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Anonymous Mailbag

It’s Tuesday and I hope all of you are back to work.

I really do.

At this point there is zero reason why pretty much everyone shouldn’t be back to work in this country.

As always, send your anonymous mailbag questions to claytravis@gmail.com, anonymity guaranteed.

Okay, here we go:

“I wanted to get your opinion on making a choice to have a child on my own.  I have appreciated the advice you have given to others about marriage, kids, etc. in the past.  

I turned 43 recently and have never been married or had any children. I had my eggs harvested when I was 35 and have plenty of viable eggs – just no sperm. When I did harvest my eggs, my thought was to not have to rush into any relationship to start a family and take the pressure off having to find someone “right now.” But I am coming to the realization that if I didn’t find a man to marry and start a family at 25, 35 or 40 – then my odds aren’t great at 43 or 45.  

I could probably find someone to donate. I haven’t really tried yet because my dilemma is having a child on my own seems more what I want than what might be best for the child. I believe a child is given the best chance when they have 2 parents. I grew up with 2 parents and they are the most influential people in my life (also probably why I am still single – but that’s a different email). I have dreamed of a family of my own my entire life but I also want a family for the future. In another 20 years or so, it will just be me. My siblings have their own families and will do their own traditions.  I am also not getting any younger and feel like I should make a decision one way or another.”

First, being a single parent is very hard. And there’s also no doubt that having two parents is the best environment for a child to grow up in. There’s no debating this, it’s a statistical reality.

Having said that, not all single parents are the same.

One of the reasons why being a single parent is so difficult is because most single parents lack the financial resources to comfortably support a child. I don’t know your particular financial situation, but if you are 43 years old, never married, and have the money to afford to freeze your eggs, you probably have a pretty decent financial situation. That means you could afford a nanny or day care, for instance, which can go a long way towards providing a support structure most single parents don’t have.

You also said you have a great relationship with your parents, which suggests your parents can be there to provide added support for you and the baby. (Not to mention your siblings, who also have their own families, which could provide your child with other kids to grow up around, even if your child doesn’t have a traditional family setting).

As you note in your email, you’ve waited plenty of time to find the “right” guy to start a family with and for whatever reason it just hasn’t happened for you. Sure, it could happen in the next couple of years, but it’s logical to acknowledge that if it hasn’t happened to you yet it may not happen during the time when you can have a child of your own. Worse than that, being desperate to have a child could also make you willing to overlook red flags in men, which isn’t healthy either. You want to have kids with the right guy, not the guy who just happens to be around at the right time.

While I’ll never know exactly what it feels like to be a woman with a ticking biological clock, I do know what it feels like to be a parent and it’s the best thing I’ve ever done. I’m not saying I’m always a good person — sometimes I can be a total asshole like anyone else — but I think I’m a far better person as a parent than I would have been if I’d never had kids.

Right now you know you want a kid and you know you are ready to be a parent.

That’s two things that aren’t true of a huge number of parents when they become parents the first time.

I’d be nervous about picking the right donor, anonymous or otherwise — there are all sorts of legal complexities here if you pick someone you know so you’d need to make sure you have a good lawyer in your jurisdiction — but assuming you feel good about your financial situation, I’d go ahead and have the kid.

“Long time follower, huge CLEMSON fan, season ticket holder, and alum. Clemson has never played at Notre Dame during a regular season in my lifetime. We beat them in 1977 in our last trip there and Joe Montana and crew beat us in 1979 at Clemson. I believe the biggest non-conference game of the year in college football is likely CLEMSON @ Notre Dame on November 7th. I will turn 40 earlier that week. We’ve got a big trip to South Bend planned, 10-13 family and friends going, two VRBO houses… tickets are super hard to come by but think we have at least 8 or 10…If you were to look into your crystal ball and have to decide what will happen as of today, in your opinion will the game happen with a full stadium?”

Man, I have no idea whether that particular game will happen with a full stadium.

Anyone who is predicting with any degree of certainty what will happen on a particular weekend in November in a particular location after the past several months we’ve all just been through is a crazy man.

Here’s what I think in general: I believe some college football games will happen with full stadiums, but that will be a state by state decision. I can see, for instance, SEC and Big 12 schools all playing with full stadiums because the decisions in those states have been mostly similar, but I can also see situations where individual schools in other conferences make individual decisions. Some may have full crowds in a conference and some may not.

Some — I’m looking at you Vanderbilt — were even socially distancing before socially distancing was cool.

