All That and a Bag of Mail

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It’s Friday, rejoice, now let’s dive into the Outkick mailbag.

Lots of great questions in here in the mailbag this week. As always, send your questions to

Let’s roll.

Jonathan writes:

“A couple of my friends and I have tickets to the World Cup in Russia. Really good games too, Mexico vs. Germany and Costa Rica vs. Brazil. However, most everyone I know is urging me not to go since Russia isn’t the safest country in the world. It’s been the dream for a while, though. 

Thus, my question is pretty simple, would you go? Why or why not?”  
I’d definitely go.
You can look up international murder rates here, but Russia’s rate isn’t really that out of control relative to other countries you’d probably visit without worrying about at all. For instance, I lived in the United States Virgin Islands and the murder rate there is five times the murder rate in Russia. Would you be afraid to travel to the Caribbean? Many of those countries have higher murder rates than Russia. Brazil which hosted the last World Cup, and Mexico are also way higher when it comes to murder rates.
Hell, the Bahamas are nearly triple the rate in Russia.
The truth of the matter is if you aren’t involved in violent crime your odds of being a victim in a foreign country are pretty low. (And they’re insanely low here too. Truly random acts of violence are low pretty much everywhere.)
Also keep in mind that the United States murder rate is insanely high compared to most first world countries. So if you aren’t afraid to live here, you’ll be fine in Russia.
Finally, Russia doesn’t want foreigners getting killed in their country because it’s awful publicity so protection for the World Cup from police and security forces will be elevated.
So I’d go for sure.

Gabe writes:

“My question is seeing how poorly Marsha Blackburn is polling do you wish you had placed your name on the ballot for TN senator?”

I legitimately looked at the Senate race and did a lot of research but two things held me off: 1. my wife said no 2. my family isn’t independently wealthy so I have to make money. And over the next six to seven years I’m set up to make a lot of money with what I do.

A senator makes $174k a year. Trust me, there were many years when I would have loved to make that much income, but I’m way past that now and my salary is set to grow quite a bit over the next six years. I will make substantially more in 2018 than I would in six years as a senator.

That’s money I’d theoretically never be able to make again. Now, granted, there aren’t very many senators who end up poor, but if I want to run for the senator or governor in Tennessee, and I may well do it, I think it probably makes more sense to do it when I’m in my late 40’s or 50’s and have banked enough money where I never have to work again or worry about paying for my kids schooling.

Plus, I think I have a pretty great job right now. I’m excited to wake up every day and do what I do and you can even make an argument that I’m every bit as influential with what I do now as I would be as a politician.

Furthermore, I think Phil Bredesen is a formidable challenger for Blackburn. He did a great job as Nashville mayor and governor of Tennessee. He’s fairly moderate. The only real negative thing I can say about him is he’ll be 75 just after election day. So I don’t see how he serves more than one term if he wins. Is Tennessee really going to elect an 81 year old to a second term in the Senate? I doubt it. I still think Blackburn will win because Tennessee is a Republican state, but I think democracy works better when both parties field strong candidates.

And I they’ve done it here.

Luke writes:

“What are your thoughts on the use of Adderall, Vyvanse, or any of the other “study drugs?” I’m not prescribed either (never tried to be) and go back and forth on what I think about the use of them. Should I take advantage of modern medicine and go nuts with these things to be the most productive version of myself possible? Or do I DBAP and do my work regardless of how tired or worn out I am? Interested to hear your thoughts on this.”

See, I’m anti-take medicine guy.

It drives my wife crazy because I don’t even like taking medicine when I have a cold. Maybe some Tylenol, maybe I get on antibiotics, at most, every couple of years for an illness I can’t shake because the kids bring home some type of infection from school.

But in general I don’t take anything.

The one thing I would like that I don’t get now is more sleep. So if I could take a pill that made me less tired, I’d love that option, but I just assume that all these pills probably aren’t healthy in the long term.

Granted I haven’t done all the research, but I hate the idea of being addicted to anything. That’s the reason I’ve never even drank coffee.

Right now my wife has me on a diet — I got up to 195 which is the most I’ve ever weighed — and I’m at like 188 right now. I think my weight gain was all attributed to lack of sleep because I get up so early and exercise less than I did before I woke up so early.

I was 175 when I graduated law school in 2004 and stuck around there for the most part over the past fifteen years or so. I’d like to get back there, but I’m not doing anything fancy to get there either, just eating less.

At some point when I get in my fifties I might say fuck it and just dive into the HGH arena and become an old ripped dude, but right now I feel pretty decent and don’t want to use drugs. I just always assume there’s a long range catch.

So if you don’t have have to do it, I wouldn’t do it.

