What An Opportunity

Simmons’ comedy, research make column a winner

In Sports on October 8, 2013 at 12:17 am

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For the second straight week, it is a Grantland article that earns the nod for the most sought-after prize in journalism: this college student’s prestigious presentation of The Best Sportswriting I Read This Week. This week’s recipient is quite different from previous selections; I don’t actually think the writing is that beautiful – it’s rather straightforward, in fact. But the thing that makes this column exceptional is humor, a component I absolutely love in sportswriting. Who doesn’t like to laugh, especially while reading about something they care about?

And nobody knows how to execute athletic humor better than Bill Simmons, the “Sports Guy.” He wrote his Week Five NFL column on the miserable, winless Jacksonville Jaguars, and hilarity ensued. Here is a link to it: Bottoming Out in Jacksonville. 

OK, the Jags are pretty awful, so there are a lot of easy jokes there. But what I love about Simmons’ piece is that it is actually composed of research (visiting the Jags store, examining analytics) and significant background knowledge. It reads like he has followed this team closely for years.

This is what makes Simmons great: In everything he writes, whether it’s on fixing the dysfunctional 2013 Lakers, the Trent Richardson trade from Cleveland to Indianapolis or performance-enhancing drugs, you’d think he spent all his time following the topic. Obviously he doesn’t; he’s the editor in chief of Grantland, the most widely read sportswriter in the world, an ESPN on-air personality and generally, presumably, a busy man. So, how does he do it? How does he write like a guru on a team he probably doesn’t follow all that much? My only guess is homework, unless he has minions at Grantland running around and compiling jokes for him (that might be true). I’m willing to wager Simmons didn’t whip out this Jaguars column in a day; I’ll bet it took him up to a week. Unless he just did it all in hyper speed, which I wouldn’t doubt – he is Bill Simmons, after all, and we’ve already established there’s a good chance he has Grantland Minions.

Aside: This doesn’t relate to Simmons’ writing, but I love it when Grantland includes artwork with its pieces. Dustin Parker did a great job depicting Blaine Gabbert (photo above) this week, and the feature I discussed last week (Grantland Flexed: Giraldi’s piece on Heath is astounding) included a stellar drawing of Phil Heath.

Back to Simmons: The intelligent jokes, all implemented with exquisite timing, are what make this piece superb. A few that come to mind (all of which had me essentially cackling): 1. KEENAN MCCARDELL??? (I remember Keenan McCardell! He was the man!) 2. Wait, Shad — could you pose with a fake Jaguar statue for me? (This picture is great.) 3. Even Don Jon isn’t into mascot-abuse porn. (This movie was weird.) 4. Somehow there’s only one choice: a David Garrard replica for $49.99. (David Garrard, Jaguars legend.)

So thank you, Sports Guy, for making me laugh on a weekly basis. Thank you for writing like you speak (it’s refreshing) and balancing intelligent opinions with well thought-out jokes. Thank you for spending time doing research, and for educating me while entertaining me. You, sir, are good at what you do.

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  1. I will grudgingly cede that Simmons is good at what he does, but a couple things: 1. Man he is an obnoxious Boston homer. 2. He is really bad on TV.

    • Both are very true. I love Simmons on TV though because he seems like a fan who won a “Be on TV for a night” promotion haha. He’s just so entertaining, the way he flings his opinions and theories around. Not a polished camera presence by any means… but listening to him talk makes me wish I was friends with him. – Andrew

  2. […] Oct. 8, 2013: Simmons’ comedy, research make column a winner […]

  3. […] Oct. 8, 2013: Simmons’ comedy, research make column a winner […]

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