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All That and a Bag of Mail

It’s Friday and we’ve had an incredible week for Outkick. On Monday we officially announced Jason Whitlock as a new partner and we launched a new design for the site. Since that time we’ve seen unprecedented growth, with the site alone on pace to do millions of readers a month as we roll into the summer and the fall. In fact, we now average well over a million people consuming our content per day across all our content, which is flat out incredible because I remember when I first started writing online and dreamed I might have a hundred readers a day.

And there’s no stopping us now either, I think we’re going to be absolutely huge by the time fall gets here.

Why is that? Because our site is unique. With virtually every other media company, especially sports media company, in the country curling up into the fetal position and bowing to whatever the social media mob endorses, we’re refusing to do that and we’re sharing strong opinions about why acquiescing to the mob is the wrong decision.

Unlike just about every other company in sports media we still believe in the first amendment’s concept of a marketplace of ideas. If that matters to you, bookmark the site and go subscribe to my podcasts, which have had their best weeks of growth in a really long time. Right now we have the number five podcast in sports and the number 25 podcast in sports. (The second podcast, Outkick the Show, is the audio version of our daily Periscope and Facebook).

We’ve spent the entire week as a top five sports podcast in the country. (Which is particularly impressive for a radio show which also airs live on 300+ radio stations in all fifty states and on satellite radio.) I’d encourage you to go subscribe to the podcast if you haven’t already. As a bonus, if you leave us a five star review that’s read on the radio show, we’ll send you an autographed copy of my latest book.

So as we dive into the mailbag today, I just want to say thank you for embracing what we’re building here and encourage you to share the site with your friends and family who may also feel like the world has gone insane. I never would have believed the world would go so crazy that Outkick becomes the source of reason, but here we are.

Okay, let’s roll with mailbag questions:

Ty writes:

“With the absurdity of Florida ending the “gator bait” cheer, how far will this go and can you not play this game all day and attach everything to something racist directly or indirectly?”

Here’s my biggest issue with Florida’s decision to end the gator bait cheer — there is zero evidence that it’s ever been used in a racist manner in anyone’s life.

Ever!

Florida fans call everyone who plays against the Gators, gator bait. White, black, Asian, Hispanic, gay, straight, Christian, Jew, Muslim, atheist, if you play the Gators, they believe you’re gator bait. It’s a phenomenal college cheer and I say that as someone who is a Tennessee fan, which means I’ve been gator bait more than almost anyone in the country.

Furthermore, and I can’t believe I have to write this, but there is zero actual evidence any black person was ever used as gator bait at any point in the history of the country.

The only thing anyone can point to is a few racist cartoons from over a hundred years ago that no one would even know about today unless they had gone and looked for them. And the Florida cheer isn’t connected to this racism at all since the gator bait cheer began when only white players were on the fields of competition. That is, fans were calling white players gator bait before integration occurred in the SEC.

So there is zero evidence that this chant has ever been racist.

Which means there is zero evidence to ban this chant for racism.

Now some of you out there, inevitably, scream, “Well, why do you care? It’s just a chant!” every time something is canceled. I care because precedents matter. If we cancel this cheer then the activists aren’t satisfied, they move on to the next target. I honestly don’t think we are very far away from legitimate demands being made that the Jefferson Memorial and the Washington Monument be torn down, that we rename Washington, D.C, hell renaming Southern states which once allowed racism might be next on the list.

You guys may think I’m crazy, but that’s what’s going on right now. There’s a small minority of people who want to embrace this politically correct culture and destroy everything in history which doesn’t match up to their modern day standards of righteousness and far too few people are willing to stand up to these people because they’re afraid they will get canceled if they do.

It’s why I’m so incredibly glad I started this site nine years ago. Because it’s impossible to cancel this site so long as I own it, which may well be forever.

So the largest issue about the gator bait chant is there’s nothing racist about it and it still got canceled. That’s how far down the cancellation road we are now. We’re canceling popular things that have zero connection to racism.

But even if there was something racist about the chant, which there isn’t, shouldn’t we consider the way it’s commonly used now as opposed to what the history was hundreds of years ago?

That is, if something used to be racist, but isn’t racist today, why should we cancel it today? Why should the history of something cancel out the way it’s used today? Shouldn’t its current usage matter more than its past usage?

I mean, the Constitution was racist when it was written, but it isn’t racist today. Canceling everything that used to be racist literally means we would need to cancel the Constitution and the entire United States of America. And maybe, honestly, that’s the ultimate goal.

Lounge Dawg writes:

“Can we cancel the cancel culture?”

Here’s the deal, the only way to cancel cancel culture is to adopt the same strategies as the NRA.

I’m not a huge gun guy at all, but I respect the fact that the NRA has dug in its heels and refused to relent on anything relating to second amendment rights. I admire the steadfastness of their beliefs. The goal of the NRA’s critics isn’t to make small incremental changes in gun rights, it’s to end gun rights in this country. Which is why the NRA refuses to give up any rights at all; they know their critics are going to just keep coming after them no matter what they do, so why give an inch when your critics are demanding a mile?

