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Anonymous Mailbag

It’s Tuesday, time to solve all your problems in the world with the anonymous mailbag.

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

We had a great Wins & Losses podcast with Ben Shapiro yesterday. I’d encourage you guys to go listen to it. And if you haven’t already done it subscribe and give us a five star review while you’re there listening. If we read your five star review during the radio show then you’ll get an autographed copy of my most recent book.

Also go sign up for the Outkick VIP. This is the absolute last week you get an autographed copy of my book because we have sold out of all the copies we have with the thousands of you signing up for Outkick VIP. If you’ve already signed up, we’ll get you a signed copy, but it’s going to take a little bit of time.

Okay, here we go with the anonymous mailbag.

“Clay, as the sole voice of common sense and reason (and also as a lawyer) during this pandemic, we have come to you hoping you will provide a decree or judgement in this case.

Next weekend, myself and several of my friends from graduate school are supposed to be having a boys weekend as kind of a “last hoo-rah” if you will, as one of our own is about to have his first child. We are all in our late 20’s and live several hours from each other so it’s not like an everyday occasion that we meet up.

However, one person in the group has had coronavirus symptoms (that started 9 days ago as I’m writing this email), and he went to get a test a few days ago with the results pending.

This has caused some unrest in the group, mainly with the soon-to-be dad. After consulting with his wife, he is now stating that he is backing out, for fear of him acquiring coronavirus from the other friend and potentially missing the birth of his first child, who is due between the 2nd and 3rd week of August, 4-6 weeks out.

Now, this doesn’t sit right with some of the group, as he himself works in a hospital that has Covid patients in it every day since March.

By the time next weekend arrives, the friend who had coronavirus symptoms will be symptom free for 12 days.

The weekend will consist of golfing and drinking as many beers as possible in my pool and staying at my house.

Could you give us a ruling on whether he should come or not?”

This seems like a super easy call to me, the guy who may have the coronavirus shouldn’t come.

Everyone else should come.

I mean, I think it’s pretty clear I don’t embrace the fear porn out there, but if someone believes they are sick with the virus and there is a group gathering of people who know (or at least believe) they are all not sick, why in the world would you let a guy who still might be contagious come to the event? Especially if the ostensible reason for the party is because one of the guys is about to have a baby?

I mean, how is this not an incredibly easy call?

I get that the guy who thinks he may have had the coronavirus is likely to be past the period of time when he’s contagious, but you don’t know that for sure. And if you don’t know that for sure, why would you allow him to attend the event? (If he really wants to come can’t he find somewhere with a 24 or 48 hour testing return policy? Even if he has to pay a significant sum of money to make it happen? That’s what I would do.)

I mean, credit to him for letting you guys know that he thinks he has the coronavirus, but there’s no way he should come to the event. (Did he really tell you? I feel like this is something he might have posted on social media for everyone to see so he got attention for it).

Regardless, I don’t blame the wife here, she’s right, coronavirus dude is a no go on the invitation. That would be the case even if she wasn’t pregnant with a baby due to arrive in a couple of weeks, but it’s definitely the case now.

“This morning I boarded a flight for Philly to visit my girlfriend who just recently started her residency program. With both of us working in the medical field, the current pandemic is not an issue that we take lightly. Although I’m not one to don a mask while driving in my car alone or hide away in my home for days on end to ensure that I do not come in contact with another potential carrier, I do take the matter seriously enough to follow guidelines that are put in place. This is done mostly out of respect for others.

This morning my flight boarded at 6:50am for a 7:35am takeoff. Because of a limited number of passengers (and because this was Spirit Airlines), I was getting my first taste of flying in “first class”. I stowed away my carry-on, sat down in my slightly larger than normal seat and opened the book I had brought along for entertainment. To Have and Have Not by Ernest Hemingway. As we reached 39,000 feet the flight attendant came over the loud speaker and announced that they would be servicing the cabin with food and beverages for purchase. No matter the time of day, it is always fitting for Hemingway to be accompanied by an adult beverage. I typically drink wine or light beer but today I decided to go with an IPA. Yes, if I’m going to spend $8 on a beer I want it to be something that I can savor for more than 5 minutes. I cracked the brew, turned my reading light on and dove into the world of Captain Harry Morgan. As I was just leaving reality and losing myself in the novel, I felt a gentle tap on my shoulder. I looked up from the book to see a gentleman who had left his seat and walked up two rows to make a request. “Sir, can you put your mask on?” he asked in a demanding tone.

At this point, my mask had been removed for almost one minute as I was taking a sip of beer every half minute or so. I politely lifted the can and answered that I was currently consuming a beverage. “Ohh so you’re going to sit there and nurse a beer for an hour, huh?” he replied sharply.

