It was the winter of 2001. Long before he was known as “The Boston Sports Guy,” Bill Simmons wrote a scathing running diary about the ESPYs that would pioneer a style of writing and change the way peers and fans viewed ESPN in just a week.
The relationship started as a whisper within ESPN’s highest levels. His column was rapidly forwarded and quickly resulted in ESPN bringing Simmons on as a guest columnist. But on October 30, ESPN drove the final nail in the coffin by announcing the permanent suspension of Grantland, Simmon’s flagship sports and pop culture blog, just five months after its decision to decline to renew Simmons’ contract. It was a shot heard round the world.
The news triggered a wave of media coverage and social media discussion around ESPN, Simmons, and Grantland. A closer examination of the relationship between these three parties reveals a startling discovery – sports reputation management isn’t just for athletes, coaches, and teams; it’s also necessary for those who cover the space.