The dynasty is over, and a new rivalry has begun.
ESPN 2’s hit sports debate show “First Take” ruled the sports airwaves in its 10 years on the air. Spearheaded by the very opinionated and stark Skip Bayless, the show flourished by creating the concept of a live sports debate featuring Bayless and Stephen A. Smith, both known for their loud, outlandish opinions.
“First Take” became the go-to show for many sports viewers when the 10 a.m. time slot came around and a destination spot for many athletes, artists, and celebrities to promote themselves by going to battle with the sports journalist titans.
Much to the surprise of all viewers and television experts, Bayless left the show he helped create and the network that gave him the platform for a new network and show on Fox Sports One called “Undisputed.”
Bayless’ reasoning for his departure was simple: he wanted more money and freedom. He compared the difference between the two networks and had some harsh words for his former employer, ESPN.
““ESPN, being owned by Walt Disney … I just felt a pressure of the last five, six years that I never quite fit,” Bayless said. “I felt like I gave about 75 percent into our debate. Disney is Mickey and Minnie. Fox is ‘The Simpsons,’ ‘Family Guy.’ A different culture.”
Bayless also went on to describe how he believed that former “First Take” producer and present “Undisputed” producer Jamie Horowitz would allow him to have total freedom in making his arguments and express how he truly feels.
Did Skip Bayless make a mistake by leaving “First Take”?
According to the daily cable ratings, “Undisputed” at the 9:30 a.m. time slot, debuted on Tuesday, September 6th with a .10 rating, which is really good for a sports show. However, comparing this to “First Take,” it wasnt even close, with his former show boasting a 0.32 rating, 457 percent more than “Undisputed.”
It got even worse for Bayless on the second day of his show, where his rating dropped to 0.7, a 30 percent drop off from his opening day numbers.
So, to answer the question at hand is hard because you can look at it in two ways:
On one hand, I applaud anyone who trailblazers their own path in this society. Bayless took a foreign concept to ESPN and turned it into the blueprint for sports talk shows on many networks. He also felt, in his heart, that he was being limited somewhere and decided to make a change to a place that would give him his freedom and pay him more (which was more important is up to you to decide).
On the other hand, Bayless left a show that has been ingratiated into the hearts of so many sports fans across the world. He left the show that has allowed him to make his mark on the current sports landscape. He left a show that gave him the ultimate platform and that allowed him to live out the dream of many sports journalists and many fans: being paid to talk about what you love on television.
In my humble, and admittedly selfish opinion, I wish Bayless would’ve stayed and continued the dominance that he had going with Smith at “First Take.” There was nothing like watching those two go at it every morning and picking a side to agree with. Not to mention that he’s basically giving his same schtick that made him so famous on “First Take” to his new show and now, it just seems played out.
Bayless is known for being staunchly stubborn in his support for Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys, Tim Tebow, the San Antonio Spurs, and for his hatred of LeBron James. He has also criticized playing the fence (leaning more towards African Americans) when it comes time to talk about race relations in sports.
On “First Take,” whether you loved him or hated him, it was all entertaining, and you consistently watched every morning because you wanted to see what he could possibly say next.
Now, with “Undisputed,” it all seems like a knockoff of the prototype, and the ratings show it.
You should’ve stayed home Skip… You should’ve stayed home.
Do you think Skip Bayless made a mistake by leaving ‘First Take’? Let’s talk about it here on find me on Twitter @Phenombc3