All That and a Bag of Mail

Football fans hug after the announcement of the return of the Rams to Los Angeles on the site of the old Hollywood Park racetrack in Inglewood, Calif., Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2016. NFL owners voted Tuesday night, to allow the St. Louis Rams to move to a new stadium at the site just outside Los Angeles, and the San Diego Chargers will have an option to share the facility. The Rams, based in the LA area from 1946-94, will play in a temporary facility, probably the Los Angeles Coliseum, until the new stadium is ready for the 2019 season. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes) Damian Dovarganes AP

It’s Friday, time for the mailbag. 

Let’s dive right into it. 

“My wife and I are celebrating our 10 year wedding anniversary this year. She has been asking to “re-do” her wedding ring for some time now, and I told her that could be her anniversary gift this year. To make sure she doesn’t go nuts, I gave her a budget of $10,000. For my gift, she told me I could take the same budget and go to Vegas. As soon as she said that I told myself I was going to play in the World Series of Poker (costs 10K to enter)

Poker has always been a hobby of mine, and while I am by no means a professional, I can hold my own at the tables, and it has been my dream to play in the World Series of Poker ever since I was 15 (mid 30s now). Once I told my friends the deal, they almost all told me I was an idiot for blowing the entire amount on a single poker tournament that I can bust from on the first day. They told me I need to spread it out over a week, at clubs, bars, the tables, etc…

What should I do, take a long shot at glory and blow the wad in one day, or live it up like a baller for a week. How would a gay Muslim spend $10K in Vegas?”

Enter the World Series of Poker event. You say you’ve always wanted to do it. Sure, you could lose in a hurry and blow the money, but you might not. Hell, maybe you’ll get lucky and actually win money. And it’s really more about the event experience than it is the potential to win, right? You’ll be able to talk about the experience for the rest of your life. 

Moreover, you can’t live that wildly on $10k in Vegas. Certainly not for a week. Take it from someone who has run up a $10k bill at a pool party in a single afternoon. 

That’s $1428 a day. It sounds pretty nice, but it would go quickly.

Just think about your budget. If you’re going to “live it up like a baller” then you have to get a decent hotel room/suite, right? Figure that’s around $500 at a decent hotel, potentially more if you want to stay somewhere really popular like the Cosmo.

So you’re down to $928 right off the top.

Decent tickets for two to a show will set you back $400. Dinner with drinks at a nice place is at least $250. Bang, you’re down to less than $300 and you haven’t eaten breakfast, lunch or even gambled. Plus, you haven’t been to any club or pool party. Is that really baller status?

Vegas is made to cater to the ultra rich, it’s not cheap. Moreover, would you really want to spend a week straight there? Anything over 3-4 days is really too much. 

I’d enter the World Series of Poker event.

Good luck.    

Joe writes:

“Dear gayest Muslim,

How the hell can Mularkey be the favorite for the Titans’ job? Are the Titans that stupid?”

Yes. 

Chad writes:

“I like to watch the debates to see how ridiculous the candidates look and then watch my Facebook blow up the next day, it really is quite entertaining. My question is; how can these intelligent, well to do men get on these stages and look like complete out of touch morons? I mean Ted Cruz was the editor of The Harvard Law Review and now he calls out the biggest market in the world, New York City. I know you have worked in politics so I hope you can help me understand this.”

It’s because you get seduced by the reaction to the line in a local market and forget how something will play nationally. 

Right now Ted Cruz is stumping in Iowa and every time he talks about “New York values,” it gets robust applause. It’s a double barreled shot at Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Plus, it’s not like any Republican is winning New York this year anyway. 

But when you go on a national debate and it gets brought up, it looks bad. And you saw that Cruz knew he was on dangerous ground as soon as he got that question. He immediately started to backpedal. And then when Trump got to respond, he just crushed Cruz with the 9/11 reference. And Cruz was sitting there with this look on his face like a video of his mom renouncing her American citizenship when she moved to Canada had just gone viral. 

He knew he was totally screwed. 

Finally, Cruz is a really bright guy, but being elected President isn’t about just being smart. It’s about connecting with dumb people and smart people without looking evil. Cruz still looks evil. I’ll bring it back to this — Cruz, Rubio and Trump are out at a bar and have to pick up a girl, but there are only two girls there. 

Any doubt Cruz is going home alone? And that the other two girls are going to be talking about how creepy Cruz was? You can’t get elected President without being able to pick up the girl at the bar. And Cruz has never gotten the girl at the bar.  

