All That and a Bag of Mail

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What. A. Week. 

When I started writing online 11 years ago I hoped to one day have 100 readers. Getting to the thousands of readers was a pipe dream. Hell, when I started Outkick four years ago I hoped we could draw in the tens of thousands of readers. Well, we’ve blown through those numbers. This week we had millions of unique readers on the site. That’s mostly thanks to you guys. 

One of our Missouri articles did 116,000 Facebook shares. That’s an insane number and it’s all a testament to you. You guys are the ones who read Outkick and share it with your friends and help our stories impact the national discourse. All I can do is write. You guys are Outkick’s engine. So, in a huge Vegas upset, I’m naming the Outkick readers our beaver pelt traders of the week.

Okay, on to the mailbag.  

And let me just say, I got so many of your emails this week that it was hard to keep up with all of them. Most of them were outstanding and, remarkably, none of them were hateful. 

But I’m going to start with the two best which I think are illustrative of the quality of regular reader we get at Outkick. 

Nathaniel Stevens writes:


I’m an Ohio State fan (native and lifelong resident of said state). I stumbled onto your blog by accident when I switched to reading Fox Sports because I followed Stewart Mandel over (just thought you might want the data as to how you picked up another reader, being the analytics hound you are).

The point of my email has to do with the current state of these United States and the things in my subject all tie into it.

The Ohio State fans upset with you over your comments about Urban Meyer, the current goings on at Mizzou and the recent events at Yale (which, to the best of my knowledge you haven’t commented on, but Slate magazine has a good synopsis) are all tied together in my opinion.

There are three fundamental things going on here.

1. We view the world in absolutes.

People think it’s impossible for Urban Meyer to be a great football coach and a hypocrite at the same time. That’s ridiculous. We seem to forget that people are complicated and flawed. One flaw does not completely negate a strength, nor a strength overshadow a flaw. Winston Churchill was a lush, Edgar Allen Poe an addict, Clay Travis a gay Muslim liberal. We are a sum of all our parts. We would be wise to remember that, and perhaps demonstrate some grace.

2. We forget what freedom of speech is.

The goings on at Yale demonstrate this in excellent fashion but we see it everywhere. Freedom of speech is one of the most important freedoms we have and people somehow don’t realize that freedom of speech does not mean freedom to choose who gets to speak based upon how upset their words make you. Think about where we would be today if this were the case. This is liberal thought carried so far left that it circles back to restrictive extremism. These folks don’t realize that their right to demand someone else shut up is protected speech, as is the supposedly offensive thing that was said to begin with. Again, ridiculous.

3. We want someone to protect us from being offended.

Mizzou and Yale both demonstrate this. There are times when people or classes of people need to be protected. They need to be protected from being lynched. They need to be protected from having their rights infringed upon by the government or its agents. They need to be represented in places where they are not. What people do not need is protection from being offended. As a matter of fact, being offended is necessary for progress and growth. There was a time when a slaveholder would have been offended by talk of emancipation. Ponder that for a moment. Being offended and considering opposing views changes you for the better.

Take all of this together and we get a segment of the population who believes that if I have something to say that they don’t agree with, then I don’t get to say it anymore, my employer, spouse, friend, someone, anyone needs to shut me up, and it makes me a horrible human being that I would say whatever it is to begin with. This despite my many redeeming qualities (like my dashing good looks and the fact that I’m an Ohio State fan).

How about we go back to the days when we listen respectfully, think about the thing that was said or behavior demonstrated, and respond appropriately. Offer a counterpoint, walk away, write an opinion piece, file a lawsuit, take to Twitter, do whatever you want. Just make sure before you do it you consider the ramifications of that action.

Therein lies the irony. I disagree with how these people are responding and with what they have to say and the actions they are taking, but I will defend mercilessly the right for them to say or do it. All I ask is that they defend my right to disagree as ferociously as I am wiling to defend theirs.

“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

-Evelyn Beatrice Hall

Thanks for reading my ramblings. There is someone north of the Mason Dixon who believes that Urban Meyer is a hypocrite but still respects his coaching and recruiting ability.” 

Just a fantastic email, so good that I wanted to lead today’s mailbag with this and let you all read it yourselves and just think about it for a moment.

I’m going to write a piece soon that contrasts how we make television today with how social media works. Great television today is all about exploring the middle ground, the areas between when we are good or when we are bad, the parts of our lives that make us human. In other words, great television has become like our best literature. Never in the history of mankind has there been more great art — and much of television today is great art — able to be consumed by the masses.

