All That and a Bag of Mail

It’s Friday and there was lots of big Outkick news this week. First, I signed on for three more years of radio and second, well, second there’s more big news coming.

Okay, let’s dive into the mailbag.

Jim writes:

“The NFL anthem is back in the news. The owners should tell the players they’ll take marijuana testing off the table immediately in return for all players standing for the anthem. Both are PR headaches for the league and the marijuana thing is something players want and owners should want too (who wants your player suspended for something legal in many states?).”

I’ve got to be honest with you, this is genius.

So good of a genius idea that I went ahead and Tweeted out the idea as soon as I read your email. I suspect someone else has floated this idea before — and I even think I may have touched on it before — but I haven’t seen it anywhere and I would honestly love to see this compromise happen because I think it makes the NFL product better for years to come.

First, I’m anti-drug testing for highly skilled athletes. (Even more anti-drug testing for something that is legal in many NFL states now.) Now, let me make it clear, I’m fine with drug testing for performance enhancing drugs — steroids and the like — but why are we drug testing for non performance enhancing drugs? I don’t get drug tested for radio or TV or practicing law. In fact, I’ve never been drug tested for any job I’ve ever had. I don’t think drug testing should be common because I believe in individual rights and I think if you can do your job while using drugs in your free time. I believe that adult use of drugs should be your right if you so choose. (I also understand that companies have a right to require drug testing as a condition of employment. I’m just telling you I disagree with that concept, particularly when it’s being applied to highly skilled employees.)

Furthermore, if you are going to drug test, why is alcohol okay and weed not okay? If you had to choose between whether a player was addicted to weed or addicted to alcohol, wouldn’t you probably choose weed? I think weed is less dangerous than alcohol. I also think drug testing, if it’s going to happen, should be limited to highly addictive drugs which can kill you. Honestly, I can make an argument that this kind of drug testing could be very helpful to employees and businesses since it could lead to employees getting help they otherwise might not receive.

Given the rapid push to decriminalize and legalize marijuana, how good from a political perspective would it look for NFL owners, a bunch of old, white dudes, to come out against weed testing and cite as their reasoning the fact that they’ve determined the laws in place on marijuana are disproportionately impacting young minority communities and young minority men in particular? And that as a result they’ve decided to end the testing for their teams. They could also make it clear that they aren’t endorsing drug use and that they believe a small minority of their players use marijuana, but that as a gesture of good will they have decided to unilaterally remove the testing requirement from the NFL rules.

Then, as a further gesture of goodwill, the players could agree to stand for the national anthem and accept penalties and suspensions if they don’t.

Boom, both sides win and this story, after three years, is finally over.

Look, I’ve made it clear that I believe it’s bad business for NFL players to refuse to stand for the anthem. The data has reflected I am correct in this. (NFL ratings are down nearly 20% since Kaepernick began his protest and last season the NFL’s TV partners missed their revenue targets by nearly $600 million). Eventually that’s going to hit players and owners in their pocket books. As we prepare for a third season of anthem related absurdity, this compromise would solve the NFL anthem crisis, give both sides a win, and, I think, make the league stronger overall.

Because let’s get right down to it, do you really want your top players suspended from games because they failed a pot test? It’s nonsensical for this to happen. Particularly when some players might be using pot to help ease the pain of NFL games.

I honestly think this compromise could work.

And if the players didn’t accept it, I’d announce that henceforth the NFL, meaning the league office not the individual teams, will be fining all players who refuse to stand for the national anthem. I’d further announce that all player fines would go to support wounded veterans.

The NFLPA might sue you over this issue, but I think that makes the NFLPA look awful and I think the NFL wins this public relations battle in a landslide. But why battle when both sides can win?

Ian writes:

“What do you think of this situation with Papa John? He would’ve avoided a whole mess if he had just said “the n word” instead of saying the actual word but he wasn’t referring to anyone specific or really anyone at all. Just that Colonel Sanders said it. But he’s losing everything like he went up to a guy and went full Riley Cooper on him. Thoughts?”

I find the idea of acceptable and unacceptable words insanely dumb in a free, open society because what it does is eliminate all context from those words.

And context means everything when it comes to language.

If I say, “Fuck you,” and I also say that something is “fucking genius” everyone reading this right now understands the difference between these two uses of the same word. One is a high level endorsement, the other may be a high level insult. We don’t know about the first usage of the word fuck because if I say, “Fuck you!” and extend my middle finger in your direction while laughing after a joke you tell at my expense, that’s different than saying “Fuck you!” as I storm toward you with my middle finger extended prepared to fight.

