Episode 103: Trolling women in sport twitter, MLB's Renée Tirado, and Minnesota Lynx's Cheryl Reeve
This week, Lindsay, Brenda, Jessica, and Shireen discuss the persistent bullying of women who write on sport in social media(2:16), Amira Rose Davis interviews interviews Major League Baseball’s Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer, Renee Tirado, about her work to bring women into baseball’s front office and make the sport more inclusive to Black and Brown fans, players, and communities (20:39), and Lindsay Gibbs chats with Minnesota Lynx's head coach Cheryl Reeve on the challenges the team has faced, WNBA draft and state of women in sport (39:40)
Finally, we have the Burn Pile (1:01:26), BAWOTW (101:54), and What's Good (109:23).
Could Breanna Stewart's injury be tipping point for WNBA negotiations? http://www.espn.com/wnba/story/_/id/26532729/could-breanna-stewart-injury-tipping-point-wnba-negotiations
“Crowdsourced Twitter study reveals shocking scale of online abuse against women” https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2018/12/crowdsourced-twitter-study-reveals-shocking-scale-of-online-abuse-against-women/
Online abuse 101 http://www.womensmediacenter.com/speech-project/online-abuse-101
“What is the NWSL doing right now?” https://equalizersoccer.com/2019/04/12/what-is-nwsl-doing-now-2019-season-preview-lack-sponsor-media/
“A heckler chanted 'Larry Nassar' at a Michigan State game. A survivor was there” https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/2019/04/17/michigan-state-final-four-larry-nassar-survivor/3498526002/?utm_source=feedblitz&utm_medium=FeedBlitzRss&utm_campaign=usatoday-newstopstories
“IOC pledges €500,000 to help restore Notre Dame ahead of 2024 Olympics” https://olympics.nbcsports.com/2019/04/18/notre-dame-fire-paris-olympics-ioc/
“Radcliffe warns Semenya verdict could be death of women's sport” https://af.reuters.com/article/sportsNews/idAFKCN1RV0UE-OZASP
“Iran's first champion female boxer cancels return home after arrest warrant issued” https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2019/04/18/irans-first-champion-female-boxer-cancels-return-home-arrest/
CHIVAS VARONIL Y FEMENIL SE ENFRENTARON PARA CELEBRAR A LAS MUJERES https://www.telemundodeportes.com/liga-mx/chivas-varonil-y-femenil-se-enfrentaron-para-celebrar-las-mujeres
“Brooke Henderson defends LOTTE Championship title, wins by four in Hawaii” https://www.golfdigest.com/story/brooke-henderson-defends-lotte-championship-title-wins-by-four-in-hawaii
“Finland to be awarded gold medal payout after controversial loss” https://sports.yahoo.com/finland-to-be-awarded-gold-medal-payout-after-controversial-loss-012708177.html
Brenda: Welcome to this week's episode of Burn It All Down. It's the feminist sports podcast you need. On this week's panel we have the unsinkable optimist Shireen Ahmed, freelance sports writer in Toronto Canada, the fiery badass Jessica Luther, independent writer and author of Unsportsmanlike Conduct, College Football and The Politics of Rape in Austin Texas. The brilliant wordsmith Lindsay Gibbs, sports writer at ThinkProgress in DC and I'm Brenda Elsey, associate professor of history at Hofstra University in the Hudson Valley in New York. Before we start I would like to thank our patrons for their generous support and to remind all of you about our ongoing Patreon campaign. You can pledge a certain amount monthly and basically you become an official patron of the podcast which helps us to pay for production costs, so that we can deliver this every week. We are so grateful to everyone who has contributed.
This week we are going to ruminate on trolling and social media. Particularly for women, people of color and LGBTQ public figures in sport. We have two fabulous interviews. Amira talks to Major League Baseball's chief diversity and inclusion officer Renée Tirado about her work to bring women into baseball's front offices and to make the sport more inclusive to black and brown fans, players and communities. Lindsey interviews Minnesota Lynx's head coach Cheryl Reeve about Lynx's eventful offseason, the WNBA draft and improving the state of women in sport. Just before we go to our next segment I do want to remind people that we will have a special Patreon episode up this week as well for patrons of the podcast, which is going to be on Tiger Woods’ comeback and problematic faves.
This week unfortunately a very routine thing happened which is we were trolled. Trolling happens. It happens most weeks to those of us who happen to write about sport and feminism. We did want to spend some time examining it with a bit more gravitas. Jessica do you want to lead us into this discussion?
Jessica: Yeah I do. I want to just say at the top of the segment in case someone only listens to the beginning and doesn't listen to the end we are not firing Shireen Ahmed. She's not going anywhere. She's saying here forever as long as we can keep her. This week Shireen was the target of intense social media harassment. I won't go into too much detail but essentially a website that does football in Europe, soccer in Europe called COPA90, they released a video about women's soccer, it had different people in it talking about one of the people in that video, a popular sports football commentator, has problematic sexist tweets in his past. Shireen was one of a few people to point out that this is not the best person to be in the video. That was it. That's all she said. The website responded directly to Shireen on Twitter and said that ... What exactly did they say Shireen? I'll let you fill that in.
Shireen: Yeah it was pretty much we at COPA90 don't ... We really abhor these things and we're ... It's against our brand. Very typical. I'm not really sure how much they looked into it. That they just were apologetic that the whole thing happened and that they were looking through their contractual agreement with Poets Corner for this. I think that therein lies a lot of the issues as it was a series of tweets. Just very quickly they said that they abhor. Yes exactly. They recently became aware of sexist and abhorrent sexist and unacceptable content posted on their social media. They named him, Poet, on his personal Twitter. Management editors and producers of COPA90 apologized unreservedly for any offense caused by its content. The views are at odds with fundamental ethos of COPA90, insert laugh, which is to reflect the world we want to live in championing diversity through football. Blah, blah, blah.
COPA90 is tightening its procedures to prevent unacceptable content being produced in our name or by anyone employed or contracted by COPA90 in the future. We are reviewing our contractual relationship with Poet. Until this is agreed to our satisfaction, COPA90 decided it is inappropriate Poet to feature in our content
Jessica: They tweeted this at you, all that?
Shireen: All of that at at me.
Jessica: Poets Corner is the guy Poets Corner UK. This was also based on a different website, Football 365. They have made up post about this. They ended up deleting that post so that post doesn't exist anymore. COPA responded directly to Shireen. Poets Corner UK deleted his Twitter. When people got mad that this very popular commentator was gone, the person that they had left to direct that at was Shireen. There was at least one other woman and it was really bad. Burn It All Down got a little bit of the auxiliary of all that. It was horrific, gender based harassment. I mean we want to talk about that because this is something that we all experience over and over again, being women with opinions on the internet especially about sports. I just wanted to give some general context to harassment in general. The Women's Media Center as always has really good stuff about this. One of the things I wanted to start with is I wanted to note they do a good job of explaining why it matters when women are harassed versus when men are, because of course men are harassed too.
They have this really interesting thing about how women report higher rates of finding online harassment stressful. They had reasons for this. One being that women are already hyper vigilant just in their everyday life because of the sexism that they face. Also that this is an intersectional issue that for women of color this is so much worse; for disabled women, for LGBTQI people that all of those groups are already experiencing other kinds of harassment on top of the fact that they are women. Then globally I'm just going to quote it here, “Globally women still face sexist patriarchal constraints that compound the negative effects of online harassment." Which means that if you live in any patriarchal structure, the fear that what you're doing online will bleed into your real life could have real life consequences for you that you will be punished in your real life. Then on top of that that men ... They just don't have all the symbolism that goes along with it.
