ESPN Launches The Undefeated – A Digital Content Hub on Sports, Race and Culture

ESPN DigitalThe Undefeated

ESPN Launches The Undefeated – A Digital Content Hub on Sports, Race and Culture

  • Editor-in-Chief Kevin Merida’s Commentary – “We Are The Undefeated”
  • Three Key Features: The Waco Horror; 36 Hours in Beast Mode; The Man Who Put Marvel in the Black

Today – the 62nd anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education decision – ESPN has launched The Undefeated, the digital content platform exploring the intersection of sports, race and culture.

TheUndefeated.com will combine innovative long-form and short-form storytelling, original reporting and provocative commentary to enlighten and entertain African Americans, as well as sports fans seeking a deeper understanding of black athletes, culture and related issues. It launched with a commentary “We Are The Undefeated” by editor-in-chief Kevin Merida – a declaration of its manifesto.

The Undefeated is launching with three narratives that represent its long-form storytelling ambition:

  • The Waco Horror: Approximately 100 years ago to the date – May 15, 1916 to be exact – 19-year-old farmhand Jesse Washington was lynched in Waco, Texas. The Undefeated senior writer Jesse Washington (no relation) tells how a mob of 10,000 spectators watched the dismemberment of the charred remains of their lynching victim. And how photos from the sickening spectacle galvanized the national campaign against lynching. In a poignant first-person account, Washington relays his personal connections revisiting the scene of the lynching, meeting with the descendants and draws parallels to today;
  • 36 Hours in Beast Mode: Senior writer Lonnae O’Neal returned to Oakland, Calif., for an in-depth profile of the taciturn and newly retired Seattle Seahawk Marshawn Lynch. Told through the insight from a number of Lynch’s cousins, the piece captures the larger meaning and impact of Beast Mode in a community in search of a rebirth;
  • The man who put Marvel in the black: A profile of Nate Moore, one of the few African American producers at Marvel – one of the world’s most prominent character-based entertainment companies. With the release of Captain America: Civil War and the emergence of the Black Panther character, portrayed by actor Chad Boseman, The Undefeated’s Kelley Carter profiles Moore about bringing diversity to one of Hollywood’s marquee film series. Moore is responsible for including the Black Panther character in the series.

The Name:

The Undefeated is inspired by a passage from American poet, author and civil rights leader Maya Angelou: “You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.”

The Mission Statement:

“The Undefeated is the premier platform for exploring the intersections of race, sports and culture. We enlighten and entertain with innovative storytelling, original reporting and provocative commentary. Not conventional. Never boring.”

The Undefeated will showcase content under four primary verticals – Sports, Culture, The Uplift and HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities). The Uplift will feature a daily stream of multimedia – written text, photo, audio, video, et al – joy, inspiration, acts of heroism, pro athletes’ community service, short profiles of younger athletes on the rise, and some of the most memorable moments in sports and culture.

On HBCUs, the platform will serve as a leading source for those interested in the black college experience through the prism of sports. The HBCU subset of the site will include a weekly ranking of bands, writing opportunities for young African Americans through the development of a network of college correspondents, a behind-the-scenes look at an HBCU football program, muck like HBO “Hard Knocks,” and more.

Other short-form offerings:

  • All Day: a daily blog with The Undefeated slant by Clinton Yates, giving the reader a unique perspective on the topline news of the day across different genre;
  • Quote/Unquote: a daily series of shareable quotes with contextual information on when it was uttered, who said them and how it relates to current events;
  • Cover Stories: the back story behind an iconic cover (magazine, album, et al) with historical context of the time;
  • The Picture of Undefeated: a photographic look at the most Undefeated images of the past 24 weeks curated into a gallery

Beyond the recurring content available on the site, The Undefeated will be the home for ESPN’s popular His and Hers podcast with commentators Michael Smith and Jemele Hill. The digital hub will also serve as the digital home for the ESPN Films Spike Lee’s Lil’ Joints – a series of short films showcasing narratives featuring mostly African American stories that are not widely known and personally curated by award-winning producer and director Spike Lee.

The Undefeated will be a thought-leader on race, sports and culture in the country. It will convene forums to discuss and debate topical issues affecting sports and race in America.

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Mac Nwulu

I joined ESPN in 1998 and since then, it's been a great experience managing PR and communications for a range of ESPN initiatives and properties, including soccer, NFL and The Undefeated, ESPN’s site focusing on sports, race and urban culture and how they intersect.
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