Two days ago, Bill Simmons, one of the more popular ESPN anchors and journalists, has been fired by the sports conglomerate ESPN. For the majority of sports fans, It must of come to a surprise of his departure because of his exuberant personality. He has strong opinions about controversial topics, which made him good television. But supposedly, ESPN found his colorful remarks towards the NFL commissioner to be crossing the line. In one of his articles, Simmons criticized the commissioner, and his handling of the recent domestic violence scandals in the NFL. He is also known for his column “Thirteen Levels of losing”. Here he ridiculed fellow columnists about not fully understanding the issue of performance enhanced drugs. Throughout his career, he has published eye opening articles about issues relating to sports, which has made him a celebrity figure. I decided to write about this incident not for the fact Bill Simmons was let go, but more in the matter ESPN handled the decision, and the reasons why they fired one of their more popular analysts.
The first issue I have with this firing is how ESPN announced it. It was reported by ESPN’s President John Skipper over Twitter that Simmons was dismissed. I am not entirely sure If they were reported to have met prior to this announcement. I have a bad feeling that this is the way Simmons found out, which would be completely unprofessional on ESPN’s part. Simmons and ESPN has had a rocky relationship for the past few years. Simmons has been a ESPN sports reporter for 15 years, and has always took a strong stance on his beliefs. This more than likely has made him a controversial figure towards the president of ESPN, and other head executives. Over time, a love/hate relationship grew between Simmons and ESPN, both showing respect for each other, but also sharing differences on certain things.
Even though we have the use of Twitter and Facebook to make announcements, incidents like this make me cringe a little. Since it was the President that made the announcement over the social site, I have a bad feeling that it was out of spite to make the news over Twitter, to really knock the socks off of Simmons. I am making assumptions, and I hope I’m wrong. Even though the use of Twitter should be for breaking news coverage, this is a matter that should be discussed between the people involved, before its publicly announced.
I am not surprised why ESPN let go Simmons. His way of writing was honest and shrewd. He would never shy away from making head executives look bad, only if they deserved it. But with that being said, I am disappointed. The way he wrote was funny, intelligent, engaging, and real. He never kept anything back, allowing the readers full access to his thinking process. He didn’t write just for the sake of publishing stories. He wrote to cause a discussion among sports fans. He said the stuff most sports journalists wouldn’t want to say, because it could cost them their jobs. Well, unfortunately for Simmons, it did. He wrote what he felt passionate about, which is what I hope is continued in the realm of Journalism.
While there are still a bunch of sports journalists with a great sense of character in their writing, I’m afraid it will be licensed now. After the public departure of Simmons, will this scare Journalists from writing the truth?