All That and a Bag of Mail

It’s Friday and the mailbag is here to help make your day pass a bit faster than it otherwise would.
Want to remind you guys as we roll into the weekend that come Monday I’ll be on a new daily FS1 sports gambling show airing from 4:30-5:30 et called “Lock It In.” The show is me alongside Cousin Sal, Todd Fuhrman, and Rachel Bonnetta and, fingers crossed, I think it’s going to be pretty good.
So please set your DVRs and let me know what you think after it airs on Monday and throughout the first five days and then as we continue to work on it in the weeks and months ahead.
Okay, here we go with the mailbag:
Jim writes:
“I’m listening to this morning’s podcast and thought about this. Colin Kaepernick lost his starting job and took a knee. Is it possible he’s the only winner from this entire protest?
Since Kap took a knee:
Trump was elected
NFL ratings are way down
ESPN ratings are way down. Layoff 300+? Employees
The number of unarmed black men shot hasn’t changed, but is still very rare. (Note from me, 34 unarmed people have been shot and killed by police in 2018 so far. 17 are white, 13 black, 4 are Hispanic). 
Riots increased over all sorts of issues.
Trust and respect for police officers is way down.
Nike shares are down.
But Kap’s own personal net worth and social impact are drastically higher. No non football fan could’ve told you who he was before this. That’s Kardashian level marketing.
And we’ve all lost something as Americans in the process.”
This is really well broken down here.
I’ve made the argument before that I believe Kaepernick’s protest helped to swing the states of Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Ohio strongly into Trump’s column because the people he persuaded to flip from Barack Obama to him were mostly white, older men who were football fans and saw in Kaepernick’s protest a sign that their America was dying.
But if you look at all of these data points, I think it’s clear that Kaepernick himself is the only beneficiary of his protest. NFL ratings last night were down another 8% off opening night from last season. Combining that with the year before Kaepernick protested, overall opening night ratings are now down from a 2015 Steelers-Patriots 17.7 rating to a 13.4 last night. (2016 was a 16.5 for Panthers-Broncos and Chiefs-Pats last year was a 14.6). So every year has been a decline since the protest began. And we’re now down nearly 25% from the TV ratings pre-protest.
I just don’t see how the protest isn’t a massive part of the reason ratings are down here and I don’t even understand how that’s a remotely controversial position to have.
Again, the entire thesis of my book is that sports and politics are a bad mix.
Yet what Kaepernick did was politicize everything in sports and then lead companies like Nike into making calculated decisions to get political. It’s just nonsensical.
And, by the way, the wildest thing about all of this is if you point out all of these ratings declines and say your hypothesis is it’s related to Kap’s politics, far left wingers lose their minds and refuse to accept it as a possibility at all.
Maybe it’s all just a coincidence that ratings are down nearly 25% since Kaepernick started his protest, but doesn’t that seem incredibly coincidental? It’s not like Netflix, Amazon and cord cutting suddenly became popular in 2018 and weren’t popular in 2016. Or that the way NFL games are played has fundamentally changed. Plus, who is cutting their broadcast television network? It’s free. I’m sure a (small) part of this is related to those factors, but why were ratings climbing up until 2015 and then just fell off a cliff at the exact same time Kaepernick began his protest and the discussion surrounding the NFL went hyper-political?
I think the most logical reason for the decline in interest is that mixing politics and football is a bad sell.
I honestly think the second most logical reason is the decline in quality of the games. The first half of last night’s game was wretched.
But I believe that Kaepernick’s protest, which led to increasing politics in football from other players, owners, and fans, is bad for the game.
Chris writes:

“I am so sick of the Kaepernick debate and how divisive it has become for our country.  But here is something I think we can all agree on:  there has been nearly zero national discussion on what the protest was about in the first place. 

I am embarrassed to say that I have grown confused over whether the protest is about police killing unarmed black men, police generally harassing people of color, or systemic oppression – none of these things are ever talked about in the media in relation to this protest. 

While my personal positions on these 3 grievances vary, I really believe there are enough people that feel passionately about each that all three deserve intelligent and civil national dialogue – but there is none.  I want to hear some debate and some suggestions on how these subjects can be improved!  Instead, we are arguing about whether or not taking a knee is unpatriotic or disrespectful and whether or not someone has reason to be offended at this particular display of protest.  I don’t see how anyone can argue that any progress is being made, and in fact I believe the opposite is true.

