When Deadspin's former editors and writers left the company en masse in October 2019, the idiom "stick to sports" became the focal point of the decision. Great Hill Partners bought Deadspin as part of their Gizmodo Media Group purchase and the top directive for the outspoken site was to "stick to sports," even though the heart of Deadspin was the polar opposite of that.
What happened next rocked the entire digital sports media world: Deputy editor Barry Petchesky was fired and the entire Deadspin staff soon resigned because, like Petchesky, they refused to stick to sports. Now, after a three-month hiatus, Deadspin is back to publishing stories again and one of their latest decidedly does not stick to sports.
In an article published on the site today, author Carron J. Phillips opined on President Donald Trump reaching out to Alex Rodriguez for advice on the COVID-19 pandemic and what that means about Trump. It was a provocative column, and one could argue that because A-Rod is involved there's a deep enough connection to the sports world that they are sticking to sports. But if you read the article, you understand this has nothing to do with sports. It's Phillips pontificating about his disdain for Trump and why he can't be reelected later this year.
Now, I'm not expert on the nuances on what GHP considers sticking to sports and what it doesn't consider sticking to sports, but an inflammatory column on why our President shouldn't be reelected definitely does not sick to sports.
For reference, in a New York Times opinion piece, Petchesky discussed two stories Deadspin wasn't allowed to write just before he was fired because they didn't stick to sports. They were about "Nationals catcher Kurt Suzuki wearing a “Make America Great Again” cap at the White House" and "racist fan chants chasing black players off the pitch in Italian soccer matches." I would say this story is in the same category, if not further off the sports grid. Yet it was allowed to be published.
For the most part, Deadspin has stuck to sports since its relaunch in mid-March. They're ranking sports logos, aggregating news and writing hot takes like why Tom Brady is the most overrated quarterback in the history of the NFL.
This felt like something different, though, something that harkens back to Deadspin's origins of holding those in power accountable. It was simultaneously surprising and confounding, which pretty much encapsulates Deadspin's existence for the last half year.