James writes:

“At the time hockey started in Nashville (and fairly recently) you were extremely negative about it having long-term appeal in Nashville.  You have now acknowledged you were wrong.  My question is why were you wrong?  I’m interested in what the Preds did to win over a market (winning helps but fan reaction was strong when you were only an 8 seed last year) and what lessons other businesses/leagues could learn from the NHL/Preds?  I have always been of the belief that the key to hockey is to get people to go to a live game and see how fast and skilled the guys are, but there must be more to it.  Also how did your son enjoy playing hockey?”

I was right about hockey not having a substantial fan base in Nashville for the first fifteen or so years the team was here. None of the data supported talking about hockey on local sports talk, which was the argument I made. It’s only in the past three years I’ve become wrong.

Did you know Nashville was the number three market for the first night of the NHL playoffs? Nashville!

So why did I end up wrong?

It’s a fascinating question and one I’ve thought quite about a bit because, honestly, most of the time I’m right. It’s rare that I admit I’ve gotten an opinion like this wrong, but I unquestionably did.

I think there are four major factors at play here:

1. They’re winning playoff series now. It took 12 years for the Preds to win a playoff series and advance in the playoffs at all and that was a long slog that led to the same story over and over again. Even if you made the playoffs, so what? You were just going to lose in the first round. And last year was the first year in team history they won two or more playoff series. The hockey playoffs last so long that many people climbed on board the bandwagon last year and have stayed this year because the Preds were the best team in the NHL.

Fans want winners.

And the Preds are winners right now.

TV ratings doubled this year and this year’s opening playoff ratings was double last year’s opening playoff. Now, putting this rating into context, it’s still one-fourth the number that a Titans playoff game would do. So this is still a football town, but it’s also a hockey town now too.

2. The city of Nashville’s population has exploded over the past twenty years and many people who have moved to the city are huge hockey fans.

I don’t think this can be underrated because I see it in my own family. My wife is from Michigan and loves hockey. There are a ton of people from hockey towns who have moved South and embraced the Preds and brought their families into the hockey mix too.

I’m born and raised in this city and there aren’t that many people that I meet on a regular basis who can say the same. I suspect many of these people are not as fervent of fans as some of the new transplants.

3. Bridgestone Arena is the perfect location for a hockey team. I’m a minority owner of 411 Broadway — the Paradise Park building — and Broadway is on fire when the Preds play. So even if you aren’t a hockey fan it’s an incredibly awesome night to go to dinner, hit a game and grab beers on the street.

You don’t have to be a fan to have a tremendous time at a Preds game.

Hell, you don’t even have to go to the Preds games, you can go party downtown on Broadway and just live it up.

4. The Preds have done a tremendous marketing job.

I mean, just phenomenal. They just completely dunk on the Titans when it comes to marketing because they have to. The Titans walked into an embarrassment of riches and they take their fan base, frequently, for granted because everyone already loves football in Tennessee. The Preds came to Nashville, rolled up their sleeves, and realized they had to sell a community, most of whom had never even been on indoor ice, on the game of hockey.

And they had to sell them on 41 home games too.

I’ve long believed the NBA would have done great in Nashville too, but that’s because so many of us were already basketball fans. No one who grew up in Nashville cared about hockey or knew anything about the sport. And I’ll be honest with you, I still watch hockey with a neophyte’s eyes. I have no idea of the intricacies or the major decisions being made. I can watch football, basketball and baseball because I’ve played and watched those sports my entire life and take note of what’s going on from a strategic perspective. I don’t see that at all in hockey. But, you know what, the sport is still fun that way too. Sometimes even more fun because I’m not being driven insane by clock management or play calling, I can just have a good time.

This past fall my seven year old signed up for the junior Preds. For something like $99 they got a six week tutorial, all their hockey gear — I didn’t even know how to put it on him –, and enrollment in the junior Preds program. Now my kids are asking to go to games.

There’s no way that junior Preds program can be profitable, but they are making a smart investment in the next generation.

5. The celebrities have come out in favor of the Preds.

Per capita Nashville has a ton of famous people now in the entertainment world. In fact, on a per capita basis I would argue these three cities have the most famous people: New York, Los Angeles and Nashville. The first two cities don’t surprise people, but Nashville has boomed and brought in a ton of celebrity cachet of late.

Rolling out these celebrities to sing the national anthem and throw catfish on the ice has been a fun cultural trend that has nothing to do with actual sports.

Don’t underestimate the coolness factor of all the musicians being all in with the Preds. It’s the cool thing to do with cool people doing it and many in the city follow along.

Carrie Underwood wears a Smash hat and the things sell out everywhere in the city.

But ultimately the lesson I have to take on why I got it wrong is this — things change. And they can change quickly.

What I have to be careful of now that I’m 39 years old is not allowing my experience to dictate what the next generation is going to like and experience. When I grew up in Nashville, we didn’t have hockey or the NFL. My kids have grown up in a Nashville where pro sports are a reality. They just expect it.