Do you think any of my above comments are controversial in the least?  So we have a highly publicized protest that creates passionate and polarizing (not to mention grossly politicized) debate regarding the form of protest, but provides no attention to the actual “cause.”  Whatever your point of view, wouldn’t that define the protest as an abject failure?”

See the above data to point out that Kaepernick’s protest has been a total failure for everyone but him. (It might have been good for me to, honestly, since my audience has exploded with people looking for someone to provide common sense analysis of this entire mess. But if I could go back in time and convince Kaepernick not to protest I would certainly do so.)

I think what you’re hitting on is pretty important here — Kaepernick has never talked to the media about his political positions because every time he does so he looks uneducated and ill-informed. Think about it, other than Tweeting and Instagramming, he’s been almost entirely silent for years now.

This is a guy who said Cuba was a better, freer place to live than America, said cops were modern day slave catchers, and has been unable to elucidate any coherent political philosophy. Oh, and he’s never even voted in his life!

Kap hasn’t talked despite the fact that every major media outlet in the country has been begging him to sit down for an interview.

If you really want to change the world, don’t you have to share your opinions when you’re given the opportunity to do so? Most protesters leap at every opportunity to speak out to larger audiences. Kaepernick hasn’t.

Honestly, I’m not going to rewrite many of the things I’ve said about Kaepernick’s protest in my book in this answer here, but if you want to see a deep discussion of the question you asked here, you need to buy the book. I dive in like no one has ever done before in the media to examine every angle of Kaepernick’s protest.

Mike writes:

“Is it just me, or is Donald Trump’s passing going to be one of the weirdest events in our lifetime? What’s the reaction going to be from people on the media level and on the ground level? What if it happens during his presidency? What if it happens 10 years down the road? 
Also, what would a Donald Trump assassination do to the political climate?” 
I can’t even imagine what would happen if Trump got assassinated. Honestly, I think it would matter a great deal who the assassin was. If it was, say, a crazy member of the liberal resistance, or a Muslim immigrant who had illegally entered the country, or an angry black man or woman convinced Trump was a racist or a white guy who had illegally obtained a gun or, for instance, one of his former mistresses — all of these would drastically change the way the story was covered.
I think many on social media, particularly left wingers, would rejoice if he were killed and say Trump deserved it, which would provoke right wing indignation and anger which would lead to an ongoing national war of words over how disrespectful the reactions had been. Keep in mind that these reactions would all be disseminated widely and rapidly and shared widely.
I don’t think we’d see anything like when John F. Kennedy was assassinated, but I bet there were people happy when JFK was killed; they just didn’t have social media to share their stupid thoughts.
Plus, I think many people in foreign countries would celebrate and those images and videos would be shared widely on social media and would fuel the idea that the world was opposed to America.
It’s too soon to think about how the country would react if he died after he left office. Presidents often become beloved after they leave the office because they tend to mellow and stay quiet. Will Trump do that? I have my doubts. But maybe he will. I think it depends on how his term ends.
Remember, Richard Nixon was widely liked when he died and he left the office in disgrace. Jimmy Carter was crushed in 1980 and I think many would argue he’s had the best post-presidential life of all time. Finally, recall that Twitter only seems to be nice when people die. There haven’t been very many famous Americans who have died and been insulted at that time.
I think the best thing that could happen with Trump is he announces he’s only going to serve one term because he’s not a professional politician and he’s already made America great again in four years. If the economy keeps rolling like it is right now, he even has a strong argument to make there.  Because otherwise I think we’re heading for the worst presidential campaign season ever in 2020 because the Democrats will nominate the person least similar to Trump, probably a black woman like Kamala Harris to run against him, and that will lead us to spend another four years marinating in allegations of perpetual racism and sexism.
The second best way for this national fever to break, I think, would be for the Democrats to nominate another old white guy to run against Trump because then the identity politics angle is tough to obsess over. You’d have, say, Joe Biden against Donald Trump and it would be a couple of old white dudes battling all over the Midwest to convince other old white guys to support them.
But I think this fever is not close to breaking so far.
And I think we’ll see Trump running against Kamala Harris in 2020.

