Official Sportswriting Hall of Shame Inductee: Rick Reilly

We hinted at and introduced the concept of the PCHA Sportswriting Hall of Shame earlier in the year, but it’s time to start the process in earnest with our first official induction.

There’s a lot of terrible sports writing out there, and I dithered about these past couple months, trying to figure out who the first inductee should be. There have been so many terrible, ignorant, pompous, ill-conceived articles and columns out there, but the first inductee is special. The first inductee should make a statement about what the Hall is all about. He or she shouldn’t get in on the basis of just one (or several) terrible pieces, but on a body of work that’s so established as putrid, contaminated trash that it’s impossible to deny. The first class in baseball’s Hall of Fame included Babe Ruth, Cy Young, Honus Wagner and Walter Johnson. This should be no different.

So ladies and gentlemen, I give you the inaugural inductee to the Pop Culture Has AIDS Sportswriting Hall of Shame:

Richard “Rick” Paul Reilly.

Congratulations, you magnificent bastard.

The beauty of anointing Reilly our initial honoree is that we don’t need to spend a lot of time listing his crimes against humanity. We’re all too familiar with Reilly’s work, thanks to his two decades at Sports Illustrated and his current position as the holder of the worst dollars-per-word investment in media history at The Worldwide Leader.

But just in case any of you out there don’t know Riles, here’s a brief résumé:

  • Trademarked human-interest columns only tangentially related to sports, which are better suited to People Magazine, and usually involve an unknown quasi-athlete in an unknown sport overcoming some type of adversity
  • Writer of the worst puns known to man (he’s especially fond of dental puns)
  • Once blind-sided Sammy Sosa during an interview by offering to drive him to a lab to drug test right then and there, which served no purpose beyond that of a brazen publicity stunt
  • During radio spots with his buddy Dan Patrick, he manages to make Patrick seem like an arrogant, judgmental fratboy while simultaneously providing us with the least entertaining ten minutes of radio that could possibly exist in this world
  • Set a record for frequency of vuvuzela jokes during the 2010 World Cup
  • Wrote a book called “Who’s Your Caddy?”
  • Recycles his own already-stale material
  • Is a noted defender of known cheater and douchebag Lance Armstrong
  • Writes more columns about golf than any other sport, and manages to make that game seem even less interesting than it actually is

Reilly has won a number of sportswriting awards, but it’s safe to say that this is the first one he deserves. (A lot of Reilly’s critics like to couch their invective by defending his earlier SI writing; don’t worry, you won’t find that attitude here. Reilly has always been a terrible writer. He’s just gotten even worse.)

So how best to celebrate this historic day? By attacking Reilly’s new column, of course. You were expecting a ceremony, perhaps?

Reilly has it in for Jimmer Fredette, for some unknown reason. Maybe he hates Mormons. Maybe he hates Jimmer personally. Maybe he just needed a column and invented something to hate. Who knows? Let me just say at the outset that I have no particular affinity for Fredette, nor I do think he’ll be anything more than a mediocre, bench-riding pro. Commence FJM mode.

So that’s the end of Jimmermania. Saw it for myself. Caught the closing act. Not impressed.

Very quickly, the essence of this piece emerges: Rick Reilly watched one game in which Jimmer Fredette did not play well. He uses that one game to make sweeping judgments about Fredette’s ability and his future.

Thanks to one of the worst performances of Jimmer Fredette’s frabulous career…

Frabulous? Because Fredette’s last name starts with an “Fr,” you’re going with “frabulous”? That’s not even a pun…I…I…I don’t know that that is, but I’m stunned that it appeared in a lead article on the world’s most-read sports website. Reilly’s editors must be petrified of him.

You can take off those “Romney-Fredette in 2012” T-shirts now.


Except for a stretch in the middle, when he was brilliant, Fredette was brutal.

Jimmer played poorly, except for when he played well. That statement is true of every game played by every athlete in the history of sport.

