Friday, June 3, 2011

A Fan of a Fan

There is a long profile of Bill Simmons, ESPN's Sports Guy, in the NYT.  I have been a fan of his stuff for about a decade now--his columns, books, and podcasts.   He is about five years younger than me so that his pop culture references work for me, although he has paid far more attention to 90210 and I to Hogan's Heroes.  To be clear, my lecture style of using pop culture at times to explain concepts precedes my fandom of Simmons (Footloose as a model of chicken was way before  But I am clearly influenced by Simmon's in my sports fandom and in my blogging.
His power resides in the overall effect of his columns, the mix of honesty, enthusiasm, smart analysis and an implicit recognition that for fans, anyway, the sports experience is bound up with moments in our lives.
 I now pay far more attention to basketball due to his columns, podcasts and his book.  I even sort of root for Boston teams in part because I know more about them than I did before (even though that betrays a basic Sports Guy set of values about fidelity).  That and because Montreal is essentially in Boston's sports market except (and this is a huge exception) for hockey where Boston is very much the enemy. I enjoy his discussion of gambling on sports even though I restrict my gambling to poker. I do now think of odds, lines, and prop bets thanks to Simmons as well as Chad Millman's blog.  Indeed, I have become a fan of some folks who appeared on Simmons's podcasts, such as Millman and Alan Sepinwall.

In terms of blogging, I use some of his terminology, like chill scenes or Tyson zone (referring to Mrs. Spew is a direct rip-off of his Sports Gal); integrate twitter and blog to react to live events (as opposed to dead ones); build on his fantasy sports fixation with my Lost fantasy league; rank movies; and lots of other ways that may be less obvious.  Perhaps I am more accepting of my narcissism since Simmons has parlayed his into tremendous success?

I think Simmons's greatest asset is his ability to make him the conduit of our vicariousness.  Ok, that is not well phrased, but we get to experience what he experiences.  We get to be the fan talking to William Goldman, Charles Barkley, Chad Millman, and his cast of friends.  We live sports and pop culture through him.

And most importantly, he majored in Poli sci.

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