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Cari Champion: My Job on ‘First Take’ Was To Ask Questions and Lay Out

“When Ray Rice was on the elevator punching his then fiancée now wife, we all had to talk about it. They were very clear that I couldn’t weigh in. What does that look like? We’re talking about domestic violence and you have the only woman in the show not being able to discuss it.”

Ricky Keeler

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Cari Champion

From 2012-2015, Cari Champion was the moderator for First Take on ESPN with Skip Bayless and Stephen A Smith. While she was a part of the show, she was not able to voice her opinion on the topics that were being discussed.

Champion was a guest on the I Am Athlete podcast with Brandon Marshall, Adam “Pac-Man” Jones, and Nick “Swaggy P” Jones. She knew Bayless and Smith were hard workers, but she did not feel like she was valued by ESPN:

“They [Skip and Stephen A] are exactly who they are. Super-talented, they worked hard, they taught me work ethic…They did the homework, they came prepared. The problem was for me as a black woman in that position at the time, nobody was Monday-Friday on a popular 2-hour TV show that was a black woman. They let me know I didn’t matter, intentionally or unintentionally. It was obvious. You don’t matter. Just be happy that you are here. Don’t talk. Ask questions. Just be happy that you are here.”

When she first started at First Take, Champion said that Jemele Hill was a huge help to her, especially when people were criticizing her for pronouncing names wrong:

“The first few weeks were crazy. I went from 500 followers on Twitter to thousands and thousands. Aggressive a** fans. I don’t like your hair, your shoes, you don’t know what you are talking about. My whole world is rocked. I figured it out, but I figured it out with help from people who did it before like Jemele Hill, like when they used to be on my a** for pronouncing names right.”

Champion mentioned that the show went from talking about more than sports when the Ray Rice domestic violence incident happened in 2014. Everyone was asked to weigh in on the situation, except Champion:

“My job was only to ask questions and lay out. Then, we started to talk about more than just sports…When Ray Rice was on the elevator punching his then fiancée now wife, we all had to talk about it. They were very clear that I couldn’t weigh in. What does that look like? We’re talking about domestic violence and you have the only woman in the show not being able to discuss it. By they, I don’t know who made the decision, but it became so awkward and noticeable that people started to write about it…It was so foreign to have women debate.”

However, Champion mentioned when she watched the show after she left and Molly Qerim became the host, she noticed Qerim was allowed to talk more than she ever was and it did upset her:

“It was upsetting because then, the following host, Molly Qerim, in the beginning, they would let Molly talk all the time. Molly could talk and I was told specifically not to talk. The reality is because I was the first, I had to go through things that people didn’t have to go through. I felt a way because I went through it tough because I just wanted to say my opinion.”

Sports TV News

LIV Golf Nearing TV Deal With The CW Network

“LIV Golf television analyst David Feherty had hinted that the upstart league could potentially have a deal in place with The CW Network for American television rights.”

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LIV Golf

According to a report from Front Office Sports, LIV Golf has laid out a deal with The CW Network for television carriage in the United States.

The deal is a multi-year agreement that will see the tour own real estate in lesser-viewed time slots on the network. A revenue-sharing relationship between the tour and the television network is expected to be struck.

LIV Golf television analyst David Feherty had hinted that the upstart league could potentially have a deal in place with The CW Network for American television rights.

After a standup comedy show in West Palm Beach last week, Feherty reportedly told the crowd “Have you heard of CW? I might get fired for this, but…,” according to report from Tom D’Angelo of The Palm Beach Post.

Sports Business Journal reporter John Ourand had previously reported a deal between the Saudi-backed breakaway golf tour and the network was likely.

Nexstar Media Group — the nation’s largest television owner — is the majority owner of The CW Network. There are around 220 affiliates of the network on over-the-air television stations. Rumors of an acquisition of LIV Golf’s rights come on the heels of The CW Network being linked to the potential launch of a college football bowl game that would air exclusively on the network.

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Sports TV News

Stephen A. Smith: ‘I Don’t Feel Obligated To Agree With Black Community’

“I want the Black community to always know that they have somebody in me that’s going to at least tell the world what we’re feeling and why, whether I agree with it or not.”

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Stephen A. Smith is out promoting his new memoir Straight Shooter. He recently sat down for a conversation with Men’s Health magazine.

Interviewer Rachel Epstein covers a wide variety of topics with Smith. Some are about what can be found in the book. Some are about the First Take star’s public perception.

She asked how Smith balances the responsibility of representing the Black community with his brand. On ESPN, Smith is known for being unique and unapologetic for his sometimes over-the-top persona.

“Number one by being fair,” he said. “By trying to gather as much information and educate myself on issues as much as I possibly can.”

He added that he has never felt pressure to think a certain way or say a certain thing. Even if pressure existed, he prides himself on not giving in to it.

“I never feel an obligation to agree with my community. I believe we all have a right to think the way we want to think. But I do feel a responsibility to make sure that the perspective emanating from my community is heard, even if I disagree.”

Stephen A. Smith is one of the highest-paid and most visible employees at ESPN. He said that a certain responsibility comes along with that status. He wants the Black community to know that even if he doesn’t agree, he will make sure people know what he is hearing when he is on TV talking about an important subject.

“I want the Black community to always know that they have somebody in me that’s going to at least tell the world what we’re feeling and why, whether I agree with it or not.”

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Sports TV News

Kathryn Tappen Joining NBC’s Big Ten Coverage

“Tappen was in line to replace Michele Tafoya as the sideline reporter for Sunday Night Football but was passed over by the network in favor of Melissa Stark.”

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NBC has tabbed Kathryn Tappen as its sideline reporter for the network’s upcoming coverage of Big Ten football, according to a report from Andrew Marchand of The New York Post.

According to Marchand, Tappen was in line to replace Michele Tafoya as the sideline reporter for Sunday Night Football but was passed over by the network in favor of Melissa Stark.

Tappen has hosted Notre Dame football’s studio coverage and Peacock Sunday Night Football Final. She also worked as NBC’s lead interviewer for its coverage of the PGA Tour, but left that broadcast team at the end of 2022 as part of the network’s larger shakeup of its golf coverage.

The appointment of Kathryn Tappen conceivably concludes the Big Ten on NBC broadcast crew. Noah Eagle and Todd Blackledge are expected to pair as the network’s play-by-play announcer and color analyst, respectively. NBC has yet to officially unveil its coverage plans for the 2023 college football season.

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