There isn't a sexist culture that they're tapping into. Then I thought this is really important. They also know that online harassment exists on a continuum with offline violence. That these two things are not disconnected and then for our purposes the most trolled group, the most harassed group on the Internet according to him is a media center are women journalists and writers. The research shows that women silence themselves, opt out of doing work, avoid certain topics and are fearful and restrict their level of public engagement. That is something that I have absolutely done. On top of that, Amnesty International has done a lot of work around this and they found that black woman in particular they ... Amnesty International did a thing where they looked at the tweets of US and UK female politicians and journalists.
They found that black women were disproportionately targeted, 84% more likely than white women's to be mentioned in abusive or problematic tweets. 1 in 10 tweets mentioning black woman was abusive or problematic compared to one in 16 for white women which all of those numbers are horrific. Women of color which they define as black, Asian, LatinX and mixed race women were 34% more likely to be mentioned in abusive or problematic tweets than white women. This is a huge problem. There's a specific group of people who gets targeted at. It felt like this week very sadly and frustratingly we saw it like Shireen was just the epicenter, like the perfect example of how all of these things work.
Brenda: The Amnesty study is pretty important. It basically also identifies Twitter as the worst platform because of the speed with which it happens and also because of coordinated defamation. This happened I think this week. I mean I don't have any evidence to prove it but I've felt the same a couple times where it's the people who are attacking me, they are in touch with each other in some back channel.
Jessica: Yes they are. That's what I said to Shireen. I was like this is coordinated.
Brenda: It happens really often. People who have never really been targeted by it, I think it might be hard for them to understand the speed and the intensity with which it happens. It happened to me and then there were a group of journalists who really did not like what I said about COPA Libertadores and then another time about Cristiano Ronaldo because anytime you write about Christian Ronaldo no matter what, you're going to get a billion people. I actually had another journalist tell me these people are in a WhatsApp chat. They're right now talking about you and they're right now deciding that they're going to go after you. It was really, really intense. There's a coordination that happens. That's really important to keep in mind I think. Shireen I don't know if you felt like that same feeling as well that there was some coordination in this.
Shireen: You know, I hadn't thought about it until of course I reached out to you folks immediately. Literally within half an hour of it starting and the avalanche. Jessica said immediately that this is ... There's probably like a sub-Reddit somewhere where they're all doing this or there's something somewhere where it's very ... It's a coordinated attack, a targeted attack. For me it was the deluge of it all at the same time where people ... And the popups coming of the “justice for Poet”. I just wanted to say not because I have to but because I want to, I in no way lobbied for this young man. I don't know how old he is. I'm going to say young because I always feel like I'm older than everybody except for Dave Zirin. I feel like I didn't lobby for his firing. That's not what I wanted. Him the deleting his Twitter - he didn't delete his Instagram which I find really interesting. There's been no comment on it on his Instagram either.
I'm okay this is, I’ve opined a bit about reaching out to him but I'm not going to at this point. Him deleting his Twitter ... Because I responded to his public comment saying no this is great whatever, whatever. I appreciate your words because I do. I will. Because he is a young black man I will give him that benefit of the doubt. I'm going to do that. Everybody has to unlearn some shit at some point. I certainly, certainly did and still I'm on that journey. It's just like it was so frustrating because it was constantly. I mean I I've explained this to Jess. I was accused of reversed racism and sexism and I mean when women are trolled and they're trolled for absolutely no reason whatsoever. Someone doesn't need an excuse to abuse you. They just do. I could almost find it comical. I could find the funny. Then when male friends of mine and allies we're stepping forward, because many were, and I do want to thank everybody out there that did that.
Whether it was reporting and blocking and there were significant people who I consider friends and colleagues actually stepping up to engage them. I will also add this really quickly. If you do do that for someone that's getting abused online please remove that or tag.
Jessica: Untag them.
Shireen: Please untag because I just ended up getting all the responses and I see the work that you're doing and I appreciate him. I just do. Please untag. I just don't want to constantly see that stuff because I'm already dealing with everything. Well what I was going to say was just one or two replies to my male friends was “she's not going to shag you mate”. That was-
Jessica: Which just shows what they think about women and men's relationship to women is that it begins and ends with shagging. They're just telling on themselves every time.
Brenda: Yeah. It's also a fantasy about their relationship to the person that they're protecting. It's like with with Ronaldo all the time we kept getting things whether I was writing my Shireen or Jen, Jennifer Doyle, or myself. If all I would get were things like where are you in the room? He's such a ... Who would say no to him? It's like wow. Not you.
Shireen: You want five minutes of fame.
Brenda: Well it's also the fantasy that they have a closeness with this celebrity. That they somehow are invested in their reputation. Lindsay.
Lindsay: Yeah. Sorry. This is a lot here and it's taking me back to so many times when I've been the target of similar I guess instances. I mean we all experience it to varying degrees and it's ... You prepare yourself for it and you know when it's coming. It still can be really hard. They go after things like, look I'm a fat single woman and they like to point that out all the time. There's really no comeback to that except that I don't really care. They just go after these things. It can be so draining. I think the coordinated part here is what's really sticking out to me. I want to give a shout out to the MoreThanMean video which Julie DiCaro and Sarah Spain were part of a couple of years ago, and Julie of course is one of the founders of Burn It All Down and used to be one of our co-hosts. It was a video in which regular men, normal men, all men from the street read comments to Sarah and Julie's faces that other trolls had said to them online.
It was like putting the voice and a face to this and it was ... We'll link it in the show notes. It's still one of the most moving show ... Moving YouTube videos I've ever seen because the rape threats, the death threats, the attacks are ... When you hear them out loud they take your breath away, is what they do. They literally just take your breath away. I know Julie has dealt with because she's a radio ... She's on the radio in Chicago. We've all seen the trolls that she deals with because they're coordinated. They're all in there in Chicago. It's when these fan groups get mobilized in these places that it gets really really scary. The truth is it's ... I see my male colleagues be harassed online a lot. I think what really sets it apart is like Jess was saying in the intro, the threat of violence and harassment that women do face in our everyday life. When I get a rape threat online that means something different to me, because of what I've been through, right?
That's not like this abstract thing. I mean this week, I'm not going to get too much into what's been happening in my place of work this past week over at ThinkProgress and the nonprofit which we are housed in, the Center for American Progress, it's a whole another thing. I mean the amount of online abuse that my colleagues had been taking this week, the amount of extra security that has had to come because of that, because of politics and because of organized communities online, it has real world implications. It gets terrifying. And I don't know where it ends. Look I spent ... I feel bad because I spent a lot of time being like Shireen, just mute and block. Because it was the only thing I could think to say and it's the only way I am able to function most days. That's not a real solution.
Brenda: Right. Jess?
