Clay Travis, political commentator of The Clay Travis and Buck Sexton Show in the radio slot formerly filled by the legendary Rush Limbaugh, spoke recently at the Freedom Center’s annual Restoration Weekend, held November 10-13, 2022 at the Biltmore Hotel in Phoenix, AZ.
Travis spoke about the Left’s corruption of sports with politics, the attack on merit and competition, and the transgender madness in sports. He finished with a rousing call to arms in defense of American exceptionalism.
Don’t miss it below!
Clay Travis: So look; some of you may know me, some of you may not, so let me just give you a little bit of a background. First of all, I just came from the county board. I was helping to count ballots here in Arizona. I — when I agreed to speak, I guess I had the crazy idea that we would actually have decided who won the elections a couple of days after; we’ve now been counting Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and they’re saying we may not know what’s going to happen until Monday now, so — and Tuesday, and it’s crazy how this continues to play out.
But I think what it represents in general — so I started off in the world of sports. I love sports. Like a lot of you out there, they are an escape from the serious things in life, long ago described, back in the day when everybody would buy a newspaper, that the sports section was the toy chest of the newspaper. You’d go there to escape all of the things that might otherwise distract you that are not going as much in a positive light.
And for a long time, I did sports. Some of you may have listened to my sports talk radio show that I did from 6 to 9 a.m. on the East Coast. We were on out here in Phoenix. We had a big audience. And people say, how did you make the decision that you were going to leave sports and end up — and I’ll talk about this in a little bit — working to fill the shoes, as best anyone can, of the legendary Rush Limbaugh, alongside of my partner Buck Sexton? And the truth of the matter is, I didn’t leave sports. Sports became politics. And it was impossible to disentangle what was going on in our world, and I saw it, maybe, a little bit earlier than others did, that there was a clear intent to take away areas of American society where there was no politics involved and make them political.
And let me just give you a little example. Sports still, to a certain extent, but nowhere near as much as they used to be, is a place where everyone is on equal footing. If you work in a hospital and you are a janitor or you’re the neurosurgeon, you can sit down in the hospital cafeteria and have a conversation with each other on equal footing. They bring us together in general. If your team wins a big game, you don’t think, as you celebrate and turn around and give high fives to everyone, about what their political orientation might be. You don’t think about who they married or what their identity is. Sports is the ultimate meritocracy; it brings us together in a way that few other things do.
And what I saw happening — and I wrote about this in my recent book, Republicans Buy Sneakers Too — is there was a clear intent — and by the way, for those of you who don’t know, that is a quote from Michael Jordan. Michael Jordan, back in the day, and he’s now admitted that he said it — it was initially unknown if he did it in the recent fabulous documentary that they had about the 1990s Bulls. Jordan was asked why he didn’t get political. Why did he not come out and say, hey, you need to go out and vote for this guy or this girl. He said, Republicans buy sneakers, too. And I think it’s such a larger metaphor of the universe that we’ve created in the world of sports, and I’ll start there talking about this idea.
I bet a lot of you grew up, or you have your kids, and they grew up watching, like I did, the 1990s-era Michael Jordan Bulls. They won six titles in eight years. In 1998 — for those of you from Phoenix, some of those are not positive memories because they beat the Suns, Charles Barkley, that team back in the day — but in 1998, the Bulls won their sixth title in eight years. Michael Jordan may have pushed off Bryon Russell, but stepped back — if you’re a Jazz fan, he definitely did — stepped back and drained the jumper to win Game 6. It’s the most watched basketball game in the history of the United States of America. The largest number of people to ever watch. Everyone was enthralled by the Jordan era.
At the same time, a little company you may have heard of called Nike hitched their wagon to Michael Jordan and became one of the most successful American companies in the world. And their goal was simple; we’re going to reward athletic excellence and we are going to try to appeal to every single person in the entire nation. And Jordan, to me, was emblematic of an era that that represented, the 1990s.
Think about it. Oprah Winfrey became the most watched television host in America. Black woman; her race, her ethnicity didn’t matter. I’m sure a lot of you watched Oprah Winfrey. You saw the rise of Bill Cosby before the Bill Cosby craziness came out. Cosby Show was the most important and successful show on television for much of the late 1980s. What was the message that they told in The Cosby Show? No matter what our racial differences might be, all families have a lot in common. You could watch if you were six years old and enjoy The Cosby Show. You could watch if you were 80, white, black, Asian, Hispanic. They spoke to larger family dynamics. It was wildly popular. Will Smith — again, before things fell apart — rose to become the biggest and most successful actor in America.
