It’s Tuesday, time for the anonymous mailbag to rescue you from the doldrums of work, school, or a prolonged new year hangover and help to solve all the problems in the world.
Before we get to solving those problems, however, Santa Clay has a New Year’s Gift for you. New users can bet just $5 on the winner of any NFL playoff game, and if you pick the winner, you get $125. That’s a 25-1 payoff. If you’re in Michigan or Virginia, go get signed up now because sports gambling is about to flip live in your state. And go make your bets in Tennessee, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Colorado and West Virginia right now.
As always you can send your anonymous mailbag questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, anonymity guaranteed.
Okay, here we go:
“My wife and I took our three young children on an extended trip away from our very cold and very Democratic locked down state. We are staying with her parents for the next month. It’s great to be in warm weather in Florida and away from all the crazy liberals, but it’s killing our intimacy and sex life. We have no privacy at her family’s house (we sleep in the living room on air mattresses.) How do I keep the flame alive while we’re living on the road with our children?”
So you escaped the lockdowns, but now your sex life is locked down.
This is a great hypothetical question: would you rather live in the least locked down state but have no sex, or live in the most locked down state but have plenty of sex? (Or at least as much sex as a married guy with three young kids can have.)
In terms of sex in the house, your only real options are sex on the mattresses after your kids go to sleep — good luck with that — or a bathroom quickie, which is tough to pull off, too. I’m sure you’ve tried both, but I doubt that either has been that successful.
So here’s your solution: book a hotel room.
You’re saving a lot of money by staying at your in-laws’ place — by the way, credit to them for letting you sleep on air mattresses with three kids in their living room, think about how much their life has changed. But why can’t you pull off a big surprise? Book a hotel room with a swimming pool and tell your in-laws that you’re going to surprise the kids but that you and the wife have to go pick up pizzas for them at the hotel room first. Then, boom, you get an hour to ravage each other at the hotel room, you grab the pizzas, then you return to the house to take your kids to the hotel room with a pool. You also give your in laws a night’s reprieve from the family. Boom, Dad’s a hero!
Seriously, is there anything a kid loves more than a night in a hotel room with a pool? It’s like kid heaven.
Given how little demand there is for many hotels out there, you can probably get a great deal on a hotel with a decent pool.
Then, you can spend the day at the pool with your kids and sleep in the hotel room with your family.
You’re a hero and your sex life gets a much needed charge. (You can even have sex in the shower after the kids go to sleep or before they get up in the morning. Maybe both!)
You’re welcome for making everyone’s life better.
“I am a senior at a private school in Tennessee. I play basketball. We played 6 games and then got shut down on Dec 16 for a positive test for 2 weeks. Sucks but I understand. We come back Dec 30, have practice, and right as we finish are told we cannot come back to campus until January 19. No positive tests, no reasons, no nothing. So now instead of being in the same gym and same weight room every day with the same guys, we will all be going to different gyms across the city with new people every day. How does that possibly benefit anybody? We are the only school in the whole city not playing right now. It’s insanely stupid!”
I hear from high school and college kids all the time who are being driven insane by all the illogical decisions being made by adults with respect to COVID.
I feel for you, I really do.
I can’t imagine what it would be like to be a high school kid who loves sports and who suddenly had his season shut down last spring. Then he comes back the next year and the same thing happens again. I mean, there are juniors and seniors in high school who have spent their entire lives playing sports with their friends, and then suddenly, they aren’t able to finish their junior year sports. And now their senior year sports are being threatened or canceled too?
It’s pure insanity.
And you’re effectively powerless to do anything about it, if you’re a kid in high school. The adults in your life have completely failed you.
It’s one thing to be an adult and be upset about decisions like these — at least you’re a voting age adult who can make a statement at the ballot box — but if you’re a minor, your only real recourse is to try and persuade your parents to exert political pressure. Or to write to someone like me and make your case there.
This is why I’ve been fighting so hard for high school and college sports. I know how important playing them is to so many people, and I know that the data tells a clear story: they can be played safely.
I honestly don’t understand how other people in my industry, who make their living writing and talking about sports, can even look themselves in the mirror with some of the arguments they have made about shutting down sports and supporting lockdowns.
Hell, compare the numbers of the two most locked down states, California and New York, to Florida and Texas, two of the least locked down states. The data is abundantly clear: lockdowns don’t work. They just destroy the economy.
I’m glad we won the battle to play pro and college sports — and many high school sports too — but I’m sick to my stomach over the massive number of battles we lost and the millions of kids who haven’t gotten to attend school or play sports for nearly a year now.
It’s a total failure of American public policy.
On behalf of all the adults out there, I’m sorry.
My hope is your generation — and many other generations who realize how failed lockdown policies have been — will grow up and swing the pendulum back the other way, away from fear porn and constant social media outrage and cancel culture.
