All That and a Bag of Mail: Vince Young Coed Flag Football Edition
It's come to this for Vince Young, he can't find an NFL job so he's now playing coed flag football at the University of Texas. Think about this career trajectory for a moment. From posting the best performance in the history of college football in the BCS title game -- his final play in a Longhorn uniform was a 4th down scramble for an undefeated title in a BCS championship game -- to playing coed flag football while going back to school to get your degree because no one will let you play quarterback for them anymore.
And all of this happened in seven years.
That's a pretty extraordinary fall, isn't it? Especially if you toss in being the overall number three pick in the NFL draft and winning the 2006 rookie of the year award.
Anyway, props to VY, he's actually a nice guy -- he agreed to play on our coed kickball team here in Nashville -- but his football career is over and he's still not even thirty years old. What's he going to do with the rest of his life?
She's the best recruit in the Vol class.
Now on to the mailbag:
Graham R. writes:
"So I'm turing 30 this year and am not married. I live in NOLA, so being as we reside in the south, most of my friends are already married. My buddies are itching for another bachelor party to attend, but there are none on the calendar. Last week we decided that we should go to Vegas for my 30th and treat it as if it's a dry run for my eventual bachelor party.
Now, we were very reluctant to create a "practice bachelor party" because part of the fun of the event is that it is a one time thing. We didn't want it to become a thing that would devalue the real party. To avoid making it a common occurrence we came up with the rule that if you aren't married or have a serious girlfriend by the age of 30 then you can treat the 30th as an excuse to have ONE practice bachelor party.
You like the idea and rule? We came up with some pros and cons, but are interested in your opinion."
I think it's a great idea. Because here's the deal, the older you get the less likely that all of your friends can attend your bachelor party too. Thirty is a big tipping point age. Because it's close to 35, which is not that far from forty and at each of those ages you start to lose friends who can make the trip. The whole purpose of the bachelor party is to be able to hang out with guys without women around. Trust me, as you age that becomes almost impossible.
I love women, but do you know how many dinner parties you attend from the ages of 30-75? Your entire social life becomes one long tray of food. And none of those trays of food include bare boobs.
So why should your bachelor party be disadvantaged because you haven't gotten married yet? That seems unfair.
For instance, I got married at 25. This August I will have been married for nine years. (I know, I know, my wife is a saint). When I got married everyone could come to my bachelor party because no one else was really married. Certainly no one had kids. Basically, no one had any actual adult obligations. This made my bachelor party really fun, but it was more of an extension of college and grad school than anything else. We had a great time, but we were used to having a great time. By the time you're thirty that's more rare. Contrast my bachelor party at 25 with my buddy Tardio's bachelor party from this past August when we were 33. (You really need to read these pieces if you haven't already). We had an amazing time because we don't get to have an amazing time as frequently as we did when we were younger.
But the downside to a bachelor party at 33 was that some people couldn't make it out.
It's a balancing act, the older you are for the bachelor party the more money you have, but also the less freedom and free time you have.
Also, what happens if you never get married? Odds are you'll get married at some point, but what if you don't? Or what if you pull a Clooney and wait until you're like fifty and then marry someone twenty years younger which will infuriate all of your buddies wives? Not everyone looks like George Clooney at fifty. Hell, some of your friends might even be dead by then. Also, what are you going to do on your thirtieth birthday party without the practice bachelor party? I'm thinking you might be curled up in the fetal position with a bunch of empty bottles of Jack looking at Spring Break pictures from 2001. Thinking over and over again, "Man, look how hot Lauren was? Why didn't I marry her? I'm so stupid. And I could have married Jessica too. I wasted like 18 years of great boobs by not marrying her. Plus, she's a doctor now? What am I doing with my life? I made out with a 20 year old Cracker Barrel waitress last night."
This could get ugly in a real hurry.
So I think this is a brilliant idea. (One caveat, your buddies have to be married. You specified that you live in the South. Most Southern men are married by thirty. Hell, some are already divorced. Whereas lots of guys on the coasts aren't married at all by thirty. If all of your buddies are still single at thirty then you don't fit the exemption. Heck, you don't need the exemption. Just keep living.)
But if you're still single at 30 and most of your buddies are already married, you can have one practice bachelor party.
"As an Alabama season ticket holder who sat through the Dubose, Fran and Shula eras, I am seriously considering retirement as a fan, sort of like Jerry Seinfeld, going out on top.
It can't get any better than this for Alabama fans and the only place to go is down from here. Three championships in four years, everyone knows the numbers, but to dominate and see your biggest rivals, Auburn and Tennessee be the as bad as they've ever been, coupled with Indiana Jones type rip your heart out wins over LSU and UGa. Throw in a stomping of Notre Dame, this is the best it's ever been!
Your thoughts on this idea?"
It's counterintuitive, but potentially brilliant. My only concern is this: what do Alabama fans do with their lives when they aren't Alabama fans? I'm not kidding about this. What other hobbies do they have? Would you remain a college football fan and just not have a favorite team anymore? Or would you suddenly start running marathons and painting pictures of dolphins at sunset? Basically, I'm concerned about how you'd fill your time.
Notwithstanding those concerns, there's no doubting that you're at the absolute apex of Alabama football and that Auburn and Tennessee are at their nadirs. Your team won the BCS title this year for the third time in four years and your top two rivals went a a combined 1-15 in the SEC. I mean, that's pretty damn unbelievable. If you retired now, you'd be like Jordan walking away right after he drained the jumper over Bryon Russell.
