All That and a Bag of Mail

I’m writing the mailbag on Thursday night because I’m heading to north Alabama to officiate the wedding of Ross and Deja, two Alabama grads. Really, this is happening, marrying the 15%, it’s what I do.  

I think the plan is to periscope the ceremony. So if you’re bored Saturday evening, you have that to look forward to. 

Our beaver pelt trader of the week is Jon Snow. 

Because he’s Jon Fucking Snow. 

On to the mailbag. 

Lots of you on email on Twitter this week have asked variations of this question: what are your thoughts on Caitlyn Jenner and the ESPY award?

Let me start with this, a decade ago one of my very close family members decided to transition. I was raised in what I would call a fairly religious Southern Baptist family. We all supported him in his transition. I don’t feel any different about him than I did before he transitioned. Nor does anyone in my family.

Personally, I think I’ve been pretty clear that I’m all for any individual doing anything that makes him or her happier. So I hope Caitlyn Jenner is happier with her decision.

So while I don’t have any issues with the decision at all, whether or not her actions are courageous or heroic is a fair debate. I certainly think you should be able to say you don’t find her actions heroic or deserving of praise or courageous, just like I believe you can say that they are heroic and courageous actions. I also don’t see anything wrong with having a difference of opinion about whether ESPN should have rewarded her with the Arthur Ashe courage ESPY.

Is there a pretty substantial difference between the guys who stormed the cockpit and brought down one of the jets on 9/11 and Nelson Mandela — two prior recipients — and Caitlyn Jenner?

Yeah, I think so. (Here’s the full list of courage award recipients.) You can certainly disagree with me. Just like you can disagree with any opinion I ever have on here. I know it’s crazy to believe in our modern era, but two opinions in the world can both have validity at the same time. Indeed, that’s how I ended up a radical moderate.

And if you don’t think ESPN is partly doing this because more people will watch this year’s ESPY’s than have ever watched their stupid awards show before, you’re crazy. ESPN is shameless when it comes to its own self promotion. As a fellow shameless self promoter, it’s one of the things I admire about them the most.

There’s a difference though between saying, “I think my opinion is right,” and taking the next step of saying, “and you don’t have a right to disagree with it and call yourself a decent human being.” Which is, I think, the default social media perspective these days. One of the things that scares me most about the evolution of our society is many people’s desire to classify everything as either good or evil. There’s no room for nuance, reasoned debate, or difference of opinion. We oversimply everything into a Disneyfication of the world, where everything, frequently colored by your own political beliefs, is an artificial good or evil construct. It’s not healthy and it’s not smart. Most of life isn’t black or white, it dwells in between. It used to be that the more intelligent you are, the more you see that. Now I’m concerned that intelligent people are becoming more unwilling to examine complexity or consider ideas that may be in contrast with their own beliefs. 

This ties in with one of the things I’ve been consistent about on Outkick — my belief that the first amendment is under assault in our modern era. I don’t agree with lots of your opinions and you probably don’t agree with lots of my opinions as well. (You’re clearly wrong if you don’t agree with everything I believe, by the way). But that doesn’t mean I feel like you don’t have the right to your opinion. In fact, I think you should feel comfortable screaming it from the mountaintops.

That’s because our culture evolves through the marketplace of competing ideas. Sometimes those ideas that are ascendant come from the left — twenty years ago gay marriage would have been considered a radical opinion — and other times they’re conservative ideas rising to the top — did anyone really think gun rights would advance to the point where there is virtually no political opposition twenty years ago? That’s the way the marketplace of ideas works.  

You should have the right to share your opinion, we’ll debate it, and over time one of our opinions will be more valued by society than the other. That’s natural, that’s organic, that’s why the first amendment is the most precious right in this country.  

But the thing that scares me about social media and the new trend on college campuses — always paramount this time of year when commencement speakers are protested if they don’t share every opinion of graduating seniors — is that many people seem to believe that you don’t have the right to disagree with their opinion and still be a decent human being. Worse, these same people take genuine offense if your opinion differs with theirs.

