Episode 116: Women’s Soccer post-World Cup and domestic violence policies in sports
On this week’s show, Lindsay, Brenda, Shireen, and Jessica talk about Dan LeBatard calling out ESPN’s no-Politics policy. [8:32] Then they turn their attention to women’s soccer in the wake of the World Cup. [24:08] Finally, the gang discusses domestic violence policies in sports leagues. [41:41]
Of course, you’ll hear the Burn Pile, [51:03] our Bad Ass Woman of the Week, starring Li Na, [54:56] and what is good in our worlds. [1:00:24]
Dan Le Batard Goes In On President Trump, Rips ESPN's "Cowardly" No-Politics Pivot: https://deadspin.com/dan-le-batard-goes-in-on-president-trump-rips-espns-c-1836512464
Christen Press's Barstool deal is a slap in the face to what the USWNT stand for: https://www.theguardian.com/football/2019/jul/17/christen-presss-barstool-deal-is-a-slap-in-the-face-to-what-the-uswnt-stands-for
‘It’s our responsibility’: Laura Harvey on the NWSL’s need to do more to capitalize on the World Cup bump: https://theathletic.com/1083426/2019/07/18/its-our-responsibility-laura-harvey-on-the-nwsls-need-to-do-more-to-capitalize-on-the-world-cup-bump/
Argentina players pay the price for demanding change: https://equalizersoccer.com/2019/07/19/argentina-womens-players-demanding-change-cut-pan-american-games-estefania-banini/?fbclid=IwAR3B3i3tnVrEF-BBmz_H8vzf_2pCzvueFZZ9xws3UyhsC4GT7WLEdAbFm0o
The U.S. Women’s Soccer Team doesn’t just tolerate religion, it embraces it: https://thinkprogress.org/uswnt-isnt-anti-religion-its-anti-hate-36603f080788/
WNBA suspends LA Sparks guard Riquna Williams for 10 games after domestic violence allegation: https://www.cnn.com/2019/07/17/us/wnba-suspends-la-sparks-player/index.html
The WNBA Players Association Is Contesting Riquna Williams's Domestic-Violence Suspension: https://deadspin.com/the-wnba-players-association-is-contesting-riquna-willi-1836453171
Storm forward Natasha Howard denies domestic abuse allegations made by wife on social media: https://sports.yahoo.com/seattle-storm-wnba-natasha-howard-denies-domestic-violence-accusations-044848694.html
The NFL Will Not Suspend Chiefs Wide Receiver Tyreek Hill: https://www.theringer.com/nfl/2019/7/19/20700788/nfl-will-not-suspend-chiefs-wide-receiver-tyreek-hill
Adekoya latest Bahrain runner to get doping ban: http://www.espn.com/espnw/sports/article/27220824/adekoya-latest-bahrain-runner-get-doping-ban
Trampoline listing accused of sexism for stating a woman couldn't build it alone: https://sports.yahoo.com/trampoline-listing-accused-of-sexism-after-stating-a-woman-couldnt-build-it-alone-150654686.html
2 Horses Die at Del Mar Racetrack in a Collision During Training: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/18/sports/2-horses-die-at-del-mar-racetrack-in-a-collision-during-training.html
Not just Santa Anita: Why racehorses are dying in the Bay Area and across the country: https://www.mercurynews.com/2019/06/29/santa-anita-is-not-the-only-racetrack-where-horses-are-dying-will-horse-racing-survive/
Hsieh, Strycova win Wimbledon doubles title: 'We just laughed and we just enjoyed': https://www.wtatennis.com/news/hsieh-strycova-win-wimbledon-doubles-title-we-just-laughed-and-we-just-enjoyed
Australia and New Zealand reach the final in the 2019 Netball World Cup: https://www.nwc2019.co.uk/vitality-netball-world-cup-set-for-magnificent-finale/
Belinda Sharpe breaks new ground as first female NRL referee: https://www.nrl.com/news/2019/07/15/belinda-sharpe-breaks-new-ground-as-first-female-nrl-referee/
Yuka Saso of the Philippines came from behind to win the 2019 Girls Junior PGA Championship: https://www.pga.com/events/juniorpgachamps/yuka-saso-claims-2019-girls-junior-pga-championship
Tears of joy as South Korea's water polo team score – but concede 94: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2019/jul/17/tears-of-joy-as-south-koreas-water-polo-team-score-but-concede-94?CMP=share_btn_tw
Simone Biles takes gold medal at US Classic gymnastics: https://www.apnews.com/978517f5bf684e97bd79f03e43303afd
For Li Na, Another First in Tennis: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/19/sports/tennis/li-na-hall-of-fame.html
Lindsay: Hello, hello, hello. Welcome to Burn It All Down, the feminist sports podcast you need. I am Lindsay Gibbs, a sports reporter at ThinkProgress and for today, the captain of the Burn It All Down ship. I'm so excited to be here with three of my four fantastic co-hosts. We have Shireen Ahmed who is in Edmonton, Canada she tells me today. I know it is very early there. So, thank you Shireen for getting up with us. How are you?
