Bryant Gumbel to become first Black journalist to receive Sports Emmy lifetime achievement award

Since 1995, Gumbel has hosted HBO’s “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel,” which airs monthly and has won 36 Sports Emmys.

This year’s Sports Emmys will honor veteran journalist Bryant Gumbel for his career spanning more than 50 years, the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences announced Tuesday.

Gumbel is set to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award during the 44th Annual Sports Emmy Awards ceremony on May 22 at Lincoln Center in New York City, ABC News reports.

2015 Winter TCA Tour - Day 2
Bryant Gumbel speaks during the HBO portion of the 2015 Winter Television Critics Association press tour on the “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel” panel on Jan. 8, 2015 at the Langham Hotel in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

Gumbel will be the first Black journalist to receive the Sports Emmy award. “It’s very humbling. I’ve been a fortunate, lucky guy,” he said in a statement. “It makes you stop and take stock. You take a look at the guys who I admire a great deal who received this award, people like Vin Scully, Jim McKay and Howard Cosell. You never want to put yourself in their company, but it’s heady stuff.”

The veteran journalist began his career as a sports anchor at KNBC in Los Angeles before he moved to NBC Sports in Fall 1975. He would go on to land a hosting gig on NBC’s “Today” show for 15 years. According to The Hollywood Reporter (THR), he holds the record for the longest-running host of the news program. During his time at CBS, he hosted the primetime show, “Public Eye,” and the morning news program, “The Early Show.”

Since 1995, Gumbel has hosted HBO’s “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel,” which airs monthly and has won 36 Sports Emmys. The series celebrated its 300th episode last year.

Gumbel said he’s “always been a sports fan, but I’ve always been less interested in the scores than I was the story elements of sports,” he said of “Real Sports,” according to ABC News. “I’m overly selfish about it, but I’m enormously proud of it.”

NATAS President and CEO Adam Sharp said, “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.”

Sharp also noted that Bryant’s work has “brought dramatic and human news and sports stories to life for audiences, ” making him “a clear front-runner for this distinct honor.”

Justine Gubar, head of the Sports Emmys, told THR that singling out Gumbel for this honor also spotlights this particular area of the business. “The selection of Bryant for the lifetime achievement honor is a wholehearted endorsement of sports journalism,” she said. “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.”

During his career, Gumbel has earned four Emmys, three NAACP Awards, a Peabody, the Edward R. Murrow Award, the Frederick D. Patterson Award and the Martin Luther King Award from the Congress of Racial Equality. 

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