SBD/December 18, 2012/Media

Bryant Gumbel Discusses Career As 18th Season Of HBO's "Real Sports" Wraps Up

Gumbel said he cannot recall any of his commentary he would take back
Bryant Gumbel tonight "puts a bow on his 18th season” hosting HBO's "Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel." The show has now "won 23 Sports Emmy Awards, 15 of them for 'Outstanding Sports Journalism.'" Gumbel sat for a Q&A with the L.A. TIMES' Lance Pugmire to discuss the show. The following is an excerpt of the Q&A:

Q: Did you believe at the start that "Real Sports" would last this long?
Gumbel: I was hosting “Today” at the time and had a conversation with my boss about it being on once or twice a year. It almost stopped when I went to CBS.

Q: What did you think of NBC's Bob Costas using halftime of "Sunday Night Footall" two weeks ago to speak out on gun control in light of Jovan Belcher's murder-suicide? Fair game?
Gumbel: It's always difficult in a limited time frame to take on issues that hotly contested. All you can do is say what you mean and hope to do it effectively.

Q: Your own commentaries have also been a magnet for debate. … How do you establish the subject?
Gumbel: I take it seriously and spend a lot of time with it. We're trying to make a point. Brevity is difficult. To do it in a minute, or 1:15, the economy of words is important and I go through a lot of angst about every word. Commentaries are intended to make people think. After all of them, I can't think of any I'd take back. I firmly believe what I say.

Q: Where did your edge, your push for the hard truth emerge? Has it always been there, or did it evolve?
Gumbel: I've been doing this for 40 years, and that's the first time anyone's ever asked me that. When I first joined KNBC, they started a two-hour newscast. Our news directors decided it wouldn't make sense to say the Dodgers and Angels won or lost both times. So they asked me, “What do you think you can do that's different?” So we talked issues, did sports book reviews.

Q: What more do you want to do in the business?
Gumbel: I take pride that whatever people think of me, they know I care about what I do. I'm serious-minded. As far as my career, I've been accused of having tunnel vision. I don't really use a rear-view mirror, I'm so preoccupied with what I'm doing (L.A. TIMES, 12/17).
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