Bill Simmons: Valuing Trades More Than Friendships

shlincoln

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Yeah, the open mic night line is pretty galling considering all the randos in his personal sphere he has platformed on his podcast. Also his tendency to bring in non-Ringer people like Larry Wilmore, Jemele Hill, or Wesley Morris when looking to add a Black voice instead of hiring people and giving them podcasts.

Basically Simmons seems to be comfortable with having A Black voice, A Mexican voice, A Filipino voice, and then surrounding them with a bunch of dudes named Kevin, and that's not really how diversity works.
 

JCizzle

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I can't access the article, but it's amazing that he can't shut the fuck up for a month about this topic and reflect a bit. I thought he handled the aftermath of the Russillo podcast OK, but it's one step forward and two back with that quote.
 

The Social Chair

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The "open mic" comment is rough with his daughter and college friend having their own podcasts.

I do have to say I thought Schilling was the weakest staffer at Grantland and there might be a reason he's the only guy from Grantland who hasn't found success after. Simmons doesn't owe that guy a job a for life.
 

luckiestman

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Bill started a successful company and if he wants to give is daughter a podcast he should go for it. It isn’t like he gave her “the tonight show” and now there isn’t room for anyone else. Podcasts are not the network or studio system. If someone is talented they should start a fucking podcast and a Patreon page.

I’m a fan of a comedian I bet many of you have never heard of. He takes in over $30K a month on Patreon.
 

ifmanis5

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luckiestman

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Simmons is getting dragged on Twitter very hard, #1 trend in NYC. His reputation is in a freefall to be honest. He'll need to show some tangible results very soon.
View: https://twitter.com/AsteadWesley/status/1275209093293256704

they'll hold so tightly to the myth of meritocracy, because if they let it go, all that's left is privilege https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/22/business/media/bill-simmons-the-ringer-black-employees.html?smid=tw-share …

A lot of people are jealous of Bill’s success. You can see it here on this website. So many people are smarter than Billy and it’s just not fair that he has a few hit podcasts and wrote a hit book and produces hit documentaries. He just keeps getting lucky over and over again.
 

The Social Chair

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The Simmons backlash is a little absurd. This isn't the case of management exploiting labor. Spotify paid $200M because of Simmons. The other successful podcasts also come from management (Chris Ryan, Sean Fennessey, Mallory Rubin) or outside talent (Ryen Russillo, Larry Wilmore, David Chang, etc.

Simmons is bank rolling a website and staff that creates almost no revenue on their own. The members of the Ringer Union bring almost nothing to the table.
 

jose melendez

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Sort of feels like a mix of legit grievance ( only six black staff with the amount of nba they do) and sour grapes. Also how the heck can mgmt protect staff from abuse on social media.

The other problem is that Simmons basically is the ronger. Yeah they’ve got some talented people, but without him that thing would have collapsed in a month.
 

ifmanis5

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You're misreading the room (not Jose).
This isn't jealousy, it's anger and resentment. It's statue pulling down season and Bill is one of the bigger ones in the digital space. Not saying he's going out of business or anything but this is a canceling in progress. He's never faced anything like this before. People had his back when he went after Goodell but this is very different. Even if he makes change I'm not sure it'll be accepted as enough or as anything other than spin.
 

shlincoln

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it's a good thing for Simmons then that he's currently negotiating with the Ringer Union which already has suggestions for how the company can do better.
 

nattysez

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This is a really tough issue to grapple with, especially from a high-profile position. A lot of companies have been dealing for years with the question of "how do I develop a more multicultural workforce while keeping a strong company culture?" If it was an easy thing to do, everyone would do it.

The "open-mic night" comment was really the only one that did not sound great, which is a minor miracle for Simmons.

He has a pretty woke staff -- I doubt they are going to let this lie until it's fixed, so he'll get plenty of help sorting this out.
 

