What a week in sports this has been, and the week isn’t even over yet. As we await game one of the NBA finals, WNBA news has taken hold on television sports shows. The aftermath of a flagrant foul on Caitlin Clark sparked responses from Angel Reese and others about the physicality of WNBA play. Countless conversations are taking place about Clark’s treatment in the league juxtaposed with the opportunities she has garnered off the court. With the undertones of racial inequities playing the backdrop of all of this, on-screen analysts continue to try and make sense of this new space that we’re in, in women’s sports.

In a spirited discussion with ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith, Monica McNutt retorted the sports commentator by saying he could have done more with his platform. This was in response to Smith stating that there weren’t many other entities that have covered women’s sports the way that First Take has. In response to McNutt, a seemingly bewildered Smith let out an audible wow. From that point, social media was abuzz, as they felt that McNutt had the First Take host stumped.

This moment elicited such a reaction in part because this was a Black woman asserting herself with Smith. So much about this exchange garnering the attention that it has is about how you speak to a Black woman on a national platform. The fact that this discussion was about the WNBA heightened this even more. You see, there’s a contingent of people who would rather women discuss women’s sports as the “experts.”

Who better than a woman to know how to address and speak to women, right? As the coverage of women’s sports ramps up, we must keep some things in mind. Women should be a focal in the coverage of their sports. But if you’re a man in the space, understand that how you choose to assert yourself means everything. Even in heated discussions, we have to be mindful of our tone and what it can imply negatively.

A general women’s consensus about Smith’s mentality is that he rarely, if ever, will admit to being wrong about something. This conversation in particular furthers that sentiment. It’s a delicate cord to stroke when it comes to content involving women. As men, we have to accept that and navigate in kind. There’s a lot to be mindful of, but I don’t find it impossible for men to cover women’s sports respectfully.

I mean, an easy baseline for all of this is to maybe not call these women b**ches on national television. Right after the above episode of First Take was ESPN’s The Pat McCaffe Show. In his opening segment, McCaffe referred to Caitlin Clark as a white b**ch, colloquially. Further uproar continued for such an out-of-pocket comment. McCaffe’s show is known to be less regimented. In that spirit, this slip occurred. The former Pro Bowler apologized before the end of the day, which was warranted. But it further shows that we have to do a better job as men of holding ourselves to a higher standard.

As in many West Indian households, there is an age-old phrase that goes “Who don’t hear, must feel.” We’re at the point where we’re hearing the critiques of how we go about addressing women in media. If we don’t heed it, we’ll find ourselves in positions of having to apologize after damage was done. I don’t think that the era that we’re in is a flash in the pan. The WNBA is on an uptick that will sustain. The visibility of women on these channels will also be sustained. So, with that being the reality, it behooves us all to be able to coexist respectfully. That’s going to take humility. That humility will only stand to benefit us all.