Shireen: I'm excellent. Thank you. It is not 100 degrees in Edmonton. It's like a very beautiful 16 Celsius, so I'm very happy.
Lindsay: I have no idea what 16 Celsius is. God I'm such a lame American.
Shireen: It's 40, 50. I don't know.
Lindsay: All right. We also have, in Austin Texas, Jessica Luther. Hey, Jess.
Lindsay: And also sweltering in this east coast heat with me is Dr Brenda Elsey, the associate professor of history at Hofstra. Hi Bren, how are you in New York?
Brenda: Hey. Hey.
Lindsay: Okay. Today's episode is jam packed. We are going to do a little post-Women’s World Cup women's soccer round up, looking at a lot of the stories going on around not just the league, the National Women's Soccer League, but also globally in the wake of this fantastic tournament. Finally, fortunately, domestic violence has been in the news a lot this week, so we're going to talk a little bit about domestic violence policies primarily in our sports leagues and ask the question, is there a right way to do this? What's the way forward?
First though, I know that we all really enjoyed this week, Dan Le Batard's rant. He finally went political, someone in ESPN that's not Jemele Hill finally decided to address this stuff. To me it was just very refreshing and of course it's been an awful week in American politics, even more awful than usual because president Trump is ... the racist attacks that he is directing to the four congresswomen, all women of color are ... I'm just terrified that they're going to result in violence and the racism that is just, there's no way to separate them from the racism.
The racism is the point. So look, it's been very hard and it's very good to hear Dan Le Batard speak out against this. Jess, I know you. This meant a lot to you. What did you think about Dan's rant?
Jessica: Yeah, I thought it was great. Like one of the things he did, one of the things he said that I appreciated was he directly called out the ESPN policy that says that they're not allowed to talk about politics. He called it cowardly and he referred to the way that the policy is set up that the only time they're allowed to talk about politics is when they use something a player has done or a coach, and he called them ‘meat shields.’
Like that's what ends up happening is these players function as meat shields for the ESPN talking heads. And I just found on some level it's like annoying that this is a big deal that he's done this, but it is a big deal because ESPN has this really terrible policy that they put in place because of Jemele Hill. And we covered that extensively on this show and it was just really nice to see someone as powerful, and a white dude at that, at ESPN be the one to call this out.
Lindsay: Absolutely. Shireen, did you listen to this?
Shireen: I did and I think that in addition to that, what was more interesting for me was the discussions that emerged afterwards the fact that he did talk. I wasn't expecting it from Le Batard at all to be honest, because I know that it seems like it's a week of terrible politics in the United States, but for a lot of people of color, it's a normal week in the United States. So, it's really particularly like attacks towards Ilhan Omar have not been new.
She has been threatened with death before. She has been threatened with lots of things before. So, I get that it's a big deal in the sports realm. One of the things that was really for me just irritating beyond belief was the memo that Jimmy Pitaro, Pitaro for those that don't know, he's president of ESPN. He also had a memo sent out from the vice president that said, "It's not about the message, it's about the use of the ESPN platform."
Well, to quote Canadian thinker and communications philosopher, Marshall McLuhan, the medium is the message. And you are actually contributing and you're complicit in violence when you don't do anything about it. So this whole idea that you can't talk about it, we shared our piece on Burn It All Down when everything what happened with Jemele Hill, but it's just, this is not new for people of color. It's a completely .... it's a cyclical and continuous thing.
But again, it's really nice to see those people speaking out who do have privilege. Like this is a crux, we're at a crossroads, people with that privilege need to speak out. I also just really quickly want to add, this is why I'm so incredibly grateful again for Burn It All Down because we don't have this bullshit policy and we understand that sports are inherently political. So fuck that policy in that memo. I'm grateful for my crew.
