Stephen A. Smith Schools The Class Of 2011

By Marcus Vanderberg 

In terms of journalists as commencement speakers, Stephen A. Smith would easily make my top five.

The blunt ESPN contributor gave the commencement speech at Winston Salem State University Saturday and dropped some knowledge for the class of 2011:

“If you want to be somebody, you’ve got to annihilate the competition,” said Smith, who graduated from WSSU in 1991. “Anything less is a waste of your time and a waste for the people who believe in you.”

And once you give the world your all, “you have to do it over and over and over again,” he said.

“I’m in no mood to mince words,” he said in the commencement speech from the podium.

He told the graduates to look up in the stands and wave to their parents and family.

“They’re not happy for you,” he said. “They’re happy for them. They don’t want you anymore. They’re happy because now you get to pay your own phone bill,” he said to laughter and applause.

In the spring of 2011, “entering the world is as serious as it gets,” Smith said. “We have over 13 million unemployed.”

The question is: “What is waiting for you?” he asked the graduates.

“For those who are lazy: nothing. For those looking for shortcuts: nothing,” he said. “It’s every man for himself out there.”

He said he has no use for those who constantly say, “It’s not fair.”

“One of my bosses once told me, ‘Fair is a place where they judge pigs,'” he said. “Nobody cares about fairness. Everybody is out there trying to get theirs,” and you’ve got to compete against them, keeping morals and ethics always in mind, he said.

Nobody wants to hear excuses, he said. Nobody wants to hear, “They’re keeping me down.”

“No, you’re keeping yourself down,” he said. “Saying that is an excuse to accept mediocrity. You’re looking for people to blame instead of looking in the mirror.”

Also, nobody wants to hear about your suffering, he said.

“With the budget deficit and with all the unemployment, we’re all suffering,” he said.

Consider yourself full-fledged Winston-Salem State Rams, he said.

“You are now officially trained, educated, armed and dangerous,” he said. “Go forth now and steamroll over the competition.”

[H/T Winston-Salem Journal]

TVNewser spoke to Smith recently as part of our Media Beat video series:

Part I:

Media Beat Interview Part II

Media Beat Interview Part III