First Take

Stephen A. Smith, Molly Qerim and Max Kellerman discuss Tiger Woods’ comments about “respecting the office” on ESPN’s First Take.

ESPN should take a cue from CNN. Tune into “The Most Trusted Name in News” at any given time and you’ll see liberal and conservative talking heads screaming at each other about the latest crazy thing to happen in Washington D.C. Is it annoying? Absolutely. But in this politically charged climate, almost everyone has a strong opinion. The cable news way, both sides get to scream it out and have their sides heard – really, really loudly!

“Just stick to sports,” many MAGA Americans yell when a sports personality dares to comment on a political matter.

Never mind the fact that the POTUS routinely thrusts his personal opinion into everything, especially sports. He has criticized Colin Kaepernick, Jemele Hill, LeBron James, Steph Curry, the NBA, the NFL, LaVar Ball, Marshawn Lynch, the Philadelphia Eagles and many other sports personalities, athletes, teams and organizations.

Yet, ESPN has been resistant to let its employees openly discuss political issues on the air or on their own social media accounts. This week, the “Worldwide Leader in Sports” announced that it had formally severed ties with Hill after reaching a buyout agreement. Hill had fallen out of favor at the network after a public beef with the POTUS and anthem-hugging Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.

First, Hill was suspended, then removed from SportsCenter and reassigned to The Undefeated. Now she’s gone.

However, ESPN’s quest to run away from politics won’t be as easy as silencing the outspoken black folks. Hill’s buyout was leaked to the press on Sunday. The next day, ESPN’s Max Kellerman caught heat for criticizing Tiger Woods’ reluctance to condemn the POTUS.

According to USA Today, after his final round at The Northern Trust tournament, Woods was questioned about his seemingly chummy relationship with the Commander-in-Chief. The two have dined and played golf together on several occasions.

“He’s the president of the United States and you have to respect the office,” Woods said. “No matter who’s in the office, you may like, dislike the personality or the politics, but we all must respect the office.”

Black America was not surprised by the response. Like Michael Jordan, Woods has avoided potentially divisive or political subjects at all cost in the name of preserving the bag.

Kellerman was determined not to let Woods waltz away that easily though.

“I’m angry at what Tiger Woods said,” Kellerman stated on First Take. “It is a thoughtless statement dressed up as a thoughtful statement. And it either holds in contempt the intelligence of the people who hear it or else it’s just a stupid thing to say.”

That sent conservatives into an uproar. Some Faux Fox News fans accused Kellerman of racism for calling Wood’s statement “stupid.” It was a bad attempt to counter the outcries of racism against the POTUS for calling James and Don Lemon dumb in a recent Twitter rant. Note that Kellerman said it was a stupid thing to say as opposed to calling Woods stupid. There’s a difference.

ESPN also recently announced it will reassigned Michelle Beadle, co-host on Get Up! with Mike Greenberg and Jalen Rose. On the show, Beadle announced that she will avoid watching pro and college football for the second consecutive year in response to how the NFL and NCAA treat women.

“I believe that the sport of football has set itself up to be in a position where it shows itself … to not really care about women,” Beadle said.

“They don’t really care about people of color, but we won’t get into that for NFL either,” she continued. “But as a woman, I feel like a person who has been marginalized…”

Beadle was upset at the lowly three-game suspension of Urban Meyer by Ohio Stateafter lying about his knowledge of domestic abuse allegations against an assistant coach.

It remains to be seen if Beadle or Kellerman, who are both white, will eventually be shown the door in the same way as Hill. It remains unlikely as Kellerman hasn’t faced any disciplinary actions for his political comments and though Beadle was reassigned, she is set to co-host ESPN’s first-ever NBA postgame show. Maybe it’s just coincidence. Maybe it’s white privilege.

Instead of trying so hard to run away from politics, ESPN should just embrace the fact that politics will be front and center in sports, business, Hollywood, education and everywhere else until Robert Mueller puts us all out of our misery.

At least Jemele Hill is now free and clear to be the awesome and amazing sports journalist that was one half of The Six, however short its glorious run of unashamed blackness.

D-1 Coaches Inspire at YMCA Event

Plenty of people showed up for the Monsanto YMCA’s first-annual Missouri Coaches Luncheon featuring Cuonzo Martin (Mizzou), Travis Ford (SLU), Dana Ford (Missouri State), Rick Ray (SEMO) and Kareem Richardson (UMKC).

The basketball coaches discussed their faith in God, role models, challenges, triumphs, humility, life lessons and more.

Martin opened up about his battle with advanced Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma more than 20 years ago and how it affected his outlook on life and coaching. Travis Ford explained how helping young men away from the court is more time-consuming and more important than the Xs and Os on the court.

Dana Ford, Cuonzo Martin and Dana Ford

Cuonzo Martin (center) speaks alongside Dana Ford (left) and Travis Ford (right) at the Monsanto YMCA’s first-annual Missouri Coaches Luncheon.

Dana Ford discussed his strategy of studying other coaches and leaders in order to become a better coach. Ray talked about the importance of honesty and humility. While Richardson stated that his strategy for crafting a coaching quality staff involves asking himself if he can enjoy losing with a person, with the idea being that everybody gets along when you’re winning.

The coaches were affable, engaged, interesting and genuinely appeared to enjoy the opportunity to speak at the event. Unfortunately, the question that everybody wanted to know, when Mizzou and SLU will meet again, was never answered.

Many local basketball legends showed up to the event. Larry Hughes, Justin Tatum and Anthony Bonner were just a few of the easily recognizable former players in attendance. There were also plenty of other former Division 1 ballplayers, former and current coaches and area business leaders present.

I was glad to see that Marcus Wilson, the executive director of the YMCA, put on a successful event that will directly impact people in North St. Louis.

Shout out to all the coaches, staff and attendees involved at giving back to St. Louis.

Follow Ishmael and In the Clutch on Twitter @ishcreates.

Ishmael H. Sistrunk is a columnist and the website coordinator for the St. Louis American and www.stlamerican.com.

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