Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel, the monthly HBO sports news magazine that has won awards for its immersive stories throughout its 29-year history, is coming to an end.
The program, hosted by Gumbel, will end with the current season, an HBO representative said Wednesday. No reason was given.
“Since day one at Real Sports, we have consistently attempted to look beyond the scoreboard and instead focus on the many societal issues inherent in the world of sports,” Gumbel said in a statement. “We had the opportunity to tell complex stories about race, gender, class, opportunity and much more. It was very gratifying to be able to do this at HBO for almost three decades. I’m proud of the impression we made, so I’m ready to turn the page. Although goodbyes are never easy, I’ve decided that now is the time to move on.”
Gumbel, 74, has considered quitting the show for the past few years, according to people close to him who were not authorized to comment.
In addition to moderation, Gumbel was instrumental in the editorial management of the show. Earlier this year, Gumbel was honored with a lifetime achievement award at the 44th Sports Emmy Awards.
HBO’s Real Sports was one of the last places television viewers could see reports and commentary that could make sports league offices uncomfortable.
Critical TV coverage of major sports has become increasingly difficult over the past decade as media companies rely heavily on live matches to deliver programming, particularly to traditional TV networks.
“Real Sports” was particularly aggressive Reporting the deaths of thousands of migrant workers who built facilities in Qatar for the last soccer World Cup. The program also frequently examined the long-term effects of concussion on football and hockey players.
In a 2017 interview with The Times, Gumbel said HBO executives have always shielded him from complaints from leagues that are the subject of “Real Sports” stories.
But Gumbel also noted at the time that it had become more difficult to find journalists capable of doing the thorough, in-depth work he wanted on the show.
“Finding people who can do long-format journalism has almost died out because young people who come into business don’t have a chance to do long-format journalism,” he said. “You do 30 seconds here, 45 seconds there and that’s it. It’s hard to find good people.”
Real Sports has won three George Foster Peabody Awards, most recently in 2015 for a report on how trophy hunting was destroying Africa’s elephant population.