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All That And A Bag Of Mail

It’s Friday and I hope you guys have had a fantastic week so far.

I’m down in Houston where we’ll be having an awesome event with a thousand or so of you guys tonight. I hope to see many of you there.

Right now we’re the No. 1 radio show in our timeslot in Sacramento, San Diego, Phoenix, Houston, Salt Lake City, Birmingham, Memphis, Louisville, Milwaukee, and Raleigh, so we’re going to be hitting several of these cities in the weeks and months ahead as part of a Clay and Buck tour.

It should be a fun spring and summer.

Here was last night’s hit on Tucker Carlson if you missed it.

Okay, here are some of the questions you guys fired away at me on Twitter.

Josh writes:

“The NFL memo basically said ‘screw it COVID is over.’ Will ESPN even cover it in a meaningful way and will other sports league follow the NFL’s lead?”

The NFL decision, I believe, was hugely important because many sports leagues will use the NFL’s decision as cover to erase their own COVID protocols now. Colleges, high schools, little leagues, all of them will be able to point to the NFL as making the decision to get back to normalcy and use that as a precedent for normalcy in their own sports leagues.

Honestly, I think the NFL, its teams, its players, Roger Goodell, all of them deserve a tremendous amount of credit because they managed to make it through COVID without missing a single game. I mean, that’s an incredible accomplishment. Not one game missed!

Sure, they were fortunate in that COVID emerged after the Super Bowl in 2020, but remember how much criticism the NFL got for making the decision to stay on their calendar and hold the NFL Draft as scheduled in the spring of 2020?

The media who covered the NFL lost their minds when the NFL didn’t postpone the draft. But I think staying committed to the league schedule and not canceling or postponing anything is the most impressive thing Roger Goodell has done in his tenure as NFL commissioner.

By far.

Because the way easier thing to do would have been to curl up in the fetal position and claim there was no way to do the Draft or to stay on schedule in 2020. In fact, that decision would have been roundly praised by the media and, probably, a huge majority of social media losers.

Instead, the NFL found a way to stay on schedule all year long in 2020.

If the NFL cancels or postpones things, then the SEC probably ends up canceling or postponing too and then every high school would have canceled their sports seasons too. Remember the environment we were in back then, by the way. This was when the sports media members were writing their stories about how many athletes were going to die of COVID if sports were played.

How wrong were those guys? A billion percent wrong. To my knowledge there hasn’t been a single death in college or pro sports — probably not high school either — that was directly attributable to sports being played. That’s what the data told us would happen, but the fear porn was rampant in the summer of 2020 and many of your favorite sports media members cheered on seasons being canceled and argued it was unsafe to play at all. I’ve never seen anything like it.

One of the reasons OutKick exploded in popularity in 2020 — and is still soaring in popularity to this day — is because so many fans were furious with the media who covered their favorite teams about the way they responded to COVID. It got so bad that I’m now one of the most popular sports media guys in the entire Big Ten. Me, the guy who is an avowed SEC fan. Why? Because Big Ten fans respect the fact that I fought for their season to be played when almost no one else in sports media was willing to fight that battle alongside them.

Now no one was perfect with COVID analysis. Do I wish, for instance, that I hadn’t trusted the numbers coming out of China in February and March of 2020? Yes, of course. But from late April to early May of 2020 — when the COVID data became reliable in multiple countries — to the present day, I wouldn’t change anything that I wrote or said.

As to whether other sports media will ever cover COVID honestly, I think it will take years for the full story of the battle to play sports to be told. But one day when that documentary is made, it’s going to be simply incredible to watch.

And the NFL and the SEC, in my opinion, will be two of the major heroes of that story.

Carson writes:

“When will women finally object to biological males taking their places, scholarships, or jobs in sports? When a biological male shows up in the WNBA? When one shows up to play for the national women’s soccer team? When one lays waste to Ashleigh Barty on the tennis court? When?”

I honestly don’t know, but I think the transgender UPenn swimmer issue is a harbinger of things to come. There are going to be more and more biological men dominating women’s sports in the years ahead. At some point, it will occur in a sport that’s popular enough that it will be impossible to ignore.

I mean, it sounds ridiculous, but what if Usain Bolt decided to become a woman? He’d immediately become the greatest women’s sprinter of all time. What if Michael Phelps, LeBron James, or Roger Federer decided to become a woman and compete in the same sports they dominate now? Hell, what if Caitlyn Jenner had decided to become a woman in the 1970s after winning the decathlon as a man and then had won it as a woman too? These sound like ridiculous hypotheticals, but they are likely to occur at some point in the years ahead.

Which is why sooner or later, we’re going to have to decide what’s truly appropriate here. I don’t see very many palatable options that protect women’s sports. Either we create one unisex competition for all sexes — which would essentially mean women never win any Olympic medals or make any college or pro sports teams — or we acknowledge that the greatest “women’s” athletes of all time are all going to eventually be men. I just don’t see any other way around choosing one of these two paths, unless, that is, we just create a transgender sports league by itself.

