Should ‘Grantland’ Just Stick to Sports?

by Kolby Solinsky
Editor, White Cover Magazine

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The statement in the title above is not written without awareness of the irony some people may instantly realize. White Cover is, of course, a sports + culture site. So, how are I ask Grantland to abandon the latter for the former. After all, there are several writers in the Grantland rotation who can type the sh*t out of a tirade against NBC or a from-the-fringe profile of Ke$ha. And, hey, they seem to be hiring more writers every day.

And, that’s the problem.

Grantland started out as an intimate experience for anyone who had ever read Bill Simmons’ columns, heard his podcasts with (a more skilled) Chuck Klosterman, or even recognized the name Malcolm Gladwell. It then used a now-established bullpen of sports enthusiasts and TV junkies — in that order, which is important — like Katie Baker, David Jacoby, and Bill Barnwell to round out its attack on our funny bones.

The site was, at its inception, a sports site. It just tended to veer off, and it always steered in the right direction. Pop culture included full articles on Charlotte Hornets retro gear from the mid-90’s. It compared The Godfather to the NBA Lockout, although even I’ll admit that was one of Bill’s lazier homages.

And, in perhaps its greatest ever offering, it gave a complete play-by-play of the Pistons/Pacers brawl from 2003, complete with commentary and exclusive interviews with those involved.

(Kudos, Jonathan Abrams. That was the best article of 2012, and I say that in full confidence despite the fact that it’s only December 4.)

Grantland used to be… Grantland.

Now, it’s Pop Sugar.

The problem with the site’s apparently new direction — which has been coming for some time — is that the onus isn’t even on sports anymore. It’s not a sports site anchored by TV columns. It’s just the opposite.

It’s not surprising, really. Even Sportscenter can’t air itself without embarrassing the hell out of Liam Neeson. The entire business is so caught up in the venom leaving its mouths, it doesn’t stop to think, “Does anybody care if I say this?”

Listen, write whatever you want. (I do.) Just know that, the further you fall, the less we care that it’s YOU saying it, Grantland.