HBO's “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel” is coming to an end after 29 years.
The monthly sports talk series has been a staple of the pay television network since its launch in 1995. With 300 episodes, the show covered issues at the intersection of sports and society with the occasional deep dive into prominent athletes.
Similar to "60 Minutes," which is entering its 56th season, "Real Sports" packed four investigative stories into each hour-long episode. The show won a plethora of awards over the years, including 37 Sports Emmys and three Peabody Awards.
Gumbel, 74, won a Lifetime Achievement award at the 44th Annual Sports Emmy Awards in May. He expressed his readiness to begin a new chapter in a statement issued to Deadline, the publication that broke the news.
“Since day one at ‘Real Sports’ we’ve consistently tried to look beyond the scoreboard, and focus instead on the many societal issues inherent in the world of sports,” Gumbel said. “In the process we’ve had the opportunity to tell complex stories about race, gender, class, opportunity and so much more. Being able to do so at HBO for almost 3 decades has been very gratifying. I’m proud of the imprint we’ve made, so I’m ready to turn the page. Although goodbyes are never easy, I’ve decided that now’s the time to move on.”
The former "Today" show anchor has a storied five-decade career. He made his start as a sportscaster in Los Angeles and went on to co-host NBC’s NFL pregame show "GrandStand" before moving to CBS to co-host "The Early Show."
Gumbel welcomed a group of notable correspondents as well, including Soledad O’Brien, James Brown, Ariel Helwani, Jim Lampley and more.
"'Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel' has delivered a masterclass in sports storytelling," Casey Bloys, chairman and CEO of HBO and Max Content said via Variety. "As the longest running HBO series, Bryant and his 'Real Sports' team have long been a cornerstone of HBO programming. The series will continue to resonate in the realm of sports journalism, and we are so proud to have been part of such a remarkable odyssey."
Some of the stories that broke during the show's run are unforgettable. "Real Sports" exposed a child slavery ring in the U.S. that forced 5-year-old boys to race camels, investigated the International Olympic Committee and gave Shaquille O’Neal the platform to share the realization that he made more money per year from endorsements than he did from his NBA career.
All of those stories live on through streaming. HBO made many of them available to watch on YouTube, as well.