Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Bill Simmons Would Like You to Focus On Important Stuff!

It is hugely ironic to me that Bill Simmons is so outraged at the level of coverage given to the Bill Belichick issue that he has decided to preach to us and the networks about how our news prioritization is fucked up. This is a guy who has written thousands of words about old, socially irrelevant television shows and running diaries on completely useless shit. I’ll let him take it away:

We live in a world in which global-warming activists charter private jets to take them from speech to speech, then tell people not to use so much toilet paper. We live in a world in which American kids are getting killed every day in the Middle East and nobody will mobilize a valid protest until the President finally decides, "We're having a draft lottery." We live in a world in which you can Google the female star of the most popular Disney TV movie ever and see her naked, and NBC runs a popular show in which they trap potential child predators and film the confrontations on TV. We live in a world in which high school kids can decide they don't like another high school kid, so they can build an anonymous slam page and libel the hell out of him, and even though this happens and keeps happening, we still don't have any set-in-stone Internet laws to prevent this. We live in a world in which Perez Hilton and TMZ.com get their own TV shows, but "Friday Night Lights" is two months away from getting canceled. We live in a world in which every home run record from the past 10 years has to be taken not just with a grain of salt, but an entire salt shaker.

So save me the moral indignation about CameraGate. The whole world is screwed up. We watch football every week because the games are entertaining, because it's something to do, because it gives us something to discuss with our friends, co-workers and family members. If you're searching for a football-related moral cause with some meat, watch this month's feature about Earl Campbell on "Costas Now." He's the Texas hero who got chewed up and spit out by professional football; now he suffers from crippling back and knee problems and needs a cane or a wheelchair to get around. The NFL makes roughly a kajillion dollars a year, only its player's union doesn't give two craps about a deteriorating ex-star like Campbell, one of the watershed stars of the '70s and someone who helped push the league to its current heights. They have a lame pension program and no disability benefits, and they have a union head (Gene Upshaw) who openly admits he's paid to worry about current players and not former ones ... even though he's a former player himself. Of course, that story isn't nearly as controversial as the current Patriots scandal because we can't slap a "Gate" behind it. Too bad.

We live in a world where Bill Simmons gets paid to write running diaries of the Scripps National Spelling Bee and Comedy Roasts; where he gets paid to write about his favorite YouTube clips; where he gets paid to write about Las Vegas once a month, name drop his buddies, reference archaic, meaningless shows like Beverly Hills 90210 and talk incessantly about TV and Movies in a sports column. He should be licking is chops to write about an actual news story involving the NFL…on the field.

Simmons’ point is mind-bogglingly stupid but his self-righteousness is in his way of seeing that. Bill, Iraq has been going on for YEARS, so has just about all the things you noted (or other similar things), which is why during the Patriots game, the first game since “Camera-gate”, THAT was the big story. Who cares if, in the grand scale of immoralities, it ranks below other highly questionable circumstances? On Sunday, during the only NFL game on at night, and with the Patriots playing, it WAS STILL the story. You can’t get mad because one commentator didn’t interrupt the other to say, “Can we talk about Earl Campbell’s knees for one sweet minute?” It's not like they didn't cover the game and just rambled about the issue for 3 hours.

Nothing in your rant changes what should have been the story in the specific context of the Patriots game. During the first game after the incident, the incident IS the story (even if racism and war exist in the world). If Tony Dungy was accused of what Belichick is accused of, then you would be talking about it 10 times as much and with 10 times the disdain. You would be demanding that the Patriots be allowed to play the Bears to re-do the Super Bowl without the cheatin’ Colts.

I understand that Bill’s point was not that Global Warming or the Iraq war should have been front and center stories on Sunday night NFL. I guess his point was the world is so screwed up, we should just focus on the product on the field and minimize off-the field news. Did he actually talk about steroids there? Now THAT is a story that has received more than its share of attention. We should ignore the camera story and talk about it even more, because it's had a greater impact on sports? For a sportswriter to be so dismissive of a sports issue because it is minor in a global context (or even a global sporting context) is laughable. Especially when that sportswriter is the king of writing about inconsequential bullshit that is trivial even to the professional sports “world”.

The crazy thing is that Bill had a lot of good observations about the actual game. It’s too bad he couldn’t do what he was asking of the commentators and stop harping on “camera-gate”. The column is more effective and a lot less maddening without the two paragraphs I cited above.


Anonymous said...

Amen! Thought pretty much the same thing when I read it. The only thing I'll add is that he is trying to point out that's "only sports" and then ends his list of "real world" issues with a sports issue, i.e. steroids.

Hey Bill, kids are starving in Darfur, who cares if we have to question who the real NL home run champ was in 2001?

Anonymous said...

The worst part of his rant is that he's completely wrong about a critical fact. He states:
"Look, I know everyone now assumes the Patriots have been cheating for the past six years, even though they hadn't been penalized even once before last weekend; even though no coach or player has left New England since 2002 and blown the whistle on them."

He later implies that this was a one-time mistake by the Pats.

But that's just incorrect. The Packers confirmed that the Patriots were doing it to them last year, and other teams like the Lions have also stated that they had come across this before. To conclude this was a one-time exception is totally incorrect.

Anonymous said...

I also find it odd that Simmons constantly glorifies sports and his favorite teams, right up until the point that one of "his" teams screws up and gets caught. Then, all of a sudden, sports are too glorified in America...