December 21, 1975|
Jemele Juanita Hill (born December 21, 1975) is an American sports journalist previously writing a column for ESPN.com's Page 2 and formerly hosting ESPN's His and Hers. In June 2013, she succeeded Jalen Rose on ESPN2's Numbers Never Lie. On February 6, 2017, Hill and Michael Smith became the hosts of ESPN's flagship SportsCenter.
Hill began her career as general assignment sports writer for the Raleigh News & Observer. From 1999 to 2005, she served as a sports writer with the Detroit Free Press, mainly covering Michigan State football and basketball. While at the Free Press, she also covered the 2004 Summer Olympics and the NBA Playoffs. Hill worked as a columnist for the Orlando Sentinel from 2005 to 2006.
Hill joined ESPN in November 2006 as a national columnist on ESPN.com. Hill makes regular appearances on television, including SportsCenter and several ESPN programs, including ESPN First Take, Outside the Lines and The Sports Reporters. During the 2012 college football season, Hill worked on Friday nights as a sideline reporter with Carter Blackburn and Rod Gilmore.
In 2011, Hill and Smith began the podcast His & Hers. Its popularity led to ESPN adding Hill to Smith's ESPN2 show Numbers Never Lie in 2013, which was renamed His & Hers a year later. In addition to sports, the show covered social and relationship issues and pop culture, including favorite television shows, music and several movie spoofs. Writing at the Los Angeles Times, Stephen Battaglio contrasted Hill and Smith's style with the "vein-bulging, finger-pointing debates...filling hours of sports talk programming." Instead, he said, "Hill and Smith often agree and never take an opposing view just for the sake of creating provocative television...They are powered by wound-up energy." His & Hers ran through January 2017.
On February 6, 2017 Hill and Smith became the anchors of ESPN's flagship show, SportsCenter. Airing at 6PM, their installment of SportsCenter is called SC6 with Michael and Jemele. Writing at Vibe, Michael Saponara said the new show was expected to focus on "the duo’s developed chemistry, and bold personalities instead of the traditional Sportscenter which mostly stuck to highlights of the day’s events."
In 2007, Hill won the inaugural McKenzie Cup, which is given in tribute to sports editor Van McKenzie, at the annual Poynter Media Summit.
During the 2008 NBA Playoffs, Hill was suspended from her post after referencing Adolf Hitler in an article about the then-NBA champion Boston Celtics and the Detroit Pistons. In an editorial describing why she could not support the Celtics, Hill wrote: "Rooting for the Celtics is like saying Hitler was a victim. It's like hoping Gorbachev would get to the blinking red button before Reagan. Deserving or not, I still hate the Celtics." The comments generated a negative response and that portion of the editorial was taken out shortly after the column was published. Hill was subsequently suspended for one week and she issued an apology through ESPN. The network drew criticism for its treatment of Hill, as another employee, Lou Holtz, also made a Hitler reference in 2008 and was not suspended. In a piece for the Los Angeles Times entitled "ESPN should suspend Lou Holtz for Hitler remark," Randy Harvey wrote, "We detect a double standard."
In 2009, Hill drew ire of University of Kentucky fans for suggesting they would be willing to accept Charles Manson as the coach of their basketball team as long as he won. Hill apologized for the comment.
As of May 2017, ESPN's ratings for the 6 o'clock hour have continued to decline since Hill and Michael Smith took over as hosts of the revamped Sportscenter. SC6's ratings decline has however been somewhat less pronounced than the decline of other ESPN shows.