ESPN announced today that it was shutting down Grantland. I’ll leave my thoughts on the whole thing to this:
I was 20 when Grantland launched.
I was short on experience and long on ambition. I had passed the phase of my life where I loved everything Bill Simmons wrote, but I admired the boldness to which he committed to staking out a corner of the journalism world not always accepted by the reigning kings of journalism.
To be honest, I just wanted to work there. A lot of the personal writing I did back then reads like I was auditioning for a spot in their writing stable. It’s spec script stuff. It’s hard for me to reread because it was so overt in its imitation. But I also had fun writing it, and parts of that will always stay with me. This week, Max and I are writing a Star Wars & NFL story that would seem infinitely more facile if Grantland hadn’t ever existed.
By not taking itself so seriously, the site served as a beacon of irreverence. It was unswervingly cool, especially for young writers of a certain mindset and ambition. And it had some really damn good writing.
Over the years, as the journalists it influenced themselves become more influential, the impact Grantland had will be lionized and (probably) exaggerated. Because journalistic tastemakers loved Grantland, this process is already happening on Twitter hours after the announcement.
In fact, a lot of analysis and eulogies and autopsies are going to occur over the next few days, but those don’t interest me much.
To me, the site’s lasting impact has nothing to do with what went wrong and why. It mattered because it taught a bunch of young people like me that the industry can still be the meritocracy we all envision it to be when we enter it.
Doesn’t matter what you write; if it’s good, if it’s true, someone will listen.