Anonymous Mailbag

It’s Tuesday and SEC football is back this week, rejoice!

I hope all of you are ready for some football. I’ll have the college football gambling picks up on the Outkick VIP message board this afternoon and tomorrow I’ll have all the college football gambling picks up on the site for my weekly Wednesday picks column. Warning, I’ve suddenly gotten white hot in the NFL, going 6-1 in my last seven NFL picks, so I have to keep the mojo rolling this weekend in college football.

As always #respectthepicks.

Go sign up today for your own gambling account and get $1k free to wager with at fanduel.com/clay

You can email me anonymous mailbag questions at claytravis@gmail.com, anonymity guaranteed.

Okay, here we go:

“A lot of my friends are banning trick-or-treating this year for their kids because of the virus. Some cities are also banning trick-or-treating. My question to you, is this appropriate or another overreaction by the coronabros?”

My kids are in school and they are playing sports. Restaurants, shops and malls are open and we just had a birthday party for our six year old on Friday.

We didn’t know how many people would show up for the birthday party, but 21 kids showed up, virtually every kid that was invited. Parents, at least in my area of Nashville, have looked at the data when it comes to young kid infections, are over the coronavirus and are ready to get back to normalcy in their lives.

So I’ll tell you this, my kids are trick-or-treating for Halloween.

Think about it, most trick-or-treating is fairly safe already. Many kids are wearing masks or face coverings with their costumes. They often have on gloves too. Heck, you can even steer your kids towards a costume that provides more face coverings and gloves than normal if you are truly afraid of them getting sick or infecting others.

I just don’t think this is a difficult call at all.

Come Halloween I’m planning on being out walking my kids around our neighborhood letting them load up on candy like they would in a normal year.

If you don’t want your kids to trick-or-treat, that’s fine, but I think every parent should be able to make their own decision in this regard. I don’t think cities or states or communities should decide.

If you live in a neighborhood where kids are going to be out and don’t feel comfortable giving out treats, turn out the lights on your front porch and either leave out a bowl of candy there for kids to pick up themselves or don’t participate yourself and sit in a dark house under your covers quivering over the idea that some people are living their lives while you refuse to do it.

Your choice.

“What would be your advice to convince a spouse that gambling is just a fun activity and not a serious endeavor if you’re smart about what games you gamble on?”

I think everyone should have a gambling budget, something you would otherwise be spending on entertainment.

What’s it cost for you and your wife to go to a movie and have dinner out? At least $100, right? And you’re willing to pay that amount of money for the entertainment the two of you will receive from the movie and the end of the dinner. But at the end of the night, guess what, that money is gone forever.

But maybe you’re worried about mentioning the family entertainment budget in connection to gambling.

Okay, let’s say you like to golf. What’s it going to cost you to play a round of golf? $100, on average, right? (I know, some of you will be way above this number and some will be below it. But if you factor in the greens fees, a couple of drinks, a hot dog at the turn, the inevitable sleeve of golf balls you lose, $100 feels like a fair approximation on average for a round of 18 holes).

Why are you playing golf? For the entertainment value. You’re essentially spending $100 on that round of golf that you will never see again. (Assuming you don’t gamble and win money during the round).

Well, what if instead of golfing you decided to bet $100 on your favorite football game of the weekend and you watched that game from start to finish? At the end of the game, you might lose your $100 and that would suck, but it makes it roughly equivalent to the cost of a golf round. But, lo and behold, at the end of the game you might actually win your bet end up with $190 back from your original bet, effectively you got paid $90 to watch a football game.

So you can watch a game, enjoy it, and nearly double your money while doing so.

That seems like a decent entertainment expense and value to me.

My rule has always been, only bet what you can afford to lose. Period. As long as you stick to that rule then I don’t see any reason why you can’t gamble. That means, by the way, that you have to constantly adjust your budget. When times are good, you have more to budget for gambling, when times are bad, you have less.

I understand some people try to make a living from gambling, but I’m not one of those people. I gamble because gambling on a game is more fun than not gambling on a game. The moment I start betting money I can’t afford to lose, the fun is gone.

And it should be for you too.

So if your wife is truly opposed to gambling, I think you need to be upfront with her about it being a method of entertainment that could, and I stress could, leave you with more money at the end of the entertainment event than you started it with. Explain that never happens with movies or dinners or golf and many of you spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on these three things all year long.

That argument will (hopefully) work.

Good luck.

“I am in my last semester of undergrad at a school in California. Like everyone else, we were sent home in March and finished the semester online. On May 12th, we were told that Fall semester would be happening completely online. Today, September 10th, we were informed that Spring 2021, which starts January 21st, will also be online. Seriously? I understood (and expected) cancelling Fall semester due to how little was known about the virus at the time. But cancelling Spring semester FOUR months before it starts? Even with the amount of information we have now? I had hoped to start grad school (at the same school) next semester but now I am seriously reconsidering because of this. The quality of education has obviously gone way down since the shift to online as virtual instruction just has a lower ceiling than in-person, yet tuition has not been reduced at all. This has me really heated. Why should I pay the school the same amount to teach me less when I can get a job or attend a different school that has in-person classes? I don’t know if the people in charge are basing their decisions off science or politics or whatever, but regardless the students are the ones being adversely affected. I kind of hope schools that are axing semesters like this experience a huge drop off in enrollments as kids decide to do other things than pay full price for a half-assed education. Any thoughts or advice would be appreciated.”

