Grantland was a sports and pop-culture blog owned and operated by ESPN. The blog was started in 2011 by veteran writer and sports journalist Bill Simmons, who remained as editor-in-chief until May 2015. Grantland was named after famed 20th-century sportswriter Grantland Rice (1880–1954).
On October 30, 2015, ESPN announced that it was ending the publication of Grantland.
Type of site
|Sports, Popular culture|
|Current status||Shut down|
The site featured contributions from Simmons alongside other sports and pop-culture writers and podcasters including: Holly Anderson, Mallory Rubin, Katie Baker, Bill Barnwell, Rembert Browne, Andy Greenwald, Bryan Curtis, Kirk Goldsberry, Steven Hyden, Michael Weinreb, David Jacoby, Jonah Keri, Chuck Klosterman, Molly Lambert, Mark Lisanti, Zach Lowe, Robert Mays, Davy Rothbart, Sean McIndoe, Brian Phillips, Charles P. Pierce, former NBA player Jalen Rose, Shea Serrano, Andrew Sharp, Louisa Thomas and Mark Titus. Former contributors include Men in Blazers duo Roger Bennett and Michael Davies, Tom Bissell, Lane Brown, Jason Concepcion, author Dave Eggers, author Malcolm Gladwell, Justin Halpern, Mark Harris, Jay Caspian Kang, screenwriter of the movie Rounders Brian Koppelman, Juliet Litman, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Wesley Morris, Chris Ryan, MacArthur Award-winning novelist Colson Whitehead and Emily Yoshida.
In May 2015, ESPN's President John Skipper told The New York Times that ESPN would not be renewing Simmons' contract, effectively ending Simmons' tenure at ESPN. Later in the month, Chris Connelly was announced as interim editor-in-chief.
An article written by Caleb Hannan and published on the Grantland website in January 2014 received considerable criticism from the transgender community. Hannan's article was about the Oracle GXI golf putter and its creator, Essay Anne Vanderbilt, referred to as Dr. V. It treated Vanderbilt's transgender identity in the same manner as a number of scientific qualifications that Vanderbilt had fraudulently claimed to hold, suggesting that Hannan considered Vanderbilt's gender identity to be untruthful as well. Before the article was published, Vanderbilt committed suicide.
After initially dismissing all criticisms and drawing even more fire, Grantland's editor-in-chief Bill Simmons published a response to the criticism, acknowledging errors made by Grantland and Hannan, including Hannan's outing of Vanderbilt to one of her investors and Grantland's "collective ignorance about the issues facing the transgender community in general, as well as our biggest mistake: not educating ourselves on that front before seriously considering whether to run the piece". A profile of Simmons in Rolling Stone, published in April 2014, lambasted him at length over the Dr. V matter and incorporated criticism from senior ESPN personnel, but also included Simmons' defenses and disagreements with some of the harsher criticisms of the article.
On October 30, 2015, ESPN officially announced the shut down 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.”  The closing of Grantland was met with harsh criticism of ESPN, from both former writers of Grantland and admirers of the site. Former Editor-in-Chief Bill Simmons called the shut down “simply appalling.” ESPN president John Skipper said the decision to shut down the site was not a financial matter and instead was done because ESPN did not see the value in spending the time and energy necessary to continue the excellence of Grantland.
Grantland's closure was seen by many as another blow against long-form journalism. Huffington Post writer Justin Block writes, “In an era ruled by bite-sized content and dumbed-down click-bait journalism, Grantland's defining characteristic came at odds with sustainable finances.” Grantland's articles were often long form and usually not instant but measured reactionary pieces, a trend not common in today's media landscape. Grantland was considered by some to be the highest-quality work under the umbrella of ESPN and received critical acclaim, but its financial success has been widely debated. Grantland received 6 million unique visitors in March 2015, a number that some people believed could not support a staff of 50 writers, editors and IT personnel. The shutdown was also coming at a time of relative financial uncertainty for ESPN. In September 2015, ESPN laid off 300 employees or approximately 5% of its workforce. It has also been widely reported that in 2015 ESPN lost 3.2 million subscribers due to consumers abandoning traditional cable packages.
Grantland was known for its long-form journalism and award-winning writing. Its sports journalism pieces often had a strong focus on sports analytics and data analysis, referencing and pulling data from sites like Football Outsiders, Baseball Prospectus, Synergy, and ESPN. Grantland wove statistics into part of the story and made the analytics understandable to the average sports fan. As Stephen Carter from the Chicago Tribune put it, "This was sportswriting for grownups." These pieces would also often include a data visualization representation. Some have concluded that Grantland's closure represents a trend in today's media business that unless you are one of the biggest web properties or smallest one-person “micro sites” it's tough to be economically viable.
