Last month, ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith took a lot of heat for his comments towards major-league baseball star Shohei Ohtani, Japanese. Smith stated that Ohtani should not be the face of the sport because he uses an interpreter; experts say that this language reflects more deeply, insidious beliefs on who can represent America’s historic pastime.
Smith would apologize for his comments.
“I want to express my sincere apologies to the Asian community and the Asian American community,” Smith said in his opening remarks on ESPN’s morning talk show “First Take.” “I am a Black man. I religiously go off about minorities being marginalized in this nation.”
“As an African-American, keenly aware of the damage stereotyping has done to many in this country, it should’ve elevated my sensitivities even more.”
He would continue,
“I screwed up,” he added. “In this day and age, with all the violence being perpetrated against the Asian Community, my comments — albeit unintentional — were clearly insensitive and regrettable.”
“I’m sincerely sorry for any angst, I’ve caused with my comments.”
Earlier this week, Smith was a guest on the Ebro in the Morning and shared it may be the biggest regret of his career.
“First of all, it may be the biggest regret that I have ever had in my career, and the reason why is simple. When you sit in the position that I sit in, you have a responsibility to make sure your thoughts are well thought out and properly articulate yourself. Unfortunately, I did not do that. So, when people were bringing the heat on me, I knew that I deserved it,” said Smith.
“Nobody told me to apologize. People don’t realize at First Take; we have a minimum of fifteen segments a day. So, that means I am giving you fifteen opinions a day, seventy-five a week. Personally, I work forty-five weeks ago at a minimum, and I am giving over three thousand takes a year. And in the nine years that I have been on First Take, we have been number one in the morning since I arrived. I have given over thirty-three thousand takes, and I have found myself in hot water three times. So when people look at me, and it is live, it’s not taped. So, when people get on me for stuff like that, I brush it off in most incense. I did not brush this off for a couple of reasons. Number one, any misunderstanding or misconstrued of my word is my fault.”
He would continue, “what I was trying to say about Shohei Ohtani was this, I’m not was not trying to say he shouldn’t be marketed. I am not saying that I don’t want him to be marketed. I am not saying that he shouldn’t be marketed. I was saying baseball’s history of marketing people is so poor that they won’t do it. The way that they should, that is what I was trying to say.”
Smith’s comments should not be tolerated at any time, but especially with the climate of violence towards the Asian community. Many have applauded Smith for taking responsibility for his actions, while others feel he should also apologize to athletes within his own community. Unfortunately, some of his takes and commentary have damaged athletes’ careers, such as Kwame Brown, Stephen Jackson, Stephon Marbury, Eddie Curry, Kevin Durant, and JaMarcus Russell, to name a few.
Speaking of Stephen Jackson, Jermaine O’Neal was being interviewed by Ethan Thomas of Basketball News. During their chat, O’Neal thinks Smith owes Jackson an apology for saying that Jackson deserved the most punishment for his action during the Malice in the Palace.
They would end the segment by saying that Smith needs to do better as a reporter.
“They need a black face that is going to vilify other black faces as well. He seems like a person that is harsher on the black athlete more than anybody else. But, the thing for me is the way he speaks and speaks in a manner that someone told me this,” said O’Neal.
“You are going to report on what someone else told you and that makes it true? Come on brotha you got to be better than that.”