Bill Simmons on Soccer

NEW YORK - APRIL 24: Writer Bill Simmons speaks at the panel and screening of 'Beyond Playing The Field' during the 2010 Tribeca Film Festival at the School of Visual Arts Theater on April 24, 2010 in New York City. (Photo by Rob Loud/Getty Images for Tribeca Film Festival)

Reading Bill Simmons on the NBA is a delight. Simmons on soccer? Not so much. Yesterday, the Sports Guy published an article about the World Cup, using a faux question and answer session to address his ideas for and concerns about the beautiful game.  FFG noticed some glaring errors in his analysis. Below are Simmons’ questions (in bold), his answers (in italics), and our responses (in technicolor and 3D!).

What’s been the single best thing about the Cup so far?

No onslaught of replays after every half-decent play

-This is normally one of the best aspects of watching soccer, but it hasn’t been true at the World Cup. In fact, the international feed has been quite terrible in this regard. We miss multiple possessions each game while they dither around showing Italians writhing on the ground in agony.

No gimmicky team names like the “Heat” or the “Thunder”

- Ghana Black Stars, Japanese Blue Samurai, Ivory Coast Elephants, Australia Socceroos, etc

Was it good or bad for the World Cup that Italy and France got bounced in the group stage?

I’m going with “bad.” I love when two old-school powerhouses battle with an underlying subplot of, “Yeah, it’s just soccer right now, but back in the old days, these two countries actually tried to destroy each other.”

- Ah yes, rampant nationalism. What could be better for the world?

What was the snarkiest e-mail or text you sent to a Boston friend after hearing that Kobe was attending the USA-Ghana game?

Kobe watched only six of the first 24 minutes but was still named MVP of his luxury suite.

- Ok, that’s pretty funny.

What’s been the strangest thing about the 2010 World Cup?

To hear Germany described in such likable, underdoggy tones

- This was true in 2006 as well.

After USA’s exit in the round of 16, should American soccer fans be disappointed? Proud? Ambivalent? Frustrated but appreciative?

I’d go with the latter.

- This makes sense, but some of his later points in the same section are a bit puzzling.

The blinding speed of their  young stud Mesut Ozil on the wing

Germany’s Ozil does sometimes play on the wing, but he’s normally the attacking mid in their 4-2-3-1. And he’s not that fast.

Rewatch that “WOW!!!!!!!!!” goal scored by Uruguay’s striker to beat Korea Republic

- Really Bill, you couldn’t bother asking your stat guy his name? Heck, here’s a Google search for ‘goal scored by Uruguay’s striker to beat Korea Republic.’ His name is Luis Suarez, just fyi.

We didn’t have enough speed without Charlie Davies

- Robbie Findley, unlike Ozil, is blindingly fast. Speed wasn’t a problem.

Maybe Davies and Fast Young Guy X will provide that missing burst on the wing.

- Hmm, I’m not really sure what he’s saying here. I think he meant to imply that the addition of Charlie and a young winger will provide the missing burst. His sentence, though, indicates Charlie and a young player will be the solution on the wing. Solution on the wing? That’s where our two best players prefer to suit up. And Bill, young fast guy x, at this point, is either Robbie Rogers or Alejandro Bedoya. Again, Google is your friend.

To be fair, Simmons does make some excellent points – comparing Jozy Altidore to Dwight Howard, noting Maurice Edu should have started over Ricardo Clark, complaining about the USA’s lack of quality strikers, associating an appreciation of vuvuzelas to the Stockholm Syndrome, and observing how America really embraced the squad – but it seems like he couldn’t be bothered to look up info that he didn’t already know.

Gringos – what say you? Is FFG being too harsh, or should Bill stick to the NBA and 80′s pop culture references?

5 Comments Post a Comment
  1. bensten says:

    I think most of your grievances are legit. As a long-time lover of futbol I always have mixed feelings about all the attention our game gets during World Cups. On the one hand, it gets the mass attention and energy it really deserves, and each Cup a little bit more seems to stick when all the fevers have subsided. On the other hand, you have people with very superficial experience with the game analyzing it as if it were a sister of basketball, which it’s not. I see a cricket match about once every 4 years, but heaven knows I won’t try to write about it.

    All in all, though, I think I’d rather see an article like Simmons’ than see the sport ignored, even if the fact-checking is a little lazy.

    • Blake Owen says:

      The media attention certainly is a mixed bag. I think Simmons does better than most, and I can’t really fault basketball/baseball/football writers for covering the event, especially since their editors might be pushing for it.

  2. AG says:

    Maybe every seasoned writer wants to think he can write anything, even if his sources are just hearsay lol.

    But definitely a “fail” on the instant replay question.

  3. AG says:

    speaking of people who dont know what they are talking about. check out Regis as he interviews Donovan

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