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You know what? I'm glad ESPN closed Grantland.


the admiral

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From The New Republic:

Grantland made its readers better fans — its coverage explained often esoteric concepts in ways that made them immediately understandable. To watch sports at a bar in 2015 — especially a bar populated by educated, relatively well-off, younger people — is to hear Grantland articles endlessly parroted back to you, with or without attribution.

Jesus Christ, watching sports at a bar with devoted Grantland readers/regurgitators, file that one under "Concepts of Hell," huh. I'm sorry, but being a Smart Sports Fan is wearing my ass out like a high-powered belt sander. I don't need to read about how Phil Emery is a genius because he talks about "a process" a lot or which Beyonce lyrics match up to which NBA point guards. What does it mean that the Seattle Seahawks won the Super Bowl? No, not for the NFL, but for America?

Being a sports elitist is roughly akin to being a hot dog elitist; maybe it's fun to quibble over little things like ketchup usage or whether the Washington Redskins should be called the Washington Redskins, but ultimately, none of this crap really has anything to do with "the elite," anyway. And of course, whether Grantland articles ever said anything trenchant, profound, or novel, which they usually didn't, was immaterial: it was all about assuring you, the reader, that you're one of the smart ones and that all these other people are the stupid ones, even as you get the feeling that word for word, there's now as much sportswriting à la Bill Simmons in the universe as there is sportswriting à la Bill Plaschke. There's no voice in the wilderness here; we've built condominiums over the wilderness.

I, for one, celebrate the death of this purveyor of middlebrow social signaling and half-baked movie reviews. Let's make stupid the new "smart." The Royals already are!

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it was all about assuring you, the reader, that you're one of the smart ones and that all these other people are the stupid ones

This is pure nonsense. So Jonah Keri and Zach Lowe's ultimate goal was to write columns that enforce some elitist principle in order to make the reader think they're smarter than the others? What drivel.

The theory doesn't even match up. Your basic "Simmonsy" article written by some Grantland underling about Beyonce lyrics and point guards isn't high row at all. They tried to write about sports from a different perspective and bridge the perceived gap between sports and pop culture. I usually interpreted those articles as tongue-in-cheek. Whether they succeeded at that, or whether that's even your cup of tea or not is up in the air. But forcing some underlying manipulative intent on the website is an intellectually dishonest attempt to jusitfy your distaste for their style.

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I'm forced to agree. Simmons did more to lower the tone than raise it.

I didn't have much time for Grantland, but it wasn't because the articles were too highbrow or too interested in showing me how much better I was than anyone else. Quite the opposite, actually.

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I don't really think that quoted description really does Grantland justice. Being an "informed" sports fan is something that should come about naturally; you shouldn't "force" yourself to become one. Let nature take its course on that. There were a few writers on GL that were regular reads for me - Barnwell and DGB moreso than anyone else - but, as with everything, I read for complementary information, not for supplementary information. I never read Simmons at any point after, like, 2008, so I can't really comment on what his writing style has (d)evolved into. In any case, the idea of GL being a bastion of elite sports writing for elite sports fans sounds like a perception for some that I never received when I read columns there; it's entirely possible that I just didn't read the columns that may have been like that.

In any case, at least I can be safe from the fear of ever dealing with a bar full of Grantland readers because sports bars are about the last place I ever want to consume sports in. Not that I can ever imagine a g-ddamn sports bar, of any kind or franchise, being the kind of place where "informed" people are going to drop in at in the first place. People go to sports bars to hang out with buddies and get wasted...or something like that. Not to start discussing with one another "hey, that 18 foot jump shot is real gosh darn inefficient, you know?".