Jessica: Yeah. I think this solution part of it is the real bummer. All this for all the harassment itself there's what the fuck do you do when you're in it and you’re the target of it? There are so few options which a lot of that is on these companies on these social media platforms that just don't seem to care at all about this. We could talk endlessly about diversity issues at those places themselves. You are left as an individual up against a coordinated attack, working on a platform that doesn't care at all about you. I just want to say ... The other thing, is it’s terrifying. Lindsey said it's terrifying and scary. It also zaps your productivity, your ability to focus all of those things. You are ever the target of this stuff and that's how you feel that's totally normal and just know that. There are at least ... Twitter has ... I don't even want to say anything nice about Twitter.
Shireen: Yeah, please don't.
Jessica: If you check out my old Twitter account you'll see that I have vastly pulled away from it over the last few months. There are good filters. You can put filters on there under settings and privacy or something like that. I have one set so that I only see mentions from people who already follow me and that has cut down drastically on the shit that I actually see. It still exists. It's out there. I just don't see any of it. That has helped my mental health. I also just as I said I do walk away from it. I do give up the platforms. I do give up the spaces. Which is unfair, but also we have to take care of ourselves as individuals. It sucks that it's like that.
Shireen: Yeah. I'm reported a lot and very often. I mean there's one “@ justiceforpoet.” It's an account with my name and my tag actually in the bio saying that I should have ... My career should end. They kept calling for my firing which is funny because I'm a freelance journalist so I'm like…they really don't know how this works. In terms of mental health, just respond to that, I got nothing done on Thursday. Friday was ... I'm not Catholic but it was Good Friday. It's a staff holiday in Canada. Nothing really needed to be done. I'm leaving for vacation so I needed to do wrap some things up. But I really didn't get anything done. I just immersed myself in my kids and that was what I needed to do. I bought my son home from school, wrapped up his first year of university and I shared it with him. I was telling them as we drove back from campus what was going on.
He was just like, “That's really brutal.” he goes, “you understand who does this though mom.” My kids were because that's the other thing. I have children that are old enough to be online. They're old enough to see people calling me a cunt. They're old enough ... To what Lindsay said my bio lists that I'm a single mom. That experience was probably the most difficult I've ever survived. For people to go through and say things like, now we know where your baby daddy left you. That was really difficult to read. Even though those people know nothing about me and nothing about my situation, which wasn't what happened. Those stabs they do they hurt. That's what they're meant to do. Anyways at the end of the day I want to see COPA90 be accountable for stuff and not just blame it on one person. 365 completely took down their posts which was the catalyst for everything to begin with.
I actually want them to be accountable because the way that they've handled this is also really terrible. Twitter I don't rely on at all and I hate giving up spaces because I need Twitter; I need social media in order to do the work I do. Then it just leaves me with no option. But Jess is right, it's got to be mental health first. It's become like a survival thing. I just again want to thank the Burn It All Down crew for being as supportive because I know you know what I went through. You've all been through it. It sucks. The solidarity with anybody out there that's going through this and do what you need to do, put your own mask on first to get through.
Brenda: Now, Amira sits down with Major League Baseball's chief diversity and inclusion officer, Renée Tirado.
Amira: Hey you'll Amira here. I am delighted to sit down with and chat with Renée Tirado who is the chief diversity and inclusion officer for Major League baseball. Renee, thank you. Welcome to the pod.
Renée: Thank you Amira. I appreciate you guys hosting me.
Amira: Let's just start like how long have you been with the MLB and what does your long fancy title mean?
Renée: I joined MLB, this would have been three years this past February, March so not that long. This long fancy title is actually not that super fancy. This is really all about ensuring that we're creating an environment, a sport, a job community that is attractive to anybody and everybody who wants to be a part of our game. Without any barriers to entry with the appropriate amount of equity distributed amongst men, women, people of color, people with different abilities orientations et cetera. I help drive that strategy for our organization. Not only the office of the commissioner and the network as well as our advanced media group. We support all 30 teams in our 30 markets and as well as our international offices and some of their activations.
Amira: Wonderful. One of the ways you do that is I've heard about this initiative takes the field. Can you tell me a little bit more about that particular initiative?
Renée: Yeah. That was something we were really excited to put together. It came up. We delivered this in December of 2018 at our winter meeting. It really ... I would be remiss to say that I dreamt this up myself and it was this brilliant idea when in fact I actually respectfully borrowed it from my colleague Samantha Rappaport at the NFL who had been doing a similar program, creating a multi-day platform to try to help women who were interested in on the field roles in football. She was kind enough to invite me to these sessions for the last few years and it's been ... I've been mulling over how do we do it in baseball and do it in a way that's meaningful right, and making it especially high touch with our clubs. Because the goal is to place these women in roles and jobs to get them exposure. Went to meetings with the perfect platform to host these women, to come in to talk about and give them ... Two big things I wanted to do.
One is to make sure that they got practical experience about what it would look like to be a part of a particular discipline in baseball that they had interest in. Whether it was scouting, performance, umpiring et cetera. We actually have these women pre-select the track that they wanted to be involved in. While there was some general sessions, they would break out into their respective tracks of interests. We had actual coaches and club personnel come in and lead those discussions and lead some practical application around that. The second thing that we wanted to get out of Take The Field was to make sure that these women also had an opportunity to showcase their talent in front of and network with our clubs directly. I don't necessarily think that there's a lack of appetite or willingness to have women in our game or on the field as much as it is. They don't get the exposure that they need to get.
As I'm sure you're very well aware, sports is very relationship driven. It's very much people making decisions right or wrong around who they're comfortable with, who they know, who's proven, in their mind. What better way to show that these women have ... I don't want to say the cojones to do this type of work and be out there with their male counterparts just as ... At a similar high level as their male counterparts and to actually get them in front of the guys who are making the decisions around who's going to be a part of their team in the future. We created this one day program with a lot of, again breakout sessions, part motivational but I really wanted to make sure we focused on the practical so that they left there with a substantive, at least or foundational start to the skill set that they needed. Left there with an understanding of potentially what gaps that they had to close and most importantly created some relationships with MLB personnel to grow and build out, so when they were ready or if they are ready, these were go-to candidates for our clubs.
Amira: Yeah that's really dope. We talk a lot about the long history of women in baseball. I write about black women who played in the Negro League; just went to the Women's Baseball World Series. I think a lot of times when we think about women in baseball even apart from A League of Their Own we're talking about playing. I think it's really dope to like be able to have the conversation, the spotlight on also the front office and the sideline, the dugout and all of that stuff. It's really necessary work. Aligned with that we just recently did Jackie Robinson Day. I saw a clip of you talking last year I believe when MLB did their first float in the pride parade. One of the things that you said is we have to return to the fact, this is the league of Jackie Robinson. I also think Clemente as well. What is it about baseball particularly? You said you borrowed some of this from football. I'm thinking football and basketball, these have majority black and brown leagues at this point.
Either the NFL working against that or the NBA who's like we're not engaged in work branding and leaning all the way in to those players. When you think about Major League Baseball, when you think about the image of it, the history of it, how do you then think about getting it to black and brown communities and as well supporting those players in the league?
Renée: It's not easy and it has to be interdisciplinary intersectional approach. I'm glad you mentioned that statement I made. Because we do. Especially my department. We take it very, very seriously. Our driving principles within my team. We’re the sport of Jackie Robinson ... We hope to exemplify the character Roberto Clemente and stand with a conviction of Sandy Colfax. That is everything that we frame our decisions around. We're trying to make sure that not only are we creating things programmatically to engage in audiences and to bring new talent into baseball on and off the field, we also want to make sure that the culture is ready for them to be successful. Sometimes that's the harder part because the talent is out there. We know that. There's a lot of talent out there and it's just a matter of making sure we're positioning our brand the right way in front of these new audiences.
