The business of life, according to Stephen A. Smith

Stephen A. Smith talks in Hughes-Trigg on Feb. 9. Photo credit: Ryan Miller

SMU students are blessed with a school that has done a good job giving them an opportunity in self-promotion for life beyond the classroom. So when a man known for his ability to self-promote like ESPN personality Stephen A. Smith comes to town, it’s no surprise he’d fill Hughes-Trigg theatre to a point of nearly bursting even on a Sunday evening.

“You’ve got to ask yourself who are you and what do you want to be,” Smith said. “You’ve got to ask yourself what kind of mission are you on? What obstacles are you willing to crawl over or leap over to get to your ultimate destination? What is your ultimate destination? What are you about?”

The presentation of Smith by The Association of Black Students and Multicultural Student Affairs was in recognition of February being Black History Month.

In much of the discussion, Smith used his highly opinionated style of speech seen on ESPN’s debate show, First Take. Though his career in broadcasting is what has made Smith famous in the minds of sports fans throughout the country, it has been his charisma and talking ability that has made him a standout.

“The agenda is to make a difference,” he said. “I believe I serve a higher purpose. Do you? Is that your mission…or do you just want to have a job or a career, make your money, go home and mind your business? Because people like that usually achieve some degree of success but still maintain some degree a level of non-fulfillment because they serve no higher purpose other than themselves.”

Much of the discussion also focused on the recent discipline of Oklahoma State sophomore, and future NBA player, Marcus Smart. Smart was given a 3-game suspension by the Big XII for shoving a Red Raider fan, who allegedly called him a racial slur during Oklahoma State’s loss to Texas Tech on Saturday.

Smith has been known for his avid defense of black athletes throughout the country, he was asked his opinion the morning after Smart’s incident and quickly stated he thought Smart should indeed be penalized.

“Many people in the African-American community are very upset with me right now, calling me a sellout” he said. “That [fan] who Marcus Smart shoved has got his job. He’s got his money. You’re Marcus Smart. You’re on the cusp of making millions of dollars. You’re under a microscope. It’s a character issue, and you can’t control yourself? What I’m saying is you have to send a message.”

The abrasive Smith compared Smart’s lack of judgment to the business world, and the young man from Flower Mound, Texas will be much harder to promote as valuable.

“Understand there’s a difference between popularity and being valuable,” he said. “Popularity is people knowing you. Valuable is you being defined as an individual who can make money for people… I aspire to be valuable. I want to be able to make money for people because that means I’ll get some.

“It’s business. You get in the way of business and business will take you out. Accept it, and then ultimately embrace the challenge of being a valuable enough individual with what business gives you instead of a liability to the world. That’s something Marcus Smart didn’t know yesterday. I assure you he knows it now.”

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