Officials vowed to tackle the problem after the United Nations Earth Summit here in 1992 drew scrutiny of Rio’s foul waters. The Rio state government secured more than $1 billion in loans from Japan’s government and the Inter-American Development Bank for cleanup projects, but they have not been even remotely successful, according to environmental experts. The State Environmental Institute in Rio de Janeiro estimates that more than 10 percent of the trash here is not collected, much of it flowing into the bay through canals and degraded rivers.
Vast amounts of raw sewage leak into the waters. Officials set a goal of treating as much as 80 percent of it by the 2016 Olympics, but less than 40 percent is currently treated.
State environmental officials have acknowledged they would fall short of that goal, The Associated Press reported over the weekend, citing a letter sent to federal authorities requesting more funding to battle pollution.
Calling the bay “dark, brown and stinking,” Lars Grael, 50, a Brazilian sailing legend who won two Olympic medals, said he had encountered human corpses on four occasions while sailing in the bay. He told reporters that officials should move the sailing events to a resort area hours away by car.
The authorities here insist that nothing of the sort will happen. Carlos Portinho, Rio’s top environmental official, said the criticism of Guanabara Bay was exaggerated, contending that recent tests had shown that fecal contamination in the Olympic regatta area was within “satisfactory” standards in Brazil.
Acknowledging that reversing pollution in the bay was a “long-term project,” Mr. Portinho said that officials had deployed three small “ecoboats” to collect garbage; by the Olympics, he said, 20 or 30 might be operating. He said that new sewage treatment plants were being built, while floating “ecobarriers” would facilitate the collection of trash in the bay.
Brazilian environmental experts say the efforts are a fraction of what needs to be done.
“The government could deploy aircraft carriers to collect the bay’s garbage and the problem would not be solved,” said Mario Moscatelli, a biologist. “The bay is still a latrine. It’s an insult to Rio’s people to say it will be clean for the Olympics.”
With Sunday’s 5-2 victory, the Braves wrapped up a series sweep over the Cubs. The Cubs fell to 12-24, 10.5 games out of first place, dead last in the NL Central. But the embarrassment didn’t end there.
Sunday’s loss marked the 10,000th in club history for the Cubs, joining only the Phillies (10,480) and Braves (10,176) in the five-figure gang. The Cubs got there a bit sooner than they would have liked, having won games at a meager .417 clip since the start of the 2010 season.
The Pirates will become the next team to join the ignominious club with 55 more losses. And unless the Reds lose 142 games between Tuesday and the end of the 2015 season, the club won’t see a fifth member until 2016.
- Phillies: 10,480 losses (.473 winning percentage)
- Braves: 10,176 (.502)
- Cubs: 10,000 (.511)
- Pirates: 9,945 (.503)
- Reds: 9,858 (.508)
Simmons was raised mostly in Boston, where every loss is like a death in the family, and even at 44, he watches sports with the delight of a kid — albeit a kid who’s a multimedia mogul. During the NBA playoffs, which last nearly two months and end in June, he’ll be a fixture on ESPN and ABC, via NBA Countdown. His 700-page Book of Basketball, despite being fatter than Eddy Curry in the off-season, debuted at Number One on The New York Times’ nonfiction bestseller list. He goaded ESPN into making documentaries, which yielded 30 for 30, an excellent, Emmy-nominated series he executive-produces. His lively B.S. Report podcast, where he interviews jocks, actors, comedians college buddies, his dad, and Barack Obama, was downloaded 32 million times last year, and to keep him from bolting in 2011, ESPN gave him his own well-staffed website, Grantland. TV, books, documentaries, digital — it’s the sportswriter version of the EGOT.
“We have similarly thorough backgrounds when it comes to movies, TV, sports and other worthless things,” says his friend Jimmy Kimmel, who hired Simmons as a joke writer on Jimmy Kimmel Live! “Bill’s very funny, he’s married pop culture and sports more than anyone else, and he built his own media empire from a little blog.”
