By: Aiden Holczer
Infamous sports broadcaster and TV personality Skip Bayless has officially made the worst take of his entire sports broadcasting career. Much to my astonishment, it has nothing to do with the “faux G.O.A.T” Lebron James or any of the other superstar players he lampoons daily on FS1’s Undisputed and ESPN’s First Take. This god awful take was in regards to Dallas Cowboy quarterback Dak Prescott—of whom Skip has been a fan of since he was drafted all the way back in 2016.
On September 9th, in an interview with Graham Bensinger, Dak Prescott revealed that the death of his older brother Jace was due to suicide, and that his passing brought out “emotions I have never felt before.” As September is Suicide Prevention Month, Dak Prescott hoped that sharing his battle with depression in the wake of his brother’s death, coupled with the country-wide quarantine, would help others dealing with depression to get through these tough times–showing that even superstar athletes have mental health struggles.
It must have been a surprise to Dak when, the next morning–which just so happened to be National Suicide Prevention day–he was getting blasted by Skip Bayless, a self-proclaimed “die hard” Cowboys fan on national television. In short, Skip criticized Dak going public with his mental health struggles due to the position he plays. Skip’s whole argument is based around his belief that, as a quarterback,–the most demanding position in the sport of football and the one that requires the most leadership–voicing your struggles with mental health may have a negative effect on the team.
Do I even need to begin to describe how asinine and cruel this statement is? Let me ask you a question, Skip Bayless, because you are so concerned with how Dak’s statements may affect this football team’s performance. Would you rather Dak Prescott suffer in silence and take snaps on the field with a depression-laden mind, or would you rather he share his experiences with his brothers-in-arms and establish a support system?
Based on Skip’s comments, I’m inclined to believe that he would rather see Dak Prescott go with option one. While I vehemently disagree with Skip Bayless, I can’t help but feel sorry for him. In many ways, he’s just another product of a generation who enforced their toxic and sexist beliefs upon young men, specifically athletes, telling them to “man up” and that “real men don’t cry”.
Of course athletes of both genders can be told to “shut up and play (insert sport here)”, but with male athletes, these remarks stem from a place of deeply rooted beliefs about what it means to be “a man” in society. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that the majority of people who watch Skip Bayless believe that being an athlete is the pinnacle of masculinity, so it didn’t come as a surprise to me when I saw a large portion of his fan base defending him tooth and nail in comment sections across the internet. However, the only thing less surprising than his defendants existence were their ages. How could I have guessed that the same men who were taught to “never let anyone see you cry” were on the front lines criticizing an athlete–no, another man–for voicing his experiences with depression in the wake of his brother’s death?