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First Take Opens With Apology From Stephen A. Smith

Smith made the controversial comments on Monday’s episode of “First Take.”

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Courtesy: Mikey Reeves / ESPN Images

It didn’t take long for Stephen A. Smith to apologize for his Monday comments on Shohei Ohtani’s viability as the face of baseball in America. 

“Let me be the first to stand up and say that I want to express my sincere apologies to the Asian community and the Asian-American community,” Smith said on First Take. “I am a Black man. I religiously go off about minorities being marginalized in this nation. I instantly go off, repeatedly bring up the fact that if you are a member of a community that feels disenfranchised in any way, that’s something we need to battle, we need to fend off to the best of our ability as a nation.”

Smith questioned Ohtani’s ability to act as the face of baseball because he is still learning how to speak English (fluently). 

“I don’t think it helps that the number one face, is a dude that needs an interpreter so you can understand what the hell he’s saying, in THIS COUNTRY,” Smith said Monday morning on First Take.

Smith stumbled on his attempts to apologize throughout the afternoon on Monday. Yet, he was sincere on Tuesday and, more importantly, listened to the perspectives of different guests throughout the first hour. 

ESPN’s Joon Lee was quick to condemn Smith’s comments on Twitter yesterday, and fans got to see Lee give an in-depth take to Smith and the rest of the cast in the first hour. Check out a snippet of the appearance below.

All in all, Smith was raw and sincere on Tuesday during one of the more memorable hours of First Take. It would’ve been easy for the highest-paid media talent at ESPN to tweet out an apology and move on as nothing happened. Smith didn’t take the easy way out. Instead, he educated himself and the audience in the process. A rarity in today’s cancel culture climate.

“The reason that I bring up my Blackness is because of this,” Smith said. “On many occasions, what I have said when people have said something that is offensive, in any way, to the minority community, it’s not about how you feel. It is about how they feel.”

“The reality of the situation is that you have Asians and Asian Americans out there that obviously was very, very offended by what I had to say yesterday,” Smith continued. “I just want to look into the camera and extend my sincere apologies. That was not my intent. I’m not going to get into all that. I do understand that a lot of racists out there are quick to say that is not my intent. That’s not where I am going. I was wrong.”

Sports TV News

Erin Dolan Returns To ESPN As Sports Betting Analyst

Dolan will contribute sports betting content across a variety of programs and platforms.

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Disney CEO Bob Chapek recently said that the company has found there is a broader acceptance of sports betting among the general public, and now they are ramping up their sports betting personalities at the company with a familiar face.

ESPN has reached a multi-year contract with sports betting analyst Erin Dolan. Dolan had a previous stint with the company in 2017, and is set to return as a sports betting analyst for her former employer.

Erin Dolan took to social media to express her excitement for her second stint at the company.

She will contribute sports betting content across a variety of programs and platforms. She will be a regular on daily sports betting news and information programs, Daily Wager, ESPN Bet and the Daily Wager podcast, among others. She is set to make her debut this week on Daily Wager.

Prior to rejoining ESPN, Erin Dolan was on-air talent at FanDuel and PointsBet, creating sports betting content across their social channels and various programming.

She also co-hosted a weekly YouTube and Twitch show, “Girls Who Bet,” was part of B/R Betting’s, “The Group Chat,” and hosted “The Early Line” weekdays from 7-9 a.m. ET on SiriusXM.

“During the time I was in college and an active ESPN intern, sports betting was not a career path a broadcast professional would even think of pursuing. It was just too niche,” Erin Dolan said.

“Fast forward more than four years later, sports betting content is exploding and I am entering the doors of ESPN once again, but this time as a sports betting analyst. I am thrilled that I get the opportunity to grow my career at ESPN and I am so grateful they are betting on me.”

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Sports TV News

2021 Most-Watched College Football Season Ever For FOX

“And with the advent of streaming, FOX is seeing gains there too..”

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FOX Sports has been a college football broadcast rights holder going on 15 years now. In recent years, it seems like the network has really hit its stride in terms of programming, getting fans and viewers ready for its slate of games dubbed “Big Noon Saturday.”

In 2019, the network began an effort to essentially compete with ESPN staple College GameDay by debuting its own pre-game show named Big Noon Kickoff.

FOX Sports on Wednesday reported that the efforts to make its college football pre-game show appointment programming have been paying off.

Big Noon Kickoff averaged 1.383 million viewers in 2021, which the network says is up 15% over its debut season in 2019.

In terms of game viewership, FOX says its broadcast window is also up double digits, 13%, from 2019. The network reports 2021 is its most-watched regular season ever, averaging almost 4 million viewers.

And with the advent of streaming, FOX is seeing gains there too. A sign college football fans everywhere are embracing the product the network is putting together each season.

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Duke and Gonzaga Turn In Big Ratings For ESPN

“An average audience of 2.79 million tuned in to see the game.”

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Conventional wisdom says that it isn’t basketball or hockey season until football is over. That is probably still true, but on Friday night ESPN proved that if you get big name programs with some star power together, college basketball can hang any time of the year.

Duke’s win over Gonzaga brought more eyeballs to ESPN’s coverage of early-season college basketball since 2018. An average audience of 2.79 million tuned in to see the game. That is the largest audience for a college basketball game played before New Year’s Day since the same two teams met in the finals of the Maui Invitational three years ago and drew 2.85 million viewers.

The real win is that the game outrated a college football game on the same night. ESPN’s coverage of NC State’s win over North Carolina only drew 2.68 million viewers. It is an added bonus that Duke can hold over their Tobacco Road rivals.

Before the game, Duke was ranked #5 and Gonzaga was ranked #1. After, Duke rose to #1. Since then, the Blue Devils fell to Ohio State and likely will drop in next week’s rankings. Still, every Duke game this season will come with a little extra attention. This is the final season with the legendary Mike Krzyzewski on the Duke bench.

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