We know we’ve been a little late in discussing this Stephen A. Smith business, but we wanted to make sure as much info had come out as possible.
That being said, it looks pretty clear Screamin’ Stephen has had his column forcefully taken away by the Philadelphia Enquirer.
The paper published an online story saying Stephen would be “returning to reporting,” a kick below the belt if we’ve ever heard of one.
We have nothing against Stephen A.
He’s a newspaper writer who made his own success. He must have been somewhat popular covering the Sixers to get his own nightly talk show and then start appearing in all kinds of places throughout pop culture (General Hospital, I Think I Love My Wife).
But honestly, it’s surprising the Enquirer didn’t take Smith down a peg or two even earlier.
It must be extremely degrading to be a newspaper sports editor and have your writers “freelancing” at huge mediums like ESPN for the big bucks. However, we are not saying this is about jealousy. Once you sign on as a newspaper editor, you’ve accepted a vow of poverty. It’s the fact that you most likely (at least somewhat) discovered this “talent” — if you can call Stephen A. that — and they are basically putting you on the back burner. And eventually, your work will suffer.
Enquirer sports editor Jim Jenks eerily foreshadowed this earlier to Slate.
I don’t know how long this is going to last, but he puts the column first. He knows it gives credibility to what he does on TV.
In other words, Jenks didn’t have much faith in Smith continuing the put the column first, and said that without it, Smith had no credibility on TV. Slap.
Most younger sports fans probably didn’t even know that Stephen A. was a columnist for the Enquirer. They would probably say he works for ESPN, since he makes up to 10(!!!) appearances a night on shows like Sportscenter and NBA Fastbreak. Oddly enough, Stephen A. was even a judge on Dream Job, although he’s trained in newspaper reporting.
So props to the Philly Enquirer for showing someone who’s boss. Once the column plays second fiddle to ESPN, consider it gone.
Sportswriters heading to TV seems to be the norm now (although they’re definitely in the minority). ESPN can lure this people away, but their original publications should have no obligation to keep them one. Find the next young talent (hello! right here! joking) and give them a shot. There are still a few people who want to be writers, not talking heads on TV.
Note: If you still don’t think television has a negative effect on sportswriting, read the entire Slate piece referenced earlier. It will set you straight.