And the idea was, we want to appeal to everyone. And then, something crazy happened. Everything got driven insane by identity politics. And I saw it happening in the world of sports through the prism of Michael Jordan and LeBron James. Now, a lot of you may not be huge sports fans, but the debate that echoes throughout basketball turned into, who’s the better basketball player, Michael Jordan or LeBron James? Everybody’s got an opinion. I just heard somebody yell out Jordan, and I agree with you. But — and we had Donald Trump come on the show recently when I was doing a sports show, and I asked him, and he had his opinion, and it was Michael Jordan, too.
But what happened was, LeBron was chasing the legacy of Michael Jordan, and I think LeBron made a very calculated decision. He recognized that he was never going to catch Jordan. And he decided that he was going to appeal to a tiny sliver of the population and try to become Muhammad Ali. I think that LeBron made a calculated decision. And instead of trying to appeal to everyone — remember the commercials back in the day, be like Mike? Gatorade, McDonald’s. The idea was, you wanted to aspire to be like Michael Jordan. LeBron James decided that he wanted to divide us. And I think LeBron made a calculated decision that he was going to try to — instead of emulating Michael Jordan, like Tiger Woods had, like a lot of athletes had, where the goal was to appeal to the largest possible audience, even to people that might be different than you — LeBron decided that he was going to appeal to a niche.
And that decision drove down — this is a good stat for you. Michael Jordan’s shoes still sell more pairs, the Air Jordans do, for Nike, than every current NBA player combined to this day. Okay? That’s a wild stat that doesn’t get a lot of attention. Why is that? It’s because there is a great benefit in trying to appeal to everyone. And I think it drove LeBron crazy that he wasn’t able to have the same appeal as Jordan. And so he made a calculated decision, and I think it was very intentional, that he was going to embrace social justice warriordom, left-wing politics, and frankly, he drove the NBA brand right off a cliff. Right off a cliff.
Because there are a lot of people out there, the vast majority of sports fans, that put on sports to escape the serious things in life, right? You come home, you want to pop a beer, you want to kick your feet up. You don’t want to see what the NBA became, which was politics by any other name. And LeBron got so much attention, and the sports media, which had always been left-wing but suddenly became even more left-wing, created a wild dichotomy where they tried to brand LeBron as the greatest, bravest hero in the history of sports. And the American public overwhelming rejected it.
And so I mentioned the ratings earlier. 1998, Michael Jordan, most watched basketball series and most watched basketball game of all time, Game 6 of that NBA Finals, even though we have 50 million more people today that live in America than lived in the America in the 1990s, the number of people watching the NBA has fallen by 60% and 70% for their biggest games. And that is a function of the market speaking back.
Now, I’m a big markets guy, too. I founded a company called OutKick, which, if you’re a sports fan and you’re also sane, you’ll probably like. I sold it last year to Fox. We just are getting the numbers every month; I’m a data guy. We are rapidly advancing on becoming one of the biggest sports sites on the internet. We’ve got a crazy idea at OutKick. Thank you. We’ve got a crazy idea at OutKick: We believe that sports should be fun and that you shouldn’t be talking about how America is an awful place every single day, particularly when sports fans are making you a billionaire. Because LeBron James is a billionaire now. There’s nowhere else in the world where you could make more money off athletics than LeBron has made in America today. So he is simultaneously profiting off of all of the money that he is making while denigrating America and driving the NBA brand right off a cliff.
And so, what I have seen here in this battle that’s going on is, sports has become politics by any other name, and what I believe I can see is the degree to which everything that politics touches turns toxic in many different ways, and the goal is to take over every aspect of American life so that they can use basketball or football or baseball as a way to denigrate America and simultaneously lift far-left-wing politics.
And let me just give you an example of this. During COVID, the NBA played inside a so-called bubble at Disney World. They took the names of the players off the jerseys and replaced them with left-wing political slogans. A lot of you, if you don’t pay attention, didn’t even realize that this was happening. So if you have a kid — I’ve got three boys, and they’re basketball fans — suddenly they’re watching basketball and all these left-wing political slogans have replaced literally the people’s names on the back of the jersey. Guys, girls, during the NBA playoffs in 2020, teams refused to play because of the Jacob Blake shooting. They refused to come out onto the court and play. Now, Jacob Blake, if you’ve forgotten, was an armed man who had had the police called on him by a woman that he had committed domestic violence against; he was shot in Kenosha, Wisconsin; riots started; athletes refused to play sports based on that.
