I understand. Stephen A. Smith is necessary in the world of sports. He provides comic relief and “shock value” to fans who enjoy that type of content. It’s not my preference, but it’s okay. Let him and ESPN treat all of his opinions as if they are profound. It’s annoying, but it doesn’t do any harm.
However, this is different from the crap Smith continues to pull and get away with on First Take when he talks about his female colleagues’ looks on air.
Smith has a problematic track record regarding issues concerning women, and his recent comments on First Take crossed the line. In an exchange with Kimberly A. Martin and others, Smith unwarrantedly launched into a public announcement aimed at men who want to date Martin.
His comments made Martin visibly uncomfortable, and to exacerbate the situation, Martin was left to “play along” as others seemingly approved of Smith’s behavior. The exchange exemplifies what women are forced to endure in such situations—treating it as humor and good-naturedness, when in reality, it is unacceptable.
The behavior displayed by Smith and others is coded misogyny. It illustrates the need for men such as Smith to act as gatekeepers. However, Martin is a grown woman who doesn’t need their “protection.”
These actions are fostered and tolerated by ESPN, which is appalling. Smith has a history of such unprofessional behavior. A few weeks back, he made inappropriate comments to Molly Querim on First Take.
The fact that such behavior is still tolerated despite societal movements like #MeToo is concerning. This problem extends beyond Smith and Spears and is indicative of the treatment and attitudes women in sports media continue to face. It’s time to move past these archaic mentalities.