Episode 100: March Madness. And Doris Burke.
On this week’s show, Lindsay, Brenda, Amira, and Jessica talk Giannis Antetokounmpo and the young artist who stole our hearts. [5:26] Then the gang discusses March Madness, male coaches v. female coaches, Chennedy Carter, and games we’ve enjoyed in the tournament. [24:16] And Jessica interviews Doris Burke, the first woman to be a full-time NBA game analyst for ESPN on the national level, the woman Drake crushes on everyday, and one of the best in-game and post-game reporters in all the land. [52:09]
Of course, you’ll hear the Burn Pile, [1:02:17] our Bad Ass Women of the Week, starring the Calgary Inferno, [1:04:36] and what is good in our worlds. [1:10:02]
Listen for a couple surprise appearances by Shireen!
For links and a transcript…
Giannis and the little artist https://deadspin.com/giannis-antetokounmpo-made-a-little-girl-cry-because-he-1833670122
Sabrina Ionescu being awesome in multiple ways: https://deadspin.com/sabrina-ionescu-made-sure-she-got-her-18th-triple-doubl-1833542076
Natalie Weiner has been covering the women’s tournament really well for SB Nation: https://www.sbnation.com/authors/natalie-weiner
“Breanna Stewart calls out NCAA for lack of respect to women's game during March Madness” https://sports.yahoo.com/breanna-stewart-calls-out-ncaa-for-lack-of-respect-to-the-womens-game-during-march-madness-150554669.html
“UConn coach Geno Auriemma says student-athletes should be paid, hopes compromise can be reached on AAC TV deal” https://www.courant.com/sports/uconn-womens-basketball/hc-sp-geno-reacts-to-tv-deal-equality-athletes-being-paid-20192803-20190328-2dyh7uv2wnbzjpxhebjc7qrfpa-story.html
Missouri State Coach Kellie Harper had her 5 yo son Jackson watching as she worked. She also has an infant daughter. https://www.news-leader.com/story/sports/college/msu/2019/03/29/missouri-state-basketball-coach-kellie-harper-son-lady-bears/3293739002/
“Everything is not terrible: Here are the best feel-good sports stories from 2018” https://www.cbssports.com/general/news/everything-is-not-terrible-here-are-the-best-feel-good-sports-stories-from-2018/
“Women’s national team escalates dispute with U.S. Soccer, filing gender discrimination lawsuit” https://thinkprogress.org/womens-national-soccer-team-gender-discrimination-lawsuit-199a61f320bb/
Manchester City’s abuse cases’ settlement: https://www.cnn.com/2019/03/12/sport/manchester-city-sexual-abuse-barry-bennell-premier-league-football-spt-intl/index.html
Betsy DeVos defunds Special Olympics: https://www.yahoo.com/lifestyle/betsy-devoss-efforts-defund-special-174936067.html
Colombian racism in soccer: https://www.apnews.com/216d96169d044f289c9038e26e45af50
Italian referee treated to sexist abuse by ignorant commentator: https://www.ilmessaggero.it/sport/calcio/guardalinee_donna_insulti_annalisa_moccia-4385287.html
Reporter Forcefully Kissed By Boxer Kubrat Pulev Hires Gloria Allred, Says Pulev Also Groped Her: https://deadspin.com/reporter-forcefully-kissed-by-boxer-kubrat-pulev-hires-1833653522
“‘Ready to strike tomorrow’: How one $20 toy belt captures the strife within a $10 billion industry” https://theathletic.com/888513/2019/03/29/ready-to-strike-tomorrow-how-one-20-trinket-captures-the-strife-within-a-10-billion-industry/
Espoo Blues win the Aurora Borealis Cup once again. They have now the Finnish Ice Hockey Association championship 14 times: https://www.theicegarden.com/2019/3/26/18281837/the-espoo-blues-are-the-2019-aurora-borealis-cup-champions-finnish-womens-hockey
CALGARY INFERNO wins the Clarkson Cup, become 2019 CWHL Champions! https://www.theicegarden.com/2019/3/24/18279688/calgary-inferno-win-2019-clarkson-cup-cwhl-zoe-hickel-brianna-decker-rebecca-johnston
Jessica: Welcome to Burn It All Down, the feminist sports podcast you need. We are so happy you are here. This is our 100th episode. I'm Jessica , a freelance journalist and author in Austin, Texas, and on today's show, I'm joined by Brenda , an Associate Professor of history at Hofstra on Long Island, Amira Rose Davis, an Assistant Professor of history in women's, gender and sexuality studies at Penn State University, and Lindsay, a reporter at ThinkProgress in Washington D.C.
Shireen Ahmed, a writer, public speaker and Sports Activist in Toronto, is our other cohost, and she's heartbroken to not be on the show today. We actually moved our recording time from our normal early Sunday morning to late on Sunday night this week, to get all five of us on our 100th episode. Shireen, unfortunately, had a change in her travel today. Mechanical failure grounded her plane, and she had to take a different route home, which means she's currently on a plane to Seattle, and then will be getting on a red eye to Toronto. But we have found a way to include her, so she's here in spirit, but we've made sure she's also in the episode.
As always, thank you to our patrons, whose support of this podcast through our ongoing Patreon campaign, make Burn It All Down possible. We are forever and always grateful. If you would like to become a patron, it's easy. Got to patreon.com/burnitalldown. For as little as $2.00 a month, you can access exclusives like an extra Patreon only segment, or a monthly newsletter. Thank you for supporting us, and this work.
On today's show we're going to talk about March Madness, both the men's and women's tournaments. And then, I can't even believe I'm saying this, we have a roughly 30 minute interview with Doris Burke that I did earlier this morning. She is a full-time NBA ... Yes, I know. If anyone remembers, a long time ago on this show I said she was one of my dream guests, and here she is, on our 100th episode. Doris Burke is a full-time NBA game Analyst for ESPN, the woman that Drake crushes on every day, and one of the best in-game and post-game reporters in the land. And of course, we'll cap off today's show by burning things that deserved to be burned, doing shout-outs to women who deserve shout-outs, and telling you what is good in our world.
But first, can we please talk about this video that I first saw on Instagram a few days ago? I believe it was Rachel Nichols who posted it. It appears to be an autograph signing incident with the Milwaukee Bucks superstar, Giannis Antetokounmpo. A young girl brought along with her, a purple folder which contains a year's worth of sketches that she had done of Giannis Antetokounmpo. She hands it to him, explains it, and before he's even opened it, Giannis is up, he goes around the table to hug and thank her, and y'all, the way that she falls into his body when they go to hug, because she comes up to his waist, 'cause he's giant and she's a girl, it is just the sweetest thing. So, I'm just announcing tonight that he is my MVP. Anyone else with me on this?
Amira: Yes. It was great.
Lindsay: I haven't seen this video. I've been-
Lindsay: Traveling all week.
Jessica: Oh no, Linds.
Lindsay: So, this sounds incredible, and-
Jessica: I'm gonna have to text this to you.
Amira: Oh yeah, you should watch it right now, and do a live reaction.
Brenda: Her tears, but her-
Lindsay: You wanna do my reaction?
Brenda: The way that she just cries spontaneously, and it's not a sad cry, but it's like an, "Oh my gosh, this is happening."
Amira: "I can't believe this is happening."
Lindsay: Is it what I would imagine Shireen meeting Tim Duncan to be?
Jessica: Yes. I mean, there'd be more screaming. I think Shireen, there'd be more screaming and-
Jessica: Smiling involved.
Amira: And talking very fast. This girl is very-
Jessica: This is quieter.
Amira: Overcome, she-
Jessica: This is a quieter meeting.