One of the things that I had an opportunity to do last year that was part of the strategy around engaging these particular demographics was just almost kind of going on a speaking tour, talking to HBCUs and HSIs and saying yes to maybe panels that were not talking to baseball audiences and telling the baseball story and explaining the business of the game more broadly. You would be ... Two things that I got out of it was one, there were a lot of people of color and women and people of different orientations who really love baseball and want it to be a part of the game. Just as much they didn't understand our business model. They didn't know how we operated. They didn't think about the fact that yes there's the office of the commissioner and there are all these roles that fall into two categories: business operations and baseball operations.
There are different skillets for both of that but at the end of the day we're still a corporation that has very traditional tracks. If you are an accountant there might be a role for you here. In addition to that, we have 30 franchises that are mini corporations that are additional opportunities. It's about really, I don't want to say relaunching the brand, because our brand is very strong, domestically and globally amongst a broad audience. It was reframing it in a sense of telling this story about what baseball was and has been historically to these particular groups. That for women, that the game was not just this phenomenal movie with Madonna right? There are so many other stories of women, women of color that participated in the game, that still participate in the game on a regular basis. Sharing those narratives, talking a little bit more about the history of the Negro League and how it supported economies and bringing those aha! moments to them to see that it makes sense.
For them to pursue us has an opportunity of choice or figuring out where they want to spend their entertainment dollars. Well choose baseball! Because we still have the best I think family model in sports. We're still economically accessible compared to our counterparts. And we offer so many more opportunities to participate in our game because we have so many more games. It was really really, again, reframing the value proposition of baseball to these audiences. On the other side of that is how do we make sure that the culture is ready to support these fans and these employees when they come into baseball. All the things we do programmatically around recruiting and talent, these are not just identifying resumes, getting them in for interviews. They still close the deal. They get the job and we're one and done and bye, right. Check the box. That's one more number less onto the next. We're providing support for all of these candidates that come into this game.
They get mentors, they get coaching they get opportunities to see where their strengths are and where their weaknesses are. And where their weaknesses are we try to help them make sure they close the gaps effectively. We're trying to level out the playing field as much as possible to create an environment and not only were they will succeed but they will stay. I'm not just concerned with getting them in. My priority is to get them and keep them so that they become the future leadership of this game. That's a part of it. With respect to the players we have a lot of player programs that support players on a variety of levels. We can't ... That's not compulsory. They have to opt in to our player programs and take advantage of that. I am very proud of the slate of content that we have available to them educationally, emotionally, psychologically and to the wives and their families as well. There is a lot there that they can take advantage of.
Hopefully as time goes on we'll be able to have more impact in that space as well. Again when you look at it and hopefully it's coming across that this is a holistic agenda. It's not just let's just get some brown faces and estrogen in the boardroom because that's not going to be enough. We have to make sure that the ecosystem is there in the right way so that they can thrive. That's what we're focusing on and it's not super easy. The beauty about baseball is that is rich in tradition and sometimes that's also very difficult to change or at least evolve because we don't necessarily want to change it. We just want to evolve it. I will say I've been in this diversity space for about nine years now and I have not been in an environment and have not had the leadership support that I've had here anywhere else. That's from the commissioner, my own direct ... I report directly into deputy commissioner Dan Halan has been a tremendous champion around this agenda.
This does not get done without that type of leadership. I'm grateful that the ground is fertile to do more and we have more to do. That's clear. I have a system in place. I have a support system. I have colleagues and I have supervisors and employees that are all bought into it and are ready to go.
Amira: Yeah, that's really encouraging to hear. I think one of the things that you mentioned is where I see a lot of the disconnect with baseball, which is that it is balancing this tradition with this evolution or really a return to form. It feels like it's things like this week with Tim Anderson's bat flip and the idea of like unspoken rules where you see various ways that walls get put up to people who get turned off. It's really great to think about ways that we can get people back in and support it.
Renée: Exactly. Again those things require a little bit more time. We just have to ... We got to listen. The more fans we bring into the game the more diverse fan base we bring into the game, the younger fan base that we bring into the game in different capacities, because they're consuming it differently. It might not be that they're engaged in the stadium itself. As we continue to figure out those touch points I think organically you will see our traditions remain intact but they will be modernized. That's the goal. It's a very delicate balance. With what I see happening internally again around the culture and ecosystem and a lot more collaboration interdepartmentally, the fact that the diversity department does work closely with the youth programs department. We are talking to our marketing department to serve their needs, to help them make sure that they're doing the best that they can do. I think that's a step in the right direction.
It's a marathon not a race. I ask everyone, our baseball fans and especially our women, be patient, or stay committed to us because I think there's going to be a lot of exciting things to come. Come join us. Join the cause. It's a great game. There's so much history. It's had so much impact on so many diverse populations in this country. It's time for us to reclaim a little bit of that again.
Amira: So, I heard you were a Knicks fan. Good to have a baseball rooting interest too. Do you still go for any of the New York teams-
Renée: No, I'm ride or die. That's not ... I'm not a fair weather fan. I'm born and raised in Brooklyn. I live in New York now, so I don't ... I have my teams, which I will stay neutral right now. If there is a New York team in any type of championship or playoffs, I'm right there, full on.
Amira: Listen, I really like you. For me to ... I'm such a Red Sox homer. It's like, I'm like, but I vibe with you so much.
Renée: You know what, you told me you were from Massachusetts. I was like I'm going to let it go. She seems like she's down. We're going to put that aside and we're going to just try to find commonalities. Look, maybe we broker the peace accord between Massachusetts and New York.
Amira: Exactly, exactly. My last question for you is what does it mean to you, what is it like to be a Latino within the world of sports? I think it's a huge place where there's lack of representation across the board, both on the field, in front offices, in management positions. I have a graduate student who's writing what's going to be a really amazing history of Latinx in sport. I feel like that's something that is just so vastly underrepresented and ... I don't know if you have any thoughts about what it is to occupy this space.
Renée: First of all I'm very blessed to have had this trajectory that I've had. I don't take that for granted. To me that goes hand in hand with taking that ... I take that as a responsibility. I don't have an issue being that person or the Latino community. I know some people don't like that burden. Sometimes they feel it's a lot of work. I personally think I have a responsibility to continue to as much as I can serve as an example, aspirational, inspirational and hopefully strategically for other Latinos to engage in our sport. Again, to your point, and I really want to read that paper from your student. When it's all said and done, we're here. We're just sometimes not visible for a variety of reasons because the diaspora of Latinos is so varied. We might be in the room and you don't even know we’re there, unless somebody says something to us in Spanish or makes a certain reference.
For me it's a priority to make sure that I share my story. I hope to use it to encourage more Latinos to participate in our game on the business side and also on the field, and especially women because we're pretty badass, and I'm not the only one. They're actually more of us here than that. Veronica Alvarez has been a great champion of showcasing Latinas, especially for on the field opportunities and roles. There were others, we just tend to be a little bit more low key. Wherever I can wave the flag, the flag is really big here. If I could wear my Puerto Rican T-shirt every day I would, but we’re business casual, so I got to pull back. There are a ton of young professionals at the office of the commissioner that are Latino, they're emerging. I tell you this is tight, they will be leaders of this game. Our fellowship program that we launched last year, third of the class was Latino.
