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Mental Health in Sports Is Everything and Skip Bayless Is Flat-Out Wrong!

What Skip Bayless said about Dak Prescott and his mental health on the Fox Sports show Undisputed is absolutely ridiculous.

It was actually disturbing to hear this. I thought about the athletes and mental health leaders I’ve been around over the past few years and it angered me. So much good has been done in the area of mental health and then something like this happens. Someone comes in and tries to burn it down.

I’ll say this, no one should have to hear what Bayless said, but it actually will have a positive impact because it will expose the ridiculousness and it will draw more attention to the importance of mental health in sports.

To draw more attention to the positive, I will share with you content where we talk about mental health in sports:

– Derek Bylsma is a licensed counselor in Chicago, IL. Here he is on our podcast. And his podcast

– Jake Newton is a professional hockey player and therapist and he talks often about opening up to your teammates. On the Raw, Authentic, and Vulnerable Podcast on SportsEpreneur.

– Cullen Jones is a USA Olympian and friends with Michael Phelps–he talks about mental health. He shared many stories in this 2-part podcast episode. Part 1 and Part 2

There are many more. As I continue to have conversations with those in and around the world of sports, I see clearly how many of the conversations inevitably land on the topic of mental health. Be it with the pressure’s athletes deal with, the transition to life after sports, dealing with trauma of many kinds, anxiety, depression, social media outrage, losing, and so much more.

And then we come across this video where Skip Bayless ridicules Dak Prescott of the Dallas Cowboys for opening up about anxiety, depression, and his brother’s suicide. It’s maddening.

This is of course one person’s opinion. But this opinion somehow made it on air. Yeah, it’s filmed live, but there were meetings before they went on air. You can’t allow this. Bayless deserves the negative attention because he said it. Fox Sports had to come out with a media release that they do not share this opinion. But how do you let someone even come close to uttering these words?

There are so many people dealing with mental health issues today. And not just athletes. Fox Sports has a lot of work to do to make this better. They can’t make it right. But they can use this exposure to bring attention to mental health. This is why this little bit by Skip may help in a twisted way. Let’s see if there is good that comes from this. Sure, people will want to cancel Skip. I’m not writing this piece for that. I’m not into this cancel culture. That seems like wasted energy to me. I’d rather see attention, work, and change.

Athletes are known to take things on the chin, so when athletes like Michael Phelps and Kevin Love open up about mental health, it allows others to open up to. Maybe a 12-year-old hockey player will feel comfortable opening up about his worries. Maybe a 14-year-old field hockey player can talk about her nerves. But these kids may have heard what Skip said and they now may be more reluctant to share. And that is sad.

This isn’t about outrage. But it is about attention. So if there is a tone of outrage here, so be it. I’ve had too many conversations about mental health with experienced and knowledgeable people to let this one go.

As the founder and owner of a business, I know the challenges that come with it. I’m no Dallas Cowboys quarterback, but I know pressure, I know tough times, I know fear, I know anxiety. If that makes me a bad business owner in Skip’s eyes, well, then I know that’s a person that isn’t worth the time and energy. The time and energy need to go to supporting mental health. So we will continue to have amazing conversations with people like Derek, Jake, and Cullen. And those like Zuzana Dobro, Jill SalzmanRoy Kessel, and Rob Cressy. And we will use that bit by Skip to remember there will always be ridiculousness. If we choose to use it in a positive way, we can lean into it even more.

So, thank you, Skip and Fox Sports, for saying something so awful and allowing that something so awful to hit the airwaves. We will use it to our advantage.


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Image of Cowboys Stadium by Nicole Cordeiro / Creative Commons 2.0 and 4.0