Everything Else

Kobe was a world class athlete, and a rapist. Kobe was one of the greatest basketball players on and off the court, and he was a rapist. Kobe learned foreign languages so he could speak to players on the court in their own languages, and he was also a rapist.

Nuance is important, but it doesn’t erase the experiences of the person he victimized. I’m both a huge basketball fan and a sexual assault survivor and I think it’s important to at least consider acknowledging both parts of him as a person so we can learn and grow- that we can choose how much of his sexual assault we use to define his legacy.

I think it’s pretty cool and speaks to how far we’ve come as a global society that people haven’t forgotten that night in Colorado when discussing his legacy, like we’ve done so many times in the past with famous people like Gandhi, who objectively sexually victimized young women and was also racist.

I want to be a sports fan that exists in a larger context of a world where sports fans don’t forgive rapists no matter how good they are. That means holding people’s legacy like Kobe up as a constant reminder that your past SHOULD stay with you.

I teach in schools that are composed of primarily students of color, and Kobe is to them what MJ was to old heads like us, his legacy is important and erasing what he did on the court to focus on his misdeeds shows young people that what they place value on in an athlete’s life (what they do on the court/field/ice) isn’t important. When they hear that, you lose their interest and they no longer have the chance to hear you plead with them to be better than those that came before them.

Saturday night, hours before the story broke, a Chicago comedian said during their standup set (within the context of Ronald Reagan granting amnesty to undocumented immigrants including their Latinx family) that “it’s possible to accept gifts from people that you know are pieces of shit”- and I think it’s true. Kobe was a piece of shit that night in Colorado, AND I spent my teens and twenties watching him hoop. Watching him play made me very happy- him being a rapist doesn’t change that. Maybe it should have. Similarly, people in India cast off British rule with the help of a racist that sexually assaulted young women in his family.

Rapists can do good things for people, but they’re still rapists. Nuance is important.

Maybe in this moment we can have a cultural discussion about legacy and it can help the next generation of soon to be entitled dudes recognize that no matter how good your turnaround jumper/film script/standup special/debut album/novel is, you can’t rape. I’ve legitimately taught some boys who have a jumper that could take them to the pros someday, shit I taught Fred VanVleet World History in 2008. These kids that are mourning the death of a legendary athlete need to see the nuance, they need to see all of it, and they need to be taught that what they take pride in or are good at is just as valuable to the world as them being good human beings and that they need both to have a legacy we can all celebrate.


Do you hear anything? No? Me either. No noise. No torches and pitchforks. No jobs on the line (yet). It’s pretty boring around here.

Usually in late July we’re all too eager here in Chicago to begin HOT TAKE SZN surrounding the Bears and the NFL. This July, though, feels different. Is everyone just happy to banter about the Cubs division chase and Sox future potential? No, we’ve been doing that every July since 2015. The NBA had a pretty big summer, but the Bulls largely sat that out and everyone is just content they MIGHT make a surprise run at the 8-seed in the East. Hawks prospect camp and convention?? OK, I’m done.

So with nothing new or exciting going on in major sports around the city, why is this late July so different? The Bears, coming off their first playoff appearance since 2010 and second in the last 13 years, have had the quietest offseason in about as long. No new head coach/GM/Front Office personnel. No major signings/high draft picks. Hardly any turnover on the roster/staff, and no real starting positions up for the taking. GM Ryan Pace didn’t even get to make a draft pick until the third day, and there’s been little discussion about the his team or the impending camp since.

The biggest offseason story? Kickers. Cody Parkey long fired into the sun, the talk of both mini-camp and now training camp is the kicking sideshow. Each day’s camp breakdown thus far has started with the accuracy for that day’s kicker; Elliot Fry is 17 of 20 so far! He’s hit from 60 and banged in from 48 and 51 in the driving rain! Eddie Pineiro hit from 63 after doing his best 80s macho movie hunk routine – after his coaches asked him to try from 60 he replied “nah, how ’bout 63”! Suh gnarly, broseph.

The crowds are another HOT story coming out of Bourbonnais. Attendance day one? OVER 8,000!!! Videos tweeted of fans LIGHTLY JOGGING to get front row standing room to see the Midway Monsters strap on the pads and paw at each other! Whoa, did you see that 50-yard bomb from Mitch to Gabriel?? Kahlil Mack and Eddie Jackson are sooooo goood OMFG!!!! I mean, it’s great to see the guys you want to excel succeed in practice, but that’s the bar here, no? To be as good as advertised?