Yet think about how much different, and more controversial and nuanced and complex, television is than just about everything else in American society right now. Our politics are dumbed down, our social media commentary is obsessed with either labeling someone a saint or a sinner, our national discourse is driven by idiots.

So why does our popular television allow for such nuance while our public discourse requires moral absolutism? And what does it say about us that we’ll only accept human frailty through the prism of fiction?

I don’t have the answer, but I’m going to try to come up with one sometime soon.  

On to the next email that will make you think. 

Anonymity requested:


I am a regular reader, fan of your columns and writing and generally agree with your principles and opinions. I’m also a 45 year old black male born and raised in the South, as were both sides of my family for generations.

I was fascinated by your thoughts regarding the issue of “white privilege” and whether or not it’s pervasive. You use as your reasoning the academic achievement of asians and immigrants, which to me seems besides the point. I think what is missing is the realization that the privilege is all around you, particularly in the business and leadership roles that you might take for granted.

I can share a few personal anecdotes. Since I was 22 years old I have worked at 8 different companies. In each company I have been the highest ranking black male in the entire company. Over the last 10 years I have traveled a ton for work and have had meetings with organizations at high levels across the country. I can literally count on one hand the number of times that someone that looks like me is also in the room. At a recent company that I worked for (a good sized publicly traded company) we had an annual meeting of managers, director-level and above. Last year, out of over 200 managers in attendance I was LITERALLY the only black male in the room that didn’t work for the hotel.

In saying all of this I have worked for and with outstanding people, and rarely if ever had to deal with overt acts of racism or a sense of privilege. But I also realize that in my experience, statistically speaking (via two decades of observation) the process by which a white person is able to attain professional status seems to still be “easier” than that of a black person. Look at photos of the teams at law firms, Silicon Valley, newsrooms, ad agencies, etc. etc. Basically any professional organizations that aren’t sports related or aligned specifically with minority audiences. That is just the reality. To me that would mean one of two things:

1- blacks don’t try hard enough or are not inherently able to attain professional success
2- the system is such that the playing field isn’t level

To be honest, if you were to state that you felt #1 is true then I would have a ton of respect for you! At least there is an honesty there with which we could have a conversation around. I think that while most people would say #2, behind closed doors they believe #1 must be the case. And you’d have to understand that if you see the reality enough, a black person, particularly a young black person may in fact start to wonder if #1 is in fact true as well.

I completely and fully agree with your comments on the entitled attitudes of the Millennium generation along with GenY and Z. However there is a context that should not get lost. We have certainly come a long way in terms of offering full and open opportunity for all, but to pretend that we don’t have a loooong way to go simply means that you aren’t looking around.

I appreciate your work and writing and appreciation for football, the South, the ladies and the proper use of your and you’re. If you’d like to continue this conversation I would enjoy the opportunity.”

This is a fantastic email that asks a question I feel like too many people are unwilling to address: what leads to these disparate outcomes? Obviously there are many factors — that is, if any one thing guaranteed success in life every parent would do it for their children — but other than trotting out banal cliches about equal opportunity and diversity what really gets done?

Your experience in corporate America isn’t unique, by the way, there are hardly any black employees at Twitter and Facebook and Google and lots of other new companies that I think it’s fair to say are clearly not racist organizations. In fact, the exact opposite. Silicon Valley companies are so competitive they don’t give a damn about your private life at all, if you’re a rock star who can make them money, they hire you. What they struggle with is simply finding and identifying qualified black candidates to hire. 

So in 2015 why aren’t those candidates there? Again, big question without an easy answer. Is it structural racism, cultural, opportunity, we spend times discussing outcomes then we do the processes that lead to these outcomes. Maybe we need Nick “the process” Saban to cut through the shit and lead our national discussion on race.  

I don’t think we have a lot of answers here because I think when it comes to talking about race people aren’t honest. White people don’t want to talk about race because most of the time if white people talk about race we have nothing to gain from the conversation. Other than spouting off platitudes of equality that don’t amount to much, talking and writing about race is dangerous for white people. Say or write the wrong thing and social media’s default demand is: “Fire them.”

But that’s a problem because all it does is encourage further silence.

How many people in sports media even wrote about the Mizzou protests? Do you think that’s because most of them don’t have an opinion or because most of them are afraid of ending up targets if they engage in the discussion and express anything other than complete support for the protesters, even if what they’re protesting didn’t actually happen? I’m almost 100% sure it’s the latter.

