Just shy of 10 years ago in late July of 2011, OutKick was born at the Southeastern Conference Media Days in Birmingham, Alabama. That morning, I pounded out our first column in a Wynfrey hotel room and when I hit publish, I remember the feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment. And I also remember how quickly that feeling faded. At the end of that first day, I remember having a beer and thinking about all the days still to come, the absolute magnitude of the task I’d begun, a quest to build a sports media company from nothing but my own bare hands.
Since that time, we have published tens of millions of words by many talented writers on a wide variety of subjects, and OutKick has been my life’s work for the past decade. We’ve all poured countless amounts of energy into this site and this business with a goal of trying to be smart, original, funny and authentic on a daily basis. And every single day, whether you agree or disagree with me, I’ve put my heart and soul into OutKick, telling you exactly what I think as the world has moved increasingly in the direction where few individuals in this country feel completely comfortable saying what they truly believe.
If OutKick didn’t exist, our voice and perspective wouldn’t exist anywhere else in sports. That’s because the marketplace of ideas, at least in sports, which has been hijacked by identity politics and woke cancel culture, is nearly broken. So too are many of our big technology companies.
This past March, I testified in front of the House Judiciary Subcommittee about anti-trust and the power of big tech companies. If you haven’t watched my testimony, I’d encourage you to watch it now. Here’s a written copy of my testimony.
Here’s my opening statement at Capitol Hill today on the massive power of big tech and how it impacts @outkick. Also, related, speaking in a mask is virtually impossible to do. So enjoy that too. pic.twitter.com/f24A2tVy33
Earlier today, Facebook upheld its ban of Donald Trump. Regardless of your political beliefs, the idea that Facebook — in conjunction with other big tech companies who all colluded to reach the same result in a matter of days — can ban the democratically-elected president of the United States should be chilling. If the president can be banned, it can happen to you or me as well.
As the big tech companies have grown, their power has become virtually unchecked. I’ve seen these big tech companies stifle OutKick articles and ideas they disagree with and seen how their actions have impacted our business in a major way. I’ve wrestled with the question of what’s the best path forward for OutKick in light of the looming power of big tech and its ability to cancel anyone. What would happen if suddenly all of OutKick’s social media outlets were shut down like happened to the New York Post this past fall? We’ve grown to have a large audience at OutKick, but how do we achieve the scale necessary to protect ourselves and ensure we can continue to advocate for the ideas we hold dear without the fear that our business can be canceled by the power of big tech?
I came to the conclusion this spring that we needed scale, a big partner who could take our video, radio, podcasts, gambling, and website content to the proverbial next level. Over the past several months, many companies put in bids to buy OutKick. That’s because our business is thriving, particularly our sports gambling business, where we are one of the largest affiliate sites in the country, signing up customers in all ten states where online gambling is legal. Sports gambling is poised to explode in the years ahead, and I wanted to make sure whichever partner we picked fit our company’s direction. Who could merge all the disparate pieces of daily OutKick: sports, politics, news, opinion, pop culture and sports gambling video, radio, podcast, and written content into one cohesive media experience?
The answer, after much debate, consultation and consideration, was Fox, the American leader in sports, politics, news and opinion. It’s also the media company, I believe, that is best positioned to win in the world of sports gambling in the future as well.
If you already loved us, you should be thrilled. If you already hated us, you should be terrified. Because with the power of Fox’s distribution network and investments in our people and products, OutKick is poised to dominate like never before. Today, we begin our newest and best chapter.
For all the people who have worked at OutKick and all of you who have read me since I posted my first word on the internet back in 2004, I’m profoundly grateful. As a public school kid growing up in Nashville named after two grandfathers who spent their lives working in Southern factories, one of whom dropped out of school in the eighth grade, the other of whom dropped out of playing football for the University of Tennessee to feed his family during the Great Depression, and as the son of two parents who never made $50,000 in a year, I never expected to end up at this day.
Only in America, indeed.
I’m not going anywhere and our content won’t change. I will remain the president of OutKick, I will continue to produce the same shows I always have, and I’ll continue to oversee our editorial direction as I have for the past ten years. Sam Savage will continue to do a fantastic job driving our business expansion, and OutKick will grow bigger and faster than it ever has before in the years ahead, thanks to the leadership of Fox executives like Lachlan Murdoch, Suzanne Scott, Eric Shanks, Paul Cheesbrough and Edward Hartman, who have all been instrumental in getting this deal done.
(I’d also like to thank my Fox Bet Live TV crew, even though I sometimes drive them insane, Rachel Bonnetta, Todd Fuhrman, and Cousin Sal and our daily radio show crew Danny G., Eddie, Roberto, and Dub for all the fun we’ve had together on both shows the past several years. I love my media jobs, and they aren’t changing.)
I still believe that sports is the single most unifying thread in a country rife with division. There remains a great purity in sports, a competitive essence that rises above the fray and transcends our often discordant national conversation and brings us all together in shared joy. When your team scores a last-second touchdown, no one thinks about the race, religion, ethnicity or politics of the fans you are high-fiving in the stadium. Sports, quite simply, break the identity politics chains which threaten to divide us all and represent America at its best, its most inclusive, its most fair, its most honest; I believe sports can still bring us together when almost nothing else can, that Republicans really do buy sneakers too.
Today is a beginning, not an ending; thanks to all of you who have been with us for nearly a decade and welcome to all of you finding us anew. Regardless of how you came here, it’s important that you know this — we’re just getting started.