Bill Simmons: The Consequences of Caring
I have always loved everything about sports, ever since I can remember. I loved learning all the player’s names and stats of everyone on my teams. I loved watching the games, constantly getting yelled at by a parent for standing too close to the TV when the Bears were on. Unfortunately for me, I don’t root for the best teams. I was born in Chicago and lived there until I was ten. Then we moved to sunny California, but I was already cursed with being a crazed Chicago sports fan. Chicago is proudly the home of the Lovable Losers (the Cubs), and many other historically bad sports franchises. Whether it is a blessing, or most likely a curse, I can’t not care. When the Bulls lose I am sad, and there is nothing I can do about it. Thank god I’m not 12 anymore and loses are met with short-term sadness instead of deep depression until the next game. What I experience, along with every other sports fan, and what Bill Simmons discusses in his article is the consequences of caring. This is an article that I believe is both well written and incredibly insightful.
Bill Simmons is a sports writer that has written for Espn and now works for HBO. In this article he describes his young daughter’s quick descent into fandom of the Los Angeles Kings, a hockey team. He talks about the highs of an improbable playoff run, to the lows of the team coming short of winning a championship on his young daughter. It is the first team she has become a fan of and her emotions are volatile. She is so happy when they win, but can’t stop crying when they lose. Simmons details how he knew exactly what emotions she was going to feel because they are the same as any fan has. He talks about the stupid superstitions we have that make no difference in the outcome of the game, but we must follow if they were written in stone. But what he does here that I believe makes this an extraordinary essay is he so eloquently and poignantly connects it to the real world.
“Everything is black and white on the surface. You win, you lose, you laugh, you cry, you cheer, you boo, and most of all, you care. Lurking underneath that surface, that’s where all the good stuff is — the memories, the connections, the love, the fans, the layers that make sports what they are.” Simmons is very powerful here because he is a sports writer saying this. To him, everything should be about the sport, yet he is admitting what is really important as a fan and as a person. He has spent the whole article talking about how important this game was going to be for his daughter, someone who might not remember the in between stuff, but that is not what really matters. She just got to live through her first true love and first heartbreak. I also think this is a very effective way to communicate this information to someone with a sports filled mind. Simmons and I can communicate with purely a sports language, just as two people into photography or performing arts. These communities create a common language from shared experience. That language helps us communicate better to our audience. Hearing this message from Bill, someone whose experience as a fan I trust, it is communicated much more effectively. I know exactly the pained emotions he was talking about with his daughter, but I know the same great memories and connections I have made with fellow fans, friends, and family watching sports. Just as much as the game itself, I cherish those memories, and this piece was great at helping me realize they are just as important.
“Only 12 hours later, I flew cross-country to watch the Celtics play Miami in Boston. My wife couldn’t believe it. We were committed to a party in Los Angeles the following night. Who flies cross-country and back in 24 hours? ‘I don’t understand,” she said. “Why can’t you just watch it from home?'” Simmons also does a very good job at mixing quick stories into his larger points that help show who he is as a person. Here he is proving to his reader how crazed of a fan he really is, which helps the reader connect with him. I know why he can not watch it from home. It is that desire, or need to be there, and luckily for him he has that ability. At that point, when you’re there in the stadium, you feel like you’re a part of something bigger than yourself, and that is truly an amazing feeling.
What I love is while I’m reading this I can enjoy it for the story, but at the end it makes me think, and it stays with me. It is very impressive to me that you can talk about something people might not think matters that much, but still find a way to be insightful and moving. It is a remarkable balance that I want to strive for in this project and the minor as a whole.