In defense of Skip Bayless — I know, I know

The best part about social media is that it allows instant reaction on society and culture. And wouldn’t you know it, the worst part about social media is, well, that it allows instant reaction on society and culture.

Two days ago, sports followers across the Twitter-verse erupted in both laughter and disbelief when Skip Bayless, one-half of the primary “ESPN First Take” debate duo — the other half, Mr. Ignoramus himself, Stephen A. Smith — tweeted the following comment after watching the Seahawks-Broncos NFL preseason game this past weekend:

The uproar, of course, comes from the fact that the Seahawks (based in rainy Seattle, Washington) play in the NFC, and have since the 2002 season. Twitter users had a field day, demeaning Bayless and suggesting he leave both Twitter and ESPN. Some tweets directed his way were funny — i.e. “Did I miss NFL conference realignment?”, “That’s a TECMO-take, bro,”, and “Needs 2nd take.” — while others were just plain stupid, ignorant.

I understand the immediate laughter, but come on, people. Did nobody bother to consider that Skip’s seeming mistake wasn’t actually a mistake at all? Does no one on Twitter understand sarcasm?

The Broncos, the team thought to be the Patriots biggest championship roadblock this year (both play in the AFC), had a rough outing on Saturday. The Seahawks mowed down the Broncos with ease, proving the Broncos may not be as stiff of competition as previously thought (forget for a moment that it’s a preseason game that doesn’t matter).

There are huge expectations for the Seahawks this season, the team’s boisterous fan base touting its talents all over town (and the internet). I’m sure you would do the same if you had one of the stingiest defenses in the league, a potent high-powered offense, and the league’s best sophomore quarterback in Russell Wilson. And if Percy Harvin makes a swift recovery from offseason hip surgery, this Seahawks team could be seriously DangeRuss — er, dangerous.

Perhaps now you can see why Skip took to Twitter to send out his tweet — a talented team with sky-high expectations that boasts a fan-base who thinks its team is the tops not just in the NFC, but in the entire league? Makes for an easy target to fire some digital word-missiles at.

What Skip was saying, what he really meant with his less-than-140-character statement, is this: “The Seahawks are so good they could win both conferences this year.” He’s not so sure the Broncos can hang, so of course only the Seahawks, a cross-conference foe, could stand in the Patriots way.

It was a joke about the Broncos potential irrelevancy and a jab at the Seahawks loud, proud fan base. And it was definitely identifiable as a sarcastic comment, but it seems no one understood because, in today’s age, reacting with your thumbs is far easier than pausing to think with your brain.

Now, Skip, this is the only time I will try to bail you out of any situation, ever — think through your future tweets more wisely and remember that sarcasm doesn’t always read well across digital platforms. Consider this your one and only mulligan with me.


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