All That and a Bag of Mail

It’s Friday, time for the mailbag.

I’m operating on roughly four hours of sleep here after attending the Ducks-Preds game last night. Side note, what an incredible game and experience in that arena. Even though the Preds lost it was absolutely phenomenal to be there in person. So if there are more errors than normal in the mailbag this week, that’s why. I’ve already knocked out a three hour radio show and now am knocking out the mailbag.

And this afternoon I’m driving down to the 30A beaches for the next two weeks — don’t worry, I’ll be working every day like normal — and want to remind you guys to go check out if you want to stay in a mansion on the beach instead of a small hotel room or condo. Mention Outkick for 5% off their incredible houses.

Okay, on to the mailbag.

Leon writes:

“I always respected the fact that you look deeper in stories. You don’t let the MSM dictate your opinion. How could you not call out Kristine Leahy for playing the victim? She called LaVar out and called out his sons. Did she really not think he was going to respond. When she was saying that about his family she was no longer a reporter. She was a 2-bit pundit…and and was called out for that.

You know if she was some blonde gal on MSESPN you would of called her out like you should. Please give us your real opinion on this topic.”

I’ve talked quite a bit about Lavar’s interaction on The Herd with Kristine Leahy on both the radio show and my daily afternoon show and the key question that has to be answered is this — would Lavar Ball have talked to me, or any other man, like he talked to Leahy on the show? I think the answer is no. And if that’s true then it means the way Lavar behaved is sexist, since the very definition of sexism is treating someone differently based on their sex.

Now maybe I’m wrong about that and Lavar would have treated me the exact same if I had been sitting at the desk where Kristine sits, but I think he treated her like that because she’s a girl. If I am wrong then Lavar’s being unfairly called a sexist here. (In Lavar’s defense, I definitely think Leahy overreached when she accused him of threatening her.) I honestly think I would have the exact same opinion if Lavar had behaved the same way on ESPN.

But, man, it was fabulous live radio.

I absolutely loved it.

Now I’ve sat on that same couch as Lavar between Colin and Kristine and I’ve interacted with both of them live on the show. Several times Kristine has jumped in and disagreed with Colin or me. And you know what I did in those situations? I responded to her point, looked at her, and engaged in debate. And I’ve done TV and radio with tons of different women and I think all of them would agree that I’ve treated them the exact same as I would the guys.

Now I get accused of being sexist sometimes by the snowflake brigade out there, but I think the truth of the matter is this, I treat women and men pretty much the exact same. And I also think I treat everyone of every race, religion, sexual and ethnic background the exact same too. I make fun of everyone equally and I’m kind of an asshole. That’s the most equal I can be.

Now I will acknowledge that I’m not perfect. In fact, the one thing I’m guilty of is falling victim to #hotgirlprivilege. That is, I treat women of all races who are good looking better than I do everyone else. Yep, I’m biased towards hotness. And every guy reading this right now is guilty of the same flaw.

As for Kristine’s criticism of Lavar? Come on, that’s entirely in bounds. If he’s going to be in the public as much as he is, Lavar Ball has to develop thicker skin. Lavar is only famous because of his parental relationship with his sons, which means his parenting skills, or lack thereof, are 100% fair game. Lavar’s the exact same as the Kardashians, the Duggars and Jon and Kate Gosselin. He’s the male Kris Jenner. All of these parents have been criticized and praised, analyzed and psychoanalyzed. That’s because they’ve elected to put themselves in the public eye primarily as parents. Whereas I think it would be unfair to go after LeBron’s kids just because their dad is famous for playing basketball or to go after the juvenile children of politicians or my own kids, for instance, because you disagree with something I did or said, I think it’s perfectly fair to critique Lavar’s parenting and his relationship with his kids.

Furthermore, Lavar didn’t engage Leahy and combat her opinions, he dismissed her as unworthy of engaging in conversation. In my experience women may get angry when you disagree with them, but they get absolutely furious when you don’t even respect them enough to argue with them.

Finally, isn’t a bit strange that with all the attention Lavar Ball has received for his sons that we’ve never seen their mom? She’s kind of important here too, right? If we’re going to put the Ball family on the national stage, aren’t you kind of curious to see the woman who met Lavar Ball and thought, “Okay, I want to have this man’s babies.”

Ethan writes: 

“Where do you think LaVar Ball ranks all time on the ‘family members fucking up a famous athletes career’ list? I’d have to put him up there towards the top of this list because I can’t for the life of me remember the last time a family member told professional franchises that his kid wouldn’t even work out for them, and then go and ask 3 BILLION dollars for a shoe brand that refuses to market to women.”

