All That and a Bag of Mail

It’s Friday, time for all you slackers to pretend to work for the next twenty minutes as we dive into the Outkick mailbag.

One bit of early news, I’ll be co-hosting Fox Sports Live all next week out in LA. So if you aren’t getting enough of me on the Outkick Show, on Outkick, or on Twitter and Facebook your dream has come true — you can watch me on TV for a half hour every night next week. 

Also, how about Tennessee back in the coaches poll top ten for the first time since 2005? I had no idea it had been this long. 

Get your bets in now, Vols beat the Gators 45-10 on September 24th. 

Okay, on to the mailbag. 

Louis writes:

“So a few buddies and I are heading off for vacation this Saturday. We have about a 10 hour drive, and the earliest we can leave is 2:30pm. One of our friends (a dude not going on the trip) just got engaged this week. There is going to be an engagement party on Sunday night, about 7:00pm. If we go to this party we won’t leave until 8:00pm at the earliest, or even worse we might not leave until the next morning. Either way it kinda destroys a day of vacation if you role in at 6:00am. I am completely fine with missing an engagement party. One buddy feels like we should probably leave early and miss the party. Another didn’t get invited. All the while the last member of our crew thinks, “I CAN NOT MISS IT.” So with this 4th member insisting ‘you can’t miss an engagement party of a buddy’, what do you think? I will admit he is better friends with our friend getting engaged, but not best friends. I even offered to help set up the party and simply tell him we love him and are excited for him. We can buy him drinks when we get back? Right?”

Don’t go to the fucking engagement party. 

And if one of your four friends insists on going make him drive the entire ten hour trip by himself. Honestly, the fact that this one dude is holding the three of you hostage for an engagment party makes me question why you invited him on your trip in the first place. 

Take it from the guy who has been married for 12 years: You will have plenty of time in your engaged friend’s life to attend shitty events like this. Avoid them for as long as possible, especially if going requires you to give up two vacation days.

Honestly, this is a no brainer. Leave at 2:30 pm tomorrow.  

Will writes:

“Life is good but I am at a crossroad. I just turned 30, 2 kids, great wife (who just got new boobs), blessed to have a household income over $400k so life should be pretty good. But my superficial problem is that I am going bald. Hairline retreating daily like the French in WWII and thinning on top.

It is starting to become noticeable and of course like close friends are supposed to do they have started to bust my balls over it. I am getting more and more obsessed about it, but not sure which way to turn. Do I just go old school and start shaving my head for the rest of my life or do I take advantage of modern technology and get a “hair graft”?

If I go the shaving route then I believe there is no turning back, everyone will know that I am bald and that will be the end of it. If I go “hair graft” then am I just trying to hang on too hard to my hair? Will my friends have that much more ammunition to bust my balls with at that point? I am only 30 and I never anticipate this, but what if my wife and I ever split, then what are my chances that I will be able to pick up women with George Costanza hair vs. Clay Travis hair? Am I overthinking this or should I be concerned on how society will judge? What are your thoughts as you comb through your thick, dark, golden locks of hair?… lucky bastard!

PS: I wish I would have bought Twitter stock two months ago when It was around $14.”

You can’t win if you’re a guy and your hair starts to recede; you get made fun of for going bald and you get made fun of for curing your baldnesss too.

Doesn’t matter who you are.  

Let’s use LeBron as an example. The guy gets crushed when he keeps adding a headband to cover up his baldness and then he spends god knows how much money to get his hair back — his hairline is phenomenal now – and people make fun of him for getting his hair back. 

So you’re going to get made fun of no matter which decision yiou make.

If it’s really bothering you and you have the money, why wouldn’t you get the hair plugs? 

Now a question for you guys. It’s well established that I have great hair genes. So I’m not going bald, but due to the fact that I have three kids ages 8, 5, and 1 and that I’m the hardest working person in sports media, my hair is starting to go grey on the sides.

What do I do here, do I let it go grey naturally and turn into the straight Anderson Cooper or do I pull an Al Michaels, Nick Saban, or Bob Costas and still have dark hair at seventy years old? I feel like you have to make a decision at some point. And most guys on TV or football coaches all go with the hair dye to try and look younger.

But doesn’t that start to look ridiculous at some point? Who are you fooling? Nobody that old has dark hair. 

I’ve probably got until I’m around fifty years old before I’m fully grey, but right now my play is to just go grey.   

Right call or wrong call? What do women advise here? (FYI, I asked my wife what she thought, but she said if she’d ever cared what I looked like she wouldn’t have married me.)