Plus, he committed six turnovers and wandered aimlessly through the lane on defense like Moses in the desert. I’ve seen dead people play better defense. At least they occasionally trip people.

What do you think Reilly is paid per simile? Do you think he keeps a notebook of simile and metaphor ideas that he carries around with him at all times, in case inspiration strikes? Do you think that notebook has been updated since 1986? I would like to see a simile battle between Reilly and the Paul’s Boutique-era Beastie Boys.

“He’s a little Maravich,” a guy in a BYU shirt told me.

No! No, he isn’t! He’s not within a mile of Mardi Gras floats of Maravich. Maravich could get his shot off from the bottom of a swimming pool. He could get 40 in handcuffs. He averaged 44 points a game in college (to Fredette’s 28 this season) and that’s without the 3-point shot. With it, studies of his game film have shown, he would have averaged over 55.

“He’s better than Danny Ainge was,” a lady in a Cougars sweatshirt told me.

No! No, he isn’t! Ainge was Danny Clutch (remember his Sweet 16 drive in 1981) Fredette didn’t have a single game-winning shot all year. Against Florida, he didn’t score a single point in the game’s final eight minutes, or, for that matter, the first 13.

Jesus Christ. In order to find a strawman argument for his column, Reilly actually asked BYU fans their opinions of their beloved star player, just so he could debunk them. Pro tip: fans of teams overrate the players on those teams. You could just as easily find an Arizona fan who claimed Derrick Williams was better than Scottie Pippen or a VCU fan who claimed Jamie Skeen “had a little Larry Bird in him.” Reilly is not countering the opinions of scouts, NBA general managers, or even other media members. He’s debating fans. Good idea for a column.

But until he shows more interest in defense than a blind man has in rainbows, he’s going to spend most of his NBA life sitting on padded folding chairs.

I need to sit down. (Just kidding. I’m already sitting down. I don’t type standing up like some kind of overcaffeinated freak. I swear.) If I were a blind man, I think I would be pretty interested in rainbows. I would want to understand them, and try to comprehend how they appear to people with sight. There would certainly be things I would have far less interest in, if someone wanted to write a hacky metaphor about me. Rick Reilly columns, for instance.

But when his teammates really needed him, at the end of regulation, on defense, Jimmer really hit the dimmer.

Rhymes! Can I play? Hmmm….Riles…bile…vile…nope. Too hard. I’m not a good enough writer.

“The weird thing is, [his defense] has gotten progressively worse over the year,” says Fredette’s own teammate, Nick Martineau. “From the start, he’s never really been accountable to it, but it’s just gotten looser as the year’s gone on. But he can play defense. He really can. He’ll definitely tighten it up for the NBA.”

…the fuck? Nick Martineau sounds like the most horrible teammate on earth. Is having your teammates’ backs not included in the BYU honor code? (By the way, Nick Martineau averaged 0.7 points per game this season. But I’m sure it was Jimmer’s fault BYU didn’t advance further in the tournament.)

But you think this barely 6-2 kid with no speed and YMCA hops can be the next Maravich or Ainge or Westbrook?

No. No one really thinks that. Not even the BYU fans you interviewed earlier.

Fredette about it.

Oh, believe me, I already have.



Filed under Sports Has AIDS, The Dilemma

5 responses to “Official Sportswriting Hall of Shame Inductee: Rick Reilly

  1. Pingback: Official Sportswriting Hall of Shame Inductee: Jon Heyman | Pop Culture Has AIDS

  2. Pingback: I Can’t Let This Go | Pop Culture Has AIDS

  3. Tregg Holbrook

    that is one of the most accurate and appropriate columns I have ever read. What does it say about our society that this guy has enough people follow him that si and espn, not to mention legitimate publishers publish his garbage.

  4. Pingback: The Axis of Evil Meets Its Match | Pop Culture Has AIDS

  5. Pingback: The Family Circus of Sportswriters | Pop Culture Has AIDS

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