Stephen A. Smith is the face of ESPN. His hot takes and humorous catchphrases hold everyone’s attention whenever they are watching him on television. He has certainly made some people mad over the years, though. One time, Little League baseball parents even sued Smith for some comments he made on the show he co-hosts, First Take.
A Little League baseball team was stripped of its title
In 2015, Little League International stripped the Jackie Robinson West baseball team of its 2014 Little League World Series title. This was because the team participated in “fraud and cover-up,” according to Sports Illustrated.
Little League, reportedly, determined that the team “knowingly violated” league residency rules, according to Sports Illustrated. An investigation found that team officials recruited players outside of their district and falsified boundary maps to make it look like players lived within the district. It also found that the team officials met with other officials from near-by leagues “to attempt to persuade them to retroactively agree to boundary changes,” so players would not be ineligible, according to Sports Illustrated.
The team filed a lawsuit against Little League to get documents that explained the punishment they received. Little League then filed the court documents a couple of months later, and the team then filed a petition to withdraw the lawsuit, according to Sports Illustrated.
Jackie Robinson West won the U.S. Little League World Series Title in 2014 but fell to South Korea in the title game, according to Sporting News. They were the first all-African-American team to win the U.S. title, according to Sports Illustrated.
Stephen A. Smith gave his opinions on the scandal
This was, of course, some pretty big news when it was happening. Because of the severity of the news, Stephen A. Smith and his co-hosts on First Take discussed it in February 2015.
“First all-African-American team to win the championship, and this is how you did it? Just disgraceful,” Smith said, according to a video on USA Today’s high school sports site. “Thank God the kids really had nothing to do with this. They’re victims in all of this just as much as anybody else. A bunch of adults and parents who knew better, parents who knew better, decided to do this. Pox on all of their houses, they should all be ashamed of themselves.”Stephen A. Smith
Smith also made comments saying coach Darold Butler “threw” his players “into the wind,” according to Sporting News. Smith definitely had a right to criticize the adults involved in the scandal. However, some of the kids’ parents were not too happy with his comments.
Little League parents sued Stephen A. Smith
One year after Stephen A. Smith made his comments, parents and coaches of the former Little League players on that team filed a lawsuit against multiple parties, according to USA Today. Two of those parties were Smith and ESPN. The lawsuit was for defamation and false light, USA Today reported.
The suit alleged that ESPN defamed Darold Butler, who was also a plaintiff in the suit, Sporting News reported. It also specifically mentioned Stephen A. Smith for his throwing the players into the wind comments, according to Sporting News. The complaint also stated, “Little League was aware of the potential residency issues of the children of the JRW Parents, but chose to ignore and/or deliberately conceal these facts in order to garner higher ratings, publicity, and money for defendant Little League,” the Chicago Sun-Times reported, according to Sporting News.
In June 2017, however, a judge ultimately dropped Smith and ESPN from the lawsuit, according to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.
Stephen A. Smith most likely makes someone mad every day that he goes on T.V. He is a high-profile personality that has a lot of opinions. No one will probably be more mad at him, though, than those Little League parents were in 2015 and 2016.