All That and a Bag of Mail

It’s Friday and I hope all of you are having spectacular starts to your weeekend. 

To make your Friday even better, here is an insane video from the University of Tennessee, featuring students complaining about the pulling down of an online guide suggesting that controversial and offensive pronouns such as he and she be removed in favor of genderless pronouns like ze. You know, for all the people who don’t identifiy with one gender or the other. 

Anyway, this meeting happened with the chancellor of the university and all the upset students and it seriously looks and sounds like a Saturday Night Live skit. I can’t believe it’s real. Enjoy:

Okay, on to the mailbag. 

Jordan writes:

“A food fight breaks out in the grocery store, but the fight is to the death. What food weapons are you going for first?”

So you’re talking about like a “Hunger Games: Grocery Store,” edition?

Assuming the store sells wine or other liquor bottles, I think you have to go straight for the glass bottles. If they don’t serve wine or liquor then you go straight to wherever else the glass bottles are — the beer aisle, I’d suppose. Once you break a glass bottle that’s basically a knife. So you break several glass bottles and stay there holding your stabbing weapons.

I wouldn’t go in search of anyone, I’d wait for them to come to you. If you break the bottles around you, you’ve created a slippery floor so if you stay calm you probably stand a good chance of anyone who charges you falling on their ass. The only reason I can see why you would move from the glass bottle area is because you want to duct tape the broken bottles to your hands, but I think the value of keeping anyone else from getting glass bottles overcomes any advantage you could have by moving around the store.   

I’m not sure what anyone else could kill you with in a grocery store? I’m sure there are some scientific geniuses who could try to make bombs using household cleaning products, but how much time do you have to win this battle? Someone could end up going to the aisle with matches and developing some form of crude Molotov cocktail so I’d probably say adding fire would be your second best weapon if there are no bottles. But only because you could attack from afar.

Assuming you don’t want to rush for a weapon, I always think the best advantage in a fight to the death scenario is to just hide and let everyone else fight first. So my top choice would probably be to think of the best hiding spot in the entire grocery store, run there, and wait to emerge only after many people have been killed. 

Stephen writes:

“Would you entertain ever doing a true NWO move and join forces with either Bill Simmons or Barstool when your contract is up? You guys have three distinct voices that are counter to mainstream (some more moderate than others). I think money is going to move to the independent voices who have huge followings and can do entertaining podcast content.”

Look, if the money was right I’d do all sorts of distasteful things: gay porn, sell one of my kidneys, work for ESPN.

So I’d definitely consider joining forces with anyone. Truth be told, there isn’t a single person in the media I dislike enough not to work with them. 

I think the future of sports media — and media in general as well — is all going to come down to fanbases. Everyone will have to prove that what they do has fans. And if you don’t have fans then you’re expendable. That’s what eliminating the distribution advantage has done for creative talent, it’s created smaller audiences that are more passionate about the people they consume and allowed those smaller audiences to be capable of monetization. 

It used to be that you had to be on the right TV network, the right radio dial, or writing for the right newspaper for people to know you exist. That’s because the TV, radio and newspaper industries controlled distribution of content and if you weren’t with them, your content couldn’t be consumed. But now distribution costs have moved to nearly zero. 

The cost to run of my Outkick website and my Periscope and Facebook Live show is virtually zero. So Outkick becomes profitable almost immediately. The only cost right now is my salary and whomever else I employ. Compare that with “mainstream” media. 

The budget for a season of FSLive shows when FS1 launched was about $45 million. That means you had to get to $45 million and a dollar to show a profit for a year’s worth of shows. The budget for my Periscope and Facebook show is the cost of wifi to my house for a year. That means I need to make about $601 in a year to be profitable.

Which is easier? Getting to $45,000,001 or getting to $601?

Now the revenue for new media will probably never approach the revenue for old media, but it doesn’t have to do that in order to chip away at the business substantially and be very profitable.

I can probably make more money right now on my own than a major media company is willing to pay me. Which is a wild new arena to be in — I’m not sure that arena has ever existed in media before.

That’s because your content doesn’t have to appeal to tens of millions, it just has to appeal to enough passionate fans to ensure you can make a living. This isn’t necessarily new — most sports message boards, for instance, make a good living serving a tiny percentage of fans with “premium” content — but it is challenging for many to grasp: passion matters less than audience size.

If you have 1000 people who like what you do enough to pay you $10 a month to do it that’s $120k a year. That’s more than the vast majority of sportswriters make in a year. That’s why one of my goals at Outkick is to start monetizing the people who love us more. There are hundreds of thousands of people — potentially millions even — who love Outkick. Yet most of you don’t spend a dollar to consume our content. How do we translate that passion into even more dollars?    