That’s not just tickle-tickle buddy talk. Simmons started to accrue a huge following in 1997, when he began blogging on AOL’s Boston website in the role of an irritant and smart aleck, under the name Boston Sports Guy. Last summer, a Canadian columnist called him “an honest-to-God magnate” and “one of the defining figures” in digital media. All magnates have haters; Simmons makes it easy by frequently getting into feuds.
On NBA Countdown, Simmons plays a slightly exaggerated version of himself: a comedic troublemaker, “the wild card who doesn’t give a shit,” he tells me. “I’m part historian, part know-it-all, and part shit-stirrer. I don’t hold back – that’s the key.”
During a recent Countdown, he denounced Brooklyn Nets shooting guard Joe Johnson, whom Simmons has tagged as the most overpaid player in the NBA. “Joe Johnson did not deserve to be on the all-star team,” he says, so outraged and high-pitched he’s nearly yelping. “Even he had to be shocked he made it.” After the show goes off the air, Countdown host Sage Steele turns to him, shaking her head. “You,” she tells him, “are a psycho.”
The shit has been successfully stirred: Within minutes, Twitter is in flames. “Never hated a sports analyst as much as I hate Bill Simmons,” I read as I scroll through his mentions, followed by “I want to punch him in the face,” “He is such a douche” and “If Bill Simmons ever got in a car accident, I would be happy.” There are compliments, too, but, let’s face it, those are boring.
Simmons has 2.6 million followers on Twitter. Many can’t wait to tell him what an idiot he is. (The Simmons brand has a strong ripple effect: Even his wife, known as the Sports Gal, has 25,000 followers, despite not having tweeted in almost a year.) Sports Twitter is a mire of stupidity, homophobia, and violent threats. It’s probably the most inane culture on Twitter; at least on Politics Twitter, you occasionally come across a fact.
Simmons uses Twitter almost exclusively to promote and link to Grantland material. He doesn’t reply to people who think he’s a douche, or want to punch his face. He also writes fewer sports columns than he used to, partly because TV and movies occupy more of his time. The Internet gave him a career, an audience, wealth, influence, and fourth-row seats for the Clippers. But lately, Bill Simmons is kind of over the Internet.
And this is how it happened.
Once Simmons got an ESPN assignment, he quickly found an audience. But just as immediately, his relationship with the Worldwide Leader in Sports was full of conflict. “ESPN was idiotic,” says Simmons, who can match any athlete for self-confidence. “They fucked with my column for the first year, taking out jokes, and I was pissed off. They were rebuilding their site around me, but they were paying me nothing. So I had a meltdown: I didn’t turn in a column. I was like, ‘Attica! Attica!’ ” He laughs. “I was probably smoking too much pot.”
ESPN rewarded his work strike with a raise. “Bill likes to be in control,” an insider says. “In the early days, he was very upset about where they placed his column, versus where other columnists were. He’s a great advocate for himself and his brand.”
It wasn’t Simmons’ last fight with his bosses. They’ve suspended him from Twitter twice for tweets: for referring to Boston sports-radio hosts who worked for an ESPN affiliate as “deceitful scumbags,” and also for saying an interview that aired on ESPN was “awful and embarrassing.” Does he think they were right to suspend him? “No, I don’t.”
ESPN is owned by the Walt Disney Company, and some of Simmons’ behavior — like, say, calling soccer “gay” or mocking people for being fat — makes him a far more troublesome employee than Mickey Mouse. Periodically, the two parties get annoyed at one another. ESPN president John Skipper once said working with Simmons was “about 99.8 percent great.” (“Working with ESPN is 99.1 percent great,” Simmons counters.) Convincing the network to do 30 For 30 required “a year of arm-twisting,” he says. When it was a success, and his basketball book had been a big hit, his contract was up for renewal. “I had a little leverage.” He told ESPN that he wanted his own site, or he’d leave and do it elsewhere.
Grantland’s success, like Simmons’, has resulted from good fortune as well as talent. Since 2002, Boston teams have dominated pro sports, tallying eight titles in twelve calendar years, including baseball, basketball, hockey, and football. No other city has ever had that kind of success, and it brought a lot of attention to Simmons. No wonder he loves Tom Brady so much.