My point is clear: the words can be the exact same and the context can be entirely different.

Here, if Papa John just says “the n-word,” at least according to his own story which has yet to be refuted, he still has his job, the University of Louisville still has his name on their football stadium, and this never becomes a story at all. How ridiculous is that? Doesn’t it sound more riduculous for a grown man to say “the n word” than to say the actual word? Most adults don’t walk around saying “the f word,” in replace of fuck.

What we’re working towards here — and some would say we already have reached — is a situation where a small group of people has taken ownership of a word in the English language and no one but them can use it regardless of context and if anyone but them uses it they get fired. But other people can use it all the time regardless of context, including building entire mass produced songs around the word, and suffer no consequences at all.

That’s a completely nonsensical position for a country which embraces the first amendment to adopt.

Racism is bad, but the way to combat racism is not by policing words because, follow the logic here, words don’t cause racism, actions do. And if you police words this aggressively what you end up with is closeted racism. Because there are many white (and Asian and Hispanic) people out there who see what happened to Papa John and it makes them more filled with racial animus than it does help to cleanse racism.

The clear intent here is to end racism by ending words with racist connotation, but, again, I don’t believe that works because it ends up leading us to focus on word choice as opposed to actions. In the process we are infantilizing black people because we are suggesting they aren’t capable of comprehending context when it comes to how words are used. Which is absurdly dumb because the entire use of the word changes depending on whether it ends with an –er or an a.

I believe our national conversation on race is broken because of stories like these and I talk quite a bit more about stories like these in my new book, which all of you should buy because it comes out in two months, “Republicans Buy Sneakers Too.”

Chris writes:

“As someone who works in business and finance it drives me insane watching the sports media continually say “The NFL made (insert billion dollar figure)” and college football team made (insert hundred of millions of dollars)” when they are talking about revenue, as if neither of these entities have expenses. The next step they can take is: “We can pay college athletes and players deserve more money,” never taking into account expenses. Business 101, Revenue-Expenses = Net income (what you are really making). Can you please school these idiots into understanding this.
#afterexpensesguy”

Almost no one in sports, media or fans, understands the business of sports.

That’s because there are very few business owners who write or talk about sports very often and almost everyone approaches sports arguments from the perspective of an employee.

That’s why I’ve always said the biggest dividing line I see between success and failure is whether you think like a business owner or think like an employee. If you think like an employee, which the vast, vast majority of the public does, then you wait for your paycheck to hit every couple of weeks and almost never think about where that money comes from.

If you think like a business owner you’re constantly doing math in your head on the costs of your business and analyzing how your business is being impacted by the decisions you (and your employees) make. If you think like an owner you make your boss more money, which eventually leads to be you being the boss or the owner.

This happens all the time with news in sports, it’s totally misapplied and misanalyzed by people without the requisite skills to understand the data in front of them. That’s why I’ve told so many kids that law degrees and MBAs are more valuable in sports media than journalism degrees. Journalism, compared to law and business, is incredibly easy to learn. Let me give you an example of a recent story like this: my Twitter feed blew up earlier this week with people sharing the fact that NFL TV revenues were up 4.9% last year despite TV ratings being down. I must have been Tweeted this hundreds of times. But this isn’t a surprise to anyone with the most rudimentary business knowledge. Why isn’t it a surprise? Because TV contracts are signed years in advance and ALWAYS GO UP IN CONTRACTED FOR YEARS. Why? Because if they didn’t go up inflation alone would make them worth less money than they were the year before. The most fundamental rule of sports TV contracts is they never go down within the contracted for years, they always go up.

What you should be looking at is the yearly revenues of your business which aren’t contracted for years in advance. My bet is most NFL teams have shown a drop in ticket, concession, and sponsorship revenue in the wake of player protests. That’s why NFL owners are trying so desperately to get this issue resolved. If the anthem controversy isn’t resolved at some point soon then the NFL’s next TV contracts could drop or remain stagnant too. (The complicating factor here is the NFL’s ratings could be down substantially and the NFL could still get more money for its TV product because the TV networks are so desperate for live sports rights that produce the audience the NFL does. In other words, the NFL might be somewhat protected by the TV business being worse than the NFL business. That’s particularly the case if tech companies, making hundreds of billions of dollars in the years ahead, decide to spend some of that money on loss leading sports to build up their overall audience subscription businesses).

