Anonymous Mailbag

It’s Tuesday, rejoice, the anonymous mailbag is here to save you from work doldrums. (You better be back at work by now, slackers).

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

Before we get to the mailbag questions, I have to say thanks. Yesterday was the single biggest day for Outkick VIP subscriptions we have ever seen and today is tracking to be even better than yesterday. VIP sign ups are on absolute fire. Right now you get an autographed copy of my latest book as a part of the VIP sign ups, but I think we’re going to have to discontinue that soon because I’m almost out of books to sign. So if you want an autographed copy of my book you better sign up by Friday. I’m not sure we’ll be able to include that as a part of the subscriptions after that day.

With that in mind, let’s dive into the mailbag.

“I’m fascinated following the twitter of you, Bruce Feldman, Pat Forde, and Stewart Mandel in this COVID climate. I’m an A&M grad, finance geek, realignment nerd, and football fanatic so this whole situation tickles a lot of my nerves.

I agree with you in that the election season is overshadowing honest reporting about COVID and the survival statistics. So much so that it is putting sports seasons at risk unnecessarily. As a fellow economic nerd, you understand what a cancellation of a football season will do to a school financially. Not just the athletic department, but the school as a whole. Catastrophic does not begin to describe the carnage a cancellation of college football would usher in. That carnage would have collateral damage as well, reaching to media outlets too, in my opinion. That leads me to my question…

As I watch Pat Forde, Stewart Mandel, and Bruce Feldman gleefully report, retweet, and otherwise promote, the so called COVID fallout in college sports, and ignore any potential mitigation efforts schools can or should take, do they not understand that their jobs are at risk too if we don’t have football? Do they think they are immune to the financial realities of a cancelled season? The financial tentacles of a cancelled season will reach far and wide, and the legacy print media is already dying on the vine. Do they honestly not think about that? Are they prepared to “learn to code?””

I’m stunned by the number of people who cover college and pro sports — many of whom I really like and consider friends — who constantly share fear porn articles on their social media feeds about the need to cancel college football (or other sports) which is either directly stated in these articles or clearly implied.

I mean, just absolutely stunned. Because my first thought every time I see them share an article like this is, “You know you may well lose your job if the season isn’t played, right?” It’s as if they are unable to see the connection between their employment and sports taking place. Or are unable to see what you just laid out, the cascading cancellations of jobs that will ensue across a variety of fields if college football doesn’t happen.

Honestly, I don’t have those same fears myself because Outkick is growing like wild fire right now and I think we’ll be fine even if sports aren’t played. (Although I have taken voluntary pay cuts on my radio and TV shows). Heck, you can even argue it’s better for us if sports aren’t played because our audience is still going to be showing up, whereas many sports sites will see their audiences collapse, meaning when sports do return we’d have fewer competitors. June was the greatest month in the history of Outkick because people crave our content even more in times of stress than they do in times of normalcy.

So you can argue that Outkick might gain a competitive advantage if sports are canceled. That is, I might make more money without sports than with them in the long run.

Yet even with this potential financial incentive at play I still don’t want that to happen because it would be awful for so many other people in the country. And because I LOVE SPORTS. And get physically sick to my stomach at the idea of football not existing this fall.

Now I also know I shouldn’t be surprised that many sportswriters don’t understand the larger business issues at play here and that’s one of the reasons I’ve been so successful with Outkick — because I have just a scintilla of business sense and most sportswriters have none. This means I can talk to the writers — as well as write for a living — and also talk to the business people simultaneously. The creative and business sides of my brain both work and this is a rare talent, evidently, to have creative sensibilities and also enough financial acumen to create a business based on these creative abilities.

But even with that knowledge, it’s crazy to me.

Now I’m not saying people should just ignore the truth to try and protect their jobs at all costs, but there’s definitely a marked difference between people like me who are arguing, validly, all the data supports college kids should be back in school and be playing sports this fall and those that are choosing to argue the opposite. And I have to be honest with you there are definitely a bunch of college football media, coaches and executives who have a secret phone and text chain where we talk about the importance of college football returning. And a big part of that conversation is a disbelief over how many members of the sports media seem to take great joy in only sharing negativity surrounding the coronavirus and its impact in sports.

(The flip side is probably true as well. The coronabros in sports media are probably sharing my articles amongst themselves and simply aghast that I have the opinions that I do and that I WOULD SHARE THEM IN PUBLIC.)