I think it’s totally crazy for college kids to be remote for the fall.

But I think it’s absolute insanity to have already decided college kids will be remote for the spring semester.

If I were you, I’d seriously consider holding off on grad school until you can enroll in person. I’d probably go ahead and get my applications in, but then consider a deferment if they stick to their plan for a remote semester for the spring.

If I had a kid in college and was paying full tuition for remote learning, I’d be furious. Which is why I think parents need to let colleges know that remote learning isn’t an acceptable substitute. Because if it is, why in the world is anyone paying full tuition dollars for college in the first place?

In the years ahead many studies are going to come out about our response to the coronavirus and I believe it’s going to become clear that this is the worst United States failure since the Vietnam War.

“My kids are 6 and 2 and live with my wife and I about 40 minutes from her parents. My in-laws are completely paralyzed with fear over the coronavirus. Everywhere I go, I see families, children, and grandparents out to eat and enjoying their time together, masked up or not.

My wife and I had kids 10 years later than our parents did, so I can’t help but think that my kids time with their grandparents is waning. My parents live across the country but my in-laws are right here and it kills me that our kids hardly ever see them other than socially distanced and masked up 15 minutes at a time in the driveway.

What makes it even more unbelievable is that my wife is on board for a move out west so my kids can spend more time with my mom, but won’t bite the bullet when we’re here at home and confront her own parents. My father in law does present 2 comorbidites (less than the 2.3-2.6 average of the 6%) but is an otherwise strong healthy man and we can all practice effective social distancing and hygiene practices like we always have, same as any family I see out to eat together at a socially distanced table. It hurts to think that we’re going to move away and my kids may never have much time with my wife’s parents again. Why can’t families even come to some middle ground? It seems like the propaganda has really struck a nerve this time.”

First, you can’t make decisions for your wife’s parents. You can help them to see data that might impact their decision — the fact that children are not primary spreaders of the coronavirus and that it never made sense to shut down at all in the first place, for instance — but you can’t make decisions for them. You can just share the factual data that makes interaction with children more likely.

I’m not old so I can’t pretend to know what it will feel like to be old, but my parents are 75 years old and live in our neighborhood, within walking distance of our house. We socially distanced from them in March when the first lockdown happened, but by early April we were finished with it.

Why?

Because my parents just flat out said they didn’t know how many years they have left to live and they didn’t want to spend it terrified to hug their grand kids.

I think that’s probably the same perspective I will one day have too, but I can’t be sure.

At this point in time if your kids aren’t able to see their grandparents — and the grandparents are otherwise healthy — I don’t think that makes logical sense. But, again, you can’t make decisions for your parents. They have to make their own.

I just personally can’t imagine how awful it must be to live your life in perpetual fear.

I mean, not to be a downer here, but we all know how our stories on earth end — we all die. None of us are immortal. Given that you know how the story ends, don’t you want to pack as much fun and accomplishment into your life as possible?

Maybe I’m crazy, but I don’t fear my own death at all. My biggest fear isn’t about me at all, it’s about how my kids would react to not having a dad. That’s the only thing I’m afraid of as it pertains to my own death, not being there to see my kids through to adulthood.

Now I fear the death of my kids, like all parents, but I have virtually zero fear of my own death. I mean, I want to live to be hundred and die in my sleep after never really being very sick at all, but if I died tomorrow, I’d feel like I had a fantastic life. I wouldn’t feel cheated. And if I feel that way at 41, how in the world can someone in their seventies feel like they haven’t had a full life?

My family is taken care of financially. I’ve been a good dad so far. I’ve been a pretty good husband. I’ve gotten to do a lot of incredible things. If something happened to me and I died young, I would’t be afraid of death at all, I’d just feel bad for what it would do to my kids.

I can’t presume to tell you how to live your life, but I’d submit that if you are terrified of death you aren’t really living.

“We have a college friend who is turning 26 this month and has a bachelors degree from a top 100 liberal arts college. However, he still works in a retail job at a local mall and lives with a couple of friends from college who are effectively engaged. The remainder of our friend group is pretty independent. All of us either have white collar jobs or are in the process of obtaining professional degrees. Our friend seems happy and that’s what matters, but we are concerned for his long term well being. At what point do we say something to him (if ever)?”

Worrying about whether other people are happy — especially when those people haven’t expressed concerns about their own happiness to you — really tells us more about you than that person. I think you’re worried about whether you are on the right life path and looking to your friend as evidence that you are.

But in the process you’re a bit rattled by the fact that he seems perfectly happy doing what he’s doing.

