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Sports Talk Shows are Ruining How We Look at Sports

Written by Alex Fernandez, Account Executive

For the longest time, sports media remained local, specific to the area in which the media was. New York media covered New York teams, Chicago media covered Chicago teams, LA media covered LA teams, you get the point. However, in recent years with the growth of technology and social media, it is easier than ever to access people all across the country. With one click of a button, someone from Atlanta can share their opinion with someone in Seattle. This has allowed the rise of Sports Talk Shows to take over the center stage for Sports media. Shows such as “First Take” on ESPN or “Undisputed” and “The Herd” on Fox Sports 1 have taken off in recent years and have swayed the way people view sports.

These massive TV talk shows all average at a minimum of 200,000 viewers an episode. These shows air every day, Monday through Friday, and attract a younger audience. While on the surface the shows seem to be intellectually stimulating and have good Sports conversations, they are in fact, quite the opposite.

Skip Bayless, one of the hosts of “Undisputed”, has made a living off of targeting NBA legend, Lebron James. He thinks Lebron is overrated and not as good as many people say, which is fine. However, the issue at hand comes when he targets Lebron’s personal life. He calls Lebron horrible names, calls out his children, and questions many of the actions Lebron commits off of the basketball court. This is where a line needs to be drawn. Skip, along with many other of these national analysts, says whatever they want to drive in views. Stephan A Smith, the host of ESPN’s “First Take” said that last year MLB Superstar and MVP, Shohei Ohtani, cannot be the face of the MLB because he “doesn't speak English well enough.” Not only is this take racist and downright wrong, but it is also simply just another example of these “analysts” saying whatever they want to get people to click on their show.

In September 2020, Skip Bayless questioned Dallas Cowboys quarterback, Dak Prescott, and his toughness because he was mourning the loss of his brother who unfortunately took his own life. Skip said Dak needs to be a “leader” for the Cowboys and said he did not have sympathy for Dak going to the public and saying he is not okay after his brother's death.

While there are various examples of these TV personalities being judgemental, we also need to look at the impact that these actions have on the viewers. As stated before, all of these shows average 200,000 or more viewers a day. These numbers are also growing by the minute. All of these shows have seen at least a 7% increase in viewership in the last calendar year.

On top of that, their YouTube channels all have over a million subscribers and many of which are young men. Men ages 18-30 make up over half of the viewers for these shows on a daily basis and many of the show's YouTube subscribers come from High School students. These young adults are the viewers hearing about how it’s not okay to mourn suicide, how you have to speak English to be accepted in sports, and how their hero, Lebron James, is a bad father because he is outwardly spoken of how proud he is of his children.

I can go on and on about how these shows hamper people's ability to actually talk about sports. They simply say whatever they want to drive those numbers up, and it's working.

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