At this point, appalled by his tone and willingness to compromise his social distance to aggressively request I cover my mouth, I rebutted that I would take as long as I wanted to drink my beer. This angered the man and he immediately stormed up to the attendants to inform them of my transgression. Although I did not quite make out their conversation, I don’t think he got the response he was hoping for as he shrugged his shoulders and moped back to his seat (not in first class, might I add). You’ve heard of fat shaming, now entering the ring: mask shaming.

Although the gentleman was rude and somewhat out of line I can hardly blame the guy. With the relentless onslaught of the negative news narrative, I honestly believe that this man feared for his life. When I finished the beer and reapplied my mask, however, he once again made the trip up to tap me on the shoulder and thank me for my compliance.

What should you do when confronted with a situation like this?”

Aside from beginning your drinking before eight in the morning on a non-football game day — I know, I know, it’s always five o’clock somewhere — I don’t think you did anything wrong here at all.

I’ve personally flown one time since the coronavirus outbreak — on a Southwest flight down to the beach back in May. Everyone was required to wear a mask for that flight. So I wore a mask for the flight. But just like I don’t check to ensure that everyone has their seatbelt on for the entirety of the flight, I didn’t spend any time making sure everyone on the flight had on masks.

And I certainly wouldn’t lecture someone who was having a drink or eating food on the flight for not having their mask on while they ate or drank.

I’m going to follow the rules of businesses who ask that I put on a mask when I enter rather than throw a fit over the requirement. And if you truly don’t want to wear a mask, that’s certainly your right, but I’d suggest not going out shopping at businesses that require them.

My biggest issue is when the masks are clearly being emphasized for cosmetic theater rather than health.

I’ll give you an example, the mask requirement doesn’t make sense when it comes to eating in restaurants. You leave your house, drive in your car to a restaurant, park, and then walk into the restaurant. The only time you need to have a mask on is when you enter the restaurant.

But then as soon as you sit down and begin to drink and eat you take your mask off and leave it off for the duration of the meal.

So you’re telling me I need a mask for the thirty seconds between when I enter the restaurant to sit down at the table and start drinking water, but then don’t need one for the entire rest of the time I’m in the restaurant? Figure that an average meal takes an hour. This would mean that for 59/60th of my time in the restaurant I’m unmasked.

It’s just a nonsensical requirement. There’s no way this is protecting anyone. The roughly 1% of the time I’m in a restaurant with a mask on is having nearly zero impact on reducing the spread of the virus.

Having said that, I’m not going to argue with the 16 year old at the front of the restaurant who has to enforce this policy. It’s not her decision. So I play along with the the cosmetic theater even though it makes no sense.

“Hi Clay…love Outkick and the fact you have teamed up with Jason Whitlock.

We are in Missouri and I find it interesting that my 10 year old son has his first soccer practice this evening…in addition to my 16 year old daughter continuing to be playing travel softball for the past 2 months (we have travelled to OK 3 times, AR twice, KS, and will be wrapping her season in SC later this month).

In fact, we have actually had to travel MORE for softball this year because many of the urban softball complexes in the KC Metro were shut down until early July. Considering the fact that our youth have been actively participating in or are currently returning to athletics, it seems absurd that we cannot come to grips with COVID not only in college sports but also in pro sports. What are your thoughts on this? Many of these athletes (including my daughter) are chasing the dream of playing in college at a time when colleges are cutting programs. So unfortunate…but, maybe our pro and semi-pro athletes can look to the youth/grass roots leagues on how to pull this off. My daughter has played 40+ games with zero issue thus far. I don’t understand the fear at the college and pro level. Grass roots hoops have returned, youth softball/baseball, soccer, etc. have all returned…lets go!”

I’ve gotten emails like this from parents all over the country.

Sports haven’t stopped in many parts of the country and that’s becoming even clearer as high schools contemplate fall sports. While you’re going to have some states like California that make the decision not to play at all, I think they will be a substantial minority.

I think most states will play high school fall sports, even if they have to change their typical schedule. (As I’m writing this the state of Texas just announced high school football was happening, albeit with a delay for the largest schools. Yesterday Georgia announced they are playing. All of the SEC states will play and all of the Big 12 states will play, making arguing college football shouldn’t be played virtually impossible for anyone with a functional brain.)

We are headed for the most packed sports calendar we’ve ever seen in August, September and October in this country.

I can’t wait.

And as I’ve been telling you for months now: the data is clear, kids need to be back in schools this fall for in-person instruction.

This is a no-brainer.

“I work for a large advertising agency that represents some of the biggest brands in the country. Lately we’ve been dealing with some of the political movements and their demands to refrain from advertising on certain days and through certain platforms. It started out small, a Blackout Tuesday in June and Juneteenth. But now as you’re probably aware there are groups demanding that brands not advertise on Facebook because according to them Facebook doesn’t police speech enough.

