The Bob Emergency

Saturday May 11, 2019 Written by Toby

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A controversial call in this year’s Kentucky Derby, with the first horse to cross the finish line disqualified for interference, sparked fiery debate from all corners. Even Donald Trump weighed in on the matter. But in the midst of all the coverage and attention the event garnered, a graver, more existential threat to the entire world of sports went mostly unnoticed. Namely, the sad fact that we’re running out of Bobs.

In his video 'The Bob Emergency' (scroll down to watch), SB Nation’s Jon Bois dives deep into the history of athletes named Bob. Since 1855, he explains, there has always been at least one Bob playing sport. During Peak Bob, we had more than 500 working Bobs. But this year, 10,000 Bobs later, we only have nine. Bois sets out to find out why we’re shedding Bobs at such an alarming rate – and what we’ve lost in the process.

Tongue-in-cheek it may be, but Bois makes a compelling case for the importance of his investigation. “I’ve found that Bob is a name largely independent of era, class, race, sport and, in many cases, nationality,” Bois says in the video. “This collection of people tugs at more threads within the tapestry of sports than any other name I can think of. It’s a surprisingly complete documentation of what it has meant to be an athlete.”

The video is just the latest in a long string of unusual offerings from the sportswriter, which include an examination of how baseball batter Barry Bond’s performance in 2004 would be affected if he didn’t have a baseball bat and a National Magazine Award-winning multimedia work of speculative fiction about the future of football.

If you, too, are concerned about the future of Bob, note that the video runs for a full 42 minutes. Also, it’s only part one – head here for the second installment.