All That and a Bag of Mail

It’s Friday, time for the mailbag.

But first I want to encourage you guys to subscribe to the Outkick the Coverage morning radio show and Outkick the Show afternoon podcasts. We’re going to hit over a million downloads on these shows this month — that’s just audio, it doesn’t count the millions more listening or watching on AM/FM, satellite radio, Periscope and Facebook Live — and I think you guys will really enjoy the past two days of discussions on the NCAA and why I think it’s a broken, corrupt, immoral organization.

Okay, here we go with the mailbag.

Lee writes:

“Clay,
Since the the NCAA has handed down their penalties against Louisville, what’s stopping Pitino from walking out on the floor and refusing to be suspended from his first ACC game? You will have 20,000 fans in attendance, let’s say Duke on the other bench, officials (which are contracted employees of the conference if I’m not mistaken) on the floor, everyone is ready to play, so couldn’t UofL say screw you and everything you stand for, let’s play ball? The NCAA wouldn’t have any control in this situation correct? And would this be the beginning of the end for such a rogue organization?”

It’s a fantastic question that I’ve often wondered about — what happens if a school just refuses to accept an NCAA penalty? What would happen if Pitino showed up to coach the first ACC game and refused to accept his suspension? (This is assuming, by the way, that the appeal hasn’t been rejected. If the appeal is still pending then he doesn’t have to serve the suspension yet.)

Would the ACC stop the game until Pitino left the court? If he refused to leave the court would an automatic forfeit occur? We’ve never seen an actual NCAA ruling challenged like this.

In a larger context, my guess is that Louisville has bound itself to follow NCAA rules in exchange for its membership in the ACC and the cash the school receives from the NCAA Tournament. So in theory the ACC and the NCAA could sue Louisville for being in breach of contract and refuse to provide them their NCAA Tourney share or threaten to remove them from the league. Pitino individually has also agreed to be bound by NCAA and ACC rules in the contract he signed with Louisville so this would mean he was breaching his coaching contract as well, so he could be fired or held liable in a lawsuit as well.

But that’s all a result of his coaching in defiance of the suspension and would take months to iron out in the court system.

What would happen in the actual moment if Pitino walked out to coach even though he was suspended? If a big name coach challenged NCAA authority in a case such as this, what would the reaction be? I’d be fascinated to know if the ACC even has a mechanism in place for a situation such as this. Moreover since that game would also be televised — presumably on ESPN — would the ACC be in breach of their television contract if the ACC forfeited the game because Pitino wouldn’t leave the sideline? Does ESPN have a three hour 30 for 30 they scramble to air in place of the ACC game they were expecting to air?

The legal ramifications of this are just staggering to think about.

I’d love to see it happen.

Marcus writes:

“What are your thoughts on Amazon buying Whole Foods for $13.7 billion dollars and saying they want to dominate food and grocery sales? Has to be just a matter of time before they get into sports, right?”

Amazon $469 billion, Facebook, $434 billion, Google, $654 billion, and Apple, $751 billion, have market caps right now of a combined $2.31 trillion. That dwarfs the combined market caps of Disney/ESPN, Fox, Comcast/NBC, Time Warner/Turner and CBS, $515 billion, which have all of the American sports rights in this country. Indeed, Facebook and Amazon by themselves are almost bigger than the five largest American media companies.

What I’m fascinated to see is this — will any of these companies try to buy the entire NFL, MLB, NHL, or NBA one day? Does it really make sense for all of these leagues to have individual owners? Let’s say that the NFL, by far the most valuable league in all of sports, is worth around $64 billion right now. (That’s an average of $2 billion per team).

Instead of renting the NFL via buying broadcast rights in 2021, why wouldn’t one of these massive companies consider trying to buy the entire NFL? Can you imagine if, for instance, Amazon or Apple bought the NFL, added tons of games to their own independent networks to add subscribers, and then sold the rest of the games to Fox, CBS, ESPN, and NBC?

In essence, everyone is talking about these big tech companies getting involved in buying sports rights, but my question is bigger, why isn’t anyone talking about these big tech companies buying entire sports leagues?

I’m going to have to turn this into an entire column at some point soon, but it’s worth thinking about.

Why rent when you’re big enough to own?