Simmons started a new media venture in 2016, The Ringer, which, like Grantland, focuses on sports and pop culture. A number of former Grantland employees, including Sean Fennessey, Chris Ryan, Mallory Rubin, Juliet Litman, Craig Gaines, Bryan Curtis, Ryan O'Hanlon, Danny Chau, Shea Serrano, Jason Concepcion, Riley McAtee, Joe Fuentes, and Tate Frazier have joined the new venture.
Additionally, Simmons has launched a podcasting network, featuring shows re-purposed from the Grantland network, including The Watch with Ryan and television critic Andy Greenwald and his own podcast The Bill Simmons Podcast.
The 1892 Vanderbilt Commodores football team represented Vanderbilt University during the 1892 college football season. The team's head coach and team captain was Elliott H. Jones, who served his third and last season in that capacity. This was the first year for Vandy and University of Tennessee to play football also the first year to play at (Old) Dudley Field. The 1892 team was the oldest in the memory of Grantland Rice. He claimed Phil Connell then would be a good player in any era.1899 college football season
The 1899 college football season had no clear-cut champion, with the Official NCAA Division I Football Records Book listing Harvard and Princeton as having been selected national champions.Chicago and Sewanee went undefeated. With just 13 players, the Sewanee team, known as the "Iron Men", had a six-day road trip with five shutout wins over Texas A&M; Texas; Tulane; LSU; and Ole Miss. Sportswriter Grantland Rice called the group "the most durable football team I ever saw."1934 Minnesota Golden Gophers football team
The 1934 Minnesota Golden Gophers football team represented the University of Minnesota in the 1934 college football season. In their third year under head coach Bernie Bierman, the Golden Gophers compiled an undefeated 8–0 record, shut out four opponents, and outscored all opponents by a combined total of 270 to 38.The team was named national champion by eight NCAA-designated major selectors in Billingsley, Boand, Dickinson, College Football Researchers Association, Helms, Litkenhous, National Championship Foundation, and Sagarin), with Alabama also receiving recognition.
Halfback Pug Lund was selected for the team's Most Valuable Player award for the second consecutive year. Lund also received Chicago Tribune Silver Football, awarded to the most valuable player of the Big Ten, and was named an All-American by the AP, Collier's Weekly/Grantland Rice, Liberty, Walter Camp Football Foundation and Look Magazine.End Frank Larson was named an All-American by the Associated Press (AP), Collier's Weekly/Grantland Rice and Look Magazine. Guard Bill Bevan was named an All-American by Collier's Weekly/Grantland Rice, Liberty and Look Magazine. End Bob Tenner was named an All-American by the United Press International. Tackle Phil Bengston, Bevan, Larson, Lund, Tenner, and tackle Ed Widseth were named All-Big Ten.Total attendance for the season was 192,922, which averaged to 38,584. The season high for attendance was against rival Michigan.1967 Grantland Rice Bowl
The 1967 Grantland Rice Bowl was an NCAA College Division game following the 1967 season, between the Eastern Kentucky Colonels and the Ball State Cardinals. Eastern Kentucky quarterback Jim Guice was named the game's most outstanding player.1969 East Tennessee State Buccaneers football team
The 1969 East Tennessee State Buccaneers football team completed an undefeated season, going 10–0–1 and capturing the Ohio Valley Conference championship. This is the only undefeated season and the last conference championship for the program. The team capped off the season by defeating Louisiana Tech and NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Terry Bradshaw in the Grantland Rice Bowl.1972 Grantland Rice Bowl
The 1972 Grantland Rice Bowl was an NCAA College Division game following the 1972 season, between the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs and the Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles. Louisiana Tech quarterback Denny Duron was named outstanding offensive player, while his teammate linebacker Joe McNeely was named outstanding defensive player.BREC Memorial Stadium
BREC Memorial Stadium is a 21,500-seat American football stadium in Baton Rouge, Louisiana that opened in 1952. Besides high school football, it is also used for concerts and other outdoor events, including monster truck rallies, and used for water skiing events (during the 1960s and 1970s). It features a modern press box, concession stands and restrooms. The Grantland Rice Bowl was played at the stadium from 1969 to 1973.
