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September 4, 2012

Last Take: Time for ESPN to Kill the Character of Skip Bayless

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Written by: Nick Reith
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Image courtesy of ESPN

I stopped watching ESPN from 10am to noon.

Don’t think that this is because I don’t wake up until that block of television is over. Most of the time, I watch a morning episode of SportsCenter with a cup of coffee and a bowl of Raisin Bran (for the fiber!), soaking in the current events of the world of sports. Then, everyday when the clock strikes ten, stuff like this starts filling my TV screen, and that’s when I know anything newsworthy that ESPN planned to discuss has already been discussed.

Meanwhile, over on ESPN2, the lights are just beginning to beam on the powdered faces of Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith, the co-hosts of ESPN First Take, which has lately become ESPN’s most talked-about show due to the heated debates between the co-hosts and with their guest du jour. Most of their daily debates involve Tim Tebow, LeBron James, or whatever pertains to the guest of the day. Skip’s job is to debate with Stephen A. on everything they talk about, but what ends up happening is that Skip plays devil’s advocate. He takes the side that the rest of the nation disagrees with, or he makes up a side of the argument that nobody thought existed. While this isn’t always a bad thing–sometimes, it’s good to have someone go against the grain–

the way Skip Bayless makes his arguments crosses over into heavy controversy. Some are so controversial, even, that it’s embarrassing  call myself a journalist for fear that I’ll be associated with Mr. Bayless.

 the way Skip Bayless makes his arguments crosses over into heavy controversy. Some are so controversial, even, that it’s embarrassing  call myself a journalist for fear that I’ll be associated with Mr. Bayless.

While I don’t like that Skip Bayless is on the air, I understand the reasons ESPN has this show and its host. For ESPN, all the negative attention Skip gets in the media is great publicity, even if it’s negative publicity. Viewers rush to twitter to complain about the latest thing Skip has said or done, and ESPN sees this as a good thing. The fact that ESPN has created a villain means that more and more viewers will tune in every day with the hope that they’ll get to watch Bayless get put in his place by one of his guests, such as Mark Cuban or Jalen Rose. As such, Bayless’ controversial statements only fuel the fire that keeps First Take aflame.

This doesn’t excuse ESPN from the problem with keeping Skip Bayless on the air, though. Bayless has crossed the line far too many times in the show’s 5-year history. Many times, he just says something stupid, like his claim last February that Tom Brady was overrated, even though he was making his fifth Super Bowl appearance. Sometimes, however, he crosses the line in ways that shouldn’t happen on national television. Last week, Skip claimed that white Redskins fans will support rookie QB Kirk Cousins over rookie QB Robert Griffin III, because it’s human nature for  white fans to support a white athlete over a black athlete when given the choice. This kind of blatant racism is uncalled for, ESPN. I understand that the desire to be “edgy” in order to garner attention, but this kind of talk doesn’t belong on a station dedicated to “serving sports fans wherever sports are watched, listened to, discussed, debated, read about or played”.

This is more than just a call to get Skip Bayless off the air. This is a statement to show that sports fans shouldn’t buy in to all of the garbage major networks, especially ESPN, are throwing at us. I hold ESPN to a much higher standard than shows like First Take due to the fact that they serve most of the nation’s sports fans. ESPN needs to give content that sports fans deserve, not what will make the most headlines.

Until then, my time will be spent more wisely during the two hours that Skip Bayless is on the air.

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About the Author

Nick Reith
Walk-on student at Indiana University. Senior in the middle of a Sport Communication major. Indiana-area sports fan by nature, Alabama Crimson Tide fan by nurture. Currently the Social Media Editor/IU Men's Soccer reporter/college football writer for IUSportCom,



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