Brenda: I guess that, yeah, I agree with what everyone's said already, and it's important what Shireen said about keeping in mind the constant nature of racist attacks against people of color and that it is kind of a typical week in some ways. The only other thing is that the fact that the president of the United States is targeting congresswomen like this on the basis of ... it's just racism.
So I had to say, I guess the only thing, okay, it's taken me a while to say this, but I hate that it's called politics at all. Like it's like human rights. Like it's not, of course it's political, right? But it's like beyond that, nobody should be like, "Well, I belong to a political party that hates people of color." Those are fucking Nazis. I don't even think we're at a point ... it just blows my mind that there's a legitimate political position to take that is not against this, that isn't appalled by this.
So I guess I was happy to hear him. I love that he says, if you don't say anything, you're complicit. He's not the first person to say it. I liked that he acknowledged Jemele hill at the very beginning of the speech because it is always women of color on the forefront doing this, although he's going to get all the cookies and that's okay. Fine. But I just want to say one more time, I think we just need to always remember too like how is this political? This should be something that unites everyone against it. I don't know. So, that's my only sad face about it.
Lindsay: Yeah. I mean with Jemele Hill on her Twitter, she acknowledged on, she said "Dan and I agree on this." Racism is not politics, this is human rights, but it's the line that ESPN has drawn to be political. And it reminds me, I remember back when Jemele Hill and Michael Smith were doing the press rounds for their 6pm SportsCenter. This is a few years ago before that launched.
And I remember Michael Smith saying on a podcast, he said, "Don't hit women isn't politics." And he was talking about how they're talking about their domestic violence policies and how the pressure that they felt not to address that. And I think about that a lot. Like don't hit women isn’t politics. And that's the same for me. Don't incite racist violence against women of color who are representing our country. That's not politics. That's just common sense.
All right, let's dive in. Let's start on the lighter end of what is an intense episode today and talk about women's soccer. So Shireen, do you want to get us started here?
Shireen: Thanks Linds. I'm so excited to see that this momentum after the women's World Cup is just going continuously. We have dived into NWSL, been some incredible matches. Christine Sinclair has yes, scored, to bring us to normalcy. I just wanted to mention a couple of really cool things. We also saw this past week, something that I hope I'm not skipping and going to someone's what's good.
But we also saw the return of a lot of players to the NWSL, which I think they were greeted with a lot of excitement. And when I say that, I mean the US, the world champions. We saw Orlando Pride receive their players, including Ashlyn Harris. We saw Utah receive Christen Press, we saw Portland receive back Tobin Heath, Adriana French, Lindsey Horan. It was lovely. It was lovely to see the continued excitement.
So speaking about NWSL very specifically, there was a little thing that came up, I don't know if anyone caught it, but there was actually during the ticker tape parade, Christen Press had taken over this outlet that we've heard of called Barstool and she took it over. They're really trashy, if you've never heard of them, I appreciate you in your life. She took over there in their Insta stories. So just to sort of show.
Now that struck me as really, really bizarre, particularly because Christen Press is a phenomenal human and a really great person and has been very public about her beliefs on intersectionality. Anyway, Barstool is this place that festers in and grows misogyny, homophobia, racism, they're gross, and they're super toxic, and they actually troll people. And so I was very confused at that would I deemed an undesirable collaboration.
I ended up writing about it for the Guardian. I ended up getting a lot of Christen Press stans coming at me, really angry that clearly I was a ‘white feminist’ because I had spoken out about this. And why didn't I mention someone else? So long story short, before presser in Utah, Christen Press pulled out like 10 minutes before the presser. So I'm just sort of like, whoa, eyes wide open, what’s going on over here?
What was going on was they said that she was ill, but what ended up happening is what I had suspected, what it was truly. And finally, she spoke out at a Presser yesterday after she scored this incredible goal and nutmegged the fuck out of somebody like it was just-
Jessica: Yeah, she really did.
Shireen: It was like the gif will live on!
Lindsay: It was so good.
Jessica: I watched it over and over again.
Lindsay: Oh my God.
Shireen: It was literally one of those moves where you want to tweet out, Officer, I want to report a murder…because like it was that ... I don't even know who the player was, but it was just anyways beautiful, beautiful.
Lindsay: That player does not want you to know who they are!
