(Todd A. Smith)
As a media member, I am often quick to defend journalists, and rightfully so.
Journalism, mass media and the notion of a free press is imperative for a democracy to work.
We keep people informed.
Also, we hold our leaders accountable.
But being in the media can lead to fame and riches.
And fame and riches can expose who amongst us should have never had their large platform in the process.
While football fans around the country held their collective breaths and prayed feverishly for Buffalo Bills defensive back Damar Hamlin after he experienced a cardiac arrest after making a tackle on Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins, sports journalist Skip Bayless from the FS1 show “Undisputed” tweeted out one of the most insensitive tweets in the history of social media.
Bayless tweeted, “no doubt the NFL is considering postponing the rest of this game—but how? This late in the season, a game of this magnitude is crucial to the regular season outcome…which suddenly seems so irreveleant.”
Hamlin’s health is what is crucial, not a game.
Not a regular season game.
Not a postseason game.
Not even the dang Super Bowl.
We are talking about Hamlin’s life.
We are talking about his mother and other relatives who are probably on pins and needles worrying about the life of their family member.
And some people are worrying about a child’s game.
While Hamlin was fighting for his life, and his brothers from the Bills were overcome with emotion and tears, this despicable dude had the nerve to tweet about a football game being important to the standings.
He later tried to clean up the tweet by stating that he was just concerned about Hamlin’s health.
But the damage had been done.
While some social media members found no fault in what Bayless tweeted, others said it was only bad because of the timing.
But timing is everything.
If I have a wonderful week with stock market investments, bragging and boasting about that would not be bad.
However, if I boast and brag about it to a person who just lost their job or home, that will make me a horrible person or at least a tone-deaf person.
In that situation, I should be able to read the room to see that it is not the ideal time to brag about my accomplishments in life when one of my peers is experiencing the roughest day of their life.
I will not brag about how well my parents are doing health-wise when a person is burying one of their parents.
Therefore, Bayless should have known that speaking about something as insignificant as a football game would rub people the wrong way when they are dealing with a life and death situation.
But that is the problem with people like Bayless who seem so absorbed in their own fame that they have disconnected from the real world.
Despite having millions of Twitter followers, Bayless does not follow anyone on Twitter.
Following people and listening to someone else other than himself for a change would have let him know how traumatic Hamlin’s cardiac arrest was for everyone who witnessed it.
And that is really what makes a good journalist or media personality, being the pulse of the people and being their spokesperson when they do not have a big enough platform to preach their own sermon.
However, shock jocks like Bayless use their platform to offend and upset just to get views, likes and followers as if they are starved for the attention they did not receive growing up.
Shock jocks do things to offend because they are not talented or intelligent enough to become successful and famous on their own.
As a result, they must reach to the lowest depths possible to get a reaction from people.
And Bayless definitely got a reaction from people on social media, immediately following his deplorable comments.
Many athletes called for FS1 to fire Bayless for his insensitive tweets.
Usually, I am totally against cancel culture.
I often preach for the need of counsel culture or correction culture.
But some people deserve cancellation because they are too far gone for correction or counseling.
The old folks would say you cannot get blood from a turnip.
Unfortunately, Bayless is just as heartless as a turnip is bloodless.
And he has been that way since his days as a newspaper journalist in Dallas, doing whatever it took to steal the spotlight from the athletes he covered.
He seemed to want to be the story and not cover or add commentary to the story.
Therefore, he has always been willing to say whatever it took to keep him relevant and in the public eye.
That often meant cold and callous comments on television and social media.
Therefore, he does not get the grace that other people might receive when they make an awkward comment at the wrong time.
An elementary school classmate, high school rival and former Baylor wide receiver made a similar comment on Facebook.
However, the brother has a history of being a good dude.
Therefore, those who know him would not take it in an offensive manner because he does not have a history of saying offensive things for shock value.
Bayless has that history though.
When I was a teenager, I was notorious for my bad temper on the basketball court.
Even when I did not do anything wrong, I had developed a reputation with the refs.
As a result, any miniscule misstep or misinterpretation would lead to a technical foul being assessed to me.
My reputation had preceded me and even when I was in the right, people saw me as in the wrong.
I learned that lesson as a teenager.
Unfortunately, when you mix fame and fortune, even a senior citizen can forget a lesson learned by many in grade school.