ESPN the Magazine’s D.C. issue is super, super cool, and I think you should get your hands on it.
That said, the large box inside the RGIII story featuring Michael Wilbon and Tony Kornheiser talking about our city and its sporting passions is a giant smelly burp inserted in the middle of a delicious and pleasing meal.
Wilbon was never anything but a prince to me, and was always far kinder than he had reason to be. But I’ll never understand why he seems to go out of his way to antagonize the fans and readers who helped turn him into a national star. Is D.C. the greatest sports town in the world? Clearly not. Is it worthy of repeated trashing? I don’t see why that would be the case.
“Pardon the reality check, but DC just isn’t built to be a sports town,” reads the subhed on this back-and-forth, and the text lives up to that billing.
“It doesn’t compare,” Wilbon says of Washington. “No, it’s terrible. It’s not even close to New York, Philly, Chicago, Detroit, Boston, LA. It’s last….It’s because people don’t call this home, really. They still call somewhere else home. I’ve been here 32 years, and I still barely call it home….
“Beyond [the Redskins]? Politics makes sports here No. 2. I’m from Chicago, the place that produced the most recent president of the United States. Sports is still No. 1 there. They’ll never, ever make the mistake of thinking that politics or something else is No. 1….Only on Monday mornings, 16 times a year, is sports the No. 1 conversation [in Washington]….
“If you’re going to really look at the DC sports scene, what’s more important than the Wizards and Capitals to people are Maryland and Georgetown. But think about this: When’s the last time you’ve seen anything that happened in DC lead SportsCenter? RG3 is the first time that’s happened in years. So DC, the center of the sports universe? Never, never.”
Ok, whatever. Georgetown is not more important to people here than the Capitals — check TV ratings, check attendance, check Web clicks. RGIII is not the first time D.C. has led SportsCenter in years — hello, Stephen Strasburg? Bryce Harper?
More importantly, sure, a whole bunch of people who live here don’t call this place home. But hundreds of thousands of people do. They’re the core of whatever fan base the local teams have, and I don’t know why they deserve national scorn.
“Guess he will find his sports passion in Phoenix,” ESPN’s Bram Weinstein, who also contributed to the issue, wrote on Twitter. “Once a carpetbagger, always a carpetbagger.”