In October, 2012, I did an interview with the editors of the new Sports on Earth site. Editor Larry Burke explained the mission:
The phrase we kicked around a lot was ‘great writing with a point of view.’ We looked for writers who didn’t have that quote-unquote take, but were able to step back and look at things in interesting, smart and sometimes different ways. When you’re writing on pieces in the news, there are a lot of choices. We know people have choices. Why would they come to us? How do we get our place in the universe? The bar is set high.
For the most part, Sports on Earth achieved its goals. The writing always has been superb with some of best in the business.
Yet it wasn’t enough to prevent many people losing their jobs today due to a company restructuring.
Matt Yoder at Awful Announcing has a detailed account:
The success of Grantland was always going to lead to the explosion of sites placing an emphasis on an eclectic hub of longform sportswriting. To that end, Sports on Earth achieved what it set out to do. One only has to look at the roster of talented writers to see the fruits of SoE’s labors. A lineup ranging from Will Leitch to Leigh Montville to Wendy Thurm to Mike Tanier to Patrick Hruby were all present at Sports on Earth. Although the website didn’t reach the heights and mass appeal of Grantland, it certainly found its niche amongst the sports media intelligentsia. There was rarely a day that went by when someone didn’t RT a Sports on Earth piece into my timeline as a beacon of great sportswriting. Sometimes the sports media can get too caught up in the godliness of its own work and suffer from exhaustion from patting each other on the back, but in many cases it was deserved with Sports on Earth. Whenever talented sportswriters lose a job, it’s a bad day for any of us who write about sports, no matter the platform. And it’s a bad day for sports as a whole.
Yoder also had this from Will Leitch:
Today has been a lousy day. Many people whose work I absolutely adore lost their gigs at Sports On Earth today. This was a surprise to me, to say the least.
I am not one of those losing my job today. This makes it difficult for me to say anything; as someone who has been laid off literally dozens of times, I know there isn’t anything someone who is staying can say to someone who is going that doesn’t sound awful and patronizing. Sports On Earth is going to continue, and I, along with the others staying, will do our best to do a great site, but it won’t be the same, obviously. All I can say is that I’m sad and that I miss them already and I will read them everywhere they go forever.
Yep, real bad news.