Michael Irvin (Photo credit: Shutterstock.com / Kathy Hutchins)
Carron J. Philips was right. The Deadspin columnist was on the money when he pointed out the real losers in the recent announcements of debate show hosts were actual journalists. With Shannon Sharpe leaving FS1’s “Undisputed” over the summer, and “First Take” never landing a permanent antagonist for Stephen A. Smith after removing Max Kellerman from the position, both shows have filled almost every vacancy with a former professional football player.
On “Undisputed,” Skip Bayless has now been joined by Richard Sherman, Michael Irvin, Keyshawn Johnson and Rachel Nichols. Nichols is the only journalist in the group and is, ironically, a White woman who had a brief break from the network television spotlight after a conversation of hers leaked, in which she complained about her former network, ESPN, giving more opportunities to reporters like Maria Taylor, a Black woman, for the sake of diversity.On “First Take,” Sharpe has joined Smith twice a week, starting on Labor Day.
Today is the day @ShannonSharpe pic.twitter.com/ZGrwFYHK0r
— Stephen A Smith (@stephenasmith) September 4, 2023
The announcements have brought a lot of, warranted excitement, as “Undisputed” already witnessed a viral moment of a bunch of retired football stars yelling over one another.
Richard Sherman said Michael Irvin gave ceedee lamb bad advice because he told him to learn how to catch the ball with your body instead of your hands & Michael Irvin went off 🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣 pic.twitter.com/Ekc3tYbVHG
— Shannonnn sharpes Burner (PARODY Account) (@shannonsharpeee) August 28, 2023
Online, the hottest independent sports debate show is “It Is What It Is,” hosted by Treasure Wilson, Cam’ron and Mase.
Mase : “But Deion Sanders is a top wide receiver of all time tho”
Cam’ron : “No he is a quarterback bro, Now you f**king up”
Mase trying to get himself out but ending up digging himself in more had me 💀😭😅 via ( It is what it is podcast) feat. Antonio Brown #nfl pic.twitter.com/5HDmr3Wlic
— Ball Room Service🏀 (@ballroomservice) September 4, 2023
Out of the three aforementioned shows, two of the Black participants weren’t rappers or athletes and had a journalism background. The glaring issue with this is the false perception successful sports debate shows are overwhelmingly in favor of representing Black members of the media. There is a lot of money in sports debating shows, and on-air screaming has become the top dog in sports journalism. Before leaving “FS1,” Sharpe was making a reported $3 million a year doing “Undisputed.” Now, Johnson joins the show as his former employer, ESPN, is still paying the rest of his five-year, $18 million contract after laying him off in June. “It Is What It Is” has agreed to an “eight-figure deal” with sports betting platform Underdog Fantasy.
Beyond debate shows, the sports journalism industry is still largely dominated by White men. A 2021 study done by The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport in the University of Central Florida shows that 11.8% of all sports reporter positions were held by Black people, including Black women representing 1.1% of sports reporters. Black people also represented 11% of all upper-management positions within sports media, the study showed.
Black children go to schools across the country to pursue dreams in a number of industries, especially ones they see in the media. These recent hires and multi-million deals only reaffirm one stereotype to the youth: You can only make it if you first become a successful professional athlete or musician.
Source: Rolling Out