And so when I see all of this happening, and when I saw it connected to Colin Kaepernick, what I’ve always said is, the great thing about sports is it’s the ultimate meritocracy. White, black, Asian, Hispanic, gay, straight, nothing matters other than, are you talented enough to win? And if you want a good illustration of that, Deshaun Watson’s accused of sexually assaulting 30 women; just got the biggest contract in the history of the NFL and only got suspended for 11 games.
Now, you can argue about whether or not that should be the case, but the reason why he got paid is because he’s an incredibly talented quarterback. And the reason why Colin Kaepernick is not in the NFL is because he’s not good enough to start at a high level in the NFL. But Colin Kaepernick became the patron saint of the left wing in this country. He had a document on Netflix. They paid him millions of dollars. Nike signed him to a deal. First time they’ve ever signed someone in Nike history that was not getting a deal because of his excellence on the field or the court, but because of his politics.
In his Netflix documentary, there’s — I can’t believe that this was real. There is a scene where they use footage that they made — they taped it — 1800s that they say is a slave auction, and they transpose that, turn it into the NFL draft. I just want you all to think about what’s going on right now. These are things that your kids are seeing. Colin Kaepernick narrates as there is a slave auction going on, and they slowly turn the slave auction into the NFL draft and say it’s the same thing that’s going on. Now — seriously, this is what’s going on.
For those of you who don’t understand what exactly happens at the NFL draft, you’re effectively going on a job interview. They measure you, they test you. They’re trying to figure out, as many of you, I’m sure, have businesses, is this person worth me investing tens of millions in? Because if you’re a first-round pick, you get tens of millions of dollars. And so they find out how tall you are. They find out how long your arms are. They put you through all these different drills. How fast can you run the 40-yard dash? How much can you bench-press, 225 pounds? And then they compare that data with all of our college data from when you were playing and decide, hey, this is how we’re going to project this person as an elite-level talent, or not. You are auditioning at the NFL combine to become a multimillionaire at 22 years old.
Colin Kaepernick, with millions of dollars from Netflix, turned that meritocracy, that voluntary attempt to make generational wealth for your family based on your talent on the football field, into the equivalent of a slave auction. And Netflix let it happen. And almost no one in the world of sports spoke out against it at all. I am a lone voice in the wilderness. And the truth of the matter is, almost everyone agrees with me. The reason why OutKick is doing so well is because we’re speaking to the 80% of sports fans who aren’t woke and crazy. Sports are and should be the epitome of American excellence and capitalistic dominance on fields of play, because the best and most talented athletes make the most money. Just like the best and most well-run and designed businesses make the most money.
But what they are trying to do is destroy us from within by arguing that sports isn’t actually fair. And it’s spreading and becoming crazier and crazier, y’all. I never believed, when I started off in sports, that we would ever be in a situation where men who decide to become women are winning championships. I mean, and this is not even hyperbole. This is not satire. This is not exaggerated. I don’t know how many of you paid attention to the Lia Thomas story. So University of Pennsylvania men’s swimmer named Will Thomas goes and swims at the University of Pennsylvania in the Ivy League for three years. Pretty decent men’s swimmer. Average. Decides to become a woman, changes the name — Will Thomas, a 6-foot-4, 220-pound man — changes the name from Will Thomas to Lia Thomas, sits out a year, becomes a member of the Penn women’s swimming team. Sets, this year, a record in the 500 and is the greatest women’s swimmer in the NCAA championships this year. And is nominated by the University of Pennsylvania for women’s athlete of the year.
Now I just want all of you to think about this, and I’m going to tell you a story. Almost nobody would even write about this. We wrote and talked about it at OutKick. The girls on the Penn women’s swimming team — I mean, the actual girls — were terrified to speak out. Because these girls are, by and large — they’re not going to make any money off their talent. Their moms and dads have been taking them to swim since they were 4 and 5 years old. They’ve been getting up before dawn for their entire lives to be able to excel. Several of the girls talked — we let them talk anonymously to OutKick, and I’m paraphrasing one of the quotes from them, but I just want all of you to think about it for a minute. She said, I hope when I grow up and have kids of my own, that I have boys. Because if I have girls, we’ve got one biological man now, but those girls don’t have a chance in women’s athletics because more and more, this is what’s going to happen.