Amira: She was just ... that's what really struck me, is she came up and she was explaining. She was like, "This is for you. You're my favorite player," et cetera, et cetera. She'd drawn pictures of him for a year. And then, once he gets up, she's so overcome that she can't talk anymore. She's just nodding and sobbing, and it's beautiful. I loved ... I was actually looking at Giannis' girlfriend/fiancée/wife, whatever, and she's on her phone, clearly bored with this entire event. And as soon as this little girl comes up, she snaps to attention-
Jessica: She lights up.
Amira: And she gets emotional, too. Yeah, and I was just like, "Everybody's so happy. I love it."
Jessica: It is so ... there's just such a sincerity from both of them, and he is so kind to her in a way that's just radiating off the screen. He does eventually look at the drawings that she did and tells her how great they are. Just imagining what that interaction will mean for her, for going forward in her own confidence in life and just, everything about it was so beautiful.
Brenda: Do we see the drawings?
Jessica: It's extremely pure.
Brenda: Have we seen the drawings?
Brenda: I think that Burn It All Down might offer a logo opportunity. I would be all into it.
Jessica: I love it. I love it. All right, well, now that we all have smiles on our face, let's get on with the show. Brenda, do you wanna get us started on March Madness?
Brenda: So, as Jess mentioned at the top of the show, we are recording on Sunday, March 31st, and we are waiting still, the Final Four of the NCAA women's basketball tournament. We know UCONN and Oregon are in, and we're now awaiting the result of Iowa versus Baylor, and Notre Dame versus the Stanford Cardinal.
The men's tournament will resume this Saturday, April 6th, with Michigan State, who booted Duke in a tight game last weekend. This weekend, facing Texas Tech and Auburn, then versus Virginia.
I did a little thing, because Lindsay wrote this amazing piece on Muffet McGraw. And I went and I researched the salaries of the coaches for both sides. And I'm just-
Jessica: Sorry. Okay, we're ready. We're ready for this.
Brenda: I mean, it's actually-
Jessica: Are we gonna yell, "Burn," at the end of this? Okay. Go ahead.
Brenda: No, but I just think that the four that we know, for the men's side, will at least bring in, in base pay, 11.5 million this year.
Jessica: So like, all total?
Jessica: Okay, gotcha.
Brenda: And the women's ... and I took the top two possible, meaning Mulkey and Muffet McGraw, if they were to win.
Brenda: Is 4.6 million dollars. And I'm just gonna throw out there that I don't know why that isn't a Title IX issue. But anyway, we're gonna talk, in a moment, about the treatment of those different tournaments, but I just wanted to set that out. And then, just say, for me, just before it gets all fun, I am so sad about Chuma Okeke, and his injury.
Jessica: And tell us what happened to him. Yeah.
Brenda: So, torn ACL in Auburn's 97-
Jessica: He's Auburn.
Brenda: 80 win over North Carolina.
Lindsay: We didn't need to say the score. We don't need to be so specific.
Jessica: Oh, goodness.
Jessica: Oh, goodness.
Lindsay: I'm very depressed.
Brenda: Oh, right, 'cause you care.
Amira: Lindsay's belly has the feeling.
Brenda: I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. You care, and Michigan State's still in it. So, I guess our alum-
Brenda: Yeah, our alum ... whatever. It was the tale of two angry coaches, Tom Izzo versus Coach K., right? Two very angry, overpaid coaches. But anyway, so sorry about the score, Linds. But anyway, yeah, torn ACL, and I'm just heartbroken. When I saw that injury, and I saw Bruce Pearl, the coach of Auburn's post-game whatever ... interview. And he was crying, and it was sad. It was awful.
I thought to myself, though, and this goes back to my original point about salary, that Bruce Pearl is just gonna be heartbroken and not broke broken. But that's not the case for these players. So, it's been a touch tournament, because as exciting as it's been for me, I feel really conflicted. So, I'm just gonna throw it to our fun people now, to ask you all what have you enjoyed, then, about the tournament, since I already did the icky bit?
Jessica: Oh man. I feel like there's been so much fun basketball in this tournament on both sides. Men and women's. Just today ... I didn't get to watch UCONN - Louisville in the women's side this ... or for me, it was this morning. But I did get to watch Oregon and Mississippi State, and that was just ... it was such a thrilling ... and I think I only saw the fourth quarter, even. I texted all of you, or messaged all of you to tell you, at the end, I was crying. This emotional release that I was so happy Oregon, and I was so sad for Mississippi State, and that is for all that ills in March Madness, that is the magic of the tournament, is this dual emotional response that you have, repeatedly, at the end of these games. But yeah, I mean-
Jessica: Purdue playing anybody, maybe, on the men's side, has been incredible. Amira?
Amira: Yeah, on the women's side, some of these girls, I've known for a few years, so Chennedy grew up playing basketball with my cousin, Alexis.
Jessica: Oh, Chennedy Carter?
Jessica: At A&M? Oh, wow.
Amira: Yeah. And it's crazy to watch people know her name, 'cause I'm just like, "It's Chennedy." So that's really exciting. She did absolutely-
Jessica: Oh, stellar. She is stellar status.
Amira: Stellar performance. I mean, this guard performance, her and Ricki going back and forth.
Jessica: Oh, that was fun.
Amira: I mean they're both in the ... what was their final stat line? 36 and 32? It was-
Jessica: Yeah, I know. It was so high.
Amira: It was a joy. It was. It really was. And so that's something that brought me just, personally, a lot of joy. I guess I haven't seen Chennedy in person since their last year of high school in the McDonald All American game, for the top high school players. They were just goofy high schoolers, and so it's wild to me, to get on Twitter and people are like, "Chennedy, so clutch!" And I'm just like, "Oh my goodness," it's so wild, the exposure that you get in these moments. And especially this one shot she had, going down the baseline and absolutely threw it up. It didn't count. It was called off, but it was tremendous to watch.
Jessica: Fouled before the shot, but she still-
Amira: Yeah, exactly.
Jessica: Made it. Yeah.
Amira: It was ... whatever. But it's that kind of joy that ... and I'm much like you, Bren, in that it's become harder and harder every year for me to watch it. I've stopped doing brackets, and things like that. But those moments of pure joy are still so captivating.
Jessica: Yeah, I agree. Lindsay, how have you enjoyed this tournament this year?
Lindsay: Well, I've been so lucky because ... so the first weekend, the Maryland Terrapins hosted, so I got to go and cover that. So I got to see Maryland play Radford, and Tennessee and UCLA play.
Jessica: Oh, wow.
Lindsay: And then, I got to see UCLA upset Maryland in the second round. UCLA is so phenomenal, and Cori Close, their coach, I cannot wait to have her on the podcast. She is one of those people where you're in press conferences and you're like, "I need you to be my motivational life coach, you know? I now see why people love playing for you, because you are just nailing it." So that, was just a really great way, and now I'm in Greensboro, so this is my hometown, and so what a great opportunity to come down here and watch some basketball. So, I've been here. It's been South Carolina, NC State, Baylor and Iowa. So-
Lindsay: South Carolina and NC State are both gone. They both lost on Sweet Sixteen. Tomorrow, I will get to watch Baylor and Iowa face off. Oh my god, I've sat in my first two Kim Mulkey press conferences, and lived to tell about it. Oh my gosh.
Jessica: What do you mean? Tell us what you mean.
