Monday, July 30, 2012

According to Bill Simmons, the universe continues to revolve around Bill Simmons

Bill wrote an article about the Olympics.  As is the case with any subject he covers, that really means he wrote an article about himself.

You get older and older, and older, and suddenly, the Summer Olympics become a series of four-year checkpoints for your life. 

No.  No they do not.  You get older and older, and the Olympics continue to be a gigantic competition featuring athletes from all over the world run by a comically corrupt organization. 

This only happens to people who remember just about everything through the lens of sports. 

No, it only happens to self-obsessed fuckholes who cannot stop thinking/talking/writing about themselves.

That's where the word "fanatic" came from. Ever looked that word up? 

Everyone board the train to Clevertown!  No one, least of all some kind of gigantic bore like Bob Costas or Jim Nantz, has even talked about the "'fan' comes from 'fanatic'" thing before.

Here's the actual definition:

"Marked by excessive enthusiasm and often intense uncritical devotion."

Translation: "Someone who, technically, is a freaking lunatic."

Mind asplode.

When I interviewed Larry Bird earlier this year, 


I half-jokingly told him that, of the 25 best moments in my life, he was probably involved in 10 of them. 

Some highlights from the other 15:  the moment he realized that proclaiming his devotion to the Patriots was probably a good idea because they were seconds away from kicking the game winning field goal against the Rams in the Super Bowl, the moment he appointed himself official guru of the ESPN trade machine, and that one time Jimmy Kimmel publicly acknowledged that he hired Simmons as a writer for some reason.

He quickly quipped, "You need a better life." He's right. We shouldn't care about sports this much … but we do, and that's just the way it is. 

You are writing without saying anything.  Please provide substance.

I watched my first Summer Olympics back during a time when we didn't have cable television, video games, DVDs, iPads or the Internet. What did we have? 


Books, toys, board games, a handful of TV networks and a phenomenal amount of spare time. Trust me, we needed Montreal in 1976. 

Kids grew up without electronic gadgets for like 10,000 years before 1976.  I'm pretty sure you didn't "need" those Olympics.

I watched everything. Nadia Comaneci supplanted the Bionic Woman as my biggest crush. I bought loads of Sugar Ray Leonard stock and kept it through the 1980s. Bruce Jenner became just as big of a hero for me as Rocky Balboa a few months later. I even bonded with future heavyweight champion Leon Spinks because we were both missing our front teeth. That couldn't have been a more perfect first Olympics for a budding sports nut.

Pretty much every Olympics ever has a bunch of cool storylines and heroes.  1972 had Mark Spitz and Olga Korbut (to serve as Bill's crush, wokka wokka!).  1968 had Bob Beamon, Dick Fosbury and Charles Hickcox.  For what seems like the millionth time, you fucking asshole: stop inventing narratives.

From there, the Summer Olympics became an eerie reflection for whatever was happening in my life. In 1980, my parents divorced and we sold our house; naturally, that was the summer we boycotted Moscow. 

1980 was also the year of the Lake Placid winter games, which were awesome for reasons we're all pretty familiar with.  Unfortunately that doesn't fit his thesis.

In 1984, I was just a typical dorky teenager who loved sports and pop culture … and somehow, the great sports/pop culture year of all time basically fell out of the sky. 

Jesus Christ.  Holy Jesusballs.  To the extent that 1984 was the greatest sports/pop culture year of all time (it isn't), how else would it arrive other than by falling out of the sky?  Do people look two or three years into the future and say "You know, 2013 is probably going to suck, but man, 2015?  STRAP YOURSELVES IN FOLKS, THE POP CULTURE THAT YEAR WILL BE EXCELLENT!!!"  

We went from "barely any TV options" to "dozens of TV options" almost overnight, with MTV, ESPN and HBO leading the way. 

That's not sports or pop culture.  That's technological innovation.  