“When we were launching, we didn’t realize technology advances would help us so much.” GIFs, Instapaper, wi-fi, embeddable links — all foster the ease of promoting a digital magazine. “The iPad has been a godsend — it’s probably the greatest thing that’s’ happened to Grantland. Nobody knew the fucking iPad was coming. I didn’t. We hit at the right time.”
In a recent month, Grantland, according to comScore, had 4.7 million unique visitors, which represents just a sliver of ESPN’s 62 million unique visitors and pales compared to Yahoo Sports’ 57.9 million. (Even Deadspin, the Johnny Lawrence to Simmons’ Daniel LaRusso, had 13.8 million.) But the site’s balance sheet isn’t the point. ESPN likely pays him more than $5 million a year, the insider estimates — not because of Grantland, but because Simmons is a guy with big ideas, a one-man vertical-integration engine.
Now that he oversees an empire, Simmons says he doesn’t care as much about Boston teams. “It’s not life-or-death anymore,” he says with a shrug. But that might not be true. His daughter loves L.A.’s hockey team, the Kings, so he took her to see them play his team, the Bruins. “Boston won, and I taunted her on the way home. She started crying. She was, like, six years old.” A few years later, they went to another Kings-Bruins game, and this time her team won. “She was yelling and high-fiving everyone,” Simmons says, “and she taunted me.” Of course she did. It’s in the bloodline.
Michael Powell, one of my favourite New York Times writers has a great piece on the Los Angeles Clippers’ players making a useless gesture against their racist owner Donald Sterling
Why not remain seated?
The Los Angeles Clippers players faced a near-impossible situation Sunday. The man who owns their team, Donald Sterling, stood exposed as a gargoyle, disgorging racial and sexual animosities so atavistic as to take the breath away.
The exposure of these rants rattled N.B.A. athletes. LeBron James, the best hoops practitioner on earth, spoke out quickly and emphatically. “They have to make a stand,” he said of N.B.A. executives. “They have to be very aggressive with it. I don’t know what it will be, but we can’t have that in our league.”
Good strong words. With luck it rattled a couple windows at the N.B.A. headquarters in Manhattan.
Then eyes turned to the Clippers on Sunday afternoon. These professional athletes have trained all their lives for their shot at an N.B.A. title. They are at their physical peak, a time measured in short years. Only a glib fool would argue their choices Sunday were obvious.
The Clippers players turned their red practice jerseys inside out, like baseball players wearing silly rally caps. Then the horn sounded and they wore their real jerseys and that was that.
Yet you wondered: Was that all they had?
What if the Clippers players had remained seated and refused to take the court? The N.B.A., whose corporate leaders and owners have known of Sterling’s racial and sexual grotesqueries for decades, and of the federal lawsuit that charged he would not rent apartments to blacks, would face a moment of truth.
Would the N.B.A. executives make the Clippers, most of whose players are black, forfeit a playoff game?
And what if the Golden State Warriors players and coaches had announced in advance that they would not accept that forfeit? They could have agreed to sit out the next game, and thus force yet another embarrassment down the gullet of the N.B.A. executives.
Look, the rejoinder to this argument arrives with its own moral force. The Clippers players and coaches are no doubt mortified to have awakened in the midst of a playoff run to find that they are working for the Bull Connor of Southern California.
Maybe the players and coaches didn’t take a stand because they had already sold out. Sterling has been known to be a racist for decades and yet everyone has remained silent. Doc Rivers said he didn’t know Sterling was a racist before he took the job. I am going to flat out say that he was lying. If he didn’t know, he is an ignorant and isolated man incapable of leading a basketball team. Sterling’s racist acts have been known for decades, challenged in court, and all over the news. He would have known about them as a player and coach but instead took the money to play in Los Angeles with the hope that it was dealt with.
It wasn’t and instead of taking a stand, they waited for someone else to do something. Hardly the story of courage; it’s the story of sellouts who all signed a contract that was offered to them by someone that can’t stand the colour of many of their skins.
