All That and a Bag of Mail

It’s the Friday before July 4th and I hope all of you are gearing up for a good long weekend.

I’m knocking out the mailbag this morning before spending the afternoon on a boat with family and friends down in Florida.

As we get rolling here with the mailbag, I want to remind you to go sign up for Outkick’s VIP. I appreciate all of you reading, listening and watching our Outkick content — June was by far our best month ever — but many of you are asking what else you can do to support Outkick. The answer is sign up for Outkick VIP. You get the exclusive right to comment on our articles, you get a VIP phone line for the radio show, you get access to our VIP message board, and you get access to special events with myself, and other Outkick writers. It’s a great value. So go sign up today.

Here we go with the mailbag:

Mike writes:

“Loved your idea on how the NFL should handle the national anthem this fall. Reportedly they’re not listening, apparently planning to include an alternate black national anthem. IMO, this would be twice as bad as kneeling damage (20% viewer decline). What say you?”

The idea of playing the black national anthem is crazy to me. (Confession: I didn’t even know there was a black national anthem. And I bet most of you didn’t either. Is there an Asian national anthem and a Hispanic national anthem too? No idea.)

The entire purpose of having a national anthem is that it unites everyone regardless of race. Uniting someone behind you solely because of their race is racism.

My idea was to eliminate all pre and post-game festivities from the field of play this year. Cheerleaders, player introductions, anthems, flyovers, halftime contests, post-game handshakes, you name it, all of it should be gone in an effort to protect player safety by limiting the number of people with access to the playing surface. It’s not a perfect solution, but it’s a solution of sorts.

This idea just seems insanely stupid by the NFL.

What’s more, are players kneeling for the national anthem and standing for the black national anthem? How awful would those optics be?

The entire thing is a mess that’s likely to lead to less viewer interest. Last time we saw a player anthem controversy the NFL ratings dropped nearly 20% over two years, costing the league’s television partners hundreds of millions of dollars.

The NFL has created more black millionaires than any business in world history and the (majority black) players are going to attack it? Just pure insanity.

When fans focus on anything other than the game on the field the overall viewership level declines. This isn’t complicated, we know exactly what will happen because we saw ratings dive nearly 20% just two years ago. Ratings are likely to plummet when protests are the focus at the start of games. (One caveat here, we really don’t know what the coronavirus situation will be this fall. So let’s say stadiums only have half (or less) capacity and most people can’t go out to sports bars to watch games there. Then in theory you could get a Nielsen bump from those factors, couldn’t you? Limited fan attendance and less sports bar viewership has got to be worth a 100,000 additional viewers in most cities, doesn’t it? So that might factor in as a positive. But remember we’re also talking about a presidential election year when fall viewership tends to decline for that reason as well. So even with the coronavirus caveat I’d be surprised if NFL ratings are up in 2020 if protests become a prominent part of the overall story line).

Final thought, it’s possible the NFL is negotiating with the players and believes they will stand for both anthems as a kind of compromise if they play the black national anthem. But this is still too messy of a long range solution.

I’d eliminate pregame ceremonies of all kinds — including the anthem — this season and cite the coronavirus as the reason why.

Joe writes:

“Why is the media ignoring the coronavirus death rate and only pushing the number of cases?”

Because the mainstream media, consistently, has focused on the worst possible stories surrounding the coronavirus.

They’ve embraced the fear porn.

Deaths are down over 90% since the peak set on April 21st in this country. Most of the people testing positive now are in their twenties and thirties, meaning they have a nearly 0% chance of dying.

Plus, as I’ve been saying for a couple of weeks now, we have driven down coronavirus deaths to the point where they represent less than 5% of all daily deaths in this country.

At some point we’ll get them as low as they can go while we all go back to work. Coronavirus deaths aren’t going to go to zero as long as the virus is circulating. That’s an impossible goal.

But the overall national death rate through six months of the year, isn’t looking like it’s going to be massively different than it was last year. I think, in fact, there’s a decent argument the coronavirus killed people a couple of months earlier than they might otherwise have died, meaning our national death rate through the rest of the year will be lower than expected.

Remember, 2.8 million people die every year in this country, an average of 7500 every day. Even if you believe the numbers that are out there — and believe that everyone who died with the coronavirus would otherwise still be alive, which is certainly not the case — we’re talking about the coronavirus adding about 5% to the overall death rate in the country so far this year.

That sucks, I wish no one ever died, but we aren’t being overwhelmed by a tidal wave of deaths.

What’s more, we won’t even know until next year what the total death rate is. It’s possible the death rate by the end of 2020 won’t look much different this year than in past years.

And for that we have potentially delivered a crippling blow to the best economy in the history of the world.

It’s nonsensical.

As I’ve said for over a month now, there’s a strong argument that the coronavirus shutdown and the war in Iraq are the two worst decisions our nation has made in the 21st century.

