Stephen A. Smith is known for his very pronounced opinion.
However, that opinion just backfired into the worlds of boxing and MMA.
While appearing on the “Black on the Air” podcast, Smith answered a question about women entering the executive suites in men’s team sports; he went in a deviant direction.
“First of all, I love it. I think that there’s an awful lot of women that are incredibly qualified to do the jobs that they’re doing. Where I jump off the bandwagon is when they try to engage physically,” Smith said.
“For example, I don’t ever want to see a woman boxing a man. I don’t want to see that. I don’t want to see a woman in the UFC fighting a man even though there are some women out there that’ll kick a dude’s butt. We get all that.”
Here’s where Smith went off the reservation.
Host Larry Wilmore discussed the advancement of women in sports, a topic that has gotten Stephen A. into trouble before.
While Wilmore shined a light on women breaking barriers, Smith placed foot to mouth.
When I think about pugilistic sports, I don’t like seeing women involved in that at all. I just don’t like it. I wouldn’t promote legislating laws to prohibit them from doing so, but I don’t want to see women punching each other in the face. I don’t want to see women fighting in the octagon and stuff like that, but that’s just me.”
Smith is the highest paid sports commentator on ESPN, and the host of the wildly popular sports debate show First Take. ESPN+ distributes the UFC, and women regularly headline fights for the organization, bringing some of the best battles to the fans ever.
At one point, UFC President Dana White said that women would never fight in the UFC. Ronda Rousey destroyed that viewpoint by becoming a fan favorite with her proficiency with armbar submissions.
Since then, the UFC has flourished from the iconic performances of Holly Holm, Cris Cyborg, Zhang Weill, Germaine de Randamie, and a decorated champion named Amanda Nunes.
Add the U.S. Olympic teams only two-time back-to-back gold medal winner, undisputed women’s middleweight champion, Claressa “T-Rex” Shields, and Smith clearly doesn’t understand what women have brought to the fight game.
It is probably the reason why Smith has been a ghost from ESPN combat sports broadcasts. His awful commentary fits like a glove on basketball, and football lays like a wet noodle for both boxing and MMA.
Smith has now revealed that his combat sports acumen is as remedial as a panderer for controversy.
Next time Smith discusses women’s achievement in so-called men’s sports, he should challenge the interviewer to ask the right question:
“What do you think about the mental separation of men’s and women’s sports when both offer high-level competition across all playing fields?”
Then Smith can keep his biased opinion about what a women’s athletic career should be and just discuss how awesome they are in athletics.