Anyway, it’s perfectly normal to have conversations with your friends about their long range plans. So there’s no reason you can’t talk with your friend about his long range plans and see what his ideal life looks like in the next couple of decades.

But his answer may look nothing like yours.

As you age, in general, you end up surrounded by people who are more and more like you. That is, if you’re a lawyer, you probably end up with lots of lawyer friends. If you’re a doctor, you end up with doctor friends. If you’re a parent, you end up surrounded by other parents. The people your kids go to school with are probably similar to you. Your neighborhood probably features many people with similar values as well.

This is a fascinating life path that doesn’t receive that much attention, but it’s true.

Having said that, some people just aren’t that ambitious and are comfortable with the jobs they have, even if that job is beneath what you would expect of someone with their resume. There’s nothing wrong with that. After all, everyone’s definition of happiness and success isn’t the same. And some of the most successful people can actually be the least happy.

I had way more fun working retail at the American Eagle at Rivergate Mall in Goodlettsville, Tennessee than I did practicing law. I worked there during my senior year of high school and my freshman year of college and I absolutely loved it.

I made $5.50 an hour and my job was to essentially flirt with cute girls whenever they came into our store.

It was an amazing job.

Low stress, no pressure, an excuse to talk to any cute girl who came into a mall store. Fun people to work with ages 16-22; the mall was open 9-9 so you didn’t have to get up that early and you could get out in time to see summer movies across the street at 9:30, I mean it was absolutely awesome, we had an incredible time working there.

I got a lunch or dinner break for twenty minutes and I’d walk down to the mall food court and eat a Petros chili cheese and frito cup with a Mello Yello, maybe top it off with an Auntie Anne’s pretzel, and I thought I was in heaven.

It was a way more fun job than being a lawyer.

Some of you reading this right now know exactly what I’m talking about, that pang of summer teenage nostalgia can be powerful.

I’ve written about this before, but I was kind of a pussy when I went away to college. I was just soft. Going away to a big city on the east coast toughened me up a great deal, but I had a rough first college semester. I got sick in the dorm and had to get my tonsils removed at the end of the first semester and so I got home for Christmas still sick from that and not happy about having to go back to D.C. for the spring semester.

But I remember when I was unhappy after my first semester my parents said, “Well, you don’t have to go back, you can work at American Eagle and pick a new school whenever you want to go back to college.”

They knew I loved that job and they were doing their best to be supportive and try and help me be happy. And while I respect my parents for giving me that option, it would have been the wrong choice for me to make. I wouldn’t have been happy with that decision because my ambitions were more substantial than a job like that.

But for some kids that might have been the right choice.

I had to learn that I’m not like everyone else and everyone else isn’t like you either.

If your friend’s not happy, offer him advice and support. But if he’s happy, it’s not your job to try to tell him why his life choices don’t make sense to you.

“Hey Clay, I work at an SEC school and they have been making a big push for us to go vote this fall. I have never voted once in my life because I’m of the belief that I am going to be successful no matter who is in office. I believe that state and local elections carry way more impact than whoever is the President.

Regardless, it is what it is. My question for you though is more about the ‘register to vote’ push. Does my school really want me to go vote for who I want to, OR do they want me to go vote against Donald Trump? For some reason I think this election year it is based on that. You see the NBA players preaching for everybody to register to vote, but what is their true meaning of going to vote. Would they be happy for me to register to vote and then cast a vote for Trump?”

First, I think every intelligent person should vote. There are way too many dumb people voting now so I hate to see any intelligent voters left on the sideline.

But to your point, I agree with you. The subtext of every vote campaign in sports is, “Vote” (Against Trump).” That parenthetical is left out, but the intent is clear. That’s why I feel like I’m being lectured on how I should vote when I watch athletes and leagues with their vote campaigns.

I doubt these vote campaigns will have much impact, ultimately, it’s mostly just social media posturing. But the fact that we’ve allowed Colin Kaepernick, who has never registered to vote, and the NBA, which has only 20% of the league registered to vote, to completely hijack our sports is madness.

Pure and absolute lunacy.

Hopefully the ratings collapses we’re seeing in the NBA in particular will lead to a re-examination of this absurdity.

Time will tell.

But I’m confident in one thing — in a capitalistic democracy eventually the market always wins.

Thanks for reading Outkick and, as always, 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.

6 Comments

Leave a Reply
  1. Retail Guy: Doesn’t part of you wish that instead of pursuing that professional degree, you took a couple years off, moved to the coast, rented surfboards or something, and lived with a few good friends? That’s what it sounds like your friend is doing. Envious, actually.

  2. Last Question (which I find to be hilarious): When people emphasize the whole “register to vote” or “voting is important” routine, 99/100 times it means vote for their candidate or in 2020 – vote for Biden. It reminds me of the South Park Douchebag vs Turd Sandwich episode. Kyle wanted Stan to vote and when he finally did he voted for Turd Sandwich, which pissed Kyle off haha. It’s not about your voice, it’s about serving the best interests of others.

Leave a Reply