For a long time bland centrism was the goal in sports media — don’t offend anyone, avoid ruffling feathers, don’t be too opinionated — I think 21st century sports media is all going to be about proving that you can bring listeners, viewers or readers to your events. That’s what we can do at Outkick, we bring an audience. My theory is that sports media is going to become an awful lot like politics — you either love or hate people. Powerful emotions are what motivate actions. If you love or hate me you’ll do something.

Back to your original question, I don’t know Simmons at all, but I talked to Portnoy at Barstool about joining them before I signed with Fox and I’m sure I’ll talk to those guys and others as I make my decision about what to do with Outkick in the near future. I’m open to quite a few avenues and will have some big decisions to make about Outkick going forward. What I do know is that I have one of the biggest, most loyal audiences in sports media right now and I’m confident that is going to lead to great options.

Danny writes:

“So last week after a Sweet 16 game, a member of the sports media was annoyed with how SI sent a kid to the press conference after a game and was “cute” but was wasting everyone’s time when he had a deadline to meet. He subsequently got criticized by other sports media and a lot of members of social media.

I saw a tweet that I think nails it on the head and I think explains why sports media is inherently liberal. The tweet explained how sports media, especially journalists, are miserable because they get paid nothing and no one cares about their story. Do you think these lame sports writers are largely liberal because they believe they should be getting paid more for the small number of clicks they generate? Through 22 years of life, I am starting to think one’s political beliefs are shaped most by how an invividual believes they are getting compensated. That is these journalists believe their value to their employers and to society is greater than what they are getting paid. They largely believe it is the government’s job to step in, regulate, and make the playing field more equal. On the other had I think most lawyers and financiers are typically conservative (fiscally which leads to overall conservative values) because they believe in capitalism as they are compensated based off the revenue they generate for their firm or partnership and have direct control over their value. Obviously media and sports media is very liberal on social issues but do you think they first become liberal through their economic views and develop and push the social issues to provide a better value to society? I think social issues are another huge determiner of politics, but do you think general economic beliefs shape one’s political mindset more?

First, most sportwriters, like most people in this country have no idea what their business value is. I’ll explain that later, but let me dive into the sportswriter who Tweeted about the kid at the press conference first: This was emblematic of a larger issue in sportswriting — namely, many sportswriters believe what they do is both 1. difficult and/or challenging and 2. important. 

The reality is most sportswriter jobs aren’t either of these things. If the job were particularly difficult or challenging or important the average sportswriter would make much more money to do it. That’s the law of markets. The reality is this — the barrier to being a sportswriter is not that high. You don’t have to be that intelligent or work that hard or be that great of a writer and you get to work in sports. Now that’s not to say you can’t be very intelligent or very hardworking or a great writer, it’s just that the actual business doesn’t require these skills and the number of people who want to do the job is substantial, which means the wage floor isn’t very high.

The fact this guy was complaining about the challenge he faced in writing a game story is particularly funny too. Because it demonstrates how backwards the industry still is. Who reads articles about games? The game story is dead, especially if you’re relying on what’s said in a public press conference. The only good stories about games come from outside the press conference. If you’re just rewriting what’s said in the post-game presser, what’s the point of your article? What additional value are you actually providing to your employer?

Traditional game stories are antiquated relics from a time when games weren’t on TV, the Internet didn’t exist, and each individual newspaper had a defined audience it served. Then your story conveyed information that wasn’t readily available to a market that wanted to read it. People had to wait until the morning to read in the newspaper what players or coaches said about the game and there was a decent chance they may not have been able to see the game. You were the eyes and ears of the fan. Now the only people who read a story about the game — an actual gamer, not an opinion piece, but a recitation of what happened in the game — are either really old and just used to reading the newspaper or they missed the game for some reason. 

And if you missed the game for some reason are you really waiting around for the newspaper if you care about the outcome? If I want to know what happened in a game that I missed on television I pull out my phone and look at the score the first chance I get. Then I go look at the box score. If the game was close, I may watch the highlights online. All of that takes twenty seconds.  

I did, however, find both the Tweet and the response to the Tweet predictably boring. Okay, the guy griped on his Twitter feed, so what? Did I really need to see everyone respond to him and rip his opinion? I would have never known about this guy’s opinion if people hadn’t felt the need to rip his opinion on Twitter. And this is what Twitter is, right? A big stage for performance over substance.