There's a trajectory there, and there's a trajectory here for my community. If I can lay the foundation, and if can open the door and just as importantly, if I could step aside to let them in, I will do so happily. That's part of my charge here. It's not only the commitment to MLB, but it's also the commitments and making sure kids and young adults or people aspiring to be a part of this game who looked like me, sound like me, know that it's an option for them. I'll raise the banner and do whatever I have to do to make sure that I stay accessible to the community, and keep the message alive.
Amira: Well, thank you so much for joining us on Burn It All Down. You are now a flamethrower, and we look forward to seeing what you have in store for MLB in the future.
Renée: Thank you so much. I'm very proud to officially call myself a flamethrower. Who knew.
Brenda: Here's Lindsay's interview with Minnesota Lynx's head coach, Cheryl Reeve.
Lindsay: Hello everyone. This week, its Lindsey here and I have a very special guest here on Burn It All Down. The head coach of the Minnesota Lynx, Cheryl Reeve herself. Cheryl, welcome to Burn It All Down.
Cheryl: Thanks Lindsey, it's great to be here with you.
Lindsay: Look, obviously I want to just dive right in. Last year was the first year in a while we've seen the Lynx really struggle. You guys had made it look so easy for so many years. Of course realistically it's not that easy, but somehow you had made it look that easy. I remember you continuously saying in interviews, there's a lot more going on behind the scenes. It's a lot more difficult and we know that. Girl, what was your mindset heading into last season? How disappointing was that for you, and how were you trying to look forward? What was your mindset going forward?
Cheryl: Well, going into the 2018 season certainly the mindset was, we had just won a championship in 2017. Hindsight is 20/20. When I go back and I think about the narrative after we won, it was pretty exhausting. It was a huge accomplishment to win again. Now having gone through 2018 and beyond, just where our players were at that time, I didn't necessarily see that. I was just in ‘let's repeat’ mode. That was ... I think it's been pretty well documented that we spend the off season. Lindsay was here, Seimone stayed stateside. Lindsay, her motivation she was struggling. We started to modify things. I didn't want her to not like basketball. We tried to curb some activities that maybe didn't bring her joy, and we just tried to get to a point where, "Hey, this is one more." Let's do, try to get everybody back together, get the band back together, and let's see what we can do. It was just before I was going to the final four that Lindsay popped in the office, and said coach, I don't know. I don't think I can do it. I don't know if I want to do it.
That was the start of 2018. Like I said, it's well documented that we talked about it. I wouldn't let her. I told her I did not accept her resignation. We got a good laugh out of that. I just told her, I felt like she would feel better if she would have one more year and be sure. We went through the season. We didn't get off to a good start. As I look back on it our training camp was not very good. Our offense was not very good, but you just chalk it up to, it’s a group that knows what they're doing, by the time the ball tips on our home opener, we'd be ready to go. The home opener was a big time sign. It was against the Sparks. I think both the Lynx and the Sparks, it’s a certain level that you have to reach, not just physically, but the mental aspect of playing the Sparks. It got exhausting.
I am sure that they feel the same because if we didn't bring our A game, we're going to win. We didn't bring our game in that home opener and we got off to a rough start, probably our worst start in a long time. It was just challenging. There were certainly some great moments. I think were rattled off seven wins and got our feet under us. Then ultimately just our offense was not the juggernaut that it had been through our championship years and our defense was not as good. It led to just above average. We were able to make the playoffs and win 18 games, but it was just a little bit short of what this team had been doing.
Lindsay: Of course with the talent in WNBA and the way the playoffs, there's no wiggle room there. You have to continue. If you're not getting better, you're falling behind. This offseason also has been an eventful one for the team. I don't think that's any ... I'm not breaking any news here. Obviously Lindsay retired and I know Rebekkah is still dealing with some health issues a little bit. Of course it was announced that Maya Moore's not coming back. When did you find that out, and was that something that you were expecting?
Cheryl: I would say that, that again, hindsight when you go back. There were certain times over the last few years that Maya had a different look about her, look in her eye and even body language at times that were causes for concern as a coach. We had conversations about it and just what she was struggling with in terms of…being Maya Moore's is difficult, and really being the Minnesota Lynx during that time is difficult and that the expectations were so incredibly high. I think Maya said it best, “our normal is so much higher than everyone else's normal.” Reaching normal everyday just took a great deal of energy and sacrifice. I think as it came out, I didn't necessarily know for sure what direction she would go, but I ... There were signs last season that Maya was just struggling overall, just probably not necessarily just basketball, but just life in general.
Cheryl: 29 years old about to turn 30, and I think you just start to look around and go, I've been doing this basketball thing for a long time it has been wonderful. It's been great to her, but then there's other things that you sacrifice. All of our players have made those sacrifices during the eight years we've spent together and winning championships and competing at a high level. None of us would trade it for anything. At the same time we've all sacrificed quite a bit, and I think Maya just made that recognition and she said I need to hit the pause button here, and try to sort through some things and that's what she's doing now.
Lindsay: Makes a lot of sense. In a more positive note for your team and I'm assuming for you as general manager and head coach, a lot of people came away from draft night saying the Lynx are the winners. I'm looking through your haul. It's just steal after steal of players that I feel could have gone much higher. Starting of course with Napheesa falling to the sixth pick and getting her and then getting Jessica Shepard and Cierra Dillard and Natisha Hiedeman in the second round. How exciting is it after having so many years of a veteran team, a team you know really well, a team who you know really who the leaders are, and now you've got so many young and new faces coming into the mix. As a coach, does that give you an extra spring in your step?
Cheryl: Yeah. It's kind of how you deal with things. Certainly I would love to have the group that we've had for so long still together and enjoying what we're doing, but it's simply not the case. We've got retirement. We've got other issues that’s taking away from that group. It's all in how you look at it. I just think we have a really good opportunity to retool the roster. Time will tell with regard to the draft, everyone is ecstatic on draft night typically. Our team was no different. We spend a lot of time preparing. We had five picks and we wanted to maximize each of those picks, and certainly we value Napheesa Collier. I think there's a lot of good players in the draft. We just happen to think that she probably right now is the best overall player, and we'll have to see where we can get her to in terms of her future. It just was really important for us, for us to get that level of players. We were excited there and we'll see about the second round picks.
It does get more difficult. The deeper you go into the draft. We were able to make a trade for a player that we think is pretty good in Lexie Brown. We've got a lot of new opportunities. I think the player I'm most excited about is actually one of our returners. That's Danielle Robinson. I think that her ability now to have it be her team…Last season she was trying to navigate the end of Lindsay Whalen era and how does she fit in and now it's going to be her team. That injury she sustained at the end of the season put her in a position to be here in market the entire offseason. She has worked really, really hard not just to get back healthy, but just to improve her game. We spent a lot of time watching video, taking pick and roll reads and her becoming a better shooter, and I think her fans are going to be really impressed with what she looks like when she comes back.