Clears Cleaver

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The Simmons backlash is a little absurd. This isn't the case of management exploiting labor. Spotify paid $200M because of Simmons. The other successful podcasts also come from management (Chris Ryan, Sean Fennessey, Mallory Rubin) or outside talent (Ryen Russillo, Larry Wilmore, David Chang, etc.

Simmons is bank rolling a website and staff that creates almost no revenue on their own. The members of the Ringer Union bring almost nothing to the table.
this is beyond true. Spotify would literally shut down the website and save themselves the $$ for the cost of creating worthless content but Simmons protects it. going after him epitomizes the stupidity of woke culture. He erred in supporting the union and for that he gets this nonsense. I wonder how long his non-compete is with Spotify...
 

DeJesus Built My Hotrod

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You're misreading the room (not Jose).
This isn't jealousy, it's anger and resentment. It's statue pulling down season and Bill is one of the bigger ones in the digital space. Not saying he's going out of business or anything but this is a canceling in progress. He's never faced anything like this before. People had his back when he went after Goodell but this is very different. Even if he makes change I'm not sure it'll be accepted as enough or as anything other than spin.
I am no expert on the cultural zeitgeist but this feels right.

I think Simmons will ultimately be fine because, as noted upthread, he has a lot of support. Furthermore, Simmons, for all his flaws including his well documented pop culture ruts, has shown the ability to continually evolve.

That said, my follows skew heavily toward the NBA Twitterverse which is obviously Simmons' market and if the TL is any indication, tonight is a rough one for our latte lover.
 

Kliq

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Perhaps other hardcore listeners have picked up on this as well, but I feel like a few years ago Bill had a reoccurring statement on his pods where he would praise millennials/young people for working really hard and defended them. However, in the past year I feel like Bill has gotten in more digs, particularly at his staff, like "some of the young people we have at The Ringer think..." Perhaps that is just a guy from an older generation not being able to relate to some young person thing, but I feel like he has kind of been turned off by working with such a young staff. Whether or not that is justified is open to interpretation.

I also think that over the past few months, The Ringer has added more people of color to its podcasting network. From Van Lathan/Jemele Hill, to Bakari Sellers, to the rebooted Ringer FC, I feel like there has been an attempt to increase diversity on The Ringer. Now, perhaps the problem from a staff perspective is that outside people with name value are coming in as opposed to internal names getting a chance to create their brand, but that speaks to the conundrum of trying to keep a delicate media brand afloat with steady listenership, but also trying to promote new talent. And I get it; as a professional journalist in my 20s, I understand how people feel. There is almost no future in writing, but there is in podcasts, and if I worked for The Ringer (hey Bill, I'll work for cheap!) I'd be chomping at the bit to get my own podcast and a chance to build my own brand. I'd probably get upset if Bill gave 15 minutes in one of his pods to his daughter.

I understand frustration, but at the end of the day, with all the garbage that is going on right now, is the internet really going to go after Bill Simmons this hard? Really? He is the bad guy? A lot of the people I see on Twitter just seem either uninformed, or bitter at his success. Like who cares if Bill gave Joe House two podcasts? Like it or not, Joe House has become a successful media personality, and while that probably wouldn't be the case if he didn't live in the same freshmen dorm as Bill at Holy Cross, that is the case today.


View: https://twitter.com/JosephStash/status/1275204926122180609?s=20
 

luckiestman

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Conspiracy Bill just called me up and told me Alphabet is combing Rogan and his archives for materials to get them cancelled because of the Spotify deals.
 

blueline

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You're misreading the room (not Jose).
This isn't jealousy, it's anger and resentment. It's statue pulling down season and Bill is one of the bigger ones in the digital space. Not saying he's going out of business or anything but this is a canceling in progress. He's never faced anything like this before. People had his back when he went after Goodell but this is very different. Even if he makes change I'm not sure it'll be accepted as enough or as anything other than spin.
To some people, asking Bill Simmons to hire a more diverse workforce and give more podcast opportunities to marginalized groups is the equivalent of canceling him. Interesting.
 

johnmd20

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You're misreading the room (not Jose).
This isn't jealousy, it's anger and resentment. It's statue pulling down season and Bill is one of the bigger ones in the digital space. Not saying he's going out of business or anything but this is a canceling in progress. He's never faced anything like this before. People had his back when he went after Goodell but this is very different. Even if he makes change I'm not sure it'll be accepted as enough or as anything other than spin.
This is quite a take. Simmons isn't getting canceled. He's getting pounded because he's at the top of the media game. And the people at the top get torn down. That's just the way it is. But he's not and he won't be canceled, because Simmons isn't part of the problem here. And it seems like he does want to be part of the solution.

