Cari Champion

After putting in several long years as a host/babysitter of First Take, Cari Champion is thriving at ESPN.

According to The Big Lead, Champion has reached a multi-year extension at the Worldwide Leader, which comes with an extra hour for her Coast to Coast SportsCenter showCoast to Coast, which features the L.A.-based Champion hosting via satellite feed with Bristol-based David Lloyd, will now start at 11 a.m. ET instead of noon.

In the days of social media and online news, ESPN continues to convert SportsCenter from a news-based program to a personality-based one (Scott van Pelt being the face of this effort), and the network appears to be investing in Champion as one of the franchise’s new stars.

Champion told The Big Lead’s  that the expanded SportsCenter will give her and Lloyd more opportunity for dialogue, which is cool because in her previous life at First Take, Champion couldn’t express much of herself at all.

“I wanted to have more of a conversation format, as opposed to a Q&A. I think for so long on SportsCenter you would see more of a question-answer-question answer. And I think we wanted to extend the conversation and instead of talking about four or five different subjects, we wanted to take one topic. The goal was to make people be more invested.”

Later in the interview, Glasspiegel asked Champion about First Take directly, and she responded with some comments that could maybe be interpreted as back-handed compliments.

“That was arguably the best job that I ever could have to prepare me for what I’m doing right now, in terms of being able to have my own opinion and insert myself and being able to deal with uncomfortable topics and uncomfortable television. I think we are right now moving toward an age where you have to discuss things and you have to be OK with people’s opinions without having any emotion about it, maintaining your journalistic integrity.”

Maybe this is a harsh interpretation, but it seems like Champion is saying that sitting through a lot of crap on First Take prepared her for anything SportsCenter might offer.

Champion did say she was grateful for her opportunity with First Take and praised Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith for working hard and preparing thoroughly. But in the end, Champion said, that show didn’t provide her the freedom she enjoys.

The only thing I could think was I want to tell stories. I want to tell stories, and I want to do what I’ve been doing before I came here, and I want to be creative. And I’m at my happiest, professionally and personally, when I’m being creative, and I wasn’t as creative as I wanted to be.

Champion is clearly very smart and insightful. It’s nice that we get to hear her speak.

[The Big Lead]

About Alex Putterman

Alex is a writer and editor for The Comeback and Awful Announcing. He has written for The Atlantic, VICE Sports,, and more. He is a proud alum of Northwestern University and The Daily Northwestern. You can find him on Twitter @AlexPutterman.

Comments are closed.