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All That and a Bag of Mail

It’s Friday, and I hope all of you are ready for Valentine’s Day weekend. Seriously, this weekend has the potential to be an all-time disaster for guys out there. Restaurants are way undercapacity all over most of the country, you had to book dinner reservations like four months ago to get in some places, and you just know there are going to be a ton of guys that get tripped up over the Sunday Valentine’s Day date.

I actually feel bad for all the guys out there who are going to blow this.

At least you can gamble on sports and, hopefully, win a $1000 with no risk. That’s why you should go get signed up today, especially if you’re in Virginia — where you get a free $50 — and also if you’re in Tennessee, Michigan, Iowa, Indiana, Illinois, West Virginia, Colorado, Pennsylvania or New Jersey. With many more states coming online for sports gambling soon, go ahead and get signed up now and you’ll be ready to roll the minute your state officially goes live.

Okay, here we go with your questions:

Patrick writes:

“I appreciate your coverage of the last 12 months or so and bringing real science and facts to this whole COVID mess. It’s been refreshing to have someone not afraid to speak up and tell the truth on the data.

That being said, now that the vaccine is rolling out rapidly and folks are getting immunized, at what point do we start getting completely back to normal? I’m talking near-full or full stadiums (basketball, baseball and hockey are ongoing or about to start), concerts with near max crowds (this summer) and not having to wear masks at Publix.

Who’s going to step up and say enough is enough and let’s get folks back to having fun and enjoying life, especially with spring and summer around the corner? Nobody’s going to force anyone to go to anything they don’t want to, but it should be a personal choice at this point, especially with the vaccine being available to anyone in the near future.”

This is probably the most common question we’ve gotten for the past year or so. And my answer has been pretty consistent for the past several months: I think by summer, things will be back to normal for most people. That is, for those people who are willing to return to normalcy in their life.

But, again, I’m not sure how much more normal my life can get right now. As soon as I finish writing this mailbag, I’m headed to the gym. I’ll work out there and then come back home and go out to dinner with my oldest son. (My wife and two youngest kids are traveling this weekend for a sporting event.) And then on Tuesday morning, I’m flying to Mexico for a vacation with my wife.

When I get back, my son will finish his basketball season, and our two youngest sons will start baseball.

In March, we’re going to Utah for a week, and then on March 19th, we will have a live OutKick party in downtown Nashville with the new radio hires we’ve made — Chad Withrow, Jonathan Hutton and Paul Kuharsky — for the tip off of the NCAA Tournament. That’s all happening within the next month, and it’s basically the exact same things I’d be doing any other time of year.

I can’t tell you when the rest of the country will get back to living their life normally, but I can tell you I expect to attend Major League Baseball games in person this summer, and I’d expect concerts to be back up and running in the summer as well. I expect for college football to be 100% normal this fall.

The combination of a massive number of vaccines being given every day — we should be well over forty million first inoculations by the weekend — and the 100 million plus who are likely to have already had the virus means we are rapidly approaching herd immunity.

I think that’s the only explanation for why cases are plummeting nationwide right now.

As the weather gets warmer and people spend more time outside, the number of cases should continue to fall into the spring and summer. As I’ve said for some time, if you aren’t living a relatively normal life by July 4th, it’s because you’ve chosen not to live your life.

My position on this is pretty straightforward: your fears shouldn’t dictate my life choices. If you’re still afraid of COVID, stay in your house. But the rest of us have some living to do.

Scott writes:

“Would love to hear your opinion on why with the new travel restrictions anyone flying into the United States from Mexico is required to have a negative COVID-19 test before the flight, but the tens of thousands of Mexican citizens who travel daily over the border for work in the USA do not?? Also if you arrive by boat you don’t need one. Just seems very hypocritical and directed at one industry and not really addressing the spread problem correctly.”

It’s nonsensical.

I’m flying to Mexico on Tuesday, as I just said above, and when we get to Mexico, there’s no requirement that we have a COVID test to enter their country. But while we’re in Mexico, we have to be tested for COVID so we can return to the United States.

So we’ve set up a system where American citizens are required to test negative to return to the country, but people who aren’t citizens traveling across the border aren’t required to test negative to enter the country. What sense does that make?

