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All That and a Bag of Mail

It’s Friday and major conference college football and the NFL both returned last night.

Making the coronabros in the sports media very, very mad.

The Big Ten’s battle to play this fall will be fought over the next several days, but in the meantime I hope all of you are back to living your lives without fear. I hope you’re back to work, school, and considering going to watch a high school football or college game this weekend.

For my part, I’ll be helping to coach my fourth grader’s flag football team.

Yep, while the Big Ten isn’t playing football (yet) my kids are.

It’s pure insanity.

Okay, let’s dive into your questions:

Matthew writes:

“What were you doing on this day in 2001?”

Today is the 19th anniversary of 9/11 and I want to start my answer by encouraging you to go watch this story, which I think is the best story ESPN has ever done in its history.

This is what real heroism is.

As for where I was, I was a first year law student at Vanderbilt University. I woke up early that morning — or at least what I thought was early for me back then — heard the news about the first plane hitting the tower on my drive in to class and then went into the classroom for my torts class with Professor Chris Guthrie. (Guthrie is now the dean of Vanderbilt Law School, but back then he was a young visiting professor).

The expectation was when we started class that it was a small plane and the people I heard talking about it on the radio were actually joking about it.

When we finished that class — remember people didn’t have cell phones with the Internet then and our classrooms weren’t all wired for the Internet yet so we were still in an information bubble — we came outside the classroom and they had the televisions turned on downstairs.

We all became aware of the fact that a terror attack had happened as we stood in the law school lobby.

As many of us stood in the law school lobby staring at the television we watched the buildings come tumbling down. Then we heard about the Pentagon and the other plane that had been hijacked in Pennsylvania.

It was all very overwhelming to process.

The early analogy many of us came to believe was that this was our generation’s Pearl Harbor.

I’d spent the past four years in Washington, D.C. so I’d only been back in Nashville for a few weeks when 9/11 happened. I was trying to call several people still in D.C., but the entire nationwide cell phone network was down. It was impossible to make a call.

So as we stood in the lobby there many of my classmates were walking around attempting to get calls through to friends and family on the east coast.

We were all discussing the fact that it was terrorism and trying to process what we’d just seen.

Then the dean of Vanderbilt University, Kent Syverud, now the head of Syracuse University, came out and said we weren’t canceling any classes and we weren’t going to allow the terrorists to change our way of life. Looking back on it, that was an incredibly brave reaction. Not physically brave, but mentally brave. It would have been easy to shut down everything, but we didn’t do it at Vanderbilt Law School.

In fact, we didn’t even miss a class on 9/11.

We all finished our day at law school and then returned home and spent the rest of our day in front of the television.

The only modification I can recall to our schedules in the days ahead was professors let students who might have friends or family who were missing or dead — remember many thousands of people’s status was unknown for a long time — ask out of being questioned in front of the class. (Everyone is called on randomly in the first year of law school and drilled via the Socratic method about the cases we are required to study). Instead of that random calling process, professors started allowing people to volunteer to be called on instead of sitting there and waiting to hear your name.

That’s it, that was the only modification I recall.

But I sometimes wonder how we’d respond on college campuses a generation later, particularly as we’ve seen the coronavirus play out.

I think it’s likely schools would shut down for a long time, weeks maybe, if we had another 9/11. And I don’t think that’s the right response because I think it plays into the idea that students are fragile and unable to handle stress and difficulty.

I give credit to our deans and teachers for the way they responded back then.

I also give credit for sports for returning after one skipped weekend and bringing back an important sense of normalcy in our country.

So that’s my 9/11 story. (Some of our VIP subscribers can share their stories in the comments or on the message board if they’d like).

Drew:

“What do you think will happen on November 4th, the day after the election? A scenario for each candidate (if they win) and a scenario for sports.”

I don’t think we’ll know the winner of the election for most of November.

That’s not hyperbole.

I think on election night we’ll find out who won the states that we knew weren’t going to be close and then I think we’ll spend a month waiting to find out who wins in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Arizona, Florida, New Hampshire, North Carolina and the parts of Nebraska and Maine that apportion their electoral votes.

I think Trump will end up winning Florida and North Carolina in the South. (As well as states like Texas, Georgia, Ohio and Iowa that I don’t believe are really swing states.) I think Biden will win New Hampshire and all the states Hillary won, including places like Nevada, New Mexico and Colorado, which I don’t really believe are swing states either.

So the election, to me, will likely come down to what happens in the Big Ten states of Pennsylvania, Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and then the state of Arizona.

