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Stephen A. Smith and his ilk need to be stopped

The ESPN “personality” shows the worst sides of sports “journalism.”

NBA: Playoffs-Cleveland Cavaliers at Atlanta Hawks Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Last week, Stephen A. Smith went on television and got unnecessarily worked up about something. It was not the first time that this has happened and it will not be the last. Klay Thompson had just dropped 60 points in 29 minutes the night before, and I guess the producers at “First Take” thought they could make a splash by being controversial and loud, as per usual.

So, Molly Qerim turned to Stephen A. and said, “Stephen A., we might surprise some folks with this question. [meaningful pause] Here it is. If you had to get rid of one of the players in the Big 3 [camera cuts to Stephen A. — smirking, with eyebrow raised, chomping at the bit to fire up the hot take cannon], for the Warriors, who would it be?”

[Stephen A. smiles, smirks, smiles some more. He is letting us revel in his mischievous hottakery, his glorious non-conformism.]

Ugh. Just ... Man, why? Why do we have to do this anymore? Why?

I don’t know why this one incident — among a thousand-fold other incidents of similar banality — pushed me over the edge. I don’t know why I felt so deeply saddened and troubled by this seemingly insignificant moment that was immediately forgotten and discarded.

In moments like this — when I feel stupider in my brain for engaging with such unnecessary foolishness — I turn to Sensei Steve Kerr.

“You look at society, look at what’s popular, people are getting paid millions of dollars to go on TV and scream at each other, whether it’s in sports or politics or entertainment. I guess it was only a matter of time before it spilled into politics, but, all of a sudden you’re faced with reality.”

Have you ever felt like the obscene is too easily normalized in our modern society? Do you feel that we too often turn a blind eye to heartbreaking trends in discourse, where vulgar, misogynistic, or even hateful sentiments are just ignored?

This type of callous disregard for basic tenants of human decency has become a huge problem in our society. It’s not just in sports, obviously; this type of discourse, this approach to communication, has infiltrated every single facet of our modern life. Turn on CNN, or flip over to Fox News. Read the comments on a controversial tweet. Heck, read the comments on a seemingly harmless YouTube video. Trolls are bursting from the seams. People just can’t wait to scream things that are hurtful, unnecessarily vulgar, and emotionally bankrupt.

And so once we normalize this behavior — once we give the likes of Stephen A. Smith his own show and hand him a bundle full of money — we’ve basically admitted that we are okay with this type of behavior. We’ve given up the fight. We’ve acquiesced to the lowest common denominator. And in a world where —now more than ever — we need to hold ourselves and each other to a high standard of discourse, and to a high standard of moral action, this is a troubling, mind-assaulting trend towards the bottom.

I mean, just look at Stephen A.’s face as he prepares to deliver his take. A take, by the way, that had obviously been scripted and rehearsed, most likely in the bathroom mirror in the men’s stall. You can see his eyebrow raise; he’s preparing to unleash holy hell. He’s relishing in his perverse troll-dom.

Why do people like that take such perverse pleasure in making controversial statements? I mean, first of all, it’s a “Big 4,” not a “Big 3.” So, we’re just not counting Draymond Green now — the league’s preeminent defensive player? Also, the glory of the situation is that the Warriors don’t have to give up one of the players. The construct of the question is useless to even begin with.

Also, for what it’s worth, the top four results for “stephen a smith curry” on YouTube result in this cornucopia of delights:

What a waste.

I just wish people would actually say what they mean, instead of pinballing around, looking for the next Big Statement with a capital “B.S.” The world is scary and dangerous enough as it is without this type of behavior.

We need to stop being assholes to one another. We need to treat each other with the respect and dignity we all deserve. Otherwise, we’ll find ourselves living in a world where screaming, insulting, and sprinting towards the lowest, most vile common denominator will become the norm.

Television ratings will be the downfall of this once great country. I’m serious. People lap this stuff up. They need divisiveness and controversy in their lives to make up for the dull ache of being alive. It’s time to regroup, and it’s time to recommit to the things we find important — art, music, a pure appreciation of sporting talent, our loved ones.

Engaging in this type of behavior, this type of ratings-driven drivel, will only serve to dumb down our society and strip us of all that we hold dear.

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