The stadium was dedicated by BREC, the parks and recreation commission for East Baton Rouge Parish, in memory of the men and women who fought and served Baton Rouge during the two World Wars and the Korean War.Bill Simmons
William John Simmons III (born September 25, 1969), is a former American sports columnist, analyst, author, and podcaster. Simmons first gained attention with his website as "The Boston Sports Guy" and was recruited by ESPN in 2001, where he operated the blog Grantland and worked until 2015. He hosted Any Given Wednesday with Bill Simmons on HBO for one season in 2016. He is the founder and CEO of The Ringer, a sports and pop culture blog and podcast network launched in 2016.Simmons is known for a style of writing characterized by mixing sports knowledge and analysis, pop culture references, his non-sports-related personal life, and for being written from the viewpoint of a passionate sports fan. Simmons also has created numerous internet memes, most notably the Ewing Theory (though he claims he did not come up with the idea) and the Manning Face. At ESPN, he wrote for ESPN.com and hosted his own podcast on ESPN.com titled The B.S. Report. In 2015, ESPN announced that it would not renew Simmons's contract, which expired in September 2015. Simmons now runs the popular website The Ringer.Chris Connelly (journalist)
Chris Connelly (born 1957) is an American sports and entertainment reporter who currently works for ESPN as a contributor to its E:60 newsmagazine. He was also the interim editor-in-chief of Grantland.com, replacing Bill Simmons, before ESPN shuttered the site on October 30, 2015.
Connelly joined ESPN in 2001 to host the daily interview program Unscripted with Chris Connelly, designed to be a more contemporary version of the long-running Up Close interview show which previously occupied the 5PM ET timeslot. The show, which premiered on the same day as Pardon the Interruption, lasted only a few months before being replaced by an early SportsCenter and eventually Around the Horn.
Since the cancellation of Unscripted, Connelly has reported and narrated the long-form human interest reports that air on SportsCenter on weekends. Most notably, he annually does a one-week series called "My Wish" involving athletes fulfilling kids' Make a Wish Foundation wishes. Connelly also helped ABC and ESPN cover the Scripps National Spelling Bee in 2006; he conducted interviews with finalists who had just been eliminated.
Before joining ESPN, Connelly worked for Rolling Stone magazine as a music critic. During the 1980s he also served as Special Music Correspondent for Good Morning America, which involved interviewing the music stars of the day. Next Connelly spent thirteen years at MTV (1988–2001). He hosted the pre-shows for the MTV Movie Awards and prior to that, The Big Picture, a weekly show with features and movie reviews. He was also an editor and reporter for Premiere magazine, eventually becoming editor-in-chief. After six months however, Connelly resigned in a dispute over journalistic integrity after the owner of the magazine reportedly asked that he quash a story that unfavorably portrayed a business associate.From 2000 to 2007 he was part of the ensemble of hosts for the Academy Awards preshow. All of these assignments were for ABC. On May 27, 2015, Connelly joined Grantland as interim editor-in-chief.FWAA-NFF Grantland Rice Super 16 Poll
The FWAA-NFF Grantland Rice Super 16 poll is a weekly ranking of the top 16 college football teams in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision beginning with the 2014 season. It is named in part for sports writer Grantland Rice. The 36 poll voters include 26 members of the Football Writers Association of America, with the remaining ten voters each coming from the National Football Foundation or College Football Hall of Fame.The final poll is issued at the end of the regular season, but before bowl games. The poll joins the AP Poll, Coaches Poll and others as periodic snapshot rankings of college football teams. Prior to the 2014 season, these polls were used in part to determine which two teams would play for the national title under the Bowl Championship Series and its predecessors. The new College Football Playoff, which also begins in 2014, does not use poll data to choose its participants. After every College Football Playoff championship game, the FWAA/NFF selects a national champion, and awards it the MacArthur Bowl.Football Writers Association of America
The Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) is one of the organizations whose College Football All-America Team is recognized by the NCAA. The organization also selects the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year, the Bronko Nagurski Trophy winner, the Outland Trophy winner, the Grantland Rice Trophy winner, a freshman All-America team, and weekly defensive player of the week, as well as developing scholarship programs and surveys for better working conditions. Since 1954, the association has awarded the Grantland Rice Trophy to the college football team they choose to be the National Champion.Four Horsemen (American football)
The Four Horsemen of Notre Dame comprised a group of American football players at the University of Notre Dame under coach Knute Rockne. They were the backfield of Notre Dame's 1924 football team. The players that made up this group were Harry Stuhldreher, Don Miller, Jim Crowley, and Elmer Layden.In 1924, a nickname coined by sportswriter Grantland Rice and the actions of a student publicity aide transformed the Notre Dame backfield of Stuhldreher, Crowley, Miller, and Layden into one of the most noted groups of collegiate athletes in football history, the Four Horsemen of Notre Dame.Quarterback Harry Stuhldreher, left halfback Jim Crowley, right halfback Don Miller, and fullback Elmer Layden had run rampant through Irish opponents' defenses since coach Knute Rockne devised the lineup in 1922 during their sophomore season. During the three-year tenure of the Four Horsemen, Notre Dame lost only two games; one each in 1922 and 1923, both to Nebraska in Lincoln before packed houses.Fred Russell
Fred Russell (August 27, 1906 – January 26, 2003) was an American sports writer prominent in the Golden Era of Sports in the 20th century. He was a lifelong resident of Nashville, Tennessee and was sports editor and later Vice-President of the Nashville Banner daily newspaper. His career spanned 70 years. He published three books of sports humor in the 1940s. Russell was a protégé and friend of famed sportswriter Grantland Rice.
