Since it’s inception a month ago today, Grantland.com has elicited the kind of polarised responses that are usually reserved for sports teams, not sports websites.ESPN columnist Bill Simmons’ brainchild has sparked debates about everything from web design to the nature and function of long-form sportswriting.
The website is fixated on the word “quality”. And like LeBron and the Miami Heat, Simmons and Co. have had to endure heavy criticism of the site’s self-declared greatness.
In its first 30 days, Grantland has been a neither all-good or all-bad. It’s published pieces that justify the hype, but it’s also published pieces that completely lack a reason to exist.
We’ve compiled 10 pieces that exemplify the best and worst of the site’s first month. The “best” are largely innovative, well-written, and purposeful. While the “bad” are largely self-indulgent, well-written, and pointless.
Grantland has taken heat from its own ombudsman for being more about sportswriting than sports. But Pierce's ode to the defunct sports daily newspaper The National doesn't pretend to be about sports. It is a story about a failed paper, but also a story about the constant struggle in the journalism industry between quality and economics.
Quotable: 'The important thing though is not that The National folded. The important thing is that it existed at all, and that there were people willing to take the chance to be part of it.'
Phillips piece on the slow, tragic death of Roger Federer's tennis game commits the common sin of trying too hard. The writing is fine, but the piece pushes poetry too hard, wallows in romance too often, and draws the lines between sports and life too overtly.
Much of this would be beautiful in a dimly lit bar at an open mic night, but unfortunately, this is the internet.
Quotable: 'He's still good enough to win any tournament he enters, but he's always surrounded by that vague sadness, the result of his no longer being free from time.'
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