Well. This stinks.
News of Grantland's shuttering by ESPN is not really a surprise. In a way, this day has been coming since ESPN fired Bill Simmons earlier this year. Grantland was Simmons' site, his baby. Plus, there was always talk that Grantland was not a money maker for ESPN. Put those two things together, and the news is hardly a shock.
But it still stinks.
Grantland was one of the premiere sites for sports writing and sports journalism. Period, point blank. It was a must-visit every day for fans of good, intelligent, boundary-pushing sports writing. It served as the home for the sports writing of Charlie Pierce, merely the greatest living sports writer in the country (that alone warrents its continued existence). Grantland was also the home of Bill Barnwell, who redefined what it meant to be an NFL beat writer. Suddenly, you didn't need "sources" to report on pro football. You could do so with analytics and film study and be just as valuable (if not more so) to readers.
Grantland was the site for smart sports journalism, and it feels like there are fewer and fewer places for that kind of writing. First Sports on Earth was restructured, and now Grantland is disappearing. It's becoming harder and harder for sports writing that doesn't fit the traditional molds to find good homes that pay the writers well.
There are larger issues at stake. This comes at a time when ESPN is laying off hundreds of workers, when cord cutting is becoming a big issue to sports media. The river of high carriage fees ESPN has lived off of its entire history - the $6.61 from every cable TV bill that flows straight to Bristol - is slowly starting to dry up. That's going to change what is shown on ESPN and what kind of writing is available to sports fans. It's neither good nor bad - it's the world we're living in.
It just stinks that Grantland was the first casulty.