Exhibit A: You clicked on this article because it had the words Skip, Bayless, ESPN and smarter in the headline.
It’s true. For whatever reason, and not just with Skip Bayless, we always feel the need to tell someone how wrong they are when they say something we disagree with. It’s just not in our nature to ignore it and move on.
Skip Bayless is well aware of this.
This and this alone is why, despite how much you despise him and just about everything that comes out of his mouth, ESPN keeps him around. They know exactly what they are doing, just like the people who kept Howard Stern on the radio years ago. It’s not so much about the people who want to watch and listen to him because they like what he says. It’s all about you — the person who clicks on this and any other article with his name in the headline. You did it because you disagree. You watch ESPN’s First Take because you disagree with both he and Stephen A. Smith.
Think about it. When was the last time you heard anyone say “Boy, I love that Skip Bayless, he just tells it like it is”? You’ve never heard anyone say that.
Bayless has become rich and famous because we hate him. It’s really that simple. The guy makes $500,000 a year and has a net worth of over $4 million. He has over 1.1 million followers on Twitter. His resume includes some of the top newspapers in the country and he’s never been fired from any of those jobs. He’s been one of the most sought after commodities in sports journalism since he entered the game. And why?
Because he knows how to get you to react.
At the end of the day, anyone can sit down and write a line-by-line recap of a sporting event. Being a sports journalist involves much more than that. There are 24 hour networks and entire sections of newspapers devoted to sports because they entertain us. Everything about them entertains us.
Perhaps most entertaining are the various opinions generated as a result of the outcomes. The most boring articles I read or segments I watch and listen to are those that I agree with. The art of journalism is in the ability to broadcast an opinion that you know people will disagree with, back it up with stats and facts, and let the people debate it with you and amongst each other. That, my friends, is the recipe for success in 2013 and has been for a while. Ask Bill O’Reilly, Rush Limbaugh and Bill Maher.
Skip Bayless seems to do this weekly and you couldn’t ignore it if you tried. You can boycott his show, but you can’t boycott shows that replay highlights of his show and articles by Deadspin and Bleacher Report written by people just like you who despise him and disagree with something he recently said. You can’t ignore your news feed on Facebook, where you will eventually come across an article about Skip Bayless shared by one of your friends who also hates Skip Bayless.
It doesn’t matter how many websites, articles or Twitter accounts pop up pleading for ESPN to fire Bayless. The guy is a lightning rod and a cash cow all in one — and ESPN knows it. Their recent re-hiring of Keith Olberman is proof of that. That guy is loathed by conservatives and liberals alike, but we’ll all watch his show, because we want to see what kind of things are going to come out of his mouth that we’ll disagree with. Just like we do with Skip Bayless.
The next time you are walking past a television and you hear Skip Bayless offering up what seems to you like an ignorant opinion about a topic very close to your heart, don’t get mad at him about it. Get mad at yourself for not having the bearing to shrug it off. And you won’t. And Skip Bayless knows this, because he’s smarter than you.
BY J.P. SCOTT ON JULY 21, 2013
Follow @JPScottSports on Twitter