Q: I'm 18 and just graduated high school. When my college decisions came in in April, I narrowed down my choices to Dartmouth and Princeton and had no idea what to do. Whether it's teenage indecision or my relative laziness, the only thing I could think of was your pure hatred for Princeton. So I chose Dartmouth. You, Bill Simmons, made the biggest decision I have ever made. Most likely, you will be responsible for whatever shenanigans I go through in life. Just wanted to let you know and say thanks.
-- Sam, New York
A: You're one of two things:
1. A complete liar (most likely).
2. The poster-child for 75th trimester abortions.
SG: I couldn't be prouder. To think, I saved you from a terminal case of insufferable "dooshdom."
Yes, but that was by not recomending that he go to Holy Cross.
Now I want to offer my services as the deciding vote for anyone's college choice. Wouldn't you watch a "Judge Judy"-type show in which high school seniors went on, told a "Judge" (in this case, me) a little bit about themselves, rattled off the colleges that accepted them, and then Judge Simmons made the decision? Then we could have moments like this …
Me: "OK, we're back on 'Judge Simmons.' So Michael, you're debating between Duke and Princeton. You seem like a good guy. I read your bio. You like sports, you have a lot of friends and I enjoyed your essay in which you vowed not to get married until you're 40 because love is overrated. I was particularly impressed that you were the commissioner of three fantasy leagues, and that you were suspended four months ago for trying to organize a wet T-shirt contest with girls from your prep school's sister school. They called it offensive, I call it ingenious. Anyway, I can't let you attend Duke or Princeton. Everyone hates Duke and the list of insufferable jerks from Princeton is longer than all the other Ivies combined.
"Therefore, my decision is this: I'm enrolling you at Rollins College in Winter Park, Fla. Maybe it's not Ivy quality, but it's a good school and you'll get to wear shorts to class every day. Also, every day when you're walking around campus you'll think you're a judge on 'America's Top Model.' Just trust me. This case is dismissed. And remember, folks, as always, it doesn't matter where you go to college, just what you did when you were there … and that the weather was warm. Until next time on 'Judge Simmons'!"
Let me paraphrase: "Michael, you seem like a smart guy who probably enjoys college sports. Therefore, I recommend that rather than going Princeton (a top 3 school, which has a shot at making the NCAA basketball tournament every year, and a top 3 lax team) or Duke (top 5 school, one of the best basketball and lax programs in the country), you should go to Rollins College (third tier school, no D-I sports teams) because it's warm. Case closed."
As an anecdotal aside, I've met students from Princeton, Dartmouth, Duke, and Rollins, and by far the douchiest guy was the one who went to Rollins. Ipso facto, all guys at Rollins are intolerable pricks. Good job, Simmons.
Q: Simmons, you amaze me. You are either the embodiment of the American Dream or a sure sign of Armageddon. You write for ESPN, yet you break no stories, have no sources, offer little analysis. Instead you write superfluous pieces of fluff that are only your half-baked opinion, offer no proof and constantly write about the NBA, the Red Sox and Pats to the exclusion of anything else of substance. To top it off, you seem as mature as a horny, pimply 14-year-old. I don't get it.
-- Rick D, Saint Joseph, Mo.
Tip of the cap: Bill Simmons for running this email.
Wag of the finger: Larry B for not using his real name.
Q: I am a die-hard soccer fan living abroad and agree with your theory that international soccer could take off in the States. But not everyone listens to your podcasts, so could you please make the same case in one of your columns so everyone can see it? I think it's important. Thanks and cheers from the UK!
-- T.J., Leeds, England
Can one be a die-hard fan of an entire sport? My guess is that T.J. considers himself a Manchester United fan because he once stopped in Manchester on his way to London. Whatever.
Sure. I'll do it in five short paragraphs and 500 words total. The theory goes like this …1. Americans enjoy watching the best (fill in any sport). We are elitists. That's why we like the Olympics
Which for the most part have gotten lower and lower ratings over the past 20 years.
that's why we enjoy any finals, that's why we watch Wimbledon
If some combination of Federer, Nadal, or Roddick is in it.
and the Masters
If Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, or some complete long shot has a chance of winning.
that's why we don't care about sports like the WNBA, MLS or arena football
Three leagues which I believe have finals that no one watches.
International soccer plays into this. It's the best of the best.
Actually, European club soccer is the best of the best as it includes all the best players in the world, not just the ones whose entire country is good at soccer.
2. The games zoom along: no commercials, no sideline reporters, no corporate tie-ins, no four-hour games like in baseball, no "takes 20 minutes to play the last two" like in the NBA.
I really enjoy watching high level soccer. That said:
- A lot of soccer games do not feel like they're zooming along. If both teams are ambivalent about taking the offensive, those 45 minute halves can seem like 2 hours each.
- During the Confederation Cup, ESPN had a sideline reporter. Not really the sport's fault, but still.
- "No corporate tie-ins," except for the outer perimeter of the field which has more advertisements than a minor league baseball stadium.
- While it doesn't take 20 minutes to play the last 2 minutes, a team with the lead will do anything to kill clock: meaningless substitutions, taking forever on throw-ins, etc.
you can sit down for a soccer game and say, "I'm going to spend the next two hours watching this and then I'm going to do something else." Like watch more TV.
