What the hell, ESPN? Company opens eSports section

Yet you can’t even keep Grantland open?

In late 2015, ESPN killed Grantland. The ostensible sports site hosted some of the best writing online, period, expanding its rumination beyond sports to TV, movies, and pop culture at large. It was something to aspire to, the correct direction for journalism as a whole to head. And then it was dead, months after the amazing film publication The Dissolve closed its doors.

Meanwhile, ESPN just opened an eSports vertical. From the ESPN homepage, you can click to expand the menu next to football, basketball, baseball, college football, soccer, and hockey. There you’ll find things like NASCAR, golf, women’s basketball and, now, eSports.

It’s not surprising. Almost a year ago, ESPN2 (note the 2) aired eSports for the first time on the network. Half a year later, the organization was hiring a dedicated eSports editor. It’s not a bad thing. And there’s some sweet egg-on-face for ESPN boss John Skipper who, just in 2014, said eSports were not real sports.

I’m just personally upset because the loss of Grantland still stings. And then to go to ESPN’s eSports page and be greeted, first article, by Darren Rovell, noted blowhard and regular punching bag for much better sports writers, and to be reminded that Darren Rovell has a cushy job while 40 or so over at Grantland had to scramble for new employment. There are fundamental issues to online publication that skill and quality cannot deal with and they’re tragic in the same way Capcom closing Clover studios was tragic.

A win for eSports and a sad for me.

Steven Hansen