I think you’d have to put him number one right now. Because he’s the only parent in a team sport that I can think of who has made himself a part of his child’s future. I can’t think of a single other dad or mom in this situation right now. Hell, do you even know anyone else’s dad or mom unless their dad was a famous athlete too?

If you’re the Lakers and thinking about taking Lonzo Ball I think you 100% have to contemplate the Lavar angle here.

In fact, you know what I’d honestly do if I were the Lakers? I’d make Lavar an employee of the team, pay him a few hundred thousand dollars a year and tell him that once he signed an employment contract he was agreeing not to do media in exchange for his salary.

Seriously, I think it would be a great investment.

The Lakers are a multi-billion dollar franchise. If you could protect your franchise and your top draft pick by paying Lavar Ball to keep quiet, don’t you have to consider doing it? Let’s say you offer Lavar $400k a year to work as a “consultant” and have him sign a contract agreeing not to speak to the media. His consulting obligations would be minimal.

I think he’d agree to that.

Bang, your biggest headache is gone. It’s money incredibly well spent.

Having said that, the real lesson of sports dads is that a sports dad can’t harm his kid if the kid is really, really good at sports.

Think about it: Richard Williams, father of Venus and Serena, did absolutely nothing to harm his daughter’s career with his outspoken and incendiary comments. Eventually Earl Woods vanished into the background behind Tiger and had zero negative impact on his son. Same thing with Jack Elway, Archie Manning, and Andre Aggassi’s dad. All five of these dads were part of big stories involving their sons at some point in time, typically early in their son or daughter’s careers, and then they all faded into the background as their progeny came of age and established how talented they were at their respective sports.

The son or daughter’s talent ultimately outweighs the parent’s meddling.

We’ve yet to have a great athlete derailed by a parent’s meddling. (At least not one that’s reached the professional level. Maybe you can say that Marv Marinovich applies here, but I tend to think that’s not true. Can you really blame the dad for driving his son so hard that he becomes a millionaire professional, but then falls apart under the limelight. Is that really the dad’s fault? It’s a convenient excuse, but is it that fair? I tend to think Todd Marinovich would have had substance abuse issues no matter who his dad was.) And to be fair, what has Lavar done wrong for Lonzo to this point? Lonzo got a scholarship to a top school, his son has stayed out of trouble, and he’s going to become a multi-millionaire pro athlete. As much as Lavar may rub people the wrong way, isn’t his outspoken brashness better than being a cliched absentee father of an athlete?

Guess what, if Lonzo Ball is really good at basketball then eventually people won’t care about Lavar at all. Why would they? If he’s great at basketball Lonzo will become the story, not his dad.  Right now LaVar Ball is the male version of Kris Jenner. The only difference between he and the Kardishian matriarch is that his sons seem to have basketball talent whereas the Kardashian sisters were all just hot.

But guess who will get the blame now if Lonzo doesn’t have a good pro career? Hint: it won’t be Lonzo.

Andy writes:

“So it looks more and more like Mayweather vs McGregor may actually happen. With that being said, nearly all the sports commentators I hear say it won’t even be that close, Mayweather will win easily. I’m no boxing expert or MMA expert, but I balk at this assertion. Sure, Mayweather has much quicker hands and the experience factor, but McGregor has a slight height advantage, a 2 inch reach advantage and a weight advantage (in a good way). Not to mention, he is 12 years younger than Mayweather. 12 years! In athletic events, that’s light years.

This isn’t a QB vs QB with guys blocking. It’s two guys head to head trying to pound each other. Youth matters. Plus, Mayweather hasn’t knocked anybody out in years and that’s what McGregor has been doing for a decade now. And, McGregor can surely take Mayweather punches with heavier padded boxing gloves. Hell, he’s basically accustomed to bare-knuckle fighting in MMA. I may be crazy, but I just don’t see how Mayweather has that much of an advantage unless you’re just betting that he can prance around long enough to avoid getting hit and take it to a decision. But if McGregor pops him, I think he goes out like a light. What sayeth the all-knowing king of inclusivity?”

I think you’re drastically underestimating Mayweather’s boxing ability. If pro boxers can’t get a solid hit on him, why in the world would McGregor ever be able to do so either given that he’s only trained as a boxer for a few months? Now I don’t think Mayweather will knock out McGregor either, but the idea that a guy who has never fought in a boxing match is suddenly going to be great at boxing against the greatest living boxer seems insane to me.

Having said that, the numbers have come down substantially on McGregor. Initially the OddsShark odds tracker had McGregor at +950 in this fight and now McGregor is +475. Initially Mayweather was -2250 and now he’s -750. So money has been coming in on McGregor. Is that based on any real information? I have no idea.