Think about being a 22-year-old women’s athlete at the University of Pennsylvania and you’re already hoping that when you get married and have kids one day, that if they’re going to participate in athletics, you have boys, because girls aren’t going to be on an even playing field.
And I just want to take it outside of this transgender craziness for a moment and think about it. I coach Little League Baseball. I’ve coached flag football. I got three boys, like I said earlier, 14, 12 and 8. What would the reaction be if I showed up at 11-year-old baseball with a 17-year-old? Everybody would say, that’s crazy. Because the A, we have age limits to create fairness. Those of you who are boxing or UFC or fighting fans. A 250-pound fighter doesn’t fight against a 150-pound fighter. For those of you who have kids out in high school right now, private schools don’t always compete against public schools because some give scholarships and some don’t. The biggest high schools, 5A, 6A, however you want to classify them, don’t compete against the smallest schools.
Trying to create even competition is actually at the very foundation of athletics. Yet we are allowing men, who are biologically bigger, stronger and faster than women, to decide that they are going to be women and they’re going to compete against women and become champions? And this isn’t just happening at the University of Pennsylvania. The Olympics now are starting to have biological men winning and competing in the Olympics against women. And this is craziness, right? This is crazy stuff.
But what the U-Penn girls said is something that I think is becoming very much of the truth. They said, look, the reason why we can’t put our own names behind this is because if we do — we’ve got to go to grad school; we’ve got to go apply for jobs when we graduate; the number one result for us is going to be, insert person’s name here, trans-phobe. Because they are all going to get attacked, and then if you’re trying to get a job at a Wall Street investment bank or you’re applying to try to get into grad school, those businesses and those schools are going to not give those girls opportunities because they spoke out and said this isn’t right. And even more terrifying, we talked to parents. And the moms and the dads were afraid to say something because they said, if we speak out, we’re going to have issues at our own jobs. This is wrong. It’s just 100% wrong. And I don’t see it as Democrat-Republican; I see it as sane or insane.
So I mentioned earlier, how did I end up doing what I did now? COVID happened. And I was one of the only people in sports who said, we have to keep kids in schools, we have to let kids keep playing, and we have to ensure that we get back to normalcy as quick as we can. Almost everyone in sports media argued it wasn’t safe to play sports and that schools needed to stay closed, and I just — I’m still so fired up about this. How many of you out there — it might have been you, it might have been a kid, one of your kids or one of your grandkids — how many people get saved by sports?
Let me explain what I mean by that. I got a 14-year-old boy right now. There is no dumber group of people that has ever existed than 14-, 15-, 16-year-old boys, and if you’ve been a 14- or 15- or 16-year-old boy, you know exactly what I’m talking about. You think that you are the smartest, you think that you are the coolest, you think that you know everything. It’s the most delusional group of people that’s ever existed, and I know Nancy Pelosi. All right? I always say, no woman in her life — her final two words have never been, “Watch this.” There are an awful lot of boys out there that their final two words in their life are “Watch this,” and then they go off and do something crazy, all right?
Boys in particular, but girls too, need the structure of school and oftentimes they need the structure of athletics. I know a lot of guys who stayed eligible to graduate from high school and then the lightbulb went off at some point because they really cared desperately about playing football or basketball or soccer. They had that structure. They needed that leadership to put them on the right path.
Democrats overwhelmingly, while they claim that they are obsessed with equity, created the most — the least equitable outcome of our lives, because they insisted that kids overwhelmingly who were poor, didn’t have access to Wi-Fi, had to stay home and learn remotely. And I knew that. And I said, we have to get sports back up and running, because one, it’s safe to do it; two, we’re going to lose so many kids if we don’t. Y’all, do you know there’s millions of kids that we just lost. They never went back to school. All over this country. Overwhelmingly, those are some of the least privileged kids of America.
Right after COVID happened, I was talking with a teacher, AP history teacher in rural Kentucky. He was a listener on my show. He said — for those of you who don’t follow it a lot, AP history basically, or any AP exam, advanced placement test, the idea is you can get college credit by taking a test at the end of the year. You work super-hard, it’s way more difficult than the regular history course or the regular biology course or the regular French course or whatever it is. He said, we’re trying to study, my kids are, for the AP history exam. They’re rural, middle-of-nowhere Kentucky, super poor. And that hits me, because my family on my dad’s side is all from rural, middle-of-nowhere Kentucky. Muhlenberg County, Kentucky, coal mining territory. My great-granddad died of black lung disease. My grandfather — same name, I’m named after — eighth-grade education, came down to Nashville to work at DuPont, the big factory there, and that’s how my family ended up in Nashville. And now I get to go to law school, I get to talk to people every day — I mean, because I got to stand on their shoulders, because of the opportunity that they gave me. It’s the American Dream. But I didn’t have the same kind of resources that my kids have now. I didn’t go to private school. I was a public school kid in Nashville, K through 12. I didn’t have a computer at home. Didn’t have the internet before I went off to college. Like, I was very middle-class.