Zero.

Now it’s not that big of a deal, at least we’re told, to get a COVID test at our resort. So it’s not really changing our travel plans, but there’s no logic here. Like many of the COVID restrictions, it’s all cosmetic theater.

By the way, I wouldn’t hate it if I tested positive for COVID at the beach in Mexico. If I had to quarantine there for two weeks, that would be kind of awesome. As long as the wifi worked, I’d get to ride out the rest of the winter in a villa by the beach. I’d probably be more rested than I have been in a decade by the time I was allowed back into the country.

So I really don’t see any negatives here.

Dave writes:

“I’m a native New Yorker but have lived most of my life in Florida. At an early age (I’m 45 now) I wanted to leave the state, but as I grew older and wiser to the ways of how money and economics work, I started to realize what a great place this is to live and don’t see myself leaving anytime soon. Yes, our lives changed here a little during the onset of the pandemic, but as you very well know, we were back to normal almost quicker than any other state. The media and the left quickly predicted we were all gonna die and kill everyone else in the country as well as a result. The pandemic shouldn’t be political but unfortunately everything today is so here’s my question: What are the chances that this proposed travel ban to Florida has absolutely nothing or partly to do with COVID but more so is just another attempt by Democrats to smear Ron DeSantis, who I believe, and the Dems fear is an up and coming force in the future of the GOP? No way Biden would impose a ban on travel to CA or NY. Two deep blue states whose COVID numbers are worse, but I guess I need to just follow the science. Thanks, I’ll hang up and listen.”

I don’t think there’s any doubt at all that Florida, of the big states, has handled COVID better than anyone when you consider the two most important metrics to measure: death rate and the economy.

And that’s a direct credit to the leadership of Florida governor Ron DeSantis.

I mean, just look at the Florida data compared to New York, where CNN’s hero Andrew Cuomo is now under fire for hiding nursing home deaths from the federal government. Florida has far more senior citizens than New York yet has wildly outperformed New York in every statistical category as it relates to COVID.

Here’s the data.

Deaths per million:

New York: 2,346
Florida: 1,322

Texas is at 1,406 and California is at 1,163 deaths per million.

Those are our four most populous states. So New York is far worse when it comes to the overall death rate than the other three most populous states in our country. In fact, only New Jersey — with a death rate of 2,514 per million residents — is worse than New York per capita IN THE ENTIRE WORLD. (Belgium at 1,855 deaths per million has the worst COVID death rate in the world. So New York and New Jersey have handled COVID worse than anywhere on the planet).

But that’s not all.

In addition to the death rate from COVID, you have to consider the overall unemployment rate as well, since the more people who are out of work — and unable to go to school — the worse long range economic consequences you have as well. (The best COVID management by any state would combine a low death rate and a low unemployment rate. By this measure Vermont, which has a 3.1% unemployment rate and a death rate of 301 per million would be the best performing state in the nation.)

Well, let’s look at the unemployment rates among the four biggest states:

Florida 6.1%
Texas 7.2%
New York 8.2%
California 9.0%

So Florida has nearly the lowest death rate from COVID of any populous state and the lowest, by far, unemployment rate. By pretty much every objective measure, Florida has done the best job with COVID of any big state in the country.

Yet somehow, we keep hearing how good of a job Andrew Cuomo in New York and Gavin Newsom in California have done with COVID.

This is just media disinformation.

It’s a blatant lie.

Now, suddenly, we have rumors that the Biden administration is considering limiting domestic travel to Florida, the state that has done a better job with COVID than almost any state in the country? This is pure madness. And, worst of all, it’s easily refuted by basic scientific data.

Florida and Texas have kept their economies and schools open while limiting the overall COVID death rate. New York and California have shut down their economies and schools and failed to see any substantial benefit from these decisions when it comes to the COVID death rate.

The data tells a clear story: the virus is going to virus. You can’t stop it by shutting down the economy. Which is why I believe lockdowns are ultimately going to be seen as the greatest American public policy failure since Vietnam.

John writes:

“Do you find that being a conservative sports site puts OutKick at a disadvantage when it comes to getting access to athletes and teams? Are athletes hesitant to be interviewed for fear of backlash by the woke mob?”

