I recently re-read a story I did from 2012, and reading it cold made me realize how much I liked it. There was just one problem: the narrator mentions real athletes. Writing from an alter ego, in an obviously satirical way, the narrator goes to the London Olympics and tries to fuck all the athletes. I quickly realized that this may not be allowed, but to me it feels cheap--and has always felt cheap--to sub in obvious parody names, e.g., Beck Davidham, Hussein Volt, etc.
But my question arises from this: I have seen it done in other publications, albeit differently, where the writer speaks disparagingly of certain people. Hunter S. Thompson called the Minnesota Vikings a "gang of sick junkies" and that Al Davis had lost his mind, and these were in national publications.
In this story, the narrator simply describes what he would or would not do, sexually, to the Olympians; he never actually disparages the athlete themselves, except maybe to call Lolo Jones a cobwebbed virgin or that the entire gymnastics squad may be young, but not that young. He never even interacts with an athlete, as he gets lost from his hotel on his way to one of the Olympic stadia. It's all in his mind, but what's in his mind is of frank nature.
Obviously, this is a work of transgression. It is also obviously satirical. No person on earth would think this guy was real, or had even been to London. But does it have a place, today, in American writing? Can I get sued?
Coda: I sort of admired some of the old Russians who would simply put _______ in place of certain people or names, as Gogol did. I may do that, but it seems like such a cop out.