Bitching about his daughter is ridiculous, considering she does about 3 podcasts a year. Bitching about his son is worse because he's been on for about 14 total minutes since the beginning of 2019 and I don't think he has had any time on a podcast in 2020. Bitching about House is nonsense, as House is a draw and a talented and funny voice behind the mic.

Plus, Simmons' whole thing was bringing his world and his life to the people who listen. The relatable every man. Granted, his hundreds of millions of dollars isn't relatable, but that's only because his thing worked beyond reason.

This one feels weird because it does seem like The Ringer is actually trying to bring in diverse voices and the Ringer always employed a ton of women, too. It's not a boys club.
 

kfoss99

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Kimmel taking the summer off after found to have done blackface routine in the past...
Was it the Karl Malone skit from the Man Show? I never understood why the black face was necessary for that. Just don the jersey and talk in a baritone, we'll know the impression.

Tina Fey had a few episodes of 30 Rock removed for Black Face, too. The Lynn Swan gag, i recently re-watched, was in bad taste, and worse, not funny.
 

tbb345

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Some pretty damning quotes and facts in that Times piece but also read this reaction to that article from a black writer (and former Grantland editor) who got shut out of The Ringer: View: https://twitter.com/dave_schilling/status/1275192754792853505

Also this: “It’s not open mic night”, but gives his teenage daughter a podcast.
“it’s not open mic night” is such a fucking stupid comment it’s astounding. The epitome of an unforced error. To say that when you’ve given your friends and family a platform that, quite frankly, wasn’t deserved and hired people for positions just because you liked them (Tate) is Really bad.

But I do have to say that while some of the complaints are legitimate (he does shoehorn Chris Ryan into every podcast ever) a decent amount of the stuff in that article seems like a reach
 

Pablo's TB Lover

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“it’s not open mic night” is such a fucking stupid comment it’s astounding. The epitome of an unforced error. To say that when you’ve given your friends and family a platform that, quite frankly, wasn’t deserved and hired people for positions just because you liked them (Tate) is Really bad.

But I do have to say that while some of the complaints are legitimate (he does shoehorn Chris Ryan into every podcast ever) a decent amount of the stuff in that article seems like a reach
Yup, dumb comment. In fact, I WANT it to be open mic night with the amount of content I'm taking in via podcast as opposed to having live content to fill my afternoons/evenings previously. Get all the writers setup on Spotify for pods.
 
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Nearly everyone at the Ringer had a platform before getting hired at the Ringer. Chris Vernon does Grizzlies games, KoC wrote for SB Nation, John Gonzalez was a reporter in Philly, Tjarks was a writer for RealGM, etc. The ones who didn't, like Paolo Uggetti and Haley O, I think were interns at the Ringer and don't fall under the white male category. I don't have twitter and most sports blogs I read are filtered through this site. Can folks in this forum ID some diverse voices they like who would benefit from having a podcast on The Ringer? Examples like Desus and Mero or Marc Spears wouldn't count because they don't need the Ringer to be successful.

I'm not defending Simmons' words here, I'm just genuinely curious if there are little known SB Nation writers or twitter personalities who people could amplify to get noticed by outlets like the Ringer.
 

jose melendez

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A lot of people are jealous of Bill’s success. You can see it here on this website. So many people are smarter than Billy and it’s just not fair that he has a few hit podcasts and wrote a hit book and produces hit documentaries. He just keeps getting lucky over and over again.
I think that quote is stupid, in that it's completely universalizing. Is his argument that merit is completely irrelevant to everything and all there is is self perpetuating privilege?
 

