5 Questions for Bryant Gumbel
Recently, the New York Post's Andrew Marchand spoke with HBO's Bryant Gumbel. The 56-year-old Gumbel is in his 10th year as host of "Real Sports."
Q: What is the advantage "Real Sports" has compared to other shows on other networks?
A: We are free of the entanglements that are normally associated with sponsors or leagues. If you sign on with a league or a sponsor, you have a certain obligation to not use their money or their time to trash their product. It is not that we are looking to trash anything, but we are freer to go wherever a story may lead us. If that leads us to someplace that causes discomfort in a league office or a corporate office, we don't have to back off.
Q: When did you and your brother, Greg, start practicing to be sportscasters?
A: Actually, we didn't. Like everybody else, we used to play Strat-O-Matic baseball. But I don't think either one of us had any intention of being a sportscaster because we couldn't perceive then that the opportunity even existed. There were no people of color on television when we were kids. We couldn't have envisioned, ‘Oh, yeah, I'll be on television.' People of color weren't on television. That was the farthest thing from our minds.
Q: When did you think it was possible?
A: I got into it as a writer, and then someone asked me to audition when I was 22. To be honest with you, I didn't think it was necessarily going to be my long-term calling. It was an opportunity to make more money than I was making. When you're 22 years old, your ambitions extend to the weekend. You can't look much farther than that.
Q: Why do you think you create such passion from viewers? Some love you, some hate you. What do you think it is about your personality?
A: I don't know. I guess I have never tried to hide my feelings about anything. I think that disarms people. On the other hand, some people enjoy it. I do know this: That anybody that has worked in television for 35 years, they are not going to have over 100 percent attendance when you try to fill a room with people who love you or hate you.
Q: What's next for you?
A: I say. ‘I'm retired.' My wife says I am ‘selectively employed.' I'm fortunate. I love this program ("Real Sports"). This is what I enjoy doing. I'm not looking to do network television again.