Videos by OutKick
Stephen A. Smith is one of the biggest personalities in sports media and has become the highest paid employee at ESPN making a whopping $12 million per year.
Some people hate him, others love him, but there’s no denying he’s always polarizing.
Smith recently joined Pat McAfee’s podcast to promote his “Know Mercy” podcast, which is completely owned by him and not affiliated with ESPN in any way.
The “First Take” host says having his own platform allows him to discuss issues outside of sports — and even politics — but noted that ESPN should be reserved for fans who are coming to the network for coverage and analysis of their favorite teams.
Anyone who has tuned into the “World Wide Leader” over the last decade noticed a significant shift where it felt like almost every host felt a need to interject their opinion on politics. Eventually ratings began to drop and fans flocked to other networks for their sports coverage.
Stephen A. Smith Admits ESPN Got Way Too Political
Smith said Jimmy Pitaro, who took over as ESPN President in 2018, made a concerted effort to make the focal point sports again.
“When Jimmy Pitaro came on board, he made a concerted effort for us not to get into politics,” Smith said. “
I stood up and supported him for that and I still do because we did get to a point over the years at ESPN where it was too much politics. It was the politicization of too many different things and the sports fan got to a point where they were sending a message that they didn’t feel like their needs were being met.”
Smith believes it’s important to give the sports fan what they’re tuning in to ESPN for, but he also supports employees having the freedom to speak about politics and social issues on other outlets, hence the creation of his independent podcast.
While it’s clear ESPN hasn’t fully backed off political takes, it’s refreshing to hear their top personality acknowledge their woke approach…because everyone in America noticed and many will never tune into the network ever again.
Still, it’s refreshing to hear Stephen A. Smith acknowledge the obvious.