Patriot_Reign

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“it’s not open mic night” is such a fucking stupid comment it’s astounding. The epitome of an unforced error. To say that when you’ve given your friends and family a platform that, quite frankly, wasn’t deserved and hired people for positions just because you liked them (Tate) is Really bad.
I don't understand the anger at the open mic night comment. He's the boss, he gets to do what he wants. Including hiring family over likely more qualified people.
 

Ralphwiggum

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I don't understand the anger at the open mic night comment. He's the boss, he gets to do what he wants. Including hiring family over likely more qualified people.
There‘s a national conversation taking place now about structural racism/inequality and the marginalization of people of color. White people like Simmons (and me, and many others) have been asked to listen and consider how we might use our position (or in Bill’s case his platform, which 99.99% of the rest of us don’t have) to help fix this, or at least start to help. Sure Simmons is the boss and if he wants he can give a platform to his daughter and buddies over more qualified people, but doing so is precisely the issue. I think this will pass and Bill will learn from it but the comment is massively tone deaf in the context of the national conversation right now and he‘s rightfully getting dragged for it.

I do agree that some of the other griping about Simmons and The Ringer does come across as sour grapes, though.

Edit: to be clear I don’t listen to Simmons and have no opinion as to whether or not he’s part of the problem or part of the solution. One of his talents seems to identifying talent so I would tend to give his decisions on who to give airtime to the benefit of the doubt. Just explaining why the open mic comment irked people.
 
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kenneycb

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The comment makes sense in the context of the early Rewatchables, which the article makes it seem. A lot (not all) of the ones that weren't Simmons, Ryan, or Fennessey driven flat out weren't good. The Clueless one stands out to me as one where a couple of the people doing the pod had barely seen the movie once and I'm sure there are others. Lack of quality and, presumably, better downloads from more consistent hosts caused them to go in a different direction than originally intended for what has likely been the better.
 

bankshot1

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What is the hard cost of creating a podcast (or several) with a known platform like The Ringer? I assume the tech cost is minimal, but what would the talent need in salary (fixed and performance based) to host a podcast? Or promotion? Is it that expensive to add new podcasts/topics/alternative takes?
 

JayMags71

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A lot of people are jealous of Bill’s success. You can see it here on this website. So many people are smarter than Billy and it’s just not fair that he has a few hit podcasts and wrote a hit book and produces hit documentaries. He just keeps getting lucky over and over again.
This was a deeply stupid take 15 years ago. It hasn’t improved with age.
 

PedroKsBambino

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This is quite a take. Simmons isn't getting canceled. He's getting pounded because he's at the top of the media game. And the people at the top get torn down. That's just the way it is. But he's not and he won't be canceled, because Simmons isn't part of the problem here. And it seems like he does want to be part of the solution.

Bitching about his daughter is ridiculous, considering she does about 3 podcasts a year. Bitching about his son is worse because he's been on for about 14 total minutes since the beginning of 2019 and I don't think he has had any time on a podcast in 2020. Bitching about House is nonsense, as House is a draw and a talented and funny voice behind the mic.

Plus, Simmons' whole thing was bringing his world and his life to the people who listen. The relatable every man. Granted, his hundreds of millions of dollars isn't relatable, but that's only because his thing worked beyond reason.

This one feels weird because it does seem like The Ringer is actually trying to bring in diverse voices and the Ringer always employed a ton of women, too. It's not a boys club.
Well said.
 

ifmanis5

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no tweets or podcasts since the NYT article
He's laying low. He knows that whatever he does right now will get dunked on mercilessly. This is the most jeopardy his brand has ever been in. What he does next is his most important move and he knows it. Living down the 'open mic' comment may not be possible; huge self inflicted wound.
He should probably give himself a Bill O'Reilly style 'vacation' and take some time to map out some bold new directions.
 