Most of my Tweets either give you information I don’t think you have already, my opinion, or they’re responding to someone Tweeting me. I don’t seek out a random guy or girl I don’t know — and that you don’t know either — and typically rip their Tweets. I’m not saying I never do it, but it’s rare.  

The larger issue here, which you hit on, is that most people in America have no real idea how business works or how they get paid what they do for their labor. That’s because most people are content to be employees and want someone else to worry about the business side of things. There has long been value in this perspective. Trust me, it’s much less stressful and easier to know that you always have a paycheck coming, that someone has taken care of your health insurance, and that no one really knows how hard you’re working or what value you bring to a business. But that’s changing. And what’s happening in America today is that everyone’s performance is now able to be analyzed and you’re constantly competing with not just the people in your town or city or state. But with the world. 

Some of us are used to it — the law firm, for instance, is one of the most brutal businesses alive. In a law firm your value is directly tied to how many billable hours you bring in. And it’s a simple equation. You work X hours and bring in X dollars. It’s a science. Partners can look at their roster of lawyers and see exactly how much every employee is worth. That’s why I think arguments about partner diversity are so absurd. Are you killing me? All partners care about is how much other partners can make them. There are few professions more meritocratic in America than the law. 

But most people are not used to being judged on metrics and that disconnect, between being able to slide by as an average employee not working that hard and having your performance analyzed all the time, has many people, like this sportswriter, lashing out at his surroundings. Honestly, it’s a big reason Donald Trump won, he spoke to that discomfort in middle-aged older white men in particular.    

My advice to you is this — make your bosses money. And figure out how they can tell if you’re doing it or not. Otherwise you’re totally expendable. But if you’re making your boss money, you’ll always have a job in this country unless your boss is crazy or your problems are exceeding your talents. 

Hunter writes:

“I’ve been scheming my get rich/famous idea for a while now. And I’ve chosen to go by way of The Bachelor. I worked at Yellowstone Park last summer and most of the workers there had never witnessed a football game much less somebody exercise outside of the mountain climbing world. So one of the middle aged dudes there thought it’d be a good idea for me to audition for Survivor. I’ve never seen an episode but I guess I met some sort of criteria in that I could bench more than 225. Props to you btw.

So here’s my idea to reality fame. Win Survivor. Network myself into being a contestant on the Bachelorette. Come in 2nd on the show (coming in first would be game over). As the popular runner up, get my own season of The Bachelor and date all the beautiful women.

Here’s where it gets interesting. I fake my own death. I don’t show up to final rose ceremony. Bachelor history. I hide away for five years. Come back like Bruce Wayne. Write a book. Movie gets made about the book. I star in the movie. The name of the movie: Bachelor Forever.”

Upon first glance this is pretty much genius. 

I’ve wondered what would happen if the Bachelor or the Bachelorette went rogue at the end and just disappeared and refused to finish the show. If you stayed reachable and just refused to finish the show they’d clearly sue you to death under the undoubtedly draconian contract you sign to go on the show.

So the only way you’d be able to do it is by faking your own death or just vanishing.

Now here’s the challenge, the show doesn’t air live. So would they just scrap the entire season if the bachelor bailed at the end? I think they definitely would if, for instance, you left a rose on top of your clothes and signed a suicide note overlooking Niagara Falls, for instance. No way they’re airing an entire season that ends with the bachelor potentially commiting suicide.

So you’d have to vanish. 

My bet is they worry about a bachelor or bachelorette going rogue like this and won’t let you out of their sight during filming. So you’d have to sneak away. That means you’d have to write some heartfelt letter — cleverly leaked to the media as well — about how your heart was so torn up that you needed solitude to contemplate love.

The next question becomes: could you stay solitary and not have anyone ever find you for five years? I think that’s way too long. You’d need to disappear for like six months or a year. That’s how long people would care. After five years there would be some new distraction.  

Keep in mind that you’d be decently famous after winning Survivor. That is, millions of people know you. Pretend that Nick had bailed at the end of the Bachelor, could he really hide for a year? How would you live? Are you going to take all your Survivor winnings as cash and bury it in some remote mountain town?

I think you’d have to get out of the country to go unnoticed and in order to do that your passport would get scanned. 

Basically, this would require a ton of work and preparation. But I do think if you just bailed at the end of the show the network might still air it. Because it’s a total cliffhanger. Where is the bachelor? Who was he in love with so much that he couldn’t bear to make a decision? It’s honestly a great ending to a show that so far has been very predictable.

Honestly, I’m surprised they haven’t scripted a runaway bachelor or bachelorette yet. 