Shireen: It was one of the most glorious things and I was so happy to see it everywhere. And anyways, so Christen Press did acknowledge the thing she said that it was her team and when she says team, she doesn't mean her teammates in Utah, she means her PR team who are EAG Sports Management. They advised her, it was a terrible, terrible idea and she had addressed it, which I think is really important because this is not something that is going to go under the rug.
So that's just one thing. It was a small little thing that happened. So I'm really glad that hopefully we can move on. She can unlearn and maybe she can fire those people because that was just ridiculous. There's also been comments coming from within the NWSL about Laura Harvey and I think it's really, really, really ... it's key. So, what I'm saying is key is that-
Lindsay: Yeah. Shireen, first of all, thank you for writing the article in drawing more attention to this. This is something I always struggle with personally when female athletes do ... We know Rose Lavelle has been on the Barstool podcast, Elena Delle Donne a few years ago. I always struggle on how much to call them out and you challenged me that I need to be a little bit more, it's okay to demand a response from them.
It doesn't mean you have to condemn them forever. It doesn't mean you have to not appreciate Christen Press's goal as long. But it's okay to ask for a response. And I think ... so thank you for that. For me, I always like being pushed on subjects like this. I think what was the most frustrating to me was both US Soccer and Christen Press' PR team's silence. Friend of the show, Kim McCauley made a great point where she said that she thinks that the reason that Press's PR team didn't come out and condemn is because they want their male clients to still be able to work with Barstool.
And that to me was totally right. She's exactly right. US Soccer probably doesn't want to burn that bridge either. So that means it all was put on Press' shoulders, which is just really frustrating because I don't doubt that she wasn't completely aware of their ridiculousness. She's not as incredibly online as the rest of us are. And I'm glad, that's great for her, but I think that was really tough.
And then as you address in your piece Shireen so well, what Barstool was doing was they were trying to promote the idea that Christen Press' team came to them and that this was an example of why they weren't misogynistic was because Christen Press did that, and that was why this really needed to be called out. Jess.
Jessica: Yeah. I just wanted to say very quickly like, and piggybacking right off of that, this is the problem with the continued legitimacy of the site. For someone like Press who maybe, and bless her heart, didn't have any idea about all the issues around what is a major sports media company. The fact that so much of sports media and like Kim pointed out in her tweet that sports organizations continue to state that this is a legitimate organization.
Of course that makes it difficult for people who aren't extremely online to understand what it is that they're getting involved in. And that's part of what bothers me so much about all this.
Lindsay: Absolutely. Shireen, you were about, I think to talk about Laura Harvey's comments now because I thought this was another important thing that came out this week. Another friend of the show, anyone who's anyone really is a friend of the show. Meg Linehan did a phenomenal interview with Utah Royals. Head coach Laura Harvey who was so outspoken about the lack advertising and capitalization from the Women's World Cup. Shireen, do you have those comments in front of you?
Shireen: Yeah, I think that what Laura Harvey did, which is really important for those that don't know, she's the head of Utah Royals. And I think that it's really important to understand that her job is also to advocate and to promote what happens in the NWSL. And although there's connections to national teams and stuff, I think this is really important. And her comment was just that the league, basically the crux was the league didn't have a plan for ...
The NWSL didn't have a plan for capitalizing off of the popularity and they could have, like domestic leagues could have and gotten more spotlight considering the world champions actually all play in the NWSL. So I think it's really key to do that. And what she did say and I'll quote her here is the responsibility falls on both. "As players, we have platforms-” And this is Becky Sauerbrunn speaking now.
"I think the responsibility falls on both. As players we have platforms that the league doesn't quite have yet, and it's a responsibility for us to promote the league in the best way possible." And that's really, really key here because this gets back to the fact that the players actually have to do a lot of the heavy lifting. Also, and I think a lot of ... and I was really happy to see Laura Harvey speaking up about it.
So I think this is a thing, and I do think that the Woman's World Cup became a different type of catalyst because we've got players speaking in realms that they didn't always traditionally. And I just loved the amplification of that.
Lindsay: I completely agree. And it's worth noting, I believe, that Laura Harvey's the only female coach in the NWSL right now. So of course she's the one out in front advocating for this. I think I read that in Meg's piece, but obviously there's a lot more going on outside the NWSL and our very own Brenda has been on the forefront of what's been happening in Argentina. Brenda, can you catch us up there.
