Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith on Christmas Vacation, Noise Levels Subside on First Take
Skip and Stephen A. are the “stars” of this debate show that quickly climbed to one of ESPN’s most popular shows. In fact, they show it back to back from 10am to noon, and then noon to 2pm most weekdays. People seem to tune in to hear these two duke it out day after day. But to hear them rehash their own points to the same questions (Tim Tebow, anyone??) day after day has brought a lot of criticism to the show. It seems that some people have had enough listening to Skip and Stephen A. yell obnoxiously at each other while maintaining extreme or outlandish positions.
In their absence, there has been a team of debaters, analysts, and former players sit in to discuss topics. Chris Mannix (new to the show) and Christian Fauria and Lomas Brown (regulars) have largely anchored the debate desk in the absence of Smith and Bayless. Eric Mangini has also spent time at the debate desk (also a regular guest on the show).
For me, this has been a breath of fresh air. With Skip and Stephen A., I hear the same positions articulated day after day to the same topics (perhaps worded or asked slightly differently). It doesn’t take long for the debates to escalate to loud, obnoxious screaming matches. With this new set of individuals, there is fresh material and perspective and fewer outlandish positions. All of these individuals seem willing to discuss and hear different positions while articulating their own positions in a calm and reasonable manner. The show has taken more of a sports discussion forum than a hardcore debate with two people coming from completely opposite ends of the spectrum.
But maybe people aren’t interested in more reasonable discussion that doesn’t take extreme positions on one end or another. Maybe the polarizing positions that Bayless and Smith often take help to drive ratings. I am interested to see how these ratings compare to the usual Bayless/Smith tandem, because we all know that the ratings drive the programming…