Which is why I come back again and again to the first amendment. I am a 100% believer in only two things in this country: the first amendment and boobs. Neither has ever let me down.

And whenever I mention my support of the first amendment some critics, who don’t like my arguments and have decided I’m racist, or sexist or gay or Muslim or conservative or liberal, fire back with, “Well, the government’s not restricting anyone’s right to speak.” That’s generally true. But it misses the larger point, just because you have a right doesn’t mean you feel comfortable expressing that right. The first amendment doesn’t provide freedom from consequences. And all too often now instead of focusing on larger issues in race relations, we focus on the consequences from them as opposed to the solutions.     

What I would argue for is that people of all races should give others the benefit of the doubt and create a space that allows reasonable discourse to occur without the primary method of communication being demanding someone of any race be fired because of what they said or wrote. Because right now the far right and the far left are hijacking all discussions and not aiding any of us. 

And while some can make a persuasive case for white privilege existing, is there any doubt that black privilege exists too? Black privilege is the ability to call anyone racist. How does a white person prove he or she isn’t racist? You can’t prove a negative.

Increasingly, the only place where races interact on a regular basis is in sports, which is why I think sports can, and needs to be, an important part of our national dialogue.  

And to close, just to illustrate the complexity of talking about race, I’ll give you an example from my own life recently.

Two months ago my four year old — he has since turned five — came and sat in my lap while I was watching a football game. He watched with me for ten minutes or so and then he said, “Dad, how come so many more brown people play football than peach people?” (My four year old doesn’t even know the terms black and white for skin color, he calls black people brown people and white people peach people because that’s the color they most closely resemble in his Crayola box). 

And I had no idea what to tell him. 

Ultimately I went with, “Because brown people play football more than peach people.”

I have no idea if brown people play football more than peach people as a statistical matter — around 70% of NFL rosters are black — but my four year old is going to get smarter about sports. At some point he’s going to come at me with this question: “How come no white people play cornerback in the NFL?”

And I’m going to do what I do whenever I get asked a question by one of my kids that’s too tough for me to answer.

I’m going to tell him, “Go ask your mom.”

Another anonymous request. (How about the fact that so many people request anonymity when writing about race?)

“I recently graduated from Auburn, found an entry level job in my field of study, and am currently adjusting to post grad life. I feel that my school prepared me to handle the demands of a professional career and I would recommend anyone attend. Here’s the deal: I’m a black guy.

And with the recent “protests” at Missouri, it got me to thinking about your recent articles on social media mobs and how you get ate alive if you don’t agree with the majority. I don’t agree with them. At all. I don’t think the president should have resigned. I don’t think the football team should have stood behind a guy dumb enough to starve himself because he didn’t get his way. I though the lead group’s demands were comical. And you are 100% correct about social media mobs wanting someone’s head (in this case the president) to celebrate victory only to move on to the next “outrageous” issue. But from looking at others Twitter accounts, I’m GREATLY outnumbered by the black population on this issue.

I do think there are racists out there, but do I feel like I’m being “systematically oppressed” by your “white privilege?” Absolutely not. Most of my friends from college are white, and I’ve seen that our struggles aren’t all that different– the only color I’ve noticed that matters is green.

My question to you is, what do you think it would take to change people’s minds from this idiotic thinking? Like am I wrong for wishing that someone at Missouri has a racist encounter tomorrow to prove that a dumbass starving himself and Tim Wolfe resigning doesn’t end racism on campus and that you can’t strong arm someone into thinking the way you do?

I’m interesting in hearing from the famous gay, WHITE PRIVILEGED, Muslim on this topic.”

My thoughts in general on this — we need more people of all races, religions, and creeds in our radical moderate party. 

I worked in Democratic politics my whole adult life. I worked for congressmen and Senators and, while I didn’t meet them, I volunteered on the Clinton campaign in 1996, worked for the Gore campaign in 2000. I have solely voted for Democrats my entire life. Partly, to be honest, that was because the right wing of the Republican party — the religious right, in particular, terrified me. But now I’m every bit as terrified, if not more so, of the left wing of the Democratic party. 

This presidential election is going to be the first one where I’m a swing voter. I’m 100% willing to consider both candidates. I can’t be alone in feeling like this. You may be different than me, you may be a Republican who is thinking, “Boy, does my party really not want to teach evolution?” and be equally frustated by your options.   

You’ve got 40% of the electorate who are definitely voting for the Republicans and 40% of the electorate who are definitely voting for the Democrats.