We live in the least offensive time period in American history, yet simultaneously people are more offended now than they ever have been before. Somewhere along the way many people in America have decided that they should never be offended by anything. That’s infinitely scarier to me than any opinion anyone could have in America today. If you can’t handle someone having a different opinion than you, that says a lot more about you than it does them. 

So I wouldn’t have given Caitlyn an ESPY for courage because to me true courage or heroism requires that you face the loss of your life or liberty. In this situation, neither is at stake. But ESPN got exactly what they want, a controversy. And the Kardashians.

Alex writes:

“I’m not as much of a NBA fan as I used to be, but I’m watching The Finals tonight because I’m caught up on Game Of Thrones. I’ve come to the conclusion that the overall skill level in the NBA is lessening. Pure shooters seem more rare, offensive schemes have gone away and the result is sloppy individual performances performed by the best sized athletes.

On the other hand, NFL play, on all levels whether it’s individual abilities or coaching or game specific planning seems to be improving.

So I guess what I’m asking is do you agree with me. I believe an NBA Finals team today in 2015 would get crushed by a Bulls era team, and likewise an NFL Playoff team today would annihilate one from the mid 90’s. Am I right?”

I think you’re crazy, the NBA players today are much better than the NBA players have ever been. And the shooting is poor? Are you watching the contested shots that these guys can hit? Steph Curry is the greatest off the dribble shooter in the history of the league. Three point percentage shots are off the charts. Hell, did you see the Warriors pass up a sure dunk for a Klay Thompson three?

The same goes for the NFL and Major League Baseball and every pro athlete. 

They’re all better as a group.

That’s what happens with humans, we get better at everything in every era. Of course, I’m an eternal optimist, I believe that things are always getting better. Life today is better than it has ever been in the history of the world.

I’ve thought about this a ton and the only thing, and I mean the only thing, that may not be better today is the work of our best novelists. I think William Faulkner, for instance, is better than any living writer we have today. But aside from novelists, I honestly can’t think of anyone or anything that isn’t better. (And Shakespeare as a playwright. Although if Shakespeare was writing today he’d be a badass TV writer.)

Can y’all think of anything else that’s worse today? 

Stephen writes:

“My buddies and I were talking about Jon Lester’s 0 for his lifetime hitting career. This of course led to a debate. How many base hits could an average, early-mid 30s guy get out of 100 plate appearances against a major league pitcher? I’m talking about guys who played baseball at relatively average sized high-schools. No all-staters or college experience…and maybe hit up a batting cage every few years. We put the over/under at 2.5….basically concluding the only hope would be a couple of seeing-eye singles. I think that would be very tough given a major league defense is playing and you’d have to hit them somewhat hard. Infield hits are out of the question (out of shape). I think almost everyone would strike out at least 70 times. This is done completely sober of course. Thoughts?”

Is the pitcher attempting to get you out or is he just grooving fastballs right down the middle of the plate? If he’s attempting to get you out, I think zero is the answer. I don’t think your average guy could even make contact with a major league pitcher mixing in his best pitches. In fact, most of us would bail every time we saw a curve ball coming because we’d be convinced it was going to hit us and that curve ball would be coming faster than any pitch we’d ever faced before.  

If he’s just grooving fast balls down the middle of the plate — how many pitchers are treated, for instance — you might make contact. But you’re not legging out any hits in the infield and you’d have to rip the ball to avoid a major league player catching the ball if you got it in the air.

I think your best bet might be to attempt to bunt on every pitch, but the problem there is I’m sure your average guy would get his fingers broken mishandling the bat. 

I think the strike out percentage would be more like 90% and the ten balls your average hitter put in play would be really feeble efforts. The vast majority would get no hits unless it was straight fastballs. And even then less than five hits total.  