Lindsay: Yeah I cannot wait to see her and her high speed playback on the court, and especially with all of those weapons around her. One of the talks, and you mentioned earlier that a lot of your players have in the past few years stayed in Minnesota during the off season. You also alluded to the exhaustion it becomes of these WNBA players of Maya Moore's and even the bench players who are literally playing often 12 months a season. Do you see, is that ... On your hierarchy of things that you would like to change is, I would imagine as a coach, the ability to have the players here year round has to be pretty high on your list.
Cheryl: I would say its number one. I think that highlighted right now with Breanna Stewart's injury, this is harmful to our league. It affects the product on the floor and we've got to find a solution to this. It's not just overseas play. You also throw in USA Basketball, so the elite players are just being pulled in so many directions and frankly I think they've handled it really well, but it takes a toll. It gets to the point where someone like a Diana Taurasi who is one of our all time great players to ever play in our league, takes a year off from the WNBA. Or in this case Breanna Stewart is injured, or I can speak to the mental toll. When our players come back we're constantly making concessions. We have to change how much time we can spend on the court with them. You just lose the ability to have this individual improvement when there's no offseason. Then I just think certainly modifying activities to do right by the players because when they get back, they're exhausted.
I understand it, the financial piece of it. We've got to find a solution that will allow our players to stay home and be the best that they can be. It's just overall going to help the product in the long run.
Lindsay: Yeah, because you're looking at it at a season where, Maya Moore and ... For different reasons that we might not have Liz Cambage, and Brianna Stewart now with injury. These are three of the top faces of the league and it seems like more money could solve this. I guess it's just the question is where does that money come from? Different coaches are involved in different, to different extents and things like collective bargaining and advocating for the league. You've always been very outspoken yourself I know. Do you talk to the players about contract negotiations? Do you stay away from that? What are you hoping happens this summer through this negotiating period?
Cheryl: Well, I think it's an important time. You mentioned where’s the money going to come from. I think that that's obviously the ... if I could, million dollar questions... But it's pretty simple. Where does it come from in men's sports? Where it comes from is in TV dollars, it comes from sponsorship dollars and it comes from the league investing in players in a long-term investment mindset. So t's pretty simple in terms of what needs to happen, how to get there and how to change the minds of decision makers in the way that they view women in sports. Sport is a microcosm of society. How do we treat women in business? I think you're going to find the same thing. You're constantly pushing for equality in the way that we're treated. Sport is no different, and we've got to change the minds, the societal norms with regard to women. I think when you see that change, I just think we have a unique opportunity. The MBA does in that they're seen as a progressive league. They're an iconic brand.
I think the idea of being a leader in society, that would mean that you're the one putting your foot forward saying, do this with us. Treat women this way with us. And you create a chain reaction by you stepping forward and saying, you will do this because it's important. I think when you see that that opportunity, I think minds will change. Some of the greatest I think women's basketball programs to be able to get an attendance where the crowd is full, oftentimes it's the decision that's made. If you're going to buy a men's basketball ticket, you're going to buy a women's ticket. If you don't want to do that, then you don't get a ticket. I think the places that have done that, that have treated them the same and used the leverage of men sports. They've had a chance to be successful and I think that’ll be no different for our league.
Lindsay: I think that makes a lot of sense. Talk about women in coaching which I know is a topic you're passionate about and has been ... There's been a national conversation sparked. I talked to Muffet McGraw and she said that she was done hiring male coaches. That that was the new line that she was, or that she had been drawing. She was coming out and saying it publicly that she wasn't going to do that going forward. I know you have this year a lot of women on your staff, and always, You've hired ... I'm especially intrigued by hiring Plenette Pierson because you see so few WNBA players getting opportunities to coach in the league, whereas it's very normal on the men's side. What do you feel about the state of women coaching, and how do we get more women in the door?
Cheryl: Well, and I can respect Muffet's opinion that if we're not doing it, who's going to do it? I think that's the mindset. I'm always mindful of that. I have not gone so far as to say that I won't hire men. I think the solution is for women to have opportunities to coach both men sports and women's sports the same way that men have. We're probably a little ways away from that. Again when I speak to the NBA being leaders, look what they're doing with hiring players or former players to coach in their league in the NBA. We're seeing that door being open. How far away are we from being able to coach men's basketball? I think that's a different animal, but I think that's what has to change. I hate to eliminate part of the workforce, but that's what men do. They don't even consider women to coach. I think we got to continue to push for that, and in terms of former players, that's just a natural thing. We need to do more of it. Typically it's the idea that when you go from player to coach, there's not a level of experience that your coaching staff would want, but to me, they have to start somewhere.
Someone like Plenette for me was such a natural fit. We had such a connection when she was playing. I'm just happy to have her to be able to ... To be a voice on her team. And I think all of our teams. I know there was a lot of talk at one time a few years back to have one position dedicated to former players, but that requires an investment financially, and where does that come from? That's why that continues to be dormant is because we don't have someone stepping up and saying this is important. It just comes down to each staff being mindful of that. Plenty of players want to coach. I know that. We're happy that we have Plenette.
Lindsay: Absolutely. I cannot wait to see her in the mix again. I was reading your Player's Tribune article where you said that your first year with a Charlotte team, your pay as an assistant coach was $5,000 a season. Is that ... Was that a typo?
Cheryl: No. Can you imagine calling the family and saying I'm ... However old I was, I would think it was probably, I don't know, close to 40 at that time. No, actually it was earlier than 40. I've been to league what 18, 19 years and I'm 52 now. Anyway, but the idea was I had, a master's level of education and here I was going to take a $5,000 seasonal position. The mindset for me is I think many of us have had these opportunities that you say, you know what, if I can just get in the door, I can prove myself then maybe something good can happen. If you want to get technical, it was 5,000 divided by six months. It wasn't as bad as if it was just for a year. They also provided an apartment, so I was rolling in it, but it led to great things. It led to other opportunities and I have no regrets. I felt lucky that Anne Donovan thought I was worthy of the 5,000.
Lindsay: I know I have friends who are from Minneapolis and talk about they really feel like the city treats the team really well, the Lynx really well. I know that you've gotten good attendance. Of course you're always willing to call out media and everything, which I so appreciate when it's not enough and when you need more and when you're not being treated fairly. It seems like the Timberwolves organization does invest in the women's team. Is that a correct assumption?
Cheryl: Well they do. I would say it's Glen Taylor. Glen Taylor owns ... What you see from Glen being courtside just a few seats away, is the epitome of Glen. I can pick up the phone and call him anytime, he'll call me. We'll go to the house with the team and he just really cares. He's really invested. I think a few years back I said I was ... When Glen hired me, I felt like it was the idea that could we change the idea when Glen got the team that it was more of a cause. It was more of a, hey this is the right thing to do for women in our community. He wanted young girls and boys to see women playing professional basketball and create that as a norm. It was more of a cause at that time. I said that we were on a mission to move from a cause to a championship team that was a really good business for him. We're one of the few teams that have been consistently in the black during our successful run. Just to reward Glen for the times that he stuck through and I will say his NBA team also the investment there,
Cheryl: Sometimes it doesn't turn into the black. I felt glad that our team was able to do that. I just thought it was really important to reward him for his investment and we’ll have to see if we can keep it going.
Lindsay: It seems like it's a long way because to reference that Player’s Tribune article once again, one of the other things that stuck out to me, and look, I'm from North Carolina, so I've always liked the Hornets, but you said that sometimes if the Hornets were practicing, the Sting weren't even allowed to be in the building because it might be too distracting to have women in the gym.