While it remains impossible to open a window into a person’s soul to see whether the poison of racism resides there, it is possible to screen those whose words and actions suggest that they harbor such beliefs.
Donald Sterling’s words and actions suggest that he does. And the evidence existed long before TMZ published its tape of his voice.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Sterling agreed in 2009 to a $2.765 million settlement of charges that he discriminated against African-Americans and others at an apartment building he owned. The Times also reports that a lawsuit filed in 2003 accused Sterling of saying “Hispanics smoke, drink and just hang around the building,” and that “black tenants smell and attract vermin.” The case was resolved with a confidential settlement, but Sterling reportedly paid $5 million in legal fees to the plaintiffs.
Amazingly, those claims and the settlements of those claims generated little or no publicity or scorn of Sterling. If an NFL owner were accused of such conduct, the mere allegations would become major national news. If an NFL owner ever settled a case involving such allegations, the league office undoubtedly would be forced to take decisive action or face strong contentions of the existence of a double standard.
It’s all the more reason for the NFL to treat this occasion as the catalyst for ensuring that its house — specifically, its 32 houses — are in order. Existing owners should be warned clearly about the potential consequences of such conduct. Potential owners should be screened even more carefully to determine that they have done or said nothing that would suggest that their hearts are rotten with racism or other qualities that could result in their wealth and power being used to violate the rights of others.
Per a league source, NFL owners already expect Commissioner Roger Goodell to address the situation in some way at the next ownership meetings in May.
It’s often impossible to get to the truth of a person’s attitudes regarding matters of race. But the Sterling situation underscores the importance of taking all reasonably available steps to ensure that the country’s biggest sports business is doing business with people who have not only the wealth to assume such an important responsibility, but also the character.
It’s kind of funny, the last, four, five years straight, I played with a guy from Duke. We all have a certain amount of respect for each other because we’ve all been through it and we all know what it’s like, so it just depends on who has the better team. You have to go back like “I only lost to you one time,” “Well, I averaged this amount,” talk like that. Carolina guys stand by Carolina, Duke guys stand by Duke. They have Coach K, I had Coach Smith, it’s Roy Williams now, you know, it’s a friendly debate that goes on. The best coach, the Duke guys have been pretty good about it. I think the Carolina guys, the old-school guys, because we were so dominant, we really laid it on thick. But sometimes we just say stuff like, “J.J. acting like a Dukie over there.” We always tell our stories, things of that nature.
Hey look, they just got their butts handed to them by the Toydaria Wattos.
And his awesome wife called into a morning show to basically disavow her role in buying them.
San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh loves his gameday khakis, probably because NFL coaches are functional lunatics who cling devoutly to certain habits lest they come completely unmoored from reality, and also because khakis offer loose-fitting comfort at a reasonable price.
Harbaugh is serious about his pants. Even when his wife Sarah threw out some of his khakis, he refused to change his wardrobe. Harbaugh will not be denied his pleats. Khaki-less to the combine, Harbaugh ended up buying an $8 pair of billowy khakis from Walmart. It’s an addiction, dammit.
“I will not take the blame for his outfits,” Sarah said.
“I’ve thrown them away many of times. I’ve asked him ‘Please, pleats are gone. Wear the flat front.’” she explained to Fernando and Greg, “He has a flattering body.”
Maybe he finds a legal avenue back to the field. Maybe he barges into training camp, makes a spectacle of himself. Maybe he spends the summer on an endless loop, ascending and descending courthouse steps, lawyers in tow, smiling, waving, tan.
For it is a dire day when the inevitable comes, when the game goes away, when the infamous Tony Bosch releases a statement that comments on your misfortune, when the people who really believe in your cause wouldn’t fill a good-sized banquet table.
His league has turned on him. His employer is over him. His union has done all it can. His lawyers are getting rich, an hour at a time. Well, richer.
So, Alex Rodriguez is in his element.
And this is all so terrible. Maybe not terrible, but sad. Certainly sad.
