Clay Travis says liberals are ruining sports, wants to ‘make sports great again’

Clay Travis’ new book features a cover illustration of President Trump dunking on Colin Kaepernick.

Author and radio host Clay Travis, loathed by ESPN execs and banned from CNN, has only one goal with his new book — to make sports great again.

“Republicans Buy Sneakers Too: How the left is ruining sports with politics,” the third book by Travis, examines everything from Colin Kaepernick’s national anthem protest to Travis’ run-ins with mainstream media. And while Travis doesn’t consider himself a Republican – he says he is socially liberal and fiscally conservative – his brash, outspoken commentary on the current sports media landscape has made him a darling of right-leaning sports fans who are frustrated with liberal influence on sports coverage.

“To me, sports gets America right. When we decide to politicize sports, what we are doing is bringing the noxiousness and divisiveness of politics into an arena that doesn’t need it,” Travis told Fox News. “We have allowed sports to become as biased, or more biased, than politics.”

“To me, sports gets America right. When we decide to politicize sports, what we are doing is bringing the noxiousness and divisiveness of politics into an arena that doesn’t need it."

Travis was a typical, non-partisan sports fan until the University of Missouri football team threatened to stop playing unless a series of demands were met amid accusations of widespread racism on campus in 2015. Travis was curious, and when he looked into what exactly the players were so worked up about, he adamantly disagreed and realized mainstream media were praising the players for all the wrong reasons. “I felt like I was living in an upside-down universe,” he writes in the book’s introduction.

“Sports should be a uniting, and not a divisive force. I think throughout my youth, in the 80s, 90s and 2000s and into the early 2010s, that’s what sports was. What I loved about sports, until Mizzou, it is the ultimate unifier. If you are a janitor or a neurosurgeon, you can sit down at a table and talk about your opinion on sports and be treated as equals,” he said. “Ever since that Missouri protest happened, my eyes have just been opened to the way that sports have been covered.”

Travis feels “America should be more like sports,” as opposed to “sports being more like politics,” and wants his book to get back to looking at sports as an “ultimate meritocracy that we don’t have to turn into the latest political battle ground.” The final chapter is titled, “How to Make Sports Great Again.”

“We have allowed sports to become as biased, or more biased, than politics.”

“I think it’s important, especially in this day and age when everything is so divisive, everything is immediately political, to have some places where people go that unite us, regardless of our differences. You never think about the race, religion, ethnicity or sexual orientation of the person that you’re high-fiving with in a stadium after your favorite team scores,” Travis said. “I think that’s good for cities, I think it’s good for states and good for our country.”

Travis is the founder of sports website Outkick, hosts a daily radio show and co-hosts “Lock It In” on Fox Sports 1. He also hosts daily Periscope and Facebook “Outkick the Show,” where he spends a significant amount of time slamming ESPN.

"You never think about the race, religion, ethnicity or sexual orientation of the person that you’re high-fiving with in a stadium after your favorite team scores."

Travis has been a thorn in the side of ESPN, pointing out what he considers a liberal bias at the network on a regular basis. He said he was initially “ripped to the high heavens” by industry folks for making the argument that ESPN leaned left – but now he feels vindicated.

Just last week, only a few days before the release of “Republicans Buy Sneakers Too,” Disney CEO Bob Iger admitted that ESPN has become overly political and Travis doesn’t think it’s a coincidence.

“They’re very cognizant of the fact that this book was gonna come out,” Travis said. “I think that’s kind of a significant admission from him.”

“Republicans Buy Sneakers, Too” is a quote often attributed to NBA legend Michael Jordan. Travis selected it as the name of his book because he feels that sports should appeal to everyone. Initially, the art provided by the publisher was several players kneeling on the cover of the book – but Travis quickly shot down that idea for a more provocative illustration of the president dunking a basketball on Kaepernick. 

“I think Donald Trump has taken advantage and used Kaepernick’s protest to his advantage. Kaepernick opened the door to Donald Trump being able to fire back at Kaepernick and I think the response has been overwhelmingly in favor of Trump on this issue,” Travis said. “People say you don’t judge a book by its cover. Yeah, everybody actually does judge a book by its cover, which is why it’s important.”

“I think Donald Trump has taken advantage and used Kaepernick’s protest to his advantage."

The cover also features a disclaimer that Travis is “banned from CNN & ESPN” and the back of the book has a list of “praise for Clay Travis,” but it’s actually not praise whatsoever. It features media members calling him everything from a “darling of the alt-right” and “racists” to an insult to his profession. Travis brushes off criticism, saying he only cares what his family thinks of him.

“They said, ‘Hey which people do you want to get to try and blurb the book and say how much they love you,’  and I thought it would be a lot more entertaining if we just put the worst things we could find that mainstream media said about me,” Travis said.

Ironically, it was a 2017 CNN appearance that launched Travis into the national spotlight. He appeared on the network to discuss then-ESPN star Jemele Hill calling President Trump a “white supremacist” when he stunned host Brooke Baldwin by saying one of his trademark lines, “I’m a First Amendment absolutist. I believe in only two things completely, the First Amendment and boobs.”  

Travis said the news-making comment was the impetus for his book, as publishers approached him after shocking Baldwin on live television. While CNN did not respond when asked by Fox News if Travis is actually banned, he has not appeared on the network since.

Travis pointed out that CNN is much more forgiving when guests you outlandish language to make points as long as it fits the narrative — which was evident this week when Baldwin didn’t correct a guest who disgraced comedian Bill Cosby to Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

“I think there is no doubt that there is a double standard for speech in this country,” Travis said. “If you, right now, are saying awful things about Donald Trump or Republicans then there are television networks that will put you on and praise you.”

Travis doesn’t like the media bias against Trump that is infiltrating the world of sports, despite voting for Gary Johnson in the last election.

“I have a crazy idea. It doesn’t matter who the president is, I want them to do well,” he said.  

“Republicans Buy Sneakers Too” cracked Amazon’s list of “hot new releases” only one day after its Tuesday release, prompting Travis to take to Twitter.

“ESPN execs are checking Amazon rankings & breaking things in their offices,” Travis wrote.

Brian Flood covers the media for Fox News. Follow him on Twitter at @briansflood.

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