He said, they talk about remote school and remote learning. He said, I’ve got the hardest-working kids in these rural Kentucky towns, kids who have no advantages, that have busted their asses to be trying to get college credit so they can get into community college and not have to pay as much, so they can go to college and be able to get scholarships. I was fortunate in AP classes; I finished my first year of college while in high school. It’s a big deal. He said, everybody’s talking about how they can learn from home and the Wi-Fi and everything else. He said, none of the kids in my school have Wi-Fi at home. He said, you know what they’re doing to try to get ready for AP exams? They are meeting in the parking lot of McDonald’s because it’s almost the only place with free Wi-Fi in their whole community.
Democrats made that happen. They made the least-advantaged kids out there — they added barriers to their life, and we lost millions of them. Kids who just disappeared. They don’t know where they went. They don’t know what they’re going to be capable of. But we know that with every year of advanced education, the outcomes for those kids are so much better.
I spend a lot of time now — I’m fortunate to have the reach that we do — because I’ve got three boys, I spend a lot of time thinking about how do you connect with so many of these young kids? Because I’m sure you guys are dealing with it now. They’re overwhelmingly left-wing, these young kids. They’re scared. They’re really scared. They don’t really understand anything. You remember when you were that age, what that was like. And they’re being fed, America is awful, all the time. All day long.
The truth of the matter is this: White, black, Asian, Hispanic, gay, straight, whatever your background is, do you know that in America today, if you graduate from high school, if you don’t have a kid until you’re 25, and if you get married, your poverty rate is zero. Think about that. How often do you hear any leader ever talk to kids like that? I can’t guarantee anybody’s going to be rich. It’s hard to become wealthy. You might have breaks. You might start a business, everything can go right, and then the Democrats can shut it down because they decide it’s not essential, right? You can’t control everything.
But I spend so much time trying to talk to kids and saying, hey, I just want you guys to do three things. Graduate from high school, don’t have a kid until you’re 25, get married. I can’t guarantee that you’re going to be rich, but I can guarantee that you’re going — zero percent chance you’re going to be poor. Think how revolutionary that would be, if we could just get every kid to do those three things.
Now, look, I hope they go on to become doctors and lawyers and engineers; higher education certainly is something to be aspired to, but I feel like we spend very little time actually focusing on the nuts and bolts of how do you take that next step? And I think that’s why sports is important, right? Nick Saban is one of the greatest coaches out there. He talks about the process of getting to positions of winning. A lot of choices you have to make. And I feel like we are doing a really poor job of instilling what those choices need to be for these kids. And I feel like we’re selling the idea that America is not a land of opportunity and that they have no hope of success.
The mind is powerful. If you believe that you’re going to fail, you are. One of the great lessons of sports — you know, nobody could break the four-minute mile. Roger Bannister did it. Everybody had tried forever and ever and ever to break the four-minute mile, and then Roger Bannister did it. And you know what happened right after that? Dozens of people broke the 4-minute mile. Because one person had shown them that it was possible, and in their head, they recognized, if he did it, I can do it, too.
And that, to me, is what sports represents, right? If one person can have that extreme level of success, maybe I can do it, too. We all follow in the footsteps of others. And when we denigrate and attack sporting excellence, what we are doing, ultimately, is attacking the foundations of American excellence, and I think it’s intentional. Because when you sell to a kid, you can’t do something, you’re right. And when you sell to a kid that you can do something, you’re right as well. How often now did we have to fight in order for sports to exist?
