Sports TV News
Stephen A. Smith: I Want To Be Considered ‘Greatest TV Talent in History’
“That’s what I want to do. That’s what I want to accomplish.”
Stephen A. Smith continues to be one of sports media’s most entertaining and busy personalities in the media. In addition to his work on ESPN and his podcast, he wrote a best-selling book and occasionally appears on General Hospital as an actor. Smith, however, is not satisfied with his accomplishments thus far, and has lofty goals in mind.
“I want to end my career being recognized as arguably the greatest television talent in history,” Smith said on the Tamron Hall Show. “That’s what I want to do. That’s what I want to accomplish.”
Smith recently started his own production company – Mr. SAS Productions – and it has a hand in producing the ESPN alternate telecast titled NBA in Stephen A’s World. His visions, however, penetrate beyond sports, looking for ways to further augment his versatility and fulfill his goals. Smith had previously mentioned running for the U.S. presidency and floated a political future, all while being the featured commentator on his top-rated morning show.
“I’m going to pursue acting,” Smith revealed. “I finally made a decision to do that. That’s something that I want to do because I like portraying other characters and finding myself marrying that character. The challenge of it – because I think it makes me better on television.”
He outlined his journey to working at ESPN and becoming one of the most popular sports media personalities in his book, and has spoken about it on many occasions. During his interview with Tamron Hall, she quotes something he told Vanity Fair about his formative years and how he cultivated the knowledge to work in sports media.
“I couldn’t rap. I wasn’t a good enough basketball player. I wasn’t a good enough athlete, or an artist where thousands of people are packing in an arena to watch me,” Smith said in the previous interview. “But I learned to read and write and comprehend, and I scratched, not clawed, and I worked my ass off.”
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Sports TV News
Chris Evert: Athletes in Individual Sports Have to Learn to be on a Team in Broadcasting
“It’s been growth for me to be on a team. Tennis, you’ve got to be selfish and so self-absorbed and think about yourself.”
It is never too late to re-learn something or adjust to a new way of doing things. For Tennis Hall of Famer Chris Evert, she did not have success in her eyes when she first started calling matches.
Evert was a guest on the Fowler Who You Got? Podcast with Chris Fowler and she said that when she first called matches for NBC along with Jimmy Connors, she did not feel she was at her best.
“It was so circus and we got no training, nobody kind of guided us. I think right after you retire, maybe I needed a breather, but I was really bad. I was awful.”
Evert ended up going to ESPN in 2011 as an analyst and she said that having the Evert Tennis Academy in Boca Raton, Florida helped her learn the changes in the game of tennis compared to when she played and allowed her to go more inside the lines.
“I watched the kids play tournaments. I see the pros would come in and I watched them train. I was getting an education by going to my tennis academy and I think that kind of made my commentating a little deeper and a little more informative. I feel like I can talk about the mental side with my eyes closed, but the physical shotmaking was what was different. I had to re-learn the game.”
When a tennis player goes from the court to the broadcast space, they go from being in a highly individual sport to being a part of the team. Evert mentioned that she used to worry about what assignments the other analysts were getting, but now that she feels comfortable, she wants the team to succeed.
“It’s been growth for me to be on a team. Tennis, you’ve got to be selfish and so self-absorbed and think about yourself. In this team aspect, you stand out like a sore thumb and everyone knows if you think about yourself. We have a great team. We have so many different personalities. Everybody is so different and I think that adds to the color and the commentating.”
Ricky Keeler is a reporter for BSM with a primary focus on sports media podcasts and national personalities. He is also an active podcaster with an interest in pursuing a career in sports media. You can find him on Twitter @Rickinator555 or reach him by email at RickJKeeler@gmail.com.
Sports TV News
Domonique Foxworth: First Take is ‘Us Against the Audience’
“When you do first take with Stephen A, you learn that he understands that we are on the same team.”
There is an art to the debate shows on ESPN. Domonique Foxworth is a frequent presence on many of them. On Friday, he said that he had to learn that in that format, opponents are actually teammates.
“I think the First Take thing is always an interesting one, and I’ve mentioned this before. People forget when you’re on First Take, we on the same team,” he told Bomani Jones on the latest edition of The Right Time. “When you do first take with Stephen A, you learn that he understands that we are on the same team.”
Both Foxworth and Jones admitted that they are fierce debaters and like to win. Stephen A. Smith made sure that Foxworth understood the reality of television. Even if things seem adversarial to the audience, two people debating on a show like First Take have to come in with the same goal.
“It’s us against the audience. Like, we try to keep you from changing the channel.”
First Take is not your standard debate. Foxworth said that Smith made sure he understood that there is no score. Wanting to win the argument is good, but it is important to understand what “winning” means in that setting.
“My inclination was, I’m here for blood, I want to win. And while wanting to win is important, to make the show entertaining, cutting people off and yelling and preemptively defeating their points? That shit ain’t entertaining,” he said. “You know what’s entertaining? Having a conversation where I make a point, you make a point, we build on it, and we grow to a point that we get better information. That’s not how First Take is built. So what’s entertaining there is I shoot a jab, you shoot a jab.”
This isn’t the first time that Domonique Foxworth has talked about the learning experience he has had on the First Take set. On an episode of The Right Time last year, he told Jones that he has come into debates with Chris Russo with the goal of triggering one of Mad Dog’s infamous rants, because that is what the audience wants to see.
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Jimmy Pitaro: ESPN Priority is Expanding Our Audience & Pat McAfee Does That
“I have a son and a daughter, both of whom not just know who Pat is but they like him, and I have a father who also happens to really like Pat.”
The announcement of Pat McAfee joining forces with ESPN raised a lot of questions as to whether McAfee’s daily brand of sports talk can sustain itself for the long-term on cable.
But ESPN president Jimmy Pitaro has no doubts that Pat can be wildly successful for years to come. He spoke with The Big Lead recently and said bringing McAfee’s show to the daily lineup allows the network to tap into a different audience.
“When we talk about our priorities at ESPN, one of the things we always mention is audience expansion,” Pitaro said. “That means a lot of things, but it especially means attracting a younger audience. We feel like Pat really helps us in that regard.”
“I have a son and a daughter, both of whom not just know who Pat is but they like him, and I have a father who also happens to really like Pat,” he added. “That’ll tell you a lot about his appeal.”
Also expanding the relationship between The Worldwide Leader and McAfee made sense in Pitaro’s eyes. The two sides already have a history.
“We’ve been in business with Pat for some time by now,” he said. “He’s done a fantastic job for us on College GameDay, he’s done some alternate broadcasts that have really resonated with our audience, so we feel like his show is a natural extension of what we’re already doing.”
Jordan Bondurant is a features reporter for Barrett Sports Media. He’s a multimedia journalist and communicator who works at the Virginia State Corporation Commission in Richmond. Jordan also contributes occasional coverage of the Washington Capitals for the blog NoVa Caps. His prior media experiences include working for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the Danville Register & Bee, Virginia Lawyers Weekly, WRIC-TV 8News and Audacy Richmond. He can be reached by email at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @J__Bondurant.
Neil William Callahan
May 26, 2023 at 11:55 pm
This guy is the MOST overrated BIGGEST blowhard EVER on the sinking ship called ESPN. He is THE MAIN reason I stopped watching ESPN during the day and listening to ESPN Radio. As others have said, the A in Stephen A stands for A-HOLE! BECAUSE of that loser loudmouth, I stopped following everything ESPN does during the day.