ESPN is in the midst of pivoting their iconic program, SportsCenter. Instead of the litany of meaningless NBA dunks and NHL fights that we can pull up on our phones at any time, ESPN is giving SportsCenter personality-driven shows. The guinea pig was Scott Van Pelt on the Midnight ET SportsCenter. While some may argue with the ratings of SVP’s SC, it has been a success. Now, a brotha and a sista come to the forefront on The Six. After watching it for the first time (I know I’m late, like a brotha operating on Colored People Time), I can say with my chest out “It is awesome!”
SportsCenter is usually so damn proper. It feels stiff, rigid and dare I say boring at times. I get it. It’s supposed to be “professional”. After a long day at work, you don’t necessarily want “professional”. Sometimes you want to unbutton that top button of your shirt, loosen up the tie, kick off your shoes and kick back to some “fun” sports talk. That is the first thing you notice about The Six. It is fun. Michael Smith and Jemele Hill are allowed to be themselves. The Six is His & Hers on PEDs presented to a bigger audience. Humor, pop culture, nerd stuff, sports talk and absolute ridiculousness is mixed perfectly together that does not come across as “try hard”. Jemele dipping a slice of pizza in a glass of milk was probably the most disgustingly sexy thing I’ve ever seen.
Part of the initial praise of the show comes from the novelty of having two Black co-hosts on primetime network television. It is a big accomplishment for the culture thanks in large part to the late Stuart Scott. At about the halfway mark, though, I felt the show needed a can of Red Bull. The conversation became a little stagnant, especially when the two started talking about Nascar and the NHL which the duo clearly does not invest much time watching. In recent years, Michael and Jemele have been a bit on the “safe” side in regards to their opinions. I understand Jemele got herself in some hot water several years ago, but someone needs to play the role of Charlemagne Tha God here.
The Six is not unapologetically Black and it does not need to be. The powers that be could look at other ESPN programming such as First Take and its NBA telecast for inspiration. As the sports and music cultures continue to merge, a Hip-Hop infusion could do the show some good. The show is described as more of a discussion format rather than debate, but some edgy over-the-top arguments would be a welcome addition.
Much like Stuart Scott did, Jemele and Michael can help generate interest from young Black people working to break into the media broadcasting space. You do not have to sacrifice your personality, or "sell out" if you will, to have success at the highest level. Continued improvements can make The Six a great, trailblazing show in the coming years.
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