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Anonymous Mailbag

It’s Tuesday, time for the anonymous mailbag to rescue you from your early week doldrums.

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

Some positive news, right up at the top: Outkick is growing like crazy — if you work in tech we posted three new jobs yesterday. DO NOT EMAIL ME YOUR RESUME AS I WILL NOT READ IT. But if you want to apply for one of these Outkick jobs please do it on the jobs page.

And if you want to keep us growing like crazy because you support the content we are producing, go sign up for Outkick VIP today. You get the right to comment on articles, a VIP phone number, access to our VIP message board, and access to Outkick events, including special Zoom calls this week for VIPs only with me and Jason Whitlock. So go sign up for Outkick VIP today.

Okay, here we go with the mailbag:

“I’m a rising junior at the University of Georgia and I am strongly considering taking a GAP year to work if we do go online and UGA refuses to lower tuition. The idea of making my parents pay upwards of 30k for me to take online classes just does not seem fair to me. How are universities going to rationalize charging this much for online classes? Clearly their cost will go down.”

If colleges believe they can offer classes online with the same quality of education as students receive from in-person instruction then they are exposing American higher education as pretty much a scam.

I don’t see any other way to put it.

The biggest value of college, in my opinion, isn’t the education you get, although that’s important, it’s the friend network you develop there. You learn far more outside the classroom than you do inside the classroom. And the better the school you attend the more smart people, in general, you will meet there and the more you will learn from those intelligent students. You’re essentially paying for your peer group.

And I think that’s invaluable.

The best money I ever spent was Vanderbilt Law School. (And, trust me, I spent a lot of money there.) I met my wife at Vandy Law and I met many of my best friends there. People that to this day I know I could reach out to and ask for help and they’d be there in an instant to offer advice or counsel.

I have good friends from high school and college too, but the people I have stayed in far more contact with since graduation is the people from law school.

Why is that?

I think it’s because law school is an intense, unique and emotional experience that all of you share together. It’s like intellectual boot camp. Your thought processes get broken down and you all have to fight to handle the challenge together and build yourself back up. That process binds you together in a way that doesn’t happen in other parts of your scholarly life.

While I’ll admit that my age factored in here — I started law school at 22 so I didn’t have any family obligations, for instance — sharing that formative law school experience with so many people is hard to replace. Combine it with the fact that unlike high school or college where everyone may go off on a different career path, all young lawyers embark on the same life experience at the same time. I just find law school to be an incredibly bonding life experience. And most of those bonding experience happens outside of the classroom.

I just can’t imagine how a first year law experience similar to that would be possible at all if it occurred online.

It’s just unfathomable to me.

Putting school instruction online reduces education to a rote experience. Yes, you may learn quite a bit in the classroom, but your classroom experience is a small part of your college life.

So I don’t blame you for considering taking a gap year if instruction will only be online.

If my kids were graduating seniors this year and I knew they were entering online college, I would definitely encourage them to take a year off if they could find a good, challenging experience. The biggest issue with that, of course, is you might not be able to travel freely or get a good job given the current coronavirus situation. (For instance I’m deluged with people who want to be my interns for this coming year. I don’t take interns because I work from home and just don’t have the time to instruct someone all day about what I’m doing. Most of your internship would just be sitting and watching me type on a computer or talk on the phone. Plus, it’s inside my house, making it that much stranger. But given the current environment even internship opportunities would be vastly reduced.)

So I totally get the idea of taking a gap year, but I think you need to find a plan that makes the gap year worthwhile.

I know I said I went straight to law school from undergrad, but that’s not 100% accurate. I actually graduated college in three years — I had nearly a year of credits from high school AP classes — and spent what would have been my senior year in college living in Washington, D.C. and working on a novel.

That was invaluable for me because I spent every day writing for several hours a day on the book. It taught my a writing discipline and work ethic that I’ve applied for the two decades since. (I have six unpublished completed novels, by the way. Six of them, really. All written before I was thirty. If I ever get super famous these books will probably end up getting published after I die because my kids need to pay off their gambling debts).

The point is, I found something that was of value to complete during a (non-traditional) gap year between college and law school. If you can do the same, I think it’s a good move for you in the event your college moves everything online.