The reason why I took the Rush Limbaugh slot — and Rush Limbaugh is a legend, and for those of you who know sports, oftentimes the last thing you want to do is follow a legend, because it’s very hard to live up to that person. You oftentimes want to be the guy who goes after the guy — like, whoever takes over for Nick Saban or Bill Belichick, they got a really tough job, right? And so if you think about that, some people are like, well, what happens if you fail? And one of the things that I’ve worked toward in my life is, fear of failure is, I think, one of the most toxic things that exists in our world today. Because if you aren’t sometimes failing, you aren’t really reaching very far. And I try to instill this in my boys all the time. I’ve failed a lot. In fact, one of the greatest ads I’ve ever seen in the world of athletics is Michael Jordan talking about all the times he missed the game-winning shot, right? But you have to put yourself into that position to be willing to fail, to be willing to rise up with everybody watching and potentially fall flat on your face.
And so I spend a lot of time — they recruited me for a while, because what happened was, I was doing sports talk radio, 6 to 9 a.m. Eastern every morning. Sports shut down in March of 2020. May, June, April, all of that, nothing going on. I still did three hours every day of radio. Something interesting happened; our audience skyrocketed. And I work at iHeart, and they came to us and said, we can’t figure this stuff out. People are showing up to listen to your show in record numbers even though there isn’t a single sporting event going on to talk about. And do you know why that was? Because I was selling hope. Every day, I was arguing, we have to get back and play college football. Kids have to be going back to school. We have to recognize that COVID is a challenge, but guys, we fought World War II. We fought the Civil War.
I’m a history nerd, too; I haven’t necessarily talked about this a lot with you guys, but every election they say is the most important one and the most challenging one and our democracy is at stake and everything else. Y’all, in 1864, in the middle of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln had to win an election to continue the Civil War. George McClellan was the Democrat nominee; he wanted to allow the South to secede and end the Civil War. Those were the stakes. In 1944, FDR had to win because his opponent wanted to end World War II before we had defeated the Nazis. Those were the stakes. And we made it through that.
And so those are the kind of stories that I’m telling on the show for months. And they came to me and they said, after Rush died, we know you love sports, but we really would like for you to come over and start anew on the biggest radio show in the country. And I talked about it with my wife, just quiet, because it’s a big deal, who’s going to take over for Rush, and ultimately, what I came to is, I love sports. I’m going to be out here for the Super Bowl. I can’t wait. I’m going to combine it with the Waste Management Open. I may not remember any of it, but I’m going to try to do it.
But who wins the Super Bowl doesn’t matter. I mean, it matters if you own a team, and it matters if you’re on that team, and if you’re a fan you might feel better, but the world isn’t different the day after the Super Bowl happens based on who won. I’m a huge University of Tennessee fan, as they said for the intro; that’s what keeps me humble. We’re actually pretty good this year, and I would pay a lot of money for Tennessee to win the national championship. But the world isn’t going to be different if Ohio State or Michigan or Tennessee or Georgia win the national championship this year.
But the choices that we make every day as a country, those matter. The vote tally that’s going on right now in Arizona, it matters. The fact that Nevada has decided, at least when I came up here, 9,000 votes between potentially whether the Herschel Walker runoff is going to be for the Senate control or not — Monday night, I was down in Cobb County, which is right north of Atlanta, for Herschel Walker’s final rally. Had to make a decision. Do I want to continue to play in the toy chest of life, or do I want to try to fight battles that matter every single day and help to make this country as great for my kids as it has been for me?
And that’s why I said yes to taking over Rush Limbaugh’s slot. Nobody is ever going to fill his shoes, but the battles that he wants to fight — I’m 43. I like to think I’ve got a good 30 or 40 years to be able to fight. But I really do desperately spend a lot of time now thinking about my boys and what this country is going to be like for them. And I know every single person out here right now — you think about it for your kids or your grandkids, maybe even great-grandkids, and you think — as I said earlier, my great-grandpa died of black lung disease in the coal mines of Kentucky. My grandfather had an eighth-grade education, had to drop out during the Great Depression and go to work. He worked in a factory his entire life. My dad never made $50,000 in a year. But they all advanced our family to the point where I could go to college, the point where I could go to law school, and the point where I could take advantage of that American Dream. And that’s really what every single person out here, regardless of your background, white, black, Asian or Hispanic, is trying to do. We’re all trying to provide just a little bit better opportunity to our kids and our grandkids than we had.
And what I am concerned about is, there are a lot of people out there that believe that America is evil and that capitalism is a failure. And they are advancing on the minds of our kids every single day. The American story is not one of eternal success. Like every single one of you, have some success and you have some failure, but the progress of American society leans toward overall success. And that is a story that deserves to be told. We are an imperfect nation, but we are the greatest nation that has ever existed in the history of the world. How many 14-year-olds believe that? How many 16-year-olds do? That’s the battle that we all have, and that’s the battle that I know you all feel called to, and it’s certainly the battle that I feel called to at this point in my life.
