All That and a Bag of Mail

It’s Friday, time for the mailbag to make you smarter as you roll into the weekend.

This week’s Wins and Losses guest is Bobby Bones. Trust me when I say that these weekly conversations are really good.

In fact, if you’re reading this and you haven’t checked out the podcast yet, what are you doing with your life? Jason Whitlock, Kirk Herbstreit, Paul Finebaum, SEC commissioner Greg Sankey, Washington State coach Mike Leach, Yahoo Sports national columnist Dan Wetzel, Shannon Terry, the founder of Rivals and 247 Sports, trust me, these are really fun conversations that you can learn quite a bit from.

You should be subscribed and listening.

Lots more good ones coming too.

Go listen and drop me a podcast review, the best reviews I’ll read on air.

Okay, here we go with the Friday mailbag.

“Lots of you: what was your take on the Democratic debates?”

There are five Democrats who can win the nomination, but I think Donald Trump would beat four of them. The only guy I think beats Trump is Joe Biden.

The other four potential nominees: Elizabeth Warren, Mayor Pete, Kamala Harris, and Bernie Sanders, I believe, would all lose to Trump.

Personally I hope we get a Biden vs. Trump election because I think it’s the only way we dodge the most identity politics laden election of our lifetimes. If it’s Biden v. Trump, you’ve just got two old white guys battling it out over who can best connect with voters in the Big Ten states who will decide this election. If it’s Trump vs. any of these other candidates, especially Kamala Harris, then the entire election will be a battle of identity politics designed to divide the country based on race, gender, ethnicity, religion, and sexuality.

It used to be that we nominated candidates we hoped everyone would like, in 2016 both parties nominated candidates they thought the other side would hate the most. Think about this for a moment — we had the two least liked politicians of all time running against each other in the same election.

It’s truly unbelievable.

And while there’s lots of talk about turnout and whatnot in 2020, ultimately I believe Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, and Ohio will decide this election. You tell me who wins those five Big Ten states and I’ll tell you who wins in 2020.

If Trump wins two of these states, he’ll be president, if he loses four or more of them, he won’t be president.

Florida used to be the biggest battleground state, but I think it’s trending pretty solidly Republican. Even in the mid-terms, which favored Democrats in most of the country, the Republicans won the governorship and the senate seat. There will be many words written about Texas or Georgia or North Carolina flipping to the Democrats, but I don’t think that will come close to happening. Ultimately the SEC will all vote for Trump, the Big 12 will all vote for Trump, and the Pac 12 will go for the Democrat. The Southern ACC will be for Trump and the Northern ACC will be for the Democrat.

That leaves the Big Ten to decide it all. Among the traditional Big Ten states we know Indiana and Iowa will be for Trump and Illinois will be for the Democrat. But we don’t know what Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin or Ohio will do for sure.

That decides the election.

As for the debate, I thought it was mostly status quo. Biden wasn’t great, but he wasn’t as bad as he was in the first debate. Essentially the big five staked out their positions and have created a fairly substantial gap between themselves and everyone else.

I do think that in attacking Kamala Harris it’s pretty clear Tulsi Gabbard is positioning herself to be Biden’s running mate or a high ranking member of his cabinet. In fact, if I had to pick right now, I’d say a Biden-Gabbard ticket would be pretty compelling nationwide.

Having said that, Biden may want to go with someone in the Midwest he thinks can help create a firewall for him by guaranteeing a state, someone like Amy Klobuchar in Minnesota.

But that assumes Biden is the nominee.

Which is a big assumption. Right now the odds markets have a three way tie for the most likely Democratic nominee: Biden, Harris, and Warren.

By the next debate, the race to Iowa will officially be upon us.

William writes:

“What are your thoughts on the Jason Whitlock firestorm he set off with his criticism of Lebron James at the AAU games?”

I don’t really understand why it’s controversial to say an adult shouldn’t be running on the basketball court celebrating plays in a kid’s game while the game is still going on.