Doug writes:

“It looks very much like ESPN, with its present business model will go under. Not if, but when. Will Disney be willing to fund it as a loss leader with Star Wars billions ? I doubt it. My question is, as you have so outlined, big-time college football could be facing Armageddon. With the exception of maybe 5 or 6 Bowl games, the others don’t exist without ESPN funding them. The SEC network. Goodbye. Coaches salaries being funded by future TV revenues, ouch. Facilities funded and financed going forward by ESPN FUTURE rights fees could be put in mothballs. The college football 4 team playoff, forget about ESPN willing to and being able to fund it going to 8 teams, not only is that off the table, but it could die altogether. Am I missing something here? Or is the answer that we are looking at $500-$1,000 ticket prices to attend Power 5 football games?”

First, this isn’t really a league problem because they were smart and locked in long range deals at the height of the market. With the exception of the Big Ten — which will be up this year and may have missed the peak — everyone has locked in their guaranteed payouts. The risk of contractual loss — to steal a legal term — rests entirely with ESPN. They have to make their payments to the leagues or they are in default of their contracts. Disney’s not defaulting on these deals, they’ll just have to pull money from more profitable parts of their company to help to defray costs. Instead of ESPN being the profit engine of Disney economic growth over the past generation, it’s going to become a drag on earnings going forward.

The stock market is just now beginning to realize this, it’s why despite the wild success of the new Star Wars movie, Disney’s stock is moving towards a 52 week low. To Disney’s credit they’ve bought Lucas Arts, Marvel, and Pixar which have all been great acquisitions. This will help to defray ESPN’s deterioration as a significant profit driver.   

The biggest issue for college sports that I see is the era of conference networks may well be over. The ACC Network, for instance, probably isn’t ever going to happen now. The SEC timed its network perfectly, but there may come a time down the road where the decline of the bundle means that they may have to go directly to consumers. Are there 5 million households that would be willing to pay $100 for all the SEC games? I think so. The biggest issue would be that absent the rise of the bundle, why does anyone need ESPN for distribution?

And that’s the fear for ESPN over the next generation. When all of these sports rights deals expire, what is ESPN’s business? Unlike, say, HBO, they don’t create any actual content themselves that has a substantial audience. (The most successful original content that ESPN airs is PTI, and it draws a million viewers a day, which is a pinprick in today’s market). “Game of Thrones” is always going to be valuable. Same with “The Sopranos,” or old movies owned by Time Warner. But old games? They don’t have a substantial value and ESPN doesn’t own those games anyway. Effectively ESPN is a middle man with a strong distribution network thanks to the bundle.

But in a debundled era there’s no cost to distribute content. Every league can go direct to consumers. And if they don’t want to do it themselves then Apple, Google, Netflix, Facebook, Twitter, or companies that we don’t even know yet — all of the engines of 21st century Internet connectivity — have much better distribution arms going forward than ESPN does. When it comes time for their next deal, why would any of these leagues need ESPN to distribute their games for them?  

What I do think is less likely to happen is more expansion. The fuel behind conference expansion has been adding markets based on revenue produced from the bundle. That’s why the Big Ten added Rutgers, entirely for the Big Ten Network. But if the bundle is fraying — and I believe it is — then new markets matter less than strong fan bases. That is, you don’t need a mediocre team with a great geographic footprint like Rutgers, you need a great brand, a team that people will pay to watch. I’ll expand on this in a future column, but the underlying rationale for expansion was conference networks. And the money for conference networks came from the bundle. If the bundle is under attack then it’s smart not to expand based on new markets.  

The biggest threat to sports leagues isn’t debundling, it’s that in 10-15 years when most of these deals start to come back up that the dollars won’t be as significant then. But that’s nearly a generation away. When that happens risk of loss will default to the leagues, but they have a long time to figure out a business model that makes sense. Right now Disney — via ESPN — has by far the most to lose from debundling, they bear almost all of the risk of loss.

Mark writes:

“I’m aware that you know as much about music as Hayley Frank does about South African Rockhopper Penguins. However, my question is more about PC Bro culture. Normally, I don’t preface questions with the fact that I’m white and love rap but, it’s relevant to my question. By the way, I’M MORE AGAINST RACISM THAN YOU!

My wife and I frequent a bar near our house a few Saturday’s a month for some karaoke. I can’t sing, so I rap. My two songs are Gin & Juice and California Love. However, I’d love to expand my repertoire as my two songs have become stale. I attempted this in the past but, a PC Bro was offended that I rapped the “n-word” while attempting a Lil’ Wayne song. In addition to my confusion that I was simply reading words off a screen of one of my favorite artists/songs, I was offended that they were offended. Was I wrong to attempt the song? As a white, privileged male, am I not allowed to rap the lyrics of my favorite artists just because it includes the “n-word”? I’m really looking forward to rapping Amerikas Most Wanted this Saturday, so your wise words would be much appreciated.”

