Skip Bayless has never shied away from racial dialogue, whether it was during his time as a columnist, alongside Stephen A. Smith on First Take, or now with Shannon Sharpe on their FS1 show Undisputed.
The dialogue is productive, but some of Bayless’ comments have also been viewed as race-baiting. In 2012, Bayless was notably angry at the Washington Redskins for drafting quarterback Kirk Cousins a few rounds behind Robert Griffin III. Bayless noted “the majority of Redskins fans are white and it’s just human nature if you’re white to root for the white guy. It just happens in sports. Just like the black community will root for the black quarterback.”
Race has been an important topic on Undisputed and other sports shows nationwide in recent weeks. Wednesday morning, Bayless discussed his background, which might not fit the pretense of a 68-year old white man from Oklahoma City with a mild southern drawl.
Bayless previously discussed his difficult upbringing, describing his father as an abusive alcoholic and a self-absorbed mother who also battled alcoholism. A majority of Bayless’ childhood was spent at his grandmother’s home, who employed a black woman named Katie Bell Henderson.
According to Bayless, it was Ms. Henderson who essentially raised him. Henderson, whose grandparents were slaves, was raised in Alabama and later attended high school on the South Side of Chicago.
“She was tough and she was smart and she became my mother,” Bayless told Sharpe. “Everything I learned about right and wrong, black and white, I learned from Katie Bell.”
Bayless said his grandmother traveled for work, so Henderson was hired to run her household in Oklahoma City, an area which was still segregated.
“Katie Bell would even go so far as to take me occasionally to her AME church, where I was the only white face in an all-Black congregation. And they treated me with nothing but love.”
“My hellish existence in my house turned into a silver lining because this was rare, what white kid could get that kind of education?” Bayless added. “I’m not just with Katie Bell, she’s my authority figure…I’m going to do nothing but respect her because she proved right away she knew way more than my mother did.”
“It was natural to me, it was second nature to me,” Bayless said about his tendency to discuss race in person, print, radio and television. “I grew up that way, I was taught it from a woman who lived it.”
NFL Considers Ending Pro Bowl Amidst Low Ratings
“Mark Maske of The Washington Post reports the future of the Pro Bowl was discussed on Tuesday during the owners’ meetings in Atlanta.”
The NFL is obsessed with TV ratings. It isn’t a surprise that the league may not be willing to tolerate the Pro Bowl underperforming for much longer.
In 2022, the NFL’s all-star game produced it’s lowest ratings in 16 years. Fewer that 7 million people tuned in to watch the game across ABC, ESPN and DisneyXD.
“The (Pro Bowl) game doesn’t work,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said Tuesday after the owners’ meeting in Atlanta. “We need to find another way to celebrate the players.”
There are two proposed alternatives that have been reported. The Washington Post says the league is considering launching a seven-on-seven competition. It would not include tackling or full clocks. The other report comes from Ian Rapport of the NFL Network. He says the league is considering hosting a series of skills competitions over the course of what would be branded an all-star week. The NFL has partnered with DirecTV in the past to present similar events during Super Bowl Week.
No details have emerged or final decisions made. Mark Maske of The Washington Post reports the future of the Pro Bowl was discussed on Tuesday during the owners’ meetings in Atlanta.
Former Hulu Exec Michael Schneider Hired To Run Bally Sports+
“Schneider previously was VP of brand and content marketing at Hulu, where he had involvement in various marketing efforts for Hulu + Live TV.”
Schneider will oversee the direct-to-consumer platform that will also be the hub for Bally Sports live programming.
Schneider previously was VP of brand and content marketing at Hulu, where he had involvement in various marketing efforts for Hulu + Live TV.
“Throughout his career, Michael has successfully launched and developed DTC streaming and service platforms and created immersive engagement experiences,” said Sinclair COO and president of broadcast Rob Weisbord. “He is a terrific addition to the team as we build out the Bally Sports+ offering, its exclusive content and passionate fan community.”
Even before Hulu, Schneider had a hand in streaming. He was a founding member of the PlayStation Vue launch team.
Marquee Sports Network Weighs Streaming Options Outside of Bally Sports+
“Marquee GM Mike McCarthy said to Sports Business Journal there’s no rush, but the network is hopeful they can have something in time for the 2023 season.”
As Sinclair Broadcast Group prepares to launch Bally Sports+, its direct-to-consumer platform that will be home to Bally Sports live events, the Chicago Cubs are weighing their options for Marquee Sports Network, which the team co-owns with Sinclair.
Despite being under the Sinclair umbrella, Marquee is its own free-standing RSN from the rest of the Bally Sports networks across the country.
Marquee is readily available on a number of cable providers, but the only thing that’s really missing is its own standalone streaming platform for games. Marquee GM Mike McCarthy said to Sports Business Journal there’s no rush, but the network is hopeful they can have something in time for the 2023 season.
“We’re always interested in being on the cutting edge with the ultimate deliverable to our consumer,” McCarthy said. “But there isn’t any contractual clock ticking to make us feel that way. It’s how we’ve approached things from the beginning. Between our two ownership groups, there’s a lot of aggression to get it right. And I think you’ll see something along those lines shortly.”
The TV ratings will always be of top interest for MLB, especially regional ratings. But as the league has worked to embrace more streaming options for games, striking deals with Apple and Peacock for rights this season, it’s all about providing what the fans and viewers want.
“We now have the ability to do so much more, to properly tell the story of a 162-game season,” said Crane Kenney, Chicago Cubs president of business operations. Kenney was instrumental in the launch of Marquee. “We love baseball, we love the game, and we love the opportunity we have to share it with our fans in really deep ways.”