Excellent point. Unfortunately, it was buried by "facts" that were wrong.
3. Give credit to ESPN for committing air time in non-Cup years to elite international soccer tournaments like the UEFA Cup.
The UEFA Cup is semi-elite that gets almost no air time on ESPN. Bill is thinking of the UEFA Champions League, which ESPN relegates to ESPN 2 or ESPN Classic in order to avoid scheduling conflicts with women's softball or Rome is Burning.
5. International soccer never took off here for the simple reason that American sports fans had trouble following anything they couldn't attend in person and/or watch on television at their leisure.
Yes, Americans have always loved watching tennis, golf, and Olympic gymnastics finals because those are all events that they've either attended themselves, or watched whenever they wanted.
Now? We're turning into a sofa culture; since it's more expensive to go to games, many of us find it just as rewarding to stay home, save money and watch games on a nice TV.
When did this happen, last night!? I am so out of the loop.
Throw in the Internet, DirecTV, fan blogs and everything else and you really can follow soccer from across the Atlantic.
Again, a lucid point buried at the bottom of an otherwise moronic paragraph.
That's why, over the next decade -- starting with the World Cup in 2010 -- I predict international soccer takes off to a modest degree in America during the '10s. Not to compare everything to "The Godfather," but for America, the NASL was Sonny (exciting, impetuous and ultimately self-destructive), the MLS is Fredo (weak) and international soccer is Michael (the heavy hitter who was lurking all along). That's how this plays out I think.
Call me crazy, but I think soccer played at one of its highest levels will be more successful than soccer played at one of its lowest levels.
Simmons on Brock Lesnar and Dan Henderson's recent unsportsmanlike behavior in the UFC:
I appreciate the honesty of the UFC guys -- unlike boxing, if someone trash-talks you in the weeks leading up the fight, you don't just shrug it off right after the fight like it was "part of the promotion" or some crap. There's a code of honor to it. You talk crap about me, fine. But I WILL make you pay, and after it's over, I'm not going to just shrug it off and forget what you did.
Simmons is right, except in the overwhelming majority of UFC fights that end in mutual respect. Anyone who has watched an event besides UFC 100 knows that post-fight hugs and gushing interviews are pretty par for the course in UFC. In addition, there are plenty of examples of fighters being fined/suspended/banned for unsportsmanlike behavior that endangers opponents safety.
In response to the 2md or 3rd Michael Jackson question from the mail bag:
...I've written before about how death can be a good career move (Kurt Cobain, Chris Farley, Heath Ledger, etc.)
Retarded. Completely and absolutely retarded. Let's go through the list:
Kurt Cobain: Maybe this choice would work if Kurt Cobain/Nirvana weren't already hugely popular at the time of his suicide. It's not as if they had one or two good bordering on great songs. Not only that, but he died before grunge/alt rock peaked.
Chris Farley: Three of the four movies Chris Farley starred in were financially successful. The one that wasn't was Almost Heroes, which was also the only one released posthumously. Would you really argue either of the following:
A. Chris Farley would not have kept getting lead comedy roles if he went on living.
B. Chris Farley wans't that funny, but since he died, people choose to remember him being as such.
Heath Ledger: Would he have won the Oscar for Dark Knight? My guess is no. Between Brokeback Mountain and Dark Knight was he well on his way to an equity Oscar, a la Denzel Washington for Training Day and Russel Crowe for Gladiator? Yes. Would he have commanded a high salary and had his pick of movie roles: undoubtedly.
Q: My buddies and I returned home today with a few dozen steamed crabs from a beach adventure this past weekend that involved three cougars, two Hooters waitresses and a hotel room that could only be rivaled by the room in "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" or the more recent hotel room fiasco in "The Hangover."
Me: So you and your friends had sex with 5 different women in the same tiny hotel room?
Dave, Baltimore: Uh, no, but those sluts were totally down to fuck. We just got too schwasted to bother with them. Besides bra, the shit we did to that room...it was fuckin' EPIC.
Me: Wow, how much cash did that set you all back?
DB: Well once we threw out all the empty Natty Light cans it really wasn't that bad at all. But dude, we CRUSHED it Saturday night.
After watching four straight hours of the "Entourage" marathon leading up to the Season 6 premiere
I take it back, those guys obviously sexed the cougars and Hooters girls.
we waited for the HBO content screen in anticipation of the "N for nudity" to appear. When it did, we were all thrilled and spent the next 27 minutes trying to figure out who it would be ahead of time (wagers were made and odds went off as such: Sloane 10-1, Meadow Soprano 4-1, Ari's wife 15-1, random Vince slew 1-5).
If you bet on any horse other than "Vince Slew," then you're probably a mouth breather.
When the episode ended boob-less we then argued about whether the chick Vince had in the Escalade might have actually been naked. As I sit here typing, I am looking at my TV realizing HBO has since changed the content screen to no longer say there is nudity in the episode. This should be either illegal or made good with one of the above three naked in a subsequent episode. What are your thoughts on this shafting HBO put on all of us?
-- Dave, Baltimore
My thoughts: There are few things that I'm more ashamed of than the fact that this letter came from Baltimore. If it turns out to be my friend Dave, then he and I have a date at a vacant sometime soon (THE WIRE REFERENCE).