I also think this entire process is a body blow to colleges because if they are arguing you can get the same value of a college education online as you can get in person, why aren’t there online competitors charging a fraction of the cost as traditional colleges?

The competitive marketplace appears to be broken.

“Last week, you included in the Friday mailbag a letter from a mom to the school board in Nashville. I was moved by that so I used that email as a template to send a similar email to my school board. (Atlanta Public Schools announced Friday night that schools would be all virtual for at least the first 9 weeks. Our oldest daughter is 5 so I assume you can guess how well that’s going to work out.)

My wife, who is generally pretty liberal and very onboard with social distancing and masks in public, also is in agreement that kids should be in schools or, at the very least, the schools should be open to kids whose parents want them to go in person. She thought my email would be inspiring to other parents who feel the same way so she shared it on facebook (I might have done so if I was on social media).

And she was promptly eviscerated.

In addition to the obvious responses: “you want teachers to die,” “you’re the reason we have an epidemic,” “I can’t believe you would endanger your kid like that,” etc. there are other people who she’s been friends with for decades that are unfriending her over this. Again, I should stress this point: I was the one who sent the email, not her.

But the holy shit level realization came when other people started responding in a positive way, and some of them were complete strangers. Unlike the people who responded negatively, the people backing us were responding privately, and the reason is obvious. No one wants to be publicly ridiculed for having the opinion that won’t be tolerated. (There are several people who did respond with respectful disagreement, but they are a minority.)

I’ve told my wife that the people slamming her are intolerant of her opinion, and are therefore bigots. Her only mistake is responding and trying to justify herself to them. My greatest concern is that with people so terrified to speak up, the only voices in the public debate are the ones with the “acceptable” opinion. I’m sure a significant percentage of your readers fall into this category. What would be your advice to them? Do we all just need to DBAP, and say screw it, or choose more tactful means of making our voices heard?”

In an ideal world everyone should feel safe sharing their opinions in a public forum and be able to handle the debate that ensues. But we aren’t living in an ideal world right now.

If you have an opinion that challenges the consensus opinion on a popular political issue — kids back in school, the black lives matter protests, you name it — you don’t just risk the mob attacking you publicly, you risk your job when you share those opinions.

Cancel culture has created a pervasive fear in this country, one where speaking out and sharing facts isn’t tolerated and where emotion is all that matters, even if it’s emotion rooted lacking in all reality.

I’m fortunate because I created Outkick nine years ago. Back then I never would have guessed what this site would grow into, but as a result I own my own business. I don’t have to be employed anywhere else. I am my own boss. There’s a freedom that comes with that because it doesn’t really matter what anyone else says about me.

This site exists to share honest opinions.

And I think that’s why Outkick is growing so rapidly right now. It’s why, as I write this, we are the number two sports podcast in all of America and why millions of people will read this website this week alone. There’s a hunger for what Jason Whitlock, myself, and our writers are doing on this site.

We are the free speech wing of the sports media. And, frankly, there’s a big gap between us and anyone else in sports media when it comes to being fearless and saying exactly what we believe. That’s not because everyone else disagrees with us, far from it, it’s because most of the people in our industry don’t have the job security to say what they actually believe, from the president of a network all the way down to a first year employee.

I’m sure your wife was stung by the criticism, but she was right. That is, the data 100% supports her position. So do the vast majority of the pediatricians in this country.

The left wing position in this country has become, “Listen to the doctors and scientists unless Trump listens to the doctors and scientists and then you have to stop listening to them.”

It’s crazy.

I honestly wonder what the country would look like if Trump had been in favor of masks back before the CDC recommended them. Remember, the CDC initially said masks wouldn’t help and no one should wear one. Like, what if instead of supporting the use of hydroxychloroquine, Trump had been coming out saying we need to wear masks since the first lockdown press conference.

Would liberals have later embraced mask wearing or would they refuse to wear them as a badge of honor to repudiate Trump? I think they might well have refused to wear them.

All of this is just lunacy.

There is no reason whatsoever why kids shouldn’t be back in schools this fall.

None.

“I’m a pediatrician in New Mexico and furious about the school debate. New Mexico has decided for now on a two day per week schedule (doubtful it will even hold at that).

