For better or for worse, Stephen A. Smith has had an indelible mark in the sports world for years, most notably in his daily appearances on talk shows on ESPN. But count Dan Le Batard, who worked for ESPN for a number of years, among those who aren’t convinced his impact has been positive.
In speaking on his South Beach Sessions show, Le Batard blamed ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith and his former First Take co-host Skip Bayless, who now works on Skip and Shannon: Undisputed on FS1, for the shift in the state of sports media.
“I hate what you two [Bayless and Smith] have done to sports television,” Le Batard said.
Smith was not thrilled about the comment, and fired back at Le Batard.
“You can say that all you want to, I would say who the hell are you!” Smith said. “To sit up there and say, me and him. What about you? Where the hell were you? Living under a rock? Teaching at Miami U? You were a part of it too! You ain’t innocent!”
“How are we responsible for that?” Smith added.
Le Batard’s contention is that a number of “imitators” of Smith and Bayless have made their way into sports media without the ethics that are required of journalists. Smith, who began his career in print media with various newspapers and later moved to radio before ending up in television, retorted that his journalistic ethics remain in tact—and that he’s not responsible for those who have gained headway in sports television without them.
“…Our background is [in journalism],” Smith said. “Skip Bayless was a journalist for decades! I was a journalist for decades! We come on television and those ethics are applicable … When did it occur in my career that I ignored the journalistic tenets that came with the job?”
Whether you believe Stephen A. Smith is culpable in this regard or not, it’s undeniable that his impact on sports television has changed the game.