ESPN talking head Stephen A. Smith went on TV and admitted Monday to "making the most egregious error" of his career during a broadcast on Friday.
He's talking, of course, about comments he made regarding domestic violence. He indicated that in some instances women somehow "provoke" domestic violence.
His apology kicked off "First Take" on Monday:
Here are a few lessons we can take from Smith's very public apology.
In this apology, Smith takes his time getting there, but he finally owns it.
He starts: "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. Yet, the failure to
clearly articulate something different lies squarely on my shoulders."
One could argue that he apologizes here for the fact that his words were misinterpreted. He doesn't say, "I said something that I believed at the time, but
after some soul searching and education, I now know my view was wrong and dangerous."
He essentially apologizes for the audience's misinterpretation.
He does, however, admit that what he said Friday was "foolish" and "wrong." He says he's sorry, but it's unclear exactly what he's apologizing for. Is it
the fact that he made the comments, or the fact that they were, in his mind, misinterpreted?
He gets to the point around the 1:20 mark:
"Unfortunately, I did an incredibly poor job of asserting my point of view this past Friday. For that, again, I am truly, truly sorry."
To err is human, so remind people that you're human.
Smith evokes his mother and sister, reminding the audience that he's a human who has family that is probably angrier with him than any viewer possibly
He also notes that he's spoken out about domestic violence in earlier TV appearances on ESPN, because he's dealt with domestic violence issues in his own
Get specific with the target of your apology.
"Particularly to victims of domestic abuse, and to my female family members and loved ones I've disappointed and who know I know better."
This sword can be double-edged. Smith probably got it right here, but if you name people in your apology, make sure you don't leave out anyone. That could
lead to a follow-up apology, which is never a good thing.
Make it brief.
Smith's apology lasted all of a minute and 45 seconds. Apologies don't need to be long, drawn-out soliloquies to convey contrition.
Many in the sports media didn't buy Smith's apology. Deadspin called it "unconvincing
," and the Big Lead called it "adequate