For most, Monday marked the first day back from a long holiday vacation. For ESPN personality Dan Le Batard, it marked the end of a decades-long era.
Le Batard signed off ESPN for the final time, saying goodbye to his radio show, “The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz,” and the televised “Highly Questionable.” He delivered an emotional sendoff for TV peppered with clips from past episodes and endearing words for his father, co-host Gonzalo “Papi” Le Batard.
Le Batard gives emotional farewell to ESPN
Le Batard and ESPN announced last month they had mutually agreed to part ways after eight years together. The radio show started locally in Miami in 2004, while he was a contributor at ESPN, and was picked up by the network in 2013. “Highly Questionable” began airing in 2011.
“It isn’t quite the glamorous, criss-crossing, spotlight, show-business ending I imagined on a bad-lighting Zoom call during a pandemic, 2:30 in the afternoon on ESPN2, but it’s finally time for me to go, to leave ESPN after more than two decades working at the place. And after one of the most improbable runs a TV show of any kind has ever had,” Le Batard said.
Le Batard spent most of the next five minutes appreciating what he did with his father, a Cuban exile who Le Batard admitted didn’t think the show would last six weeks.
— Highly Questionable (@HQonESPN) January 4, 2021
He also thanked all of the ESPN talent he worked with over the years, especially those who became regulars on “Highly Questionable.”
Le Batard makes promise to fans
Le Batard has yet to announce what’s next, but he has teased an upcoming project. He made a promise to the loyal fans while saying goodbye on his radio show.
“We could not be more grateful for your support,” he said, via the Miami Herald. “That gratitude is mountainous and real and forever. It’s the primary reason we’re leaving. You’ve given us the freedom to know we can. We know somehow you’ll follow us. We know the way you care about us — giving us permission to be different, demanding it of us, and then rewarding us for it.
“We approach this scary cliff together to take quite the leap of faith. Are you ready to jump with us?” he asked fans. “If you’ve been paying close attention, we’ve been ready to take this leap for awhile. We know the strength of the army that stands at attention at our back. I promise you, we’re going to show you how much we don’t take that for granted. I can’t wait to take you on this fight, and this flight, with us.”
“The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz” will continue as an independent entity beginning as soon as Tuesday, per the Herald. It is looking to find a permanent hosting platform.
Why did Le Batard leave ESPN?
The schism between Le Batard, an outspoken host who never shied away from the intersection of politics, race and sports, and ESPN, which has typically tried to shun that, widened in 2020.
“They have slowly erased us,” Le Batard said Monday, of ESPN, via the Herald.
ESPN has gone toward a strict stick-to-sports content strategy away from not only politics, but what could be seen as random pop culture references and “nonsense.” It has also adjusted its platform offerings over the past few years. It shortened and moved Le Batard’s national radio show to subscription-only ESPN+ and in November announced another round of massive layoffs.
That layoff included beloved producer Chris Cote without Le Batard’s approval. The personality called it the final straw, per the Herald. He hired Cote out of his own pocket and even gave him a raise as part of the move.
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