Today's Paper Latest stories Most commented Obits Traffic Weather Newsletters Puzzles + Games

Ryen Russillo is a sports talk dude.

I like the weekly podcast he does for ESPN. I haven't listened to the Dual Threat podcast he does for Bill Simmons' The Ringer website because I don't have that much time to devote to podcasting listening, but I would imagine it's pretty good too.

I'm sorry that he's not on ESPN proper anymore--these days he just does the podcast because he moved to Los Angeles to try to be a screenwriter. I don't know if he's any good at that, but admire him from moving on from what many would consider a pretty cushy gig. I started out writing about sports and still like watching, thinking, talking and occasionally writing about them, but I wouldn't want to have to spend all my time pretending that sports are all that important to me.

However, if anyone wants me to host a weekly hour-long sports podcast, call my agent. I've got a co-host and a plan.

I like Russillo in part because he approaches sports the same way I do. They aren't important, but they are meaningful. While there is something inherently ridiculous about investing too much in them, the rewards are sufficient. We are all, in our own ways, hypocrites. Thinking about things and considering the esoteric is fun.

But I mainly like Russillo because of what he doesn't do--evince the fake outrage of Skip Bayless. He doesn't torture the language like Stephen A. Smith, or logic like Will Cain. Podcasts don't have call-in segments with amateur hot takes.

Let's not pretend Russillo is Dick Cavett or William F. Buckley. He works out a lot and looks like he juices. (And he strikes me as the sort of guy who might take that as a compliment.) He's about 80 percent smart guy and about 20 percent meathead.

And sometimes I enjoy the meathead part, which had a brilliant idea the other day: What if, once a year, everyone got a free pass to legally fight some jerk?

It's entirely impractical, except as a thought experiment. (No one is condoning real-world violence here, and no one is suggesting that anyone ought to be punched in the throat. All we are doing is taking notice of the fact that some people, including Nazis, deserve to be punched in the throat.)

But let's put practicality aside.

If you knew that a mean comment could result in you having to throw hands with your target, would that deter you from making that tweet or Facebook post or snarky aside in the comments section? Would it make the world a kinder, more hospitable place? Probably not, but it might be fun to watch guys accustomed to hiding behind anonymous online handles (they are overwhelmingly guys; women tend to roll their eyes at such silliness) be called to account. They're not as anonymous as they think they are, and for purposes of this spectacle, we'd enlist our national law enforcement and intelligence agencies in ferreting out their true identities.

Alternatively, there might be money to be made in tracking down and revealing the identities of online half-lings and redditors for the purpose of potential challenges. Whack-a-Troll® franchises! Capitalism!

Anyone can challenge anyone, so long as they can show cause. Since you're limited to one challenge a year, you'd want to think carefully about who to challenge and why. You need to have a real grievance to redress. The offense would have to be a specific and genuinely jerkish act, performed with intent, and not simply the result of stupidity or even negligence. (Examples of potentially legitimate jerkish actions: Sexting. Vandalism. Parking place theft. Public loud-talking on a mobile device. Alienation of affections. Doxing. Ad hominem attacks. Arguing with memes and emojis. Plagiarism. Workplace lunch stealing. Tattling. Any and all forms of passive aggression.)

While anyone can challenge anyone, our panel could dismiss any challenge as frivolous.

The frivolous challenger would not be able to submit another challenge that year, and possibly the next. After all, the whole point of the spectacle is to ensure at least the possibility of consequences for one's actions. The consequence for filing a frivolous challenge is that you lose that challenge. And it's possible that someone--not necessarily the person you challenge but, let's say, his bigger stronger brother--will use your frivolous challenge as grounds for a legitimate challenge of their own.

Pacifists, nice folks and others who would prefer not to issue challenges wouldn't be required to do so. But everyone would be required to answer any challenge deemed legitimate. The only way to opt out of the pool of potential challengees is to behave yourself and refrain from committing acts of jerkitude.

While each person receives only one opportunity to challenge someone else every year, you could be required to answer multiple challenges. If you had to fight three or four people a week, you might be led to rethink your life choices.

Or at least spend a little more time in the gym.

There exist some people (Roger Daltrey, Ronda Rousey, John Brummett) who like to fight. Challengers would have to take that into consideration when deciding who to challenge. It might not be prudent to challenge some people who give offense; you might have to consider your limitations.

And we'd probably have to limit the bouts to three minutes. And make everyone wear protective headgear and gloves. No kicking, gouging or biting. A referee to stop the pummeling. Like the NFL, we at least have to make a feint toward player safety.

But we'd allow mismatches. LeBron James could take on Dan Le Batard's 74-year-old Papi, or better Bayless. Those matches would be pay-per-view.

Which might just be a way to finance the whole program.

Editorial on 12/02/2018

Print Headline: PHILIP MARTIN: Let's you and him fight

Sponsor Content


You must be signed in to post comments