Which is why the big complexity here isn’t will there be fans or not, that’s a relatively easy question to answer because it’s a yes or a no, the big challenge is answering this question: who gets to go? Especially for huge games like Clemson-Notre Dame, where the number of people who want to go drastically exceeds the number of tickets available. (And also how do you keep counterfeit tickets from existing since the limited supply would drive up the incentive to counterfeit even more).

I don’t envy any school being told that only 50% or 25% of people who want tickets can get them. Good luck making those decisions — especially because most people with good seats are big donors — without alienating people for years to come.

That’s why I think the easiest decision, by far, is simply saying, “The stadium’s open, if you want to come, you can come, but you bear your own risk.”

And I think that’s where many programs are going to end up before all is said and done.

Not that my audience is a perfect reflection of college football fans, by the way, but 55k people responded to my poll asking if they’d go to a college football or NFL game this past weekend and 84% said they would.

That leads me to believe there will be plenty of people willing to take the risk to watch their favorite teams play.

“Two part question, but please keep me anonymous. 

The easiest solution for the NFL anthem drama to end is to play it before the players come back onto the field. What would be lost? Play anthem, crowd  is still standing  – entrance video hits – players come out.  They could run around, kneel in protest or prayer or whatever. We see this every Saturday in college football. Thoughts? And part 2 – I got crushed over the weekend for this opinion, but I think it’s time to retire the anthem for sports with the exception of international events. What do you think?”

College football has been able to avoid the anthem controversy because the players aren’t on the field for the anthem. (I presume that’s probably because of all the exciting ways college football teams enter the field. Coaches would rather their guys hit the field after running through the T in Knoxville, for instance, as opposed to standing on the field and waiting for the anthem. It would be kind of anti-climatic at that point to have the anthem after the teams enter the field).

NFL teams, comparatively, enter the field in pretty boring ways.

So if you gave me an idea from a purely entertainment perspective, I’d rather each NFL team design a badass way to enter the field and be in the locker room for the anthem as opposed to having the players run out and then stand for the national anthem before kickoff.

It’s important to note that the NFL didn’t have all players stand on the field for the national anthem for primetime games until 2009, but NFL players have long stood on the sideline for the anthem during regular afternoon kickoff times. What changed in 2009 was all games, regardless of kickoff time, began to include players standing for the anthem.

The problem now is if you change things you get criticized by both sides: the people who want the players to stand for the anthem and some players who want to kneel for the anthem and the people who support the kneeling.

Both will be upset by this change because they’ll see it as avoiding the controversy.

But what do the majority of people want? I think the vast majority of fans just want to watch football. I don’t think they care about the controversy on either side. And we also know that ratings declined by 19% during 2016 and 2017 when the anthem controversy overtook the NFL, which is a disaster for the NFL. The lesson here is pretty clear, give people football and they like it, but when you mix football and politics you are going to lose part of your audience.

Regardless of the politics, I just think the precedent of employees being able to protest any political event in uniform at work is crazy. As I wrote in my most recent book, what happens when players start protesting gay marriage or abortion? Do we really want the anthem to become an all purpose time for player political activism? I don’t. (Most people, by the way, don’t support the first amendment. They support people who agree with them. And cloak it by arguing for the first amendment. But you don’t have the right to keep your job and make political statements at work. If your boss wants you to just go to work and you refuse then you can be fired.)

That’s why I always enjoy spinning this conversation forward and adjusting the facts a bit, what do you think Colin Kaepernick’s most ardent supporters would have said if he’d taken a knee to support gay marriage being legal? They would have immediately demanded the San Francisco 49ers release him. And if the 49ers wouldn’t release him they would have demanded the NFL do something. They wouldn’t have supported Kaepernick’s first amendment rights, they would have wanted him silenced.

I floated the idea of eliminating all on-field extraneous activities  — from cheerleaders to the anthem — as a result of coronavirus in yesterday’s column. I still think that’s a potential fig leaf that would give the NFL protection during the 2020 season. But it would also buy them time to see what happens next season, in what’s likely to be a much less politically tumultuous season.

Personally I’ve long found it pretty wacky that we do the anthem for pro sporting events. As I wrote in my most recent book, we don’t play the national anthem at concerts or movies, why do we do it at pro sporting events? (College sporting events makes a bit more sense to me because many of the schools are state-sponsored so the nation is involved at least somewhat).

But this is where we are and I’m not sure how many non-controversial ways there are to dial down the discord, honestly.