The problem with defining racism based on word usage is that it eliminates all context. It also leads to patently absurd situations — black people can use words that it’s racist for other people to use. Which is stupid on all fronts. First because it oversimplifies racism and equates it with word choice as opposed to actions — “Oh, my God, he said a bad word, he’s racist!” and second because it brings us back again to the George Carlin seven dirty words bit. It was absurd, and still is, that using the word fuck is considered unacceptable on television. Witness the Golden Globes bleeping out every curse word from actors and actresses who get paid millions to utter curse words on screen. Words have power because we give them power. I think defining some words as “bad” and others as “good” is arbitrary and stupid.  

That’s because we judge all words by context. Fucking awesome means something entirely different than fuck you. 

The entire purpose of doing karaoke is to sound as much like the performer as you possibly can. But if you sound as much like the rapper as you possibly can you find yourself in an awkward situation, you’re a white guy screaming out nigga in a crowded bar. But, again, this circles back to my prior point — a race can’t own a word especially where, as here, the contextual nature of the usage isn’t racist. You’re embodying the performer and using his words to perform a song. Most people don’t karaoke songs they hate. And I don’t think the KKK shows up for its meetings and raps Lil’ Wayne songs to establish its virulent racism. (Although that would be a fantastic skit).

You know what would also be a fantastic skit? Different people rap the same song and we analyze who is societally acceptable to say nigga in the song. Black guy? Fine. Half black guy? Probably fine. What about a quarter black guy? Still okay? What about Tiger Woods? What about someone who is half Asian and half Hispanic but you don’t know their actual race? Racist or nah? Should we need karaoke blood tests? What about someone who is 1/8th black? 1/16th? WHEN DOES IT BECOME RACIST FOR SOMEONE TO KARAOKE LIL WAYNE? WON’T SOMEONE SOLVE THE PROBLEM?

All of this proves how patently absurd our “rules” on racism are, right?

Having said that, why not compromise and learn the lyrics to an edited version of the song? Or just pick a new rap song without the word nigga in it? And keep doing what most white people do now, awkwardly sing along to rap songs while skipping the “racist” words for white people.    

Or you can go balls to the wall and reclaim nigga for everyone who likes rap music, regardless of their race. After all, the difference in a word that ends in gga and gger is totally different, right? 

“I’m a 25 year old straight male, consultant, living in a major city. I’m about 5′ 7” – these factoids will prove relevant later.

Anyways, one day I find myself discussing my dating life with another friend (he’s a gay male, mid 30’s). I tell him that I haven’t gone on a ‘real’ date with a girl I met organically in over a year (My dating life currently consists of occasional one night stands, occasional tinder “dates” and routinely masturbating before I go to sleep).

Gay friend asks if he can set me up on a blind date. Sure, I say, why not? Gay friend is super excited. He makes a reservation at one of the swankiest restaurants in the city. He then blind copies my date and me on an email saying “Hey Kids! Reservation is made for [Day] at [Time] at [Restaurant].” I have no idea what to expect, all I have is this girl’s first name.

Weekend rolls around, I get to restaurant and meet my date. First impression: she’s a lot taller than me, probably about 6′ 3″ with her heels on. As most shorter men figure out in life, women have a huge stigma about dating men shorter them.

Whatever. We sit down and start talking. Eventually, we start talking about work. My date has been practicing law 9 years, which, if we assume she completed her undergrad at 22, finished law school in 3 years and passed the bar immediately, puts her at about 34 years old. Wow. throughout conversation, she makes other comments about how many of her girl friends are married with kids. The fact that she’s significantly older than me hits home once again when she later tells me that she purchased her house in summer of 2004 (which was the summer right after freshman year of high school).

All things considered, the date was fine, and since we could both hold a conversation, not that awkward. I would have preferred not to have spent ~$175 a date that we both knew wasn’t going anywhere, but whatever. My real question – what made my friend think that it was a good idea to set up an immature 25 year old with a lawyer 10 years older and 6 inches taller than me? Is he unaware of straight dating tendencies? Did he actually think we’d see each other again, or was he just like ‘aaahhhh fuck it, this could hilarious!’ Finally, do I (politely) ask his reasoning for setting up the two of us, or do I just never bring it up, and be thankful for his efforts?”

Not only should you ask your gay friend what his rationale is, he should have to email the mailbag and defend himself. Because while you’re complaining about the woman being 6’3″ in heels and nearly a decade older, what do you think she thought? At least you’re 25, you have a long time to continue to date without getting self conscious about it. This girl is a professional, she’s 34 and she wore heels to a date with a guy who’s 5’7″!

