If ignorance is bliss, then ESPN talking head Stephen A. Smith must truly be in a happy place.
He once again displayed his sports knowledge on the Worldwide Leader’s “First Take” by ragging on University of Central Florida linebacker Shaquem Griffin for talking about the Stanley Cup Playoffs and his beloved Tampa Bay Lightning on the show.
“Well, first of all, he deserves a lot of credit – he’s a black man talking hockey. Congratulations,” Smith responded to Griffin’s hot take that the ‘Bolts will win the Cup. “Let me tell you something -you certainly ain’t going to get me to do it. So congratulations. The versatility, my brotha. You probably got a job here once your playing career is over based on that take alone.”
If @stephenasmith won't talk about hockey, @Shaquemgriffin will. pic.twitter.com/1UM28Kf92I
— First Take (@FirstTake) April 19, 2018
I understand that shows like “First Take” are more about entertainment than sports – remember, ESPN stands for Entertainment Sports Programming Network – and that Smith is the top carnival barker for that circus.
Smith’s hockey rant may be schtick. But it helps a demeaning stereotype stick. For the record, quite a few of us talk about hockey, and we’re quite black.
Let’s see. There’s Popeye Jones, a former National Basketball Association center and current Indiana Pacers assistant coach, talking hockey and his son, Columbus BlueJackets defenseman Seth Jones.
There’s NBA Hall of Famer Charles Barkley who, for the second-post season in a row, said he’s watching the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
There’s Karl Subban, a retired Toronto-area school principal who shares knowledge about raising three sons who are playing hockey at the highest levels. You might have heard of them.
There’s John C. Brittain, a distinguished civil rights attorney who may have been the first black player to captain a high school hockey team in New England in the early 1960s.
There’s Lt. Col. Ralph Featherstone, a U.S, Marine Corps aviator who was the first African-American to captain the U.S. Naval Academy’s hockey club.
"It definitely reinforced those respect-type of ideals my folks were teaching at home."
Lt. Col. Ralph Featherstone joined #NHLNow with @TomGulittiNHL to talk about how youth hockey influenced his life. pic.twitter.com/6MDQ2I5hdS
— NHL Network (@NHLNetwork) April 8, 2018
There’s Thurgood Marshall Jr., son of the late Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. Oh, and there’s a hockey-related college scholarship program that carries the late justice’s name.
There’s Damon Kwame Mason, director of the award-winning black hockey history – yes, Stephen A., we have a hockey history – “Soul on Ice: Past, Present & Future.“
There’s David Amber, Kevin Weekes, Anson Carter and Tarik El-Bashir, who actually talk about hockey on television for a living.
There’s Lil Johnand Snoop Dogg, rappers who’ve wrapped their arms around the Stanley Cup.
There’s Angela James, Canada’s “female Wayne Gretzky” and the first black woman to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.
And then there’s me.
So if Smith doesn’t like hockey, that’s cool. But his making light of black people who do isn’t.
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Hey ESPN! Clowns like Steven A. Smith are what make your networks UNWATCHABLE. Forget that it is the anything but hockey network.