If you aren’t a big sports fan, please indulge me for a minute, because this story, while it takes place in the football world, isn’t really about football. It’s about stigma, and also blaming the victim.
In a nutshell, Dak Prescott, the Quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys, gave an interview in which he talked about his Mother’s death from cancer, the pandemic lockdown, and his own brother’s death by suicide in April. He talked about his own struggles with depression this year, and the importance of going to therapy and getting help.
Skip Bayless, is a lot of things, and people have a lot of opinions about him and the things he says on his show. But we’ll leave that alone and just point out that he talked about Dak on his show, and basically said the QB of a football team shouldn’t admit to that. That it showed a lack of leadership and a weakness that other teams and players would look down on and make fun of.
Apparently, in Skip’s world, leaders toughen up and get over it, like he has his whole life. Only weak people need to talk about it, and they will be made fun of.
So, in Skip’s world, if Dak gets made fun of, or people no longer respect him, that’s his own fault, for talking. Apparently, football culture isn’t the problem, the fact that there may be players who mock someone for being honest about something that may help save lives, is not what’s horrible here, it’s that Dak talked about it. He’s asking for it, in other words.
This is classic victim-blaming. Nothing more, nothing less. Yes, it’s also the old-school “Man up” attitude around sports that we seem to always see, as if athletes are somehow expected to not be human beings with lives, and struggles, off the field. But, at the end of the day, having listened to his comments, what I am struck with is not that Skip Bayless doesn’t get it, but rather that he does get it, and he just doesn’t want to see it. If Dak Prescott gets made fun of by football players for speaking out on a topic that kills way, way, too many people in the US, including his own brother, that’s a stain on the entire culture of football, including people who talk about it for a living, and Skip doesn’t want to address that. He wants to take the easy way out and wish Dak had just kept quiet about his family’s dirty secret.
I’m sorry, Dak can, and should, share his story anywhere he wants to, and if anyone in the sport has a problem with that, they should be the ones told to shut up.