Opinion: Fox thinks Skip Bayless is worth $8 million a year. Here’s why.

Skip Bayless reportedly just inked a deal that’s going to pay him $32 million to stay at Fox.

That’s per the New York Post’s Andrew Marchand, who reported that ESPN pushed to reunite Bayless with his former counterpoint in Stephen A. Smith, which, as anyone who has ever been involved in a negotiation knows, nothing hikes the price of services up like outside leverage.

For those asking why Bayless is getting this kind of coin, moments like this are why. And this. And this.

The problem, however, when someone is paid to be such a contrarian is that you get moments like this. Or this. Moments that truly undermine and discredit issues that are bigger than sports, issues like vulnerability and mental health and masculinity. Moments that, at best, try to turn a player’s serious injury into a witty talking point, but at worst, become an unwarranted cheap shot at the expense of that player’s pain.

Fox Sports' Skip Bayless criticized Cowboys QB Dak Prescott after Prescott revealed he had struggled with depression. (Photo: Rich Arden, ESPN Images)

There’s something performative in all of this, an act intended to go viral because going viral is – ultimately – the objective here. Love him or hate him, the takes Bayless generates get talked about, retweeted, shared, liked and on and on in an endless cycle.

Understanding the inherent conflict here of stating this in an article that is about the very person the following statement is about, there’s a simple solution here. Just like the best way to extinguish a fire is to deprive it of air, the best way to extinguish attention-seeking arguments that exist only so that they may incite in their absurdity, is to ignore them.

Also, a quick aside on capitalism and maximizing one’s value in the open market; these are the fundamentals upon which this country was established. Bayless is not to blame.

His bosses felt he's worth the money they offered in his contract. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t have offered it. The real blame should be placed upon the system that incentivizes edgy and ridiculous arguments that has allowed an entire industry of reductive and inane sports debate to not only survive, but flourish.

Another magical thing about this country is that people are freely entitled to observe and opine and debate as they wish. Bayless is also being paid this much because he has clearly worked hard to uphold his reputation. If anything, he’s consistent.

But as the overall state of journalism continues to suffer in the face of dwindling revenue streams and questions about long-term sustainability abound, think of the quality reporters, editors, producers that $32 million could buy.

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