“The number of games sadly comes as no surprise,” Rodriguez said in his statement, “as the deck has been stacked against me from day one.”
He blamed the system and the witness. He said he’d fight for his fellow players. He said he’d be back.
But what exactly was day one?
Perhaps it arrived with his first big contract, the one that would make him wealthy forever and brought the consequences of expectations and scrutiny beyond any that had come before.
Day one may have been the moment a friend, or a teammate, or a cousin told him he could be better through science, through this stuff in a vial that nobody else had to know about. Or it was the moment he gave into it, to testosterone and Primobolan, more than a decade ago. Or the day the survey tester showed up holding a cup.
Maybe it was the morning he looked in the mirror and no longer saw the kid out of Miami by way of Washington Heights, but rather an aging superstar whose body and skills were becoming less reliable. Could he live up to the second big contract, here, in New York, in the shadow of men who’d become iconic?
Was it the day he met Bosch? Was it the day he might have chosen to go along with it again? Into the teeth of a toughened drug program and a more vigilant commissioner?
Was that day one?
Or, no, when the clinic and its proprietor were exposed, and he had no choice but to lie about his relationship with Bosch, and to hope it would all go away. But things don’t go away anymore. Not things like that.
Yes, the league would investigate them all, but then it was about one man, about Rodriguez. And, probably, that’s the day one he was talking about, the day they came for him, when everyone else had surrendered. He’s right, of course, the deck was stacked and he knew it, because he’d lived it, so he would not walk away clean. The day ones were adding up.
Personally I think this is about “redeeming” his legacy so he can be voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. It’s about ego and legacy more than anything, even if he is delusional to think even if he wins, he will be in the Hall.
The real winners in all of this is the New York Yankees who will probably try to void his contract and have all of that money they could be paying to a broken down third baseman and distraction and can now use it on reloading and trying to get back into the playoffs.
On Sept. 7, 2012, this website published a letter I had written to Maryland delegate Emmett C. Burns Jr. chastising him for trampling the free-speech rights of Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo. The letter also detailed why I supported the rights of same-sex couples to get married. It quickly went viral.
On Sept. 8, the head coach of the Vikings, Leslie Frazier, called me into his office after our morning special-teams meeting. I anticipated it would be about the letter (punters aren’t generally called into the principal’s office). Once inside, Coach Frazier immediately told me that I “needed to be quiet, and stop speaking out on this stuff” (referring to my support for same-sex marriage rights). I told Coach Frazier that I felt it was the right thing to do (what with supporting equality and all), and I also told him that one of his main coaching points to us was to be “good men” and to “do the right thing.” He reiterated his fervent desire for me to cease speaking on the subject, stating that “a wise coach once told me there are two things you don’t talk about in the NFL, politics and religion.” I repeated my stance that this was the right thing to do, that equality is not something to be denied anyone, and that I would not promise to cease speaking out. At that point, Coach Frazier told me in a flat voice, “If that’s what you feel you have to do,” and the meeting ended. The atmosphere was tense as I left the room.
On Sept. 9, before our game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, the owner of the team, Zygi Wilf, came up to me, shook my hand, and told me: “Chris, I’m proud of what you’ve done. Please feel free to keep speaking out. I just came from my son’s best friend’s wedding to his partner in New York, and it was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen.”
On Sept. 10, I was once again called into Leslie Frazier’s office. Coach Frazier asked me if I was going to keep speaking out on the matter of same-sex marriage and equality. I responded that I was, and I related what Zygi Wilf had said to me at the game the day before. Coach Frazier looked stunned and put his hand across his face. He then told me: “Well, he writes the checks. It looks like I’ve been overruled.” At that point, he got his personal public relations assistant on a conference call to ask her what to do. She outlined some strategies, mainly centered around talking only with large national media groups and ignoring the smaller market stations (radio, television, print). I said that I would be sure not to say anything to denigrate the team, but that I would like to talk with anyone who was interested. Both Coach Frazier and his PR person attempted to dissuade me from this course of action, saying that the message would be more effective if presented properly. I suspected this was another attempt to keep me from speaking out. I did not agree to any course of action they suggested, and I left the meeting once it concluded.
