Old School Sports Writers Hate Bill Simmons, Part 362

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There have been more than a few hot takes coming from mainstream media members proudly pounding their chests after ESPN’s apparent firing of Bill Simmons, who, like it or not, is the greatest sports writer of this generation. Bill – again, like him or not – essentially created an entire genre of sports writing, became the first blogger to see mainstream success, and is the mind behind some of ESPN’s best work: Grantland and 30 for 30. He’s also a millionaire.

Can you say, jealousy? HEY JEALOUSY! No, not you, Gin Blossoms. I’m talking rhetorically.

First up, Jay Mariotti – apparently still a thing – on Simmons:

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“A new century gave rise to sports websites that had to compete against legitimate journalists who actually broke news responsibly, covered games and press conferences on site, interviewed subjects, understood libel/slander law and carried the profession with savvy.”

Sounds like words that came directly from the fingers of Mike Missanelli, who also has a general disdain for those who didn’t pay their dues in the same way that he did.

And now, Les Bowen:

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Derp. Derp. Derp.

I’m not sure I can possibly have any more disdain for high-horsey sports writers who act like sports are more important than they really are and that there is simply no room in sports reporting (or entertainment, if you’d prefer) for those not trying to hide the fact that they got into the business in the first place because they loved a particular sport or team. Because here’s a little secret: 90% of sports reporting is complete bullshit. Most of what sports writers and sports media outlets consider news or legitimate commentary are trade rumors, quotes from players, the five-W facts (the who, what, where, when and why of a game), overly-serious punditry, and hacky yarns spun from the fabric of said BS. Very little of what goes on in sports media is even remotely important relative to, you know, actual news– like politics, business, crime, international relations, etc. For most reporters, the biggest story they’ll get is a hot roster or trade scoop, usually given to them by an interested party, such as a GM or agent, sometimes passed along with the intent to misinform or as a negotiating tactic. Though the dedication to the craft is commendable, and while I’m certainly not condoning bad reporting on even the most frivolous stories, it reeks of naivety when people like Missanelli, Mariotti and Bowen treat sports, a form of entertainment, like they’re on the level of some of the aforementioned topics. It’s akin Giuliana Rancic delivering a finger-wag in objectivity and restraint LIVE FROM THE RED CARPET WITH THE BEAUTIFUL KYLIE JENNER, WHOSE DSLS ARE OH SO REAL!

Simmons was the first writer, on any sort of scale, to tap into the mindset we all have as sports fans. You don’t have to like the fact that he seemingly can’t write a paragraph without mentioning the Celtics, but dismissing that style is insanely close-minded, if only because his knowledge of the NBA, specifically, is unrivaled among more traditional writers and pundits. Hidden inside a comparison to Larry Bird there’s usually an incredibly astute observation or complex nugget that you won’t find elsewhere. The fanboy approach it’s couched in is more an authentic voice than a particular “style.” What’s the great harm in sports writers – or, more generally, people who write about sports – making their allegiances known, especially now that there are so many outlets delivering the basic, ostensibly unbiased facts? Sports writers are fans, too. Or at least they used to be. Somewhere in their years of journalism school, internships, press conference transcriptions, and deadline deliveries, many traditional writers completely lost touch with their audience, which is one of the reasons why people like Simmons, or blogs like this one, have found success. With the exception of the truly weighty stories (Ray Rice or Aaron Hernandez), even the most publicized sports stories (Deflategate) are nothing more than fodder and intrigue for the entertainment medium they serve. There’s nothing wrong with that – I LOVE ME SOME INTRIGUE – but let’s not pretend this is all something it’s not.

Other topics:

Paying dues

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Fuck off. All three of these guys love to roll out jabs about not paying dues yada yada yada, and yet they completely gloss over what I would argue is the far more impressive effort of marketing yourself or your work, standing out from the crowd, and figuring out a way to earn a living without first covering swimming in Iowa for two years in your 20s. 30 years ago that was the only way to get into the business. Today, it’s probably the path I’d least recommend. I’m biased here, obviously, but I’m quite proud of the fact that five years ago I was sitting in an office at a small online marketing company and now I’m sitting in my house with my dog at my feet and a turtle head creeping out the back and writing about a topic that interests me. I imagine any other blogger, or YouTube celeb, or new media member, feels the same way. Whether you’re Bill Simmons or a hockey blogger with 400 readers, you still have to earn your audience. As for Simmons, he bartended when he wasn’t busy pioneering modern sports writing. Quite honestly, I respect that sort of thing a whole lot more than a guy just doing what he’s told long enough to get a gig covering a decent team. Bowen uses “market” and “”brand”” as if they’re bad words.  Anyone who lives outside the bubble of sports writing or reporting in general views them as necessary skills.

Ian Casselbery, writing for Awful Announcing, a site that never would’ve existed if things remained the way they were, agrees:

This feels like an opinion taken from 2004, maybe even earlier. Your eyes might get itchy from the dust being blown off it into your face.