Patriot_Reign

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He's laying low. He knows that whatever he does right now will get dunked on mercilessly. This is the most jeopardy his brand has ever been in. What he does next is his most important move and he knows it. Living down the 'open mic' comment may not be possible; huge self inflicted wound.
He should probably give himself a Bill O'Reilly style 'vacation' and take some time to map out some bold new directions.
Cancel culture mob coming for you.
 

shaggydog2000

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He's laying low. He knows that whatever he does right now will get dunked on mercilessly. This is the most jeopardy his brand has ever been in. What he does next is his most important move and he knows it. Living down the 'open mic' comment may not be possible; huge self inflicted wound.
He should probably give himself a Bill O'Reilly style 'vacation' and take some time to map out some bold new directions.
He'll lay low for a bit and then everybody will move onto the next big outrage. There's nothing the twitterverse loves more than being outraged, but its attention span is short, and there are just so many things to be outraged by. Nobody will care in two weeks.
 

Joe D Reid

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I don't understand the anger at the open mic night comment. He's the boss, he gets to do what he wants. Including hiring family over likely more qualified people.
The issue is that saying "it's not an open mic night" implies that the podcasts go people based on merit. "Hiring family over likely more qualified people because I can do what I want" is the *opposite* of that. That's at best hypocritical; more likely it's because he hasn't actually reflected on difference between how he thinks podcasts get assigned and how he actually assigns them. He stepped in it because he thinks he part of the solution rather than part of the problem. That's not unique to him, but the critique isn't crazy.
 

sodenj5

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Reading through this thread and what has happened to Simmons recently, the infamous Russillo and Simmons podcast sounds even worse in retrospect because Ryen sucks Bill’s D pretty hard on how diverse his staff and hiring process is when in reality there are a few token minorities in more visible roles and a bunch of white people.

Like that’s what they think diversity is. It’s like saying you can’t be racist because you have a black friend.
 

moondog80

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The issue is that saying "it's not an open mic night" implies that the podcasts go people based on merit. "Hiring family over likely more qualified people because I can do what I want" is the *opposite* of that. That's at best hypocritical; more likely it's because he hasn't actually reflected on difference between how he thinks podcasts get assigned and how he actually assigns them. He stepped in it because he thinks he part of the solution rather than part of the problem. That's not unique to him, but the critique isn't crazy.
As mentioned above, his daughter has done a handful of podcasts out of thousands that his site has produced, and his son is an occasional guest on his own podcast that has been infused with references to his personal life from the beginning.

The front page of The Ringer at the moment includes: Vince Carter, Bakari Sellers, Jacqueline Kantor, Nora Princiotti, Micah Peters, Alyssa Bereznak, Allison Herman, Katie Baker, Hailey O'Shaughnessy, and Kate Halliwell. Not on the front page but having podcasts are Jemele Hill, Van Lathan, Mallory Rubin, and Larry Wilmore. If Simmons decides to just pack it up and go live in his mansion for the rest of his life because the BS just isn't worth it, I'm sure his critics will collectively step up and give these people a platform to replace the one they just chased away.
 
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Reading through this thread and what has happened to Simmons recently, the infamous Russillo and Simmons podcast sounds even worse in retrospect because Ryen sucks Bill’s D pretty hard on how diverse his staff and hiring process is when in reality there are a few token minorities in more visible roles and a bunch of white people.

Like that’s what they think diversity is. It’s like saying you can’t be racist because you have a black friend.
What is the line between "few token minorities" and a "diverse staff"? It would be impossible to have a company's demographics map exactly onto the country's demographics right now and probably for a long time, so what goal should companies strive for? For example, are we really to believe that equal amounts of men and women are sports fanatics? I think polling SOSH membership, a free website with no boundaries for joining, would point us to no. Yes, there are many women who love sports as much as fanatic males, but I don't think it's controversial to say that the percentage of males who obsess over sports enough to make a career out of it is higher than women. So then how can we expect a 50/50 representation of males and females in sports media? If the goal is not 50%, what is it? 40%? 20%? Some ethnicities and genders are overrepresented in certain careers, be it doctors, teachers, nurses, engineers, small business owners, chefs, therapists, fashion designers, etc. So wouldn't it then make sense , conversely, that certain groups would be underrepresented in other industries that are super competitive, less reliable, and not well paying like, I don't know, sports media?