Lindsay: The most intense. So okay, for those of you who don't know, every single one of these press conferences usually starts out, and the moderator says, "Okay, the coach will start with an opening statement, and then we'll go to questions." So the coach just says what's on the top of their mind about the game. And that's just standard practice. WNBA, NBA, that's just how it's done. Mulkey goes, "I don't have an opening statement. Questions, please." Every time. And she was calling out Baylor reporters. There were a few people from Waco there, and she was like ... they were asking her about a specific game, and she would go, "Well, were you at that game?" She was just really calling them out. It was intense, and I kind of loved it. So, I've gotten to see Megan Gustafson up close and personal, Kalani Brown.
Amira: Oh, I love Kalani so much.
Lindsay: I love her. I cannot wait to see Kalani Brown and Megan Gustafson go off-
Amira: It's gonna be wonderful.
Lindsay: Head-to-head tomorrow. So, yeah, it's just been so much fun to be able to see so many of these players up close. I learn so much every time I do. The only good game I've actually gotten to see live was Maryland/UCLA, which was actually thrilling. But we'll see. I mean, I do love this time of year. I feel like it's been a really great showcase for women's basketball. I mean, there have been, pretty clearly, seven top teams this year. All seven of them made it to the Elite Eight. And the eighth is Iowa, which has Megan Gustafson, the Player of the Year. So, you really just can't ask for more than this.
Jessica: That's amazing. And will you tell us a little bit about your piece that you wrote this week for ThinkProgress, because it was quite the stir, or it caused quite the stir this week. Your quotes from Muffet McGraw.
Lindsay: Yeah, so I had the idea to go ... women in coaching is something we talk about on this podcast a lot, and it's always a topic I'm looking to find a way to write about in new ways. And actually, when we talked to Muffet ... when I interviewed Muffet for this podcast last year, one of the things she brought up to me multiple times was the fact that she had an all female coaching staff, and how proud she was of that. So I did some digging and found out how rare that was, and thought it would be really great to go and spend time with her, and write about women in coaching, through a lens of, at the time, the defending national champion, defending coach of the year, and someone who is really taking active steps towards getting more women into coaching. When I got there, it was even kind of more of a story than I thought. She confirmed to me ... I asked her, "Would you ever hire a man again?" And she said no. That she's done hiring male assistant coaches. And-
Jessica: It's so well-written, too, Lindsay. I just love how it's physically written-
Lindsay: Oh, thank you.
Jessica: On the screen. It's just, "No."
Lindsay: "No," yeah. That's what she told me. And I was just like, it's one of those moments where you're like, "Oh, well I have my story. But of course, the story is actually about so much more than that. So, I try and give a CliffsNotes version of all the different obstacles that women in coaching are facing. And honestly, each of them deserves their own 4000 word deep dive. Of course, racism and homophobia are at the top of the list. It is much worse for black women, and there are still so many women in the closet in coaching in women's sports, particularly in women's basketball. But you also have, of course, Title IX issues, you have networking issues, you have pregnancy and motherhood.
And then, just the pressure of feeling like, especially when you're really in the spotlight the way Muffet is, feeling like the way you're judged is different than the way your male counterparts are judged. And so, there's a section in there where she talked about how she feels like Geno can get away with the type of anger, and the type of coaching that she can't. And she was really frank about that, and I found that very interesting. So yeah, thank you for asking, Jess. I am very proud of this piece. I knew that some people would be upset, and I don't expect everyone to be like, "Yes, this is what everyone should do. Hire no men," but it's her story, you know?
Jessica: Yeah, my favorite thing are all the people that were like, "Oh, what if a man said that he was never gonna hire women?" And I'm like, "Look assholes, they don't even have to say it. They literally do it all the time."
Amira: Yes, Geno, we're talking to you.
Jessica: Yeah, like, what do you even mean by that? Brenda.
Brenda: Yeah, I mean, Linds, I don't wanna put you, too much, on the spot, but UCONN coach, Geno, did respond, specifically, to your article, which I was very proud. I'm always proud to be associated with all my co-hosts, and that was like, "Hey!" So-
Jessica: What did Geno-
Brenda: So, I heard that Geno thought that Muffet McGraw should send thank you notes, or something, to people that used to work for her that were men. I don't know. What did you think about his response?
Lindsay: Yeah, so there was a Connecticut writer who read my article, and decided to do a response column to it. And he had the overall take that a lot of people had, which is you shouldn't completely limit anyone from your coaching pool, which is his ... that's a response I certainly expected a bunch of people to have. So that was kinda writers ... so, the writer asked Geno, specifically ... Geno, of course, had read my article. I think it'd only come out a few hours before this press conference. And Geno said, "Well, Muffet McGraw should ... I hope she says thank you to the men who have worked for her, who helped her get a national championship, and helped her recruit all these players to help her win a national championship." And he seemed angry that she felt the need to make a statement about.
And you know, Geno, to his credit, he hires all women. His coaching staff is always made of female assistants, and he's been purposeful about that, but he's never ... So, for him to say that it's not a statement, is wrong, 'cause he's clearly felt the need to make a statement with his hiring practices, right? He uses that. He'll say, "Well, I hire women." So, he gets it. He just got really mad, and so, I cover this in my piece, that Muffet did have ... she always felt the need to have at least one man on her staff, on her coaching staff, up until seven years ago. And part of it was when she started coaching Notre Dame back in the mid-'80s, all the AU coaches were male. Men. All of the scouting people were men. And so, she really felt that in order to get access to these networks, that it was important to have a man. And she also very candidly said she loved the optics of having a woman be in charge of a man, which I love.
Jessica: I love her. I love her.
Lindsay: But it was seven years ago when one of her coaches, Jonathan Tsipis, who is currently at Wisconsin, when he left to be head coach at George Washington, and one of her former players reached out about an open coaching position, and she was like, "Yeah, why have I not had all women?" And that's when she really changed. She's not the first person. Tara VanDerveer hasn't hired a man in 25 years, or 30 years, really, at Stanford, and nobody's been up in arms about this. The reason people are up in arms right now is because Muffet was explicit about it, right? She said, "No. From now on, I'm not hiring a man." And I find it so interesting how much her just saying that out loud ... if she had never said it out loud, and just done it, people wouldn't have gotten this mad about it. It's just the fact that she's saying it that has people really up in arms.
Amira: And it's so important, because one of the things that happens, and the thing where Geno's response comes from, is that when people are trying to correct systemic inequality, you have to be targeted with it. You can't just hope it corrects itself.
Amira: And so, if you have a ridiculous imbalance, and we've seen this with colleges that refused admittance to black people, or to women, whatever, or exclusive in any ways, we see this with coaching. And you have unbalance for decades that is purposeful. Right? It's actually people being barred from coaching, or a whole league that says that they think really the people who have the most coaching knowledge are men. This is what happens, and we've said this over, and over, and over again with the massive exodus of women coaching women's sports at the college level, after Title IX. So, you have this huge disparity. And how do you fix the disparity? Well, you have to be explicit about it. And what everybody wants to do when you're dealing with these issues of inequity, and you wanna go to fix it, they just wanna say, "Okay, we're correcting by saying everybody is doing it. Everybody is qualified now, so we can't ever take color or gender, whatever, into account because that would just be reverse sexism or racism," whatever. Fill in the blanks. So, "Everybody's equal. We see everybody the same." And it's like, you can't, for hundreds of years, not see everybody the same, then all the sudden, decide to, and think that's it.
Amira: And so, part of what I love about exactly your point, Linds, is that the explicity is exactly, and was necessary to eradicate a lot of this imbalance.
Lindsay: Yeah, and I mean, like I said, I was not expecting her to honestly be that explicit. I think it says something that it even caught me by surprise, just 'cause we're so used to all the caveats that people give in order to not offend people or rile up people, right? Or whatever. There have been all of these men in my mentions who have been like, "This is a Title IX lawsuit. She's discriminating on the basis of sex." And I'm like, "I want to see a male basketball coach sue her. Just try that."
