Regular readers of ESPN.com will no doubt be familiar with Bill Simmons, also known as The Sports Guy. The Boston-raised sportswriter has cast a wide net with his easily accessible columns which are pockmarked by pop culture references and anecdotes from his own life as a sports fan. Although most of his fans had long been content to simply take in his columns as they came and accept them for what they were, Simmons had long been butting heads with his editors behind the scenes. Because of the relatively family-friendly restraints of ESPN, the general consensus has been that Simmons has been restrained and unable to fully express his opinions in a way he’d consider ideal.
Up until this point in his career, The Sports Guy had been circumventing ESPN’s limitations by using his spare time to write and publish books. Although his first effort, Now I Can Die in Peace, was primarily a collection of his ESPN columns about his beloved Red Sox, his second book, The Book of Basketball, was the first real glimpse any of us had at Simmons “unleashed,” so to speak. Though the tone he employed throughout much of it was intently familiar to regular readers of his work, it was also evident that there was a certain edge in his writing that had been previously unseen.
Not content to use the occasional 700+ page book as an outlet, Simmons had spent much of the past year negotiating with the higher-ups at ESPN for more editorial control over his own work. The result of his efforts has manifested itself in the form of Grantland.com—a site owned in whole by ESPN, but branded entirely separately with Simmons as the final decision marker.
Named after Grantland Rice, a renowned sportswriter from a time that came before the vast majority of his fan base, the stated purpose of Grantland.com is to provide a hub for not just Simmons, but also other established writers—which include Chuck Klosterman, Malcolm Gladwell, and Dave Eggers, as well as up-and-coming writers such as Katie Baker, Chris Jones, and Jonah Lehrer—to share their opinions on both sports and pop culture, which are basically Simmons’ regular genres.