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Michael Smith Struggled With Hypocrisy of ESPN Embracing BLM

“At first, it was a lot of anger about that, because it was like ‘Wait a second. I’m old enough to remember 2018. If Black Lives Matter now, they didn’t matter then?’”

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SC6 remains one of the most divisive experiments in ESPN history. Viewers had strong opinions on both sides of Michael Smith and Jemele Hill’s take on the iconic SportsCenter brand, with most detractors saying that discussions of race and culture made the show too political.

Smith will be a guest on fubo Sports Network’s Drinks With Binks on this week. Host Julie Stewart-Binks said that she never saw SC6’s conversations as political. “It was morals and how you treat people,” she said and asked Smith how he felt watching ESPN personalities have the same conversations that the network pointed to as a major problem for his show.

“At first, it was a lot of anger about that, because it was like ‘Wait a second. I’m old enough to remember 2018. If Black Lives Matter now, they didn’t matter then?’” Smith said. “I’m watching, and it’s nothing against the people doing it now, they’re friends of mine. I’m watching people I respect, I’m watching them have unfiltered, unlimited, unedited conversations on the same platforms, whether it’s you know SportsCenter or The Jump or NFL Live, like everybody’s having that conversation. I’m like ‘Oh, word? Wow! Having those conversations literally compromised my career, but it’s cool now?’”.

Many of the Black Lives Matter conversations we have heard in pop culture in 2020 began after the killing of George Floyd by four Minneapolis police officers. Smith says that the conversation is no different from the ones he and Hill had. That was disappointing for him.

“Unarmed black people have been getting killed on camera. That’s what we were talking about. We were talking about police brutality. It’s not like anything is different now. It’s not like it’s a different subject matter. It’s not like there is a different take on the matter. There’s been no discovery that makes us feel like ‘Well, now this is different.’ This is literally the same subject. He was just killed in a different manner. I was like ‘So now it’s cool? Less than 2 years ago it wasn’t and I’m a living example of that?’”

Smith says he has since made peace with how SC6 ended and has accepted that the rules are just different now. It took time, but he says he is at a place now where he sees that as a good thing.

“There was a lot of resentment at first just given what I’ve been through,” he told Stewart-Binks. “But over time I realized yeah, I’m entitled to my feelings and I’m trying not to make it about me. And the most important thing is look, better late than never. And here we are having these conversations. More important, others who came behind me are getting a chance to speak their truth and speak that truth to power. So be it.”

The interview was pre-recorded. It will air in full on Friday night at 8 pm on fubo Sports Network’s Drinks with Binks.

Sports TV News

Al Michaels: Condensed Prep Time For Thursday Night Football ‘A Downside’

“It’s not that they don’t want to be with us, but they’re condensed too, so there’s less time to give to us.”

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There were bound to be unexpected hiccups and unintended consequences as Al Michaels moved to Thursday Night Football with Amazon Prime Video.

He told The Boston Globe Thursday that one of the downsides of the week’s schedule is less prep time with the teams playing in the game.

“When we go to see the teams, it’s not that they don’t want to be with us, but they’re condensed too, so there’s less time to give to us,” Michaels said. “And all the time I’ve been doing this, I’ve built some great relationships with coaches and players and GMs and owners and you name it, and I don’t get that much time to spend with them anymore. That’s a downside part of it for me. Some of the best stories you get come from those relationships.”

Michaels has raised eyebrows this season while not being shy about his disdain for some poor matchups early in the schedule. However, he now understands that there are quality games as the season approaches its close.

“The schedule was a little leaky with the Carolina-Atlanta game and a couple of other games that we’ve had, but now we’re positioned for a nice run down the stretch,” said Michaels.

The 78-year-old was also asked how he remains energetic and passionate for the job he’s held for so long.

The games are exciting. I love sports. You don’t know what’s going to happen. There’s no script. And unscripted television is the greatest.”

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Sports TV News

Jimmy Pitaro: Reaching Younger Audience A Priority for ESPN

“The thing that keeps me up at night is how do we reach the younger audience. As an industry in general, we need to figure out how to be more relevant to younger people.”

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Many in the media industry have voice concern that millennials and Gen Z aren’t consuming traditional media outlets like previous generations. ESPN President Jimmy Pitaro said it’s a priority for the network.

“The thing that keeps me up at night is how do we reach the younger audience,” Pitaro said, quoted by Morning Consult sports business reporter Mark J. Burns. “As an industry in general, we need to figure out how to be more relevant to younger people.”

Pitaro made the comments at Sports Business Journal’s Media Innovators conference Wednesday. It is a continuation of comments he has made in recent years.

In 2018, Pitaro said at ESPN’s upfront “I think we are doing a fantastic job serving the sports fanatic,” said Pitaro. “What about the casual sports customer? Are we doing all we can to serve him or her?”.

In 2019, Pitaro said it was “all hands on deck” to reach a younger audience and women. “We have to be open and go to where our customers are,” he said in regards to reaching younger viewers on social media platforms like Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok.

Earlier this year, Pitaro added that ESPN won’t be leaving linear television anytime soon.

“What I will tell you is that as I sit here right now, that business is still incredible,” Pitaro said. “We serve the sports fan anyway and at any time. I know there are a lot of people that still want ESPN in that traditional ecosystem.”

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Sports TV News

Don Mattingly Joining Blue Jays Staff After YES Network Courtship

The former Dodgers and Marlins manager had been mentioned as a someone YES Network was interested in potentially hiring to be an analyst.

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The New York Yankees regional sports network can take Don Mattingly off its talent wish list. Mattingly was announced Wednesday as a bench coach for the Toronto Blue Jays starting in 2023.

The former Dodgers and Marlins manager had been mentioned as a someone YES Network was interested in potentially hiring to be an analyst.

But Mattingly told Andrew Marchand of The New York Post this week that he had another opportunity in the works but wouldn’t elaborate.

YES also has been considering luring Yankees legend and Hall of Famer Derek Jeter into broadcasting. But no formal talks have taken place.

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