Jessica: Yeah, let's do that. I would like to know-
Amira: Well, Abigail Fisher exists as a person, so-
Jessica: Yeah, that's fair.
Amira: I cannot be a mediocre person that decides they're entitled, right?
Jessica: I mean, I would like someone to count the number of women who have coached for the Notre Dame men's team ever, in the history of the school. Yeah, so, I mean-
Brenda: That's a long jab. Come on.
Jessica: Oh man. Amira.
Amira: So, I think the thing that has been really interesting is we've had really great basketball, but I also ... we've said this so many times, again, that basketball brings out some of the worst ... whatever you wanna call it. And so, I just think that everybody should continue to be vigilant about reminding people that gender in March Madness, explicitly male, and not understanding what it means when you say, "Oh, this has never happened before," but women have done it. Or saying, "There's no games today," even if there's women playing, you know, the Elite Eight, that day. And I think that this is the time of year where we really see a lot of what we talk about constantly. We see the highs of sport, we see the joy of it, and we also see exploitation. We also see blatant sexism. We also see the worst kind of trolls.
And so, I don't know, every time we get to March Madness I just think of this duality, and I think it's a perfect microcosm of that constant fight to enjoy sports, and insist that we can enjoy them without all the bullshit.
Jessica: Up next, an extended interview I did with Doris Burke. Among many things, we talk about her finding her voice, why she's excited about Maria Taylor, and the younger generation of women broadcasters, which coach is her favorite interview, and her thoughts going into the NBA playoffs in a couple of weeks.
I am very excited today, to welcome Doris Burke, THE Doris Burke, to Burn It All Down. If somehow, you're not familiar with her name, you will most likely know her voice. Doris has been a full-time NBA Color Commentator for ESPN for the last two years. The first woman ever to have a regular NBA Game Analyst role on the national level. Over nearly the last three decades, she has also provided commentary for countless men's and women's college basketball games, and for the WNBA.
Additionally, and not least, she is a world class sideline reporter, and one of the best in-game and post-game interviewers in the business. Last year, she became the first female broadcaster to receive the Basketball Hall of Fame's Curt Gowdy Media Award. She is also a former basketball player herself. She played at Providence College. And according to her bio at ESPN, when she graduated, she held seven records there. She was the school and conference all time assist leader, with 602. Providence's single season leader in assists with 224. And with free throws, both for single season, 152, and in her career, 440.
All right, thank you for being on Burn It All Down, Doris Burke.
Doris: My pleasure, my pleasure. Boy, you did your research. You're going back a long way to find those Providence College numbers.
Jessica: Well, ESPN's got 'em right there, so they're easily available. I have so many questions for you, so I'm just gonna jump in. I wanna start at the beginning, for those who don't know, or who haven't read one of the many amazing profiles that have come out of you in the last couple of years, how and when did you find basketball?
Doris: I was seven years old, the last of eight children. Very Irish Catholic family. And my parents decided to move to accommodate my father's job. When I was seven, we moved from Long Island to a very small town ... one mile square town, on the Jersey Shore, called Manasquan. Very difficult to annunciate. And the home that my parents purchased was literally right next door to a park. And I think I was the very first day we moved down there, you can imagine a seven year old is not gonna help in a move. There was a basketball left in the yard, and my mom put it in my hands and said, "Why don't you go over there and do something with that?" So, I feel like I've been chasing that basketball since I was seven years of age.
Jessica: So, you're obviously a pioneer when it comes to women in broadcasting, but I wanted to know, did you have women that you looked up to, or who were role models for you? What made you believe that you could be the first in all these different ways in your career?
Doris: Well, first of all, I'm gonna tell you, I'm uncomfortable with that word, only because there are women who are my predecessors who experienced things in locker rooms that I never had to experience. Suzyn Waldman, the great New York Yankees ... longtime New York Yankees announcer, tells a story, being in a Major League baseball locker room. And I'm not sure how deep into her career she is. I believe she was in the Toronto Blue Jays locker room. Not sure if it was home or visitors, but it was a Toronto Blue Jays game. And you know what it's like after a post-game. There's a media scrum. There could be as many as 10 to 15 people around the start of that particular game, trying to get questions answered.
Doris: And this particular baseball player says to her, all those many years ago, "I'm not talking until that," blank, "leaves."
Jessica: Oh my.
Doris: And the rest of the writers turn around and look at Suzy, as if to say, "Hey, could you cut us a break and get outta here?" And Suzy talks about that being a breaking point in her career. She had been through so much at that point, when another baseball player calls from across the room and says, "Young lady, if you would like to speak to a professional athlete, I'd be happy to answer any question you have." And she talked about that man basically saving her career.
So, I mean, Jessica, that's a long-winded way of saying Jackie MacMullan, Robin Roberts, all these women pre-date me, and have faced a level of resistance that I have not. I'm not telling you I haven't faced any. I'm simply telling you that by the time I entered the business, it was different. So, those who would be the women ... Jackie MacMullan, because she is in basketball, and is so highly respected, is somebody that I have read, with great enjoyment, for years. I have watched in arenas as these coaches and players clearly respect the work that she does, and how she conducts herself as a person, as a professional. Robin Roberts begins in sports, but then skyrockets to incredible heights as a news anchor for ABC. And it's cool for me. It's cool.
And what excites me the most, perhaps, I look at a woman like Maria Taylor or Laura Rutledge, and I think, "Gosh, these women are gonna rule the world someday." It puts a smile on my face. And they're so much more composed and well-thought, at their respective ages, then I was at my career. So, I appreciate the people that went before me, and I am excited about the people who are coming after me.
Jessica: Yeah, that's such a good point. I was just yesterday, watching Maria Taylor when I was watching March Madness, and thinking she was doing such a fabulous job.
I wanted to ask about finding your voice. And I mean this in a very literal way. Women, in particular, are heavily policed by how they sound. And when I interviewed Mary Carillo last year for this show, she told me that she thought her deeper voice was probably an advantage, in the sense that people were less likely to criticize her for it. And you have this soothing, but authoritative voice, and I was wondering if that's something you worked at, or that came naturally to you. How did you find that voice?
Doris: No, I certainly didn't work at it. And I know that there are play-by-play men who have voice lessons, or ... and in particular, it's the play-by-play. And I'm not sure, I've never asked Beth Mullins if she's had to do this. Because when you work a certain number of games, obviously, your vocal cords can get tired. And so, I would tell you that no, I really have never had any professional media training. I did not go to a famous J school, Missouri, Syracuse. I happened into this business, to be perfectly honest with you. I left coaching in 1990, because I wanted to get married and have a family. And I didn't think I could be both a great coach, and stay at home, and do what I wanted to do with my children in their formative years. I happened into the business. That's the truth.
When I left coaching at Providence College, they put women's ... their games on radio. And the AD at the time, because I had played and coached in the program said, "Hey, why don't you give this a try?" And that was literally the formative stages. Maybe 10 to 15 games of Providence College, and then a TV game or two that year in New England. So I didn't have any formal training.
I will say, it's interesting, when you start, it almost sounds forced to you. You're not sure how your voice should sound. At some point, as a broadcaster, I think you become comfortable with ... oh my goodness. "I have to be me, because if I try to be anything else, the viewer is going to hear it, they're gonna feel it, they're gonna see it." And after a number of repetitions, and it takes some time, you do just simply settle in and say, "Okay, I'm gonna have to be me, and if that's okay, that's okay. And if it isn't, that's okay, too."
