After a series of setbacks that included the ousting of founding editor Jason Whitlock, ESPN’s site focusing on the intersection of race and sports is primed for a launch in 2016.
That’s according to Kevin Merida, the former Washington Post managing editor who left his post late last year to replace Whitlock at the helm of The Undefeated. In an interview with “All Things Considered” host Michel Martin, Merida said the site will likely launch sometime “before the year is too old” with the caveat that ESPN still needed some time to get its house in order.
“You don’t want to have the gumbo before the gumbo’s ready,” Merida said.
In his brief remarks to Martin, Merida described a vision for the site that goes past X’s and O’s to probe “how athletes think and feel beyond sports.” He cited the planned football boycott by University of Missouri players in response to racial inequality protests as the kind of story that The Undefeated might cover during his tenure. He also cited as inspiration media coverage of black quarterbacks in the NFL, including the Panthers’ Cam Newton.
Before Whitlock left The Undefeated, the site was plagued by false starts that prompted critical coverage from the likes of The New York Times and Deadspin. In April, The New York Times reported The Undefeated was “soon-to-go-live”; months later, the Times declared the site was in limbo, lacking both a start date and a permanent leader.
Here’s the full interview with Merida: