I read Grantland every day. It was the first site I’d check before work every morning. It was what I’d look at in the evening. I’m not terribly well versed in sports, so I mainly frequented the Hollywood Prospectus and Features aspects of the site, but damn were they good. I’ll miss the stories, the humor, and most of all the relatability of a site that seemed to be 80% exactly what I was into—and lets be real, that’s a damn high number.
But Grantland will have a great legacy. And that’s what matters. They produced some absolutely killer writing for almost 5 years. Simmons and Klosterman were huge. Wesley Morris’ film criticism was absolutely amazing. Brian Phillips’ “Sea of Troubles” was one the coolest things I’ve read in the last couple years, straight up. Steve Hyden got me into Deafheaven and a lot of other great bands. And Rembert Browne, just a handful of years my senior, inspired this blog and the idea that I could get there, it was real. Those are just a few—there are about a million other writers that I’ve read and enjoyed for years.
It wasn’t until tonight that I remembered something really important. In 2012, I attended a panel discussion at UCLA featuring some of the early Grantland staff. Most of my buddies were going, too, though I remember I got there earlier, maybe coming from work or the library, and I ended up sitting alone. It was fine, there were plenty of people I kinda knew there. But it was perfect to have the experience more or less on my own. It seemed personal. Most everyone I knew had come for sports—it was the Sports Guy, dammit! And then Bill Simmons and his crew (Jacoby, Silver, Kang and I think some others…) proceeded to talk about writing for the vast majority of the discussion. About being writers, becoming writers—early blogging days and grinding it out because they had something to say about something they loved and they enjoyed putting words together. It was revelatory. It took me from my English major malaise and “maybe I should go to law school” to a firm belief in “I can make a living from this.” As I’m currently wrapping up a couple years in the Peace Corps, that’s clearly not true right now, but that’s where I very much believe I’m going. That’s why I’m writing every day about movies and books and TV shows and songs I like and things that happen and what I think about them. Because those people and that website showed that if you’re positive and inquisitive and passionate, you can make great things happen through writing.
RIP Grantland and best of luck to all their staff. First article I get published professionally is dedicated to all y’all.