And the reality is this, Jessica. The job that I do, in terms of people evaluating it, it's a very subjective thing. You could be in the same room, hearing two people discuss one announcer, and their opinions could be 180 degrees from each other. And it's just the nature of things. For whatever reason, stylistically, one announcer can be more appealing to someone than another. And you can't please everybody.
Jessica: So in 2017, after you did the trophy presentation at the end of the NBA finals, which was a masterclass in how to handle that particularly chaotic moment, you said in an interview with Richard Deitsch, who was then at Sports Illustrated, that quote, "As a broadcaster, it took me a good 10 to 15 years to relax and allow myself to enjoy the job." And when I was reading this in preparation for this interview, I was wondering, how were you able to finally relax? Was it just it took time in the role? Or was there something that led you to finally breathe in the job?
Doris: Well, a couple of things. Certainly, again, the more you do a job, the more comfortable you become with it, the more in command you become. It took me years to learn that it takes, probably, more people than the viewer can conceive of, doing their job at a high level, to make a great telecast. And by that, the producer has got to have command of the ship, and adjust on the fly if a game doesn't turn out the way you had hoped, or the soundbite you acquired in the morning don't fit to what happens. You have two exceptional tape operators. If you are an analyst, and you're trying to make points, the tape has to understand what you're talking about, and be able to access that tape quickly. Play-by-play has got to get you where you want to go, if the play-by-play senses that an analyst is excited.
So, I would say, one, you learn what a good broadcast is. Repetition. And then, you have great people around you. Which because I've been at ESPN, obviously I have very passionate and knowledgeable sports fans almost across the board. So that, helps immensely. And then, there was actually one particular moment that made a difference for me. My son, at the time, he's 24, so it's probably longer ago than I think it is, but I just remember sitting, watching ... I believe it was an Olympics, but it could've been something different. It's so long now, I just remember what he said to me, which was ... we were sitting there. The announcers covering what we were watching were clearly having a good time with one another, and there was some laughter, and there was certainly joy in the announcers. And my son ... and my living room was quite small at the time, and so we were in close proximity to one another, and he said ... he just looked at me and he said, "Mom, what I don't think you understand is, when you're having a good time on the air, we're having a good time with you."
And I thought, "Man, you know what?" ... And one of my challenges, Jessica, in terms of relaxing and enjoying myself, and again, I'm going back so far in my career, but one of my challenges back then was I was doing men's college basketball, as an analyst. Could've been the Atlantic 10, could've been the Big East. And because I was one of the few, and I'm not sure if i was the only at the time, but there weren't many women, certainly, sitting in that chair, and I was thinking, "Oh god, I've got to prove to the audience that I know what I'm talking about," because I knew it was foreign to their ear, to hear me in that role, going back to your, "How do you find your voice?" Though, instead of just relaxing and enjoying the telecast, and these incredible athletes doing these things that I just enjoy watching, I was trying to prove myself, prove how smart I was. That was never a good thing on a telecast, because the viewer definitely doesn't wanna hear how smart you are. They wanna enjoy the game with you. You know what I mean?
Jessica: Mm-hmm (affirmative). I wanna ask about post-game interviews really quickly. My cohost, Shireen, she wants to know if you ever had a time, when you were doing a post-game interview with a player after a loss, where it was difficult for you because of the emotional impact on the player, but that it's your job to ask that person a question.
Doris: Well, we don't ever interview a player in a loss, typically speaking. I would say we interview coaches in a loss, and it's primarily in settings of tournaments. So, I mean ... and really, probably the only time I've had to do that is, I would say, a Pat Summit or a Geno Auriemma, where I'm covering the NCAA women's tournament. And it would've been, they were anticipated to go to the Final Four, or anticipated to go to the National Championship, or win everything. And I do recall both of those people, Geno and Pat, they're both such exceptional pros, and committed to the growth of the women's game, and understood the responsibility that comes up with that kind of setting.
Doris: And to be honest with you, in response to that question, and it's a great question, I think it's important, in both a loss, but also the euphoria of a win, that the person who's doing the interviewing have a certain tone anyway. And the tone would be slightly different in those two circumstances.
Doris: But I'll give you an example of where it's important to keep your composure. I remember doing an interview at Duke. It was when JJ Redick was playing there. I don't think I interviewed JJ, but long story, short, there was this incredible action late, where Duke turns it over on their own baseline, nearly cost themselves the game. And then, somehow recovers and then ends up winning the game. And as you can imagine, the Cameron Crazies were ecstatic. The energy in the building was incredible. But you still have to be able to say, "Okay, in the midst of this frenzied atmosphere, I've got to figure out what are the most important things to ask?" And I still remember asking my first question, it was something along the lines, "What did Coach K say to get your composure back in that huddle between the turnover, and the eventual getting the game back in your own command?" So, it's a great question, and I would just say it's important, as the interviewer, that you're not caught up in the emotion of either the devastation of a loss, or the euphoria of an incredible win.
Jessica: I wanted to ask about the job that you have now, and the breadth of knowledge that you have to have for every single game, about all the people on the court, the coaches on the sidelines, the teams, what's happened to them across the season. How do you prep to do that kind of in-game analysis? How much time goes into you preparing just for one game?
Doris: Well, I'd say the most important thing I do is, if I'm not working a game on a particular night, then I'm watching a lot of NBA basketball. That, to me, is the absolute key, because the more you're seeing a team, the more you're recognizing what the strengths and weaknesses of the individual players are, what the rations happen to be, which starters are playing with the second unit, or does a coach happen to substitute a wholesale substitution where his bench is deep enough that maybe he goes five, and then works starters back in.
You do a lot of reading as well. If I have ... so my next game, I actually have a nice little break in my schedule, which is beautiful, but Portland/Denver is my next game, and it's this coming Friday. So all of this week, I'll be on nba.com, and I'll be identifying the games that Portland and Denver have, and their games this week, will become appointment viewing for me.
The other thing is, I have incredible ... and it's an amazing thing to me now, compared to almost 30 years ago when I started. So, I have in my email each morning, one email that has the entirety of the NBA's clips. So, Denver's clips would be in this email.
Doris: Portland's clips would be in this email. So now, I can hone in one those two teams. And then, okay so ESPN provides me access to something called Second Spectrum. Which basically, I could, with a few clicks of a button, punch in Joel Embiid's name, and there's a little video icon that's attached to it, and I could say, "Okay, I wanna see all his pick and rolls," and click on that icon.
Jessica: Oh, wow.
Doris: Then up would pop all of that information. And then, ESPN has an incredible support staff, meaning we would get an email with the synopsis of each team's summaries, of which sometimes, is really helpful, because we have a news editor that has gone back, and he has kept up with things through the entirety of the season. So yeah, I mean, it's a lot of prep, but I would say to you, everybody does it in my business because the people I work with, their NBA fans.
Doris: And it doesn't feel like work. Right? You're, "Oh boy, I have a tough day today. I have to read a little bit about NBA." Yesterday I went to my gym, and I listened to The Woj Pods. He had Doc Rivers on, and then he had Nick Nurse on. So, as I'm on the treadmill, that gets me through my workout. So, I mean, it's a process, but I'm a fan, right?
Doris: I'm a fan, and I understand how incredibly lucky I am to have the job that I have, and so it doesn't necessarily feel like work. Some days it does, Jessica. Some days it happens.
Jessica: Of course.