And both of them were made based on consensus decisions.

Mike writes:

“Do you think the three projected debates happen and if so, how do you see them playing out?”

If I were Joe Biden I’d be doing everything I can to avoid having three debates.

Because I think they will have absolutely massive audiences that could potentially swing the election.

Look, Biden’s biggest danger is his purported cognitive decline. He has been very shaky in the Democratic debates so far and those mostly occurred with several other people on the stage limiting his potential speaking time.

Going toe-to-toe with Trump will be a real challenge for Biden and many will see it, fair or not, as a test for his cognitive abilities.

Biden doesn’t need to be great in the debates, far from it, he just needs to avoid a collapse.

So if I’m advising Biden I’d want to do fewer debates, not more. And if I’m advising Trump I want as many debates as possible.

Right now Trump is losing the election, Biden isn’t winning it. Biden’s goal is to stay out of the news and make this election a referendum on Trump. So far the coronavirus has made that very doable.

Which is why I’ve argued Trump needs to get disciplined and focus on three things in order to win this election:

1. The fact that voters trust him by double digits on the economy over Biden. He has to argue he can lead the country back to economic prosperity and that the recovery from the coronavirus is already happening.

2. Go after China. Right now I believe we are in a new Cold War. China wants the world to follow its communistic, authoritarian image, the United States wants the world to be made up of capitalistic democracies. Trump needs to go after China with everything he’s got, in particular placing all the blame for the coronavirus on China.

3. Argue that Democrats are broken when it comes to cultural issues — focusing in particular on the idea of tearing down Mt. Rushmore and other statues of Washington and Jefferson and the concept of defunding the police.

These are all winning issues for Trump.

But he needs to focus on these three issues exclusively if he wants to win. Right now his approach is far too scattershot.

I laid out that vision that would lead to Trump’s reelection here:

DF writes:

“Do you think we are going back to 1980s crime rates in the cities?”

We already know what happens when there are fewer police — crime, particularly murder, increases. This isn’t remotely debatable.

Black Lives Matter is arguing for defunding the police. That’s literally going to lead to more black deaths. In fact, we’re already seeing it in the cities where BLM is most active and powerful.

When you attack police as the problem — whether it’s in Chicago, New York City, Baltimore or Ferguson — police act less aggressively and criminals take advantage of that pull back, leading to more death and more crime.

This is not a statistical uncertainty, we 100% know what will happen already if the defund the police crew wins. Death, particularly black deaths, increase.

It’s just insane to me that our politicians who support the police are so inept they can’t make this case to the public.

BG writes:

“How do you think the names on back of NBA players jerseys will end up?”

Well, it creates a huge content discrimination mess, right? The NBA is in the business of now determining which opinions its players can advocate.

And I doubt the NBA will be content neutral in what it allows players to advocate. For instance, is there any way the NBA is going to let a player put “Free Hong Kong,” or “Chinese Democracy Now” on the back of their jerseys? No way.

How about “Abortion Is Murder,” or “Trump 2020?”

No way for those either, right?

What about “Defund The Police” or “Biden 2020?” That seems unlikely as well, even though the NBA may agree with them, because they wouldn’t allow the other side to be advocated for.

So the NBA is allowing players to take stands so long as they take stands the league agrees with, which means far from taking a stand the players are effectively spreading league endorsed political propaganda.

My bet is players will end up with mostly bland slogans with almost universal appeal on the back of their jerseys: equality, end racism, freedom, things like that.

And here’s the big question I have, have NBA players forgotten who pays their salaries? It’s not a 16 year old woke kid on Instagram, it’s the 55 year old white guy who buys a suite for his business or wildly expensive courtside seats. Is that guy going to be as eager to spend his own money to support a league that might have different politics than he has in a challenging economy?

In past years, he liked the basketball enough that he didn’t care about the difference between his and the player opinions. But what about now?

We don’t know the answer for sure, but I doubt that all of them will be willing to spend the same amount of money.

Right now sports is a uniter, the more political it becomes the more divisiveness it creates. Put simply, I don’t think sports leagues add fans by embracing politics, they only lose them. And that seems like very bad business for the leagues to me.

Randall writes:

“Just saw where Mike Gundy took a $1 million pay cut for wearing a crappy T-shirt he probably got for free and just randomly decided to wear on a fishing trip because it would get dirty. Will folks ever get a backbone to stop some of this woke madness?”

I suspect Mike Gundy was going to have to take a pay cut regardless because college athletic department businesses are collapsing all around him. Hell, I took pay cuts in my radio and TV contracts to try and help other lower paid people keep their jobs.

I suspect many of you with contracts have done the same.

So the pay cut isn’t a big story to me because it was likely going to happen regardless.

