Robert Lipsyte, the former ESPN ombudsman, weighed in on the demise of Grantland for The Nation. He heaped praise on the site while pretty much dumping on everything else ESPN does.
Last Friday, ESPN announced it was chopping this proud pinkie off its ham hand, only a few months after declaring its commitment to Grantland despite having just fired Simmons. Without its beneficiary and editor-in-chief, ESPN had no need for an entertaining and prestigious niche that made little or no money. Imagine ifPlayboy magazine, in its ’60s “class-and-ass” period, had kept the air-brushed nudes but dumped the Updike, Gordimer, and Baldwin short stories.
Later, Lipstye writes:
Grantland’s unconstricted willingness to tackle topics that afflicted ESPN’s business partners—especially the NFL and the NBA—was a beacon in a sludge field. Fine writers like Bryan Curtis, Holly Anderson, Wesley Morris, Rembert Browne, and Molly Lambert were able to make connections between sports and pop culture that were rarely made elsewhere. Their writings turned college students on to journalism. One shining legacy of Grantland was proving that its audience would read 10,000-word stories on their screens; the so-called long form has been taken up all over the Internet.