Cheryl: It was just, it was in 2001 and we have not ... Maybe at that point we had not evolved men that were in the business. I think they were largely of that mindset that women around was a distraction. I just think it's a ... You do a disservice to the players that they don't feel that they're capable of separating seeing a woman walking into a building, it just was so antiquated, and discouraging. I'm happy to say that, I think the league, the NBA has come a long way from that. There are still some of the old school mentality for sure. Not wanting to share with a women's team, not wanting them around sometimes forced change. Like in our situation, our owner laid down the law. This is what it's going to be and get with the program. I think if everybody knows that it starts from the top, it's great. If you don't have that and you don't have the respect, and we have seen that with some other WNBA teams.
It's discouraging. Like I said, I don't think it gives enough credit to the players that are in the NBA. We have very little issues with the men's players in that they're supportive and they're respectful and they’re fans. To me sometimes as I say, it's not the kid, it's the parent. That's a little bit. I think sometimes what you see in the NBA.
Lindsay: Such a good point, look, I've already kept you for too long, but one more question. I hope you'll help us break news. Who is the new WNBA president?
Cheryl: Adam Silver loves me for this one. So my position on this is that obviously it's a very important position. I know that Adam and Mark Tatum are very interested in making sure we get the right person. Now, that sometimes implies that they weren't on that path in the previous hires. Somehow this one is taking this much time, and I equate it to this. Their goal was to have or is to have a president in place before the start of our season. Now this was back in, I believe November that Lisa Borders resigned her position. That's the equivalent for me as the coach of the Lynx in a 12 team league, to tell my team that the goal is to make the playoffs. It's not a very lofty goal, but 8 of the 12 teams make the playoffs. I want that to be the expectation and I say this to say that I feel like Adam and Mark should have a loftier goal because it's not putting this president in the best position.
When you're coming into the league beginning play, and this happened with past presidents. Essentially they just travel around watch. They're not working because they don't know anything yet. It doesn't give them a chance to get a leg up. In my experience that first year is a waste. I just wish that the goal was a little bit higher. I do want them to get the right person. I do think it's important. I just don't think it takes six months.
Lindsay: Yeah. I think that's a very good point. Look, I always appreciate you. I know earlier this year and you said, "Look, we're not good at promoting the draft when the draft time comes everyone retweet me." I think it's important for those invested in the league to do it out of love. To call them out and say, look, we need to do better at this.
Cheryl: Got to do better.
Lindsay: We need to do more. Well listen I cannot wait to see you and the Lynx this season. I'm in D.C. so I'll be at all those games covering and can't wait to talk to you then. Thank you so much for being on Burn It All Down.
Cheryl: Thanks Lindsay.
Brenda: Now it's that time in the show where we throw everything in sports that's enraged us or at least the top one we can think of this week on a virtual incinerator and set them aflame. Shireen want to get us started?
Shireen: We did a whole segment on what I want to burn, so thank you for that. I did find ancillary burns as well. This one was, I think really deserves a torch. There is an incredible boxer from Iran named Sadaf Khadem. She was in France and she was engaging in a bout against Anne Chauvin who she won. This was in the city of Royan. What ended up happening was it was like she was the first Iranian women to compete internationally in boxing in this way. It was really awesome. It was a wonderful thing. She beat her and then what ended up happening, her representatives ended up being notified that Khadem, there was an arrest warrant against her, and her fight organizer, her promoter, Mahyar Monshipour. The reason was is because Khadem, was that she had violated Iran’s compulsory dress code by boxing in a vest and shorts meaning like a tank top. She wore an absolutely beautiful emerald green top that said Iran on it, the colors of that flag, which are red, white and green.
She was a legally approved match. She was wearing shorts and a tee shirt, normal, whatever. She wasn't wearing a hijab and she wasn't wearing full sleeves and she was coached by a man. Then she even said, "Some people took a dim view to this." I'm really frustrated because this is someone who's doing an incredible amount of I would say not promotion, but just amplifying her country in its greatness in athleticism, a woman there. Then she's getting an arrest warrant put on her? Let women decide their own clothing, let them choose what they want to wear. I don't understand why this is so difficult, particularly so soon after the AIBA Boxing Federation has let hijab in the ring. You've let hijab in the ring, that’s wonderful. Let's take a step further people and let women decide completely what they want to wear. Why is this so hard? I'm so frustrated. I want to literally metaphorically burn men that make these decisions and enforce them onto women. Burn.
Jessica: Yes. Probably most of you have heard that the famous cathedral, the Notre Dame in the center of Paris, it's built, started in the 12th century. It's very old, very famous, that it was undergoing renovation. It caught on fire. A lot of the roof, one of the spires that you've seen in pictures collapsed. There's a lot of damage. There's been this worldwide outpouring of feelings and emotions and also money to go to restore it. One of the places that has decided to donate money is the International Olympic Committee is going to apparently donate half a million euro, which is roughly 562 million dollars to the restoration of the cathedral because Paris is the 2024 Olympic host city. The IOC president said quote, "The aim of completing the reconstruction in time for Paris 2024 will be an extra motivation for us all." Apparently the cathedral is on the planned marathon and road cycling routes, so I guess it needs to look good. I don't have a lot to say about this.
Just imagine where all of that money could go! I could think of athletes or federations or Olympic committees that could really use it or give it to Paris because they're about to lose a ton of money, or give it to Rio or Pyeongchang. Any of these cities that have already hosted that face a huge financial loss in the long term. Any of these places could probably use that half a million. In the scheme of things, I guess, I don't know what year this was, 2016 the IOC gave $2.85 billion to Olympic committees. They have so much money throwing around everywhere. Maybe it is not a big deal for them, but it is just really hard to watch them give money to a cathedral so it looks good on TV. I just want to burn that. Burn.
Brenda: Burn. Linds.
Lindsay: Let me tell you about a Michigan state student who decided to ... Is also a survivor of Larry Nassar's sexual abuse. She decided this year to start going back to basketball games because she's a lifelong fan, has always loved the team and sports, supposed to like them. At the first game she attended, her first name back per se in Michigan State. This was at the big 10 championship. She had to deal with disgraced, former Michigan state president John Engler with his having courtside seats because he still has courtside seats to the game and he has re-traumatized survivors over and over again with his words. We've been over that in the program. At her second game, which was the final four, Michigan State made it to the final four. They were playing Texas Tech. While she was walking around with her sister getting concessions, a Texas Tech fan started screaming, “Larry Nassar, Larry Nassar”.
Oh my God. Of course, this Texas Tech fan, I'm sure it did not know that there was a survivor right there, but that's the whole point. There's survivors of sexual abuse everywhere, and I just want to throw onto the burn pile this type of sports fandom and this atmosphere that makes people think that using sexual abuse is a heckling tactic. No, no, no.
Shireen: Oh my God.
Lindsay: Burn it.
Brenda: My burn this week is metaphorically of the terrible British former marathon runner, Paula Radcliffe, who came out with an opinion that is being used and was picked up by Breitbart, for example, that the verdict of the case involving Olympic champion Caster Semenya, which would allow her to run without having to artificially depressed her testosterone level. Will open the door for transgender athletes, which Caster Semenya is not to claim an unfair advantage in women's sports and it will be "death" of women's sport. She also claims in interview, which has been in really major things like Sky Sports, that Caster Semenya had undergone the equivalent of “male puberty”. She claimed that Semenya didn't have to manage periods and menstrual cycles like she did, and once again it just that inclusion of her will be the death of women's sports. Caster Semenya's a woman.
