ESPN Is Shuttering Page 2

ESPN.com's Page 2 is closing today. What that means for you depends on how old you are.

There's a generation that knew it as ESPN's entrée into attitude-inflected sportswriting: Back in 1999, crazy though the thought might be, ESPN was a couple of television channels, rather than a Synergistic Norbytastic Multimedia Platform Powerhouse. Hiring Hunter S. Thompson and Ralph Wiley and David Halberstam meant something.

That era of Page 2 faded, as eras do, and in came the Bill Simmons/DJ Gallo/Jim Caple era, when the site was more about humor than literary titans. But in the pre-sports-blog era (or in the era before the reader would discover sports blogs), it was funny and fresh and cool and a welcome upgrade to the jokes the local sports columnist would run alongside his Sunday column. (I'm in this generation, and I remember loving the yuks I found in their corner of the web when I was 15. This is how under-the-spell I was: I looked forward to reading Gregg Easterbrook.)

Then the Sports Guy became bigger than Page 2, and ESPN.com grew still. Rick Reilly showed up. ESPN hired an army of sportswriters to work independent of the broadcast presence. And the Page 2 conceit no longer made sense, not because its style was outdated but because so much of ESPN's internet presence had adopted its style. (And perhaps Lynn Hoppes' arrival had a little something to do with the site's demise.) What is Grantland, really, but a resuscitation of Page 2 with one contributor, rather than several, as its star?

The site's relaunching Monday as something called ESPN Playbook, which will probably irritate us all. (The name seems to conjure a screeching Norbygasm.) But if you're planning on eulogizing Page 2, don't: it's everywhere now.