Over the past few months, fans of sports, blogging, and especially sports blogging have continued lamenting the recent loss of a beloved source of sharp, funny, and valuable mostly (but not only) sports–related journalism. The Astros stole signs. Colin Kaepernick had a workout. The Patriots lost. The New Orleans Saints became involved in the Catholic sex abuse scandal. A basketball legend died. Through all these stories, there was no Deadspin.
While a website called Deadspin did continue to exist, the staffers who made it what it was quit en masse in October after the site’s acting top editor Barry Petchesky was fired for refusing to stick to sports. Fortunately for Deadspin’s readers, several of those former staffers have reunited for a three-day Super Bowl weekend blog.
On Friday, the blog—Unnamed Temporary Sports Blog Dot Com—launched with the financial support of Dashlane, a password manager.
To find out more about how this project came about, just how they plan to cover “the big game,” and whether we can expect more Deadspin revivals after the weekend, Slate spoke with Tom Ley, the founder, CEO, and publisher of Big Cool Tom Media LLC (“I want you to be clear that Big Cool Tom Media LLC is a real LLC that I started,” Ley told us), and therefore the editor of the project.
This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.
Slate: How have things been since Deadspin imploded?
Tom Ley: You know, it’s been fine. Just like any regular stint of unemployment, I guess. A lot of us stay in touch with each other. We spend a lot of the days just shooting the shit like we used to.
Do you know how many people have found jobs?
I know that a large chunk of us are still seeking employment. It’s OK. You know, it’s media. Everyone goes through this.
Let’s talk about the blog. How did it come about?
It wasn’t that long ago. I think we have only been talking, probably, less than a month. Dashlane reached out to us and had the idea. And I wouldn’t have done it if their idea was stupid or compromising or something we didn’t feel interested in doing. But, basically, they were like, “Spend the weekend just doing what you guys know how to do, and we will sponsor the site and pay you for it.” So it was as simple as that. You know, we’re all unemployed. We miss blogging. It seemed like a pretty good opportunity to temporarily soothe both of those problems.
Are you guys going to be working together in the same space?
Oh, no, we’re all just blogging from our homes. We just made a Slack channel for all of us who are doing this this weekend. I think there’s 15 or 16 of us.
Obviously, as you said, you’re doing this for money. But is there any other motive here?
I don’t want to be sappy or melodramatic about it, but we really do enjoy getting to hang out and write blogs together. And so, you know, that more than anything—even more than money—was a good selling point to get everybody on board.
What everyone’s probably wondering is if this is a test run of some kind for a more permanent blog.
No, I wish that we were that coordinated and good at plans. But literally, this was just—they came to us with an idea. We have no intention or anything beyond, just—we just wanted to have fun for three days.
What’s the response been like so far?
Pretty positive. I think we’ve had over 1,000 comments now on the site. It wasn’t supposed to go live until today, but then it got leaked last night. And after that happened, our traffic spiked so much that we had to get upgraded on WordPress to a dedicated server just so that it wouldn’t crash today.
Do you guys have an editorial plan for the weekend?
We’re all going to write whatever interests us, which has always been what we’ve done. Obviously, we will be talking about football and the big game. But yeah, we want to treat this as three days where [we put] stuff that we wish we could have written the last couple months—or just any ideas we’ve been kicking around, sports-related or not—up there and see if people like them.
Have you thought about how you would have handled recent big sports stories?
I mean, I personally tried not to think too hard about that stuff. Because it kind of bummed me out. I would see updates with the Astros scandal, and I would be like, “Oh shit, we would have a lot on this.” But I never went much further than that because I didn’t want to torment myself.
Have you had any funny ideas that have been too dumb or weird to pitch as a freelancer?
Yeah, constantly. I don’t want to speak for other people, but we’ve definitely had conversations amongst ourselves where someone has had a really stupid idea that would be perfect if we had a website. Like, you go try to pitch that to an editor, and they’re like, “OK, so that’s it? Can you think a little deeper about that?” And you’re like, “No, I just want to do something stupid.” And that doesn’t work as a freelancer. So that’s definitely one specific itch that we wanted to scratch this weekend.
Can you share any of those ideas?
I don’t know. I don’t want to embarrass myself by saying something that’s not actually funny.
Fair enough. Is there an ideal scenario coming out of the game this weekend, blogging-wise?
I think Donald Trump’s doing an interview. So like if he stroked out or something. Something really awful or hilarious on live TV, that would be pretty ideal. You’re always rooting for something ridiculous. You know, a power outage like that one Super Bowl, or some other crazy shit. And, you know, a good exciting game would also be fun. The weirder, crazier stuff that happens, always the better.
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