The Undefeated Timeline

The Undefeated Timeline


April 18

ESPN announces The Undefeated launch date and outlines its mission and editorial staff. The digital multimedia platform explores the intersections of sports, race, and culture through complex and entertaining storytelling.


May 17

Helmed by Editor-in-chief Kevin Merida, ESPN’s The Undefeated digital hub launches with three critically acclaimed narratives: The Waco Horror, 36 Hours in Beast Mode, and The Man Who Put Marvel in the Black.

June 11

The Undefeated’s multidimensional and critically acclaimed coverage of Muhammad Ali’s death and funeral, coincidentally just weeks after the launch of the content hub, is the platform’s first enterprise reporting project on the complex threads of Ali’s life and legacy.

June 17

NBA senior writer Marc J. Spears offers an exclusive inside look at the NBA Playoffs from a player’s perspective with Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green and his exclusive 23-part player diary for The Undefeated.

August 25

An Undefeated Conversation: Athletes, Responsibility, and Violence – The Undefeated’s first Town Hall event – airs on ESPN and ESPN Radio. Hosted by Jemele Hill, the 90-minute telecast features four-panel conversations discussing athletes, guns, violence, and law enforcement at the South Side YMCA of Metro Chicago. Speakers include current and retired athletes, executives, coaches, sports commentators, and more.


September 18

Senior NFL writer Jason Reid writes the “Welcome to the Todd Gurley Show” cover story for ESPN The Magazine, The Mag’s first collaboration with The Undefeated.

October 11

The Undefeated hosts A Conversation with President Barack Obama, a student forum moderated by SportsCenter anchor Stan Verrett with the first African American U.S. President, while he was in office, at North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro, N.C.

October 18

The Undefeated and Morgan State University’s Center for the Study of Race in Sports and Culture (CSRSC) collaborate on a panel discussion, examining the image of Black women in ports. The study is the basis of a follow-up series exclusive to the site.

October 25

The Undefeated earns its first Editor & Publisher EPPY Awards as best sports website with one million unique visitors a month. Two years later, the site received the 2019 Editor & Publisher EPPY Awards for best entertainment/cultural news site with one million unique visitors monthly.

December 25

The Undefeated In-Depth: Serena with Common Debuts on ESPN as the Oscar and Grammy Award-winning Artist Common sits for a one-hour exclusive conversation with tennis champion and sports Star Serene Williams.


February 6

The Undefeated partners with ESPN Audio, espnW, Longhorn Network, SEC Network, and ESPN Classic to celebrate the achievements of African Americans in sports and in society with special Black History month programming.


February 9

The Undefeated 44 – a list of living and past African Americans release who, as symbols of pride and aspiration, made extraordinary accomplishments and contributions to the world. Limited to 44 for Barack Obama, the 44th President of the United States of America and first African American president, the digital project became a December 2018 bestselling young adult book – The Fierce 44: Black Americans Who Shook Up the World – published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

March 8

The Undefeated names the inaugural class of Rhoden Fellows, a journalism internship program for aspiring African American journalists from HBCUs. The Fellowship is named after award-winning sports columnist William C. Rhoden, who joined ESPN and oversees the program.


April 4

The Undefeated wins its first Webby Award, in the website category.

April 27

The Undefeated publishes Segregation in the NFL, an in-depth examination of the complex role race plays in determining which players play certain positions on NFL teams.

October 13

The Undefeated launches “HBCU Band Rankings”, a series that ranks the top 10 bands from Historically Black Colleges and Universities in the Mid-Eastern Athletic (MEAC) and Southwestern Athletic (SWAC) conferences.


February 5

ESPN commemorates Black History Month with special storytelling across multiple platforms from The Undefeated, including TV and digital specials, events, and other historic storytelling content across ESPN platforms.

February 11

The Undefeated presents Dear Black Athlete” television special, a series of conversations featuring prominent African American athletes and civic and community leaders. SportsCenter anchor Cari Champion hosts from the Sixth Avenue Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala.

