ESPN Suspends Host Over Really Dumb Comments About Domestic Violence

‘It’s not about him, then. It’s about you,’ said the popular sports commentator.
Jul 29, 2014·
Kristina Bravo is Assistant Editor at TakePart.

Sometimes you just have to stick with what you know. In ESPN host Stephen A. Smith’s case, it’s sports—not an issue as serious as domestic abuse.

On Friday, while discussing NFL player Ray Rice’s suspension for assaulting his wife, the commentator suggested that women shouldn’t say anything to provoke abuse. Smith came under fire for his comments, and the cable station suspended him Tuesday.

Here’s a portion of Smith’s comments:

We keep talking about the guys. We know you have no business putting your hands on a woman…. But I’ve tried to employ the female members of my family…and this what I’ve [told them] all my life, "Let’s make sure we don’t do anything to provoke wrong actions.”

Outraged ensued. One-third of Americans suffer from domestic abuse every day, after all. But yesterday The View host Whoopi Goldberg defended Smith’s comments on air. She agreed that women should avoid actions that could provoke men into hurting them, adding, “If you make the choice as a woman who’s four foot three and you decide to hit a guy who’s six feet tall and you’re the last thing he wants to deal with that day and he hits you back, you cannot be surprised!”

Smith’s employers don’t share the sentiment. They reprimanded the sports commentator today—perhaps a little too leniently.

“ESPN announced today that Stephen A. Smith will not appear on First Take or ESPN Radio for the next week,” according to a statement posted on the First Take website. “He will return to ESPN next Wednesday.”