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Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel

Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel

Photo Credit:  HBO
  • Premiered: 
    April 2, 1995
    (Click date to see TV listings for that day)

  • Network: HBO
  • Category: Series
  • Genre: Newsmagazine
  • Type: Live Action
  • Concept: 
  • Subject Matter: Sports
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Plot Synopsis

REAL SPORTS is a monthly, one-hour program that presents enterprising features, exclusive interviews and in-depth investigations, as each episode has three or four segments that cover famous sports figures, sports' impact on society, or problems afflicting sports. In January 2012, REAL SPORTS received its second duPont Award for excellence in broadcast journalism, when Columbia University recognized the show for its series of investigative reports on concussions, highlighted by the August 2010 story revealing the scientific link between sports concussions and the onset of ALS.

This program entered its 19th season on Tuesday, January 23, 2013, with features about: football player Royce White, who discussed his anxiety disorder; rapper Luther Campbell, who coaches high school football in his native Miami neighborhood; and Pakistani athlete Maria Toor Pakay, who was threatened by Taliban leaders.

REAL SPORTS returned for its 20th season on Tuesday, January 21, 2014 at 10pm ET/PT on HBO, with the season premiere featuring these segments: marijuana use in the NFL, coming to prominence with a Super Bowl between the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks, who both hail from states that recently legalized the drug; an interview with former NFL player Boomer Esiason, who discusses his nine-year NFL career and his foundation, which has raised more than $100 million to fight cystic fibrosis; and a profile of Sacramento Kings owner Vivek Ranadive, who talks one on one with correspondent Bernard Goldberg and discusses how he kept the Kings from moving.

On Tuesday, January 20, 2015 at 10pm ET/PT, HBO presented the Season 21 premiere of REAL SPORTS. The season opener featured these four segments: Monsters No More; Mr. Sunday Night; The Toast of Beijing; and Urban Renewal.

HBO premiered the 22nd season of REAL SPORTS on Tuesday, January 26, 2016 at 10pm ET/PT, with a season opener that featured three stories: Questionable Care (with correspondent Jon Frankel), highlighting the day-to-day medical care decision in college football; The Gypsy King (with correspondent David Scott), featuring Wladimir Klitschko, who dominated the heavyweight division for more than a decade -- until Nov. 28, 2015; and Marijuana in the NFL (with correspondent Andrea Kremer), with a followup to REAL SPORTS' initial report in January 2014 about the NFL's prohibition of marijuana, which found some players prefer it to opiate-based painkillers like Vicodin and Oxycodone for pain management.

The 23rd season of REAL SPORTS WITH BRYANT GUMBEL premiered on Tuesday, January 24, 2017 at 10pm ET/PT on HBO. Segments in the season opener include: "A Football Tragedy," with former University of Alabama fullback Kevin Turner, who after playing eight years in the NFL with the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles, developed an addiction to painkillers, suffered from depression and was ultimately diagnosed with the terminal disease ALS in 2010; "Dreams Deferred,", featuring Marshall High on Chicago's West Side, which was one of the main settings of the iconic 1994 sports documentary HOOP DREAMS; and "A Beautiful Mind," featuring John Urschel, who holds bachelor's and master's degrees in mathematics from Penn State and is an offensive lineman for the Baltimore Ravens, who is pursuing a Ph.D. in mathematics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

On Tuesday, January 30, 2018 at 10pm ET/PT, HBO premiered the 24th season of REAL SPORTS. The season opener, the series' 250th edition, includes the following segments: "Going Broke for Gold," featuring how most US athletes are underfunded and underpaid, unlike those in almost every other country, where Olympic programs deem athletes full-time paid government employees; "California Sons," where a bombastic entrepreneur and father has spent the better part of two decades developing his three sons into world-class athletes in Southern California; and "Legacy of a Court," which features the like of tennis legend Margaret Court, the most decorated tennis player -- male or female -- in history, with 24 Grand Slam Singles titles and 64 total Grand Slam titles, including Doubles and Mixed Doubles.

