Only you can prevent forest fires like Skip Bayless

Why ESPN Should Worry About First Take’s Ratings Slide

ESPN is doubling down on a good bet, in other words. But is it really a good bet? A look at the Nielsens over the past few months tells a different story about First Take and perhaps about the value of the new “debate” format. And behind the scenes, a source tells us, ESPN executives have begun to worry about the show, which seemed like found money not so long ago but which might turn out to be only fool’s gold…

...Bayless went all-in on Tebow very early. He became the chief exponent of the kind of priestly mystification and intellectual dishonesty that would eventually go by the name Tebowmania—the unending talk of intangibles, “all he does is win,” etc. Horowitz built a lot of the show’s identity around Bayless’s mindless devotion to the quarterback, and from there the Tebow story was pure teevee conjuring. Bayless and First Take helped create the distorted phenomenon the rest of ESPN was obliged to cover, which gave Bayless and First Take more to talk about, which created a bigger and even more distorted phenomenon, which ESPN was obliged to cover, which is how we got this viral atrocity racking up more than 3.6 million pageviews on YouTube. Tebowmania was the perfect, and perfectly hideous, marriage of format and circumstance…

...But what happens if there isn’t a significant ratings bump from Skip Bayless’s delivering himself of his Very Controversial Opinions about LeBron James? What happens if Tebow really does just become a Wildcat and special teams specialist and the Tebow-Sanchez controversy never materializes? What if the show’s ratings really have stagnated?

Last month, I stopped following Bayless on Twitter; the next week, I stopped watching First Take.  I don't have a real explaination as to why.  It just felt right--like the time I touched myself at band camp. 

It appears as if I'm not the only one who stopped staring at the bearded lady.

Will enough people tune out to see Bayless west bound and down?  Probably not.  Too many people like to watch things burn.  

I’m glad we had this talk.  Now, vaya con Dios, Brah.

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