If I’m right on the other states, then Trump has to win two or three of these five to be elected President again.

You need 270 electoral votes to win.

So, for instance, Trump could win the presidency with Pennsylvania and Arizona, but otherwise he’d need a combo of three of these states.

This isn’t really a surprise, I’ve been saying the Big Ten would decide things in 2020 just like they did in 2016. The biggest difference is we’ve got far more mail ballots happening in 2020 because of covid fear and so it will take these states a much longer time to process the total votes.

Given that Trump won Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania by around 77,000 votes in 2016, the margin in all these states will, I think, be nail biters all over again.

So buckle up.

I suspect we could see a replay of 2000 in 2020, only instead of one state deciding the election we might have a battle on multiple different state fronts.

As for how this might play out in sports, it wouldn’t stun me if some athletes decide to skip games over court battles and the counting of votes.

Barron writes:

“If the Big Ten does a 180 and decides to play will the Pac-12 still sit out? Seems like that would be financial suicide.”

I don’t think the Pac 12 will play no matter what the Big Ten does.

That’s because of politics.

Look, it’s unfortunate, but football has become almost 100% political now. If you live in a state with a Republican governor, you’re almost certainly playing football this fall. If you live in a state with a Democratic governor, you’re almost certainly not playing this fall.

The entire west coast is shut down and people seem unwilling to fight their politicians to play fall sports.

So it’s not going to happen there.

I’m cautiously optimistic the Big Ten could reverse their decision from a month ago and play this fall, but this weekend will be big for that potentially happening.

Stay tuned to Outkick for the latest.

Brad writes:

“Last night’s NFL pregame wokeness was unwatchable. I turned it off.”

I actually didn’t think the NFL was anywhere near as woke as I expected and feared they might be. Let’s break down the players and the field. First, the end zone statements are pretty much not noticeable and their slogans are the equivalent of being opposed to cancer or heart disease. That is, “End racism,” isn’t exactly a revolutionary concept.

Second, unlike the social justice slogans on NBA jerseys, the names and statements on the bottom of helmets are almost impossible to see.

Third, only one player on the field actually knelt for the national anthem. I know, I know, the Texans didn’t come out for the anthems at all, but that’s far less noticeable than an entire team kneeling.

Yes, the woke opening montage — and the anthem singers — were over the top, but the same thing happened for the first games in Major League Baseball and now virtually all mentions of anything other than baseball are gone from their broadcasts. I think the NFL is following that same pathway in MLB and the NHL and leaving the NBA on a woke island.

We’ll have a ton of media reporting on NFL social justice and anthem issues in week one, but I think it will fade pretty quickly.

Why do I think that? Because the NFL’s TV partners — CBS, NBC, Fox, and ESPN — have all agreed to stop showing the national anthems and pregame ceremonies after week one. So if you’re sitting down and watching at home, like most fans will be doing, I think the NFL’s wokeness will be a fairly small issue for most people when it comes to the television broadcasts.

So I disagree with your take.

As did most of my audience.

I asked you guys to vote on what letter grade you’d give the NFL for their opening night:

85% of you gave the NFL an A, B, or C, just 15% of you gave the NFL a D or F.

Given that my audience is probably more opposed to woke sports than the average person on Twitter, I think that’s a pretty positive result for the league.

Bruce writes:

“What do you think the NFL leadership is saying behind closed doors this morning about the fans booing last night?”

I think the NFL is ecstatic with how last night’s game went and not worried about the booing. After all, what did they expect was going to happen when the Texans didn’t come out for the anthem? I don’t believe the Chiefs fans were booing the moment of unity, they were booing the Texans not being there for the anthem.

I don’t know what the TV ratings will show, but the wokeness level was relatively low and the game itself dominated most talk shows and social media discussion the day after Texans-Chiefs.

I really expected we’d be opening with on-field protest discussion this morning on the Outkick radio show, but I think the NFL’s decision to play the black national anthem painted players into an ironic corner. They didn’t want to stand for the black national anthem and kneel for the national anthem because they realized it would look bad, but it also sounds like none of them wanted to kneel for the entirety of both anthems either. (Which ironically proves that many players believe kneeling for the anthem is, actually, disrespectful).

So I suspect many teams will just stay in their locker rooms for the anthems.

(I halfway expect Drew Brees to enter the stadium, however, shirtless and whipping himself while he cries).

