Carnival Barker

“No man ever went broke overestimating the ignorance of the American public.” — P.T. Barnum

One of my loyal readers (one of the seven) and I engaged in a brief discussion over the antics of Skip Bayless. For those not into sports or sports commentary, Bayless has been a carnival barker for decades that essentially made it as a troll before there ever was something called the internet. Others would call them shock jocks or provocateurs.

My first introduction to Bayless was when he was on ESPN. They used to have a show called “The Sports Reporters” where heavyweight (or just heavy) journalists would come on and debate the issues of the day. The cast would run the gamut including award-winning authors Mitch Albom and Mike Lupica to Bayless and child molester Bill Conlin.

Bayless once insinuated that Troy Aikman was gay as a prominent journalist that covered the Dallas Cowboys. This was in the 1990s when there were no prominent gay athletes and very few prominently gay celebrities. Besides, it wasn’t true and even if it was a horrible way to go about breaking that sort of news.

That seems somehow fitting today as Bayless finds himself in hot water over a tweet following Damar Hamlin’s gut-wrenching injury. Hamlin is apparently doing better and hopefully will be able to leave the hospital at some point. Who knows whether he will ever resume his career and at this point that is nowhere on anyone’s radar.

Bayless’s tweet (which I will not show) appeared to question why the league was canceling the game or how they would resume the game. It appeared to show some concern for Hamlin, but was worded poorly and seemed insensitive at the time. As my friend pointed out, there was no reason to tweet that at all. No one cared about the game in that moment and most sports leagues would have handled it the exact same way. You deal with the issue at hand and worry about ramifications much later.

The point to all this is that some public servants and some commentators are desperate to be the story. There is a fine line between gaining fame by being a trusted voice to comment on the story of the day and gaining fame by being the story of the day. This yet another time when Bayless becomes the story. People are calling for him to be fired, but more will watch in the meantime. Color me surprised.

In all fairness, Bayless isn’t the only guy doing this. Stephen A. Smith is just another example of a guy that does this. Perhaps we round them all up, put them on the same show and see who can garner the most attention. That way, the rest of us can just avoid that show and listen to more thoughtful commentary.

Author: sbarzilla

I have written three books about baseball including The Hall of Fame Index. I also write for You can follow me on twitter @sbarzilla.

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