On or around Sept. 17 (could have possibly been Sept. 19), I approached our head of public relations, Bob Hagan. It had come to my attention via Twitter that multiple news sources were attempting to contact me through the Vikings and had been unable to reach me (I learned this via those same agencies asking me on Twitter if I was available for interviews, to which I responded affirmatively). I told Bob Hagan that from this point on, any media requests he received were to be forwarded immediately to me. I would take care of them. He told me that he was trying to protect me from being overwhelmed. I repeated my request that he forward all media requests to me, as I could handle them. He assented, and later that day I found three media requests in my locker (to which I had already responded via Twitter), two of which were dated from four to six days earlier.
Throughout the months of September, October, and November, Minnesota Vikings special-teams coordinator Mike Priefer would use homophobic language in my presence. He had not done so during minicamps or fall camp that year, nor had he done so during the 2011 season. He would ask me if I had written any letters defending “the gays” recently and denounce as disgusting the idea that two men would kiss, and he would constantly belittle or demean any idea of acceptance or tolerance. I tried to laugh these off while also responding with the notion that perhaps they were human beings who deserved to be treated as human beings. Mike Priefer also said on multiple occasions that I would wind up burning in hell with the gays, and that the only truth was Jesus Christ and the Bible. He said all this in a semi-joking tone, and I responded in kind, as I felt a yelling match with my coach over human rights would greatly diminish my chances of remaining employed. I felt uncomfortable each time Mike Priefer said these things. After all, he was directly responsible for reviewing my job performance, but I hoped that after the vote concluded in Minnesota his behavior would taper off and eventually stop.
On Oct. 25, I had a poor game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and the Vikings brought in several punters for a workout to potentially replace me. I do not believe this was motivated by my speaking out on same-sex equality, though I do not know for sure. During the special-teams meeting the following day, Mike Priefer berated me in an incredibly harsh tone the likes of which I’ve never heard a coach use about my abilities as a punter (and I have been berated before). The room went silent after he finished speaking, in a way that normally does not happen during meetings when someone is being called out. The Vikings kept me on as their punter.
Near the end of November, several teammates and I were walking into a specialist meeting with Coach Priefer. We were laughing over one of the recent articles I had written supporting same-sex marriage rights, and one of my teammates made a joking remark about me leading the Pride parade. As we sat down in our chairs, Mike Priefer, in one of the meanest voices I can ever recall hearing, said: “We should round up all the gays, send them to an island, and then nuke it until it glows.” The room grew intensely quiet, and none of the players said a word for the rest of the meeting. The atmosphere was decidedly tense. I had never had an interaction that hostile with any of my teammates on this issue—some didn’t agree with me, but our conversations were always civil and respectful. Afterward, several told me that what Mike Priefer had said was “messed up.”
The entire article is worth reading, especially because it means he will probably never play in the NFL again. Sadly these kind of attitudes are not limited to NFL locker rooms.
Aaron Gordon of Sports on Earth watched 32 NFL games to determine the best and worst NFL announcers.
- After all is said, here are your Bad Commentator Awards:
- Worst Crew: Chris Myers and Tim Ryan
- Least-Bad Crew: Dick Stockton and Ronde Barber
- CBS vs. Fox: Fox has the less-bad crews, with 37 infractions per crew beating out CBS’s 45.
- Worst Prime-time Crew: Mike Tirico and Jon Gruden (ESPN)
- Worst Commentator: Dan Dierdorf
As I suspected, Chris Collingsworth (NBC) and Mike Maylock (NFL Network) do pretty well.
By the way, firing Rob Chudzinski is a joke move by the Cleveland Browns. The entire season was supposed to be about the future (trading Trent Richardson) and he had the worst quarterback situation in the league. No one can win in that situation. Their franchise player, Joe Thomas was right when he said, “successful franchises don’t fire their coach after one season”. Well no one is confusing the Cleveland Browns with a successful franchise.