A day after the LaVar Ball-Colin Cowherd bromance devolved into a nationally televised trainwreck, the fallout continues.
If you missed it, Ball appeared on The Herd on Thursday, where he sparred with Cowherd’s co-host Kristine Leahy over the Big Baller Brand’s attitude toward women, told her to “stay in your lane,” called her a “hater” and refused to look at her. He also made multiple jokes about FS1 host Jason Whitlock’s weight.
Leahy said Thursday she doesn’t want The Herd—or any FS1 program—to have him on again.
“I hope that yesterday showed who he is and that we stop putting him on all of these networks just to get controversial statements out of him because that is potentially what could happen,” she said. “And I think there’s no place for that in TV, no matter what kind of ratings you’re going to get.”
This is a bit of a change, as Leahy said Wednesday she would welcome Ball back on the air.
“I would actually love to have him back on the show,” she said on Speak for Yourself. “I know a lot of people are saying we should never have him on again. I would love to if he would like to come and look me in the eye and talk to me as a person and he can disagree everything i have to say. But let’s do it man to man”
On Thursday, Cowherd also gave an explanation as to why he didn’t speak up during the exchange between Ball and Leahy, something many viewers took issue with.
This whole thing is a mess, but let’s try to make some sense of it.
Leahy is right that sports talk on TV and on the radio shouldn’t have the type of over-the-top personal attacks that LaVar brought Thursday. Which means it also probably shouldn’t feature the type of over-the-top personal attacks that Leahy had lobbed at LaVar previously.
The fact is, when provocative opinions are part of your brand strategy, you risk things getting out of hand sometimes. That’s true in terms of provocative guests like LaVar Ball and also in terms of provocative hosts. Because Ball certainly isn’t the only person making “controversial statements” on FS1 airwaves for the sake of ratings.
In many ways, Thursday’s incident on The Herd was a natural outgrowth of the “embrace debate” ethos of sports talk in 2017. As our Andrew Bucholtz wrote, it was also an ideal outcome for FS1.
Fox has been trotting out Ball across their platforms on countless occasions, with his desire to hawk his $495 shoes meshing perfectly with their desire for controversial, opinion-provoking moments that will get people talking about FS1. Here, they got a really memorable moment from Ball, one that got much of Twitter erupting with takes on a little-watched show on a little-watched network, and one that will be discussed ad nauseam across FS1 and elsewhere in the next few days.
Leahy is totally fair to request that LaVar Ball not return to The Herd or to FS1 anytime soon. He was rude and disrespectful to her, and she deserves better. But for the sake of consistency, she and the rest of the sports world’s opinionators should be thoughtful and respectful in their comments, as well.