It may be hard to remember, but Cari Champion was once a co-host of First Take after she left her Tennis Channel broadcasting job to join the debate team between Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless.
Not everything was peaches and cream, especially the process of interviewing for the job.
Appearing on I Am Athlete, the UCLA grad said that while she appreciated getting the job, she didn’t feel like she mattered. She also revealed that the job really wanted a blonde woman in her chair.
She added that she was made to feel like she should be happy to be there and not offer creative input.
“The problem was, for me as a black woman in that position – and at the time nobody was Monday through Friday on a popular two-hour TV show that was a black woman – and they let me know I didn’t matter. Intentionally, unintentionally, it was obvious. It was like ‘You don’t matter, just be happy that you’re here.'”
After petitioning ESPN for six months to become an anchor on SportsCenter, Champion was promoted to the position in June 2015. She hosted her last episode of First Take in June of that year and began anchoring morning editions of SportsCenter the next month.
After almost eight years at the network, she left ESPN in February 2020. She now co-hosts Cari & Jemele (Won’t) Stick to Sports with Jemele Hill on the Vice on TV network. In the Spring of 2022, Champion and Hill joined CNN+ as hosts of a weekly show for the streaming subscription service.