Brian writes:

“Hey Clay,

My brother and I grew up in a very lower/working class family in a moderately sized northeastern city.

We had a typical childhood for the time & place. During summers we woke up, grabbed a PopTart (cinnamon-brown sugar) and headed outside to carouse and play sports with our friends. Sometimes we’d stop home for a lunch of Flavor Ices (usually red, orange if we needed some vitamin C)…sometimes not. During the winter, we’d take the city bus over to the local YMCA to play pickup hoops. Over the years, we interacted with some pretty shady/potentially dangerous characters. These experiences made me street smart and built character.

I’m now married with 3 young children. While not rich by any means, my wife and I have provided our children with a home in a nice neighborhood in a small suburb.

I’m starting to worry about my kids growing up soft. They’ll never take the city bus. All of their meals are well rounded. The majority of their interactions with others are in a safe and controlled environment. As they get older, they’ll end up with cell phones so they’re always at our fingertips if we need them…or if they need us.

I know it sounds weird to say, but are my kids growing up too comfortable? What can I do to make sure they’re tough and able to handle the world once they head to college? We’ve raised them to be physically and mentally tough kids, but I’m worried that without those character-building childhood experiences…an element will be missing from them as adults.”

Basically what you’re asking is this: if your kids are fortunate enough to grow up in safe neighborhoods, attending safe schools and playing with equally safe friends in utopian safe spaces, how do you keep them from turning into sheltered pussies by the time they reach college age?

How do you make sure that they aren’t the kinds of kids who go off to college, demand safe spaces and trigger warnings, and curl up in the fetal position if anyone is ever mean to them?

I honestly think about this all the time. Ridiculously, it’s one of my biggest concerns. How do you toughen up kids who have never had to be tough? 

I mean, it’s not like I grew up in public housing in the Bronx, but I went to school in downtown Nashville, rode the school bus home at ten years old and walked home where I’d stay by myself for hours, rode public transportation starting at the age of 12, went to some pretty crappy public schools in restrospect — you know you’ve gotten spoiled when you walk into the school you went to as a kid and think, “I would never let my kids go here,” — and I was still a pretty big pussy when I went away to college.

I was homesick and mopey for my first semester in Washington, D.C. Now, granted, that was pretty far from home and it was a big city and I didn’t know anyone and we didn’t have cell phones to keep in touch with high school friends, but I look back on that now and I know that made me much tougher. (I also, and this is the complete truth, got such a bad throat infection my first sememster that my tonsils had to get taken out. My tonsils! At 18 years old! I’m pretty sure the low point of my life was when I went to a doctor and he said that he should be able to lance my tonsils and give me immediate relief without needing surgery. So I took that option.The doctor fills up this huge needle, jabs it into my swollen tonsils to deaden them — which, go figure, felt like hell — and then the doctor gives me a steel bowl to hold in my lap and tells me to open my mouth.

So I ask him what the steel bowl’s for and he says, “To catch the blood and puss from your tonsils when I lance them.”

I’m thinking to myself, there has to be a better techique for this. 

But I’ll be damned if the doctor doesn’t cut my tonsils open and then say,”Hmm, that didn’t work like I expected.”

So I’m sitting there with a deadened throat just spitting up blood into a steel bowl and the MOTHERFUCKER SENDS ME OUTSIDE TO SIT ON THE STEPS WHILE IT’S SNOWING OUTSIDE TO TAKE A CAB TO THE HOSPITAL.

I thought I was going to die in a D.C. public cab. That was back when D.C. still had that stupid zone system too — you paid based on how many zones you crossed — and somehow we hit like four zones on the way to the hospital.  

And then I get to the hospital to check into my room and the computer system at Sibley Memorial is broken so I’m standing in front of the public bathroom mirror just spitting up blood from my deadened throat all the while thinking, “Is this how it ends? With me passed out on the floor of a bathroom? Are my tonsils going to kill me?”

Anyway, after that semester, I got tougher and I do think that going to school on the east coast, where everyone is a total asshole, was really helpful to me because I got comfortable with not giving a shit what people thought about me. That’s rare in the South, where you’re raised at an early age to be nice to everyone no matter what.

Anyway, my point here is if I was a pussy at 18, how in the world are my kids not going to be pussies at 18 considering their life experience is going to be even easier than mine was? 

To her credit my wife is more concerned with ensuring that our kids aren’t pussies than I am. 

But I definitely think we need a “Don’t be a pussy,” summer camp. 