Brenda: Yeah, it's horrible. It's like the worst case scenario that someone could have thought would happen. So basically when go from a World Cup where you can bring a delegation of 23 and then you go to the Pan American Games which are just a month later, right now they're going to happen this week in Lima, you go down to 18. And so, it was obvious that coach Carlos Borrello would have to cut people.
But the decisions he made are like nothing less of just shocking, including leaving off the captain, Estefanía Banini implying that she at 29 is ‘too old.’ Also rude. Well he replaced her with someone who is 31, so it's fucking nonsense. There's not even ... I can't even ... I wrote about it in The Equalizer. I couldn't even type hard enough. I was so like ... I was like killing my computer. So he left off Belén Potassa, Ruth Bravo, Gaby Garton, Sole Jaimes, and Florencia Bonsegundo.
The last two of which are questionable because Sole it seems maybe wanted to stay with her club at that time and Bonsegundo, it seems like he may have made an overture to her, but in solidarity she wouldn't play. So truly Bravo, Ruth Bravo, and Estefanía are the two most like glaring, like that's insane. You just wouldn't do that in any universe.
And it's just really clear that it's because of a fight that happened at the end of the World Cup where Banini as captain tried to present a series of complaints about the coaching staff, which has done things like come up with an itinerary the night before game day and handed it out on scraps of paper. And so I've put it on Twitter, I put the scraps of paper.
You can see them, they were given to me by the players. Obviously I talked to four players, none of whom want to be identified. The scraps of paper have, let's say the day before the Scotland game have eight activities, five of which are food related. So it tells them that they can have breakfast, they can have lunch, they can have a snack, they can have dinner, and their bedtime. Nothing on like individual training programs, nothing on GPS technology, nothing on strategy!
So, they were demanding more professionalism from the coaching staff. I don't know what to say except that it's just so obvious that this is retribution and revenge on the part of Carlos Borrello, and as soon as eyes weren't on him during the Women's World Cup, less than a month after, has cut the players, particularly the captain. And it's infuriating and sad, and I'm so sorry because these women have subsidized that team, they've never been paid enough.
So it's their resources, their families resources that have subsidized those teams, that bought them cleats, that kept them in shape with gym memberships, that keep them eating. So they've subsidized the team and now they're cut without a phone call after years. And that's the type of stuff that will happen when attention turns elsewhere sometimes.
Lindsay: God, that's just awful. Jess.
Jessica: Yeah. I just is going to quickly add one last thing, which is that the AFCON, the men's Tournament in Africa. Shireen, I feel like you were excited about the outcome.
Shireen: Oh my God. Vive l’Algérie! I love ... it is no surprise that I love Riyad Mahrez, everybody knows this. Vive l’Algérie, allez Les Fennecs! I love it. It was so exciting because as a part of the world that gets so beautifully wrapped up, I didn't like that AFCON started during the Women's World Cup, so I didn't give it all my attention in the group stages because obviously Women's World Cup is more important.
But it was so fun. For those that don't know, Senegal and Algeria went to the final, and Algeria won one nothing. So it was ... oh sorry, go ahead Jess.
Jessica: Yeah. And you mentioned in your hot take, who was the hot take with?
Lindsay: Janine Anthony.
Shireen: Janine Anthony.
Jessica: Yeah. You mentioned in your hot take with Janine Anthony, or she did actually to you, that AFCON had moved, that it used to be a lot earlier in the year and this year it just happened to start during the Women's World Cup! And I just wanted to mention there was a lot of attention I saw, maybe it's just who I follow on Twitter, but I just saw a lot of people talking about AFCON this year, the men's AFCON.
And Egypt doesn't even have a women's team. And this is just such a perfect example of the micro ... it's such a good example of women's sports, women's soccer in general. That there's so much celebration around what's happening on the men's side. And then as soon as you look over to see what's happening on the women's side, you are instantly disappointed.
Shireen: Yeah. Like I have friend who plays on the Egyptian national team. She's Canadian and has dual citizenship, and she has been to a Continental Cup before and stuff like this. And the amount of resources that ... it's to a point where even for meals post-training, they're like dishes sent like potluck from the families of the players. There's a willingness to support, but it's at such a base level.
It's not that Egypt doesn't have the money for this, Al Ahly is one of the oldest clubs in Africa. They don't have a woman's side. They can't have a woman's side. They'll argue we don't want to get into ... they don't want to get into issues of religiosity. But Egypt is actually quite progressive in that and even on the women's team that they have that's not always functional. Some of the women cover, some don't and it's not a big deal.
