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Miscellany

Keith Olbermann Isn't a Bill Simmons Fan

Bill Simmons reexamined and argued at length his controversial claim that Tiger Woods’ comeback (not ordeal, comeback) will be more difficult than Muhammad Ali’s. It’s an opinion. He defended it. He aroused some criticism. Charlie Pierce attacked his point (not Simmons this time). Keith Olbermann showed no such restraint.

Here is Olbermann’s unprovoked condemnation, at the end of his rambling about Johnny Orsino.

If you’d like to read the most poorly-informed conclusion I’ve come across in sports media this year, you have your link. Proceed with caution. In short, it is the contention that the comeback of Tiger Woods will be more difficult than the one Muhammad Ali faced in the 1960’s. If the writer can let me know when Woods is punitively drafted by the military even though he is about eight years older than almost all the other draftees, I’ll begin to take him seriously. In the interim I am again left to marvel how somebody can rise to a fairly prominent media position with no discernible insight or talent, save for an apparent ability to mix up a vast bowl of word salad very quickly.

This passage was impulsive, spiteful and unnecessarily personal. “In short,” it was characteristic Olbermann. Things are a little “loosey-goosey” in the wild world of cable “news,” but no one should have to explain decorum to a 51-year-old man. He walked face-first into this burn by Simmons, deservedly.

Whether Bill Simmons assaulted historicism or just had an unpopular opinion, he’s discovering (if he hasn’t already) the paradox of the Internet. No one is convinced by anything. We have more information, readily accessible to more people than at any point in human history, yet our minds are narrowed not broadened. The mob rules and has its majority viewpoint confirmed.

Rightly or wrongly, the Tiger-Ali argument won’t go away. It will become an Internet meme, a refuge for the painfully uncreative. It will add to the arsenal of those who filet Simmons out of envy, rudely insult his family and think they are somehow entitled to a forum on his columns.

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