Doris: I'm at the airport for six hours because I've had multiple delays, and sometimes the road, I'll sit in a hotel room. It's funny, I was talking to JJ Redick about this. And the aftermath of the Adam Silver coming out and discussing that he thinks some of his players are unhappy. I had a great discussion with JJ Redick about it. He said, "I definitely think there could be something to that." And these guys are on the road a lot. They're separated from their families a lot. There's incredible performance pressure on them nightly. And I know that they make a lot of money, and they're compensated well, but the vast majority of them, like all of them, like you and I, we have family, and we have things that go on in our personal world that you're trying to deal with every day. And so, it's an interesting lifestyle, that's for sure.
Jessica: So, I do ... I would be remiss to let you go without asking about this. About your rising popularity over the last few years. I mean it has been, as someone who really looks up to you and is inspired by you, it's been really fun to watch. For those who don't know, probably the best example, or at least the highest profile one, and I feel like you know exactly where I'm going, Doris. Drake wore a shirt to a Raptors game that had your face on it, and the words, "Woman Crush Every Day". Recently though, there's other stuff, like the U.S. Women's National team all chose to wear the last name of a woman who inspired them on the back of their jersey during a recent game, and Tobin Heath chose you. And yesterday, I bought a shirt from the site, Homage, that says, "My favorite broadcaster is Doris Burke," on it. I first saw that shirt when Rachel Nichols posted a picture of herself in it on Instagram. What do you make of all this? Could you have even imagined that this would be-
Jessica: Your life, as you're forging a career, that almost no other woman has had?
Doris: No. And I will say this to you. I've said to my daughter a million times ... my daughter is 26, and I always say to her, "I love my job. I love my job. But I do miss coaching," because I felt like when I was coaching those Providence College student athletes for those two years, that I had an impact on their lives, that I could help them be more confident. I remember being that kid when I was 18 to 22, and didn't have a ton of confidence outside the lines of the basketball court. And so, I'm blown away by it. I will say, as you know, Jessica, or maybe you're not familiar, there was a very long period of time where Twitter was not kind. I would say for the first 10 years of Twitter's existence, there was some heavy objection to me. "I wish she looked like, so-and-so." I'm like, "Well, I wouldn't mind." Or, "I don't like her voice," or whatever the criticism might be.
And I would say, it was the Tobin Heath thing, and I actually tracked down her number and I called Tobin and I said, "I hope you know how," I just was so moved by that, Jessica. I couldn't begin to tell you how moved I was. And I will say, it's much nicer to be liked than to be disliked.
Jessica: Oh. I mean, I did wanna ask about the flip side of it was that, as you just said, you got a lot of shit over the years for being a woman who enters men's spaces, talks about men's sports. And you do it really well. How do you manage that part of your career? Do you have advice for the rest of us, coming up behind?
Doris: You mentioned Sarah Spain, and I have great admiration for Sarah on so many levels. I think she is tremendous, professional, exceptional at what she does. But I find it fascinating, Jessica, that she chooses, Sarah, to go back at people at Twitter. I don't generally engage. First of all, it's not a medium I use tremendously, except to root on my Providence College Friars. I will tell you that I don't listen to ... I didn't listen to the bad, right? I couldn't let that bad break me, or shake me, or have an effect on me. And I would say, I handle ... not that I don't appreciate, especially from my colleagues, from Sarah, which I saw her with that shirt, and Allie Clifton with another one, you don't let the good or the bad ... Here's what I would say to all of the young women in our business. You have to put your head down and focus on the job immediately in front of you. And there are a couple of ways you can evaluate the job that you're doing. One, you know every single day, the amount that you're putting into it. And if you are pouring your heart and soul, and you are working hard on it, then so be it. There is no job too big, no job too small.
Because I guarantee, when I was the radio announcer for Providence College women's basketball, and when I was the radio announcer for the New York Liberty, no one was listening. No one was. Right? The WNBA broadcast on radio, David Stern had the brilliant idea to put ... when you got put on hold in 1997 or 1998 at the NBA offices, you would hear our broadcasts. Okay? So those were my listeners. It didn't matter, because I was honing my skills. The good or the bad evaluations from people who are not directly either employing you or deciding what jobs you get, they don't really matter. You have to decide the job you're doing, and then your employers, those people who hire you will tell you the job you're doing by the assignments you get. And it's not easy. Believe me. I say that to you, and understand this. That I, when I felt it ... I'll give you one example.
I don't know how this happened, but this is years ago when I'm covering Big East men's basketball before the split with the American Conference. Somehow, this man decided ... I had covered Syracuse/Temple. He was a Syracuse fan. Temple upset Syracuse as a top 10 team. Somehow, this man's thoughts to me on Twitter, were coming into my email, and he basically said, "I am going to haunt you every day."
Jessica: Oh my.
Doris: And he would send the most vile, vicious things. And it wasn't until my daughter got on my phone and basically said, "This is how you block somebody, mom." I was like, "Oh, amen. There you go." Okay, and then, the only other thing, one time I got 15 photocopied pages of basically what was anti-women literature, the way fan mail makes it way to you is, it would be sent to ESPN, and when you had enough of it, they would put it in an envelope and come to you. And these 15 photocopied pages of anti-women lit, it was disturbing.
Doris: And I was like, "Ooh." And it's just, you have to put, somehow, and I'm not telling you it's easy 'cause I've been hurt by stuff. And I'm not telling you I haven't read any of it. I have. But you have to be able to put it aside, and put it in its appropriate box, and just say, "You know what? I love my job. There are good and bad pieces of it, and I'm just gonna keep plugging away." And you just keep plugging away. That's what I've done for 30 years, basically. Keep plugging away.
Jessica: Oh, thank you for that. I would like to finish up by doing a lightning round of questions, if that's okay with you.
Doris: My mind doesn't work very fast.
Jessica: That's fine. Do you have a favorite player that you enjoyed interviewing?
Doris: No. I'd say some of my most memorable moments were LeBron James.
Jessica: Okay, we love LeBron James on this show. Favorite coach to interview. And this is definitely a Shireen question.
Doris: Favorite coach. Oh man, that's a hard one. You know, the one I dread is Gregg Popovich, still to this day.
Doris: I'm sweating, I'm nervous, it's kept me up the night before. So he would be my least favorite. Probably my favorite is Doc Rivers.
Jessica: Oh okay. This is also a Shireen question. Do you, growing up in New Jersey, do you have a soft spot for the Knicks and the Liberty?
Doris: Total soft spot. Yes, of course.
Jessica: Very nice. What is your favorite pair of sneakers.
Doris: Oh boy. That is a great question. When I was a kid, I had a pair of black Puma Clyde's, low suede with a white stripe. They were bad ass sneakers.
Jessica: Right now in the game, who's the most underrated men's player in the NBA.
Doris: Oh gosh. Underrated. Geez. Maybe Domantas Sabonis.
Jessica: Okay, okay. I wanted to ask specifically about the NBA playoffs. They're starting a couple weeks, I think on April 14th. Are there under the radar players or teams? Those dark horses that our listeners should be paying attention to?
Doris: Yeah. I am fascinated to see what happens with the Utah Jazz, who have an absolutely brutal schedule out of the gates, were dangling toward the outside of the playoff picture, I believe, at one point, but have ... the schedule lightens, they pulled their defense together, so I'm really curious who Utah matches up with, and how far they can go.
Wait, under the radar players. The other thing that I really am curious about, because I think he's integral to the success of Milwaukee. Malcolm Brogdon. He's had a year where he's gone 50% field goal, 40% three point, 90% free throws. It is the absolute best indicator of somebody having an incredibly efficient year. And I'm just curious, can he get back and get healthy, because I think the east is formidable at the top, and Giannis is ... gosh, he's so close to an MVP award. Could Malcolm and Mirotić get back and get healthy? So I'm sorry, those are rapid fire, but I am long winded by nature, as you can tell.
