First Take (TV series)

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First Take
ESPN First Take Banner July 2012.jpg
Starring Stephen A. Smith
Skip Bayless
Molly Qerim
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
Running time 2 hours
Original network ESPN2 (2007–)
Original release May 7, 2007 – present
Preceded by Cold Pizza
External links

First Take is an American morning sports talk program on ESPN2 and ESPN2HD. Two episodes air each weekday from Monday through Friday, with the live episode airing from 10 a.m. ET until noon, with a repeat episode usually following a live episode of His & Hers.

The show is broadcast from ESPN's headquarters in Bristol, Connecticut in Studio E. It also has "roadshow" broadcasts for events such as the weeks of the College Football Playoff, the Super Bowl and the NBA Finals from the cities where those events take place.

The entire show, without commercials, is available as an audio-only podcast the afternoon of the same day, following the broadcast of the recorded show.


Analysts and long-time sports reporters Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith (along with guests) are featured, providing roundtable and often adversarial daily debate—often known as "hot takes"—on current sports topics of interest to the United States audience.


Skip Bayless (left), Dana Jacobson (center), and guest Jay Feely (right) at an outdoor broadcast of the show at Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2010
Stephen A. Smith (left), Cari Champion (center), and Bayless (right) during a broadcast at McGuire Air Force Base in 2014

Host (full-time)

Frequent guest analysts

Former analysts/guest hosts

  • Rob Parker: Analyst/Guest Host (suspended from ESPN on December 20, 2012; did not return to network)[1]


The show was originally hosted and moderated by Jay Crawford and Dana Jacobson, formerly of the show's predecessor Cold Pizza.

In August 2011, the show underwent a drastic format change. The former 1st and 10 segments were removed, Bayless' contribution to the show was greatly increased, and the show gained an increased focus on debate throughout the show. The ratings for the show have shown a drastic increase as a result, with a reported 58% increase for the first 3 months of 2012, compared to the same time in 2011.

On April 30, 2012, it was announced on-air that regular guest contributor Stephen A. Smith would be joining First Take on a permanent, five-day-per-week basis. On occasions he is reporting elsewhere; Rob Parker was frequently featured as his replacement until December 20, 2012, when he was suspended for comments made about Robert Griffin III;[1][2] he would not return, as ESPN allowed his contract to expire, rather than re-sign him.[3]

In June 2012, long-time host Crawford announced he would be leaving First Take in order to present SportsCenter.[4]

On July 23, 2012, the show debuted a new set and a new opening song Every Word Great by Wale Ft. Stalley. It now features an open slide showing *Skip Bayless: and *Stephen A. Smith: arriving at campus. They are still in Studio E but they are in the middle of it, with a new desk.

In line with these changes, First Take introduced on October 1, 2012 a new permanent moderator, Cari Champion, a reporter from the Tennis Channel.[5]

Previously, the show had a rotation of moderators, such as Todd Grisham, Don Bell (now with Fox Sports 1), Cindy Brunson (now with Fox Sports Arizona) and Jemele Hill.

On January 13, 2015, the first special edition of the show aired after the 2015 College Football Playoff National Championship titled First Take: College Football Championship Post Game Special.[6][7]


Through the show's success, it has also experienced substantial controversy and faced increasing criticism, mostly concerning perceived sensationalism.

Among claims have been that First Take has used hot button racial issues to create inflammatory debates and increase ratings. Most notably, during a discussion regarding Washington Redskins Quarterback Robert Griffin III, frequent guest Rob Parker asked whether Griffin III was a "brother" or a "cornball brother." When pressed by host Cari Champion as to what that meant, Parker mentioned that Griffin III had a white fiance and mentioned claims that Griffin III was a Republican.[8] In response, Bayless asked whether Griffin III's braids did anything to assuage Parker's concerns.[9]

The show has been criticized for what is perceived by many as its excessive coverage of the career of Tim Tebow. During his tenure with the Jets, in which he did not start in a game, Tebow was nonetheless often a leading topic.[10]

As Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James began a series of playoff appearances with the Cavs, host Skip Bayless became well known for his belief that James had been overrated by the media and not received enough criticism for his team's playoff failures.[11] Bayless has himself been criticized by fans as well as members of the media for exaggerating James' failures and diminishing his successes.[12] In an exchange with Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, Cuban argued that Bayless had reduced his analysis of the 2011 and 2012 NBA finals series to subjective and limited assessments of player psyche, and had not even considered the offensive and defensive strategies used by the teams in each series.[13]

On July 29, 2014, ESPN suspended co-host Stephen A. Smith from the show for one week over his controversial comments regarding the NFL's decision to suspend Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice for the first two games of the 2014 season as a result of his domestic violence incident with his fiancée months ago.


  1. ^ a b ESPN suspends Rob Parker
  2. ^ ESPN's Rob Parker on RGIII: 'Is he a brother or is he a cornball brother?'
  3. ^ Rob Parker won't return to ESPN
  4. ^ Crawford leaving ESPN First Take after 9 years.
  5. ^ Cari Champion: New Host of ESPN TV Show First Take
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ Farrar, Doug (2012-12-20). "ESPN’s Rob Parker suspended just 30 days for offensive comments about Robert Griffin III". Yahoo! Sports. Retrieved 2013-06-12. 
  9. ^ Farrar, Doug (2012-12-13). "ESPN’s Rob Parker says ridiculous things about RG3, takes ‘First Take’ to new levels of depravity". Yahoo! Sports. Retrieved 2013-06-12. 
  10. ^ "How ESPN Ditched Journalism And Followed Skip Bayless To The Bottom: A Tim Tebow Story". November 12, 2012. Retrieved 2013-06-12. 
  11. ^ "Skip Bayless: LeBron has work left - ESPN". 2012-11-07. Retrieved 2013-06-12. 
  12. ^ "Here Are All Of LeBron's Unspectacular 45 Points". Retrieved 2013-06-12. 
  13. ^ Dwyer, Kelly (2013-05-31). "Mark Cuban absolutely destroys ESPN’s Skip Bayless on air, Skip Bayless doesn’t seem to care (VIDEO) | Ball Don't Lie". Yahoo! Sports. Retrieved 2013-06-12. 

External links[edit]