Colin writes:

“Would you rather have every text you’ve ever sent to every chick ever leaked to the entire world or 50 embarrassing nude photos of yourself leaked out?”

Why would it need to be fifty photos? Once you’d seen me naked once, the other 49 would be pretty similar. 

I’m not a guy who fears nudity. At least not as long as I’m not being photographed after swimming in an ice cold pool for twenty minutes.

Plus, who really cares about seeing me naked? it’s not like these photos would go viral. This is the same reason I don’t worry about walking around my house with the blinds open. If people happen to see me naked, so be it. (My wife is the exact opposite, by the way. And that probably makes sense. She looks much better naked than I do).  

But on the texts front, I’ve been married since 2004. I don’t think my texts to women would be that embarrassing since most of them would be to my mom and my wife. If all of my texts — including the ones to guys — were released, I think most of you would read them and say, “Yeah, that’s exactly what I would expect Clay Travis’s texts to look like. They’re fairly funny, often inappropriate, and there are lots of dick jokes.” 

Now if I were a single guy, I’d probably rather have a naked photo leak. Because every single guy on earth who has had his texts leaked looks like a total dumbass. All of us do. Especially the ones sent after midnight to fifteen different girls to see who will respond. Context is lost, you don’t see all the sides of the conversation, it’s just a bad look for everyone.  

Kathryn P. writes:

“Since yesterday it came out that FIFA 16 will feature women’s national teams, I’ve seen a ton of backlash from guys who seem to think the world has collapsed. And I have to ask, if you’re not going to play as a women’s team, why do you give a shit? Is it too much to ask that is ladies get to see somebody like us in the video game market? And is it really hurting anybody, anyway? Do you think these guys would feel the same way if they had daughters?”

This is stupid, of course they should be on there.  

I like watching women’s soccer, especially since the United States is one of the best teams in the world. Unlike rooting for the men when you always feel like you’re a Vanderbilt football fan, the women dominate.

In fact, I’m taking my wife and boys to the World Cup final in Vancouver on July 5th. I’m hoping the US women are there, but regardless it should be a pretty awesome experience.

We’re spending ten days in Vancouver and Seattle, two cities none of us have ever really been to before. I’m pretty excited for all of it.  

Hunter writes:

“We’re trying to determine as accurately as possible how many beers we drank through 4 years of college at an SEC school. Is this at all possible? How would you do it?”

It’s impossible. 

But I would say the best way to do it would be to average out how many days a week you were getting drunk and how many days you didn’t touch a beer at all. Figure every time you got drunk you averaged consuming 10 beers — may seem low, but you have to factor in liquor drinks and shots as well. Multiply that out by weeks based on a 32 week school year. Add in half days of drinking and combine that with your days when you didn’t drink at all.

I’d say that’s a pretty rough approximation of your total number. That’s the best you can do.   

Eric writes:

“Hey Clay,

This is a horrible thought, but what would happen if an entire NBA team was killed in an airplane accident? There has to be a plan in place at the league office, right? Would they have an emergency draft (sort of like the old expansion draft)? Would they cancel the rest of the games that team would have played? I imagine all the major sports leagues have a “plan” in place if this happens.”

You’re channeling George Costanza here. 

Remember this great Seinfeld scene with Keith Hernandez?

There’s no doubt that every team in every league has a plan in place. They would cancel the rest of that team’s games and I think you’re right, they would treat the team as an expansion franchise and allow a draft of every team’s current players going forward.

ESPN would put Tom Rinaldi on this story and he would win 176 consecutive Emmy awards.  

The closest example in sports is obviously Marshall. (Although you’ll remember the awful tragedy with the Oklahoma State basketball players as well.) I actually think college athletes are more in danger here because they are traveling back and forth between smaller airports and, often, on inferior planes.   

And with that pleasant thought, have great weekends.

I’m off to marry two Alabama grads.  

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.

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