Dismissing online writers as “fanboys” is willful ignorance, deliberately overlooking the time, work and care that goes into the content most of us consume these days. No, many of these writers didn’t pay the same dues that traditional media laid forth, such as covering prep sports, doing office work, or performing stringing assignments. But they often worked for free, churning out content to be competitive, hoping for a break from the rare outlet that provided paying work.

 

This nonsense

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First of all, his thoughts weren’t misconstrued, because I specifically wrote that I was critiquing Bowen, not ripping Hochman. Second, Simmons is probably better than anyone on Earth at putting sports into societal context. Just because Les doesn’t get the references doesn’t mean Simmons and many others aren’t doing it.

 

Money

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Horseshit. Simmons was making over $3 million per year at ESPN. My guess is that Bowen makes somewhere around $80k. He’d pull a hammy jumping at an offer to transcribe Simmons’ unedited prose for money like that, even though he acts as if Simmons is the Floyd Mayweather of this particular craft. You know, sonny, you couldn’t give me all the money in the world to behave like a reprehensible being… that writes about sports in a way that makes it seem as though he enjoys them. Right. And just for transparency: I’d blow a donkey, daily, for $3 million per year.

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48 Responses

  1. … “like it or not, (Bill Simmons) is the greatest sports writer of this generation” … #IndictmentOrCompliment

  2. Simmons is far from the best writer ever but I’ll be damned if he didnt completely change the game when it came to how we receive our information when it comes to sports.

  3. Not a huge fan of Simmons, although he’s (was) pretty much the only good thing about ESPN. I appreciate his contributions to the 30 for 30 series and Grantland always has some interesting articles but he isn’t nearly as smart or witty as thinks he is, and he got incredibly annoying once he was put on camera, let alone thinking Jalen Rose would be good idea. The boston homerism doesn’t bother me because the guy is first and foremost a fan who is a great success story, I was just never crazy about him……And yes you are correct Kyle, these old fucks are jealous of the guy. Especially these local guys like Les who might be the worst read in town and isn’t Mariotti the guy who’s first article when he got hired in chicago was about how overrated Jordan was? Whoa!!! This guy is Fuckin Cutting EDGe, LookOUT!!!! HACKS All of them

  4. “I’m biased here, obviously, but I’m quite proud of the fact that five years ago I was sitting in an office at a small online marketing company and now I’m sitting in my house with my dog at my feet and a turtle head creeping out the back and writing about a topic that interests me.”

    But again, this goes back to marketing to an extent. You are certainly not successful for your quality of writing, which is mediocre. This website is successful because you get a certain audience, know how to provide snark content that appeals to them and monetize it. The old guys are bitter at the fact the craft of writing is being butchered by people who didn’t put in time actually writing, whether it be in Iowa or somewhere else. It has less to do with what is being covered and more to do with the quality of writing.

    I like Bill Simmons, but he falls into that category as well. He is not a great writer but is wildly successful. I understand why people who are better at what they do are bitter.

    1. You are absolutely correct, if Kyle ever started requiring Facebook or some other kind of log in to this site’s comments section, he should probably start sending out his resume that day. This section is the only thing that keeps this site alive.

  5. To a degree, Bowen is right about Simmons. 30 for 30 was and is spectacular. Grantland is a solid daily visit for me, but Simmons writing is overhyped and overrated. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate the guy. I have both of his books including an autographed copy of Now I Can Die in Peace. I remember in 2004 loving that book and being insanely jealous of his experience of watching the Sox win it all. But, he’s still writing the same columns in 2015 that he was in 2002. He invented a genre and paved the way for the proliferation of sports blogging, but that doesn’t make him William Faulkner.

    1. Crossing Broad is closed for the day. Official posting hours are from 10:00a and 5:15p, Mon-Fri. If any breaking news occurs during our off hours, we will be sure to post about it the following business day. Thanks for stopping by!

      1. Yeah love dem freckles on her cans. Wouldn’t mind seeing her tities showing off all trashed again this summer in Avalon.

        1. I’ve asked this before and I’ll ask it again: She self promotes just as much if not more than KC McKC (seriously, it’s never ending selfies and stupid ass pictures of quotes in a cursive font that girls think are deep) but we don’t kill her about it at all. Why is that?

          1. I wrote a nice summary on why I dont think Jillian gets the same amount scorn but the Dickhead who runs this show deemed it too harsh i guess, idk why. In a nutshell, JM comes across as a sweet innocent girl who you wouldn’t mind spending time with, while the other is an insecure jersey chaser

            1. Both are attention ho’s, but Jilly is a Montco prep-schooler, while HTKC is straight-up jock-sniffing white trash. There’s your difference.

  6. The greatest sports writer of a generation? Holy hyperbole. Any one of the dozen or so writers that worked for him would likely disagree. Wow.