So these sports media members are are certainly entitled to spread their fear porn, but if they help get the season cancelled are they going to then come on Twitter and expect people to feel bad for them when they announce that they’ve been laid off from their jobs? I mean, that seems like it’s definitely likely to happen.

And I feel like most people on social media are going to be like, “Yeah, no shit, you argued sports shouldn’t exist for months on Twitter. Why should you have a job covering something you argued shouldn’t exist?”

I mean, I think it’s possible Sports Illustrated, USA Today sports, and The Athletic’s entire business model collapses if football isn’t played this fall. These places have already had to announce substantial layoffs. I legitimately think they might have to cut half their staffs, or more, if football isn’t played this fall.

How could you not be aware of that possibility and at least allow it to influence what you Tweet to some extent?

I don’t know.

And, again, I’m not saying you need to be irrationally positive in the face of negative data, but if you only share negative stories about sports, what balance are you claiming to offer?

Maybe there really is a Chinese wall at these places between editorial and business, but I think that concept is somewhat antiquated. I believe in editorial freedom, but I also believe you shouldn’t intentionally shoot yourself in the foot. I told our staff when I was hiring them, “Look, if you want to use Outkick’s platform to argue sports shouldn’t be back, there are lots of places you can work, but this isn’t one of them.”

That’s literally the only editorial direction I’ve given any of our guys in terms of things that aren’t allowed on the site. I don’t want to spread fear porn. There’s plenty of that other places. We’re going to be 100% in favor of sports coming back until I see something that changes the existing data.

If I ran SI, USA Today Sports or The Athletic I’d have that same opinion and say the same thing.

But they’ve got a businesses to run and I’ve got a business to run and we’ll see who does a better job in the years ahead.

I like our odds.

“I’m planning to get married later in July in the DFW area. Our wedding venue is at 50 percent capacity, masks are required for people during the ceremony but not the reception. We’ve had about 10 people over the last weekend who had RSVP’d yes, back out. The coronabros are salivating over cases rising in Texas, and now it’s impacting my wedding. Is there any hope for me to convince these guests refusing to attend (my half is traveling by air) that the risks from coronavirus are minuscule and show them that deaths are down 92 percent from their peak in April?

Thanks Clay and keep up the amazing work, thankfully our honeymoon is still own down in 30A.”

I think you can share the currently existing data with the wavering attendees, but in terms of lobbying people to attend your wedding, I’d give up on that unless they are super close family members. Otherwise you’re just wasting your time because the people who aren’t coming to your wedding aren’t making logical decisions, they are making emotional decisions.

You typically don’t win arguments with emotional people by presenting them with facts, they just get angry at you for not validating their emotions. So you’d probably have to appeal to their emotions by arguing how hurt you are that they aren’t coming and then that becomes emotionally exhausting.

People ask how I have the energy to do all my jobs. And the answer is I try to avoid emotionally exhausting entanglements. I remember a while back people picked on Gene Chizik for saying you have to avoid emotional vampires in your life, but he was 100% right. There are some people out there that just exist to soak up all your energy. And they never give you back any positive energy themselves, they just take away all of yours.

I just won’t engage with those people because they take up too much time and energy in my life.

I work hard to be happy and to help my kids and my wife be happy. Outside of that group, I’m not responsible for anyone else’s happiness. I just don’t have the energy to fight other people’s battles.

But honestly if I were planning on getting married in the next six months, I’d just cancel the ceremony and elope.

It’s just not worth it to me.

Save the money you would have spent on a wedding and put it towards a home. You can have a big party at some point in the future at your new home.

Right now we are inundated with wedding questions and I just think trying to plan a wedding would be an emotionally exhausted unmitigated disaster with limited payoff.

I’d 100% elope.

“I started listening to your show in March and have listened everyday since. I’m a student pastor at a church in the south. I’m frustrated with the way the government has handled everything. When our state allowed churches to meet again, I pushed my church leadership to have services. Then, the state allowed overnight camps for youth. So, I persuaded church leadership to allow our church to have one. I showed them all the risks for teenagers, and they let me go ahead with it. However, now that we are a week away from going, I received a phone call and was told I had to cancel the trip. This is not coming from parents, but from the pastor. The parents know the risks and still want us to go. We have had 0 people in our church test positive for COVID. None of our students have been around anyone who have tested positive. They are around each other, hanging out, going to sports practices, and everywhere else. Do I roll over? Do I fight for it? I am tired of making decisions based off fear mongering and sensationalized headlines when the risk for the covid for these teenagers is lower than the flu!”