I’m happy to take any questions. I know you guys are on a tight schedule, so I’m not sure exactly what’s going on. I’ll pose for photos or whatever else. How much time do we have?
Unidentified speaker: I think we can take — probably take two questions.
Clay Travis: Two questions. All the way in the back, yeah?
Audience member: [Indiscernible] say something about the reaction of the [indiscernible] press?
Clay Travis: The reaction to — oh, Brittney Griner. Look, I’m an American, so I hate the idea of anybody being put in prison anywhere — Brittney Griner is a WNBA basketball player who was arrested in Russia for possession of a small amount of marijuana. I think it would be incredibly valuable for every single American to leave America and see what the rest of the world is actually like. If I could wave my magic wand, I think every kid who graduates at 18 years old having to do a couple of years of service to see what the world is actually like, because the poorest people in America are richer than almost anywhere else in the world. I’ll give you an example. India is growing quickly. The poorest people in America today would be the 20% wealthiest in India, right? I don’t think our kids have a comprehension of how good they actually have it relative to the rest of the world. So to tie this into your Brittney Griner question, I think it’s forcing people to realize, oh, wait, the American justice system is imperfect, but it ain’t nine years in prison for having a little bit of weed on you like it is in Russia. And I think that is kind of setting off a few alarm bells in people recognizing what we have.
And the other thing I would say that’s important about this is, we have to recognize that just because something is good now doesn’t mean it’s going to be good forever. I think there’s a lot of lazy thought in America where people say, well, it’s not that bad. I hear this all the time, and they say, why do you talk about the transgender swimmer? That’s a small percentage. Because you have to think about where we’re headed. When you’ve got a man who’s winning woman of the year and is the greatest swimmer in the NCAA, there are going to be more, right? Every sport is going to have more and more biological men who decide to identify as women. We’ve got to say that’s wrong. We’re not going to allow it anymore.
Yeah, we got —
Audience member: My name is Tom Flynn. I’m a Triple Domer — that means I got an undergraduate, a law and an MBA degree from one school, University of Notre Dame. I’m one of seven kids, and my older brother showed me how to get a college education by playing football.
Clay Travis: Yep.
Audience member: I would never have gone to college had I not played football.
Clay Travis: You’re a perfect example of the kids I’m talking about.
Audience member: I think sports could be the savior of this country if we really emphasize the proper playing of sports and the proper instilling of that, values that sports give everybody. It’s the best way to learn about recovering from losing, working as a team together —
Clay Travis: Yep.
Audience member: And becoming great, becoming a contributor, becoming a positive person in your society. And I think that’s what the left’s doing. They’re trying to destroy our sports.
Clay Travis: I think you’re 100% right. And thank you for that. And I love that you’re giving your example specifically of — you got a triple degree at Notre Dame. What sport, football?
Audience member: Football. I played with Joe Montana on the ’77 championship team.
Clay Travis: All right, good for you. Hey, hey, what is your life right now if you had never played football?
Audience member: I wouldn’t be here.
Clay Travis: Yeah. And I think, again — this is what I’m talking about, the millions of kids that we lost when we didn’t allow them to play football because we bought into this lie that if you tackled somebody you were going to die of COVID at 16 years old. It’s all bunk, right? And I’m a fact-based guy. I look at the data and make arguments based on it. I say the difference between me now — I was a lawyer, and the difference — people say now, well, how did the law — if you paid me enough back in the day, I’d defend you no matter how much of a jerk you were, right? That’s the job of a lawyer. Now I get to look at all the facts, and I’m my own client, and I get to make the arguments for the things that I think make the most sense, and let me tell you, that’s a good spot to be in. And that’s why I don’t regret or don’t take it for granted for one moment, massive portions of American population don’t think they can say what they believe. How many of you out there have started on Facebook or Twitter or even text messages to type something and then not sent it because you were afraid of how somebody might react to you? That’s every single person out there.
Audience member: You’ve got a corruption, though, that’s entering into sports.
Clay Travis: Yep.
Audience member: You’ve got a corruption of money, big money. I was an athletic director for my high school for a while; I lasted six months because they couldn’t take me. The parents were some of the worst people I had to deal with.
Clay Travis: Yeah.
Audience member: Because they just think their kids are better than they are.
Clay Travis: Yeah.