Having said that, I don’t think there has ever been a tougher time to be a college football coach than right now. You’ve got an unprecedented coronavirus situation coupled with the rise of player social media activism. Whereas in years past players may have come directly to coaches when they had issues now they go straight to social media and level viral charges that spread like wildfire.

The media, almost uniformly, embraces the player perspective because the player perspective tends to be woke. I’m not sure we’ve ever seen a larger disconnect between media that covers sports, which is super woke, and the audience that reads that media, which tends to be moderate to conservative.

I’m stunned by some of the anti-sports returning articles I see from sports media members. I mean, do these people realize their companies might collapse, and their jobs might be lost, if sports don’t return?

Here at Outkick we’re going to be fine because our audience is becoming more massive without sports going on — if anything, we’ll just hit new heights when sports come back — but we’re the exception.

You’ve already seen a ton of sports properties laying people off amid the sports shutdown.

I think those layoffs will accelerate to a massive degree if football isn’t played this fall. (Note: I think college and NFL football will both be played, but the sports media sharing fear porn stories every time someone tests positive for the coronavirus isn’t helping things at all). It’s like these media members don’t realize they are potentially writing their own pink slips with the articles and Tweets they put out.

Finally, I’m old school in the sense that most disputes should be settled face to face as opposed to on social media. If I were a coach right now I’d be telling all my players to keep criticism in house and bring it directly to me. But how many of those kids are going to listen when so many in the woke community reward every emotional Tweet that gets sent out?

I just think we’ve gone way too far in the direction of validating emotions at the expense of facts. Emotional responses are often the absolute worst for all involved and we treat them like they are the best.

Brad writes:

“Are the Redskins going to be blackmailed into finally changing their name?”

This is an example of The Charge of the Woke Brigade.

Why in the world is the Redskins name suddenly under siege? It’s just because the woke brigade is looking to tear down whatever they can.

Personally I don’t have a strong feeling one way or the other about the Redskins name, but I do find it strange that all of a sudden it’s unacceptable.

Same thing with statues for Washington or Jefferson and the like.

What’s happened that connects all of these issues? It’s just that people have lost their backbones when it comes to standing up to stupidity.

Right now we’re in the woke appeasement stage. Where all these powerful people believe if they appease the woke mob that they will move on to someone or something else. But here’s the problem, appeasement doesn’t work in the long term. The woke mob only keeps its power if they find new targets. So they always find new targets.

And the more people who appease the mob, the stronger it gets.

So if you agree with the decision to tear down Confederate monuments — which I don’t — thinking that will be the end of the drive to tear down monuments, it isn’t. These people legitimately believe Mt. Rushmore should be dynamited. They believe the same thing about the Jefferson Memorial and the Washington Monuments.

They aren’t going to stop because what this is really about is they hate American capitalism and American democracy. They hate our past, all of it. You have to stand up to these woke idiots and combat them. That’s the only kind of power they recognize.

Will Dan Snyder keep standing up to them? I have no idea.

But I do know if he doesn’t, they won’t be satisfied.

Look out Kansas City Chiefs, you’re up next on the chopping block.

Frank writes:

“There’s a diversity committee being formed at work. A black peer says I should be on the committee because I’m the only white person she knows willing to speak honestly about race. I want ensure the group isn’t 100% Woke but I think my participation is career suicide. How should I proceed?”

In an ideal universe you should be involved.

But the problem with diversity committees is they don’t want an actual conversation about diversity with diverse viewpoints to consider.

They want everyone to agree with the diversity committee’s inevitable opinion, which will find systemic racism in the company.

And if you oppose those conclusions then, guess what, you’re a racist.

This is why we don’t have honest conversations about race in this country, because most people don’t want to have honest conversations about race. They want white people to blame and black people to be victims.

Most educated white people fear being labeled a racist so much that they are willing to publicly state things they don’t actually believe just to avoid being tarred and feathered as a racist.

The American marketplace of ideas has broken down when it comes to discussions of race because they aren’t actual debates, they are inquisitions. You either have the right opinion or you lose your job. That’s why the charge of the woke brigade is so powerful right now, because the opposition is terrified of confronting the woke mob for fear of what they might lose.

So we don’t have actual constructive conversations in most places, we have routs.

Which ultimately make things worse because they pollute our national discourse with artificiality.

Okay, I’m off to the beaches.

I hope you guys have great July 4th’s celebrating the greatest country in the world.

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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  1. I don’t agree Trump should talk about China very much, I think most voters don’t have much appetite for a new trans-Pacific Cold War, even if it is entirely true that one already exists. Trump has to keep hammering home that he is the person best qualified to nurse the economy back to full health, and he has to paint the Democrats as the party of the identity politics that has resulted in all the unrest and destruction, which is of course not in any way false.

  2. China is my number one issue.

    For too long they have been stealing our intellectual property, manipulating currency and commodities, and cheating in business every chance they get.

    It should be partisan, every American should want to manufacture here and protect our technology.

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