Stood Up By The Sports Guy

Update From Mark: The title and notion that we were “stood up” was written firmly tongue-in-cheek. Seems like it didn’t come across that way to some readers based on the comments. However, we certainly appreciate the impassioned discourse. For 45 days a note sat in the sidebar about the Campaign. This post was to wrap it up, say we failed and thank people for making the effort.


Assuming you can be stood up by someone who never actually said “yes,” the USMNT faithful were stood up by faux USMNT fan Bill Simmons of last week when the Yanks took on Costa Rica at an emotional RFK stadium. And thus we came to the unsuccessful conclusion of the Bill Simmons Campaign.

Based on the emails we received and various message boards around virtual America, I know everyone put forth a great effort to reach out to Simmons via email and twitter imploring him to attend the final World Cup qualifier. (Matthew and I explored other avenues to make direct contact, but were ultimately unsuccessful as well.)

To all who did what they could, THANK YOU.

To be honest, I knew the campaign was in some trouble when Simmons opened a recent “Mailbag” with an ode to October as the best month for sports and didn’t even make a casual reference to World Cup qualification matches.

The Sports Guy was not in the stands (as far as we know and with his second half tweets as evidence) for the dramatic draw, but it sounds like he wishes he was there. (Don’t we all!)

Here’s an excerpt from his Friday NFL column:

RFK STADIUM (-3) over Any Other Soccer Venue
Did you see Wednesday’s incredible USA-Costa Rica game? Phenomenal crowd, upper decks hanging over the field, entire sections swaying, tons of history … the whole thing was Estadio Azteca-esque, only without the fluid-throwing. I was lucky enough to stand on that field once with the Hogs for a 2002 column. It’s an incredible place. Every seat feels like it’s right on top of you. So can’t we just make it official? Every big American soccer game should be played in RFK. We need the home-field advantage. Done and done.

Most interesting to me was that Simmons made no mention of Charlie Davies or The Salute in his note; especially considering the human side of sport and fan experience is what this guy’s career was been built on.

Let me let the statement resonate with you.

A guy who makes his living speaking from the fan perspective didn’t even note the tribute to  Charlie D, the player who scored the only goal that the “Sports Guy” ever saw in person.

(I’ll leave the debate about RFK as the national stadium to you guys and Jason Davis over at Match Fit who recently addressed the subject. Is Simmons qualified to offer an opinion on a national stadium for the USMNT…umm, no.)

In reality, the inclusion of the above snippet in his weekly NFL column seemed like Bill Simmons was tossing a bone to the soccer fans among his faithful readers. Kind of like a “See guys, I still follow soccer.”

For all the reasons we stated in the original piece kicking off the Campaign it was worth giving it a try as there is no denying the coverage by Simmons would have been a boon to Soccer in America. However, at the end of the day, soccer was simply a convenient August distraction and fodder for Simmons’ columns when needed.

Hey Bill, can we at least get a response the next time your soccer crush kicks in?

No caption needed

Honestly, "Sports Guy," how could you miss this? (Awesome photo by Matt Mathai.)

23 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by matthewsf on 2009/10/21 at 11:47 PM

    Good piece Mark — this will be just one piece of a future column on how ESPN is completely flubbing coverage on soccer in the USMNT and some direction on how they can improve it.


  2. And what’s the point of Bill even mentioning the “great atmosphere” at the game. He wasn’t there, probably didn’t catch it on ESPN2 (I’m sure he was watching the Yankees or something like that on ESPN).

    So what… he YouTubed it? Read about it in the Washington Post? Why even mention something he clearly didn’t see or experience?

    We all experienced it in some way: personally (I was actually there!) or on TV or the Internets, but he just half mentioned something he later heard about. Hardly even a bone. It was like his editor wrote it and dropped it in (“Oh, Bill you forgot we were doing soccer now!”)


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2009/10/22 at 5:13 AM

      That is a great point — how the hell can he comment firsthand on this.

      I guess–coming from my journalism background–that a major sports media company would allow this type of writing to take place.

      I was paying complete attention to the game at the 9th minute because I knew what was going on and I could audibly here with the volume up “Charlie DAVE-EZ! Charlie DAVE-EZ!” — that’s the only atmosphere I recognized on TV — until the end of the game after that 9th minute there was no shots of the crowd, no sideline reporting….

      Great point.


