After the controversy surrounding the short suspension of a pro football player for alleged domestic violence on his then-fiancée (now his wife), ESPN is responding to controversy surrounding one of their hosts’ comments on the subject. But are the views of these very public figures giving the wrong ideas about domestic violence?
Ray Rice of the Baltimore Ravens was suspended for only two games after a domestic violence arrest in Atlantic City — he was seen on camera dragging his unconscious girlfriend out of an elevator. ESPN decided to take up the issue and host Stephen A. Smith upset just as many people for suggesting that a domestic violence victim may provoke their abuse.
“What I’ve tried to employ the female members of my family — some of who you all met and talked to and what have you — is that… let’s make sure we don’t do anything to provoke wrong actions, because if I come — or somebody else come, whether it’s law enforcement officials, your brother or the fellas that you know — if we come after somebody has put their hands on you, it doesn’t negate the fact that they already put their hands on you,” Smith said on ESPN’s show, First Take, according to Yahoo.
It was a colleague of Smith’s at ESPN, Michelle Beadle, who first called out Smith for what he had said. She took to Twitter to share her disappointment.
So I was just forced to watch this morning's First Take. A) I'll never feel clean again B) I'm now aware that I can provoke my own beating.
— Michelle Beadle (@MichelleDBeadle) July 25, 2014
Smith eventually gave an apology, but his suspension was announced on Tuesday.
“On Friday, speaking right here on First Take on the subject of domestic violence, I made what can only amount to the most egregious error of my career,” Smith said. “My words came across that it is somehow a woman’s fault. This was not my intent. It is not what I was trying to say.”
ESPN decided to suspend Smith for a week for his remarks, but was it enough?
“As many of you know, there has been substantial news coverage in the past few days related to comments Stephen A. made last Friday in the wake of the NFL’s decision to suspend Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice for two games following charges of assaulting his then fiancée, now wife, a few months ago,” said ESPN president, John Skipper, to the company’s employees in a memo obtained by Sports Illustrated. “We’ve said publicly and in this space that those remarks did not reflect our company’s point of view, or our values. They certainly don’t reflect my personal beliefs.”