I would fight for it.

What do you have to lose? All your pastor can do is stick by the decision that he’s already made. And, to be honest, his decision doesn’t make much logical sense because he’s already having church services so the kids will be attending church events as is. Sure, he can argue the sleepover effect is more likely to spread the virus — if there’s any contagion at all among the kids — but given the length of time it takes for the infection to reveal itself how will he know when the contagion actually happened? It could just as easily have happened at church service or any of the other events the kids are already attending.

And, again, the key is young kids are 20x as likely to die of the flu as the coronavirus.

Has a church trip ever been canceled for the flu? If not, the precedent should be that you take the trip.

But unfortunately your pastor’s perspective is far too common.

We’ve been really frustrated at how frequently kids camps in our city have closed at the last possible moment.

Thankfully in the past two weeks we’ve finally gotten the kids out of the house here in Nashville. Two weeks ago my kids went to the local Jewish Community Center, which had a great kids camp they kept open. And this week two of my kids are enrolled at a sports camp at a local Nashville private school.

So I’m hopeful those are positive trends.

Because there’s zero data supporting closing these camps at this time.

And also zero data to support keeping schools closed. Which I’m going to talk about in a question below in a moment.

“I got tested for the coronavirus last Saturday, June 28th, and I tested positive. Now before I can return to work I have to receive a negative test. I’ve never had any symptoms so I can’t tell if it’s still in my system. It took me 6 days to receive my first results. So should I go get tested everyday? Because I may test positive today, but negative tomorrow….then I won’t know my results for several days….furthermore, if I take a dozen tests and am positive for every one does that inflate the numbers? because I’m one person but count for a dozen positive tests. All the testing centers I’ve been to they do not ask if I’ve been tested before so there’s no way they know either.”

First, hope you get well and can get back to work soon.

Second, this is such a great question that I think could throw the data completely out of whack in all respects.

I’ve been told that if you test positive once and then continue to be tested until you are negative — at which point you can go back to work or end your quarantine — that each positive test counts as a new positive in the results.

So instead of only counting as one positive test case, which you are, you’d count as a new case each time you test positive. What we need to know is how many unique current infections there are. Because if someone got tested every day for two weeks theoretically they could count for 14 different positive tests while only representing one person.

I know this could be the case in Tennessee, for instance, where I went and got tested. (I was negative, much to the chagrin of the coronabros). But I could theoretically get tested for free every single day in Tennessee. And if I were to test positive I’d be a new positive test every single day even thought it would all be the same person.

That’s not very helpful when it comes to analyzing data.

And this is just the latest potential problem.

Earlier in the testing process we were mixing current tests and antibody tests in the data. That’s despite the fact that they mean totally different things. A positive antibody test is a GOOD thing because it means you already had the virus. A positive current test is a BAD thing because it means you currently have the virus. Yet the results were all mixed together, making it harder to track the virus.

So all of this is just a complete mess. We need more transparent and reliable data, period.

“I’m a big fan of Outkick…..My wife and I have been married for 19 years, went to high school together, and have been dating since 1992. We are both public school teachers, we have have 4 sons together(ages 6-16) and we generally live a charmed life……

However, between Covid, Trump, and The BLM protests, we are at odds more than usual.

In terms of the BLM movement. I’m all for equality for all people and for Black Americans to achieve whatever goals they aspire to. However, I have a problem with the Marxist goals of the founders. I’m for the goal, but not the movement if that makes sense. For this, I’m called out of touch and worse.

I live in California. I think folks should wear masks, but I get frustrated when the media says the protests had nothing to do with the spike. We fight over this as well, as she believes the protests have nothing to do with the spike…..

What I like about Trump is that he fights back. Bush, Romney, McCain desired leftist acceptance which would never come, but now they’re revered by the left.

I love my wife, but with 4 kids, no work, Covid, Trump, protests……we’re not being intimate. I’m guessing I’m not the only guy going through this as the protests are largely led by white, college educated women. So what do I do?”

I wish I could give you a good answer here and I would bet that your situation is very common in mixed marriages. That is, when the husband has one political belief system and the wife has another.

One potential solution is you both just agree to abandon discussing politics inside the house because it’s hurting your relationship. If you both know you aren’t going to change the other’s mind, why is it worth talking politics at all? Take it outside of politics completely and let’s pick a funny debate. Let’s say you want to pay a hot escort to have a threesome with you and the wife. And let’s say your wife disagrees. Eventually, no matter how hard you argued otherwise, if you got into a fight every time you argued the two of you should pay an escort for sex, wouldn’t you just drop it? Of course you would.

