Simmons and Gladwell on Fixing Soccer

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Aug 25, 2016

Simmons and Gladwell on Fixing Soccer

HBO and The Ringer’s Bill Simmons and Malcolm Gladwell on ways to fix track and field (3:00), how sports doping has changed over the years (10:00), Michael Phelps’s status as one of the world’s biggest athletes (29:00), and what the NBA can learn from FIBA (41:00).

There is some soccer talk in the middle of this conversation but the real conversation starts at the 1 hour 12 minute mark.

Very good discussion between the two but I’d say that there are some points that are rehashed from a million conversations that we’ve all had, “What if our best athletes were playing soccer, we should be dominating, right?” Which has been talked about into the ground and we all have our theories on why the best “athletes” don’t play soccer….but where it picks up in my mind between the two of these guys is when they ask the question about the style of play in American sport, the trying to win all the time at all cost thing, is the best long-term strategy of instruction.

Simmons takes the US Olympic team as an example.

I’ll let you listen to it and form your own opinions and for the most part I agree with what Simmons and Gladwell are saying, but I will disagree on one point of SImmons’. He states that the women’s team isn’t dominant evidenced by the result from not making it to the semi’s of the Olympic this past month but that to me is a bad point to make.

The US women are dominant and have been. Is this a bad result? Of course it is, but there is also evidence that what the core group of players have been through in the last 2 or so years leading up to this summer’s Olympics, would potentially lead to this kind of outcome.

There is a reason that winning the World Cup and winning gold in the Olympics in successive years has never happened.

Overall though, great discussion. I would suggest listening to the entire pod, but if you want to just hear the soccer part, its at 1.12

Also, I forget what the timing is and I’ll check and let you know, but there is a quick discussion about performance enhancing drugs possibly making more sense in soccer than in anything.

I’m working on a serious deep dive about this and hope to publish something next week.

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