2013 rated it liked it
My family didn't have cable when I was a kid, and my parents weren't sports fans, so really I learned to appreciate sports at the same time I learned to appreciate watching SportsCenter at lunch between classes in college. I remember the classic Olbermann and Patrick years very well.

This book is interesting because of that, but it has its flaws. One is the sheer proliferation of characters, who are only introduced the first time they appear in the oral history format. I'd find myself reading a s
...more
Michelle
Feb 15, 2012 rated it it was ok
Heavy in weight, overt pomposity and self-congratulation, this book is for the future business executive who also happens to be a sports lover. Perhaps they can have it at all chapter meetings of the Toastmasters' clubs, as well.

The beginning is fascinating/whip-smart/gleeful only to turn into one of the most boring books I've ever read. Too bad that meant slogging through 400+ pages of the tedious stuff as this tome comes in at over 700 pages.

Not even for the die-hard ESPN fans; I only hope an
...more
Mandy
Jun 18, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I learned more about how to deal with sexual harassment in the workplace from this book than from any other source. Also, could have been edited down to 500 pages easily.
Sandi
Massive oral history of the origins of ESPN and its subsequent rise to the top of the sports entertainment world. A bit too long and loosely focused but, for a fan, a worthwhile read.
Sarah Sorenson-wagner
Mar 16, 2012 rated it did not like it
Proud I took on my husband's challenge to finish this book. Now I know about all the broadcasters, but I don't like ESPN much more.
Tim Murnin
Dec 03, 2012 rated it it was ok
Long, meandering and filled with pages and pages of details about things no one would care about (took forever to get to the part where the network actually went on the air)
Matthew
Jul 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
This book did a good job of not just showing what goes on behind the scenes at ESPN but what happens at a big media corporation. Its a great book to read if even if you're just a casual fan of ESPN.
Jennifer Didik
Nov 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Liked this way more than I thought I would.
Dachokie
Jul 29, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: sports
A Cavalcade of Egos ..., July 1, 2011

As a sports fan whose mid 1980s college experience included an addiction to the then-budding network, buying THOSE GUYS HAVE ALL THE FUN: INSIDE THE WORLD OF ESPN was a no-brainer. Looking back, ESPN was THE channel to get everything about anything that was sports related ... and it had NO peers. The title of the book was titillating enough; we were going to get an invasive peek into the Mecca of sports media and discover the dirty, scandalous lives of those
...more
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JAMES ANDREW MILLER is an award-winning journalist and co-author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Those Guys Have All the Fun: Inside the World of ESPN; Live from New York: The Complete, Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live as Told by Its Stars, Writers, and Guests, which spent four months on the New York Times bestseller list; and Running in Place: Inside the Senate, also a bestseller. He ...more

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