Most of us sports fans know Stephen A. Smith from his fiery, outgoing personality, and his use of big words you can only find the definitions of from a dictionary. That's exactly what he brought when he came to the Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts on Friday night. Smith lectured students about how he got started as a journalist, gave inspirational advice, commented on UConn athletics and cracked a ton of knee-slapping jokes.
Of course, the event was on 4/20, and being the jokester that he is, kicked off with a 4/20 joke, giving the audience quite the roar. Getting into more serious topics, Smith started off praising the UConn basketball teams on how they have such a rich history of success with multiple championships from both the men’s and women’s team, Smith said the men's team hasn’t been the same as they used to be, but praised the hiring of new men’s basketball coach Dan Hurley as he feels that he is the right man for the job.
Smith then went into how he got into the world of sports journalism explaining how he started off writing for his college newspaper called the Winston-Salem Journal as well as the Philadelphia Inquirer. He credited to being true to himself and staying on his game to how he ended up where he is today, being one of the biggest sports television personalities:
“All I can do is be myself, and it worked,” said Smith. “Being thorough, being on top of your game, and being myself”.
Smith is well-known for his spot on one of the hottest sports talk shows on TV right now: “First Take” co-hosted with Max Kellerman and Molly Qerim.
Smith also stated how anyone in the crowd can be whatever their gifts allow them to be. Smith gave advice to students in the audiences on how to approach working in the real world. He said to always be ready to compete with one another and learn the art of networking. Smith gave examples of players such as Dez Bryant and was able to take a jab at his well-known dislike of the Dallas Cowboys.
Smith went on to explain his purposes in life: “Number one, how do I make my boss more money?, and number two, how do I get some of it?” He stated how it is important to make sure you find out how to make your boss as much money as possible because making your boss more money will eventually make you more money. Smith also talked about what high-end employers look for in their candidates when they are looking for a job. He said everyone should try to get an internship while in college because it will build you skill set, and employers look at your skills sets more than your grades. Internships also build a portfolio and gives students experience.
Smith went on to talk about how everyone needs a mentor and cheerleader. A mentor to guide you, and a cheerleader to support you. He explained all of these while throwing in occasional stories and athlete references such as Odell Beckham Jr. and Colin Kaepernick.
Near the end of the lecture, Smith sat down for a Q&A session with students moderated by a member of the women’s basketball team. He answered questions on how he felt about the NFL and NBA protest and how NFL players can kneel during the National Anthem because they have the right to. He also was asked if he feels like college athletes should get paid. “College players deserve to get paid,” Smith said.
Although he said they should be paid, he explained how not every Division 1 athlete should get money, but the top tier college athletes at big schools should get compensation. He was asked on his thoughts of the men’s and women’s basketball team and explained how the men “have a long way to go” but are moving in the right direction with the hiring of Dan Hurley. But he stated how it was a joke that the men’s team was in the AAC and urged the heads of basketball to help them get into a better conference. Lastly, he was asked why he hates dominance in sports and explained how Kevin Durant going to the Golden State Warriors two summers ago ruined the 2016-2017 season for him.
“I thought he was very funny and insightful” Aaron Trelease, a fourth-semester business major, said. “I’m a big fan and I enjoyed his lecture a lot.” said Trealease.
“I liked the way he was real with it and said speak your mind and understand the consequences,” Billy Maciolek, a second-semester Engineering major said. “I didn’t like him before, but now I do.”
Andrew Au is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.