Today, the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences announced the nominations for the 29th Annual Emmy Awards in sports coverage.
In the end, HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel racked up five nominations, including all four nods in the category for “outstanding sports journalism.”
On Thursday afternoon, Real Sports Senior Producer Kirby Bradley, who has been with the series for its entire 13 seasons, told the Media Mob that the show had swept the same category once before. “Still, it’s pretty exciting,” said Mr. Bradley.
The nominated segments included two stories about the problems facing NFL players and veterans (“Broken: NFL Disability Debate,” and “Headgames: The NFL Concussion Crisis”), a story about sports in a war-torn country (“Fading Hope: Sports in Iraq”) and Bernard Goldberg’s classic piece on the culture of canine-on-canine death matches (“Dogfighting: Bred to Die.”)
Mr. Bradley said he felt fortunate to work at a network that valued the sometimes bloody pursuit of serious sports journalism. “In television, not very many channels or networks really do that,” said Mr. Bradley. “We don’t have the pressure of having to please our corporate masters. We’re unique in that we don’t sell advertising. There’s less of that pressure from sponsors to tell a positive story when there might be a negative aspect to it. We have fewer of those distractions.”
Mr. Bradley said that the simple, low-tech formula for the show–correspondent goes into the field and tells story, correspondent returns to studio and answers Bryant Gumbel’s questions about it–hasn’t changed much over the past 13 years. “We don’t try and manipulate people’s feelings with sentimental or emotional music,” said Mr. Bradley. “We don’t use any graphics. That’s a conscious effort. We try and tell a simple story.”