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ESPN launches ‘The Undefeated’ next month, exploring race and culture in sports

There is far more to sports than just the games themselves: the stories of the athletes can be just as interesting and are often more important. That is what ESPN wants to prove with its new multimedia platform, The Undefeated.

Described by the site’s senior vice president and editor-in-chief, Kevin Merida, as a place for African Americans and fans who want to understand black athletes better, the platform has been in the works for a while. The site has faced a few delays, but Merida announced yesterday that the site will go live on May 17.

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The site will have a heavy visual emphasis, with new video content added every day alongside investigative journalism, a lead blog called “All Day,” and a weekly podcast. Alongside culture and HBCU sports coverage, the platform will also include a feature called The Uplift, which Merida says the team describes as “a daily stream of joy.”

“We want to produce work that is cool, smart, innovative, provocative and memorable,” Merida said in the press release announcing the launch date. “We are going to aggressively experiment, and be brave about that. Form is important. Convention is not. We have set the bar high for ourselves. Our motto is: Not conventional. Never boring. We will work hard to live up to that.”

The Undefeated will host archives of His & Hers, with Michael Smith and Jemele Hill, and Merida says there are plans to build more original content around the hosts’ discussions. The platform will also feature ESPN Films’ Spike Lee Lil’ Joints series, with plans for original content around those short films as well.

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This is likely just the beginning of the overlap that will occur between ESPN and The Undefeated. “Our colleagues across ESPN’s platforms have been generous with their support,” Merida says. “I anticipate our writers and our journalism will be featured on studio shows and, and the collaboration will flow the other way too.”

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