Zack writes:

“As someone who appreciates your insight into the way the world is changing I have a question for you. If you were given $100,000 to invest in one of the four giant companies taking over the world (Amazon, Google, Apple, Facebook) which one would you invest in and why?”

I think it’s too late for all four of these companies, the “easy” money has already been made.

For instance, if you’d put $10,000 into Amazon when it went public and just held on to the stock, you’d have over $5 million now.

If any of these companies double from their current prices then they become the largest companies in the history of the world. We’ve never seen a company with a trillion dollar market cap, but we will soon. Will one of these companies or potentially all of these companies hit the trillion dollar mark? There’s a decent chance for sure. But will these companies be able to grow at breakneck speed going forward given their current size?

I don’t think so.

They’re simply too big.

Having said that, if I had to invest in one of them, I think I’d pick Facebook. Just because Facebook, in my opinion, is the equivalent of a casino. They’re so big that they’re able to set advertising rates that guarantee they make money, just like a casino can set slot machines win rates. Facebook is the Internet’s own slot machine. Instagram and WhatsApp are both massive success stories too, so I just feel like the Facebook/Instagram/WhatsApp brand is still ripe for growth, at least more so than these companies are.

Part of me actually wonders why Facebook doesn’t buy Twitter and integrate it into the Facebook timeline. The one area that Facebook doesn’t own is real time reaction to live events. What if your Facebook and your Twitter accounts merged?

Twitter’s market cap right now is only $12 billion. I think with the ad sales team that Facebook has put together they could unlock a ton more value from Twitter and own live reactions as well as they own everything else online. That’s why I’ve got several hundred thousand dollars in Twitter stock. I’m still a believer in Twitter’s potential compared to some of the other major Internet companies.

Daniel writes:

“What are your thoughts on Alex Jones recording everything Megyn Kelly did so she couldn’t edit the footage in a derogatory manner that made him look bad?”

I totally get the impulse here.

If you feel like your remarks — which might be a couple of hours in length — are going to be selectively edited and taken out of context in a ten minute segment, why not have a full recording of everything you said to let people digest it in full?

This is why I’m a big fan of the long radio sitdowns that Howard Stern has or the long interview we did on Outkick with Derek Dooley. I’d rather hear an entire interview between Megyn Kelly and Alex Jones than I would watch a five to ten minute excerpt of that conversation. If you have a talented interview and a fascinating subject, why artificially constrain or cut short that interview? I want to hear all of it.

Now I don’t know much about Alex Jones and I’ve never listened to any of his shows, but I do know he’s outside the “mainstream” media so it’s fair for him to be skeptical of how he’ll be treated. And it’s something I think about when I have conversations with print media now.

I’ve been interviewed and quoted by reporters for the New York Times, for instance. That conversation might last twenty or thirty minutes and there might only be two quotes that end up in an article. So unlike a radio interview which goes out live for everyone to hear, I’ve definitely wondered what would happen if a reporter took my quotes out of context or just made up quotes that I never said?

How would I prove that I was being misquoted? Unless that reporter was recording me, it would just be my word against the reporter’s word. So I’ve thought about recording newspaper interviews I participate in just to make sure they’re accurate. I haven’t done it yet, but I may start doing it going forward.

Are there any apps that can record a phone conversation while you talk? Because I’d like to have that app.

Jared writes:

“Although I agree with you that vacating wins is a stupid penalty, I can’t help but think that Louisville really got off easy in the grand scheme of things.

However, all of the NCAA punishments aside, I was having a conversation with a buddy of mine this morning who just graduated from law school and he brought up an interesting question: How is this not a statutory rape investigation?

You have to think that the recruits involved (everyone knows who they are) would more likely have been 17 rather than 18 when they came on their overnight visit. Why are Powell or McGee not being charged with any crime here (assuming one was committed)? This isn’t an accusation that a crime occurred, there is an admission by Powell herself that the recruits engaged in sexual acts with the “strippers” so why is there no talk of any criminal investigation?”

It’s a great question.

My best guess is because the DA’s in Louisville didn’t want to prosecute here because it’s politically unpopular.

The NCAA basically proved a crime happened — underage kids were provided prostitutes to encourage them to come to Louisville. And yet there has been no criminal investigation at all.

