Grantland Thinks We Care Which EPL Team One Of Its Writers Likes

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Written By Chris Azzopardi

We Don’t. You guys make ESPN money. This is not ESPN quality. This isn’t even as good as when your boss did the same exact column when he was an ESPN writer.

Look, Grantland, we got really excited when you guys launched. There were promises of using the vast resources at your disposal to do some really solid journalism, some really in-depth analysis, and some really thought-provoking columns and put it on the internet and pay your writers a living wage. As guys who write about a sport on the internet, we are most definitely down with that. And despite some criticism, which is inevitable for a project as high-profile as yours, I think (for what little my opinion is worth) you’ve done a decent job putting out some high-quality analysis and thought pieces. Sometimes even about soccer (I am a card-carrying member of the Brian Phillips fan club, for the record). I’ve even enjoyed a lot of the pop culture pieces you guys have done.

The one thing I really can’t stand, though, is your attitude towards soccer in general, and American soccer in specific. Brian Phillips, Chris Ryan, and your Men In Blazers podcast apart, it seems like none of your staff actually know or care about a sport your parent network has pumped a lot of money and airtime into. And don’t get me started on our domestic league. I think this screenshot says more than I ever could about your total apathy towards MLS:

And you know what? If it’s your editorial decision to completely ignore America’s fifth best attended pro sports league, that’s your prerogative. If you’ll devote infinitely more column inches to Snooki than to something as fascinating, shocking, and scandalous as say, the Sebastien Le Toux trade debacle last week, that’s up to you. But when you try and pander to soccer fans with phoned-in crap like this, we’ll say something. We’ll tell you that it’s lazy, and boring, and with the resources you have, you have not only the opportunity to do better, but the obligation. You don’t get to pick and choose which parts of the sport you like and ignore the rest and get away with it. And this piece (“My team lost the SuperBowl, and by the way, this is the English soccer team I like.”) isn’t even half as good as the time Bill Simmons did it for ESPN’s Page 2. It’s not only bad, it’s so unoriginal as to be almost satirical.

The truth is, you’re supposed to be the natural home of the thinking sports fan, the one open to new ways of thinking and new ways to elevate the art of narrative sportswriting. In an age of content farms and top ten lists, Grantland should be a beacon of sporting intellectualism and modernity, the future of sports journalism.

This article assumes that all sports fans are as soccer-illiterate as you are, and that’s not just patently false, its downright insulting to your readers. A hack article like this on Grantland is like a New York Times writer not knowing what Kickstarter is, despite the fact that 14 of the 174 films shown at the Sundance Film Festival this year were funded by the site.

Or to put it in less polite terms, you seem as clueless about soccer as say, these people do about “Internet.”

Look, I’d love nothing more than for you to look seriously at soccer. I’m an American soccer fan, and I want to see an intelligent, American take on the near-infinite number of fantastic storylines the game routinely offers. But don’t insult us with this, please. If you’re going to do soccer, do it right.

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