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Two more things

1. Simmons was one of the weakest writers on that staff. I think that's one of the reasons he wrote less and less as time went on (in addition to getting busy with his podcast and NBA TV coverage). Bill Barnwell (though I disagree with his assertion that momentum isn’t real), Jonah Keri, and whoever that guy was that covered NBA were weekly reading. I don't even like basketball and I read the NBA articles. Down Goes Brown was okay with the NHL. He had about a 500 shooting percentage with me. I think his best work was in the historical context, but covering current events wasn’t his strong suit.

2. I loved the Mad Men recaps. When Mad Men ended a big reason for me visiting Grantland ended with it. Also, never much cared for Andy Greenwald. I found his writing style pretentious and his penchant for over-inflating the importance of certain TV shows was annoying (See: Breaking Bad).

edit: 3. We live in a world where Skip Bayless is a thing (Admiral thread reference intentional) and Stephen A Smith is yelling about "Kobe Bryantt and the Los Angeles Lakers of the National Basketball Association quite frankly DO NOT HAVE IT." every hour of the day. Before grantland it felt like we were taking a step back as sports discussion. It was good to see stuff that aimed higher. On the flip side, most of the time I find articles about advanced analytics dreadfully boring (see: FiveThirtyEight), but when approached by the grantland writers it was different.

edit: 4. I like Chuck Klosterman. I don’t know what that makes me, but I think I’m supposed to be sorry about that.

edit: 5. Not all of it was good, but it was definitely born out of reaction to the "Hot Takes" world that is sports coverage today. I liked it.

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Grading the quality of journalism is very difficult, but distinguishing the difference between journalism and entertainment is becoming less so. ESPN is by it's very name an entertainment network, and Grantland is not contributing to the ESPN name or brand in ways that reflect the spirit of the network.

Is there a genuine need for quality sports reporting, investigate journalism, and unique writing styles that reflect on the world and sports place in it? Absolutely, but such a thing is not easily harnessed, and for a company that is quite tender about how it is perceived, Grantland was a dangerous commodity to keep around. Especially without it's creator no longer under their employ.

Will I miss Grantland? Not really. They'll find work and at some point another interesting writers haven will emerge.

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edit: 3. We live in a world where Skip Bayless is a thing (Admiral thread reference intentional) and Stephen A Smith is yelling about "Kobe Bryantt and the Los Angeles Lakers of the National Basketball Association quite frankly DO NOT HAVE IT." every hour of the day. Before grantland it felt like we were taking a step back as sports discussion. It was good to see stuff that aimed higher. On the flip side, most of the time I find articles about advanced analytics dreadfully boring (see: FiveThirtyEight), but when approached by the grantland writers it was different.

Grantland had some stuff I really liked and some stuff that bored the :censored: out of me. Wish I could be more eloquent on the matter, but Grantland never did enough to make me care all that much one way or the other.

Agreed and agreed. I'll miss some of the content, assuming it doesn't show up elsewhere on the ESPN website. However, that content doesn't have to be on the Grantland platform.

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I actually think you do need something like Grantland if you want that content.

It wasn't just that Grantland had good writing and good content. It was also that it was presented in a very non-ESPN way. There were no scrolling score bars. No autoload video. No BREAKING NEWS.

Grantland was very much a magazine-style sports and culture website that knew what it was and kept to its mission.

There's nothing else like it. Deadspin is interesting but full of over-the-top snark. SI doesn't know what it is. SB Nation is Deadspin but earnest. Who knows what Bleacher Report is.

Grantland was pompous, sure, but it was also generally very good.

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I actually think you do need something like Grantland if you want that content.

It wasn't just that Grantland had good writing and good content. It was also that it was presented in a very non-ESPN way. There were no scrolling score bars. No autoload video. No BREAKING NEWS.

Grantland was very much a magazine-style sports and culture website that knew what it was and kept to its mission.

There's nothing else like it. Deadspin is interesting but full of over-the-top snark. SI doesn't know what it is. SB Nation is Deadspin but earnest. Who knows what Bleacher Report is.

Grantland was pompous, sure, but it was also generally very good.

I agree with Gothamite. This is a good point.

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