|ESPN First Take|
|Starring||Stephen A. Smith|
|Country of origin||United States|
|Production locations||ESPN Studio, South Street Seaport, Pier 17, Manhattan, New York City|
|Running time||2 hours|
|Original network||ESPN2 (2007-2016)|
|Original release||May 7, 2007 -|
|Preceded by||Cold Pizza|
|Related shows||Skip and Shannon: Undisputed|
First Take is an American sports talk show on ESPN. Episodes air daily Monday through Friday, with the live episode airing from 10am ET until noon, with reruns from 1:00 to 3:00 PM ET on ESPN2 and from 4:00 to 6:00PM ET on ESPNews.
The show broadcast from Studio E at ESPN's headquarters in Bristol, Connecticut for its first eleven years, before the show moved to the network's new South Street Seaport facility on Pier 17 in September 2018 after Labor Day. 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 is available as a commercial-free podcast following the broadcast of the recorded show. Clips of the episodes are also uploaded to the ESPN YouTube page for viewing.
Analysts and long-time sports reporters Max Kellerman and Stephen A. Smith (along with guests) are featured, with Molly Qerim acting as the show's moderator, introducing discussion topics. The two debate the topics with each other and the guests, along with providing occasional hot takes, about the sports news of the day.
Former guest analysts/hosts
In August 2011, the show underwent a drastic format change. Segments of the show were taken out and Skip Bayless' role in the show saw a dramatic increase, while the show itself began to focus on the debate. The ratings for the show saw 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 was reporting from elsewhere, Rob Parker was frequently featured as his replacement until December 20, 2012, when he was suspended for comments made about Robert Griffin III; he would not return, as ESPN allowed his contract to expire, rather than re-sign him.
On July 23, 2012, the show debuted a new set and a new opening song Every Word Great by Wale featuring Stalley. It now featured an open slideshow showing Bayless and Smith arriving at campus (Once Kellerman joined the show in 2016, scenes showing Kellerman replaced those of Bayless). They are still in Studio E but they are in the middle of it, with a new desk.
Previously, the show had a rotation of moderators, such as Todd Grisham, Don Bell (now Sports Director & anchor with Philadelphia's KYW-TV), 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.
On June 19, 2015, Champion left First Take due to her promotion to SportsCenter anchor. The following month, she was replaced on an interim basis by Molly Qerim, who was promoted to permanent host on September 15.
On July 25, 2016, Max Kellerman permanently replaced Skip Bayless as the First Take co-host as Bayless had left ESPN to join rival network FS1 and started another sports talk program called Skip and Shannon: Undisputed.
On January 3, 2017, First Take switched channels with the two editions of SportsCenter. First Take moved to ESPN, while the 10:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. ET editions of SportsCenter moved to ESPN2.
The show moved to ESPN's New York studios on September 4, 2018 and received a new logo and graphics as part of the move.
Through the show's success, First Take has 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 fiancé and mentioned claims that Griffin III was a Republican. In response, Bayless asked whether Griffin III's braids did anything to assuage Parker's concerns. Stephen A. Smith has also been at the center of the controversy with remarks about Cleveland Cavalier J.R. Smith's dress wear during a Cavaliers game that included a "hoodie" being worn on the bench in late October 2017. This resulted in a public rant by J.R. Smith taking to Twitter to express his disapproval of Stephen A. Smith's comments, ultimately ending the rant with the accusation of Smith being an "Uncle Tom". J.R. Smith made these remarks due to a segment from Stephen A. Smith stating that "white folks" would be of disapproval in regard to what could be a "Trayvon Martin case being revisited" with a tweet questioning the work of Stephen A. Smith stating, "this man is always reaching. What does me wearing a hoodie on the bench have anything to do with reminding people of #TrayvonMartin". Stephen A. Smith not only reprimanded Smith for wearing a hoodie during the fourth quarter of a late October game, but reprimanded Nike for making a uniform that is unprofessional amongst racial remarks.
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, and threw just eight passes the entire season. Tebow was nonetheless often a leading topic.
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. Bayless has himself been criticized by fans as well as members of the media for exaggerating James' failures and diminishing his successes. 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.
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 in February 2014.
In February 2016, Stephen A. Smith, as well as ESPN, Little League Baseball, and Chris Janes, were sued by the parents of players from the Jackie Robinson West baseball team, whose 2014 Little League World Series title was vacated after Janes found the team had used ineligible players from outside a defined regional boundary. The lawsuit contained an allegation that Smith had made a defamatory remark regarding the controversy on First Take, which "directly accused the JRW parents of perpetrating a fraud against the Little League".