Jessica: No, that was wonderful. I would listen to you talk all day. And just to remind us, your next assignment, or when we can hear you next.
Doris: It's Portland at Denver this coming Friday night. It would be 10:30 eastern tip.
Jessica: Awesome. Thank you so much, Doris Burke-
Jessica: For being on Burn It All Down. This has been wonderful.
Doris: Jessica, my pleasure. My pleasure. You guys keep pluggin' away at this. I love it.
Jessica: Now it's time for everyone's favorite segment. We like to call it the Burn Pile, where we pile up all the things we've hated this week in sports, and we set them aflame. Brenda, what do you want to torch?
Brenda: I want to torch the institutions of soccer in Columbia. We've been, the last ... I don't know, month, seeing some terrible, racist, homophobic and misogynist behavior from the Columbian football ... and by football, I mean soccer, establishments. And now, we see it in the fans.
So this past week in the Bogotá Derby between Millonarios and Santa Fe, those are ... it's like the signature game, Miguel Solís, who is the keeper for Santa Fe, was racially abused many times throughout the game. Many, many times. And this had to do with name calling and monkey chants, and it's absolutely stomach churning. It happened almost a week ago. There isn't even a sorry ass non-apology from the Millonarios, who the Millonarios' fans are the ones who did it against him in Santa Fe, so not even an apology or a statement in opposition from the federation, nor from the team whose organized fans perpetrated it. So, fans aren't just like, "Oh, the club's just not responsible." It's like, no, there are rules, and they're supposed to go over that footage, and to ban those fans from stadium. It's not like there's nothing that they can do.
And so the fact that the team hasn't even put out an apology and a statement, and nor has the federation, is absolutely unbelievable. It's like, why are there even protocols, when they're not even bothering to follow them. And Miguel Solís has come out in the papers, and he's been very articulate to also explain how this ongoing racism has been linked to xenophobia in Columbia. Their treatment of Venezuelans, their treatment of other immigrants, and the way in which black Colombians are also suffering with Afro-Venezuelans, and other immigrants that come.
So, I just wanna burn the fact that he is so articulate and has gone out of his way to explain what happened, and the federation and the team is just sitting on its hands like the racist, awful institutions that we think they are. So, burn.
Jessica: Lindsay, what are you burning?
Lindsay: Oh, okay, so I just wanna make a note that one of the things we do want to burn is the Canadian women's hockey league announcing that they're shutting down its doors, but we're gonna have more on that to come because the announcement just came today, so we're still getting our information. But don't worry, friends, we're gonna address that in the future.
But so, I wanna just take a moment to burn Betsy DeVos, the Trump administration, and everyone who seems to have tried to cut funding for the Special Olympics, which just seems like the cruelest of cruel things to do. So look, it's a little bit convoluted, but this week, the budget came out for the Department of Education, and in it, noticed that the, evidently, about 18 million that the Federal Government usually gives to the Special Olympics was not in the budget anymore, and that created a lot of backlash. And at first, Betsey DeVos said, "Well, look, we had to make some choices. We had to make hard choices." So of course, when you have to make hard choices, the first people who should penalized are people with intellectual disabilities, obviously. That's obviously what monsters would do.
So, anyways, it turned out that behind the scenes, we're not quite sure what was going on. Her office was trying to get the funding in, and it kept being rejected from the White House, so then she took the blame for it. And then, Trump came through like a hero and said, "I'm overriding my people, and now the Special Olympics will be funded." So look, it's all a little bit of a mess, but let's just ... people who are using the Special Olympics as this prop, people who think the first thing to go in cuts should be those who are the most marginalized in our society, let's just throw that bond to the burn pile.
Jessica: So this week, we learned, through Marc Carig's reporting at The Athletic, that every year, representatives from each MLB team get together and have a meeting wherein they create recommendations that the teams will use in negotiations with their players regarding salary. According to Carig, quote, "The ceremony ends with the presentation of a replica championship belt, awarded by the league to the team that did most to," quote, "achieve the goals set by the industry." In other words, the team that did the most to keep salaries down in arbitration. Apparently, the belt has been urban legend for a long time, so it's not a secret. But also, until now, wasn't really a fact, either.
I mean, I feel like I could just laugh for the next 60 seconds to fill the rest of my Burn Pile time. I mean, Major League Baseball gives out a cheap ass award annually to celebrate teams treating players like pawns? Or as Carig writes, quote, "It is emblematic of a climate in which the livelihoods of players can be turned into a parlor game." So I am not smart enough, or well-versed enough to get into the intricacies of baseball economics, but even I know that there has been a lot of tension around this particular issue, the salaries of players. And I have seen the headlines where people have wondered out loud about the possibility of the strike.
Arbitration itself, the very thing the meeting was about, seems terrible. It's a situation set up to undercut the players. And for setting the yearly recommendations for this particular negotiation process, the MLB hands out a dumb plastic belt.
As Sean Doolittle, a pitcher for the Washington Nationals, tweeted a response to this story, quote, "Wage suppression is a very real problem for the American Labor Force. Workers across all industries are being systematically underpaid and undervalued. It's just disgusting to see it being rewarded and celebrated the way it's described in this report. The integrity of the game is severely undermined anytime a team is competing for any prize, other than the World Series trophy." He's good. The MLB should be embarrassed. I doubt that they are, so burn.
Jessica: All right, Amira, what's on your Burn Pile?
Amira: Yeah, so last weekend, Bulgarian boxer, Kubrat Pulev, was doing a post-match fight, whatever. Post-fight interview with Jennifer Ravalo, who writes for Vegas Sports Daily. And at the end of the interview, he grabs her face with both his hands, forcibly kisses her on her lips, and then walks away. And she turned to the camera and was like, "Jesus Christ," and what-not. So, with the footage out there, there was obviously backlash, to which he released a statement saying ... a tweet entitled, "To the most commented on kiss," and he said, "Listen, this is no big deal. I was excited. The reporter, Jenny, she's actually a friend, she has no problem with it, so much so that she came out with me and my friends that night," yada, yada, yada. "We laughed about it at a party later." This, "no big deal," probably came as news to Jennifer Ravalo herself, who put out a statement saying that he not only kissed her without her consent, but he also grabbed her butt. She said, quote, "I did not encourage or consent to Mr. Pulev grabbing my face, kissing me, or grabbing my backside. No woman should be treated this way. He had no right to kiss me." And reportedly, she also said that he later asked her to delete the footage of the kiss, which she declined to do.
Amira: And so, I wanna burn this down, because don't touch people without their consent. Don't kiss people without their consent. Just don't. You're not entitled to their bodies. You're not entitled to their bodies, and we've seen this happen in this particular dynamic with a female sports reporter. We've seen this happen before, on the sidelines, or post-game. She's doing her job. Let her do her job. You're not entitled to kiss her or touch her, and do anything like that. Answer the damn question, and walk away. So, personal space, assault, harassment, I don't like it. I'm not here for any of it. Burn it down.
Jessica: And now, in a special surprise appearance, here is Shireen Ahmed with her burn.
Shireen: So this week on my Burn Pile, I am going to be burning something despite the amazing attendance of Italian women's soccer, despite the fact that Juventus had a sold out Allianz Stadium debut, we still see sexism rampant in media. So, Sergio Vessicchio is a local commentator on CanaleCinqueTV in Italy, and he thought it was really important, and he has place on TV in the Province of Salerno, to talk about Annalisa Moccia, who is an official. She's an assistant official with a league there, and he decided to say that, quote, "It is disgusting to see the women who come to serve as referees in the league, where the teams spend thousands of euros. A federation joke," end quote. So this is translated into English.