I don’t consider us to be a conservative sports site.

I consider us to be a middle of the road sports site that hasn’t lost its mind. I think we serve a solid 75%, or more, of sports fans who look for sports for fun and entertainment as opposed to a constant woke morality play.

In terms of having access to athletes and teams, I don’t put many athletes and coaches on my radio show because I find them to be mostly boring and uninteresting. We turn down athletes who want to be on the show all the time because I think they won’t be very good radio.

And we don’t spend much time requesting athletes or coaches either. In fact, I bet it has been six months or so since we’ve requested an athlete or coach on the show.

When I was younger, I used to consider it to be a big deal to get an athlete or coach on the show, but when I’d go back and listen to many of those interviews, they weren’t very good. I had to work my ass off to make most of those guys interesting, and they never told us much.

(There are exceptions, however. Derek Dooley was incredible on the radio when he was the Tennessee coach. James Franklin was great as Vanderbilt’s coach. But those are exceptions to the general rule. Most athletes and coaches are so afraid now of saying something controversial that they mostly stick to clichés.)

After a while, I realized it was mostly my ego that wanted to have these athletes and coaches on because somehow the quality of the guest served as a validation of the show. But the validation of the show, ultimately, doesn’t come from guests. They help in the early days of a show, but people listen for the host(s) once the show has been on for very long.

Ultimately, you either succeed or fail on your own. No guest will save you. I’ve got the top rated and most listened to morning sports talk radio show in the country now.

Once you’ve had the president of the United States on multiple times live, any other guest is going to be a pretty big step down.

So if Tom Brady or LeBron James reached out and wanted to come on the show, I’d be happy to put them on, but aside from top players like that, I’d rather take callers on open phone lines than put on athletes.

As for whether my opinions impact what guests want to come on our show? Maybe. But my opinions are also the reason anyone listens in the first place. So I legitimately don’t worry about this at all.

Sam writes:

“If big tech continues down this path of censoring all voices that they do not agree with, it could mean that someday you could be taken down. What would you do? Also what do you think the futures hold for FB/Twitter/IG etc and the future of social media in general?”

There’s certainly a risk of cancellation for anyone who is a public figure today, but I feel pretty comfortable with my situation.

We’ve got a monster daily radio and web audience that comes directly to our content, no matter what I put on social media.

And we’ve got a pretty huge VIP audience now as well, which has signed up directly with us.

And any time anyone tries to cancel me for anything, our audience just gets bigger because the OutKick audience rallies behind me when people come after us.

So I just don’t spend much time worrying about this.

The one thing I have done is ask people who like OutKick to come to the site daily without waiting for social media links to do so.

I’m going to keep saying exactly what I think every day, no matter what the consequences are. That’s what I’ve done since I started writing online, and I’m certainly not going to stop now.

Remember, you’re reading a guy who started writing online with an audience of zero.

We had twenty million readers on this site last month alone.

I hope all of you have a fantastic weekend, and thanks for your support of OutKick.

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.

11 Comments

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  1. Clay, could not agree with you more on coaches and athletes as guests. The are boooooring! Between the fear of their league, tampering, the woke mob and their fellow players, they say absolutely nothing but programmed responses that are rarely on point to the questions.

  2. Has Clay comment on Jason’s interview anywhere on the site? I saw something from Sam, but I don’t think I’ve seen anything from Clay. Was hoping to hear from him on the split up with Jason, other than the “we wish him well” (which I wholeheartedly believe). I don’t feel owed an answer as some feel. But as a VIP, I do miss Jason’s long form and unique take. I think the site could use more longer form articles that give us some more depth to what’s going on that interests us. I love the wins/loss podcasts (Avik was great both times!) , but I enjoy written long-form as well.

  3. A good example for what clay travis talking about in regards to boring athletes interviews would be a legendary dud Tampa WR Mike Evans with Jim Rome. I’m not a fan of Rome because he is fairly woke so it was amusing to me.

    But WOW – it was brutal.

  4. So it turns out Crash Davis was right. Clichés are an athletes friend.

    “We’ve got to play them one day at a time.”

    “I’m just glad to be here. Hope I can help the ball club.”

    “I just want to give it my best shot, and the good Lord willing, things will work out.”

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