CBS Sports Reporter Gets ESPN To Say Why Reilly And Simmons Articles Lack Comments

Monday, January 26, 2009


Ever since Deadspin unleashed holy hell on a Simmons article about a year ago, the Sports Guy's pieces have been without comment. Since then, only Rick Reilly has been added to the commentless ranks, while all other works on ESPN.com can be picked apart and debated. CBS Sports reporter, Cameron Martin, decided to ask ESPN why this is so, and ESPN Spokesman Paul Melvin had this to say....

Me: "Paul, I had a question about ESPN columnists that I was going to address in my CBS column on Monday: Why can't readers comment on Rick Reilly and Bill Simmons columns? And why is it only them? Is it to protect the idea that these two columnists are universally loved? Jemele Hill and DJ Gallo and Scoop Jackson and Gene W get hammered by some readers. Why isn't that same courtesy extended to Bill and Rick? Seems disingenuous. Thanks, Cameron Martin."

ESPN: "Cameron, Bill and Rick's accessibility to fans has always been part of their style, and they both have developed long-standing practices of engaging their fans. Bill has a history of using his interaction with his readers as part of his voice and has, through the years, developed a regular, robust 'mailbag' style column that is a favorite of readers. Rick's connection to the personal stories of people in all walks of life has helped give him his signature voice. With respect to those traditions, we've chosen to continue to present their interaction with readers through those avenues."

(As non-answers go, that's pretty good. Unfortunately I wasn't looking for a non-answer.)

Me: "Paul, thanks for the reply. Quick follow-up: In this new era of change, transparency and accountability, isn't it a bit antiquated and un-American to try to control feedback from the public? What if President Obama wanted to comment directly on one of Rick Reilly's stories? Shouldn't he be able to announce to the world, ‘Rick, you're an inspiration to millions everywhere'?"

ESPN:
"Hi Cameron. Appreciate the follow up, but I think our earlier comment is all we're going to have to offer here. Paul Melvin."
Okay, well that was a pretty obscure response, wasn't it? To be fair, Simmons and Reilly get about ten times the criticism that other writers get, and I don't fault ESPN for not wanting to sift through, and delete, over 1,000 comments or so. It's still interesting that with the thick skin that both Reilly and Simmons probably have at this point, that they wouldn't just go ahead and unleash the hounds on their articles.

Oh and if you're a dog owner, and want to have a good cry, read Simmons latest article on the passing of his Golden Retriever.

Monday S.P.O.R.T.S. Cam: Bad breaks, worst football state wrapup (CBS Sports)

8 Comments:

It's fairly simple: ESPN doesn't want millions of people calling their 7-figure writers douchebags.

GMoney said...
Jan 26, 2009, 4:12:00 PM  

Million's? Maybe thousands, mostly wanna be's in Simmons case wishing they were as relevant or could write as well. Also most would be lame attempts at wit and humor failing miserably, a la deadspin ...are we really missing out?

Rock48nj said...
Jan 26, 2009, 4:38:00 PM  

GMoney is on the right track regarding Reilly. 80-90% of his columns would be absolutely crucified...and rightly so.

Although Simmons has a loyal following (I almost never miss a column and consider myself a fan), he is a relatively easy target and would take a beating as well. I'm sure there would be hundreds of comments alone regarding Bill's fascination with "Teen Wolf" and other 80's movies.

drew said...
Jan 26, 2009, 5:25:00 PM  

It's obvious that Simmons and that 'other guy' are members of ESPN's 'protected class.' But that's nothing compared with the 'protection' Stuart Scott gets. Have you seen even ONE ESPN promotional commercial that he's not in? I mean, it's ridiculous. Stuart might as well wear a hat that says 'I'm Protected and You're Not.'

Chris said...
Jan 26, 2009, 6:57:00 PM  

So...Rick Reilly and Simmons are SO connected with their fans that they can't allow fans to comment on what they write. Makes perfect sense.

amamamama said...
Jan 26, 2009, 7:00:00 PM  

*Oh and if you're a dog owner, and want to have a good laugh

Vick'd

Bigface said...
Jan 27, 2009, 1:16:00 PM  

It's pretty easy to see that the bandwidth and time and energy that would be forced to cover the comment sections of their two most popular columns would be a waste of time. Thousands and thousands of page views and you're going to get an above average number of douchebags trying to make a name for themselves calling one of them out.

Simmons is a great read and his podcast is usually entertaining, but Reilly just plain sucks.

Oh, your comments about Simmons' dog were right on - it's a really, really good and heartouching tale.

Brian said...
Jan 27, 2009, 8:12:00 PM  

Getting crucified is part of having the stardom. And they know that when they get started. But getting into radio sportscasting, or radio broadcasting starts with seeing the inside of the industry at http://www.radioconnection.com And that might make some immune to it.

Radiobliss said...
Feb 1, 2009, 2:41:00 PM  

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