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OT: ESPN: The Absurdly Annoying
I’ve had it.
One of my simple daily rituals takes me in unfaltering
anticipation to the ESPN front page. The ritual that it is, I’ve not missed its
execution in eons, and I always get something of a jolt when there’s something
genuinely shocking there (news of a big upset, ala Yang over Woods). I check
the front pages for my respective sports every day at one time, and then
discard all thoughts of ESPN.com from my mind until the next day rears its head
or an MGoBlog topic/diary links me back to it briefly. But not today.
Today I had to do the unthinkably dangerous and
superstitiously unhealthy thing and check the front page a second time. This
time, it led me to an article with several enthused, costumed Mexican soccer
fans on the “cover picture.” It looked like an interesting read, something out
of the ESPN-controlled “norm” of sports that usually dominates every aspect of
the site that excluding little informative niches the size of my pinky that
sometimes “gladiator” their way to the front page for a millisecond.
So I read it. Big mistake. Here it is: http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=simmons/090817.
The article was a curiously ignorant shot at American fandom
due to its apparent inferiority to Mexican fans’ passion, by ESPN’s “The Sports
A few interesting points he made in his article:
He says, ‘I asked a
hotel concierge if there was a good place to get coffee, followed by him
pointing me toward a Starbucks to our left, then saying, "Whatever you do,
don't go right."’
Somehow, this statement translated into OMG MEXICAN FANS ARE
SO PASSIONATE THEY MIGHT JUMP ME IF I GO TO THE WRONG PART OF TOWN. Bullshit. The
guy most likely told him where not to go because of how likely it is that he’d
get kidnapped by drug traffickers, not because of Mexican fandom chasing him around
‘The Mexican fans had
no problem drowning out "The Star-Spangled Banner" with jeers. They
tossed drinks and debris at the U.S. bench for most of the second half ...’
Really? Disrespecting someone else’s national anthem makes
them better fans than me or you? Really, Bill Simmons? Stay Classy.
Of course, he then brings up some examples of hostility from
his hometown Celts. And uses poor examples of hostility at American sporting
games to boot…
‘The U.S. was allotted
about 500 seats for Sam's Army (a traveling band of American fans); they were
crammed in the upper deck in one corner with armed police officers flanking
Personally, I’d be disgraced and shamed if this ever
happened at the Big House. The fact they have to do this is an absolute stigma,
and shouldn’t be a point of pride at all…
He says, “In
basketball, think of the teams that play beautifully together (like Duncan's
Spurs or Nash's pre-Shaq Suns) versus stagnant offenses that stand around watching
their best player go one-on-four (like LeBron's Cavs)…” and notes that it’s
harder to win games/championships the Cavs way.
HOWEVER, then he says this:
“Just like in basketball, you
can't win championships in soccer without a LeBron/Kobe-type player.”
That’s a contradictory statement, and Bill Simmons should
just shut up. ’04 Pistons? ’05 Spurs? ’08 Celtics? It’s just too easy. And
there are more examples in the article, but you get the idea.
This attack on U.S. fandom is one-sided, unjustified, and
unfair. This article is another example of how ESPN uses over-flowery words to
exaggerate a debatably valid point (usually “devil’s-advocate” style) with an
inappropriately named writing figure (“The Sports Guy,” whose knowledge of
sports overall hasn’t seemed to qualify him for the title, at least in my
opinion, with all due respect).
Look, I have plenty of respect for the sport of soccer; my
mom’s family lives in Germany and I was born there, I’ve seen plenty of it, and
it’s a fun sport, with beautiful plays, lots of technique, lots of nuances that
can take a fan sometimes years to truly understand. But American mainstream
sports are not by any means inferior in any of those regards, and especially
not in the “passion and quality of fan bases” regard. “The Sports Guy” and
ESPN, in this article, reflect an overlying problem and perception in modern
sports that being unsportsmanlike or in some cases downright moronic at a game make
you a more passionate fan than the man who sits at a stadium two thousand miles
away and throws nothing at the players or opposing fans, but still unleashes
endless amounts of energy pulling for his team on a Saturday night.
I’m sorry, but if you think that because Fan A can throw a
bag of piss at me during a game and that opposing fans who visit his stadium
have to be flanked by police officers, you are NOT a better fan than me, or
anyone who pulls for a quality team in the USA. You’re an idiot, and a
dangerous one to boot. Passion to me is the 95,000 people in Death Valley on a
Saturday night, not 100,000 people willing to throw beer at you and their piss
at you and call it acceptable. Disgusting.