The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences announced Tuesday that Bryant Gumbel will be the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award at their Sports Emmys ceremony this year. That ceremony, the 44th annual one, will take place on Monday, May 22 at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Rose Hall in New York. Gumbel is being honored for his 1972-present work in the sports TV world, which includes time at Los Angeles’ KNBC, NBC Sports (including hosting the 1988 Seoul Olympics), NBC’s national Today show, several shows on CBS and PBS, and HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel (which he has hosted since its 1995 launch, and which has won 36 Sports Emmys to date). Here’s more on that from a release:
“Bryant has a storied career, from his start as a sportscaster in Los Angeles to five decades of celebrated work — every bit cementing him as an icon and trailblazer in sports and entertainment,” said Adam Sharp, President & CEO of NATAS. “Bryant‘s incredible resume spanning Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel, NBC Sports, NBC News, CBS News, PBS, and many other projects has brought dramatic and human news and sports stories to life for audiences throughout his career making him a clear front runner for this distinct honor.”
“For me the selection of Bryant for the lifetime achievement honor is a wholehearted endorsement of sports journalism. Bryant is a consummate journalist, interviewer and storyteller and the sports media landscape is indebted to the high standard Bryant continues to set to this day,” said Justine Gubar, the Head of the Sports Emmys.
Bryant Gumbel said, “I’m humbled by this announcement and grateful to the folks at NATAS for this prestigious award. After 50 years in the business, sharing the same honor with men like Jim McKay, Howard Cosell and Vin Scully is heady stuff indeed.”
Joe Reedy of The Associated Press has a piece on this with notable quotes from Gumbel on what stands out to him from his career:
The one story from “Real Sports” that still resonates for Gumbel is the 2003 feature and interview with Marcus Dixon, who received a 10-year prison sentence for having sex with an underage girl. Georgia’s Supreme Court reversed the aggravated child molestation conviction but ruled that the statutory rape conviction would stand. Dixon had served the one-year sentence for that charge.
…“I always point to that because it did everything one can ask in a story,” Gumbel said. “It was compelling story, but it basically saved and changed a young man’s life. It also righted a wrong, and that’s about all you can expect to do when you are in a position like we are in. You try to find something where you can do some good and help somebody else.”
Gumbel did another profile of Dixon in 2021 when he was an assistant coach with the Los Angeles Rams. Dixon is now the defensive line coach with the Denver Broncos.
“I’ve always been a sports fan, but I’ve always been less interested in the scores than I was the story elements of sports,” the 74-year old Gumbel said of “Real Sports,” which airs monthly. “I’m overly selfish about it, but I’m enormously proud of it.”
Gumbel continues to do notable work on Real Sports, which celebrated its 300th episode last year. Beyond his overall hosting of the show, and the oft-spoken desire to live up to the standard he and the show has set, Gumbel himself has hosted many notable segments. A few that come to mind over the past couple years include interviews with then-Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren, U.S. senator Bernie Sanders, NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith, and a 35-person, 32-minute “Racial Injustice and COVID-19 in America” segment in 2020 about both protests of police killings and COVID-19’s impact on sports. Here’s a clip from that last one:
Our congratulations go out to Gumbel on this award.
[The Associated Press; photo from HBO]