As a larger story, however, I think the entire kneeling idea has lost its rebelliousness and its ability to shock. When the entire NBA is already kneeling and when soccer and baseball players have been kneeling for months, it’s actually become more rebellious and courageous to stand for the anthem than it is to kneel for it.

So I’m hopeful this story line is almost completely over.

And I think the trend lines on this are very positive for the NFL.

Now, the president could always weigh in and make it a big issue again, but to me the president is far better off spending his time arguing for the Big Ten and high school football to play than he is to focus on NFL kneelers. His base, which hates the kneeling, is already with him here; he’s not adding any votes. Where he can potentially add votes is by getting the Big Ten back playing and by advocating for the return of fall sports overall.

In fact, I think the more sports are being played, the more America feels normal, which I think is his best closing argument for this election.

Here’s Trump’s closing argument in three sentences: “We had the greatest economy in world history and then a once in a hundred years pandemic occurred. Our response wasn’t perfect, but we saved hundreds of thousands of lives, if not millions of lives, and we have now beaten the coronavirus. My administration is the best equipped to return us to the greatest economy in the world.”

Here’s Biden’s closing argument in three sentences: “Donald Trump isn’t fit to be president. He responded disastrously to the coronavirus and he’s overlooked too many Americans of all races and creeds, sowing division in his wake with his divisive commentary and failed leadership. I will restore truth, honor and decency to the White House.”

You notice anything here?

Biden’s campaign is about attacking Trump. That’s his message. So the best response from Trump is actually the country just rebounding and looking as normal as possible. Normalcy helps Trump.

Which is why Democrats are focused on keeping schools and sports closed.

This isn’t about science any longer, it’s pure politics.

Frank writes:

“Last night Kanye tweeted about Candace Owens’s new book. Seems like there’s a coming wave of black exodus from the Democratic Party. Would that crush the party and elevate Libertarians as a legit #2?”

I don’t think any party will replace the Democrats and Republicans in my lifetime because the parties are always evolving and shifting.

For instance, unions used to be the backbone of the Democratic party. Now that’s one of Trump’s strongest bases of support. Free trade used to be a staple of the Republican party, now it isn’t.

I don’t believe either party will allow itself to become obsolete, they’ll shift in whatever direction necessary to try and be able to amass electoral majorities.

Now to your specific point, if black people stopped voting 95% for the Democratic party and just went to 80-20 in favor of Democrats, which is still a massive gap that doesn’t exist for any other race, it would effectively kill the entire identity politics era. I mean, just absolutely destroy it. Because right now the Democrats are desperate to convince black people that racism is what’s holding them back and that if Republicans win their lives and liberty will be constantly threatened.

But this isn’t remotely true if you look at the data.

But, as we’ve seen with the coronavirus, fear is a powerful motivating force. Particularly if it’s fear that plays on historical injustice.

There are plenty of reasons to support the Democratic or Republican parties, racism isn’t one of them.

Look, here’s what I believe has happened with the Democratic party. Barack Obama was elected in 2008 and 2012 with overwhelming black — and white — support. But the Democrats have focused on the black voters he mobilized, especially since 2012. And they’ve said, “If we produce this black turnout every election cycle, we never lose!”

But what they are missing about Obama is he didn’t play identity politics. They are actually underrating his strength as a politician. Go back and study his 2008 campaign. He didn’t have to run as a “black politician” — it was obvious to everyone he was black — he ran as a politician that could unite everyone in the country. In fact, Obama’s 2008 platform, to be honest, would make him a Republican today.

Go back and look at it.

It’s amazing how far left the Democrats have shifted since 2008.

Some people ask how I can have the beliefs I have now and have voted for Obama twice. The answer is, I haven’t changed, the Democratic party has.

Obama’s unifying appeal, particularly his huge win in 2008, allowed him to also snag a ton of white voters, people who otherwise might have voted Republican.

What Hillary Clinton did in 2016 was run almost entirely an identity politics focused campaign. She didn’t have Obama’s effortless campaign ability and she had far more weight from past Clinton issues than Obama did. It’s why Obama beat her in 2008. But black people weren’t as motivated to vote for Hillary because, and this is anathema to actually discuss for most in the media, many black people showed up to vote for Obama specifically because of his race. (That is, by the way, racism. Voting for someone because they share a race with you, whether it’s Obama or Trump, is the definition of racist behavior.)

Hillary knew — and feared — that black voters wouldn’t have the same loyalty to her.

And she was right.

So Hillary had to dial up voter fear of Trump and the Republican party and use racism as her boogeyman. Most of these charges are manufactured, but Trump has given enough ammunition to the race hustlers for them to keep tossing out this accusation as red meat to their base.