Like, that’s the entire purpose of it, they take your kids for a month or so and promise to teach them not to be pussies. I would 100% send my kids there.

By the way, you know who worries the most about things like this? Pro athletes. Many of these guys came out of low income situations where they had to rely on their toughness and their street smarts and their kids are suddenly the richest of the rich living in these utopian suburban neighborhoods.

The leap is tremendous.  

Just know you’re not alone in this fear. 

Brandon writes:

“You get a lot of poop questions, so I thought I’d throw you a curveball and get your thoughts on a peeing situation. I’m golfing with some buddies the other day when I stop to relieve myself in the middle of some trees. As I’m walking back to the cart I’m tucking in the front of my polo, zipping and buttoning shorts, and redoing my belt. My friend immediately asks my why I do all that when “you’re supposed to just unzip your fly, fish your dick out through the hole in your boxers, and pee.” (I tell him that obviously my penis is so large I can’t possibly get it through those little openings without scraping it on the zipper.) After both making our arguments, no agreements are reached.

So my question is this: When peeing, should you undo the belt, unbutton and unzip the pants, and take you dick out over top of the boxers and pee? Or, as my friend says, reach in through your unzipped pants and pull that thing out through the boxer hole? His argument is that, especially with a tucked in shirt, it’s easier to only unzip instead of putting everything back together. But to me is seems like just as much work to not only fish it through, but also shove it back in again. Does the answer change depending on what you’re wearing (tucked in vs. non tucked in)? And, more importantly, does dick size factor into this equation? We need a ruling.”

I’m a dick over the top of the boxers guy. I think it’s the better peeing option. I mean, is it really that much work to retuck your shirt? Especially given that you just peed, aren’t you likely to mess your shirt tuck up and need to retuck anyway? Of course, I’m not really a shirt tucker. Like 95% of the time I wear tshirts, shorts, and flip flops. And only psychopaths tuck in tshirts.  

The only time I go dick through the zipper and pee hole of the underwear is when I don’t have access to both arms during the pee process. And some of you are thinking, when in the world does that happen?

So I’ll tell you. I have peed a ton of times with one of my kids in my arms in a public bathroom. On those occasions — when I’m trying to avoid them playing in piss and rolling around in feces on a men’s bathroom floor — I hold my kid in my left arm and then use my right hand to unzip and go through the pee hole. 

But if you have both arms I think you go over the top. To me this avoids the worst possible outcome when you pee, getting your dick caught in the zipper. 

I’m more afraid of getting my dick caught in the zipper than I am any other dick related malady.

Plus, I think you get a better shake if you give your dick some freedom over the top instead of trying to crowd your dick through a pee hole and zipper.

That’s important because you don’t want to go the bathroom and then come back and looked like you peed all over yourself. I mean, we all pee all over ourselves, but we have to pretend we don’t. That’s part of being an adult.  

William writes:

“Hi Clay –

So, I’ve recently become more aware of (and subsequently annoyed by) a certain type of person on the internet. You’re very familiar with him- it’s “stick to sports” guy.

My question is this: is there anyone dumber than “stick to sports” guy? It’s clear that he only ever responds with “stick to sports” when it’s an opinion he doesn’t like. How low does this person’s IQ have to be to not be able to handle the fact that this sportswriter he likes has an opinion on social/political issues that he doesn’t agree with, and because of that he feels that the writer should not espouse their views on the internet?

I think we’re talking about a person with an incredibly low threshold for cognitive dissonance. They also clearly just can’t bear the idea that they like only half of someone’s ideas. They literally don’t want you to talk about anything other than sports, because they’re afraid of you saying something they don’t agree with.

Your thoughts? I’m curious because it seems like you deal with these people all the time.”

Well, I deal with lots of dumb people all day, but I rarely, if ever, get told to stick to sports. That’s probably because I’ve never just stuck to sports and people would be really surprised if I did.  

When I first started doing radio, we’d do about 60% sports and 40% whatever else was entertaining. The same is still true for Outkick. But occasionally we’d get a radio caller back then who would complain and ask why we weren’t sticking to sports. And I’d keep that guy on the line and say, “Okay, what sports do you want to talk about? Because when you call into a sports show and say you want us to stick to sports, I think you’re obligated to give us a really good topic to talk about instead of this one. Whatcha got for us?”

And that guy could never, ever give you a topic that was remotely interesting.

