Sports on Earth launched in August 2012 as an ambitious and exciting new sports website built around Joe Posnanski and other accomplished writers, backed by behemoths MLB Advanced Media and USA Today. For a while, it was a site writers loved to read, cranking out loads of great work even while struggling to find a foothold with a mainstream audience.
Then came Posnanski’s departure in January 2013 and USA Today’s withdrawal from the site in 2014, which resulted in mass layoffs and a new direction. Over the last few years, the site has continued to produce good work, mostly from a crew of freelancers and MLB.com writers, but compared to the first couple years, it has felt a bit rudderless.
On Friday, longtime columnist Will Leitch, who has been the de facto face of SOE for most of the site’s history, announced on the site that SOE would cease publishing after 2,009 days and over 14,000 stories. Leitch noted that SOE lasted five and a half years, longer than The National and Grantland combined, before running through the site’s history.
In the end, he expressed pride in the work SOE produced and gratification that he got to write a farewell column at all.
There are zero hard feelings about the end of Sports on Earth. To get to publish this much quality work for five-and-half years is a privilege and incredibly rare. SoE ended up publishing over 14,000 pieces during its run, which is an average of more than seven a day, an astounding number for a site that had such turmoil and wildly varying number of staffers. And while being able to publish this much this long is rare, being able to say goodbye on your own terms — a site being able to write its own obituary — is even rarer. We are lucky and beyond fortunate that MLB Advanced Media has given us this opportunity, today, and every day of the past 2,005.
Obviously, it’s a bummer to see a publication shutter and writers lose gigs. It’s unclear how many full-time staffers SOE employed at the end, but the site has helped support a lot of great freelancers over the years, and the industry will miss that. Even if Sports on Earth never quite fulfilled its early promise as, in Leitch’s words, “old-school media trying to reassert itself in an Internet world,” it was a fun, interesting outlet in all its iterations, and we are sad to see it go.