Sports

Bill Simmons explains why he doesn’t write columns anymore

"Nobody would write that now, and maybe that’s a good thing."

Bill Simmons
Sports analyst and podcaster Bill Simmons poses in his office in 2016. Bret Hartman/For The Boston Globe Magazine

When Bill Simmons got his start in sports media, he was known as a voice of the fans — the Boston Sports Guy, who wrote the conversations many people were having at the time.

Now, more than 20 years later, the founder and CEO of The Ringer never writes columns. He still has his podcast — which remains one of the most popular in the sports podcast sphere — but he doesn’t produce written content, even on a website he runs.

“I hate to be the old guy complaining about Twitter, but I think it’s made people really self-conscious. People are afraid to take chances because they don’t want the backlash,” Simmons told Boston University in an alumni feature.

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Reflecting on a famous column he wrote headlined “Is [Roger] Clemens the Antichrist?,” Simmons noted that “Nobody would write that now, and maybe that’s a good thing.”

Simmons added that a major component of podcasting is the familiarity listeners build with the hosts. In addition to compelling content — whether funny, informative, smart, or a combination of the above — a great podcast needs plenty of chemistry between the hosts, which is difficult to fake.

“Podcasts are more fun to do than writing at this point,” Simmons said. “They are so intimate. You want to feel like you’re hanging out with your friends.”

Simmons has long railed against certain aspects of Boston sports media, noting in 2018 that the overly negative landscape “sucks.”

“Everything became so much nastier starting in 1990 with the Lisa Olson debacle (and how horribly she was treated, by nearly everyone), and never improved,” Simmons wrote on Twitter at the time. “There have been a few exceptions over the years, but for the most part, negativity and nastiness has prevailed. It’s too bad.”

“The sports media has been embarrassing the city for 3 solid decades,” he added.

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