That’s because stick to sports guy is almost always incredibly boring. And the thing you learn pretty quickly is he’s not going anywhere, he’s going to listen to sports talk regardless. It’s like the guy on Twitter complaining because there isn’t more X’s and O’s analysis. No one wants X’s and O’s they want the sexy story, the vast majority of people in today’s audience just want to be entertained.

When’s the last time that a show ever lost viewers because it was too entertaining. The answer — never. 

When I first started writing about sports online, I wrote the vast majority of my sports articles about University of Tennessee football. But only about half my articles had to do with sports. And what was I going to do, write the same damn UT football story over and over again for the next twenty years? Everything a beat writer writes is a cliche. Once you’ve followed a team for a decade or more you’ve seen every story angle: The struggle for team leadership, the scrappy, but young team, the talented, but mercurial superstar, the kid from the underprivileged background, the team playing for a sick or dying fan, everyone’s overcoming adversity, a player’s only team meeting, a coach who is on the hot seat, every single story has already been told a billion times. Now there are some people who really like covering one team and do a good job, but that just wasn’t for me. 

So I expanded my sports articles to the entire SEC, then all of college football and the NFL and then every single story in sports that is remotely interesting. And then TV and politics and anything happening in my life and basically I can write about anything under the sun now. Because that’s what interests me, the entire scope of life today. If I had to write about defensive line depth at Tennessee, I’d go back to practicing law. That’s how boring I’d find it.

The key thing here: I’m not in the sports opinion business, I’m in the opinion business.

So stick to sports guy can go to hell. 

Kate L. writes:

“Clay,€“

Just a note of congrats as you reach the 5 year OKTC milestone. The anniversary made me reflect on how and when I joined Seal Team Clay (as I kind of think of you as an old friend these days) and thought I’d share my thoughts…

I first stumbled across your column when I was a junior at Mizzou and we had just transitioned into the SEC. You shared your addendum to Dixieland Delight on the site and it went viral in our Facebook community. I was struck by how smart a column about simply attending a college football game could be – particularly, I remember laughing aloud at the conversation with Rick from Rick’s Taxis (a man I knew well) about his market share, which was a totally foreign concept to a lowly mid-Missourian. I also loved your take on the Mizzou miniskirt, of which I owned many. I recently finally passed my collection on to Goodwill after coming to the tough realization they are just no longer appropriate at age 25, and in a real city. A true shame, may they rest in peace. Anyway, I explored the site more and was so touched (really!) to see how many young women you had writing about sports with you and quickly became a follower.

Over the years, Outkick has entertained me on a daily basis, but more importantly, it has made me a more intelligent and engaged citizen of our country. I deeply admire your reverence for the first amendment, but even more so, your courage to take advantage of it. I still think your work on the Confederate flag and your coverage of the Mizzou protests are Pulitzer worthy. Those were BRAVE, difficult pieces to write and I cannot tell you the solace it brought me to see others finally sharing in my opinions on social media as I had begun to question my sanity and my moral compass in light of the controversies.

Although I agreed with you on those two hot-button issues, there have been lots of things we don’t see eye to eye on (legalize drugs and gambling, fine and sure, but prostitution?? Really? On a less serious note, how do you hate running? We are not all losers with low self-esteem, thank you very much.) The best thing about Outkick is that it provokes deep thought, and challenges us to step back from blindly following our feelings and logically analyze what goes on in our world- sports and otherwise. You always manage to cast things a bit more in shades of grey than in black and white, which, I think, is kind of the beauty of the principles that this country was founded on, and something we desperately need more of in the social media era.

Lastly, I just got my first real job (went to grad school after college) and I have a whole new appreciation for how your work makes the day go by. Counting the minutes til 5 as I write this. Maybe that’s why it’s getting a little too long.

Ok, I’ll curb my enthusiasm before this love letter starts getting weird.. I might have already crossed that line. Thanks again for your courage, creativity, and dedication to the site. You’re doing the Lord’s work. Or should I say Allah? Gay Muslims unite!”

Thank you, Kate, I love you. 

And you’re only 25, don’t give up on the Mizzou miniskirt yet. 

The thing I am most proud of about Outkick is that we have a distinct voice that doesn’t sound like anywhere else. And we’ve always had more female writers as a percentage of our articles than any other site on the Internet. That’s primarily because women are better writers than men. 

Our readers are younger and better educated than any other sports site on the Internet. 

And you’re probably the best looking too.

Aw, we’re all blushing.  

Have fun this weekend, boys and girls. 

And thanks for reading and sharing Outkick’s stories and videos. 

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.