And that’s what cancel culture is, it doesn’t end, it just keeps coming.

If you negotiate with these people, they don’t thank you and agree that they’ve cleansed American life, they just keep coming. They find something else that needs to be canceled.

Ultimately, what we need to happen is for cancel culture to turn in on itself and start to cancel each other out. That’s how these revolutions ultimately end, with infighting and purity tests.The best way for cancel culture to end is when cancel culture turns internal.

Now I understand that’s not a uniform opinion. For instance, some would argue the best way to cancel cancel culture is by turning it back on far left wingers and holding them to their own hypocritical standards. But the challenge then is you’re buying into the legitimacy of the cancel culture itself by using it to cancel other people. I don’t believe in cancel culture because ultimately the standards being applied by the cancel culturists aren’t possible to maintain because what they are essentially policing is human purity.

They’re religious zealots without a Bible, totalitarian radicals who won’t brook dissent. Sooner or later their war turns internal instead of external. And when that happens, they will implode.

I’m not sure when they will implode, but I can’t wait to watch it happen.

Jake writes:

“Polls suggest Trump would lose by a landslide. Do you buy the polling data, or are Trump voters just silently supporting due to the media shaming of conservatism and support of Trump?”

I’ve been saying since the 2016 election ended that the Big Ten states will decide this election and I still believe that is true. Tell me what Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota do and I’ll tell you who will win the election without looking at the rest of the country at all.

Right now the entire election is just a referendum on Trump since Joe Biden has essentially tried to avoid any actual campaigning. You can argue being confined to his basement is the best possible scenario for the Democrats since when Biden is out in public he risks committing gaffe after gaffe. Even in his basement he’s managed to make some mistakes in interviews, but so far the Democrats have managed to make the entire election a referendum on Trump and Trump has taken a couple of devastating body blows here the likes of which most presidencies don’t ever see. Wilder still, those body blows haven’t been self inflected at all. You can argue that Trump has responded well to the political conflicts he’s created — or that have been created by his political opponents — but each of these body blows to his presidency, the virus and the protests, aren’t really related to Trump at all.

The first body blow was the coronavirus. Which is just completely and totally awful luck for any president. Trump was cruising into the fall with the greatest economy in American history, his re-election looked downright likely, and then he got hit with a once in a hundred years novel pandemic. And, I know, I know, you can argue that Trump’s response hasn’t been great, but outside of Asia who has managed this well? We have a lower death rate per capita right now than many Western democracies. England, Spain, Italy, France, Sweden, and Belgium all have substantially worse per capita death rates than we do. We have essentially the same death rate as Ireland and the Netherlands.Even Canada, which is supposed to be a liberal fantasy has a death rate that’s about 65% of ours.

So while his opponents may want to make it seem like Trump has bungled everything, the reality is we’ve been better than most European democracies have at handling this virus. No matter your politics, this virus would have knocked anyone for a loop in an election year.

The second body blow was the protests, which led to riots that occurred in the middle of the pandemic. And, again, Trump had nothing to do with the beginning of the protests or the riots. If that idiot cop doesn’t behave like he did in Minnesota, none of the protests or riots happen, at least not during the pandemic. (You can argue the protests and riots might have still happened because another police misconduct event would have gone viral, but I’m not sure that’s the case. The video was so egregious and the police misconduct was so extreme that I think it’s an outlier in its egregiousness.) In other words, if that one cop just doesn’t behave in such a criminal fashion, the protests and riots may have never ensued at all this year.

Having said all of this, we’re still five months away from the election. Think about all that has happened in the first five full months of 2020. There’s no telling what will happen next. What’s more, think about all the times Trump was written off in 2016. When the Access Hollywood tape came out, many Republicans called for Trump to drop out of the race yet he still found a way to win.

So let’s look into the future with a series of questions: Could deaths from the coronavirus be mostly gone by September? It sure seems like that’s very possible based on the data trend lines right now around the world. Could the economy rebound rapidly? It sure seems like Wall Street believes that will happen. Could our unemployment rate fall back down to single digits by November and allow Trump to argue he’s beaten the coronavirus and our economy is back on an upswing again? That’s certainly plausible. Could Joe Biden — and whichever black woman he picks as his running mate — stumble in their campaigns? Of course.

It’s not crazy to believe that the worst has already happened to Trump and that he has the time to rebound over the next five months. Will that happen? Who knows? If you didn’t know it already, anything could happen between now and the election. Forecasting the future, especially this year, is nearly impossible.

What seems pretty clear is that Trump will end up with around 45% of the vote and Biden will end up with around 45% of the vote. But what will the 10% in the middle do? They could all break for Biden, in which case the election would be a rout, or they could all break for Trump, in which case it would be a rout the other way. Or, more likely, this election is going to be decided by a relatively handful of Big Ten swing voters, like I’ve been telling you would happen for four years.

Plus, I really feel like the presidential debates this year will be monumental and that much can swing based on their results as well.

Finally, will Trump get disciplined, at all, and start to make the best case for his re-election? Until we get into late October I think trying to predict what will happen in this election will be nearly impossible. Right now I’d put my money on Biden winning, but next month that might have flipped completely.

