Vice Sports editor-in-chief Tomás Ríos has left the company in what was described by a source as a mutual agreement to part ways. The Vice Sports masthead has been updated and no longer lists Ríos—or any other staffers—as it did previously.
Vice launched its sports vertical last June and was immediately beset by problems, as Vice Sports publisher Ryan Duffy left the company as it debuted. Ríos was hired as editor-in-chief in August, after he and everybody else was laid off in the Sports on Earth implosion. At the time, he told Capital New York that he took the job because of an “opportunity to implement a creative vision,” and that having “the full faith and credit of an operation like Vice is naturally attractive.”
At the beginning, Ríos was indeed given license (and a budget) to implement his creative vision. He hired talented writers and editors like Eric Nusbaum, Jorge Arangure Jr., David Roth, and Aaron Gordon, who collectively published good, smart work. (Worth noting: most Vice Sports staffers, including Ríos, have had work published at Deadspin.)
Ríos’s parting was related to a disagreement over traffic objectives for the site, according to sources. Vice Sports’s traffic was nearly non-existent when Ríos began—it had new staffers and was a new publication—and has grown since then without resorting to unsavory traffic-humping techniques. Online sports media is a very crowded landscape—something the since-departed publisher Duffy acknowledged to Forbes when Vice Sports launched—but apparently Vice management did not feel Ríos was growing the site enough.
Vice Sports staffers have been told that their jobs are safe.
Vice didn’t respond to a request for comment. When reached, Ríos replied, “I will never stop going in.”