    • Maybe all of our pleas enticing him to come should’ve contained offers of Free Beer…


  3. Posted by EdTheRed on 2009/10/22 at 6:49 AM

    He live-tweeted twice during the game – he watched it live:
    “On ESPN2: USA-Costa Rica game is heating up. Good job by RFK’s crowd. The 50-foot Daniel Snyder pinata got them fired up.8:39 PM Oct 14th from UberTwitter”

    “My God! How do you say “Stomach Punch Game” in Costa Rican? USA! USA! USA!9:00 PM Oct 14th from UberTwitter ”

    And then the next morning:
    “This is sooooooo great. RT @videnieks Unbelievable Honduran audio for USA scoring to tie Costa Rica. AM Oct 15th from web”

    And he’s got two young children and is about to embark on a nationwide book promo tour…I’ve got ONE toddler, I live *in* DC, have no upcoming book tour planned, and it was hard enough for me to get to the game. To quote Quentin in Pulp Fiction, “I don’t wanna get f*cking divorced.”

    Sure, he could’ve sent an email, or at least dropped a tweet, but oh well, for a guy who’s as widely-read as Simmons is to write even a teeny bit about soccer without ripping it to shreds in classic Dinosaur Sports Journalist fashion is a hell of an improvement over soccer’s treatment in the mainstream sports media in the very recent past.


    • I agree with this very much. A certain Vidic-stalking DC-based Man United fan on twitter totally ripped fans like me because we don’t go to the pub to watch every match. Like somehow I’m not a real supporter because I’ve resorted to the occasional internet stream, never mind the season tickets at Chelsea for a couple of my London years. I have a 4 year old – I didn’t even know there were pubs in DC. In England you can’t watch the Saturday 3PM matches on telly anyways, so you get used to not watching an occasional match until getting extended highlights from Match of the Day shortly after the pubs shut.

      I’m lucky my wife puts up with the occasional 90 minutes on a Saturday morning. “You want to do what this week-end? Effing’ell, No we’re going shopping.” The early match on ESPN2 is a godsend because it’s over before her Amex is burning a hole in her pocket. 12:45 I can just about get away with being completely obsessed for a world cup year, but then it must be dialed down. The Sports Guys Wife is probably like “you want to do what? A soccer match? Are you effing kidding me? You do nothing but go to sporting events and now you want to start going to soccer matches? No, I’m drawing a line. No, you can watch it on TV. No, live doesn’t work for me, DVR it.”


      • Posted by EdTheRed on 2009/10/22 at 8:23 AM

        Heh…we’re so old…


      • It’s funny how sad but true that whole comment is. Let me start off by saying I don’t have kids and my wife used to play soccer. I’m lucky if she lets me watch one or two games a week on TV, most of the time on DVR. Every once in a while the Honey-do list will shrink to the point where I can sneak away to the bar to catch a game on Saturday or Sunday morning. I can sympathize with the idea that Simmons could’ve been shackled by the almighty wife.


    • Posted by Mark T on 2009/10/22 at 10:24 PM

      Ed, I agree, (almost) any coverage by Simmons is good. I like his writing (when he actually puts effort into his columns) so I just wish he’d write more.


  4. Soccer would be the greatest sport in the world if it wasn’t for all the sand-filled vaginas of so many fans. So Bill Simmons didn’t fly to DC and make you afternoon tea while discussing which players have pictures of Bob Bradley in a compromising position with animals because that’s the only reason he makes certain decisions. Get over yourself.

    Nike should come out with a new campaign built around the MNT fan base. The shirts would scream in large letters “IT’S ALL ABOUT ME!”


    • Posted by Rob Rodriguez on 2009/10/22 at 1:10 PM

      In the words of another true soccer fan, CHILD PLEASE.

      I’m not really sure who this Bill Simmons guy is, but I don’t think he’s going to make or break soccer in the US. Sure, it’s disappointing to some fans that he wasn’t in attendance, and certainly worthy of a mention or burn (ala Jim Rome). But in my opinion, you make the guy more important than he is by being upset about getting “stood up”.

      I have a better chance of getting Tony Reali to talk about Jermaine Jones and Edgar Castillo on Around the Horn (Tony and I happen to both be alumni of the illustrious Fordham University). Let’s face facts though, what American soccer needs isn’t a home stadium or some big sports guy mentioning us on ESPN/twitter/some other form of social media.

      Right now, WE (as in the American soccer blogging community, ASBC) are the opinion and commentary until further notice. So instead of wasting an article about this Simmons guy, talk about something more interesting like the prospect of having Jermaine Jones play for the team.


      • Posted by Mark T on 2009/10/22 at 10:22 PM

        Rob, we’ve talked about the potential impact of Jones a number of times on here and nothing since has changed on his status. (We mentioned the paperwork on Tuesday, but that was just a formality.)

        As for Simmons, the “stood up” notion was tongue-in-cheek…sorry I didn’t make that more clear.


    • Posted by kaya on 2009/10/22 at 1:21 PM

      I’m not really sure why I’ve only “heard” this charming expression in soccer forums, but it’s certainly curious. I think I’ll stick with “panties in a bunch, though.”