Betting on anything so far in 2020 has been an absolute fool’s errand.

Jason writes:

“Have you ever seen an organization self destruct more than MLB?”

This is a great example of both sides, owners and players, forgetting they are ultimately reliant on the fans.

I feel like many different pro sports leagues, their owners, and their players have forgotten this. Ultimately, let’s not overcomplicate this, pro sports are in the entertainment business. They aren’t in the politics business, they aren’t in the social justice warrior business, they are in the business of entertaining people by playing games.

And if you don’t entertain your customers with fun games — or if you take them for granted — you lose them.

And I think sports leagues are taking their customers for granted right now.

MLB is a perfect example of this, but the NBA is too. Players — and owners — have been seduced by the idea that their revenues — and salaries — are always going to increase. But why is that the case? Boxing, horse racing, and baseball were the three most popular sports in the 1950’s in America. Now only one of those sports is, barely, hanging on as a major national interest. Why would any sports league think they can’t lose the public’s interest? Especially now when there are more, and better, entertainment options than at any point in our nation’s history?

Yes, I’m eager for sports to return, and I’m sure many of you are as well, but the truth of the matter is I’ve been fine without sports to watch. As long as football is back in the fall, I’ll be fine. My life, like many of yours, is pretty busy. My kids take up almost all of my free time and I’ve got a bunch of businesses to run every day as well. I’ve gotten used to not checking scores on my phone.

Will I go back to consuming sports as much as I did before the shutdown? I’m honestly not sure. The more political the players are, and the less entertaining the games are, I think the less I’ll watch. If there are a ton of people like me in this country, and I think there are, that doesn’t bode well for sports leagues.

But the great thing about capitalism is what I think doesn’t matter because the market ultimately decides the answers to these questions. And I’d be nervous if I owned a team right now because I think many owners, players, and leagues aren’t making the best decisions to grow their brands.

Marty writes:

“At what point will we accept the coronavirus as a virus and stop reporting every time someone tests positive? Or at least decision makers stop treating it like an awful disease that kills everyone?”

When Joe Biden is elected president.

That’s kind of a joke, but there’s some truth to it as well. I think many in the media are using the virus as a battering ram to attack Donald Trump. The minute Joe Biden wins the election, if it it happens, the virus talk will recede.

I mean, the death rate for the virus has declined by 75 or 80% since late April in this country. Would you know that based on TV news? Of course not.

Now I don’t know how low the death rate can go without a vaccine — after all the virus isn’t going to disappear — but if we keep the same trend lines we’re on now by the first of August there would be a couple of hundred people a day dying of the virus in this country. Considering we see roughly 7500 people a day die in this country, that would make the virus a relatively minor component of the overall national death rate.

Yet I can’t even put on any “news” television network — on any station — at this point because it’s so transparently designed to create an emotional response related to the virus that I immediately turn it off.

I’d encourage you to read more of your news and watch less. I think the written word tends to be far more logical and far less emotional.

Mike writes:

“Why is no one discussing the irony that the NFL is concerned about players getting COVID-19, which will have little to no effect on them, but is OK with them risking CTE, neck injuries, etc?”

The data reflects that young and healthy people are more likely to be struck by lightning or die in a car accident than they are to die of the coronavirus. The data also reflects that football players are putting themselves under far more risk of serious injury from playing football than they are from the coronavirus.

To the credit of the football players, I haven’t heard very many of them talk about the health risks of the virus as a reason they don’t want to play. Football players are probably better at analyzing risk and probability than media members because football players are putting their health on the line with every play; they understand cost/benefit analysis, even if they aren’t breaking down spreadsheets, because it’s their livelihood.

Honestly, to be fair, other than a few players here and there most pro athletes haven’t talked much about the health risks from the virus as a reason why they don’t want to play because I think most realize those risks are relatively small.

It shouldn’t astound me that most members of the sports media lack the ability to do basic probability analysis, but I think the past several months has shown you why most sports media end up covering sports — because it requires less intelligence than many other jobs.

I’ve always said I’d be a very smart lawyer, but I’m a genius compared to others in the sports media. We aren’t talking about a large collection of brilliant minds in most press boxes.

To the extent there is failure in sports coverage, it’s mostly because the people doing the sports coverage aren’t that bright. That gets exposed more when the people doing the sports coverage have to talk about something other than sports.

Vol4life writes:

“When will y’all be back in studio for Lock It In?”

Right now the plan is to be back when team sports get back.

So I’d put the over/under at mid-July on when our show will be back.

I can’t wait to get back on the air and be able to gamble on sports again, especially football, which isn’t that far away right now, believe it or not.

Thanks for reading Outkick and making it one of the best week’s in the site’s history.

We have many more awesome things coming your way.

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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One Comment

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  1. Hey Clay,
    GREAT writing and analysis of the current state of affairs. Echoing what “Vol4life” writes; can’t wait for Lock It In to come back. Odds are Sally will be the first to call your crown a corona.
    Cheers,
    Rick

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