Deadspin is sort of back, baby — emphasis on the “sort of.” The writers of the beloved sports blog have teamed up for Super Bowl weekend in an abbreviated, un-Deadspin-branded form: Unnamed Temporary Sports Blog Dot Com, courtesy of the password manager Dashlane. Call it an offering to the Big Game.
The Unnamed Temporary Sports Blog will run for one long weekend: three days of blogs. The writers are familiar: Tom Ley is editing, and there are already posts from Drew Magary, Albert Burneko, Luis Paez-Pumar, and Kelsey McKinney. The subjects are all over the place, at least according to Ley’s first post: “We will be posting blogs about sports and whatever else pops into our minds. We’ve been made feral by unemployment, so it’s possible that things are going to get a little weird.” Sure!
At the end of October last year, the entire Deadspin staff quit; the last staffer’s last post was November 1. It was the end of a long-running dispute about the site’s purview. Historically, Deadspin had covered sports and other things, but after being bought by Great Hill Partners in April 2019, the new owners issued an edict: stick to sports. When the bloggers refused to do so, the interim editor-in-chief, Barry Petchesky, was fired. As a result, all the staffers quit.
That may seem a small thing to quit a job over, but in the larger sports media landscape “sticking to sports” has been used as a way to avoid larger conversations about political disagreements. The term was used in the ’60s, for example, by white sportswriters about black athletes who were also activists, like Muhammad Ali. (More recently: see what happened to Colin Kaepernick.)
And with that, it's over. Deadspin no longer employs a single writer or editor. I am gutted but so very proud of this group of people.— Megan Greenwell (@megreenwell) November 1, 2019
Deadspin was a good website.
“We want the internet to be good again,” the ad copy on the site reads. “Dashlane is proud to sponsor Unnamed Temporary Sports Blog Dot Com because we’re tired of big companies ruining good websites.” The takes will be familiar, both in heat and number. A selection: “You shouldn’t get the Monday after the Super Bowl off,” “Here are some young NBA players who are butt,” and “Make your queso with a cheap block of processed cheese, you cowards.”
Dashlane has a familiar face for the Unnamed Temporary Sports Blog Dot Com crew: Joel Johnson, the former editorial director of Gawker Media. He’s now Dashlane’s head of communications, and the idea for the blog came from the company’s mission, which Johnson says is to “fix the UX of the internet”:
This idea came about when we were talking over our plans during the big game — we’re doing a nation-wide television spot, among other things; it’s good! — and someone said, “It sucks that [site full of blog idiots whomst we love] isn’t going to be blogging during the weekend. And because I’m also an idiot I thought, Let’s call those idiots. Let’s turn three months of pent-up blog energy into sweet, sweet marketing synergy using ‘the power of paying real people who aren’t Google or Facebook.’
Johnson also took care to note that Dashlane’s blog has nothing to do with Deadspin. “I can only reply that I’ve never heard of that web site (or app?) before, but as a soon-to-be-award-winning marketer it sounds like a perfect name for a politics blog.”
That, basically, was it. “We paid good writers to write good blogs,” Johnson writes. “That’s advertising, baby!”
The PR department of Big Cool Tom Media Company, LLC, also provided a statement. “Big Cool Tom Media Company, LLC is happy to partner with Dashlane on this exciting project, which will hopefully delay our march further into career ruin for a few weeks.”
I can only assume the totally real company Big Cool Tom Media Company, LLC represents the interests of Unnamed Temporary Sports Blog Dot Com’s writers. Go toss them a click. What is dead may never die, or something, because the internet is forever.