Testosterone hasn't been proven to be this big of an advantage. You know nothing about biology, so just like run away or something from this conversation, Paula Radcliffe. Because all you're doing is really opening the door for the death of civility and for attacking the most vulnerable people within sport. I want to burn her interview.
Brenda: Okay. After all that burning, let's spend some time celebrating the amazing accomplishments in our badass women of the week segment. Honorable mentions go to: first the Chivas in Mexico, which this happened really a while ago in March, but they celebrated International Women's Day by playing a mixed tournament, which they had never done before. I just wanted to shout that out even though it's a little bit past its newness. Canadian golfer, Brooke Henderson won the Lotto Championship defending her title. She now has eight titles tying her with Sandra Post, Mike Weir, and George Knudson as the Canadians with the most LPGA or PGA tour victories and she is not even 22. Shireen did a hot take earlier this week with Meredith Foster about the IIHF championships in which the US beat Finland and quite a controversial upset.
Foster mentioned how much support Finland's ice hockey federation has given the women, and it showed again, they have decided to award the players a gold medal payout instead of silver, meaning they'll get €7,000 bonuses instead of 5,000.
Brenda: Cheers to Finland ice hockey federation and their investment in their women's hockey program. Also women's champ league semifinal between the Olympique Lyonnais Feminin and Chelsea had 29,900 ... 11,000 people in attendance and Groupama Stadium in Lyon. This is the most supporters other than what has been attended in a finals match. Congrats to Lyon for winning two to one and they will meet Barca’s women's side in the final in Budapest May 18th. Congratulations to Saliha of Hunza Valley in Pakistan for being not only league organizer but also the first female referee for a small sided football league in that region. UCLA gymnastics phenom Kyla Ross is the first UCLA gymnast and the second one in history to win all four events during her collegiate career #KylaBoss. Dutch footballer Vivianne Miedema who is nominated for both PFA women's player of the year and PFA women's young player of the year, Philippines women's hockey team won a tournament in the United Arab Emirates and gets a promotion in the WCCOA hockey division in the IIHF, this weeks a lot of acronyms.
Good luck to all the women participating in the world rugby sevens in Japan. Also Afghanistan has started a woman's futsal league and there will be 12 teams competing. Finally, can I get a drum roll? The badass women of the week goes to…everybody involved in the first match of the Utah Royals at Rio Tinto Stadium, which had 18,015 adoring fans for the NWSL season opener after quite a topsy-turvy beginning in the end of the Lifetime deal. It's wonderful to see people come out and support those women, so congratulations.
In dark times we do like to end the show by discussing what's good in our world. Shireen?
Brenda: Have you found anything?
Shireen: Hi. I'm leaving for Portugal on Monday, which is tomorrow because we're recording Sunday night. I would like to say thank you to Burn It All Down, my co-hosts who I love desperately and dearly, for switching the recording because I just wrapped up another provincial volleyball. My son's team played valiantly but lost in the championship round this morning so Mustafa I'm very proud of you. Like I said Portugal, so literally only going to have custard tarts for like 10 days, that's my plan, very excited about this and I will report back. I will be taking a little bit of a social media break but inevitably something will piss me off and it'll draw me back in. Another thing that's what’s good, I just want to say because Amira is not here, Amira and I were both listed on Jack Jones Literary Arts site and the put “critics were reading”, it’s an index of cultural critics of color, which includes fine arts, race, gender and sexuality, food, popular culture and sports.
I was so honored to be among Katie Barnes, Dr. Amira Rose-Davis, who I stan, David Dennis Jr. Shakeia Taylor who has been on the show multiple times, Tyler Tynes and Christian Winfield. There's like a strong percentage of people listed in this who are all associated with Burn It All Down. That's all I'm going to say about that. That is very, very good.
Lindsay: Yes. I just want to thank Lizzo because her album drop-
Brenda: That was mine too.
Lindsay: -could not have come at a better time for me. I'm just going to leave you with this. I know the song came out a little bit, but I haven't been playing, “slow songs, they for skinny hoes. Can't move all of this here to one of those, I'm a thick bitch, I need tempo.” That's my motto this weekend as things have gone downhill. Thank you, Lizzo.
Jessica: I was going to say Lizzo, she does a Serena Williams shout out and her song about girls, I can't remember the title and she calls her Serena Willy. I just think that is spectacular. My big thing was that, a lot of this weekend I spent in San Antonio at the Fed Cup, which is a women's ... It's the Federation’s cup, so it's women's tennis, their teams representing their countries competing against one another. It was the US versus Switzerland. I was so charmed because yesterday I got to see Madison Keys and Sloane Stephens play. Madison didn't look so good. She actually lost her match against Golabek who was ... She's like a wall. She doesn't give you anything. You have to win. Then Sloane Stephens beat Timea Bacsinszky. I knew her name. Sloane looked good. Sloane looked like Wonder Woman, physically, in her outfit, but also she just plays really exciting tennis.
It was really fun to see it live. She hits the lines a lot. She plays hard. She's really good at defense. Then I will just admit that I don't know a ton about the Fed Cup and how it actually works. I assumed because they had already played that they wouldn't be playing today. Then surprise, I showed up this morning and Sloane, or this afternoon, and Sloane was playing again. I got to see her play Golabek. She beat her. She looked fantastic again. Then Sofia Kenin, an American who I didn't actually know at all beat Bacsinszky. The US beat Switzerland and it was just wonderful. I just want to say now that I have admitted my lack of knowledge about the Fed Cup that everyone should be reading Lindsay's Tennis Tuesdays for The IX, which we talk about a lot on here. You should subscribe to that. I'm already learning a ton from it and I know that by reading more of it one day I'll understand the Fed Cup better. I just ... I was so tickled to be able to be there and to watch in person and Sloane was amazing.
Brenda: That's cool. Well for me, I recently got a tattoo of a stack of books.
Jessica: Yay, professor?
Brenda: Well not my first one, and they're flying away on the tattoo. I felt like such a fraud because I realized I hadn't read a book for fun in a long time, just for teaching. I re-read William Faulkner's A Fable and also The Dew Breaker by Edwidge Danticat. Even though I'd read them before, they're so wonderful and inspiring and beautiful works. I just stole some time here and there and it was great. That was what was good in my world.
That's it for this week in Burn It All Down. Don't forget, you can always burn day and night with our fabulous array of merchandise. It includes mugs, pillows, tees, hoodies, bags. Go to teespring.com/stores/burnitalldown. Burn It All Down, lives on SoundCloud but can be found on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play and TuneIn. We appreciate your reviews and feedback. Please do subscribe and rate and let us know what we did well or how we can improve. You can find us on Facebook at, Burn It All Down on Twitter at Burn It All Down pod or on Instagram at Burn It All Down pod. You can email us at email@example.com. Check out our website, www.burnitalldownpod.com where you will find previous episodes, transcripts, and a link to our Patreon. That's all for this week. On behalf of Shireen Ahmed, Lindsay Gibbs, and Jessica Luther, I’m Brenda Elsey. Let's keep burning on, but not out.