Fox Sports is trying to show its compassionate and sensitive side by criticizing its own pundit, Skip Bayless, for saying that Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott should not not have spoken publicly about his battle with depression.
During a television interview, Prescott said that the pandemic and the suicide of one of his brothers sent him into a bout of clinical depression to the extent that he couldn’t leave his house, and he sought help from family and the Cowboys. Bayless said on his show,“Undisputed,” “I don’t have sympathy for him going public with, ‘I got depressed’ and ‘I suffered depression early in COVID to the point that I couldn’t even go work out.’ Look, he’s the quarterback of America’s team.” His co-host Shannon Sharpe objected, and soon Bayless’s employer weighed in, saying in a statement,
“We do not agree with Skip Bayless’ opinion on Undisputed this morning. We have addressed the significance of this matter with Skip and how his insensitive comments were received by people internally at Fox Sports and our audience,”
- Bayless is a commentator and pundit, and is not obligated to mouth only the point of view of Fox Sports. If that was the job, they might as well have hired Joe Biden.
- Bayless’s trademark is being a contrarian, and sparking controversy.
- Is Fox Sports saying that when people object to the truth, telling the truth is insensitive?
Bayless is frequently full of malarkey, but not this time. He is 100% correct, and anyone with a passing knowledge of leadership, and any cognizant and successful leader, knows he’s right, except, apparently, the Dallas Cowboys quarterback. Many great leaders have suffered from clinical depression or related emotional problems, notably Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, and Winston Churchill. Leaders have to radiate strength to lead; when the leader signals vulnerability, his (or her) ability to inspire and motivate, as well as to maintain confidence in his qualifications to be the one in charge, is reduced. Leaders know this, usually instinctively. It is why Franklin Roosevelt went to extravagant lengths to hide his physical disability from the public’s eyes. It is why Presidents are taller than the average individual.
Speaking public about a personal problem that affects his ability to function effectively was pure self-indulgence by Prescott. It was detrimental to his ability to lead his team, which is what he is paid to do.
Prescott was wrong. Sharpe wasn’t sharp. Fox Sports was pandering to the sensitive souls who probably pay little attention to football.
Teddy, Abe, and Winston would agree with Bayless, and me….because we’re right.
20 thoughts on ““Psst! Fox Sports! Skip Bayless Is Right. Winston Churchill Says So…””
This is the consequence of a generation raised on movies where the central figure is full of self-doubt and self-loathing or hesitancy.
While it is good for leaders to be introspective and perennially evaluating their decisions and motivations to ensure a good course…they shouldn’t be wallowing in emotive conduct indicating those processes.
“There are two things a leader can do: he can either contaminate his environment (and his people) with his attitude and actions, or he can inspire confidence. A leader must be visible to the people he leads. He must be self-confident and always maintain a positive attitude. If a leader thinks he might lose in whatever crisis or situation; then he has already lost. He must exhibit a determination to prevail no matter what the odds or how difficult the situation. He must have and display the will to prevail by his actions, his words, his tone of voice, his appearance, his demeanor, his countenance, and the look in his eyes. He must never give off any hint or evidence that he is uncertain about a positive outcome.”
― Harold G. Moore, Hal Moore on Leadership: Winning When Outgunned and Outmanned
Is that why our political leaders, and most of the leaders I’ve worked for, tend to lead people into terrible places? They don’t seem to be concerned about negative outcomes, even when they’re occurring in the present as a direct result of their incompetence. I prefer leaders who respect the power of negative thinking.
I don’t understand your critique.
Sorry, I should clarify. I think that if we don’t allow leaders to admit uncertainty, then they will act certain even when they have no idea what they are doing, and so before anyone else realizes that their leaders are irresponsible, the group will be led into a disaster.
Or not. One of the most successful theatrical production I ever directed involved a very risky and unprecedented concept. Much of the cast and all of the staff were dubious and frightened, but they were sure I knew what I was doing, and I was completely confident throughout. The thing worked marvelously, exactly as I had promised. After the smash opening, a group of staffers and cast members cornered me and asked, “How in the world did you know that would work?” And I answered, “Oh, I had no idea whether it would work or not. But it was a good plan, and worth the risk.”
That’s fine when people trust you to be a good judge of risks and whether they are worth taking, and when you really are a good judge. Not everyone is lucky or perceptive enough to follow people like you.
I’m trying to wrangle these concepts here because I want people to be able to tell the difference between bad leaders and good ones, and I want to somehow increase the number of good leaders in the first place.
In other words, I’m looking for how to subvert the poignant observation by Yeats that “The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.”
I’m not sure admitting uncertainty is the same as saying “I’m clinically depressed, EC. I also think good leaders diminish the risks inherent in taking a particular action (or not taking one). Remember Ike saying if D-Day was a screw-up, it was all on him?
James T. Kirk: O Captain! My Captain!
Well, we already know that the very British suggestion “Keep calm, and carry on” is now the height of insensitivity, even criminality,particularly if heeded by the president.
Winston’s line regarding his battles with depression was “Keep buggering on!”
Which expression has been annoyingly changed to stupid things such as “Keep calm, and chive on.” What does that even mean. And why say it?
Can a man be a great leader(as measured in people following) from a position of humility rather than radiating strength?
Genuine humility? Unlikely. Leaders by definition usually believe they are special.
Terry Bradshaw evidently battled mental problems his entire career (clinical depression, I believe), but he kept it to himself while he was playing. Which is not so say Bradshaw or Prescott should not avail themselves of professional help immediately, if not sooner.
And now, Bradshaw has a TV show with his family –
aiming to out-Kardashian the Kardashians!
(Oh – I guess that probably was part of your point.)
If Dak Prescott was talking about how he feels on the field, I would fully agree with Skip and you. However, he was talking about something much bigger than football. Dealing with the COVID situation is drastically different from anything experienced on the football field.
He has spent many years preparing, learning, thinking, and playing football. He has experience that he can call up to help him during a game. The preparation they do before a game is extensive and they are ready for most situations however unlikely.
Compare that to how much time most people were prepared for the ramifications of COVID, let alone an elite sports figure leading one of the most popular NFL teams. No one was prepared for how the shut-down would effect society or the well being of each of us.
In addition to not being as prepared for this as he is for football, what did he show? He showed the ability to reach out to a coach when he was out of answers, to listen what the coach said even when he did not know if it would work, and to apply it and be successful. In other words, he was willing to try something new because he trusted in his coach.
In the heat of the moment of a game or battle, you want clear direction and a confidence that others can see and rally towards. This can lead to great success or great disaster. As you have highlighted, there are many generals who have led their troops into foolish battles and paid the consequence and others who due to moral luck, has succeeded.
I see two parts to leadership. The first is having the ability to choose the right strategy. The second is to have the confidence to execute the strategy in a way that wins the battle. Dak showed an ability to seek coaching for what strategy should be used to overcome his depression. Your objection is that this shows a weakness in his ability to lead his team in executing the game plan. To me, this actually shows a strength of character that I wish we would see in more of our leaders today. We have plenty that show drive and confidence. Humility is beneficial when it comes out in the right way at the right time. This is what Dak showed.
Great post, Brad. Comment of the Day. Thanks.
Okay it’s done. The more controversy there is over it, the more the onus will not lie at Prescott’s door but at those who can’t let him get to the “carry on” part. If he can do the job now, let him get on with it. Depression around this virus is affecting everyone to one extent or another – at this point it’s the norm, so much so that people don’t even notice if they’re depressed anymore. If he succeeds it will help everyone – except maybe the other teams . . . .