Honestly, I would love to hear someone put a number on this to understand what we're striving for beyond "more" because that's not a realistic, measurable, or helpful goal. That's not to say, wow The Ringer is perfect, but we're not talking about Fox News here. Does it ever get to the point where we're throwing the baby out with the bath water?
 
I've just been catching up and listening to the Simmons/Russillo podcast from Sunday, and the "open mic night" line is particularly odd when you consider that Simmons started this particular pod by going back in time and talking about how bad he was at podcasts in the early going, and how long it took for him to start feeling comfortable that he knew what he was doing. He also specifically talked about the infrastructure he tries to set up at The Ringer so new podders are positioned to succeed as best as he can. (I wonder if he knew the NYT article was in the works and about to be published and tailored his content accordingly, because the timing is otherwise incredibly coincidental.) If this sort of thing interests you, you should go back and catch at least the first 15 minutes of his chat with Russillo.
 

Ralphwiggum

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Honestly, I would love to hear someone put a number on this to understand what we're striving for beyond "more" because that's not a realistic, measurable, or helpful goal. That's not to say, wow The Ringer is perfect, but we're not talking about Fox News here. Does it ever get to the point where we're throwing the baby out with the bath water?
Why is "more" not a measurable or helpful goal? The goal is more. Don’t worry, we are not in danger in pretty much any professional setting anywhere of having white guys being underrepresented so the goal for now (and the foreseeable future) is more. What more means will vary greatly from company to company and industry to industry, so throwing out a random target and then declaring victory when you hit it isn’t particularly helpful or meaningful.

But anyway people bristling at his “open mic” comment aren’t necessarily calling into question his track record of giving diverse voices a chance. Layered into that comment is an implicit statement that in order to give women and people of color more chances he’d have to lower his standards like a comic club on open mic night. That coupled with the fact that at times he has had an open mic type approach is what pissed some people off. Maybe it isn’t what he meant but it’s what he said
 

MDJ

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What is the line between "few token minorities" and a "diverse staff"? It would be impossible to have a company's demographics map exactly onto the country's demographics right now and probably for a long time, so what goal should companies strive for? For example, are we really to believe that equal amounts of men and women are sports fanatics? I think polling SOSH membership, a free website with no boundaries for joining, would point us to no. Yes, there are many women who love sports as much as fanatic males, but I don't think it's controversial to say that the percentage of males who obsess over sports enough to make a career out of it is higher than women. So then how can we expect a 50/50 representation of males and females in sports media? If the goal is not 50%, what is it? 40%? 20%? Some ethnicities and genders are overrepresented in certain careers, be it doctors, teachers, nurses, engineers, small business owners, chefs, therapists, fashion designers, etc. So wouldn't it then make sense , conversely, that certain groups would be underrepresented in other industries that are super competitive, less reliable, and not well paying like, I don't know, sports media?

Honestly, I would love to hear someone put a number on this to understand what we're striving for beyond "more" because that's not a realistic, measurable, or helpful goal. That's not to say, wow The Ringer is perfect, but we're not talking about Fox News here. Does it ever get to the point where we're throwing the baby out with the bath water?
Instead of simply stating that there are more fanatical sports fans who are men than who are women, how about starting with why that might be, and what kind of gender bias might create that situation?

As to the rest of your point, I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt, but you do seem to be suggesting that white men are the only people capable of being in super competitive, less reliable, and poorly paid jobs. Are non-white men just not competitive enough? Or do they on average have greater connections and family wealth (coughsimmonscough) that allow them to do things like blog professionally?

Or is that the entire reason why people are frustrated??