But here's the problem, don't you think you'd be sucked back in somehow? And then remember what happened to Jordan, he had a great deal of success after the first unretirement -- so long as you came back while Saban was still there I think you'd be fine -- but what if you came back to Bama at the Crimson Tide's own equivalent to Jordan's Washington Wizards years? Because while Bama fans find it impossible to believe, there will certainly be another Mike Shula.
That would be a disaster, right?
So my two thoughts here are: 1. what are your hobbies? and 2. how do you ensure that you're not coming back?
I need to know both of these things before I can give a ruling on a fan retirement.
John M. writes:
Tony W. writes:
With guys like Andrew Sullivan moving away from the advertiser model, what are your thoughts on OKTC's future?
What would compel you to go behind a paywall (like the New York Times), or a "meter model" like Andrew Sullivan (Sullivan recently went to a model where you get a certain number of articles free, but after that you're blocked and then he charges $19.99 a year for complete access).
Or do you view OKTC as driving your potential revenue in other areas (your radio, book, TV appearances), so keeping the advertiser model makes most sense for your strategy?"
This is something I actually think about a great deal, what's the future of online writing given that the advertising rates continue to plummet to nothing?
Let's just run the math on a plan like Sullivan's. We get a minimum of 600,000 unique visitors a month to OKTC. (And we've been as high as over a million uniques in a month). How many of those visitors would be willing to pay $19.99 a year for our content? (Sullivan actually requested $19.99, but also said he'd be happy to take as much as you were willing to pay. So would people actually pay more?) The easy answer is I have no idea. But I do know that several hundred thousand people were willing to pay around that average amount for my three books. And how many people that read Outkick are paying $10 a month for Rivals or 247 Sports subscriptions? Probably quite a bit, right? That's $99 a year for a full subscription to a team site. In comparison to that Outkick would seem really cheap. I mean $19.99 is just .38 cents a week; I'm not even sure what else you can buy for .38 cents a week.
Also, would people actually feel like they're contributing to the site then, like they can take an ownership stake in the content? Again, I have no idea.
Given that I write much more on Outkick in a year than I do in one book, I'd like to think that lots of you would pay. But what's lots? And how many people would pay more than $19.99 to help subsidize the cheap asses among you? The math is pretty simple. If I could get 10,000 people to pay that yearly amount, I'd be at $200,000 in revenue a year. If I could get 20,0000 people, I'm at $400,000 and so on and so forth.
I tend to think I could get at least 20,000 people to pay $19.99 based on book sales, but I have no idea for sure.
And here's the rub, does that conflict with the social nature of the web? In other words, how many articles do I give away for free? And do people start getting pissed when they click on my links and they hit a paywall after a certain amount? I think the social nature of this site's success fundamentally conflicts with a paywall of any sort. But on the other hand don't lots of people acknowledge that content and labor shouldn't be free? For instance, I experiment on here with ad models. I tried video autoplay ads for a while, but lots of you were furious with those. So I took them off. But video ads are very lucrative. My guess is the same people who were furious with video ads would be furious with charging for content. But why? I mean, you don't expect your morning coffee to be free or your cable to be free, right?
Outkick, at it's bottom line, is a business. And businesses exist to make money.
So far we're doing pretty well with an ad-sponsored model thanks to spectacular partners like Bud Light -- I believe that companies are going to sponsor content more and more in the future because I think it's the only way for them to stand out from the noise and grab audience attention online -- but what about in the future?
It's a great question without an easy answer.
Especially since you hit on another aspect of Outkick's growth -- OKTC is a great platform to promote radio, television, and future books. The radio is flourishing and television is coming down the road in the not too distant future. How do I assess a "brand" value for my career growth that is based on Outkick being free and available for all? Think about this from Howard Stern's perspective, he makes much more money on satellite, but not eveyone can hear him now. Has that diminished his media cachet? I think so. But he's also filthy rich now. So what's the balancing act? Finally, you have to assign an enterprise value to Outkick itself. Is OKTC more valuable to a large media entity producing less revenue but a larger audience? Or is it more valuable producing more revenue but less of an audience. I don't want to sell Outkick, but I tend to think that the bigger audience is more valuable even if there's less revenue being produced from it.
Put simply, in such a competitive media environment it's just hard for me to turn any readers away for any reason. Even if, interestingly enough, I might be able to make even more money by turning some readers away.
Anyway, I'll go ahead and tell y'all some news, I'm building out several businesses this spring that will be advertised on Outkick and will stand alone as independent entities. I'll own these businesses outright and the plan is to have vertical businesses that can grow alongside the ad sponsored model on Outkick. I'm hopeful that you guys will support these new businesses as a tacit way to support Outkick as well. Only instead of paying directly for content you'll be getting products for the money you spend. And they'll be products that you'll like.
Those details will come in the next couple of months. In the meantime, I would encourage anyone who wants to make a living as a writer to be thinking about issues like these. Increasingly, all online writers will have to become businessmen to make a living off our content.
Outkick has been a great and fun experiment thus far, the most fun I've had doing anything. But it's hard to know what's coming next in the media universe.
Ed R. writes:
The gay muslim community will be happy to welcome you. The only thing you have to do is announce on Twitter that "your gay."
Then watch Homeland.
We're a pretty welcoming crew.
Nathan M. writes: