Kenny Smith’s Commentary Overshadowed Sabrina Ionescu’s NBA Debut

After the 3-point shooting contest between Steph Curry and Sabrina Ionescu, numerous comments surfaced. Iconescu expressed that she didn’t back down from the challenge, while Curry praised her fearlessness. However, TNT commentator Kenny Smith suggested that Ionescu should have shot from the WNBA arc instead of the NBA arc. This reflects a clear pattern in sports in which women’s participation and achievements are devalued on national broadcasts.

Sue Bird pointed out the importance of having a woman on the broadcast team to provide nuance and context. She questioned why experienced women like Candace Parker or Swin Cash weren’t called upon for the event. Female viewers often feel that sports broadcasts cater primarily to men, with male commentators failing to engage them or acknowledge significant events and achievements in women’s sports.

This widespread issue extends beyond basketball. Fox Sports used Alexi Lalas as a commentator for the Women’s World Cup, despite his previous remarks deeming the team as “unlikeable” and “polarizing.” Jay Williams also made a similar blunder by taking Caitlin Clark’s record-breaking moment and making it about himself rather than focusing on her achievement.

The failure to acknowledge these events and the athletes’ accomplishments reflects the commentators’ lack of interest in and knowledge about women’s sports. These events not only provide opportunities to grow female fan bases but are also crucial for the progression of women’s sports as a whole. Malika Andrews’ comments to Ionescu after the interview demonstrate how a broadcaster can successfully work these events.