“We “escaped” for 10 days down to Walton County, FL, right as the George Floyd death occurred. A few days passed and we didn’t discuss much about it, other than talking about the fools rioting (not the protestors, as we know they are two different groups). Towards the end of our time in Florida, we started to discuss the best way to teach our boys (ages 9, 7, and 1) about this issue. During the talk, my wife expressed her sheer disdain for what the officer did (which I agree with), and her concern with quote “cops killing too many black males.”

At this point, I quoted her the facts (that you too tweeted) with regards to just how many people are killed each year by cops, and that “78% where white, Hispanic, or Asian.” As this time, my wife said the following statement, and I am still in disbelief to this day (about 8 days later). Quote “I don’t care about facts, you are being a sensationalist.”

To say this stunned me, would be a travesty to the word “stunned.” I didn’t really know how to react at first. My wife is well educated, has a growing career (as well as being a mom of three), and just told me to my face “facts don’t matter,” let alone calling me a “sensationalist.”

As you can imagine, that night did not go well. I am not going to get into the rest of the evening, but I still can’t seem to shake the “facts don’t matter” statement. I’ve moved beyond her name calling, because as you too being married and a dad of three boys – you should be all too familiar with your wife calling you whatever comes to her mind at that time. What concerns me more, is her utter belief (or lack thereof) that facts aren’t important in this situation.

What that said, what say you? Do I just live with this, or do I bring it up again? And if I do, how do I bring the correct “weapon” to this argument, knowing she already has dropped the damn nuclear bomb of “facts don’t matter.”

First, I think facts are always THE MOST IMPORTANT part of any discussion like these. All arguments should be built upon a foundation of facts. We can argue where those facts lead us, but a common set of facts have to be the starting point for any legitimate debate.

As I’ve been saying on my shows recently, “We’re all entitled to our own opinions, we aren’t all entitled to our own facts.”

Social media has led us into a world where feelings matter more than facts and at least upon first glance it sounds like your wife is buying into that position.

She may also, however, feel that a larger and more nuanced conversation that complicates things may not be the point in talking with your nine and seven year old’s. Your kids are obviously too young to understand percentages or probabilities in a very serious way, so what did you add to their understanding by interjecting your points.

The thrust of a conversation about a story like this with young children should be: “You should never treat anyone differently based on their skin color. Unfortunately sometimes that still happens in this country. And if you see it happening you should speak up and oppose it because it’s not right.”

That’s a pretty simple and direct lesson you can teach your kids. That’s what I tell my own kids.

Other details may needlessly complicate it in their minds so I can understand why your wife might not want you to add nuance to the conversation because your kids are too young to understand that nuance. Kids, especially at young ages, often need rules explained in a straight forward and direct manner.

What happened to George Floyd was wrong and shouldn’t happen to anyone, that’s clear. It isn’t as if there are two sides to this story at all.

But I don’t think it’s wrong for you to circle back to your wife without your kids being present and have a larger discussion with her about this issue and why her response upset you. When she said, “I don’t care about facts, you are being a sensationalist,” what did she mean by that? What you were doing was the exact opposite of sensationalism. You were taking a very emotional topic and attempting to provide factual context on the issue. Again, I understand why she might not want your kids, given their ages, involved in a nuanced conversation like this, but it’s important for the two of you to have this conversation like adults.

“I don’t care about facts,” is a really bad place to begin any discussion on a complicated issue. As I said above, facts, at least to me, have to be the starting point for any intelligent conversation about any significant topic, especially if there’s disagreement. Unfortunately we live in a society right now where if you provide facts that conflict with people’s feelings they view that as an attack on their feelings.

That’s not true, I’m not trying to diminish anyone’s feelings — it’s okay to be angry and upset, even fearful, when bad things happen in our country — but it’s also important to contextualize those feelings with facts. I don’t think our society is lacking in emotion right now, I think we are lacking facts.

Indeed, one reason I believe Outkick has grown so rapidly in the past several months is because there’s a huge demand for reasonable discussion of serious issues in this country. Especially if those discussions are rooted in factual analysis.

There’s a big difference between someone saying, “I disagree with your opinion and (insert argument here)” and “I disagree with your opinion and (you don’t have the right to make a living any more.)”

The first version of this situation is the first amendment’s marketplace of ideas. The second version of this situation is cancel culture.

I abhor cancel culture with every fiber of my being.

And always will.

As always send your anonymous mailbag questions to claytravis@gmail.com.

If you’re reading the mailbag today and you think, “Boy, these were intense! What happened to the poop disasters?!” I respond to the questions I’m getting.

And right now the questions I’m getting are pretty intense.

So that’s what I’m going to answer.

But I kind of miss the not as serious questions too. So please send those along as well.

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).
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