She’s probably sitting across from you thinking, “I can’t believe (insert gay friend) set me up with a 25 year old short dude. And I wore heels! I’m never getting married or having kids. I should leave this restaurant and go freeze my eggs.”

He screwed both of you. (And not in a good way).

He not only need to explain his rationale to you, he needs to email the mailbag and defend himself. He’s the worst gay match maker ever.   

Tim writes:

“I’ve always wondered, if you consider the five main sports we have in the US (Football, Baseball, Basketball, Soccer, and Hockey), which sport can claim that they’re the best overall athletes of the bunch?

My thought was this: Each sport somehow selects what they believe is their best 20-30 all-around stud athletes, and they get a certain time to train for the other sports from the group of 5. After that time, there will be a round robin tourney for each sport, with some sort of point system for wins and losses kept throughout (3 points for a W, 1 point for a tie as a simple example).

If this scenario could magically take place in an alternate universe, which sport takes the crown of superior athlete? Which sport sucks the most?”

I think you have to eliminate the 20-30 best athletes line and just make it the most average athlete who plays the sport. Because the top 20-30 athletes in all sports probably could have been pro athletes in multiple sports and that isn’t really an adequate representation of overall athletic talent in a given sport. I also think you have to toss out hockey because ice skating is a skill. I mean, you could put the most athletic person possible on skates and he’d be awful at the sport if he’d never ice skated before.

My ranking for the most athletic would be: 1. basketball 2. soccer 3. hockey 4. baseball 5. football

I feel pretty confident about these rankings except for hockey. Because, again, I’m just not sure how good at, say, basketball that your average hockey player would be. It’s possible that the average baseball player is a better athlete than the average hockey player, but then I think about the average baseball player and I don’t believe, for instance, the average baseball player would win a sprint with the average hockey player.

So odds are my rankings are perfect.  

Matt writes:

“Clay, the backlash of the Rams move to LA seems like a pretty genuine reaction from the St. Louis fan base. Yet I have seen no welcoming reaction from fans in LA signifying they either haven’t heard the news yet or worse, don’t care. Owners aren’t dumb. So that tells me they don’t care about actual fans in seats. This tells me that television contracts along with real-estate and stadium deals are the genesis of this move. This is essentially the NFL tipping their hand to what matters most. Smart fans will figure this out. I’m not saying no one will watch. But what if no one in LA cares (again)? Could this mark the beginning of a decline for the all powerful NFL?” 

LA is a badass city. While just about every other city in America is doing whatever it takes to get an NFL team to move to the city, LA refused to provide any public money to the construction of a new stadium. And they still had three teams that wanted to move to the city and build two brand new stadiums. 

There are 14 million people living in the LA metro area. Putting that into context, that’s more people living in the LA metro area than live in Vermont, Wyoming, Alaska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Delaware, Nebraska, Idaho, West Virginia, Hawaii, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Maine combined. 

So the seats will be sold, but even if the seats aren’t sold, there is so much corporate money to be had in this market that seats aren’t even a concern.

Having said that, does the average fan in St. Louis care an awful lot more about losing the Rams than the average fan in Los Angeles cares about getting the NFL back? Of course. 

And that sucks for St. Louis fans. 

If the Titans didn’t suck so much I’d invite you to join me as Titan fans. 

But at this point that’s just cruel and unusual treatment. 

I’ve always wondered, if you consider the five main sports we have in the US (Football, Baseball, Basketball, Soccer, and Hockey), which sport can claim that they’re the best overall athletes of the bunch?
 
My thought was this: Each sport somehow selects what they believe is their best 20-30 all-around stud athletes, and they get a certain time to train for the other sports from the group of 5. After that time, there will be a round robin tourney for each sport, with some sort of point system for wins and losses kept throughout (3 points for a W, 1 point for a tie as a simple example).
 
If this scenario could magically take place in an alternate universe, which sport takes the crown of superior athlete? Which sport sucks the most ass? 
I’ve always wondered, if you consider the five main sports we have in the US (Football, Baseball, Basketball, Soccer, and Hockey), which sport can claim that they’re the best overall athletes of the bunch?
 
My thought was this: Each sport somehow selects what they believe is their best 20-30 all-around stud athletes, and they get a certain time to train for the other sports from the group of 5. After that time, there will be a round robin tourney for each sport, with some sort of point system for wins and losses kept throughout (3 points for a W, 1 point for a tie as a simple example).
 
If this scenario could magically take place in an alternate universe, which sport takes the crown of superior athlete? Which sport sucks the most ass? 

Written by Clay Travis

OutKick founder, host and author. He's presently banned from appearing on both CNN and ESPN because he’s too honest for both.