Now I don’t want to say a match is ever rigged without clear evidence, but what’s the way these two guys could make the most possible money? With McGregor beating Mayweather in the first fight, right? If Mayweather beats McGregor nobody will pony up for a rematch. But if McGregor shockingly beats Mayweather then both men would make massive paydays with a rematch — which Mayweather would have to win, naturally — and then a rubber match would occur where both guys could go all out.

Both men literally stand to make hundreds of millions of more dollars if McGregor wins the first match than if Mayweather does.

I think these economic incentives are definitely worth keeping in mind here.

Would Mayweather give up his perfect boxing record in exchange for a billion dollars? I would.

Alex writes:

“You talk a good bit about how ridiculous you think it is that some people want speakers and writers fired for expressing unpopular opinions. I agree with you, but I’m curious if you believe there’s a line you can cross in this arena? Examples being Marine Le Pens father not believing the holocaust was real or people like Alex Jones thinking Sandy Hook was an inside government job.

Clearly they shouldn’t be jailed or prosecuted for these opinions but from a social standpoint it cannot be a good thing for these opinions to be shared freely right?”

I believe that the cure for speech you don’t like isn’t censoring that speech, I think it’s more speech. The only exceptions to free speech I would make are those that are directly connected to violent acts, i.e. fighting words. That is, I don’t think it should be permissible for an American political leader to take the stage and encourage his followers to kill Muslims, or white people or black people, as soon as they leave a rally.

Having said that,  if I owned a business would I want to support content that is demonstrably false like the Sandy Hook or holocaust lies? The answer is no. I wouldn’t let the Outkick brand be connected to falsehoods like this and I wouldn’t blame other brands for making the same decision.

But rather than campaign for someone else to be silenced by being taken off the air because of lack of advertising support, I’d campaign in the marketplace of ideas and prove that my opinions are the correct ones.

Why is that?

Because even if someone is wrong about one particular opinion, it doesn’t necessarily mean that person should be silenced for every additional opinion. I also believe that the way to combat ideas you disagree with isn’t to drive them underground, I think you combat them in public.

I also think it’s important to distinguish between facts and opinions. All of my opinions are rooted in concrete facts. Now you may not agree with my opinion that black lives matter protesters have been a failure and cost more black lives than they have saved, but the data underlying my opinions are sound. That is, established and correct facts are an important basis to lead to my opinions or, I think, to anyone else’s opinion as well.

If I get a fact wrong, it bothers me and I’ll correct it, frequently on the air on my radio show or on our Periscope and Facebook Live shows. If I Tweet something that I later find out is factually inaccurate, I’ll delete it. That’s the only time I ever delete Tweets.

Many people, including our current president, have difficulties distinguishing between fact and opinion on social media. But should we change our national discourse because dumb people are too dumb? I don’t think so.

Dave writes:

“I am a huge hockey fan. I love that you’re going to Preds games and tweeting about hockey. I live in the South, so most of my friends don’t follow the NHL at all. I’ve always said that if a non fan just watched a few games they’d be hooked. Games are quick, there’s constant action and the NHL certainly has it’s fair share of characters. I hope your coverage of the Preds leads to an increase in Southern hockey fans. What can the NHL do to market itself better?”

The biggest problem the NHL has is people like sports they’ve played. And most people never play hockey.

Just about everyone in this country plays football, baseball, basketball and, now, soccer at some point in his or her life. (It doesn’t have to be organized. It can be just pick-up basketball or soccer, two hand touch football, or even wiffle ball.) That’s important because it allows you to follow the sport and appreciate what you’re seeing. I may not be a great basketball, football, soccer or baseball player, but I’ve played all of those sports enough to immediately recognize talent. I can’t say the same about hockey.

But from a pure entertainment perspective the NHL playoffs destroy the NBA playoffs. Think about it, in the NBA there are two teams out of 16 that can win the title. This means the other 28 teams are just killing time every year. And of the 16 teams that advance to the playoffs in the NBA, virtually none of them can win a title. In the NHL all 16 playoff teams can win the Stanley Cup — even after last night’s tough overtime loss the Preds, the 8th seed in the west, could win it — and there have been 26 overtime games already.


The NBA has had two overtime games in its playoffs so far.

As for how to grow the game, I honestly don’t know. Because you really have to see a hockey game in person. Hockey is a hard sport to watch on TV because the puck is hard to follow, even in HD.

Unlike, say, soccer which can rely on a massive and growing influx of fans who played the game, I think hockey is destined to forever be a niche sport unless everyone in America suddenly moves to Big Ten country.

Okay, I’m off to the beach.

Pray for me.

Love y’all and thanks for reading Outkick.