Rob writes:

“Which of these do you think you stand the greatest chance of doing 
(at the athletes performance peak):

Beating Tiger Woods in golf 
Winning a fight against Mike Tyson 
Statistically having a better year than LeBron
Swim faster than Michael Phelps 
Run faster than Usain Bolt
Bike race Lance Armstrong 

Or  play as good as Peyton Manning/Tom Brady ,the answer is quarterback without a doubt. If I played as many games as Tom Brady I would do better than him in at least a few without a doubt and my reason being is you don’t have to have great physical qualities to play the position, you don’t have to be fast, not to mention if you go with pure arm talent I wouldn’t put them two in the top 20. I think the quarterback position is purely preparation and depends mostly on the system you’re in and if it’s a good fit for you , that’s why great college quarterbacks don’t transfer over to pro because the games are systemically different.”

Congrats, this is the dumbest email we’ve ever gotten in the mailbag.

Pro tip: comparing yourself to elite pro athletes is insane. As is suggesting you could play in an NFL game as well as Tom Brady or Peyton Manning.

Stop doing this.

As a general rule, there is less raw athleticism in playing quarterback than there is in running. There is also less raw athleticism in, for instance, pitching a major league baseball game. But your average person pitching in a major league baseball game would get torched. Even throwing strikes would be very difficult. Much less the fact that you might die off a screaming line drive hit right back at you.

The less raw athleticism involved in a sport the better chance you’d have of competing in it. But that still doesn’t mean you’d be remotely close to the people who are the best in the world at it.

Brian writes:

“Read your column on Jemele Hill/Michelle Beadle last week and it reminded me of my time working for the Fresh Market.

I worked as a Meat/Seafood Buyer for the Corporate office in Greensboro, North Carolina.  We would get complaints every week from people who demanded we add Organic and Grass Fed Beef in our stores.

Every time we did, no one would buy it and it would end up getting removed from our cases and then customers would start complaining again. 

The people complaining weren’t folks who wanted that product, they were just mad we didn’t have it.  I am not saying ignore your customers but sometimes you do need to use your own experience and judgement and ignore the idiots who are just trying to make a point.”

Here are a couple of facts for you: only 20% of Americans have Twitter accounts.

Of the 20% who do have Twitter accounts, I would bet half of those people don’t interact very often on social media. That means 10% of Americans, and that’s being very generous, are active on Twitter. Probably 3% of Americans are highly active there.

So when the media or companies reference social media or use it to gauge the decisions they are making, how representative is Twitter of real life?

I think it’s not very representative at all.

Yet the media is addicted to using social media as a basis for a huge amount of their stories.

I think companies are too easy to reach now and I think, if anything, they are too reactive to what social media says or does.

Back in the day congressional offices used to get deluged with constituent mail. Much of it was produced by opinion content factories. That is, they could manufacture a huge mass of mail to make it look like their position was more popular than it actually was.

I think many have realized how to do the same thing on social media now.

Twitter is a funhouse mirror.

Eddy writes:

“When I see someone like Max Kellerman tearing into Tiger (or The Ringer shredding Kanye) for not having the correct opinion black people should have, doesn’t that sorta have tones of “oh shit a black guy got off the (democratic) plantation gotta go round him up and teach him a lesson for thinking independently, and not what us woke white liberals want?”

I feel like the woke white liberal is by far the most racist in these situations.” 

I believe identity politics is a cancer in our country.

In particular, I think the idea that anyone should have an opinion based on what their race, religion or gender is unacceptable. What I want everyone to do is think for themselves.

I think it would be great if one day black people weren’t a monolithic voting block for Democrats and Republicans and Democrats and Republicans both equally competed for all black voters just like they equally compete for Hispanics or Asians or white voters.

My hope is that intelligent free thinkers like Jason Whitlock or Candice Owens can help to make a difference in reordering our national discourse so that race doesn’t determine black political opinion any more than it determines white, Asian, or Hispanic political identity.

Think about this for a minute, if just 20% of black voters were willing to vote Republican then everything about our modern political parties would have to change. Because the Democrats could never get elected to national office again if 20% of black voters voted Republican.

Similarly, if Democrats could ever grab 40% of white men in a series of elections then Republicans could never win an election again either.

I’d just like to see a point in time when your birth identity — i.e. what race you are — didn’t predict how you’d vote for president as often as it does and didn’t lead to such tribal politics.

Will we ever see that in my lifetime?

I hope so.

But I have my doubts.

Thanks for reading Outkick and hope y’all have a great weekend.

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