So, I'm not really sure how much Sergio Vessicchio knows about the importance of women's football. I trust, none, considering this is also a women's World Cup year, does this man really care about football, or does he just care about upholding misogyny? I think it's the latter. So this is what I wanna burn.
Jessica: After all that burning, it's time to celebrate some remarkable women in sports this week with our Badass Woman of the Week segment. First up, our honorable mentions. Two weekends ago, 60,739 people showed up to watch women play soccer in Spain. Last weekend, 39,027 showed up in Italy, and 15,204 spectators cheered on women in Portugal. All smashed single game attendance records in those countries.
Hilary Knight of Les Canadiennes was voted Best Player in an NHLPA poll. Katie Guay, Kelly Cooke, Amanda Dasani, and Delaney Harrop are believed to have been the first all women crew to officiate for the women's final of the NCAA Women's Hockey Tournament.
And in that tournament, the Wisconsin Badgers took home the crown, beating their rivals, Minnesota. It is the school's fifth Women's Hockey Championship.
Ashleigh Barty won the Miami Open, and will debut in the top 10 in this week's WTA rankings at number nine. Jennifer Yu, who is 17 years old, and an 11th grader, is the new U.S. Women's Champion in chess. That's remarkable. Pratima Sherpa is the first Nepali woman to compete in an LPGA tour family event. Leah Hextall did play-by-play this weekend for the Men's Ice Hockey Championship East Regional, which made her the first woman to call the Men's Ice Hockey Championship. The Espoo Blues won the Aurora Borealis Cup once again. They have one the Finnish Ice Hockey Association Championship 14 times.
Can I get a drum roll please? Okay, episode 100.
Amira: And it's only getting worse.
Jessica: It's amazing. It's amazing. Our Badass Woman of the Week is a bittersweet award this time. It goes to the Calgary Inferno, who won the Canadian Women's Hockey League Championship, claiming the Clarkson Cup. This is bittersweet because, as Lindsay mentioned before, just this morning with apparently little warning, the CWHL announced they will be closing up shop on May 1st. So the final game of the league was the Inferno on fire, taking down the Les Canadiennes 5-2, in what Shireen says was an incredible game. Congratulations to the Calgary Inferno.
Okay, what's good, y'all. Amira, what's good with you?
Amira: Yeah, I just got back from Arizona, where there was sun. That was happy. Was at the Global Sports Summit, put on by Arizona State's Global Sporting Initiative. It was a good time. I got to hang out with Amanda Blackhorse and Spencer Haywood, and really cool people in athletics, as well as some people in academics. So it was just this ... what is that word? Spogisboard?
Brenda: Whatever that is.
Amira: Yeah, so it was just a really cool connection-
Jessica: Whatever that is, yeah it's good. Sorry.
Amira: Of people. And there was sun. Did I say that? And I treated myself to running not one, but two Escape Rooms, while I was there, back-to-back. So, it was a good 48 hours in Arizona. Which, by the way, is really far away from the east coast. I discovered that when I got on the plane and they said, "This is a five hour and 11 minute flight." And I thought, "Where the hell are we going?" Anyways, so I flew back from that, and was very tired and jet lagged. Not really, but I was very tired. And I flew back to Jersey in order to watch some of my students who play for the women's soccer team at Penn State, do a spring game at Princeton. It was a low stakes spring game, but I'm really close with a few of the girls on the team, and with the coaching staff. And it was really fun to watch them play. I went with my best friend, who used to work for Princeton Athletics, so it was just a fun day out in the sun, watching them play. And I just wanna send a special shout out to one of them, Sam Coffee, who was just called up to the U-23 U.S. Women's National Team, because they are going to Invitational Tournament in Spain this week. So best of luck, Sam. Congratulations, and we'll be watching.
Jessica: Awesome. Lindsay, what's good with you?
Lindsay: Yeah, well, I kind of already touched on it. I'm here in Greensboro. I got to hang out with my mom on her birthday, which was nice. It doesn't happen often when you don't live at home. And I've gotten to see so much great basketball lately. And it's also really, really nice to have that feature up, because it had been ruining my life the past couple of days. Because writing is so hard.
Jessica: Yeah, what's that about? We need to stop that.
Lindsay: It's so annoying.
Jessica: Yeah. It's amazing how that is. And it was so good, Lindsay, in the end. Brenda-
Jessica: What's good with you?
Brenda: They're so good. Antibiotics are amazing.
Jessica: Oh, poor Bren.
Brenda: No, I'm fine. Thank you, all those people who invented them. They're great. I got strep this week, and it's been ... I don't know-
Brenda: Many, many years since I had strep throat, and it was like swallowing swords. And three doses of amoxicillin and I was human, and I'm just super thankful I had access to it. My youngest daughter got it, and she keeps gagging every time I gotta give her the pink medicine. And I keep saying, "I am so grateful for this disgusting medicine."
Jessica: Yeah. Aren't we lucky to live in the age of antibiotics.
Brenda: And she looks at me like, "I hate you so much."
Brenda: So, I gave her a spoonful of sugar, and literally, it works.
Amira: It makes the medicine go down.
Jessica: It makes the medicine go down.
Brenda: It does. It does, and she does it. Just a teeny bit, so don't get too much on my case for being a bad mom. So, antibiotics are making my life right now.
Jessica: Wow. We really ... I mean, the Escape Room is really fun, that we did on Long Island. But next time, definitely have to carry a key.
Amira: Ooh, yes.
Jessica: After that impromptu ditty that Amira and I just did. My what's good is ... I mean, I talked to Doris Burke for 30 minutes this morning, so that was definitely up there. I wanna thank Lindsay, 'cause I have tickets to go to the Fed Cup in a couple of weeks in San Antonio. Who's even playing? It's the U.S.A. versus ... I don't even know. Lindsay, do you even know? Do we know this? I don't even care.
Lindsay: Is it the Czech Republic? I don't know.
Jessica: I don't know. I'm just so excited to go. I just bought tickets. I bought tickets for both days. I bought two. I don't know who's going with me, but someone will. So I'm very excited about that, and then, just to update everyone on my baking. I took a class a few weeks ago on making croissants, and last week, finally, I did it by myself at home for the first time, and they were so good. It's so good that they're so hard to make, because they're not good for you. But they taste amazing. But it was a day's worth of work, so I don't know the next time I'll be doing it, but I was really pleased with the results.
Jessica: All right, and here's Shireen's what's good, to round this out.
Shireen: So for this week, my what's good is definitely Burn It All Down. I absolutely love this podcast. I'm so proud to be a part of it. There's so many wonderful things that I could say, but I'm going to keep it short. I do also wanna wish my youngest, Mustafa, a happy 13th birthday. He's a teenager today, so now I have four teenagers, which is kind of wild. Also, what's good is Idaho potatoes. Boise has been very good to me, and I want to just recognize that conference. And also, I do want to say hello to Doctor Sarah Reed, who is my new friend. I met her at the conference, and she was lovely and wonderful, and she's an absolutely sincere and delightful flame thrower. So thank you very much.
Jessica: That's it for this week's episode. Our 100th episode.
Jessica: Whoo! Thank you all for joining us. You can find Burn It All Down on Facebook and Twitter. If you wanna subscribe to Burn It All Down, and you should, you can do so on Apple Podcast, Spotify, SoundCloud, Stitcher, Google Play and Tune In. For information about the show, and links and transcripts for each episode, check out our website, burnitalldownpod.com and hint, hint, hint, you should go look at the website. That's burnitalldownpod.com. You can also email us from the site to give us feedback. We'd love to hear from you.
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Lindsay: It's Switzerland. They're playing Switzerland in the Fed Cup.