Malcolm Gladwell: Bill Simmons’ suspension ‘was an embarrassingly low moment’ for ESPN


Malcolm Gladwell tells Bloomberg TV that suspending Bill Simmons “was totally the wrong decision” by ESPN. “I thought that in the course of expressing their opinions, sports columnists are allowed to draw conclusions. Apparently not. Apparently you get suspended for that. I thought that was an embarrassingly low moment.”

Gladwell on the Amazon-Hachette war (transcript provided by Bloomberg TV):

It’s cost me a lot of money. That’s for sure. I mean, it breaks my heart a little. I had thought of Amazon as in partnership with writers. And for a company to try and make a business point by turning its back on – you know, I have sold through Amazon – millions of books. I have contributed mightily to their bottom line. I would have thought they would have seen me as an asset. I have brought people – me and other writers have brought people to their site in droves. And now they’ve, you know, turned on us. I mean, it – as – it is – to say the least, a puzzling strategy for a business – to turn on its assets. And – so I – yeah, I remain – I’m – I would love to have a conversation with Jeff Bezos about – you know, the self-destructive nature of this particular strategy.

On whether NFL is doing enough to combat head injuries:

No. I mean, I think the sport is a moral abomination. …Basically when you watch football on Sunday, a third of the players you are watching are in the course of playing the game incurring an injury, some kind of, which will significantly impact their life. Can you point to another – industry in America which – as – in the course of doing business maims a third of its employees, right? This is untenable. We’re not just talking about people limping at the age of 50. We’re talking about brain injuries that are causing horrible, protracted – premature death. This is – you know, the idea that we are paying people to engage in a sport for our own entertainment that causes irreparable damage to themselves is appalling.

On NFL’s handling of recent domestic violence issues:

I mean, this is a sport that is living in the past, that has no connection to – I think, no connection to the realities of the game right now and no real connection to American society. I mean, if you look at that the whole Ray Rice issue was – in a microcosm what’s wrong with the N.F.L., which is they are completely disconnected from the consequences of the sport that they are engaged in, right? That they are socializing young men into a culture of violence, right? And so is it at all surprisin’ that you see the kinds of corollary social damage surroundin’ players that we see? Not at all surprising at all, you know? That’s not – they’re – they’re off on this kind of 19th century trajectory which is fundamentally outta touch with the rest of us.

On whether football disappears:

I don’t see how it doesn’t. I mean, I think – you know, once there’s – there’ll be – it’ll start to shrivel up at the high school and college level. And then the pro game, I think it will eventually wither on the – on the vine. I mean, look, boxing was one of the biggest sports in this country in the 1920’s and ’30s. Where is it now?

Update: Amazon and Hachette settle their dispute (
* Gladwell: Amazon has turned on us writers (
* Gladwell: Football is a moral abomination (