This shit is BORING. But boring doesn’t really mean bad. Consider:

-There was one major coaching change in the offseason, but not the normal refrain of a deficiency in some area. Vic Fangio left to go be the head coach in Denver because his defense was so amazing (while the rest of the team was total ass for most of his tenure). The ensuing hire? Chuck Pagano, a highly regarded defensive mind in his own right that mostly just needs to keep the ship on course. There also are no ‘hot’ seats to speak of at the moment. Weird.

-The players lost to free agency were seen as priced out of their worth at Halas Hall and nary a tear was shed for Adrian Amos or Bryce Callahan. The replacements and other new signings were mostly budget buys met with a collective “meh”.  HaHa Clinton-Dix and Buster Skine swap in for Amos and Callahan. Mike Davis and Cordarrelle Patterson are here to do something in the backfield. Great, fine. I bet you didn’t even know they signed Ted Larson, again, for O-Line depth or Marvin Hall and Peter Williams. Only one of those guys is made up, but I’m guessing you have to look it up to tell me which one.

-The draft was pretty uneventful as well, unless you count trading up 14 or so spots in the 3rd round “eventful”. Sure, they got their GUY at running back in David Montgomery, or so they’ll tell anything with ears. Even he hasn’t generated much buzz since the draft, a soft spoken type that just does his work and stays quiet off the field. Booooooring. The rest of the draft was all lottery tickets and undrafted free agents because Pace only had five picks to work with. They got a Ridley? No, not the one from Alabama.

-There aren’t any big injuries to get all worked up about, either. Adam Shaheen hasn’t practiced in two days, but that’s basically his whole bag of tricks since being wildly overdrafted three years ago. Someone named Emmanuel Hall is recovering from groin surgery. HaHa is on the PUP list, rehabbing a lower body injury but expected back before too long. Whatever.

So this late July, the start to camp is boring. Embrace the boring, it means that most of us are looking forward to September and could give a shit about what happens between now and then. We don’t even get another open practice for a few days; the team has a shorter, closed practice today and is off Wednesday. There’s a preseason game a week after that, so maybe by the weekend we’ll start to get some real battles for the edge of the roster. Those are the positions that help to define serious championship contending NFL teams from the dregs they beat up.

Boring kinda sucks, but we’ll take it after the last decade worth of summers overstuffed with tough questions. Wait and see how these jokers fighting for their NFL lives fair in game reps in a week or so. If you need your fix the rest of this first week, keep refreshing that twitter account of your favorite beat writer to see where Steady Eddie P tells coach he’s spotting his next kick. HOOOOO BABYYYYY!

@WFrenchman on Twitter

Everything Else

There are numerous, fundamental reasons why the NHL’s decision to move to a 3-on-3 is a flawed and misguided one, trying to solve a problem of their own creation. While sidestepping the history lesson, the NHL turned to the shootout to entice the casual fan, but then decided that they shouldn’t matter because it’s not real hockey. As a solution 3-on-3 still isn’t actual NHL hockey, but it does have a vague team aspect to it to resolve regular season games and avoiding shootouts, because removing shootouts entirely wasn’t an option. That the initiative is exceeding that low bar is empirically clear even about 20% of the way through the regular season.

Even the purists who align themselves with a solution that somehow loses the charity point that artificially inflates standings points (with 3 on 3 now doing so for individual scoring statistics) will through gritted teeth admit that 3 on 3 is at least exciting. But just because the situation is tense doesn’t mean that it’s actually well played or even a facsimile of the up and down pond hockey the flapping heads want to label it as.

Everything Else

I’d like to think this will be the second to last one of these I have to do. But I’d like to think a lot of things. If it isn’t, I probably will be hooking up a hose to my car’s exhaust anyway and there won’t be one next week, so I guess there’s a chance this could be my last one. Anyway, you wanted the best and they didn’t fucking make it, so here’s what you get…


Bulls v. Heat – Of all the stupid things a large swath of Bulls fans think, the idea that you’re somehow a traitor or an idiot for thinking Lebron James is close to must-see TV might just take the cake. While I try and not wade into the argument of whether he’s the best player ever (and I think you could make a pretty convincing argument that he is), I think there’s little argument that he’s the most unique. A man that size, that quick, that flexible, able to guard and play all five positions, it’s astounding. The only other guy who could claim to guard and play all five spots that I can think of is maybe Magic Johnson, and he wasn’t nearly as quick or as explosive at James and certainly not nearly as interested in defending. Even to a basketball-agnostic like me, I find it staggering to watch. Anyway, you should get a decent two quarters here before the Heat are up 40. If they’re interested.