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.”
Brandon Contes is a former reporter for BSM, now working for Awful Announcing. You can find him on Twitter @BrandonContes or reach him by email at Brandon.Contes@gmail.com.
Scott Hanson Clarifies NFL RedZone Missteps During Raiders/Seahawks
Hanson believed in the moment that CBS was airing the overtime period to a national audience. But due to NFL broadcasting rules, the game was only available on select stations.
NFL RedZone host Scott Hanson ruffled feathers for many football fans Sunday when he told viewers to switch from the channel to their local CBS affiliates to see the conclusion of the Las Vegas Raiders and Seattle Seahawks game.
Unfortunately, for both viewers and Hanson, the game was only being shown in a small portion of the country, with the rest of the nation’s CBS affiliates already airing 60 Minutes. The game was also available to NFL Sunday Ticket subscribers.
Hanson took to Twitter Sunday evening to explain what happened on the air and to apologize for the miscalculation.
Hanson believed in the moment that CBS was airing the overtime period to a national audience. But due to NFL broadcasting rules, the game was only available to stations in the Las Vegas, Fresno, Sacramento, Reno, Eugene, Portland, Boise, Seattle, and Spokane markets on the west coast. Additionally, the game was available in Chicago, Tampa, Atlanta, and Charlotte.
He apologized for the mistake and said he would have more details at a later date.
ESPN Creates ACC/SEC Challenge
The series will begin for the 2023-2024 season, launching with 28 games played between the two sports.
ESPN, in conjunction with the ACC and SEC, is slated to announce the creation of the ACC/SEC Challenge for men’s and women’s basketball.
The series will begin for the 2023-2024 season, launching with 28 games played between the two sports. That number will grow to 30 contests when the SEC expands for the 2025-2026 season.
Every game in the challenge will be aired on an ESPN platform, with each side hosting the same amount of home games.
The creation of the event comes on the heels of the Big Ten’s new media rights deal with FOX, NBC, and CBS, ending a nearly four-decade relationship with ESPN. The ACC/Big Ten Challenge began in 1999, with the SEC/Big 12 Challenging beginning in 2013. Both events will cease to exist following this season.
FOX Sports Sees Record-Setting Ratings Weekend
The World Cup matchup between the U.S. and England on Black Friday and Michigan/Ohio State on Saturday saw tens of millions of viewers tuning in.
FOX Sports has been home to a number of record-setting games in terms of viewership over the last several days.
In addition to FOX Sports setting a new mark for a Thanksgiving and regular season NFL audience, the World Cup matchup between the U.S. and England on Black Friday and Michigan/Ohio State on Saturday saw tens of millions of viewers tuning in.
The network reported the U.S./England match in the group stage of the 2022 World Cup averaged 15.377 million. It was the most-watched English-language soccer game in the U.S. ever, topping the 1994 World Cup final between Italy and Brazil.
Viewership of the match was up 11% compared to the second group stage contest for the U.S. team in 2014 against Portugal. The audience peaked at 19.646 million from 3:30-3:45 p.m.
FOX Sports also reported the Michigan/Ohio State game on Saturday drew in 17 million, which made it the most-watched regular season college game on the network ever. That figure was also the highest of any regular season contest since 2011. That game also saw the audience peak at 19.6 million.
Viewership for the game was up 3% compared to last year.
Jordan Bondurant is a features reporter for Barrett Sports Media. He works full-time as a multimedia specialist at the Virginia State Corporation Commission, while also putting in part-time work for News Radio WRVA and 910 The Fan in Richmond. Additionally, you can find Jordan contributing coverage of the Washington Capitals for the blog NoVa Caps. His prior media experiences include working for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the Danville Register & Bee, Virginia Lawyers Weekly and ABC 8News. He can be reached by email at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @J__Bondurant.