The Ringer Can’t Get Here Quick Enough

Above: ESPN shut down Grantland, its acclaimed sports-and-pop-culture site founded in 2011, in October 2015
Above: ESPN shut down Grantland, its acclaimed sports-and-pop-culture site founded in 2011, in October 2015

I miss Grantland, the former ESPN-backed sports and culture site created and ran by Bill Simmons until the sports giant canned him last May and shuttered the site for good on my 37th birthday. Thanks for that, by the way, ESPN – nothing like learning that your favourite site on the Internet (other than this one, obviously) was being unplugged for good.

Grantland was an outpost for the kind of quality writing that is mostly void from the Internet these days – funny, smart, well-executed pieces about everything from professional wrestling and basketball to Game of Thrones and box office numbers every Monday morning. It was a click-bait-free zone you could go every day, like your local pub or favourite diner, and known that you were going to get exactly what you wanted and it was going to be pretty damn good, every time.

In the five months since ESPN sent everyone packing, my Internet reading has declined and it’s largely because all the people I want to read on a regular basis aren’t living under the same, easy-to-access roof any more. I still read a bunch of the people that used to be on Grantland at their new outposts, but it’s not the same.

I miss having Zach Lowe’s basketball efforts on the front page every time I clicked the bookmark labeled Grantland that lived atop my computer screen. I miss Wesley Morris’ brilliant insights (and recommendations) on movies, which helped me find several entertaining flicks over Grantland’s life. I miss Simmons’ lengthy columns.

Thankfully, my heart-sickness has been satiated over the last couple months with the launch of the Channel 33 podcast network, the new collection of shows from Simmons and a bunch of ex-Grantland’ers who have basically picked up where they left prior to that site getting the axe.

It’s great to have Chris Ryan and Andy Greenwald back in my life on a weekly basis. Simmons is back with a renamed version of his old B.S. Report, complete with many of the usual characters (Cousin Sal, House, JackO, etc.), plus cool new stuff like a politics podcast featuring Jon Favreau and Dan Pfeiffer.

It has felt familiar, comfortable, homey… like a warm hug.

And over the last couple weeks, things have gotten even better because The Ringer is coming! The Ringer is coming!

The Ringer will be the new digital home of Simmons and the Channel 33 crew, plus a bunch of new hires that they have been announcing over the last couple weeks through their Twitter feed: @ringer.

Watching from the sidelines, The Ringer looks like it will be the new Grantland, which is nice because we need sites like this; not just in the sports and pop culture world, but in all different arenas.

Grantland was great because it filled a void that people that wanted smart content and never fathomed taking the TL:DR approach. If anything, the length of depth of their material is part of what made it great. You knew there was substance to the stories – well-thought out, well-executed thoughts from writers that weren’t simply looking to churn out junk that generated clicks.

Of course, Grantland not generating a lot of clicks and cashflow is part of what caused its demise, but still – the Internet needs sites that aren’t just writing for traffic. And thankfully, The Ringer will be here soon enough to help do that again and I, for one, can’t wait for it to get here.

E. Spencer Kyte

E. Spencer Kyte

E. Spencer Kyte is a freelance journalist based in Abbotsford, British Columbia, where he lives with his wife and dog. In addition to his work here, he writes about sports for Complex Canada and covers the UFC for various outlets. His mom also still tells him what to do on a regular basis, even though he’s nearly 40. He tweets from @spencerkyte.

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