June 25

The Undefeated reports the results of research: “Beating Opponents, Battling Belittlement: How African-American Female Athletes Use Community to Navigate Negative Images.” The study was commissioned by The Undefeated and conducted by Morgan State University’s Center for the Study of Race in Sports and Culture (CSRSC).

July 27

The Undefeated and Disney Music Group release the brand-titled single and video, Undefeated, by R&B artist Rayana Jay. The song celebrates the resilience of Black female athletes against historically negative portrayals.

August 13

The Undefeated wins multiple NABJ Salute to Excellence awards, including Lonnae O’Neal and Maya Jones (Digital Media – Online Project: Feature) for a multi-faceted project on black female athletes, Jesse Washington (Digital Media – Sports) for his portrait of NBA player J.R. Smith, Jane McManus and Jason Reid (Digital Media – Sports) for an in-depth collaborative piece “The NFL’s Racial Divide”


February 1

Super Bowl LIII weekend, The Undefeated published the final installment of its season-long “State of the Black NFL Fan” series, via a SurveyMonkey poll commissioned by The Undefeated that revealed a deep racial divide over how the National Football League is viewed.

February 3

The Undefeated honors Black History Month with its EP The Undefeated Mix’s renditions of Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing by Aloe Blacc featuring The String Queens. The video was filmed on the grounds of Monticello, home of Thomas Jefferson.

May 17

The Undefeated commemorates its third anniversary with a new home page design and #ZionTrain, a deep-dive content initiative highlighting the consensus No. 1 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, Zion Williamson of Duke.

September 2

Year of the Black Quarterback debuts highlighting African Americans playing one of the most important positions in the NFL. The series explores the emergence of black quarterbacks in the NFL, their growing prominence, and the present and future impact on the league.

November 12

The Undefeated and the University of Florida Wasdin Speaker Series host Sports, Social Justice and the Media, a town hall on sports, race, and culture in Gainesville, Fl. Speakers included athletes from various professional sports, writers, CEOs, etc.


February 9

An extension of The Undefeated’s season-long digital series, ESPN presents a one-hour “Year of the Black Quarterback” television special featuring Jason Reid, NFL star DeShaun Watson and other special guests that explores the emergence of Black Quarterbacks in the NFL.

March 16

Senior entertainment writer Kelley Carter debuts The Undefeated’s “Another Act with Kelley Carter” This new digital series gives viewers access to some of Hollywood’s biggest stars. First guest and Academy Award winning actor Don Cheadle ­­gives in-depth interview and talk exciting new projects.


April 16

The Undefeated presents “Overcome,” a music video in partnership with hip-hop artist Easy McCoy, celebrating sports and the athletes who are contributing to the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.


April 28

ESPN2 presents a three-hour night of programming produced by The Undefeated. The four impactful specials include: Why I play, The Undefeated: Year of the Black Quarterback, Unapologetic: The Black Female Athlete, and In Depth: Serena Williams and Common.

May 4

The Undefeated culture critic Soraya Nadia McDonald is named a Pulitzer Prize Finalist in the Criticism category – ESPN and The Undefeated’s first-ever Pulitzer Finalist honor. McDonald is praised for “essays on theater and film that bring a fresh, delightful intelligence to the intersections of race and art.”


May 15

The Undefeated debuts “House of ’98,” a virtual fan experience that relives the sports, music and culture of 1998.


May 23

ESPN’s The Undefeated presents “HBCU Day” to celebrate 2020 Graduates at Historically Black Colleges and Universities. The virtual experience features congratulatory video messages delivered by prominent African Americans —President Barack Obama, Toni Braxton, Jerry Rice, and others

June 5

The Undefeated released new song and accompanying music video from RZA and 36 Chambers titled “Be Like Water” inspired by ESPN Films 30 for 30 documentary “Be Water ” about the life of martial artist and global icon Bruce Lee.