What the wall is to Trump voters, racism is to Democratic voters.

The motive here is transparent — Democrats want to dial up fear in black voters to increase turnout and make white voters afraid to vote for Trump for fear of being called racist. That’s their entire game plan. Heck, just look at the comments Joe Biden has made. You ain’t black if you don’t vote for him? I mean, that’s actually insulting and racist. It presumes to know what a person thinks based entirely on their skin color. It’s also designed to shame any black person who has a different opinion than the majority into getting in line.

Just put it this way, imagine the reaction if Donald Trump had said, “If a white person doesn’t vote for me, he isn’t white.”

The outrage would have been instantaneous.

Also, it wouldn’t have been true. Because we all know plenty of white people aren’t voting for Trump. Heck, just check social media they wear this is a badge of honor. Hating Trump, for white liberals, is their religion.

But the bigger issue here is, black people are the only racial group that votes en masse like this. You can’t tell how a white, Asian, or Hispanic person is likely to vote just by looking at their racial identity. In fact, Trump has improved his standing immensely among Hispanic voters so far in 2020 polls. (Black people too). Where he’s lost support, ironically, is among the oldest voters in the country, who are afraid of the coronavirus and respond well to Biden’s empathy in this arena.

Indeed, if Trump loses the election it’s not going to be because of minority voters or racism, it’s going to be because of old white people, who are presumably more likely to harbor racist beliefs than younger white voters.

What Trump had hoped to do, at least pre-coronavirus, was puncture the Democratic strength in black voters and try and get 20% support there. If he could do that, and it’s still possible he might, especially with many more black men supporting him, then the identity politics era and the entire woke universe would implode on itself.

Because Democrats would have to go back to the drawing board and come up with a new plan to drive turnout if they could no longer rely on racism charges to drive turnout.

This is why, as well, it’s no coincidence that BLM grows in power and influence every four years.

Again, it doesn’t have to be a massive swing in black support, but a 20% base of black Republicans would change things forever in this country and it would change things for the better, I think.

Because identity politics is a cancer to our country and must cease to exist.

Thanks for reading OUtkick and I hope all of you have fantastic weekends.

Written by Clay Travis

Clay Travis is an author, radio show host, lawyer, TV analyst, and the founder of OutKick (formerly known as Outkick the Coverage).
Read More about Clay >>

6 Comments

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  1. Clay,
    The sad reality of your 9/11 remembrance is that if it happened today, half the people in the US would be cheering and celebrating. And their leaders would be exhorting their urban guerilla army on to more treason, rioting, looting, and arson.

  2. Clay President Trump landslide victory fo shizzle i mean you do know about slow joe platform right raise taxes, throw all those regulations back on business, shut down the economy again if necessary,no border wall, just to name a few gems. Doesn’t sound like a winning platform but hey keep it up we all know Americans want to pay more in taxes don’t you LOL

  3. 9/11 was my second day of work at a local TV station in Virginia. I came into the break room about 10 minutes before the 2nd plane hit. I remember the sky was PERFECT that day. No way a pilot can’t see a skyscraper in front of them. That day I learned about pre-emptions, as we aired no commercials that day, or for several days after.We sent a news crew to DC; and there was a lot of concern for their safety. There was no way of knowing if the following day would see a different sort of attack.

  4. Great answers, Clay. Although one minor point of contention I have is that black voters going to vote for Obama specifically because of his race is not necessarily due to racism- it’s more likely due to tribalism. It’s favoring your own group over others, whereas racism is having hatred and disdain for other groups. We are all “guilty” of tribalism. We like our hometown teams better than the next town over, we prefer the university we attended more than others, we like our neighborhood barber better than the other barber across town, we normally have friends that have similar interests. Being tribal doesn’t implicitly mean we hate others, though.

  5. Enjoyed your perspective on these topics. My issue with the NFL and these other leagues isn’t so much the overt acts of protest by the players, even though I hate it. It has more to do with their support, both financial and philosophical, for an extreme political group that embraces Marxism, racism, separatism and the overthrow of our government. That to me is worse than a bunch of players kneeling because they have a false belief that innocent blacks are being slaughtered by police in our nation. The leagues sold out and teams sold out. Roger Goodell isnt naive. He knows white cops aren’t targeting innocent blacks to murder them on a daily basis. He knows there isnt “systemic racism ” in our country. And in the end, he and a lot of owners will get sold out by the same people they’re trying to pander too.

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