How has kids going to school become a political issue? You’re a democrat–you oppose going back to school. You’re a Republican–you’re in favor of it. Insanity…regardless of the American Association of Pediatricians position, political affiliation trumps all and I can’t stand it. The fact that Trump has opined on the issue has only exacerbated the polarization of these positions.

I have colleagues who treat AAP guidelines like a religion on every other issue like gun control and immigration debates and they follow them, share them vociferously. However, on kids going back to school they oppose it. If you follow AAP guidelines on every other issue other than this one then guess what? Your political persuasion is showing and it’s pathetic.

Colleagues who claimed to be the most strong advocates and activists for child maltreatment, income inequality, educational disparities have all of a sudden decided that COVID is the only issue that matters. When told that school closures are only going to exacerbate these disparities, we get the same “saving lives and supporting teachers” mantra. It is just so damn transparent and disheartening. You can throw all the data you want at them, but again, political affiliation usurps facts.

My letters to the school, the state, the paper are all like pissing in the wind. How did this happen and how can we overcome it?”

This was brought home to me over the protest response.

When (small) protests began over the lockdown all the medical experts told us these people were shameful, risking everyone’s lives and the protests were unacceptable. But when black lives matter decided to protest those guidelines went out the window and the same experts now said the protests were valid even though those protests had millions of participants.

They completely flipped their position as scientists based on what was being protested.

It’s complete madness.

The entire purpose of science is supposed to be that it isn’t infected by politics.

Why did these experts do that? Why did they change their opinions based on what was being protested? I think it was the fear of being branded racist. I really do. I think these (mostly) white doctors and scientists were afraid if they opposed black lives matter marches for public health reasons that they would be called racist by the social media mobs. So they completely rejected all medical evidence and supported the protests.

Now, as you are pointing out, many people are opposing the return of students to school because the president, rightly in this case, has been supporting it vociferously.

That is, they are completely overlooking the science because Trump supports it.

More lunacy.

As for how we change it, I don’t know, I really don’t. But we are legitimately trying every day with Outkick.

I believe the hyper-politicization has to do with trust in authority figures and I think we’ve torn down so many American institutions now that no one trusts any media figure across the board, right and left and independent included. There’s no Walter Cronkite any longer. Heck, there isn’t even an Oprah.

Yet there’s such a desperation for reasonableness that our site and show has surged as a result. You guys reading this right now know that this site isn’t far right wing, whatever that means. I think we’re mostly right down the middle.

The rest of the media, especially in sports media, is so far left wing however that someone like me gets branded alt right.

It’s wild to see it happen both as a member of the media and just as a reasonably intelligent moderate person in America today.

What I think we do at Outkick is serve the 75% of sports fans who aren’t far left wing America haters. I really do. And I think the reason our audience is exploding so quickly — we are already one of the ten biggest sports sites on the Internet — is because of that desperate desire for reasonableness.

It turns out that the cliche is true, common sense ain’t so common after all.

“So my wife plays in a women’s soccer league in our community that is for 30 and over women. She has been in this league for nearly 10 years. Great league, good competition and it provides an outlet for her and her friends. Then we get the below email this past weekend regarding the 30 and over women’s league and their “stance” on current injustices.

Here’s the part of the email that I thought was the most ridiculous: “We will continue to use our platform to raise awareness of social injustices, including gender and age inequality, and call out organizations within the recreational soccer industry that are sitting back, staying silent and doing “business as usual” instead of stepping onto the field with the goal of equality.”

A couple of things with this idiotic email statement. 1. Why is a rec league getting involved here? It’s a voluntary way to spend your time. 2. Gender and age inequality? Uhhh last time I checked this league IS ONLY FOR WOMEN OVER 30! 3. Call out other organizations within the rec soccer industry? REALLY they are going to blow up the twitter of the men’s league down the street for not taking a stance? Are they crazy? Again what’s their purpose?

Needless to say my wife and I have the same political opinions which largely mirror yours and the ones espoused on Outkick. We are capitalists, who are fair minded, treat everyone with respect, don’t break the law, be a good person… shocking, I know.

Our first reaction to the below was one of total bewilderment… this is essentially a non-practice, show up on a Sunday afternoon for a game soccer league for adult women, why do they need to take a stance on social issues? Can’t she go play her game, get a workout in, meet at the bar afterwards and not have to proclaim a stance on…black trans lives? Seriously everyone has their opinion, it’s a free country, the best country of all time, can we just play soccer for 90 minutes? This whole wokeness at every corner has become such a silly and ridiculous waste of time.”

