The Truth Behind Stephen A. Smith's Controversial Comments On Shohei Ohtani


Chris Broussard: “If I go to another country and I want to assimilate into that society, then I should learn the language… That is not ‘xenophobic’. In America, we have one language that we all are taught. We got people from all different races, ethnicities, religions, and the only way we can all communicate is if we’re taught one standard language, and in this country it’s English. I think people coming here, you should learn English if you wanna assimilate into the society. It doesn’t mean you can't speak your other languages in your home and in your culture, but we need one way that all of us can communicate and in this country it’s English... I think people are overrecting to what Stephen A. said... Baseball and the media in general were saying Mike Trout needs to be more outgoing and very few people got offended."
Ryan Hollins: “As far as Ohtani is concerned I do hear to a degree what Stephen A. is saying. There is no difference in the criticism of Kahwi Leonard and saying ‘man, you gotta be more marketable, you gotta get out there and speak, you can’t just go hide all these things’. Ohtani is maybe going to make light of the interpreter, learn enough English, have it grow on him, and get more comfortable because if that’s something he wants as the face of baseball, you gotta own it. That fact that the best player in basketball LeBron is willing to do the photo ops, being seen, gets on Instagram and Twitter, and speaks his mind, it is amazing for the NBA. If Ohtani is going to be the face of baseball, the personality the people are going to have to see. You have to see that as the general fan to gravitate to the sport.”

Listen to Chris Broussard and Ryan Hollins, guest-hosting for Rob Parker, discuss Monday’s viral news story regarding ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith comments towards Japanese MLB star Shohei Ohtani that some called ‘racist’ and ‘xenophobic.’

Check out the video above as Chris and Ryan break down Smith's comments and analyze what parts of the segment they actually agree with despite the immense public backlash.

Here is the full transcript of Smith's comments:

Molly Qerim: “Is this good for Major League Baseball that Ohtani is the top attraction?”

Stephen A. Smith: “Not to me, and I say not to me because I completely understand where other people are coming from… Even though baseball is an international sport and I totally get that, it’s played in the United States and Canada, and that’s where Major League Baseball is being played. So when I’m looking at it I’m looking at it from this perspective: in the United States of America, when you talk about the sport of Major League Baseball you talk about its lack of diversity in terms of African-American players, you talk about the influx of foreign players, whether they be from Venezuela, or the Dominican Republic, or Japan, or anywhere else. If you are a star and you need an interpreter that might have something to do, not everything because there’s a lot of things that go into it, but that might have something to do with your inability to ingratiate yourself with that young demographic to attract them to the sport. I would remind others that baseball is in trouble. The audience for Major League Baseball, the demographic repeatedly gets older. It’s not getting younger. That younger demographic, which is the targets for all of the advertisers, and sponsors, and everybody else out there, that’s the NBA and the NFL. Major League Baseball is struggling miserably and that’s why you got a lot of people who have turned against the commissioner Rob Manfred because of all of the changes that he’s tried to incorporate and implement in an effort to save the sport by elevating its level of interest. It’s even alienated some of the players who are traditionalists and want things to remain the same as they always were. We all know that the sport of baseball, led by its players, are always the last to the party. They’re so reluctant to change. When I look at Ohtani he is bigtime. This brother is special, make no mistake about it, but the fact that you got a foreign player that doesn’t speak English that needs an interpreter, believe it or not, I think contributes to harming the game to some degree when that’s your box office appeal. It needs to be somebody like Bryce Harper, Mike Trout, those guys, and unfortunately at this moment in time that’s not the case.”

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