I thought our agency would quickly go against this since many of our brands have substantial spending and sales that occur through FB, which in turn is how we get paid. Yet astonishingly, many people in our agency are actually recommending to our clients to stop spending. Aside from this being an alignment with an anti-free speech movement, this is our own employees actively hurting their own profits and welfare. And it’s coming on the heels of the pandemic which already caused us to furlough and lay off a large portion of our company.

I can tell there are some people that want to stand up and say this is ludicrous, along with myself, but I think they all fear they’ll be called racist or even fired. Any thoughts on how to handle?”

I’d take the politics completely out of it and just lay out the pure business side of the equation: your business is to place ads. The fewer ads you place the less money you make. The less money you make the fewer people you can employ.

This sounds simple, but it’s amazing to me how many employees at for profit businesses don’t understand the basics of how their business works. That’s because most people would rather be employees than owners.

One of my big pieces of advice is to think like an owner, not like an employee. Because once you start thinking like an owner you make yourself infinitely more valuable. You come to realize that if you want to make more money the best thing you can do is make your employer more money. That’s how capitalism works.

Yet I feel like a huge percentage of people don’t ever make this connection.

Sadly, I think this lack of connection is even more commonplace in younger employees who somehow feel like their jobs should exist as avenues of personal fulfillment. That’s great, trust me, I encourage all of you to strive to make a difference in the world and find a way to make a living doing something you love. But the reason you’re being paid is not to find personal fulfillment, it’s to make the person employing you more money than he would make without employing you.That’s the entire purpose of your employment. It’s why you are being paid. And no matter how old you are I think that’s an important lesson to keep in mind.

In fact, do you know the best possible way to make a huge difference in the world?

GET FILTHY RICH!

That way you don’t have to ask anyone else for money to advance the causes that you believe in.

If you’re the most diehard social justice warrior on the planet, the most effective way you could advocate change you believe in is by becoming the next Jeff Bezos; it’s not by sitting on social media calling someone you disagree with a Nazi.

It’s astounding to me that more people don’t understand this. Want to make as big of a difference in the world as possible? Embrace capitalism. (Even if you don’t get personally wealthy yourself, guess what you’re going to have to do to bring about substantial change? ASK RISK PEOPLE FOR MONEY. Do you know where those rich people got money? Through capitalism!)

Back to your situation, I understand your nervousness in this cancel culture, but that’s why I think your argument should focus entirely on the business side of the decision. Leave out the politics. Because the business argument is pretty straight forward: Given that ad spending has already declined substantially amidst the pandemic, it makes no business sense to advocate that your existing clients spend less money than they’d otherwise intended with you for any reason whatsoever.

If you feel the need to address the feelings of other employees, you can give a nod in their direction about the importance of making the world a better place, but good lord, you work in advertising. It’s not like you’re an orphanage. If you really want to make the world a better place, why did you go into advertising in the first place?

It’s great to care about issues that are important to you, but without a job the issues that are important to you become finding food and shelter. Being concerned about the status of other people is a luxury that our wealth permits us to have.

Which is why capitalism has pulled more people out of poverty in the three hundred years that it has existed in this world than in the preceding tens of thousands of years of human history.

I feel like running for president on this slogan: Capitalism Works.

The fact that so many people don’t like capitalism is a luxury that capitalism working so well has provided them. It’s insanity.

“My wife is pregnant with our first child. It’s still relatively early in the pregnancy so we haven’t gone public yet. A few friends and family know but I wanted to talk about it more so I took advantage of your anonymity promise. I’m sure you’ve gotten this question before but any advice for first time dads?”

“I am 37 years old and my wife and I are expecting our first child (boy) in late August. We both share common values when it comes to raising a child. I know you are the father of three boys. What three pieces of advice would you give to a new father (specifically a son)? Has your outlook on raising children changed at all with all that is going on in the world (mass protests, COVID-19, politically charged environment)? How have you handled these issues with your boys?”

First, congrats to both of you on the birth of your first child. It’s an incredible feeling and it will make you better humans.

Second, it’s fun to make grand pronouncements about parenting, but my advice for all new parents is this: take a babymoon trip and figure out a way to get as much sleep as possible once the baby arrives.

It sounds simple, but I’ve found that the most difficult aspect of becoming a new parent is just getting sleep. When you’re tired it’s easy to become overwhelmed by small inconveniences. And being a parent is filled with a bevy of small inconveniences.

In terms of three pieces of parenting advice that don’t include getting sleep with a newborn. I’ll keep it simple.

1. Be present and listen to your kids
2. Put down your phone
3. Talk to your kids as if they are older than they actually are so you can work on training them to be adults at a young age.

Good luck.

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

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).
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