    • Posted by Mark T on 2009/10/22 at 9:55 PM

      Brian, thanks for the comment, even if it came in true frat boy style.

      See update note at the top of the post.


  5. Posted by dallen on 2009/10/22 at 10:12 AM

    This is a weird post. It reads like you feel Simmons owed it to the fans of the MNT go from mildly interested in the sport to psycho-usausausa chanting-sams army joining-follows the mnt like it’s his job in a few weeks. The man likes the sport. He doesn’t fly across country to attend every Celtics/Red Sox/Pats game. Why do you think he somehow dropped the ball by not going to the CR game after we’d already qualified?

    More than anything there was a whiny tone like he let you down. That’s odd and sadly typical of the inferiority complex that it seems a lot of passionate soccer fans feel in this country. ONE OF US. ONE OF US. ONE OF US. You were ready to indoctrinate him into our merry band of screaming supporters but then, for a really weak reason, you deemed him unfit and you want him out of your cult. This extremist all-in or all-out attitude that soccer snobs in this country exhibit is borne out of years of no attention and no respect. A famous sports writer shows some interest and you all must have viewed this as your big chance to finally be able to feel legitimate. “SEE! SPORTS GUY IS LIKE ME! I’M NOT WEIRD FOR LOVING SOCCER, YOU’RE WEIRD FOR NOT LOVING IT! YOU DON’T GET IT! WE DO! YOU’RE MISSING OUT!”

    Cut that nonsense out. He clearly still enjoys the sport and is a fan of the US. Just because he isn’t shirtless holding a 9 placard and screaming himself hoarse doesn’t mean he somehow sold the sport, and by extension, us out. Get off his jock.


    • Posted by Mark T on 2009/10/22 at 10:17 PM

      Dallen, thanks for taking the time to comment. I think you read a lot more into the column than was there.

      Just so you know, I pegged the probability that campaign would be a success at about 1,000,000 to 1. But it was still worth it considering he is one of the most widely read writers on the internet.

      (‘So you’re saying there’s a chance.”)


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2009/10/23 at 1:58 AM


      I’m not sure how it’s not fair to criticize the Sports Guy for the very things he criticizes fans, coaches, and in general others in his own columns — seems only, well, fair.

      That’s his brand of entertainment and with Simmons himself combining his own declarations of fandom with uneducated opinion, he invites the criticism.


  6. Posted by kaya on 2009/10/22 at 1:25 PM

    Btw, back when TSG/AO started the Bill Simmons campaign, I basically asked why I sould care if Bill Simmons has a clue or not. They made a fair enough argument that he could expose a bunch of people who watch baseball and american football to the world’s sport. Fair enough.
    I still think Simmons’ commentary was a touch on the silly side, and that he was unlikely to excite anyone with his reporting, but I’m admittedly biased.
    My opinion: getting the WC in 2018 is going to “make” the sport in this country more than Bill Simmon’s waxing lyrical about soccer 24/7 could ever hope to.


  7. Posted by Dylan on 2009/10/22 at 6:15 PM

    My opinion is that anything that is good for United States soccer is Ok by me. Bill Simmons, David Beckham, what ever, expose the sport. That said, soccer is getting bigger and will only continue to grow. I myself never watched soccer in my entire life, watched the 2006 world cup and thought wow, what a great game, I’ve been hooked ever since. We are doing fine with the growth of the sport and soon enough every popular sports guy in the country will HAVE to cover the sport. Then He’ll ask us if he can sit with the die hards.


  8. Ah, the old “tongue in cheek” cop-out after you are called out for complaining that he talks about soccer but didn’t kiss up to you guys. That’s some quality backpedaling there.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2009/10/29 at 12:48 PM

      Brian, happy to accept the criticism on behalf of my brother and I, but I also don’t find any intellectual commentary in your responses.

      Our columns try to be qualitative and take an educated position. Sometimes we hit, sometimes we miss. I mean, do you honestly think we expected the Sports Guy to attend RFK or even recognize TheShinGuardian?

      Anything valuable to add or are you just a negative curmudgeon that likes to take people to task on in soccer communities as a means of I-don’t-know-what?

      Here is your forum; how about qualitatively commenting on soccer, the USMNT or EPL or something?

      I read your blog — I found some things interesting (Minus the Bear, I’m a fan of those guys as well, and the link to the story on Santino), but I while I disagreed with some of your thinking I didn’t feel it valuable enough to those that read your blog to post a negative “oh-look-I-got-you, you’re so wrong piece” piece of frothy and worthless commentary that called out the author personally instead of the content that the author issued.

      I guess that is where we differ on what is valuable to write. I left a comment on your blog by the way.



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