This is where sports leagues taking a stand on everything leads, to the email you got, which says nothing and everything simultaneously. It’s the triumph of vapid woke slogans.

Think about this, one of the over thirty year old rec women’s league members drafted this email to the other members of the league because she thought it was important THAT A VOLUNTARY WOKE WOMEN’S SOCCER LEAGUE TAKE A STAND. This is an obsessive form of woke virtue signalling, a belief that everyone must know your every thought on every issue. Not to actually change something, but to burnish your social media profile for others.

Look, I’m in the opinion business. I like to think I’m pretty good at sharing interest and intelligent opinions and that’s why our audience continues to grow. Sharing my opinion is literally my job. But if I were, for instance, in the meat packing business, like my father in law is up in Michigan, I wouldn’t be on social media sharing all my opinions.

Because I’d think most people didn’t care and I’d think my business had nothing to gain by me spending my time doing that.

And I’d be right.

What social media does is it creates the impression that everyone cares about what we think all day long. That’s the entire rig job of the sites. They’ve crafted virtual video games that we play all day long seeking a reward. They’ve gameified opinions. “Look how many likes my opinion got! Look how many favorites! Look at all these comments!”

That’s fine for people who are literally in the opinion business, like me, but what the social media apps have done is created an entire cottage industry of people who aren’t in the opinion business at all, but spend their time thinking like they are, all of which unlocks business value for the social media companies, without requiring them to pay a dime for it.

There has never been more access to more opinions ever in the history of mankind.

Now it’s still a small minority of people that are incredibly active on social media — just 2% of Americans actually comment on Twitter — but that 2% are highly political. And they set the trends for everyone else.

When I was a kid my grandmother told me that you should be very careful talking about politics or religion in public because it would cost you more friends than it gained you. That was the common wisdom passed down for generations in America.

Then social media showed up and it basically instructed Americans the exact opposite, “ONLY TALK ABOUT POLITICS IN PUBLIC!”

And I think that’s been indisputably bad for our country.

I don’t know how any of my coaches or teachers voted for president in my entire life.

Like, I legitimately don’t know about a single one of them from K-12.

I mean, I could make educated guesses based on their race or education level — all of my teachers and coaches growing up in Nashville were either white or black, none were Hispanic or Asian — but I can’t 100% tell you how they would have voted while they coached or taught me.

Because they never talked about it.

That seems like it should be the case.

But is it still true?

I feel like we’re headed towards an era where people just walk around with their political beliefs stamped on their foreheads all day long every day, like it’s the first thing you see when you meet them.

And that doesn’t seem smart to me.

I disagree with many of my best friends — including my own wife — on many political issues. To me, that actually makes talking with them more fun.

It seems incredibly boring to me to only hang out with people who agree with you on everything.

Anyway, back to your email, it’s just absurd.

I was having this conversation with my wife recently, why do I need to hear that companies support black lives or are taking the coronavirus seriously? I assumed they did both already. Just like I assumed they supported white, Hispanic and Asian lives and also didn’t want everyone to die of the flu.

I mean, do I really need an email from every company that has my email address about how they are responding to the coronavirus? Put simply, I don’t care. I assume you’re doing your best to keep people from getting sick. I don’t feel the need for a brand to let me know everything they believe that has nothing to do with that brand itself. I am assuming, in general, that all companies wish less people would die so they can sell more of their products to them.

When there’s a kidnapping, I don’t need Wal Mart to email me to let me know they are opposed to kidnapping. I assume that to be true. The really shocking thing would be if Wal Mart emailed and said, “You know what, we think there should be more kidnappings in America.”

Then I might take notice, I’d be like, “Holy crap, Wal Mart just came out in favor of kidnappings!”

Which is why most of this social justice warriordom is just vapid nonsense.

“I’d love to hear more thoughts on sending kids to school at the public schools at your second home. Our kids in elementary will be in 5th grade and kindergarten. I’m still hopeful our kids will be able to go to their (way too) expensive private elementary school in the city where we live. Tuition has already been paid in full. We have a farm house in a very rural area though that’s unlikely to be shut down again. I’m curious about your thoughts on realistically sending our kids to these “second home” public schools (like your home in FL).

