Any US sports fan that grew up in the 2000s would have read Bill Simmons at some point. He pioneered internet sports writing in a lot of ways, and made us all think that we could do it to (sadly it’s actually pretty hard). I am one of the people who always enjoyed and appreciated what he did, even if it was sometimes annoying – I guess I have learnt that creative stuff is never always good so appreciate the highs more than I think about the lows, like remembering a holiday you were on or a past relationship one pines for.
Like anyone successful, plenty of people resent the prominence he has been able to achieve, and criticise some of his views. But it is hard to argue that he hasn’t worked super hard and continued to try different ways of getting his views out there. He didn’t take no for an answer like a lot of us do. And he paved the way for people to become writers about a topic of which they are passively observing, and ti use one platform to branch into others. Sports writers before him were all in locker rooms interviewing players and coaches, making interesting angles and detached views difficult. They stuck to sports. Simmons began as a non locker room guy writing as a fan, and turned writing into interviews, producing and broader content management.
No matter what you think of his views, Simmons has also done a better job than any writer I know at giving other people chances. Who else has given anyone an obvious chance? I am sure there are plenty of people behind the scenes (David Carr springs to mind), but to leverage his popularity to hire a bunch of people no one had mostly heard of to create a cool website that made people feel like the web could be hipster too and the corporate conglomerates could produce niche content. People called it a vanity project, but who even cares if it was?
Anyway, I like Simmons (obviously). Because his documentary Andre the Giant is coming out now, he has done a bunch of interviews, which is relatively rare (people asking him question that is). But they are worth watching or listening to for the insights he gives into the creative process, or how he ended up becoming what he is now. Like with most people who make it, it’s a bit of luck, but there is always a lot of working harder than everyone else (sadly). So as follows..
- Simmons on a random Callaway golf show (does everyone have a show now?) talking The Ringer and other things for 30 mins
- Joining Marc Maron on the WTF to talk the life trajectory, ESPN and other things
- A little interview with ESPN about the Andre the Giant doc and how it came to be
Not a huge list, but still a list.