One-thousand and seven days after Jason Whitlock first told Bill Simmons he was coming ESPN to build a site he dubbed “Black Grantland,” that vision finally became a reality.
Of course, much has changed in those last 1,007 days with that initial vision and eventual reality. Whitlock was unceremoniously dumped from the project and retreated back to Fox Sports after exposes into his troubled leadership. Bill Simmons is no longer with ESPN, either. And even Grantland itself closed its digital doors.
Nevertheless, ESPN remained committed to launching an African-American sports and culture site. Over those last 1,007 days, ESPN named a new editor-in-chief (Kevin Merida), gave the site a name (The Undefeated), made several editorial and writing hires to build out a staff, and finally, after months and years of speculation, a launch date.
The launch date is here and The Undefeated is now live.
Merida welcomed readers with this introductory post:
We’ll make sure you get to know who we are. We’ll produce a rich mix of original reporting, innovative storytelling, provocative commentary, must-see video, narratives and investigations. We aim to be vibrant, soulful, smart, dope. Unapologetic and unpredictable. We will work hard to live up to our motto: Not conventional. Never boring. Make sure you read senior writer Lonnae O’Neal’s engaging profile of Marshawn Lynch, one of the most mysterious and misunderstood athletes of our time. And you won’t want to miss senior writer Jesse Washington’s powerful reported essay on one of the most infamous and brutal lynchings in American history — of a young man also named Jesse Washington.
At The Undefeated, every day will feature a surprise. Every day, some joy. And no day without swagger. We want The Undefeated to feel urgent, necessary, not dutiful. Ours won’t be a site of sermons and scoldings (unless, of course, they’re earned).
Other posts right out of the gates include features on black hockey fans, Shaun Livingston, and Marvel producer Nate Moore. It also features audio and video from ESPN programs like His and Hers and The Right Time with Bomani Jones.
As The Undefeated launched, the reaction from the Twittersphere was very positive:
— Greg Barber (@gjbarb) May 17, 2016
— Jason Davis (@davisjsn) May 17, 2016
— folu (@notfolu) May 17, 2016
— Melissa Jacobs (@thefootballgirl) May 17, 2016
— Ben Casselman (@bencasselman) May 17, 2016
The Undefeated looks to be off to a great start with a sleek looking site and a depth and diversity of thought-provoking content. If you’d like to know more about what to expect from The Undefeated on launch day and beyond, just click here.