Sound, but still fury

Am I supposed to be impressed, ESPN?

Yes, I was repulsed by the comments of Stephen A. Smith, who intimated that women need to be careful not to provoke men into knocking them unconscious in elevators. And now I see you've suspended him because of those comments - to much applause.

Pardon me while I don't put my hands together for your impressive moral stand.

Maybe it would have been different if the Worldwide Leader had actually had the balls to criticize the NFL for giving Ray Rice an entire two-game suspension for whatever actions led to his dragging his then-fiance's limp body from an elevator in Atlantic City. A few ESPN employees did muster the gumption to suggest that maybe, just maybe, this punishment may not be quite enough - notably, Michelle Beadle, Keith Olbermann, Colin Cowherd and (credit where credit is due) Skip Bayless. But for the most part, the talking heads who take up the interminable hours between sporting events spewed tired pablum, and some even wondered if Rice's punishment was too severe.

But we all know who really runs the SportsCenter show, don't we. First, Playmakers disappeared, and then so did ESPN support of and public contribution to a concussion documentary months in the making. Daddy Goodell says jump, and ESPN jumps, with a panel discussion on the metrics and execution of said leap following closely behind. The network employs a parade of former players and coaches and trumpets the 'exclusives' they provide - such as when one of those ex-coaches becomes a coach again (gosh, how did his current employer ever learn of his plans to accept another job offer?). It does good things, such as ESPN 360 and 30 for 30 films. But is also provides a platform to spout uninformed opinions and unsourced material.

So could it be that, unwilling or unable to take aim at the real problem - a billion-dollar enterprise that seems to consider smoking pot worse than hitting women (the women who are touted to make up 50 percent of its fan base and to whom it aggressively markets) - ESPN targeted the lower-hanging fruit in its own orchard? Smith meekly goes away for a week, the network congratulates itself on its forward-thinking approach, and in a few days, the machine starts grinding the grist again. 

Smith's comments offended me. Smith offends me in general, as do shows such as First Take in the first place. These commentators and forums are not sports journalism. They're vehicles for self-glorification and the widespread distribution of stupidity.

You want to take a stand, ESPN? Get some substantial, respectable programming. Make Smith's suspension permanent. Not because he failed, as he said in a half-assed apology, to clearly articulate his point. Because he, and his ilk, never clearly articulate anything.