“Clay, I have a lot of big time sports gambling friends. It seems weekly, especially with NFL games, that I am hearing them make comments of nontraditional and fishy decisions being made that ultimately determine the final scores of these games with impact to spreads, over/unders, etc. Not necessarily wins or losses, like what we saw in the Washington Philadelphia Week 17 game. With so much money at stake on bets, do you think there is any truth behind claims that professional teams/leagues will influence the final outcome of games for Vegas or betting reasons?”
This is a common question that gets asked, and I suspect it will get asked more and more as the number of people gambling on sports increases and the audience becomes more aware of the gambling lines, which are often much more in play than an outright win or a loss in a game.
So let me address this part first. Right now, the amount of money that can be won or lost fixing a game is a fraction of the money that pro athletes make to play the games. That is, given that you’re risking your entire career — and jail time — if you’re an athlete or coach who fixes games, there simply isn’t enough incentive to fix games. The money they can make pales in comparison to the money that they’re already making.
Officials, however, are a different story, which is why I’d hope leagues are regularly monitoring the finances of their officials. You may think this is crazy, but I don’t. An official who is nearing bankruptcy could be ripe for the picking. I want my officials monitored to ensure they aren’t involved in anything nefarious. That’s the place where game-fixing is most likely to occur.
Now college athletics is, in theory, more susceptible to fixing games than pro games because the athletes make much less money, but this is where legalization works in favor of the games being more honest. The general rule is that the more money that can be bet on a game, the easier it is to catch irregular gambling patterns — i.e. game fixing. So as more states in the country open up for sports gambling, there will be more data on wagering and companies will be better able to flag irregular wager patterns that suggest something amiss.
Indeed, most of the people getting caught in match fixing now are getting caught because of gambling irregularities, which create red flags and investigations.
So the more legalized sports wagering gets, the less likely irregularities will be.
Now the bigger issue here, however, is the more people gamble, the more valuable gambling information becomes. For instance, imagine that you worked in the NFL office and had early knowledge on which players were testing positive for COVID. Well, that information could be massively important in terms of moving the betting lines.
What if you’d known that the Broncos entire quarterback group was going to be out or that the Browns wide receivers were out or that Lamar Jackson had tested positive. You could have made a boatload of money betting on that information before the lines moved in your favor. That’s effectively insider trading.
Which is why I think you can make an argument that the top news breakers in sports are actually more valuable to gambling companies than they are to traditional sports media companies. What if Adam Schefter agreed to, for instance, break his NFL news direct to high-end gamblers five minutes before he put it on Twitter? You could, in theory, take advantage of the information he was about to break before it hit the marketplace and the books could react.
That information is worth millions, if it’s provided early.
And those are just high-end guys.
What if you had a network of low-end employees on each team who were letting you know the health status of players? Knowing whether a player is going to play is a well-guarded secret inside most teams. But a low-level guy making $40k a year might well know the likely status of top players on his team. What if he were making $10k on the side to feed injury info to a gambling syndicate? (Note: I think this is likely happening already.)
Those are the areas that I honestly think are most likely to be impacted as gambling spread.
Finally, I do believe that as the gambling line discussion becomes more pronounced, you could see coaches making decisions about covering or not. For instance, what if a team is at the one yard line, their home crowd needs a score to get a cover, and their coach is already on the hot seat? Does that make it more likely the coach tries to score than to take a knee? Are coaches who cover more likely to have better job security? These are some components of the game that could play out in the years ahead, as sports gambling becomes more commonplace.
But in terms of actual players — especially in pro athletes — conspiring to fix a game? I don’t think it’s very likely at all. Now in college, I’d be more concerned about it because most college guys don’t have much money, but, again, the more states legalize sports wagering, the easier it will be to catch these kind of improprieties.
And the people I’d still be most concerned about are the officials.
Final thought here: it’s hard to get down truly massive amounts of money on a game at a price you love. Especially online. It really is. So unless you’re a whale that a casino has done business with for years, you’d have to work your ass off to get down a million dollars on a game at a price you like. And that’s assuming, of course, you even had a million dollars or access to people who did have that kind of liquid cash, which most people don’t.
“I attend a small liberal arts school in the northeast and in my eyes and my family’s eyes my university has been way over the top on regulations during the pandemic. My tuition yearly is north of $70,000 and I only have one in-person class, as professors get to choose in-person or online. One of my professors just started class today and to the class announced how she is not in the freezing cold northeast but rather Arizona and doesn’t have to deal with snow. I can’t imagine a higher up at a company calling in on Zoom and telling employees he is traveling while they’re stuck in the office. My question is, is the professor wrong for taking advantage of this system or is the school wrong for even allowing this? Should they make one on one office hours with mask on required to avoid this?”
I don’t blame the professor for taking advantage of the situation — plenty of people have chosen to do their jobs remotely as a result of COVID rules put in place in their workplace — but I do question why you are required to pay full tuition to sit in front of your laptop. And I can see your argument of how the school could at least help to temper the online-only options by requiring professors to meet with students in person. But I bet the school is afraid to fight that battle.
