Talking down to international teams should never be tolerated
As I alluded to previously, some criticism of the US Men's National Team is probably warranted on some level after two disappointing losses in exhibition matches. To a degree, some of that criticism is probably even deserved, even if that means some of it is directed toward the coaching staff. The team will have to perform better on both ends of the floor to see success in Tokyo later this month.
What should absolutely never be tolerated, though, is discrediting or talking down to international teams. Stephen A. Smith has had a particularly rough past week or so and has continued to dig himself into a hole with his incredibly insensitive comments toward the Nigerian National Team.
It should go without saying that using any player's name in and of itself, of all things, to discredit their skill and/or talent is shameful and not worthy of being considered journalism in any sense. Regardless of how "difficult" it may be for Smith to pronounce their names, Caleb Agada, Gabe Vincent, and Ike Nwamu (among others) all had impressive performances. They, along with Nigeria head coach Mike Brown, deserve tremendous credit for defeating the US.
Although by far being less egregious, Shannon Sharpe shared a similarly dismissive comment about the Nigerian National Team, saying that he and other members of the Undisputed crew could beat them.
While Sharpe's statement was obviously hyperbolic, it only further contributes to the narrative that teams like Nigeria and Australia, among others, are guaranteed to lose to the US Men's National Team at any given time: a belief that Coach Pop staunchly protested in a post-game spat with The Athletic's Joe Vardon.
Smith and Sharpe do not necessarily have malicious intentions in their commentary on the Nigerian National Team. That being said, the assumption that Nigeria cannot be the better team, along with that kind of commentary, opens the floodgates for far worse, potentially xenophobic comments like a recent tweet put out by Barstool's Kevin Clancy.