There are many things that makes BIl Simmons a successful columnist, and quite possibly one of the most popular in the sports community, but the one thing that keeps him popular is his ability to write pieces that his readers can relate to.
Simmons entered the world of sports journalism while attending the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass. While majoring in Political Science, Simmons joined the school newspaper, The Crusader, and had a column called “The Rambling” before becoming the paper’s sports editor.
Upon graduating from Holy Cross, Simmons attended the print journalism graduate program at Boston University where he received his master’s degree. It was while in Massachusetts that Simmons drew the eye of his current employer, ESPN, the leader in sports news.
Simmons started a website, BostonSportsGuy.com, which grew in popularity until ESPN offered him a job to write three guest columns for ESPN’s Page 2 section in 2001. After seeing the amount of readers Simmons brought to ESPN, the company gave Simmons the lead columnist position which he still holds today.
Simmons has been able to expand his popularity because of his wide variety of topics covered, along with the easiness of the reading material.
Although Simmons is quite vocal about his Boston-team fanhood, he does not shy away from discussing other topics that surround the wide world of sports. He also to picks topics that are prominent in the sports world in a timely matter.
For example, as people in our Sacramento region fought to keep our beloved Sacramento Kings from moving to Anaheim (well, some of us), much of the country and its sportswriters simply reported on the situation as opposed to discussing what was wrong with the situation. Not Simmons.
Simmons decided to take the Sacramento Kings’ disastrous situation as an opportunity to point out problems with the NBA. In his article titled “Kings checkmated by money, luck” published on April 26, Simmons attacks the potential issues of small-market teams in the NBA head on, writing:
But with a momentum-killing lockout lurking and the Maloofs scrapping to keep their franchise afloat, it's hard not to wonder whether those two events are connected. Is there a chasm between big and small NBA markets that only a prolonged labor stoppage can prevent? Is Sacramento's failure a glimpse of a bigger picture -- that, in the Multitasker Generation, middle-class fans would rather stay home and do four things at once than spend their hard-earned money for mediocre seats and uninspired basketball? (http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=simmons/110425&sportCat=nba).
Simmons goes on to discuss the problems small-market NBA teams have and why they mostly fail to be successful. He lists the problems, making it very easy to read, and then compares them to the Kings situation and how the same problems are present in the Kings demise.
One of my favorite pieces by Simmons was one that he wrote last May in which he compared the NBA Playoffs with quotes from HBO’s The Wire.
25. "Yeah, well, now, the thing about the old days? They the old days."To the Spurs, only the fourth No. 1 seed ever to get bounced in Round 1 ... although we can't totally call it an upset because, within a half of Game 1, everyone went from thinking, "Memphis could beat San Antonio" to "Wow, Memphis is going to beat San Antonio UNLESS they choke away a couple of wins because of free throw shooting and/or repeated brainfarting." (http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=simmons/part1/110503&sportCat=nba)
Simmons’ ability to compare sports to pop culture has always fascinated me, as he does it with ease and keeps his readers coming back for more.
Simmons is currently still the lead columnist for ESPN, along with being the Editor in Chief of ESPN’s newly-founded website Grantland, which fittingly covers sports and pop culture. Simmons is also the creator of ESPN’s popular series of documentaries 30 for 30, which covers sports stories from ESPN’s time on air.