ESPN's announcement that the company will be "suspending" publishing on its sports and pop culture website can be read plainly: Grantland is no more.
The "Worldwide Leader in Sports" confirmed the demise of the niche website in a statement many described as a convenient "Friday News Dump."
Friday News Dump: ESPN suspends publication of Grantland. Official company statement is here: https://t.co/jsIru75yf9 — John Ourand (@Ourand_SBJ) October 30, 2015
The official statement from ESPN's PR arm reads,
Effective immediately we are suspending the publication of Grantland. 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. Grantland distinguished itself with quality writing, smart ideas, original thinking and fun. We are grateful to those who made it so. Bill Simmons was passionately committed to the site and proved to be an outstanding editor with a real eye for talent. Thanks to all the other writers, editors and staff who worked very hard to create content with an identifiable sensibility and consistent intelligence and quality. We also extend our thanks to Chris Connelly who stepped in to help us maintain the site these past five months as he returns to his prior role. Despite this change, the legacy of smart long-form sports story-telling and innovative short form video content will continue, finding a home on many of our other ESPN platforms.
The announcement comes some six months after ESPN ended its increasingly tumultuous relationship with Bill Simmons, the ever-popular sportswriter who made his reputation on mixing pop culture allusions with editorial writing and built the Grantland site in his own image.
Since the end of Simmons' employment at ESPN in May, the company failed to hire a permanent editor-in-chief, despite stating on numerous occasions it was committed to continuing publication of the site.
I loved everyone I worked with at G and loved what we built. Watching good/kind/talented people get treated so callously = simply appalling. — Bill Simmons (@BillSimmons) October 30, 2015
As numerous writers proceeded to leave Grantland to work for Simmons at his new employer, HBO, and other big names left to accept roles at the likes of The New York Times and New York magazine, ESPN's commitment began to seem even more questionable.
Today, however, the speculation ended. Grantland appears to be no more, "effective immediately."
angry fists, proud tears. — Rembert Browne (@rembert) October 30, 2015