Edge Library


Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

The well-known sportscaster delivers a warts-and-all self-portrait of himself and the business. Smith—“ ‘Stephen A.’ these days, no last name necessary”—doesn’t expect to be liked, and for good reason: His off-the-cuff commentary on ESPN and other venues has sometimes been ill considered, though perhaps for understandable reasons. “On a show like First Take, or any live debate show,” he writes, “something that causes an uproar happens almost every day. The objective of these shows is to have opposite points of view. To be candid: we capitalize on the kind of polarization people supposedly abhor.” That said, Smith has sometimes pushed things beyond the bounds of good sense, and he’s paid the price for it, though he’s still on the air. Some of his prejudices are well founded. For example, he despises the Dallas Cowboys, not for the team’s players or management but because “I believe they have the most disgusting, nauseating fan base in the annals of sports.” Other of his remarks have smacked of bigotry, though, as when he complained that Los Angeles Angels star Shohei Ohtani “is a dude that needs an interpreter so you can understand what the hell he’s saying,” an especially ill-considered remark in a time of anti-Asian sentiment. To his credit, Smith owns his words and doesn’t try to explain his mistakes away. The best part of the book is his nuanced portrait of how the sports journalism world works, with its almost nonstop personality clashes and sometimes unlikely alliances—and the constant scheming of executives to shake things up for better ratings and bigger money. Of his being paired with Skip Bayless on that ESPN debate show, for instance, he comments, “We didn’t give a shit what anyone thought about it. In the end, we knew we were feeding the audience, and the bottom line.” An inside-baseball look at the business of TV sports through the eyes of a veteran, sometimes controversial presence. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

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