What better entertainment climate for Carl Lewis, Mary Lou Retton, Edwin Moses, MJ's Olympic hoops team and everyone else? Throw in the Cold War and a heavy dose of patriotic pride — remember, we dominated the L.A. games because none of the "evil" countries showed up — and Los Angeles became another way to regain our country's collective swagger after an era marred by Watergate, Vietnam, Iran, Nixon's resignation and Carter's punchless presidency. 

Three of those events were more than a decade old by 1984.  The 1976 Olympics could have just as easily been our chance to bounce back from them, but that wouldn't fit Bill's little story about 1984 being THE ONE AND ONLY YEAR in which the Olympics helped the US "regain [its] swagger." 

1984 somehow renewed everyone's faith in America as a superpower while maintaining an unparalled lack of self-awareness, with Bruce Springsteen hitting both elements (even if it wasn't intentional) in just two videos: "Born in the USA" and the now-mortifying "Dancing in the Dark."

Born in the USA is not a pro America song.  Listen to the lyrics some time, you fucking dolt.  Also HAW HAW HAW people in the 80s dressed and danced funny!

Within a year, patriotism became something of a career move for celebrities 

I'm pretty sure showing patriotism has almost always been a good career move for celebrities since whenever we first started having celebrities.

(most notably: Rambo: First Blood Part II and Rocky IV), politicians (like Reagan's second presidential campaign) 

and even wrestlers (with Hulk Hogan changing his entrance theme from "Eye of the Tiger" to "Real American"). So 1984 was the last summer when the Olympics felt, for lack of a better word, pure. 

Maybe to 15 year old Bill (born in 1969)--not to anyone with a brain.  From a "pure competitors" standpoint, steroids had been a part of the games for decades at that point.  From a raw commercialization standpoint, things wouldn't really get out of control until the 90s.  But again, what we're working with here is the idea that as Bill's life goes, the Olympics go.  When you're 15, high school might suck but you're probably not going to be too cynical about the world.  When you're 19, that cynicism is a whole lot more likely to be part of your views.

We couldn't hear the national anthem enough that summer. We didn't care that the Russians and Eastern Europeans skipped L.A., just that our gold medals were piling up. When Mary Lou pulled off her famous vault, you weren't calculating the value of her endorsement potential like you did with a teeth-gritting Kerri Strug 12 years later. 

I don't think anyone saw Strug and thought "CASH COW!"  She was probably on a Wheaties box or something, but she wasn't Michael Phelps.  Sorry, I keep letting facts and perspective get in the way of Bill's little story.  I'll stop.

We were collecting American heroes like baseball cards that year, whether they came in the form of Springsteen, Hulk Hogan, Bird, Joe Montana, Pete Rose, Huey Lewis, or everyone the Olympics were force-feeding us. We just wanted more and more heroes. I remember feeling like a true American during the '84 Olympics. That was my favorite one, hands down, bar none.

(not nodding.)

We wouldn't remember the next four Summer Olympics nearly as fondly. 

No, goddammit, no.  NO.  YOU wouldn't remember the next four Olympics as fondly.  GRRRRRRRRRRRRR SOMEONE PLEASE PUSH THIS MAN IN FRONT OF A TRAIN.

More later.


Tim N said...

You know what really helps you regain your swagger?

When your archrival gets lost on the way to the game and has to forfeit. U-S-A! U-S-A!

jacktotherack said...

"We wouldn't remember the next four Summer Olympics nearly as fondly."

I know Bill is an out-of-touch asshole, but seriously, who is this "we" he is referring to? Does he think his whole audience is his age?

I was 2 during the '84 Olympics, they really don't mean shit to me. Same with the Seoul games. But I loved the '92 Barcelona and espeically loved the '96 games in Atlanta. Bill's need to frame everything in a historical context based solely on his life and his memories is beyond fucking aggravating and makes me want to drop a brick on his head.

Ty said...

"Does he think his whole audience is his age?"

I can personally verify that Bill does not speak for nearly everyone his age.