  7. People like Les Bowen are what’s wrong with sports media, specifically football media. The game has gotten so big that all these media guys think what they’re covering is the most important thing going on in the world. Let’s not forget that it’s just a game. All these football writers are just clinging on to the NFL machine. Take this deflate gate nonsense. These writers/analysts are reporting like this is some giant conspiracy on the level of the JFK assassination or the Watergate scandal. If you take a step back and look at it without blinders on, we are talking about air pressure in a ball. I mean how ridiculous is it that this is actually a thing? Simmons writing keeps things interesting. He’s not out there blaming coaches for lack of access in the off season. He writes his own stories based on his own research. Something these football writers and Les Bowen should think about getting into.

  8. Tom Brady suspended 3 games and fined a million dollars by the NFL. #NFL What’s your take? #take

  9. Even the assholes at ESPN couldn’t put up with me any longer. I’m the greatest sportswriter of which generation? The generation of shallow asshole super fans?

  10. Ladies and gentlemen I present to you Matt Lombardo and Joe Staszak,co-captains of the Tom Brady fanclub.Those two morons have turned a Philadelphia sports talk radio station into a pro New England fanboy worship center.

  11. Bowen and missanelli are those old guys in the office that can’t grasp the fact people can work from home and actullay be productive these days.

  12. I get that you owe him for your current business model, Kyle, but you’re coming off as over compensation here. Youre resisting the ignorant crying of “old media” by disrespecting them in the same way they disrespect you. You’re making broad assumptions about their career trajectory by claiming that OF COURSE they hates and did not appreciate their entry level experiences. You don’t know that to be true. I’m not in media but I had my own entry level positions and, while I would never return to them, I certainly appreciate them and honor that they got me where I am today.

    And Simmons has been writing the same article with the same references and same self-aggrandizing for ten years now. He’s a smart dude with some good observations, but he’s also a mysoginistic egomaniac whose drunk on his own self-indulgence. I can’t tell if he’s out of ideas our just doesn’t give a frak.

    1. Right on man – Kyle can’t handle the fact there are real Journalists who actually worked for and deserve their positions more than guys wearing their underwear banging on a keyboard with an internet connection. Although entertaining, blogs are inferior to the real deal like Bowen and Mariotti.

  13. I admire and respect the way les Bowen and mike miss go about their business. Old school

  14. Love him or hate him, Simmons was/is an innovator, something that many of our local scribes are not — especially blowhards like Gargano and Missanelli, two old schoolers who should have retired years ago. I’m listening now to Gargano do his daily monolog, talking over people …stammering, acting out like the fanboy he is. Gargano needs to hang it up, and just become a full-time pitchman for Family, Primo Hoagies, Bob means jobs. Missanelli is unable to get over himself. The sad part is that neither one of them is able to change with the times. They are stuck in the past, refusing to recognize how sloppy and lazy they’ve become over time.

  15. “I’m not sure I can possibly have any more disdain for high-horsy sports writers who act like sports are more important than they really are and that there is simply no room in sports reporting (or entertainment,”

    You could have saved 1,000 words and just ended after that first sentence….and as usual yours is a completely straw argument/rant Kyle. What do you moonlight for Fox News? Sports reporting HAS been entertainment for decades, has nothing to do with old/new journalism. You don’t think Bob Ford etc etc strived to be informative AND entertaining every week? What the fuck is wrong with you.

  16. First of all. I really don’t care about any of this, but I just need to say..

    This has been happening since the beginning of time. This is the “older crowd not getting it” with the new generations. And the new generations being reckless dummies who just don’t know what’s “good” or” quality ” to the older people.

    The Beatles were terrible when they hit the scene to the older crowd.

    Then the People who “knew” how great the Beatles were hated on Metallica, Nirvana, Alice in Chains, Biggie Smalls, etc..

    Now Gen x’ers have it right since most new music today sucks balls, big hairy balls.

    See what i mean?

    1. Music does suck today. Other than Joe Bonamassa, is there anyone else out there under 40 that can actually play the electric guitar and not just strum chords?

  17. What does Simmons being a millionaire have to do w/anything?

    With that said, it does take a special “talent” to be one of among 4 dozen writers to cover a scripted press conference & to edit club-produced press releases.

  18. Agree with Kyle here, I am older than most of the younger tools on this site but have been reading Bill Simmons for 15 years and lots of his early to middle writing wasn’t good it was fantastic. d-bag writers are jealous of course…..simmons will get 8 mill a year from fox or tnt to clean skinners clock….wait and see

  19. “Simmons is a millionaire”

    What fucking year do you think this is Kyle, 1982? Everyone over 50 who can write complete sentences is a millionaire. You sound like a more pathetic Dr. Evil.

  20. I still like some of the ‘older’ guys. Bob Ford’s column in Sunday’s Inquirer about DelVal’s Rasheed Bailey trying out at wide receiver for the Eagles was great. Local story about local athlete done by a local writer who took the time to interview him and his coach. I don’t see stories like that on the internet too often. As far as ‘being as millionaire’ goes, by the time Kyle is one, he’s going to realize a million doesn’t buy what it used to.

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