Scott D. Pierce: Bill Simmons’ HBO show is kind of boring

June 28, 2016 GMT

Last week, HBO brought former ESPN bad boy Bill Simmons to TV in “Any Given Wednesday,” billed as a sports and pop-culture talk show.

And it was … kind of boring.

The show (Wednesdays, 8 p.m., HBO) made news because Patriots fan Ben Affleck went ballistic about Deflategate and dropped 19 F-bombs.

(I was more taken aback by Affleck slurring his words.)

Simmons looked nervous, delivering a really bad opening monologue. His interview with Charles Barkley was fine; his interview with Affleck wasn’t; a comedy bit bombed.

Simmons is a fun read, but being a good writer doesn’t make one a good TV host. Obviously.

ICELAND INSANITY• Have you seen the clip of Icelandic TV’s coverage of its team’s win over Austria at the European championships?

Sportscaster Gudmundur Benediktsson joyfully shrieked, going beyond a fevered pitch when Iceland scored in stoppage time.

I don’t speak a word of Icelandic, and yet I knew exactly what he was saying.

He did it again on Monday when Iceland scored to take the lead over England en route to another shocking win. Hilarious!

AND ONE MORE THING • Last week, when criticizing Fox Sports’ coverage of Copa America, I left out an enormous flaw — the cheerleading.

I have no problem with Fox focusing more on Team USA. But it was stunning — stunningly stupid — when four of five Fox analysts (Stuart Holden, Alexi Lalas, Jenny Taft, Aly Wagner) predicted Team USA would beat the No. 1 team in the world, Argentina.

Lalas actually said, “The U.S. isn’t the underdog” — one of the dumbest things you’ll hear on TV this year.

To no sane person’s surprise, Agentina won 4-0.

It wasn’t just the predictions, however. The homerism extended to game coverage.

One example — during the game, a replay clearly showed American Clint Dempsey delivering an elbow to the throat of Argentina’s Javier Mascherano — a vicious foul that should have drawn a card — and Fox’s JP Dellacamera and Landon Donovan suddenly went silent.


E-SPORTS ON P12N • The Pac-12 Network will begin airing eSports on its channels beginning sometime later this year.

I won’t be watching. I think playing video games is something you do — not something you watch on TV.

Kind of like golf. (I’m kidding ... I’m kidding. Mostly.)

But I applaud P12N for this. It’s aimed at the college crowd, who — we’re assured — are interested in watching fellow students play video games.

The plan is to have a team from, say, Utah play against a team from UCLA in specific video games to be determined later. In addition, there will be tournaments held in conjunction with Pac-12 championship events.

So maybe teams from all 12 member schools converge on Las Vegas to play an NCAA basketball video game tournament during next year’s Pac-12 basketball tournament.

Not my cup of tea, but I still think there’s a certain element of genius to this proposal It will provide original programming to channels that are always in need of fresh show.

(How may repeats of football games can we possibly watch?)

And, presumably, it won’t be expensive to produce.

If college students … or anyone else … actually tune in and watch, that’s a bonus.

And none of us has to like every sport … er, uh, game that’s on TV. So just shut up and turn the channel, soccer haters.

Scott D. Pierce covers TV for The Salt Lake Tribune. Email him at spierce@sltrib.com; follow him on Twitter @ScottDPierce.