I mean, is that real life that people think this is normal behavior?

Most of LeBron’s defenders immediately leapt at the chance to praise LeBron for being at his son’s game, but no one is criticizing this. In fact, a dad should be at his son’s game. Why should we praise a dad for simply attending a sporting event? That should be expected.

I coach little league baseball and basketball. If someone on our team makes a good play and their dad ran onto the court or field to congratulate them while the ball was still in play I’d think it was incredibly strange and weird behavior. That doesn’t matter who the dad is, celebrity or not.

I’ve never entered the field or court during play, even as a coach.

I think it would be inappropriate even if a kid made a great play for me to run out and congratulate them on the field or court. And I’m a coach. It would be insanely inappropriate for a parent in the crowd to run out and do it.

Now I’m not saying it’s some sort of egregious wrong doing, but it’s certainly worthy of criticism.

I know if that happened one of the first things I’d say to another coach once we were outside earshot of everyone else would be, “Can you believe (insert parent’s name) ran on the field (or court) during the game to celebrate?!”

Now some people have said, “Well, LeBron’s the best basketball player in the world so he should be able to do this,” but that’s absurd to me.

Why should he be able to enter the court while the game is going on just because he’s good at basketball? To me, the standard for parental behavior should be the same for everyone, regardless of their fame or talent. And, honestly, that seems to be how most celebrities behave. I live in an area of Nashville where quite a few musicians, actors and actresses, sports figures, and nationwide celebrities live. Many of them have young kids playing sports in the same leagues as my kids. All of these guys and girls keep a low profile and don’t draw attention to themselves; essentially they behave like any other parent would at these games.

Personally, I also think it’s weird that LeBron went through the lay-up line with his 14 year old kid, who is soon to be 15. Especially because he was doing outlandish dunks in the process. If he wants to play basketball with the kids, can’t he show up at practice with them and do it? Sometimes we, the dads, play the kids in pick-up basketball games at practice, but if any of the dads asked to do the lay up line before the game, everyone would think it was weird as hell.

Put it this way, would you think it was normal if you showed up for a baseball game, Mike Trout’s kid was on the team, and he was taking batting practice with the 14 and 15 year old kids?

I would and you probably would too.

If you run on the field or court while a game is going on, you’re intentionally drawing attention to yourself and setting a bad precedent, no matter who you are.

So I think LeBron deserves the criticism, in particular, for running on the court while the game was still going on and I think Jason Whitlock’s criticism of him was completely fair.

Mark writes:

“As DirecTV customers, we’ve been without our local NBC and Fox affiliates for the past month because of their dispute with Nexstar, and other than the MLB All Star game we really haven’t missed them at all. We haven’t cut the cord because, as long-term DTV customers we receive the channels we want significantly cheaper (because of negotiated deep discounts) than if we bought the channels separately. My question is this: Don’t these media companies realize that they’re only hurting themselves? Has cord cutting caused media executives to go so crazy that they can’t reasonably agree on fees and respect their customers?”

I think the ugly truth for CBS, ABC, NBC, Fox — and many other TV channels — is that live sports is pretty much the only reason someone needs their networks now.

So when the NFL regular season comes back the pressure will be ratcheted up for these channels to be carried on all cable and satellite packages, but until then what programming is must watch? Not much, for most people, honestly.

There are so many entertainment options available now that I think people move on and just figure if they really love a show they can catch up when it goes up on a streaming service.

In fact, I think the simple truth is live sports, particularly the NFL and top college football, is basically holding the rapidly fraying cable and satellite bundle together right now.

Other than live sports, almost everything the networks put on TV is replaceable content.

Kyle writes:

“Regarding your article on Sports TV on Monday, do you think that the NFL is at less risk than the other leagues because most of their games are on network TV, and thus not as dependent on carriage fees?”

