Grantland is Gone: Young Writers Everywhere Are Weeping

If my days were not as busy as they’ve ever been, I would write more elaborately about Grantland, now that the website has been killed by the evil powers of ESPN/Disney Corporation. But my days are really fucking busy, so much so that I have to take spare moments whenever I can to realize that the basketball season has started, and watch DVR-d Celtics games as part of NBA League Pass free preview week. I can’t order League Pass this year, because it would just make me depressed how few Celtics games I watched. As it is, I will be busily fast-forwarding to get to the final 6 minutes of the meaningful regular season games on national TV, and I will DVR all the good Warriors match-ups, because I live in the Bay Area and that comes with our cable package. I will have to settle for the rare nationally televised Celtics games, and the occasional trip to my friend Eric’s house. Eric gets League Pass.

But what about Grantland?

Grantland no more, say the important men at ESPN. 300 will be laid off. After Bill Simmons left, you had to wonder how long it might last. Then came the rumors of former Grantland editors bolting for Simmons’ HBO project. And like that….poof…the site is gone.

I will have to search for Jonathan Abrams’ book and hope he catches on elsewhere soon. I will have to search for Zach Lowe’s analysis. Will it just appear on ESPN’s site? How ugly, to have to search through the mud for those long Zach Lowe pieces. I will have to keep an eye out for Bryan Curtis. Wesley Morris is headed to the New York Times.

Truthfully, I can’t remember the last time I was deeply effected by a Grantland piece, but I kept reading for the insights and the solid writing. I think the novelty wore off and the tedium of pop culture flotsam and jetsam set in. Or the analytics and contract talk took over. Maybe it’s the fact that I’ve been reading too much internet writing for too long. Maybe its the limitations of hyperbole and snark. Maybe its the looped videos or the hipster affect. Maybe its the fact that I’m no longer 26 or 28 or 30 or 32. I am all of 35 and have busy days.

For a while, I wanted to write for a living. I wrote fiction and personal essays. A collection of stories exist, partially-edited. Several ideas wait on several back burners (certainly a fire hazard in a drought-riddled area). I was even paid a small pittance for my written work at one site on many occasions. I had a few pieces published at a site that was later bought by Sports Illustrated. This is not monumental or important. It just is.

For three years, I read everything I could about the NBA. I watched and observed and wrote. I got involved with Twitter. I obsessed about my Celtics, and then about the Warriors. I still love the NBA, but this way of living, this type of fandom, is only possible when you are piecing jobs together month-by-month.

I teach. I write. Neither is very profitable, but teaching is more profitable than writing, and also offers a structured routine and a place to actually exist that isn’t in my own head or in my imagined future.

People read words on websites and they rarely pay money to do so. This is not monumental or important. It just is. I do it. You do it. People do it. It strikes me that the internet is not all that profitable, and that this is a problem for companies.

I will mourn the loss of a website that I visited routinely for the last four years. I remember The Atlantic ran a story about how Grantland was doomed even before it launched in June, 2011. Of course, everything on the internet is doomed, isn’t it? Everything that brings a group of men in suits to sit around a table must have benchmarks and must be profitable.

A site that was determined to be a different kind of venue for sports, one that encouraged and enabled actual writing?

Of course, the idea that long-form meant better was indulged. Longer doesn’t in fact mean better. In some cases it means less editing and critical thought.

At the same time, some of the site’s best content was personal essay-length, rather than internet blog-post length. The writing mixed humor and pathos. Stories were told with quiet confidence, not shouted or beamed. Whether it was a Jonathan Abrams profile, a Brian Curtis essay or examination of sports media, a Charlie Pierce ode, a Jordan Conn piece about Gregg Popovich in 1980, or something else, I was always opening a Grantland story.

I wish that the internet worked differently. I wish that the places you clicked determined your monthly Comcast bill. But then I’m guessing many people would be terrified of showing their significant others where they spent their internet money each month.

People don’t pay to read. Writers are always looking for more readers. If nobody reads, few writers keep writing. Like Wayne Coyne says in “Do You Realize?”

And instead of saying all of your goodbyes – let them know
You realize that life goes fast
It’s hard to make the good things last
You realize the sun doesn’t go down
It’s just an illusion caused by the world spinning round

Goodbye, Grantland. You made the internet a little bit less awful for a good long while. Maybe I’ll actually read some of those books now…if I ever find the time.

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2 thoughts on “Grantland is Gone: Young Writers Everywhere Are Weeping

  1. mycelts says:

    Sad time in the writing world….
    Apparently some of the Staff found out via Twitter! Immature and Silly!

    love your articles!

  2. Ryan Keating says:

    Even though I didn’t read Grantland all that much it was always all over the place and I admired what it put forth. Oh well, good things come. They go. Change and loss is inevitable.

    I am actually sitting down to do some writing right now. I was on a run today in the Salt Lake City hills/mountains and came across a homeless camp. Crazy that there is a homeless camp clearly up very high that took a lot of energy to get to. I had a riveting conversation with one of the guys for about 45 minutes. To basically sum it all up, the guy should be the head of some homeless initiative group regarding what people actually go through who are homeless and who are the perpetuators of the homeless problem. I’m looking forward to transcribing our conversation. It was a spontaneous delight to the day.

    Anyway, I get your little bits of writing here that elude that there’s just too much to do with your day for reading articles, writing, doing your daily job, being politically active, being in a loving relationship, having friends, getting sleep, eating well, having down time, watching sports, and on and on and on. I have found recently that I actually really enjoy when Sam travels for work because I actually have the whole day to myself to spend how I want and deem necessary. I actually feel like I am an accomplished person when I am exposed to this rabid individualism. However, I am working on this with Sam and we both actually feel this way. Not that we don’t want to spend time with one another but we both really do value our individualistic nature and when you spend everyday with someone there almost needs to be a calander agreed upon so one knows what to expect as evening rolls around whether it be doing something together or just saying anything goes and do my own thing.

    Just a tidbit for you into that above. It is extremely hard to get up everyday and do the things that make your day worthwhile. There is too much!!!! It is like the fact that there are simply TOO many quality tv shows to watch. How does one plan for it all. There are a million different options to meaningfully live out your day. So many in fact that it can easily cripple you into either not doing any of them or simply not dedicating yourself to one of them to make it quality vs always going after quantity. I think I honestly just get bored easily and can’t sit still and then I move onto the next thing because it simply is there.

    So how is teaching going? I assume super crazy freaking busy? Do you like it? Do you feel empowered with each day going to and from teaching? I am actually starting to sub here again in Salt Lake. A little depressed about it because I’ve simply done it before and subbing isn’t exciting but I need the money and I need the flexible schedule (so I can do all the other things that tend to overwhelm my day!). Anywho, lots going on whether with a full time job or not. The whole idea of a formal full time job being any different from one’s own version of a full time job is an interesting comparison. I find it very much the same, except one fits into societies standards of “work and getting paid” vs one falling into more of the hobby category. Always important to be the controller of your own domain when it comes down to what you think vs that of others. Okay now I’m just somewhat rambling.

    Royals won. Good for them to finally pull in a title. Definitely sums up the season I watched the least amount of baseball in my life. I’ll probably watch very little basketball too for some reason. Can’t pull myself towards the TV these days as I feel obligated to write about so many different things and occupy my time with my own version of “my full time job” that I put upon myself. That experience today put things in perspective for me. These people were living in the hills. And I complain about my life? Jesus…

    Good vibes to you Mr. Jonah


    Date: Mon, 2 Nov 2015 08:07:41 +0000 To:

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