Wednesday, January 16, 2013

C'lay Travis Outkicks His Mental Coverage Once Again

Unsurprisingly, this is one of the first pictures that pops up for "Clay Travis".
The Deadspin story about Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o's oft-referenced girlfriend being illusory has spurred plenty of interesting reactions on what this means for the media, story verification procedures, his draft stock and much more. Unfortunately, it's also stirred up some of the worst detritus of the Internet. A case in point comes from C'lay Travis, who's covered college football for Deadspin, AOL FanHouse (RIP), and his current Outkick The Coverage site, plus hosts a Nashville radio show. What's Travis' take on this complicated, layered story that's still coming together? The only plausible rationale here is that Te'o is gay:
This is actually the only story that makes any sense at all. And even if it's true, Te'o will probably deny it because, unfortunately, football players aren't exactly the most welcoming of homosexuality. Otherwise, how are you the star player on a football crazy campus and having an online-only relationship with a woman you've never met? Even Tim Tebow thinks is ridiculous. If you're gay and girls are throwing themselves at you left and right but you continue to rebuff their advances, isn't one of the easiest stories to tell your teammates about why you don't hook up with any of these girls that you have a girlfriend? Even if, you know, that girlfriend isn't actually real. Couldn't being gay even make you more than willing to overlook the fact that your girlfriend didn't want to meet with you? It might be that on some subconscious level Te'o welcomed the hoax because it kept him from having to explain why he didn't have a girlfriend. Furthermore, given that Te'o is Mormon and attending a very religious school, wouldn't being gay be unacceptable to pretty much everyone around him? Having an online girlfiend is an awfully convenient cover. Again, this is just speculation and Te'o would probably deny it anyway, but it actually makes a ton more sense than any other wild theories being tossed out there, that Te'o used the online relationship as a cover for his hidden homosexuality.
To be clear, C'lay is far from the only person who's suggested this, and if this is in fact the case, there will be plenty of support for Te'o from this corner. C'lay has the dubious honour of broaching the topic in the least-tasteful, most-repugnant way possible, though. This is not "the only story that makes any sense at all". C'lay is not inside Te'o's head; he doesn't know the linebacker's motivations, he doesn't know how this apparent relationship unfolded and he certainly doesn't know Te'o's sexual preferences. So why has he come up with this speculation? Well, as seen from other parts of his piece, C'lay believes that all straight men are attracted to the same things and all men handle relationships the same way. Another choice quote:
If you believe there is a straight man on earth not currently in prison who has a three year exclusively online relationship, then you're a damn fool. Period. There's just no way this actually happens. Especially for a college kid who happens to be the best player on a football mad campus.
Well, that's a nice generalization about a few billion men. I must have missed the vote that gave Secretary Of The SEC Travis the authority to speak on behalf of all straight men everywhere. What he's doing here is taking his own experience (you might have heard that he's married to a cheerleader; he only mentions it every few minutes, usually in conjunction with his law degree) and universally applying it to men everywhere. That is complete and utter bull excrement. Online-only relationships can work, and there are plenty of people who have three-year-plus relationships without sex. What's also absolute crap here is C'lay's contention that Te'o's status as "the best player on a football mad campus" would have provided him with local relationships that were guaranteed to be successful. There's no dispute that there are groupies interested in high-profile athletes, but that doesn't mean that's the kind of relationship those athletes want.

In some ways, too, this is a reflection of how the world's changed; the spread of the web means it's much more possible to meet someone who actually shares your interests and can have in-depth conversations with you. Those relationships aren't always local, but that doesn't mean that some won't take them over going cruising for a hookup at a campus bar every evening. I'm not inside Te'o's head any more than C'lay is, so I can't speak to his motivation, but to suggest that choosing an online relationship over Notre Dame groupies makes him less of a man, or less straight, is completely ridiculous. Relationships are a complicated subject, and they're made more complicated by how unique each and every person is. Just because C'lay has chosen a particular relationship path doesn't mean that his thoughts are shared by every straight man in the world.

That hasn't stopped C'lay from trying to impose his views of sexuality on everyone else, though. Whether it's using a SEC press conference to ask Tim Tebow if he's a virgin or disparaging those who criticized Brent Musburger's on-air horndoggery based on their looks or endorsing college women showing off their breasts on Twitter or actually drafting celebrities' breasts, C'lay has never shied away from promoting his particular views of sex and criticizing everyone else's. He doesn't go for insightful analysis or serious takes on what's going on in the sports world; he'd rather write 10-plus paragraphs about Kate Upton's breasts and rank how hot each Disney princess was. And hey, if you don't agree with him? You must be some sort of ugly feminist or gay man.

What really gets me here aren't C'lay's opinions. He's certainly far from the only person who holds them, or the only blogger who posts picture after picture of scantily-clad women to drive up the pageviews. That's problematic enough, but what's really troubling is his central premise: it's not "here's what I think," it's "here's what every straight man thinks, and if you disagree, you're not a straight man." The world isn't as black and white as C'lay would like to make it, especially when it comes to relationships, and his coverage of the Te'o story definitely illustrates that. It's not a black and white dichotomy: not banging every girl in sight doesn't mean that you prefer men. There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamnt of in your philosophy, C'lay. Oh, what's that, you didn't get the reference? That's fair: Hamlet clearly didn't have enough references to boobs, so the only plausible conclusion is that anyone who appreciates it is gay.


  1. This article kind of reminds me of a previous piece of yours, where you questioned the relative merit of blog relevence/popularity when it is seemingly directly related to how vular or 'out there' the writing tends toward. Interesting, indeed.

  2. BTW, Princess Jasmine . . . for those who want to know.

  3. Anonymous6:37 PM

    Drop the self-righteousness and get over yourself. His blog is funny.

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