Well, remember, ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox all receive retransmission fees from cable and satellite companies. That’s one reason these companies pay so much for the NFL rights, so they can ensure the cable and satellite companies are paying them to carry their channels.

Sure, those games are “free,” but how many people do you know with antennas on top of their homes grabbing those local TV signals for free? Most people get the free channels in their TV viewing areas through cable, satellite, or streaming packages.

And the cable and satellite companies have to pay a fee to retransmit these “free” TV channels to your cable and satellite services.

Having said that, the NFL, at least so far, has insisted that every single one of their games air on “free” broadcast TV except for Monday Night Football, which airs on ESPN.

That desire to reach the biggest possible audience is why the NFL hasn’t taken big money from any streaming companies yet either. Maybe that will change in the new TV deal they will be negotiating in the near future, but I think the power of broadcast television to reach the masses is still unequaled and that the NFL doesn’t want to risk telling its viewers to find them on a streaming service.

There’s a huge part of the population that doesn’t stream anything.

My dad, for instance, isn’t going to download an app to watch a game, he wants to sit down in front of his television and put it on the channel where the game is airing.

The NFL desperately needs the biggest audiences possible, but so do NBC, CBS, Fox and ESPN, which is why the NFL and broadcast TV are a perfect marriage. I don’t see this marriage breaking up in the near future.

Now I definitely think it’s possible, however, that the NFL Sunday Ticket, which is presently on DirecTV, may well move to streaming next season, but I think that’s the biggest leap the NFL would take for now.

Trevor writes:

“What is the real reason college football attendance is declining?”

The stadiums are too big, it’s difficult and costly to drive to the games, and if you go to a game you end up missing ten or 12 games that might be better on television.

But more seriously, look at the percentages the attendance is declining.

We’re talking about mostly single digit declines.

In an SEC stadium that seats 100k fans, we’re talking about attendance going from 100k a game to 94k a game. If these stadiums were 60k seats you’d probably not see any change at all, in fact there would be still be a substantial demand for a live viewing experience.

I’ve been arguing this for years — big stadiums made sense when fans had to decide whether to listen to a game on radio or go in person. But now every game is on HD television.

It makes zero sense to have a 90 or 100k seat stadium in today’s era.

All modern day football stadiums, I think, should be designed to seat about 40k people and the viewing experience and amenities have to be premium in nature, something that I can’t get elsewhere.

Why would I spend hundreds of dollars — not to mention all the time and energy — to go sit in the upper deck of a massive stadium when I can stay at home, watch all the other games for free too, and have a better view of the game on TV than I’d have in the stadium?

I don’t think it’s anything college football is doing wrong, I just think they’ve overbuilt their stadiums.

Ultimately, if someone suddenly made me college football czar, what I’d suggest would be two things: first, open the college football season with top to bottom challenges between two major conferences — can you imagine if, for instance, the SEC and the Big Ten played 1-14, with seven games on the SEC campuses and seven games on the Big Ten campuses, and slotted those 14 games so that two were on the opening Thursday night of the season, two were on Friday night, six were on Saturday, and there was two games each on Sunday and Monday nights?

That would be phenomenal to watch.

And second I’d expand the college football playoff to eight teams, guarantee the five league champs a playoff spot, take two wild cards, and take the highest ranked team from a non-major conference so long as they finished inside the top 15 of the final rankings (otherwise I’d take a third wild card from the major conferences).

Then I’d play the quarterfinal round of the playoff on college campuses: 1 vs. 8, 2 vs. 7, 3 vs. 6, and 4 vs. 5. The higher seeded team would get to host the playoff game.

Boom, I think those would both be tremendous hits on the front and back end of the college football season.

Alexander writes:

“Do you actually think taco Tuesday is a Hispanic tradition?”

Do you actually think if a white, Asian or Hispanic pro athlete ate fried chicken or watermelon & celebrated doing so by putting on a black accent it wouldn’t be a huge story? SJWs are so full of crap that they can’t even follow their own twisted logic & precedents of outrage.

Here’s my take on LeBron’s ridiculous Taco Tuesday Mexican accent.

I don’t think people should be perpetually offended in this country — and I’m not offended by what LeBron did — but when the standards of outrage aren’t being evenly and fairly applied by the social justice warrior community to all people regardless of their background it’s evidence of this truth — most outrage in this country is bullshit designed to attack people you disagree with politically.

I think we should have the same standards for outrage in this country regardless of the race, gender, ethnicity, religion, sexuality, or political opinions of the speaker.

Otherwise you create a series of double and triple standards when it comes to acceptable speech in this country.

Jimmy writes:

“Do you think Twitter can reach $100/share? At what dollar price would you sell?”

It it remains a public company for long enough then Twitter will one day reach $100 a share.

Right now Twitter has a market cap of $32 billion.

That’s a decent-sized company, but it’s a rounding error for the Googles, Apples, Amazons and Facebooks of the world. All of these companies are $800 billion market cap companies or larger.

It wouldn’t stun me to see one of these companies decide to buy Twitter, but even if that doesn’t happen the company’s growth trends are pretty solid.

How soon could it go from $42 to 100? A big part of that will be the general market direction over the next couple of years. The trend lines are good for Twitter and I think the Olympics next summer combined with the 2020 presidential election will be a gold mine for the company’s business.

I’ve made quite a bit of money with Twitter stock over the years, but I’m not selling now because I think the trend lines in 2020 are so positive.

At the end of the presidential election, I will reassess.

But, again, so much of a general stock price has to do with larger market trends as well. Even if a stock is doing well, if the economy hits a recession its price will probably decline.

That’s why I tell everyone to buy S&P 500 index funds with most of their investable money and try not to pay attention to the day to day swings in prices.

Max:

“Does AOC get hot girl privilege?”

Of course she does, but so have many politicians before her.

If AOC wasn’t hot, no one would have ever heard of her in most of the nation. She’d just be another congressperson. In fact, if she’s a fifty year old man and has the exact same positions as she does now she probably never gets elected in the first place.

But the same was true of Sarah Palin and long before that it was true of John F. Kennedy too. What you look like has been a big part of a politician’s appeal since television began. Does JFK get elected president if he has the exact same ideas, but looks like Quasimodo? Probably not.

There’s a reason why the taller presidential candidate almost always wins and why we’ve never had a 400 pound president in the TV era.

People are drastically impacted by cosmetic factors, even if they claim they are not.

I mean, this was brought into stark relief in the 1960 presidential debate between Kennedy and Richard Nixon when the people listening on radio thought Nixon won and the people watching on TV thought Kennedy did. Why did they think that? Because Kennedy’s much better looking.

I’m no expert on physical attractiveness, but you can make the argument that the more attractive candidate, arguably, has won every election of my lifetime. Ronald Reagan was better looking than Jimmy Carter and Walter Mondale. George Bush, Sr. was better looking than Michael Dukakis. Bill Clinton was better looking — or at least way more youthful — than Bush, Sr. Bill Clinton was better looking than Bob Dole. Al Gore might have been better looking than George W. Bush (but, of course, Gore won), but I think it was close to a hotness toss up. I think George W. Bush was better looking than John Kerry and Barack Obama was better looking than John McCain. Then the Barack Obama vs. Mitt Romney election was a battle of two good looking dudes; maybe the best looking electoral contest of all time Finally, I think Trump was better looking than Hillary.

My point here is pretty clear — even if you disagree with my political hotness rankings — in a TV era the better looking candidate tends to win national elections.

So AOC benefits from her looks, but so did JFK.

And so will every politician in our visual TV or digital video-fueled era.

Okay, I’m off to the beach, hope you guys have great weekends and thanks for reading Outkick.

Please go listen to my new Wins and Losses podcast.

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