Remember, we’re not talking about the UPenn transgender swimmer even being that great of a male swimmer. As a male swimmer, he was just okay. And he’s potentially the greatest women’s swimmer ever. If a truly great male athlete ever decided to become a woman in the sport he was dominating, no one would come close to the records “she” would set.

That’s because women are not remotely close to as good of athletes as men. That’s not because women aren’t trying as hard as the men, it’s because men are bigger, stronger and faster than women. It’s because biology is real.

Now, to be clear, there are some women who are bigger, stronger and faster than some men, but when you examine elite athletic ability, elite male athletes are orders of magnitude better than the elite female athletes. And that’s never going to change.

So these issues are going to become more and more significant in the years ahead.

And eventually everyone is going to have to make their own decision about what’s appropriate. Maybe the ultimate result, crazily, is to have men, women and transgender women competitions? I don’t know the answer. Because, keep in mind, transgender men have no hope of ever beating biological men. We’re just talking about the limited subset of biological men who compete against women.

As this trend grows — and there’s no doubt it’s going to grow — at the rate we’re going now, it’s going to eventually destroy women’s athletics.

I’m actually intrigued to see some lawsuits filed, potentially under Title IX. Because what happens when biological men who identify as women start taking women’s scholarships? Does that violate Title IX? Look out, this is going to be wild.

JDS writes:

“Who are some people whose political opinions might not align with yours, but yet you respect and listen to and read what they have to say?”

I read the New York Times and the Washington Post every day. They employ many people I disagree with, but I read those papers anyway. Why? Because I don’t think running from the opinions of people you disagree with is healthy. I believe my opinions are right. But I can’t be confident in my opinions if I haven’t considered the other side of the opinion as well.

I think one of the real problems that we have today is there’s very little debate between people of differing opinions. Much of media is an echo chamber.

We’ve invited people who disagree with us on our show — and both Buck and I are happy to go on other people’s shows who disagree with us — but people are afraid to leave their echo chambers. But I don’t think you strengthen your own arguments by pretending people who disagree aren’t out there.

So I’d encourage all of you not just to consume media you agree with, consume media you disagree with too.

Brooks writes:

“Who’s going to win the SEC basketball tourney? I mean, I know the answer is the Vols. But tell the people why. They don’t believe me.”

I don’t believe you either.

Tennessee has not won the SEC basketball tournament in my lifetime. And I’m 42 years old about to turn 43 next month.

So I’ve stopped expecting it will ever happen.

No joke, I have steadfastly watched the SEC basketball tournament, often in person, my entire life. Hell, I even sat through Tennessee losing by sixty to Kentucky in the Wade Houston years. I watched Tennessee lose to James Hollywood Robinson in the SEC tourney championship game when I was a young kid. I’m old school when it comes to crushing ways for Tennessee basketball to lose in the SEC basketball tournament.

So who will win it this year? Not Tennessee.

I’d put my money on Kentucky. They care the most and will have by far the most fans in Tampa this year.

Jason writes:

“When will MLB begin the season? Will people care?”

I think they’ll start by May.

And, no, I don’t think most people will care that much if they play fewer than 162 games and eventually get their season started.

Look, I’ve come back to baseball fandom because my 11-year-old is a big Atlanta Braves fan now. So I’ve got a trip for us down to Atlanta in late June, we’re going to seven straight games then.

As long as baseball is playing by then, I’ll be good to go.

Baseball lost me, interestingly enough, back in 1994 when they canceled the World Series and ended the season. I was fifteen years old then and a big baseball fan. But, guess what, my life was about to get a lot busier. I went from a kid who watched baseball all the time — I’d watch the Braves on TBS, the Cubs on WGN, the Reds on our local Fox TV affiliate and the west coast games on ESPN all summer — to being a busy teenager who got way busier with social and school events, like most teenagers around that age.

I remained a college football, NFL, NBA and college basketball fan, but I left baseball behind.

And I really didn’t come back until the past couple of years when my own son became a big Braves fan.

I’m busy now, yes, but I have to admit it’s nice to put on a baseball game every night and watch it with my kids. That was especially true when everything else was shut down and we had a sixty game baseball season to enjoy, every game mattered so much more when there were only sixty being played.

But I’ll enjoy the season, no matter when it starts. And contrary to some of the dire prognostications out there right now, as long as they play the season, I don’t think there will be a major long term hit.

Michael writes:

“You and I agree that 162 games is way too many for a league that puts 10 teams in the playoffs. Is there any way MLB will ever realize this and shorten the season to 130 games? I mean, don’t many teams in take baths when they play in front of empty April/Sept crowds?”

