So when the 66-year-old broadcast veteran met with reporters at the Television Critics Association on Thursday, Gumbel basically used his 30 minutes as an opportunity to vocalize his frustrations with sports broadcasters and institutions — namely the current lack of financial compensation for college players.
“You can say they’re getting a scholarship, but that’s not enough for what they’re being asked to do,” said Gumbel. “And you have a problem when the coach gets a bonus because the player gets an award.”
The problem of the NCAA, particularly its unpaid football players, is something Gumbel was also quick to blame on the NFL. “The NFL isn’t even helping its own people who have been hurt,” he added, calling the suggestion of intervention from chairman Roger Goodell “so unrealistic that you can’t even articulate it.” “[College football] is a free farm team. That’s all it is.”
As for the NFL story of the day, the release of the Mueller Report that cleared the league of any wrongdoing in the Ray Rice investigation, Gumbel scoffed: “Raise your hand if you’re surprised the NFL didn’t come out as guilty of anything?”
Football was not the only sport to come under fire. Retired left fielder Barry Bonds‘ continued snub by the Baseball Hall of Fame, due to his copping to using performance enhancing drugs, was also mentioned. Gumbel disagrees the decision.
“Yes I do, for a couple of reasons,” he said. ” The simple reason is because I think he was the best ball player I had ever seen before he started getting home runs. I would say the same thing about Roger Clemens. I personally believe as a pro athlete, you should be able to do what you want to to get there. I don’t personally have a problem with a guy who took PEDs.”
As for his competition, Gumbel also had strong words for teams aligned with certain networks and outlets.
“When people watch a NFL game or a NBA game, you’re not getting total objectivity…. it doesn’t work like that anymore, and I think the viewer is entitled to more,” he said. “I think two of the worst words in the recent language are ‘broadcast partner.’ Once you have a broadcast partner, you’re not really doing journalism… It’s not just ESPN, I’m not singling them out.”