Many have set themselves apart through excellence in their professions, and in the spirit of Black History month, we at The Signpost sports desk have chosen to honor a few members of the African-American community.
Three specific African-Americans have achieved greatness in the world of sports commentary. Greg Gumbel, Stephen A. Smith and the late Stuart Scott have all changed the game. From SportsCenter anchors to consistently calling legendary games to calling out athletes over their stupidity, these men have forever left their mark on the sports industry in a very positive way.
Gumbel was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, in 1946. After beginning his sportscasting career in 1973 in Chicago, Gumbel went on to work for the Entertainment and Sports Programming Network (ESPN).
At ESPN, Gumbel anchored their flagship program, SportsCenter. He has called play-by-play for events such as National College Athletic Assosiation Basketball and Baseball, Major League Baseball, the National Football League and the National Basketball Association for several networks, including ESPN, the National Broadcast Company (NBC) and the Colombia Broadcasting System (CBS).
Gumbel also became the first African-American to announce the play-by-play of a United States major sports championship when he commentated Super Bowl XXXV in 2001.
Born in 1967 in New York City, Smith began his career in print journalism as a sports writer. He began his writing career in 1994 before working in television in 1999 and on the radio in 2005.
Smith is known for being a provocative reporter who holds nothing back, which has, at times, cost him his job or at least warranted an on-air apology.
Smith is the host of ESPN First Take, as well as his own radio show, The Stephen A. Smith Show. Smith’s fireball approach to sports commentating has made him a controversial figure, but his shows continue to keep viewers and listeners coming back for more.
Scott, who passed away in January of 2015, was an ESPN analyst known for integrating modern hip-hop culture in the sports world in a way that had never been done before.
Coining phrases such as “cooler than the other side of the pillow,” Scott was famous for breaking the rules and pushing the boundaries.
In a 2002 segment on NPR’s On The Media, Scott spoke about his thoughts on sports commentating.
“Writing is better if it’s kept simple,” Scott said. “Every sentence doesn’t need to have perfect noun-verb agreement. I’ve said ‘ain’t’ on the air. Because I sometimes use ‘ain’t’ when I’m talking.”
Scott was a cancer survivor, first diagnosed with the disease in 2007. He was honored at the 2014 ESPY Awards with the Jimmy V Award for his fight against cancer, but he eventually succumbed to the disease in 2015.
These three African-American sports commentators have not only paved the way for future African-American journalists but have proven that anyone can leave their mark in sports journalism.