Our kids are fine academically. I feel like they need the social, personal, and emotional aspect of school more than ever though. However, our kids are very different from the kids at the rural school. They’re at least a grade ahead academically, and our net worth is probably 100-150x the average net worth in the county where the kids would be. The reality of our kids’ lives is so different from almost all of the kids in the public school at our farm. We’re very conservative with our money though, and our kids perceive themselves as average or even below average among their peers in our hometown.

Are we better off having expensive, online school with our kids’ peer group or giving them the chance to have in person school with kids with whom they may have a social shock? I think it would be beneficial to give our (extremely privileged) kids the opportunity to see how good they have it, and my husband thinks they need to “keep up with the Joneses” academically and be focused on the private school online curriculum. I think we need to tell the private school that we’re “auditing” their online curriculum and enrolling the kids at the rural, public school. (We have no intention to ask for money back from the private school. We’re happy to pay that for this year.) My biggest concern is a social backlash at the rural school. Will people hate us if we crash the rural school with our urban kids? For the record, we have a lot of good land, a long history, and have some friends in the county (including influential ones). Our oldest will be applying for his “next school” next year. I’m not worried about him getting in, but an experience at a rural school can’t hurt him, in my opinion. What are your thoughts?”

Contemplating sending your kids to public school where your second home is located during a pandemic would definitely classify as first world problems.

For those of you out there who don’t know, I wrote a few weeks back that my two youngest kids, our kids who will be in kindergarten and first grade this year, are both, we believe, in real need of in person schooling.

Our kids have been out of school since early March and another semester — or more — of them sitting in front of computers is not ideal.

And not just because they may drive my wife and me crazy if they don’t leave the house for school soon.

Given that Florida has been more aggressive in terms of returning to normalcy than most states, my wife was seriously considering moving the family down to Florida to put them in school there for the year. That’s relatively easy for us since we already have a home in Florida and the local public schools near where our home is seem pretty good.

Right now, however, that might not be necessary because it appears our local school district in Nashville — Williamson County — is pretty aggressively planning on kids being back in schools.

So that’s the background as it pertains to our decision here.

As for your situation, I’d put the kids in the local school in the rural area. I really would. You can follow along with the online private school curriculum if you think your kids are missing out, but all kids, particularly those raised with privilege, need an opportunity to see how the real world lives.

As for how you’ll be perceived, I’m sure some will judge you, but that’s common in small towns regardless of what decisions are being made. The question shouldn’t be, what will people think of us? It should be, what’s the best situation for our kids? If your choices are have them sit in front of a computer screen for the year or have them go to an actual school for the year, I’d pick the actual school.

Now, granted, there are some caveats here. You shouldn’t do this if you feel like your kids would be in physical danger, for instance. But there’s no suggestion that’s the case here.

Finally, you didn’t mention it, but what’s the value to your family of spending a year outside the city in a rural area? That seems like it might be ideal as well. It won’t just be the kids who get to see how the rest of the world lives, mom and dad will too.

I’d actually be curious to hear how this would go for all of you.

Good luck with the decision.

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

And thanks for reading and supporting Outkick.

Written by Clay Travis

Clay Travis is an author, radio show host, lawyer, TV analyst, and the founder and lead writer of Outkick (formerly known as Outkick the Coverage).
Read More about Clay >>

2 Comments

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  1. Outkick needs an app and soon. I tried clicking on ‘boobs’ and babes and the site keeps bringing me back to Clay’s article 🤦‍♀️.

    No offense, but sometimes MAN Just needs to see boobs.

    If women ever really wanted to take over America, just run political candidates with nice boobs. It worked for Nancy Pelosi. And AOC.

    Outkick: the place for sports boobs and reality.

  2. Every day I think about how lucky I am to work pretty high up in a small business with my best friend as my immediate boss, who is apolitical but if he voted would probably be conservative like myself, and with an owner who is staunchly conservative and anti-woke. The kind of freedom to express my opinions to both with zero chance of politically-motivated repercussions is something I’ve learned to appreciate because there are a lot of people out there who are muzzled either by necessity or by golden handcuffs.

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