Yesterday a Kickstarter announced the arrival of The Classical, yet another daily web publication dedicated to the burgeoning world of alternative sportswriting. This one is the brainchild of a cerebral fraternity of sports and culture bros, including Bloomsbury editor (and rumored pub-trivia powerhouse) Pete Beatty, Pitchfork and Village Voice vet Tom Breihan, Yahoo! blogger Eric Freeman, Wall Street Journal columnist David Roth, and University of Michigan fellow (and former New York Sun editor) Tim Marchman.
Judging from the pitch, The Classical will out-Grantland Grantland. In addition to regular columns and quickie blog posts, the editors have threatened a 25,000-word piece on 1938 Hall of Famer Pete Alexander, as well as contributions from prizewinning novelists and “guys and girls we went to school with who are unappreciated geniuses.”
“We will strive to someday publish something as amazing as Colson Whitehead‘s Grantland dispatches from the World Series of Poker,” Mr. Beatty wrote Off The Record.
Like Grantland, The Classical’s name is an obscure reference. The name refers to the first track off The Fall’s 1982 album Hex Enduction Hour.
“It is probably fair to describe The Classical as post-punk sports journalism,” Mr. Beatty said.
Unlike Grantland, which is published by ESPN, The Classical lacks big corporate funding (hence the Kickstarter idea).
“We’re way smaller, way more seat-of-pants, with no giant corporate funding (yet),” Mr. Beatty said. “The more natural comparison for us is The Awl (but about sports).” Most of the contributors have at one point been in the orbit of Bethlehem Shoals, who wrote the sports blog FreeDarko and now contributes to the Awl.
In order to make a safe space for smart sportswriting (and commenting), they’ll have to raise a steep $50,000 in Kickstarter pledges. According to Mr. Beatty, the founders have constructed a first-year budget based on web infrastructure costs, paying a publisher—a shadowy figure still working out an arrangement with his full-time employer—to rustle up advertising, providing a “nominal” staff salary, and manufacture of “at least several hundred chip clips,” a gift for donors.
As of this writing, they’ve raised $9,234, including support from those who have been there: Longform.org founder Max Linsky, Longreads founder Mark Armstrong, and Awl founding editor Alex Balk.