There is no rule that says a sportswriter or sports analyst must have a solid history of playing the sports that they cover. If that happened to be the case, Skip Bayless would’ve been forced to find another line of work. Many former athletes have done a great job going from the field to the broadcast booth or television studio, but others with little athletic ability have also been successful in sports media. The latter group includes Bayless.
Skip Bayless doesn’t come from a sports family
Neither of Skip Bayless’ parents made it past high school as far as education goes. When he was born, his mother and father had started a small barbecue restaurant to try to make ends meet. While cooking and managing a restaurant was big in the family, it just never caught on with Skip. He was more interested in sports.
“In a nutshell, I was the black sheep of my family so to speak, because I initially fell in love with sports and nobody in my entire extended family liked sports,” Bayless told Michael Tillery of The Starting Five. “Everyone had a cooking background, restaurant background…grandfather had a drive-in restaurant.”
Bayless’ younger brother Rick has owned a successful Chicago restaurant that once was named National Restaurant of the Year. It was a place frequented by Barack Obama. “I’m very proud of my brother because I grew up in that business and know how difficult it is to merely stay open from year to year,” Bayless said. “He followed right in the footsteps and even though I was alone in that regard, I liked sports. I loved sports. I was obsessed with sports.”
Bayless’ career in the sports media world
Skip Bayless began as a writer with The Miami Herald and then moved on to The Los Angeles Times. His goal was to be a columnist while he was in Los Angeles and it never worked out. The sports editor told him he was too young and had to work his way up.
“I didn’t buy it and one thing led to another,” Bayless told The Starting Five. The Dallas Morning News were looking to compete in their market against a legendary columnist named Blackie Sherrod –a rival at the Dallas Times Herald. He is a Texas institution. He was invincible and indomitable and owned that market for years and years. He was extremely gifted. More of a Texas-style wit and wisdom writer. The Morning News hired me to be their columnist at 26 and take him down.
From there, Bayless expanded his career. He hosted a sports talk-radio show in 1991 and eventually landed with ESPN. He took to TV, working for ESPN until 2016. He moved to Fox Sports and continued his media career. Bayless and former Denver Broncos tight end Shannon Sharpe now host a talk show called Undisputed.
Jalen Rose calls out Bayless his high-school athletic claims
In The Starting Five article, Skip Bayless said he was a pretty good athlete growing up. “I was obsessed with sports,” he said. “I played everything and I was pretty good right away because I was big for my size and just naturally pretty athletic. I had no idea where it came from. All the way through up to ninth and tenth grade, I was convinced I was going to play something professionally–or at least in college.”
In 2012, Skip Bayless was criticizing Russell Westbrook who then was a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder. Bayless was saying Westbrook shot too much for a point guard and began tweeting about his own high school days. Former NBA guard Jalen Rose then called out Bayless for his claims that he was a pretty good shooter at Northwest Classen High School.
“Did you average 1.4 points as a senior in high school?” Rose asked him during an airing of ESPN2’s “First Take in 2012.
“Yep, I did,” said Bayless, who also admitted he was on the junior varsity as a junior.
Rose continued. “All that Pistol Pete stuff,” Rose said, regarding Bayless’ claim he was a good shooter. “Water Pistol Pete Junior.”