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Broadcaster Greg Gumbel Shares Anecdotes from a Lengthy Career of Covering Sports

President's Lecture Series Greg Gumbel

It was "pure chance" that led Greg Gumbel to a job as a sports anchor at a Chicago television station nearly 40 years ago. But it's dogged determination and love for his craft that has kept the national broadcaster at the top of his profession for so long.

"I tell my daughter, somewhat embarrassingly, that I do more homework now than I ever did when I was in school," Gumbel told a crowd at Old Dominion University on Tuesday, Sept. 18, in describing how he prepares to broadcast National Football League games on CBS with his longtime partner Dan Dierdorf.

Gumbel came to campus Tuesday evening as the first 2012-13 President's Lecture Series speaker. Despite a driving rainstorm, a crowd of a few hundred ventured to Webb Center to hear Gumbel share lighthearted anecdotes from his work life spent broadcasting games of our athletic heroes.

Gumbel said the more time he spends around athletes, the happier he is that his father insisted he get an education. He recounted dozens of hilarious misstatements and malapropisms he has heard uttered by athletes, from "We need a coach with an imaginary mind" to "Rome wasn't born in a day."

He also talked about his lengthy career, which has taken him around the world covering sports from football to basketball to ice skating. "I'm never going to deny I've been incredibly fortunate," Gumbel said. "But let's not forget for a moment the fact that I've been fortunate to work with such great colleagues."

Gumbel mentioned how lucky he feels to have worked with baseball hall-of-famers Joe Morgan and Steve Garvey, quarterbacks-turned-broadcasters Phil Simms and Joe Montana, and the outspoken former NBA star Charles Barkley on the set of the NCAA Basketball Championship broadcasts, which he has anchored for 15 years.

At the end of his prepared remarks, Gumbel played the "One Shining Moment" video from the most recent NCAA Basketball Championship tournament, and spoke passionately about how sports deserves a place in our dreams.

"Sports takes a beating sometimes, and sometimes deservedly so," Gumbel said. "But there's an awful lot of good that sports brings, as well. For me, I can thank it for all of the people who've come into my life."

Gumbel mentioned that as he ages (he became a grandfather this year for the first time), he's reminded of how important it is to value the interactions he has with people on a daily basis, and that sports is a wonderful way to foster those connections.

The President's Lecture Series features speakers who share their knowledge, experiences, opinions and accomplishments. Past speakers have included scientists, writers, educators, historians, Pulitzer Prize winners and other prominent figures.

The next President's Lecture Series speakers will be: Academy Award-winning screenwriter and director Dustin Lance Black on Oct. 2; sociobiologist and author Rebecca Costa on Oct. 18; and NCAA president Mark Emmert on Oct. 23.