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Stephen A. Smith: ‘I’ve Never Lost a Debate Ever’

“When it comes to basketball, I’m really asking you as a technicality. I know the answer. I just want to see whether or not you are going to lie to me about it.”

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Whether it’s Skip Bayless, Max Kellerman, Chris “Mad Dog” Russo, or any other people Stephen A. Smith debates or has debated on First Take in the past, one thing you will find out is that he never feels he has lost that debate.

On the latest episode of Just Getting Started with Rich Eisen (now Suzy Shuster) on the Cumulus Podcast Network, Smith said that even when he doesn’t feel like he won a debate, learning something about that topic in the end makes him believe he couldn’t ever possibly lose.

“I’ve never lost a debate ever,” said Smith. “I’m either right or I’ve learned something new by being wrong, which makes me brighter, more intelligent about that particular issue we were broaching, which means I’m a winner because I’m going to be better for it than I was before we started the debate. How did I lose?”

While Smith knows he has a lot of knowledge about all sports, basketball is the one sport that he’ll use questions to figure out if people are telling the truth. Some of that comes from his experience playing college basketball at Winston-Salem State University. 

“When it comes to basketball, I know basketball. When it comes to sports, I know football from watching it, I know baseball from watching it,” Smith explained. “Boxing and stuff, I know enough of it to be able to interview you about it and ask you questions and things of that nature. When it comes to basketball, I’m really asking you as a technicality. I know the answer. I just want to see whether or not you are going to lie to me about it. That’s really the difference between me covering basketball and covering every other sport.

“I know the nooks and crannies of it all. I also studied in a way where I am looking for certain things. When I go to a team or a player, I’ve spoken to them ahead of time about what their definition of success is. I evaluate whether it vibes with my thought of what their definition of success should be and I judge their actions accordingly as the season goes on. I’ve been that way since Day 1 in my career.”

Even when players might disagree with what Smith has to say, he said he’s confident enough to have that conversation. With the confidence he shows, players ultimately learn that they might disagree, but Smith shows them he know what he’s talking about.

“When I talk basketball with guys and they’ve attacked me or come at me… we can sit down and have a conversation,” said Smith. “By the time I said bring your boys since you’re so bold…they quickly learn, ‘He does know what he’s talking about.’ Even if they disagree with me, they know that I know what I’m talking about. Those are the kind of things that influenced my career tremendously because it gave me a confidence I never had anywhere else.”

Towards the end of the interview, Shuster asked Smith why he thinks he resonates with so many people and he thinks it is because of his authenticity.

“I believe it’s because people know they can trust me to say what I truly mean,” Smith said. “It doesn’t mean I’m going to be right. It doesn’t mean they are not going to disagree with me. They know they can trust me to be who the hell I say I am. When I say something, I actually mean it and I’m not saying it for effects, not saying it for ratings, not saying it for clicks or just so you read my article.

“I want you to do those things because I want to get paid, but I mean what I say and I’m fearless with it. I think they see this fearlessness that I approach my job with and I think you combine that with the fact that I say the things that people think and say off-the-air, but they don’t believe it can be said on-the-air, that’s where it all started.”

Sports TV News

ESPN’s NFL Programming Sees Big September Growth

For ESPN, September has been a really strong month with their NFL programming.

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For ESPN, September has been a really strong month with their NFL programming.

Sunday NFL Countdown is averaging 1.4 million viewers per show thus far in 2022. That up 15% from 2021’s first three shows of the NFL season. The season premiere – Sunday, Sept. 11 – averaged 1.6 million viewers, tying the network’s best Week 1 audience for the show since 2016 and is up 35% year-over-year.

NFL Live experienced large growth too. The episode airing after the first NFL Sunday, on Monday September 12, averaged 664,000 viewers which beat every NFL Live episode last season, including the most-watched episode on 2021 (December 17) which grabbed 635,000 viewers.

Monday Night Countdown is averaging 1.3 million viewers for its two, non-staggered September episodes, which aired in its traditional timeslot (6-8 pm).

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ESPN Assigns Broadcast Teams for MLB Wild Card Round

In preparation for the postseason, ESPN has assigned the broadcast teams for the series forthcoming.

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There are just a few games left in the MLB season and the postseason begins this weekend with the Wild Card round. In preparation, ESPN has assigned the broadcast teams for the series forthcoming.

Andrew Marchand reports that the team assigned to the presumptive New York Mets Wild Card series will be Karl Ravech, David Cone and Eduardo Perez. The Mets still mathematically can win the NL East but they trail the Braves by two games with three to play.

He also reports that the St. Louis Wild Card series will be called by Michael Kay and Alex Rodriguez. The Cleveland series will be broadcast by Boog Sciambi and Doug Glanville while the Toronto series will be called by Dave Flemming, Jessica Mendoza and Tim Kurkjian.

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Stugotz: ‘Sean McDonough Hates The Aaron Judge Cut-Ins’

“If you look at the numbers, if you look at the interest, if you look at the revenue that it generates for the networks, it makes more sense to have an Aaron Judge at-bat interrupted by an Iowa State field goal attempt than it does the other way around.”

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College football fans are not being shy with how they feel about Aaron Judge. Whether it is private conversations or social media posts, people are making their disdain for the cut-ins to college football games on ESPN networks when the Yankee slugger comes to bat known. On Monday morning, Stugotz added that it isn’t just fans that are unhappy.

The Dan Le Batard Show discussed the second straight week of cut-ins on Monday morning. Stugotz pointed out that one of ESPN’s primary college football voices sounds just as annoyed as fans are.

“Sean McDonough hates the toss to Aaron Judge,” he said. Hates it!”

Last week, ESPN and ABC cut into games when Judge was sitting on 60 home runs. This week, he was sitting on 61. A 62nd home run would be the most in American League history.

Stugotz added that has to be part of McDonough’s frustration.

“In his defense, what are we cutting in for? I have no idea if [Aaron Judge] is breaking a record, what record he’s breaking, if he’s clean. I have no idea!”

Producer Mike Ryan Ruiz said the fact that Judge is yet to deliver is making the cut-ins more frustrating for fans.

“I think what hurts the whole thing is that Aaron Judge has been terrible during these cut-ins,” Ruiz said. “He’s been God awful during these cut-ins. I haven’t seen a single home runs during one of these cut-ins. There was genuine fury at a watch party I was at. Fury! At Aaron Judge.”

A popular criticism of ESPN has been that this kind of attention would not be paid to Aaron Judge if he was chasing a mark that wasn’t the home run record if he played anywhere other than New York. According to Ryan, the mistake is bigger than that. Why would regular season baseball ever interrupt college football?

“If you look at the numbers, if you look at the interest, if you look at the revenue that it generates for the networks, it makes more sense to have an Aaron Judge at-bat interrupted by an Iowa State field goal attempt than it does the other way around.”

There are four games left in Major League Baseball’s regular season. You can bet college football fans will make plenty of signs for College GameDay if Judge cannot hit number 62 before the playoffs start.

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