Sports Media Friday: Gumbel rips coverage of sports; Yours truly on Sports-Casters; Skipper on shutting down Grantland

Spanning the globe to bring you the constant variety of sports media:

Not sure what got into Bryant Gumbel, but he did a takedown of sports coverage in an interview with Neil Best of Newsday.

“Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel” was viewed when it premiered on HBO 20 years ago as a vital addition to the mostly barren landscape of sports journalism on television.

All these years later, with so many more outlets for such work available, is Gumbel pleased with how the genre has evolved?

Sports media

Um, no.

“I wish I could say, boy, there’s a lot of folks doing it now and we’ve really taken a serious look, but I’d be lying,” Gumbel said Wednesday at a dinner in Manhattan to celebrate the show’s 20th anniversary. (It premiered on April 2, 1995.)

“I still think so much of what passes for sports coverage is so sycophantic it’s nauseating. But that’s me. You tune into any Sunday and watch before the football games, and come on. I mean, really. Really.”

Many thanks to Steve Bennett for having me on the latest edition of The Sports-Casters. We discussed my Babe Ruth Called Shot book coming out in paperback; the Cubs and Patrick Kane.

John Skipper tells James Andrew Miller in Vanity Fair why he shut down Grantland.

Throughout the 36 years of its existence, ESPN has weathered many a dramatic event—comings and goings of stars, programs, executives, and properties—but the intensity surrounding Grantland’s demise caught many at the network by surprise. Skipper admits to underestimating the effect Simmons’s exit would have, conceding it affected Grantland personnel more than he or perhaps anyone else on his management team anticipated.

“We lacked a full understanding of the bonding nature between Bill and those guys,” Skipper says now. But along with management failing to appreciate fully the bond between Simmons and his staff, it also misunderstood the Grantland culture—enough to imagine that turning the site over to Chris Connelly, brought in as a temporary Simmons replacement, would sit well with the staff.

“Chris was only going to be interim,” Skipper says. “It wasn’t his desire to be a long-term manager there. He made that clear to us. Chris is nothing but a good guy. This has been hard on him.”

Ben Koo of Awful Announcing thinks ESPN closing Grantland is an incredibly dumb decision.

Michael Mulvihill, the director of research for Fox Sports, attempts to put the World Series ratings in context.

The first reviews for the new concussion movie starring Will Smith.

On the media firestorm over Greg Hardy.

The Red Sox have hired long-time beat reporter Gordon Edes to be their new historian.

Jeff Van Gundy does a podcast with Richard Deitsch.

Jane Leavy discusses her career with the Povich Center.

George Solomon, the head of the Povich Center, reflects on his tenure as sports editor of the Washington Post, which had one of the greatest sports sections of all time.

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