One of the real eye opening experiences for many people out there has been seeing how selfish many teachers are. They want full pay for half work, at best. I’ve been arguing for months that if politicians had stood up to the teachers unions and said that there are two options: half pay for remote work or full pay for in-person teaching, that almost every teacher in the country would have shown back up for work and the kids would have been the biggest beneficiaries.
But instead, most politicians have been afraid of battling the teachers unions over returning to work in person.
Most of the benefit of being in college comes from in-person interaction with your fellow classmates and professors. If you’re isolated in your dorm room, staring at a computer screen, what benefit are you getting at all? I just don’t get it.
And more importantly, how in the world can a college charge full tuition for this experience? I’d be furious if I were a parent paying full tuition for remote learning. Which is why I think college kids across the country — and their parents — have the grounds for massive class action lawsuits, given the fact that we’re talking about a full year, essentially, of students being forced to learn remotely while being charged full tuition.
Over the weekend, we had a babysitter who is in college at a top school. She’s home for the holidays, but when she returns to campus, she will be required to stay inside her dorm room, by herself, for ten days of quarantine.
She has to have all of her meals delivered to her door, and then she’ll take almost all of her classes remotely in front of the computer. (She said she’d had one in-person class last semester.)
She’s a freshman too, which means not only has her first year of college been impacted in a massive way by COVID lockdowns, but she also saw her senior year of high school end in March, when schools shut down. Think about how much of your life’s memories consisted of your final year of high school and your first year of college. These kids now are going to remember being locked up and unable to do anything.
Just pure insanity.
We’ve failed our kids.
“I am a recent 2019 college graduate and have had tough luck with the job search. I accepted a job last February right before COVID hit, and it has turned into a disaster. Everyone got let go for the most part except me, and now I am wearing so many different hats for the company (and barely getting paid at that).
I have a desire to move to a city where most of my friends live but have had no luck in the job hunt. What advice can you give someone who wants to live in a certain city but cannot find a job there? Do you suggest moving down without a job with hopes to better network? (My friends who live there say their company has no wiggle room to hire due to COVID.) I have just enough money saved up to buy myself some time but do not want to get worried about my bank balance slowly dropping.”
Given the current job situation in many cities, I’d stay in the job you have now, save up as much as you can, and prepare for summer of this year, when I suspect things are (mostly) going to be back to normal.
I really do think we’re going to see a new roaring 20s come to life, as people are going to come flooding out of their homes — yes, even the coronabros, who have been hiding out in their basement bunkers wearing masks for nearly a year now — and we’ll see a massive economic surge, particularly in restaurants, bars and travel and tourism. People are going to crave social interaction like never before.
While many people have struggled, the stock market has been on an absolute tear over the past year, and the stock market is usually about six months ahead of where the actual economy is. So I’d save up your money between now and the summer, when I think there will be a ton of jobs opening up.
As for the question of whether to move to a city without a job or try and interview remotely, I think if you truly know you want to live in a particular city, at some point you just have to make the move. I wouldn’t do that in the middle of COVID lockdowns without a job, but I think by the summer, you’ll be able to make that move.
Worst case scenario, you wait tables in a new city, which many people with college degrees do anyway.
“A little over a year ago, I started dating this girl and I quickly thought that I had found the girl of my dreams.
A few months in Valentines Day rolled around, and in the middle of dinner I said something about how I hoped that we would celebrate many more Valentines Days together. The night ended very well, but the next day she broke things off. Her reasoning was that school was busy and that when she would spend time with me, she felt that there were other things that she needed to be doing (school work, friends, etc.) However, she left the door open for trying again in the future.
We stayed friends for a while afterwards, but once the semester ended online due to COVID, we fell out of regular contact. In the few times we interacted this last semester, there were signs that she was still interested, but she never made any move to get back together.
Now she’s a semester from graduating and I’m two semesters from graduating, so should I ask her out again before it’s too late or should I just move on?”
It sounds to me like you spooked her by getting too serious too soon.
Early stage relationships are often a delicate dance for both sides — you don’t want to oversell your interest — and it sounds like you did that here.
Now, to be fair, you’re focusing on the Valentine’s Day dinner comments, but it may well have been the overall tone you were setting in general. The comments on Valentine’s Day may have just put her over the top and confirmed the decision she’d already made. But, because she was trying to be nice, she didn’t want to break up with you on Valentine’s Day, so she acted like things were still fine.
The reality was she’d already made up her mind and was waiting for a better time to tell you than Valentine’s Day dinner.
I don’t think there’s any harm in asking her out again, but chances are she probably already knows you’re interested in her. You made that abundantly clear. So you aren’t breaking any new ground by asking her out.
The better way to get her interested in you again is to see her out and have a casual interaction with her. Nothing over the top, just a flirtatious banter. Make her want to chase you a bit, pretend you have better options, even if you don’t.
Right now, you are too available.
And she knows it.
So I don’t think asking her out again is going to make much of a difference.
Thanks for reading. And, as always, send your anonymous mailbag questions to email@example.com, anonymity guaranteed.