“With your help, I still believe,” writes Clay Travis at the conclusion of Republicans Buy Sneakers, Too, “sports can still be the one place we go in America where […] we can all be equal.” Travis, whose book is subtitled How the Left is Ruining Sports with Politics, argues that athletics and liberal politics have become destructively intertwined.
In 272 pages, Travis makes an occasionally compelling, frequently repetitive case for either the permanent divorce or more balanced presentation of sports and politics. The book would have benefited from a sharper-eyed editor who could eliminate some of the redundancies and remedy the litany of comma splices that appear throughout the text.
But the readers of Travis’ website, Outkick the Coverage, aren’t drawn to the author because he’s an eloquent sports journalist in the vein of David Halberstam; they read Travis because he’s a persuasive and entertaining writer. He also sticks to an accessible style. I’m by no means a fast reader, but I was able to finish Republicans Buy Sneakers, Too in the space of a weekend.
Travis begins by detailing the events of his confrontational appearance on CNN, in which he boldly declared his belief in the First Amendment and boobs. The resulting controversy almost cost Travis his spot on Fox Sports Radio.
I found it a bit difficult to sympathize with a person who summoned his own social media mob to submarine the hiring of Greg Schiano at the University of Tennessee, but the point Travis makes about performative internet outrage is well taken. Too often, such displays are nothing more than empty virtue-signalling exercises. Travis bolsters his point by citing the bizarre Twitter expedition into Donte DiVincenzo’s social media posts as a young teenager, in which he quoted a Meek Mill rap lyric that featured the n-word.
Moreover, the attention that is generated by mass displays of anger only empowers a provocateur like Travis. He wears the resulting stigma quite literally like a badge of honor. Just check out the cover of his book, which proudly trumpets Travis’ bans from CNN and ESPN.