Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith on First Take, ESPN, 2014. Photo credit: ESPN

We’ve spent enough keystrokes over the years to write a Stephen King novel with all of the horror produced by ESPN’s ghoulish sports debate show First Take.  It is without doubt the worst sports show that has ever been made, and I’m talking all the way from actual sports shows to Pete Rose’s reality show to that one time they tried to make George Costanza play the life of Tony Korheiser.  First Take is worse than all of them, maybe combined.

And people can’t stop watching.

Somehow, some way, First Take isn’t only just surviving as the daily carnival show inflicts slow hearing loss upon its viewers from all the screaming and yelling and debating, it’s thriving.

First Take just recorded its most watched month ever.  The asteroid can come at any moment, now.

All this time we’ve called on ESPN to actually take some pride in who they are as a network, the self-proclaimed worldwide leader in sports, and resist the temptation to sink to the lowest common denominator in the name of ratings.

But maybe ESPN isn’t the problem.  Maybe we are the problem.

You see, if we were somehow able to turn away from this circus act, ESPN would give us a reprieve from First Take.  But these ratings provide ESPN all the justification they need to let Stephen A. Smith threaten NBA superstars on the air and let Skip Bayless believe that he provides the necessary motivation for professional athletes to win games.  Somehow we as a culture have decided that watching two grown men argue about sports like first graders over the last box of pop rocks is a good thing.  Now even the hot takes are starting to appear telling us that we should shut up about how awful First Take is and the message that it sends to aspiring sports media people – yell loudest and create the most controversy and make lots of money.

We’ve brought this upon ourselves, America.  First Take is enjoying record ratings, we have to choose between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton for president, and the Kardashians are America’s First Family.  May God have mercy on us all.

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