June 5

ESPN presents a three-hour primetime programming block from The Undefeated on justice, equality, and responsibility as the nation comes to grips with issues of race and injustice following the death of George Floyd. The lineup includes Playing for Justice, a behind-the-scenes look at the criminal justice system through the eyes of NBA players from the Milwaukee Bucks and Sacramento Kings.

June 24

Time for Change: We Won’t be Defeated,” a primetime special produced by The Undefeated debuts as part of a five-and-a-half hour programing block devoted to issues of race in sports around the world. Elle Duncan, Michael Eaves, Jay Harris and Maria Taylor host a one-hour roundtable as Black athletes and other leading voices in culture and sports discuss their experiences with injustice and the relationship between law enforcement and people of color in America.


July 3

The Undefeated presents ‘Hamilton: In-Depth” with Kelley Carter, exclusively on Disney+ and The platform’s first collaboration with the Disney streaming service features conversations that examine the award-winning Broadway show with its stars and creators, including Lin-Manuel Miranda, Daveed Diggs and Leslie Odom Jr.

July 6

The Walt Disney Company announces a first-look deal with Colin Kaepernick. The partnership with Disney, the former NFL quarterback & activist, and The Undefeated, will focus on storytelling that explores race, social injustice, and the quest for equity, while also showcasing the work of Black and Brown directors and producers.


September 30

ESPN/ABC, NBA and The Undefeated team up for #ChampionBlackBusinesses during the 2020 NBA Finals with the goal of elevating Black-owned businesses and their stories.


October 11

The one-hour special, “The Stop: Living, Driving and Dying While Black” examines the relationship between Black American communities and Law enforcement. Athletes, experts and police voice their stories and discuss the lasting impact these interactions have on African American communities. Ryan Smith hosts with LaChina Robinson and Marc Spears.

October 13

The Kaiser Family Foundation and The Undefeated conduct a joint nationwide survey that explores the views and experiences of African Americans during the coronavirus pandemic, revealing distrust of the health care system among Black Americans.

October 16

The Undefeated and Hollywood Records collaborate on “I Can’t Breathe/Music for the Movement” EP.  This marks the first of a recurring “Music for the Movement” EP series highlighting the Black struggle for racial justice and equity.

November 19

The Undefeated Presents Tiger Woods: America’s Son,” a one-hour documentary that examines the complex racial identity of Tiger Woods and the meaning of his success in America.

December 3

Kevin Merida, ESPN Senior Vice President and Editor-in-Chief of The Undefeated, is elected to the Pulitzer Board and honored with the NABJ Lifetime Achievement Award.


January 28

ESPN launches the “Black History Always” initiative powered by The Undefeated, expanding sports, race and culture content beyond the traditional 28 days of Black History Month in February through expansive programming and content commitments across ESPN, ABC, Hollywood Records, National Geographic, and more.


February 18

The Undefeated and National Geographic premiere the one-hour documentary, The March on Washington: Keepers of The Dream, a powerful look at historical events and the ongoing journey of the Civil Rights Movement.

February 1

ESPN’s direct-to-consumer streaming service debuts “The Undefeated on ESPN+,” a dedicated section of curated content that highlights Black voices and storytelling. Among the debut projects is “Why Not Us: North Carolina Central Basketball,” a new docuseries (that launches Feb. 12) examining the cultural experiences and challenges of HBCU athletic programs. “Why Not Us” is co-executive produced by NBA All-Star Chris Paul and ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith and features related one-on-one discussions between Paul and notable HBCU graduates.

February 28

The Undefeated Presents: A Room of Our Own, a one-hour ESPN and ABC (March 7) television special on the connection that Black athletes have with music and the impact of that association in powering social movements.

March 10

In a long-form music journalism project, The Undefeated reports You Don’t Know the Half of It: The family that Gave Us Anderson .Paak – a four-part examination of the family and life of the four-time Grammy Award winner.

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