Back in March, Stephen A. Smith made an appearance on Dan Le Batard’s show, sparking a viral conversation about the state of hot-take shows.
Le Batard didn’t hold back, expressing his displeasure with what he believed Smith and Skip Bayless had done to sports television.
Their discussion continued to grab attention as they exchanged barbs on their respective shows until they finally had a face-to-face (or rather, Zoom-to-Zoom) meeting on Smith’s podcast just this past week.
Once again, the topic of debate shows took center stage, with Smith defending his style and pointing out the humorous side of it. He acknowledged the diversity in audience preferences and playfully chided Le Batard for being somewhat sanctimonious, though not quite hypocritical, in his critique.
Le Batard gracefully accepted Smith’s characterization and added his own perspective on the evolution of debate shows. He argued that they had taken a darker turn, becoming unnecessarily harsh on athletes and losing sight of the celebration of sports in the process.
Smith countered by highlighting that debate-style shows existed even before First Take and Sports Reporters, emphasizing that this format wasn’t something new but had evolved over time.
These exchanges showcased both men’s compelling arguments. It’s worth noting that some may view their interactions as a scripted “work” rather than an unplanned “shoot,” using the debate-show topic to create content, cross-promote, and generate headlines.
The discussion about the state of sports debate shows is undeniably intriguing. While Smith and Le Batard disagreed on certain aspects, one point of contention remained: the extent to which modern debate shows emphasize sensationalism over genuine discussion.
In this aspect, some argue that Le Batard holds the upper hand in the debate.