Moving On: Bryant Gumbel’s ‘Real Sports’ Ends After 29 Years

After 29 years, Bryant Gumbel's HBO show "Real Sports" is moving on.

After 29 years, Bryant Gumbel’s critically acclaimed sports journalism show Real Sports is coming to an end.

The long-running HBO show will air its last episode Tuesday, Dec. 19 at 10 p.m. Eastern, the Associated Press reports.

A cart of champagne awaited Gumbel and the production staff after the final taping ended. His wife and grandchildren watched from the control room as producers and their families said their farewells.

“I’m OK,” Gumbel, 75, said ahead of taping. “I’m sad, but everything has to end at some point and this is the right time for this to end.” Gumbel’s contract is also coming to an end; HBO, which is now controlled by Warner Bros. Discovery, is working to reduce spending.

With many sports shows coming from networks owned by leagues, like the NFL, Gumbel’s Real Sports highlighted a golden era of truly impartial sports journalism that is gradually losing its luster.

“The show tried to do some things in sports journalism that no one else was doing,” Gumbel said. “I think it was one of the few avenues that could honestly explore issues without having to worry about ratings or sponsorships or relationships.

“I’ve been on the other side of that coin,” added Gumbel, best know for his work on The Today Show. “I’ve worked for networks who were what they would call now the ‘broadcast partner’ of a sports entity. And you’d only be a fool to think you can follow any story wherever it wants if it collides with that relationship. Life doesn’t work that way.”

Others in the field wonder if there will be a successor to fill the void. With more athletes resorting to social media to get their stories out rather than sitting down for a 60 Minutes-style interview with Gumbel and his reporters, it could be an end of an era.

“It has been the gold standard in sports journalism on TV for the last three decades and it really is quite a loss,” Mark Hyman, director of the Shirley Povich Center for Sports Journalism at the University of Maryland said. “It checked all the boxes—timely, ambitious, well-funded, independent.”

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