Cari Champion from the Tennis Channel is the new host of ESPN’s First Take, according to reports.
First Take, the show that features writers Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith yelling at each other, airs on the sports network weekdays from 10 am Eastern time until noon (and is subsequently repeated). The BigLeadSports website, which broke the story, indicates that the official announcement of Cari Champion’s new gig could be made as early as this week.
Cari Champion, who grew up in California, received a degree in English from UCLA and worked at several television stations around the country before joining the Tennis Channel as a reporter and anchor. Champion also has her own Urban Dictionary entry for being fired, and then rehired, by an Atlanta TV station after allegedly saying a vulgarity on the air.
In an interview with Tennis Magazine, Champion explained that her love of tennis was based in part on player personalities:
“I can compare myself to certain players, how they act on court and how I act in life. In an individual sport you can see it, unlike in team sports. In tennis they leave it all on the court. They go big or they go home. I love every aspect of it. It’s such a mental game. It’s a metaphor for life.”
Champion will have her hands full with the overbearing personalities of Bayless and Smith.
ESPN apparently selected Champion for First Take over several other applicants including Jemele Hill and Heidi Watney, who left her job as Red Sox on-field reporter for NESN TV to join the Lakers in an on-air capacity, but her actual job status there seems to be in some doubt.
As the new moderator of First Take, do you think Cari Champion will “love” the personalities of the regular panelists?