Audience member: And they just see dollar signs. So that’s got to be managed.
Clay Travis: Thank you.
Unidentified speaker: We’re going to let Steve Moore get the last question.
Clay Travis: Last question for Steve.
Stephen Moore: Clay, thank you. Thank you for what you said today. It’s so important. And thank you for being such an incredibly important voice for one of the greatest mistakes this country — to oppose one of the greatest mistakes this country ever made, which was shutting down our schools, shutting down our businesses. Thank you.
Clay Travis: I think — to your point, I think that is the worst failure of American public policy in any of our lives, and the fact that we didn’t have a major reckoning three days ago for it, I couldn’t sleep Tuesday night because of it. There have to be consequences for poor policy decisions in politics, and so far there haven’t been any. Sorry.
Stephen Moore: So I just wanted to make a quick — but you are — there are people, and many in this room, who were speaking out against lockdowns, and we were vilified for that.
Clay Travis: Yes.
Stephen Moore: And we’ve been vindicated. You’ve been vindicated. So thank you. That’s [indiscernible].
Clay Travis: Well, thank you for that. Look, the thing that I — I am excited. When I sold my company last year, I feel like I won the lottery. I was fortunate, I was rewarded, capitalism — I don’t have to work anymore. And I say you know you are living the best version of your life if you wake up no longer needing financial return for your work and you still want to do the same thing you were doing before you had financial security. And that’s what I feel every single day. It’s a great deal of gratitude.
Stephen Moore: So I just want to make one point about — I’m a huge sports fan, too. I’m a little older than you are. And I used to read the USA Today sports page every day.
Clay Travis: Yep.
Stephen Moore: And it’s not even a sports page anymore.
Clay Travis: You’re right.
Stephen Moore: And it’s not — there’s no sports on the sports page. It really just makes your point. You can’t even find out the score of the games because they’re talking about Black Lives Matter or LBGTQ issues. It’s a tragedy.
Clay Travis: Yeah, and I’ll give you one final example that I want to close with here. I think we can — some people say, hey, why are you still a fan of sports? Because I’m sure some of you out there, you stopped watching the NFL over Colin Kaepernick. You stopped watching the NBA over their woke politics. What I say is, and this is my perspective; if you love something, I’m going to fight as hard as I can to make it what I loved. And I’m not going to walk away and allow it to be taken over by all radicals. I understand the marketplace of ideas; some of you say, hey, I’m out. I can find something else I love. I want sports to be as pure for my kids as it was for me and it was for our dads and granddads.
And so as a part of that, sports can be incredibly valuable, and let me give you a quick story here to close with. Our U.S. women’s soccer team is the best in the world. People — sometimes people out there say, hey, how come our men’s soccer team can’t be as good? The reason is, because we let our women actually play sports. Because women in the United States are actually free. The next time that the Women’s World Cup brackets come out, do you know that you can pick the winner of almost every Women’s World Cup game just by analyzing which country gives more freedom to women? I want you to think about that for a minute. Now, when our women won on the national stage most recently, they refused to go the White House because Donald Trump was there. And they attacked America on the global stage.
Imagine how much more powerful it would have been if one of those women’s soccer players had said, America’s not perfect, but the reason why we’re the best women’s soccer team in the world is because we give more freedom to women than any other country in the world. Imagine that kind of message and how it would have echoed. There are countries all over Middle East that require their women — they won’t even let them play in shorts. They require them — did you see what happened in Iran recently? A women’s climber was put in jail because she competed in climbing without wearing her hijab outside of the country. Imagine how powerful it would be if American exceptionalism was embraced by American athletes and they used their platform to speak out?
And I’ll close with this: LeBron wants to see himself as Muhammad Ali, yet he won’t say a word about supporting human rights in China. He shuts up and dribbles for Chairman Xi. He won’t speak out at all about anything having to do with the concentration camps, the genocide against the Muslim Uyghurs that’s going on right now. There’s a lot of talk about being on the right and wrong side of history.
Muhammad Ali would have spoken up for basic human rights around the world, because being willing to speak truth to power is what actual bravery is. If you make more money based on what you are saying, you are not in any way speaking out bravely. And that is why I believe LeBron is a huge fraud, history is going to judge him poorly, and ultimately, he’s a coward, and we need people to be willing to speak out and stand up for America and American exceptionalism, and I’m proud to be able to do it every single day. And I’m glad that you guys are all here helping to fight for that as well. Thank you all. Appreciate it.