Can you imagine if on the day of the final rose ceremony the bachelor or bachelorette just vanished?

I would watch the hell out of a reality show that just tried to track down the missing bachelor. Hell, I’d love to host it. 

(Also, hate to brag, but am I the best person in America at analyzing hypothetical situations? Again, hate to brag, but I think I am.)

William writes:

“Just got back from Disney World with the kids and I can’t get over the number of fat people with scooters. They really clog up the path ways and caused a few near misses with various family members each day in each park. I don’t want to trigger anyone but why does Disney encourage this? I understand the strollers. That is their primary market. But how much are they making off food and scooter rentals to justify the challenges caused by the seemingly able using scooters to avoid walking?” 

It’s shameful the degree to which scooters — and fat people on scooters in particular — have taken over Disney World. 

It’s one thing if you’re 85 years old and unable to walk, you deserve a scooter. But how can a fat person get the right to a scooter? Shouldn’t we make fat people walk? They need to walk more than anybody. If you’re too fat to walk very far, then get in better shape.

Outkick’s a tough love place. 

If I ran Disney World no fatties would get scooters. 

The worst of all is when these fat people on scooters are zooming around with unhealthy food in their cart. “Hey, fatty, you’re eating ice cream while your fat ass is riding on a scooter!”

You can’t cause your own disability and then benefit from it.

You’re so fat that you don’t have to stand in line for Peter Pan? Fuck that. You should have to stand in line on a treadmill.  

D. writes:

“Love the show. Been a supporter since the early periscope days. Anyways, this is the time of year where college students and recent graduates (even those 3-4 years out of college) are deciding where they want work, what career path they want to venture down, or even what career path they want to pivot from (I was in banking, hated it, got out of it within a year of graduating). You have a similar story from being in law, to quitting your job to write, and experienced the ups and downs of sports media until outkick really started to find its stride.

Sports media aside, how important do you think it is for people in their twenties to roll the dice a few times, find what they like and equally or if not more important finding what they DONT like from a profession point of view. I ended up quitting the bank job and spent a summer giving surf lessons and videography in Hawaii at 25 years old living right off the beach while friends of mine have been in the cubes since graduation stacking up their 401k saying I’m crazy. Am I in the wrong for rolling the dice? No idea, but answer will be determined in the years to come.”

Before you have kids and before you are married, take risks and be fearless in your employment decisions.

Don’t be a pussy isn’t just a phrase it should help you make life decisions too. #dbap, bitches. 

Because what do you have to lose?

In the absolute worst case scenario you fail. That sucks, you worked as hard as you could and still lost. That happens. It’s why sports are important, you have to learn how to keep trying even when you fail. 

But the stakes aren’t really that high. You aren’t going to go hungry or die in this country because you make a bad decision about what job you take or what business you start. 

Also, STOP THINKING ABOUT RETIREMENT. 

Jesus Christ, the number of people in their early twenties who email me about their goddamn 401ks makes me want to shoot myself in the head with a nail gun. It’s fine to save money — and you should do it — but don’t do it for retirement. 

Retirement is for losers. 

Social security isn’t going to exist — at least not in its present form — for most of us. In fact, the vast majority of people reading this mailbag right now are never going to be able to retire unless they get independently wealthy. 

And that’s fine, I’m okay with that. Because why should retiring be the goal anyway? Shouldn’t your goal be to find something you like doing so much that you don’t want to do stop doing it? No one retires from sex, right? No one retires from eating a good meal or watchin their favorite team on television. 

Retiring is for losers. 

Now if you want to stop doing a job because you’d rather do something else, that’s fine, but do you know how long a day is if you don’t have a damn thing to do all day?

Finally, I get so many emails now from graduating seniors who want me to employ them at Outkick — and I’m sure more are coming soon — that I don’t have time to respond to any of them. But here’s an easy question for you: why would I hire some random person who emails me and says I want to do what you do? I already do what I do. I don’t need that. Nobody hired me to do what I do either. I just did it.

If you want me to hire you at Outkick, you need to be coming to me with a business plan that guarantees I’m going to make money off your work. I’m a capitalist, dammit. If you’re not making me money, why would I hire you? I already have three kids and a wife that live off my labor. That’s stressful enough. I don’t need more people making money off my hard work.  

I want you young guys and girls busting your asses to make me money. So if you can come up with a way to work at Outkick and guarantee I’ll make money off of it, I’ll hire you in a second. Otherwise, nope.

Have great Fridays.

And don’t get hit by a train.

….

Send your mailbag and anonymous mailbag questions to claytravis@gmail.com 

And stop being such pussies.

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.