My best guess is that’s because the local prosecutors were told not to pursue the case.

JD writes:

“As the traditional media (CNN, NBC, CBS, Fox, Wash Post, etc.) becomes more biased (opinionated vs factual) and more dependent on click bait style headlines for viewers/money, I ask you what’s worse, a misinformed public or an ill-informed public? I’m getting to the point where I don’t watch traditional media b/c I just don’t trust it anymore. I believe there are many like me.”

Here’s the biggest problem as I see it — actual news has limited to no value in the modern media ecosystem. That’s because news is immediately distributed and reproduced everywhere. That is, news is not valuable content and it’s difficult to monetize.

Now let me explain why with an example from sports.

Let’s say I’m the first person to report Bob Stoops is leaving Oklahoma and I write about it on Outkick. We get an immediate surge of clicks that rapidly fades. Why does the news traffic fade away? Because that news is immediately grabbed and reproduced everywhere online. Every major sports site — and news site — has their own article up within twenty minutes of the news breaking. Even worse than that, many people just Tweet out the news with no link.

So what’s the long range monetary value of breaking that news? Virtually nonexistent. More people would read my anonymous mailbag than read me breaking a major coaching news story. And there’s not really much lasting value for a reporter or a site either because most people don’t even remember where they saw it, news is like oxygen, it’s just out there. We inhale it and keep moving.

This is why Jamie Horowitz’s big bet that SportsCenter was dead makes so much sense. Now all sports programming is becoming opinion based.  It used to be there was value in producing actual news — this was SportsCenter for the first 30 years that ESPN existed — but now all value comes from placing that news in context. Why does this matter? What does this mean? What comes next? What’s your opinion about this news?

Now let’s move outside of sports — actual breaking news is a tiny portion of news coverage today. Most of the news is about contextualizing what that news is or what it means. And the way you contextualize that news is now the most important aspect of working at a news network. That is, the stories that you choose to feature and discuss tell us what you believe matters. And that’s where bias reveals itself in mainstream news. The entire business is rigged to produce ratings via contextualizing the latest stories, not in reporting the actual news.

Go watch CNN, Fox News, or MSNBC. What you’ll notice is that their news lacks breadth. They just talk about the same big stories over and over again. What they’ve learned is that viewers don’t want a bunch of topics on a mostly surface level, they want three or four stories covered in great depth.

The same is true in sports.

I think about this a great deal because I’m doing live radio for three hours and then doing my Periscope/Facebook Live/podcast show in the afternoon. And it’s rare I ever talk about more than four big topics in any single day. That’s why the only notes I have when I start either show are just a list of the three or four biggest topics of the day.

I got an email the other day from a listener asking why I only talk about 3-4 topics a day and my response was easy, “Because that’s all people care about in national sports.”

And it’s even true in local sports too.

In every sports market there are 3-4 stories that are going to resonate every day. The people with the biggest audiences are the people who can talk about those 3-4 stories the best. The people who break the actual news that people talk about? They don’t have much value.

Marcus writes:

“Do you think if the Cavs add Paul George they are better than Golden State? I personally don’t think that pushes them over the top and do you think if the Spurs add Chris Paul they can beat Golden State in the West?”

Barring substantial injury issues the Golden State Warriors will win the 2018 NBA title no matter what any other team does.

The only real teams that have the potential to get substantially better are the Boston Celtics and the San Antonio Spurs. (If the Cavs added Paul George they’d have to get rid of Kyrie or Kevin Love and I don’t see how that makes the Cavs better). If the Celtics added Gordon Hayward and the Spurs added Chris Paul, then both teams would be better equipped to challenge the Warriors.

But they’d still lose a seven game series.

Now the Celtics might be able to make enough additions to get past LeBron and the Cavs, but I still think that’s unlikely.

Barring any major upsets, I believe the Cavs and Warriors will meet for a fourth straight year in the finals and the Warriors will probably win in five games again.

The NBA won’t get interesting again until after the 2017-18 offseason when LeBron can become a free agent. Until then this is the Golden State Warriors league and there’s no point in paying attention to the league until May.

Okay, I’m off to golf.

Send your questions to claytravis@gmail.com for future mailbags and y’all have great 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.