No, for the same reason the NBA and NHL won’t shorten their seasons either, because the money’s too good. None of these players or teams are taking less money.

Plus, baseball, even more than the NBA and NHL, is defined by statistics. Remember how controversial it was when baseball moved from 154 to 162 games. Why? Because the season’s length changed the historical comparisons between players. That was a monster part of Roger Maris chasing Babe Ruth.

Through no fault of their own, many of the best players of this era are going to miss around a full season’s worth of stats — the sixty-game COVID season cost them a hundred games and whatever this season ends up being shortened by — and that will upset many of the stat gurus.

Unlike sports like basketball and football where it can be difficult to compare players from different eras because of the massive changes to the way the game is played, baseball, to a large extent, still allows comparisons between players from different eras.

And a big part of that is a standardized season length.

So the combination of the money and the history will keep baseball, I think, forever at 162 games.

Drew writes:

“Did Biden’s pivots on defunding the police, COVID, the price of insulin, etc. in the SOTU speech the other night signal that he’s moving to the center to mitigate an ass-kicking in the mid-terms?”

I think that’s the attempt, yes.

The problem for Joe Biden is I believe most voters have already defined their opinions of him. Granted we’re still eight months away from the mid-terms, but it’s hard to see how inflation, the crime rate, the border issues, or Afghanistan and Ukraine are going to be anything close to success stories.

That’s why the COVID pivot has been so aggressive.

The only sales pitch that Biden is likely to have is trying to argue he finally “ended” the COVID issue. It’s no coincidence that, out of nowhere, the CDC, California, Oregon, Hawaii, Washington, New York, New York City, Congress, you name it and all of a sudden the blue cities and states just abandoned masks and most of their COVID policies.

Now they’re trying to argue that’s because of “the science,” but that’s laughable. More people will die today with COVID than died with COVID on the same date last year. We’ll soon go over a million COVID deaths in this country, the vast majority of them on Joe Biden’s watch. Now we can debate how many of these “COVID deaths” are COVID deaths alone, but the reality is the nation has finally reached the position I’ve been arguing for since May or June of 2020: we have to get back to normalcy.

Masks don’t make us safer, kids need to all be in schools, and lockdowns should all be over. It took many people a long time to join team reality and team data, but a substantial majority of people are now in agreement on these issues and many more are joining us every day.

For a long time, the only issue Joe Biden was above 50% approval on was COVID. Now he’s under 50% on that issue too. So the Democrats are executing a rapid pivot to try and argue they are the reason things are back to normal as it pertains to COVID. That’s not true, but it’s their argument.

Will enough people buy it to stave off a disaster in the mid-terms?

I don’t think so.

But I don’t know what else Democrats have to argue for so far in the Biden era.

Hence the massive pivot on COVID.

(Side note: it’s possible the Supreme Court’s abortion decision this summer may turn into a major mid-term issue, but it remains to be seen what the court will decide there.)

Pat writes:

“Clay, when in gods name will the airlines finally do away with these mask mandates? It feels like the rest of the world has finally accepted their uselessness. It’s time to end this once and for all.”

Sea writes:

“So will the federal mask mandate end on March 18th? Asking for myself because I work at an airport and am sick of the cosmetic theater for something that doesn’t work!”

I think there’s a good chance they will lift the federal mask mandate on March 18th.

Why?

See my answer above, we’re in the midst of a rapid pivot away from COVID restrictions.

When the indoor mask mandates are effectively over everywhere, how can you still argue for them on airplanes alone?

As long as masks are mandated at airports, it’s impossible to argue we’re back to normal. Maybe, possibly, they extend it for one more period of time, but I think it’s hard to argue you need masks on airplanes when no one is wearing masks anywhere else.

I think they will rip the band aid off on March 18th not because the science supports it — the science has never supported masks anywhere, honestly — but because the political science is demanding it.

Okay, I’m off to the radio studio.

Hope to see many of you in Houston tonight, and I hope all of you have fantastic weekends.

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.

3 Comments

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  1. The rules for transgender athletes are completely nonsensical, and ultimately, a farce. In the same Ivy League swimming championships that Thomas swam as a woman in, there is a transgender man ALSO competing with the women. Iszac Henig from Yale is a biological woman who identifies as a man, however, Henig does not take testosterone supplements so he can still compete as a woman.

    We’ve been told that all that matters when it comes to gender is what you identify as. So why didn’t Henig, who identifies as a man, compete with the men? But moreover, why didn’t the NCAA FORCE Henig to compete with the men? The argument to allow Thomas, who is still physically a man, to compete with women is because he identifies as a woman.

    The hypocrisy of the NCAA in this situation is laughable. If Henig took testosterone supplements in order to reach the levels of testosterone Thomas is allowed to have to compete as a woman, the NCAA would force Henig to compete

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