Russell is a member of the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association Hall of Fame and the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame. One of his most enduring legacies was his influence on collegiate sports, specifically as Chairman of the Honors Court of the College Football Hall of Fame for 29 years. The Honors Court determines the inductees to the Hall of Fame.Grantland Basketball Hour
The Grantland Basketball Hour is a primetime show on ESPN, ESPN2, and ESPN on ABC in which sports and pop culture journalist, Bill Simmons and sports media journalist Jalen Rose discuss current events surrounding the NBA. The show began on October 21, 2014, and was contracted by ESPN for 18 episodes to cover the 2014–15 NBA season.Grantland Rice
Henry Grantland Rice (November 1, 1880 – July 13, 1954) was an early 20th-century American sportswriter known for his elegant prose. His writing was published in newspapers around the country and broadcast on the radio.Grantland Rice Bowl
The Grantland Rice Bowl was an annual college football bowl game from 1964 through 1977, in the NCAA's College Division, for smaller universities and colleges, and later Division II. The game was named for Grantland Rice, an early 20th century American sportswriter known for his elegant prose, and was originally played in his hometown of Murfreesboro, Tennessee.Grantland Rice Trophy
The Grantland Rice Trophy was an annual award presented in the United States from 1954 to 2013 to the college football team recognized by the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) as the National Champions.
Named for the legendary sportswriter Grantland Rice, the trophy was the first national championship award to be presented after the college football bowl games. Through 1991 voting was undertaken by the membership of the FWAA, but after 1992 was conducted amongst a panel of four or five selected writers, initially by a positional voting system but after 1994 by a single-team vote. Beginning in 2002, the FWAA also began issuing a national poll to go along with the Grantland Rice Trophy. The top team in the final poll was awarded the trophy. The trophy itself consisted of a bronze football atop a four-sided pedestal.
On August 26, 2010, the FWAA announced that the 2004 award presented to the USC Trojans had been rescinded, the first time in the award's history that a winner has vacated the honor. The FWAA declined to name a replacement for that year's award.
With the advent of the College Football Playoff (CFP) for the 2014 season, the FWAA quietly retired the Grantland Rice Trophy, joining with the National Football Foundation (NFF) to instead publish the FWAA-NFF Grantland Rice Super 16 Poll during the regular season, with the CFP champion automatically receiving the NFF's MacArthur Bowl Trophy.Tiger Stadium (LSU)
Tiger Stadium, popularly known as Death Valley, is an outdoor stadium located in Baton Rouge, Louisiana on the campus of Louisiana State University. It is the home stadium of the LSU Tigers football team. Prior to 1924, LSU played its home games at State Field, which was located on the old LSU campus in Downtown Baton Rouge.
Tiger Stadium opened with a capacity of 12,000 in 1924. Renovations and expansions have brought the stadium's current capacity to 102,321, making it the third largest stadium in the Southeastern Conference (SEC), fifth largest stadium in the NCAA and the sixth largest stadium in the world.Wesley Morris
Wesley Morris (born 1975) is an American journalist, film critic and podcast host. He is currently critic-at-large for The New York Times, as well as co-host, with Jenna Wortham, of the Times podcast Still Processing. Previously, Morris wrote for The Boston Globe, then Grantland. He won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Criticism for his work with The Globe.