HBO premiered the 25th season of REAL SPORTS on Tuesday, January 29, 2019 at 10pm ET/PT. In 2019, REAL SPORTS traveled throughout the U.S. and internationally to explore unique and compelling subjects, including: Norway's unprecedented and successful youth sports model; the harrowing rise in racehorse deaths at US tracks; the fallout of the deal the city of Detroit gave the Ilitch family to build a new arena amidst the city filing for bankruptcy; the allure behind the nearly three-decade-old Brainerd Jaycees Ice Fishing Extravaganza in Minnesota; and the annual Varsity Wine Tasting Match between Cambridge and Oxford, among others.

Season 26 of REAL SPORTS premiered on Tuesday, January 28, 2020 at 10pm ET/PT on HBO, marking the series 274th edition. The season opener includes a retrospective segment on Los Angeles Lakers icon Kobe Bryant, who, along with his daughter Gianna and seven others, died tragically on Sunday, January 26 in a helicopter accident in Calabasas, CA. REAL SPORTS revisits two longform pieces on Bryant that bookended his prolific career: A 2000 feature reported by James Brown when Kobe was in his fourth season and a 2016 profile from correspondent Andrea Kremer as Bryant was bringing the curtain down on his NBA career and transitioning to new endeavors in entertainment, sports and business. Additional segments in the season premiere include: "The Reconstruction Games" (with David Scott) and "Erin Andrews" (with Soledad O'Brien).

REAL SPORTS returned for its 27th season on Tuesday, January 26, 2021 at 10pm ET/PT on HBO. Segments from the January 26 premiere include: "The Oregon Project," during which correspondent David Scott examines Nike's controversial 'Oregon Project'; "Black & Blue," as correspondent Jon Frankel reports on the inspiring story of how a group of Minneapolis police officers not only coached Minneapolis North High School to become a perennial powerhouse - but helped bridge communities and build trust with the next generation of kids; "The Long Haul," as the REAL SPORTS details stories of COVID-19 'long haulers,' athletes who continue to suffer debilitating symptoms months after contracting the virus.

Season 28 of REAL SPORTS premiered on Tuesday, January 25, 2022 at 10pm ET/PT on HBO. January segments include: "China Games/IOC," as the program explores the troubling relationship between the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and China's campaign of repression ahead of the 2022 Beijing Olympics; "Skate Mates," with former Olympic figure skaters and analysts Johnny Weir and Tara Lipinksi revealing how their on-screen chemistry, fueled by coordinated outfits, may be one of the most exciting primetime performances at the 2022 Beijing Olympic Games; and "Sports Gambling," which highlights how the market has exploded with sports leagues, teams and the leagues' broadcast partners capitalizing on the opportunity.

The 29th season of REAL SPORTS premiered on Tuesday, January 24, 2023 at 10pm ET/PT on HBO. Segments in the season opener include: "Favre Welfare Scandal," where Hall of Famer Brett Favre is alleged to have played in redirecting millions of dollars away from the poorest residents in the country's poorest state to his own projects: "Sudden Cardiac Arrest in Young Athletes," which explores the story of Damar Hamlin, who collapsed on Monday Night Football; and "Shooting Survivors (Update)," which revsits Reichen Posey and Jordan Murphy, two survivors of separate mass shootings -- Sandy Hook and Aurora, respectively.
On Tuesday, December 19, 2023 from 10-11:30pm ET/PT, HBO premiered the 90-minute REAL SPORTS series finale, celebrating 29 years of storytelling. The final episode highlights segments from over 1,100 stories, reported from nearly 70 different countries across the seven continents. Gumbel, along with veteran correspondents Mary Carillo, Jon Frankel, Soledad O'Brien, Andrea Kremer and David Scott reflect on segments that transcended the world of sports and centered on the costs of modern sport, holding power to account, the resilience of athletes who defied unthinkable challenges and the innumerable personalities that made lasting impressions over the nearly three decades of the program.