D.A.: Bayless' Criticism Of Prescott's Mental Health Is Dangerous

Skip Bayless criticizing Dak Prescott for talking about mental health isn’t just a bad sports take, D.A. says; it’s irresponsible and unethical

Damon Amendolara
September 13, 2020 - 5:59 pm

Skip Bayless' criticism of Dak Prescott for admitting his depression wasn't just another bad sports take. This was a moment of amorality and irresponsibility. Telling someone to hide their mental health is fraught with danger, but that's only part of it. It's also absolutely the most inopportune time in American history to do so. Bayless has a large platform. He has a massive social media following. Prescott is someone many people admire. This toxic combination makes what transpired this week far worse than some simple sports debate. 

Since March, every American's life has been turned upside down. While we're adaptable creatures, there's inherent stresses and anxieties that come with environmental changes. Because of COVID, if you're elderly or immune-compromised you may constantly feel unsafe simply walking outside your door. If you're carrying a child, raising an infant, or taking care of the elderly, you probably feel on edge most of the time. If you've known someone who has passed away from the illness, you likely have suffered grieving. The virus has created a web of ways our mental health has been knocked around. 

The country is also suffering through a massive economic downturn, so millions are dealing with job loss, furloughs, or limited income. Paying bills, mortgages, and education became a lot tougher over the last six months. If you or a family member went to the hospital because of the virus, you may have a difficult time paying for your medical bills. "Concerns about money, work and the economy top the list of most frequently cited sources of stress," says the American Psychological Association

Personally, we're a nation of isolation these days to varying degrees. In the spring, most people spent weeks primarily inside their homes and apart from their neighbors, loved ones, and friends. That may have opened up over the summer, and perhaps interacting with people normalized around you recently. But many social gatherings we used for enjoyment are gone. Sporting events, concerts, parades, carnivals, theaters, and amusement parks are no longer options for many right now. 

In the home, we're more overwhelmed than ever with many parents balancing home-schooling and their full-time jobs. Politically, we live in a divisive, combative time. Social unrest has led to protests. Cable news screams at one another. Social media often sinks into name-calling, arguments, and shaming. Violence surrounds us. Hurricanes and wildfires have cost some people their homes. Our diets are potentially worse than ever, with less nutritious options being a cheaper, less time-consuming option for many families. These are all difficult to navigate daily, and everyone suffers from it. 

Which is why condemning Prescott as a flawed leader for speaking publicly about his mental wellness is not only tone-deaf, it's disconnected from reality. Prescott said the suicide of his brother pushed him into a dark place. More Americans than ever are being impacted by suicide. A CDC survey in August detailed how the pandemic affects our mental health. Not surprisingly, 75 percent of young people (18-24) said they had at least one adverse mental or behavioral health symptom to the virus. A quarter of those young people said they seriously considered suicide in the month leading up to the survey. It's not just teens and young adults. In 2018, 10 million Americans seriously contemplated taking their own lives. Many often turn to drugs and alcohol to dull the pain, meaning we run the risk of chemical dependency in our fellow citizens more than ever. Overdose deaths continue to climb. We face an opioid crisis in our country. What Prescott felt is exactly what millions of others have. 

If we tell people that "true leaders" don't talk about their mental health issues, we are pushing them even deeper into their pain. If we tell Americans they should be embarrassed, it points them further into the darkness. If we distort reality enough to suggest people who feel pain are weak, we are wagging a finger at almost our entire country right now. Prescott is most, if not all, of us these days. We need compassion and empathy and empowerment. We need a roadmap to wellness, which comes through education. We do not need influential people telling other influential people to stop talking about mental wellness. It only deepens the cycle of silence and pain. 

Bayless' stance is not a bad sports take. It's irresponsible, amoral, and unethical. It's also dangerous. We should let Prescott know he's helping, because more than ever he's speaking to so many people who feel the same exact way. 

Damon Amendolara, known by his fans as D.A., hosts “The D.A. Show,” from 6:00AM-10:00AM, ET, across the country on the nation’s largest 24/7 major-market radio network. “The D.A. Show” is known for its unique perspective on sports, tongue-in-cheek sense of humor, colorful listener interaction, and candid interviews with athletes and coaches. Amendolara also appears regularly on NFL Network as part of the “NFL Top 10” documentary film series, CBS television and SNY TV. He is a Syracuse University grad and native of Warwick, N.Y.