The former reporter and current carnival barker is among the nominees announced today. Apparently his over-the-top contrarianism is a valued commodity. The other studio analysts in the category are Al Leiter, Charles Barkley, Kirk Herbstreit, Cris Collinsworth, Harold Reynolds, and Trent Dilfer.
It’s no secret that Bayless has been the subject of a lot of criticism on this site. There’s universal agreement that his shtick is grating. We’ve applauded whenever an athlete or fellow talking head called him out on it.
But the real problem isn’t with Bayless. It’s with the viewers who tune into “First Take” and eat up his made-for-television personality. Their inability to see that Bayless is a caricature, a carefully constructed villain, sends the message that these theatrics are what the public wants to see. It sends the message that nuanced, reasoned dialogue has no place in the 24-hour sports cycle.
It’s sad, really.
As much as I dislike the person Bayless is playing on television, I have to respect his ability to market himself in such a brilliant manner. By screaming louder than the rest of the fray, he’s made his voice stand out. I can’t begrudge him his success.
But I can be baffled by it.