ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith has been critical of athletes like Kyrie Irving in their dealings with the media, but he has no qualms with Naomi Osaka. The tennis star announced she is skipping this year’s French Open due to mental health issues. Osaka has dealt with anxiety since 2018 and has chosen not to speak to the press to subdue the feelings.
“It’s incredibly important that we support her and we support the millions upon millions of people who go through what she’s going through right now,” Smith said of Osaka’s decision to withdraw. “Anxiety wasn’t my issue, but of course, I’ve been devastatingly depressed, and I was in therapy for three years.”
Smith highlighted how he empathizes with Osaka, especially on June 1, the fourth anniversary since his mother passed. “I do not want to be here,” Smith said. “But I have a job, I signed up, and the NBA Playoffs are going on, and people expect to hear from me.”
Smith framed all of the support around the foundation that athletes still need to speak to the media in general.
“You have media obligations; they are a part of your contractual obligations,” Smith said. “Because the media is what enables the sport to be promoted, and the promotion of the sport is what generates the revenue … And as a result, that’s what ultimately assists in the athletes getting paid the money that they get paid. But that doesn’t mean we shred our humanity and ignore the profound impact that mental health issues have and exist with all of us.”
The thing for Smith is transparency with the public, which Osaka provided in her Twitter announcement.
“She didn’t just snub her nose at the media,” Smith said. “She explained why. It makes perfect sense; it showed incredible courage and thoughtfulness on her part.”
John Buccigross: Return Of NHL ‘Reenergized’ Me In ESPN Role
“I’m just grateful that I was able to get reenergized without leaving the company that I’ve worked for so long.”
John Buccigross is probably the most thankful out of anyone that the NHL returned to the ESPN airwaves this season.
Bucci has been at the network for 25 years and was a part of the coverage team the last time ESPN had NHL broadcast rights. He told Awful Announcing that the change after the 2003-04 season really helped change his focus at the network.
“It’s probably a good thing that it went away back in 2004, because I was able to focus on SportsCenter and kind of move up the ladder there, and maybe I never would have if hockey had stayed all these years,” he said. “Maybe that was good. And then I got involved with college hockey, I asked to do play-by-play a couple of years after we lost the NHL, so I’ve been doing college hockey for over 15 years with play-by-play, hoping we would get the NHL back and then I could do NHL play-by-play.”
Now the NHL is back, the Stanley Cup Final will air on ESPN and ABC, and John Buccigross will be a part of it in some fashion. He said having the chance to pick back up where he left off all those years ago gave him a second wind in his career.
“It’s been absolutely fantastic. It couldn’t have come at a better time for me in my career, being at ESPN over 25 years,” he said. “To kind of get reenergized, reinvigorated with your job after being in the same place for 25 years, that’s probably pretty rare. I’m just grateful that I was able to get reenergized without leaving the company that I’ve worked for so long. At this stage of my career, it was just perfect timing.”
ESPN and Turner Sports replaced NBC Sports as the U.S. broadcast rightsholders for the NHL this season.
Mark Sanchez Emerges As Potential #2 NFL Analyst At FOX
“It is believed that Joe Davis will be the play-by-play man to sit opposite either Brees or Sanchez in the booth.”
Football season is 104 days away and FOX is still sorting out its broadcast crews for the upcoming season.
Enter former New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez as one of the top candidates being considered for the number two booth at FOX this season.
Andrew Marchand of The New York Post reported that if Drew Brees doesn’t end up in the role, Sanchez is next in line. Greg Olsen and Kevin Burkhardt will comprise the top broadcast team for FOX this season.
It is believed that Joe Davis will be the play-by-play man to sit opposite either Brees or Sanchez in the booth. Marchand reported that Sanchez made a great impression on producers in auditions and tests.
Mark Sanchez began his broadcasting career three years ago. After two seasons of covering college football for ESPN, he made the move to FOX last year.
Tracy McGrady’s Basketball League Enters Media Partnership With Showtime
“The Showtime Basketball brand will create a behind-the-scenes documentary following the OBL’s 2022 tour.”
Hall of Famer Tracy McGrady launched his own basketball league this year. Ones Basketball League is a touring competition to find the best one-on-one basketball players in the country. Now fans can follow the action on Showtime.
The Showtime Basketball brand will create a behind-the-scenes documentary following the OBL’s 2022 tour. The all-access series will put new episodes on the Showtime YouTube channel.
“The production and creative team at Showtime Sports knows how to build and tell stories like no one else, and the detailed background and exciting drama we have already started to capture with OBL makes this content partnership a perfect fit for us,” McGrady said in a press release. “The team at Showtime shares our excitement for putting a spotlight on one-on-one basketball and all of the great action, rich stories, and hyper-competition that flows from the game.”
OBL competitions from now until the end of the season will be documented. Each tour stop features a 2-day, 32-player competition. Three of the league’s six competitions are complete.
Showtime will be there for stops in New York, Springfield, Virginia, and Los Angeles as well as the championship tournament in Las Vegas.
“We believe in Tracy’s vision and are thrilled to be working with the OBL on their inaugural season,” Brian Dailey, SVP of Sports Programming & Content for Showtime Networks Inc, added. “This collaboration embodies the Showtime Basketball brand — premium, bold and boundary-pushing. We are delighted to welcome Tracy and the OBL team to our unmatched lineup of content and talent.”