My own experience in the city is quite a bit different than my dad’s even, who still says, quite often, “I can’t believe Nashville has an NFL team. If you’d told me when I was a kid, I never would have believed it.”

That makes his generation less likely to criticize the Titans. When I started doing local radio here, I was the youngest person on air daily and I would rip the Titans like they hadn’t been ripped before because I didn’t think like my dad, I didn’t think Nashville was lucky to have the Titans I thought the Titans were lucky to have Nashville.

My dad’s Nashville is different than mine and my Nashville is different than my kids. So our expectations are all different. My dad saw Nashville as a relatively small town that would never hav pro sports, I saw the city as an awesome place that should have pro sports, and my kids see the city now as a big city that should definitely have pro sports.

Their biggest question is this, “Why doesn’t Nashville have a major league baseball team yet?”


The future is fantastic if you allow yourself to embrace it instead of worrying about what’s been left behind.

Josh writes:

“I consider myself a radical moderate just like yourself. I’ve voted Obama, Romney, and Hillary (only because I live in a swing state like Florida, but would’ve voted Gary Johnson if that wasn’t the case). Your motto is don’t be a pussy and my question to you is, isn’t it a pussy move to be offended by these anthem protests by the players and an even more pussy move to boycott watching or going to NFL games? For the record, I am not a fan of this method of protesting either but I’m not pussy enough to boycott the NFL, because I’m not easily offended by anything. My sister is a lesbian but didn’t give two shits about Chick Fil A’s Gay Marriage stance to boycott it because Chick Fil A is delicious and she’s not a pussy. Kind of seems like people offended by the Anthem Protests and boycotting the NFL are pussies too. Your thoughts?”

I’ve said before that I wouldn’t boycott NFL games if players started taking a knee to support ISIS, but I don’t agree that countering Kaepernick’s protest with your own protest is being a pussy. I think that’s exactly how the marketplace of ideas works in this country.

If you disagree with someone, choose to spend your time or money elsewhere.

That’s the very essence of capitalism.

Now that doesn’t extend to advertiser boycotts, which I disagree with, because they are generally being led by people who don’t otherwise listen, watch or read a show. Why should you try and shut down someone else’s ability to share their political opinion when you aren’t even watching, reading or listening? That, to me, is closer to censorship and why I disagree with, for instance, the protest of Lauare Ingraham.

But if you actually consume the product and don’t like the direction the product you consume is going, I think ending your support is definitely a valid response. That’s the essence of capitalism. If enough people drop the product then the product is forced to change course and take into account their opinions.

So I see arguments like yours that some people make, but I disagree with it. If one person injects politics into somewhere you think it doesn’t belong — and does something you disagree with — you have two options: 1. let them do it and don’t change anything even though you disagree or 2. change your behavior to make your displeasure noted.

I think changing your behavior is the least pussy response imaginable. It’s exercising your first amendment rights to respond to someone else exercising their first amendment rights that you disagree with. That’s how the marketplace of ideas works.

Honestly, you and I are more of the pussies here because we disagree, but don’t disagree enough to change our behavior. So we just take it even though we disagree with it. For the record, I don’t think we’re being pussies here either, but I think we’re being more of pussies than people who are actually changing their behavior.

The first amendment is a two way street, you have the freedom to speak, but I also have the freedom to respond to your speech.

Barbara writes:

“Curious what your thoughts are on ESPN putting 30 for 30 exclusively on ESPN+. I got the free trial to be able to watch the new Bob Knight 30 for 30. If they came out with one or two a month, would that get people to subscribe to a service whose best games are college tennis and baseball replays?”

I don’t think that’s good enough content.

I wrote a ton about ESPN+ yesterday and I’d encourage you to read it if you haven’t already. My belief is that we’re in such a competitive marketplace right now that the only thing that works and gets people to take note and pay is great content.

And it also needs to be great, original content.

So far I don’t see that for ESPN+ and I believe that’s why the market of people who will buy their offering will be minimal and not transformative in any sense for their business.

Steve writes:

“I walked into the office with an UNOPENED bottle/can of soda, and asks if anyone is interested in splitting it.  Is this “weird”?

I never thought this to be remotely disturbing, but a large number of co-workers looked at me like they were completely disgusted by the idea.  Mind you, I’m not talking about passing the bottle back and forth; we would be pouring half into a glass.

My workplace is completely divided over this controversial issue at this time, though I never thought of this as controversial until recently.  I ask you to break the gridlock.”

I don’t think they are “completely divided” over the sharing a can of soda issue, I think at least half of your office just believes you are a total pussy for being a grown man and not drinking the entire thing yourself.

Trust me, no girl wants to fuck the guy offering up half of his soda or beer to everyone else in the office.

Thanks for reading Outkick this Friday; 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.