So why can’t you just drop the political argument the same way.

Another potential compromise: you can both agree not to vote. Now I know it’s not ideal for both of you not to vote, but if you know your wife is voting for Biden and you know you’re voting for Trump, you’re going to both go stand in line to vote and just cancel each other out. (Not to mention you’re in California, which isn’t a battleground state anyway). So why not just book a romantic getaway for election weekend and roll it into election day itself? Voila, you’ve bailed on the process and the country isn’t any the worse because you would have canceled out each other’s vote anyway.

The problem? I feel like that’s not the best example to set for your kids. (I like to take my kids in the voting booth with me to instill in them the importance of voting, regardless of which candidate you’re supporting.) The message you’re sending is, if you disagree, just avoid the disagreement altogether.

Other options: you could always lie in an effort to get sex — which men have been doing since time immemorial — but if you strongly hew to your beliefs, which it sounds like you do, how good of an actor could you be anyway?

Which is why I think the only honest solution that potentially works is you sitting down with your wife, making it clear that you love her, but explaining in a rational way why you hold the beliefs that you hold and then allowing her to make the argument for why she has the beliefs that she does.

It’s unlikely that either of you are going to change the other’s mind.

Which is very unfortunate.

Because you’re clearly correct here.

“Good Morning Clay, My question is regarding upcoming school schedule and my hatred for the “new normal” of virtual learning. Tulsa, Oklahoma Public Schools has released their plan for “Mon, Tue, Thur Friday school with 6 extended breaks, Wednesdays classes will be virtual only.” My question is what can the normal people do to push back on the school system and virtual learning? We don’t get to vote on the school schedule, I don’t have a significant financial impact on donating to the school system, and wouldn’t want to either as their testing scores are tanking, I don’t have or want a significant social media following where you could blast them on social media. So for the regular keep your head down, hard working people WTF do we do with schools forcing us to virtual learn when there is solid research supporting kids sitting in class.”

This is a fantastic question.

Yesterday when Florida announced they were opening all schools K-12 this fall — which is 100% the right decision based on all statistical data — my wife said if our local school district didn’t open up schools for in-person learning she was going to move our kids down to our Florida place for the fall.

I mean, we’re fortunate to have that opportunity, but I think it’s probably the right decision. We have a seventh grader, a fourth grader and a kindergartener. Is there any doubt that a kindergarten kid should be in a school for the fall? I mean, there’s zero doubt. There’s no way at all he gets the same experience sitting in front of a laptop or an iPad watching his teacher online.

The fourth grader is a little bit of a more challenging situation because he’d be in a new school with new kids, but I still feel like being in class is a net benefit for him even if it’s in a new school. The social aspect of school, especially for young kids, is just massive.

As for the seventh grader, he’s starting an expensive private school this fall. Are they really expecting us to pay full tuition for him to sit in front of a computer screen for the entire year? That seems crazy to me too. I think if you’re paying for private school there’s an even stronger argument they need to be open up for in-person instruction.

My hope is everything will be opening as normal in the Nashville-area where we live, but I’m not confident schools are going to make the right decision.

Which is why I think it’s possible we relocate to Florida for the upcoming school year.

“Are the ridiculous masks the baseball players are wearing mandated by the league? The team? Is it an individual choice? It seems to me that baseball players are young, relatively healthy, and at near zero-risk for getting sick from COVID-19, and outdoor exposure is rare, if even a thing at all. (Protests anyone?) It makes me angry and sad to watch these players doing sprints and drills wearing masks on their faces. (To be honest, I don’t believe in masks on healthy people at all, but ESPECIALLY when exercising.)”

When all of this coronavirus mess is completely over I hope we finally get reliable data on everything. And can see how much of what we did was totally nonsensical and had zero impact on combating the spread of the virus.

Regarding sports, basketball players are going to be playing indoors without masks on. And they bang into each other for the entire game. Soccer players overseas aren’t wearing masks and they bump into each other more than baseball players do by far. UFC fighters and boxers are literally leaning on each other and sweating — and bleeding — all over each other and they aren’t wearing masks either.

There is no reason for baseball players to be wearing masks while they’re playing games. None. It’s total cosmetic theater.

They should spend way less time worrying about the cosmetic theater and way more time worried about getting test results rapidly delivered back to players.

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

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

Leave a Reply

Leave a Reply