The owners understand the threats to the NFL business, but most players don’t. That’s because most players are thinking like employees not owners. And, significantly, most media covering the NFL think like employees too. That’s because, newsflash, they are employees.

One of the things I hear all the time from high-level sports business people is how frustrating it is to them that many people who cover their businesses often aren’t sophisticated enough to even understand how those businesses work.

I’m a bit unique in that I’m a person in a creative, opinion driven field who also understands the business complexities of the industries I’m in. I understand the online media business and the radio business better than 99.9% of people who write or talk for a living.

The result, I think, is a smarter more sophisticated show which is less likely to get lost and misdirected by a headline.

But what do I know, we also spent an hour this morning reading the porn movies that Jimmy G.’s new porn star date starred in over the past several years.

Katherine writes:

“Huge fan of the show, listen to it every morning while I get ready for work!

My boyfriend and I started watching “Very Cavallari” (aka The Jay Cutler Show) this weekend and it left us with one burning question; since you both live in Nashville, why are you two not best friends? You both seem to give the same amount of fucks (zero) and clearly have similar interests.”

We overlap with a bunch of friends, but I’ve never actually met Cutler.

I’m sure it will happen at some point.

I need to get him on the radio show, I bet he’d be entertaining.

But I’d be way more impressed meeting Cavallari because I loved Laguna Beach and The Hills. (Really).

Chris C. writes:

“Considering how much power that today’s NBA stars have in selecting for which teams they play, I recently realized it probably makes great strategy for NBA coaches to proclaim to be Social Justice Warriors.  When Gregg Popovich bitch-slapped Kawhi Leonard this week a crazy thought crossed my mind. What if we somehow found out that Pop or Steve Kerr secretly vote staunchly Republican but publicly profess to be SJW’s in order to attract free agents? I know that is quite far-fetched but wouldn’t that be the most evil-genius thing ever?”

The funniest thing to me about Pop shipping Kawhi to Canada is this is the most Donald Trump move possible.

Popovich effectively said, “Okay, you don’t love it here? Well, we’re sending you out of the country! It’s my way or the highway!”

Do you know what Trump would have done in the exact same situation if he owned the Spurs?

Sent Kawhi to Canada!

I don’t know if anyone else has pointed out how much Pop, despite his public protestations, resembles Trump in his need for players to shut up and embrace his way or leave town as well as how he publicly berates and humiliates the media on a regular basis, but it is pretty outstanding.

Pop is the Trump of the NBA.

Nick writes:

“I am 20 years old and about to be a junior in college. I am back home for the summer working as an intern. Great experience, but I have to get up at 5:30 every day. As a result of this job, I don’t get to hang out with my friends as much. Many of them have fun every night, but I find myself wanting sleep because the morning comes super early. Am I being a total pussy staying home and going to bed instead of getting drunk and going downtown with my buddies? I am often stuck in the middle of wanting a great social life, but still desiring adequate sleep because work is brutal on four or five hours of sleep. How do I accomplish both? Thanks. Huge fan!”

I think this boils down to two questions: 1. how much do you need the money and can it be replaced by another job that doesn’t require you to get up at 5:30? and 2. are you working a job or a working for your career this summer?

Let me unpack both and I’ll start with the first question first. Are you making more money than you otherwise could at this job? I’m assuming the answer is yes. If the answer is no, then switch jobs. I’m also assuming you need the money, otherwise why not live it up during your college summer?

Second, if you can’t replace this job and need the money, are you working at a job or are you working towards a career? If it’s just a job and you don’t need the money and you can replace it elsewhere then why are you doing it? If it’s a career then you should do it and you should do it well because you’re preparing for your future, which is the entire point of college.

Plus, unless you are working seven days a week can’t you still go out Friday and Saturday nights? And aren’t you in college now, which means when you return to college you get to keep going out whenever you want the rest of the year? Is it really that big of a deal to give up a couple of months of weeknight drinking only in the summer?

Finally, if a weeknight is really that incredible that you can’t miss it then #dbap and get three or so hours of sleep and sack it up at work without much sleep the next day. You’re twenty, do your job and then go to bed as soon as you get home the next day after work.

Hope all of you have great weekends.

Thanks for supporting Outkick.
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