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Cari Champion escapes ESPN’s ‘First Take’ for ‘SportsCenter’

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ESPN’s Cari Champion has received a promotion in every sense of the word, moving from host of hot-take incubator “First Take” on ESPN2 to the newest anchor of “SportsCenter.”

According to Debbie Emery of the Wrap, which first reported the news Thursday, Champion will begin her morning “SportsCenter” duties in mid-July and will take part in a series of “interactions” about sports and entertainment with the crew at “Good Morning America,” which airs on ESPN sister station ABC.

“Being in the middle of Stephen A. and Skip Bayless: not an easy challenge,” Champion said on her “Be Honest” podcast. “If you were to ask anyone, I probably had the toughest job in the building.”

“First Take” has grown from mere midday filler on ESPN2 to critically reviled midday filler that has become a success in the ratings department. It probably should be noted that most of the critics’ ire is directed at the show’s two main personalities — Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless — and a debate-everything format that quickly grows tiresome, not at Champion.

Champion described her experience on “First Take” in nothing but glowing terms, but said she needed to do something new.

“I’ve reached my ceiling. The growth for me has stopped in the middle seat. … Now it’s time to stretch my wings,” she said, adding that she started to petition for the “SportsCenter” gig about six months ago.

Her last day on “First Take” is Friday, just about three years to the day of her first appearance on the show.

[HBO reportedly making a run at Bill Simmons]