But just think how much better our political campaigns would be if we could create just 20% of the American populace — which, by the way, would be the smartest and most plugged in portion of the entire electorate — and political campaigns had to address their arguments to us instead of to the two wings of their party?

Join me in the radical moderates.  

Mike writes:

“Imagine if during the Duke Lacrosse case, the Blue Devil basketball team with the support of Coach K went on strike until the Duke president who canceled the lacrosse season as well as faculty members who besmirched them were fired or forced to resign? Would media members be writing columns about how wonderful it is for student athletes to make their voices heard and participate in the political process with an emphasis on how brave it is for Coach K to stand behind his players?”

Yes, 100% those columns would have been written.

Many in the media are constantly looking for stories that reflect and advance their world view. That leads to blind spots. It’s how, for instance, the Rolling Stone article about the Virginia rape case came to be written. People look for stories that reflect what they already believe and then try to turn them into larger stories to advance their beliefs.  

Which is why social media rushes to mob justice are so stupid. We don’t even wait to make sure that the stories are true.

Most members of the sports media are liberal. I say that as a member of the sports media. That attack is 100% fair. And the default reaction of most sports media is to praise anything liberal. That’s why ESPN could give Caitlyn Jenner the ESPY for courage and almost no one in the sports media ripped the decision.

Are there legitimate conservatives in the sports media? Sure. But they’re all afraid of being attacked by the liberal sports media on Twitter. So they mostly keep silent. 

I just told you my political leanings, I’m not even remotely conservative, but I seem like Antonin Scalia compared to the rest of the sports media. 

The vast majority of ESPN’s sports viewing audience is infinitely more conservative than its executives and employees. Which is why it’s crazy that only one perspective dominates. The only reason I like a two party system is because it allow rigorous debate. But most of sports media isn’t a two-way debate, it’s one world view forced upon you and if you don’t agree with it you’re intolerant.

I ask this question to lots of smart people — haven’t we reached the end road of tolerance? That is, in the wake of Caitlyn Jenner’s transitioning to a woman, can you think of anything that isn’t socially acceptable now that will be in twenty years? In other words, what are we intolerant about now that will seem crazy to our grandkids? The only thing I can even think of is plural marriage. Is it possible that in fifty years our grandkids will consider us to be cretins for not allowing men and women to have multiple wives and husbands?


But otherwise I think we’ve kind of reached the point where we’ve included everyone.  

Kaleb writes:


I was hoping you would expound on the Bama police beating and tazing the Sigma Chi Frat bro. I’m an attorney and that got my blood boiling. I’ve never had any desire to be a public defender, you know the being poor think and all, but I’d take that case pro bono.”

It’s absurd. 

This should be a much bigger story than it is, but the simple fact is this — since the victims were white it didn’t get attention. 

If the Tuscaloosa police had done this to two black students, no one would have even paid attention to the Missouri protests. The Tuscaloosa police beating would be the number one story in America right now. 

Instead, the media doesn’t care. 

Not because it doesn’t matter — plainly, no one is in favor of police beatings — but because it doesn’t fit an easy narrative — the way white policemen beat black students does. 

As always, thanks for your support of Outkick and hope y’all have great weekends. 

Written by Clay Travis

Clay Travis is the founder of the fastest growing national multimedia platform, OutKick, that produces and distributes engaging content across sports and pop culture to millions of fans across the country. OutKick was created by Travis in 2011 and sold to the Fox Corporation in 2021.

One of the most electrifying and outspoken personalities in the industry, Travis hosts OutKick The Show where he provides his unfiltered opinion on the most compelling headlines throughout sports, culture, and politics. He also makes regular appearances on FOX News Media as a contributor providing analysis on a variety of subjects ranging from sports news to the cultural landscape. Throughout the college football season, Travis is on Big Noon Kickoff for Fox Sports breaking down the game and the latest storylines.

Additionally, Travis serves as a co-host of The Clay Travis and Buck Sexton Show, a three-hour conservative radio talk program syndicated across Premiere Networks radio stations nationwide.

Previously, he launched OutKick The Coverage on Fox Sports Radio that included interviews and listener interactions and was on Fox Sports Bet for four years. Additionally, Travis started an iHeartRadio Original Podcast called Wins & Losses that featured in-depth conversations with the biggest names in sports.

Travis is a graduate of George Washington University as well as Vanderbilt Law School. Based in Nashville, he is the author of Dixieland Delight, On Rocky Top, and Republicans Buy Sneakers Too.