ESPN Analysts Offend With Commentary Over Kobe Bryant Video Game Ad

Patrick Scott PattersonContributor IINovember 19, 2010

Kobe Bryant appears for a few seconds in a Call of Duty commercial.  Big deal.
Kobe Bryant appears for a few seconds in a Call of Duty commercial. Big deal.

Skip Bayless and Bomani Jones are apparently so upset over a video game commercial that they forget to talk about it instead of sports.

NBA superstar Kobe Bryant makes a brief cameo in a television commercial for the current No. 1 video game, Call of Duty: Black Ops.  In the commercial, Bryant is seen for a couple of seconds shooting off a rifle.

Apparently, that is enough for ESPN analysts to get up in arms.

"Well, I'm offended by it and I'm pretty sure a bunch of NBA fans will be offended by it," Skip Bayless ranted on ESPN programming yesterday. 

I've had one direct encounter with Bayless in my life.  As a high school senior in 1994, I attended a journalism workshop where Bayless, then with the Dallas Morning News, was a speaker. 

I thought I could never hear him say something as nuts as what he said that day, when he told a room full of high school students nearing graduation that if they had learned to throw a ball they could have made far more money in the real world.

It took a while, but here it is.

Bayless states that Bryant should be punished by the NBA for appearing in this commercial, as we have real soldiers in real wars right now. 

"Does Kobe Bryant really need this money, this badly?” said Bayless. “Doesn’t he have a couple of daughters, last time I checked? He is smiling while wielding an assault rifle in combat, while we have troops overseas at this moment, doing the same thing for real.”

Bayless then continues, showing he knows nothing of who is really out there playing and buying this game.

"[NBA Commissioner Stern] can’t stop kids from buying video games,” Bayless said. “But he can stop his most popular player from participating with an assault rifle.”

As a sportswriter that has also been a die-hard video gamer for 29 years, I feel Mr. Bayless needs a little education on this subject.

Apparently, Bayless is unaware that this is a Rated M title.  It is not made for kids nor do major retailers sell it to kids.  Video games are not for kids in this day and age anyway.  According to independent organizations that analyze the industry, the average age of a video gamer is 34-35 years of age.  Minors and children make up only 24 pdercent of the industry sales, the smallest of the demographics.

Even better, 67 percent of US households own video game consoles, which makes it at least as popular as any sport.  More people are likely going to play Black Ops today than will watch Bayless on television in a month.

I would be curious if Bayless did any research on this topic before he began.  Would he be as up in arms if Kobe appeared as a soldier in a movie or television show?  It's fiction.  It's not real. 

I would also be curious if Jones and Bayless would have taken issue with it if, instead of Kobe Bryant, it was Steve Nash or Dirk Nowitzki shooting off a grenade launcher.  Jones compared the appearance to Allen Iverson's rap album, further lending to the idea.

As an avid ESPN fan and video gamer I am offended and disappointed at this condescending and poorly researched segment. 

Three major sports are in season right now.  Baseball players are in negotiations with teams.  Why are Jones and Bayless giving us a preachy and potentially racially profiled commentary about a topic they prove to know nothing about?