Excellent sports publication Grantland closed its doors suddenly on Friday, the site’s parent company ESPN announced. The status of the site had seemed to be up in the air ever since founding editor Bill Simmons’ departure from ESPN was announced in May, but even more so since earlier this month when it was reported that ESPN would be laying off about 300 employees.
“Effective immediately we are suspending the publication of Grantland,” the network announced in a statement. “After careful consideration, we have decided to direct our time and energy going forward to projects that we believe will have a broader and more significant impact across our enterprise.”
The site was one of the smartest on the Internet for longform sports journalism (and culture journalism) and was being lamented by journalists across the spectrum of areas of coverage on Twitter, from sports writers, to political writers, to culture writers.
While the site was clearly beloved by writers on the Internet, it was perhaps not loved widely enough among others for ESPN to consider it worth maintaining in a world where its founding editor no longer was working at the company and requiring of his own (excellent) vanity site.
As Slate’s Justin Peters noted earlier this year in a plea for ESPN to keep Grantland open, “the site is dwarfed in size by competitors, and it likely draws significant portions of [its] traffic from Simmons’ podcasts and infrequent columns.”
Whatever the reason for ESPN’s decision, it is a sad day for people who enjoy fun, smart, well-considered longform sports and culture journalism.