So men will use the fact that other men will get angry about religion as a shield and to not do anything. So this is why I think men should just exit the football scene and just let women do their thing. Just give us the money and move out of the way. Egypt is no exception.
Lindsay: Yeah. And once again, for me, this is another example of the people in charge of the sport not really meaning their support of women's football because you could easily have it as a requirement to be able to host something like this that you have to have, be investing resources properly into your women's team. But nobody does that.
Okay. So unfortunately, we need to talk about some more depressing stuff this week as there have been multiple domestic violence cases in sports that have been in the news.
Jess, can you get us started with this conversation?
Jessica: Yeah. So quick note that this segment might be triggering or activating for some listeners. We provide timestamps in our show notes. So if you need or want to skip the segment, please do. Like Linds said, we're having one of those sports moments again where it feels like domestic violence is everywhere. It's this really sad feeling I gotta say. I'm going to give a rundown on the latest stories, which isn't short, I'm sorry to say, and we can go from there.
I woke up this morning to prep for this episode and immediately saw the name Greg Hardy and that ... so on Saturday night, former NFLer Greg Hardy, known widely for his conviction for domestic violence that was dropped on appeal won a UFC fight in San Antonio. So he's still around and is getting paid to beat people up. So that's cool.
Lindsay: Oh my God, I'd miss that.
Jessica: Two weeks ago, Major League Baseball punished Philadelphia Phillies outfielder, Odúbel Herrera for domestic violence. Herrera will not play in the last 85 games of the season nor any in the postseason should the Phillies get there. He will not appeal the suspension saying quote, "I acted in an unacceptable manner, and I'm terribly disappointed in myself. I alone am to blame for my actions." This is the second longest MLB suspension for domestic violence, Jose Torres' 100 game suspension being the longest. In the world of baseball media, Jonah Keri currently a writer at The Athletic and the former lead baseball writer at grant land for four years was arrested and charged with three counts of assault causing bodily harm and one count of uttering death threats. According to court documents, he attacked his wife in July, 2019. The Athletic has suspended him for now.
Keri was outspoken against domestic violence committed by MLB players, Aroldis Chapman and José Reyes. In the NFL, Kansas City wide receiver Tyreek Hill who we've talked about repeatedly on the show will not face any punishment from the league under the preferred personal conduct policy. You might remember he was under investigation for possibly abusing his young son and Hill's girlfriend whom he beat up in college while she was pregnant with their son, and for which he pleaded guilty.
She made a recording in which she says to Hill that their son is terrified of him. He responded to her, "You need to be terrified of me too. Dumb bitch." We'll talk more about Hill a minute. And last but not least, there's the WNBA. Let's start with Riquna Williams of the LA Sparks. Last December in Florida, Williams reportedly beat and pulled the hair out of her ex-girlfriend's head and threatened to shoot a man who was trying to stop her.
She pleaded not guilty to two felony charges related to the case. The Sparks signed her despite the pending charges, and she's played this entire season up until now. This week, the league suspended her for 10 games. The longest suspension in its history. 10 games is roughly a third of the regular season of the WNBA. The WNBA Players Association came to Williams’ defense, which is not uncommon, this happens all the time in the NFL too, saying in a statement, "We are disappointed with the league's actions. There is an ongoing criminal proceeding and, in fairness to the player, the league could have and should have waited its completion before taking any action.
Riquna has not had a fair opportunity to fully defend herself. We're immediately filing a grievance and will seek the arbiters review." This all comes at the moment when Cathy Engelbert, the new commissioner, is starting her job. And also another WNBA player, the Storm's Natasha Howard was accused of domestic violence by her wife, I believe last weekend. Howard has denied this and filed for divorce. The WNBA and The Storm are investigating.
Howard was recently named a starter in the upcoming WNBA All Star game in Las Vegas. And one thing I want to note, the WNBA does not have a domestic violence policy and it's collective bargaining agreement with the players. As we've mentioned a lot, they're about to go into negotiations for a new CBA. So certainly this'll be part of it. Okay. That's a lot. Domestic violence is so difficult because it's so personal and it can be so dangerous.
I feel like everyone will know this, but I do think that teams and leagues have a responsibility to deal with these allegations. I think any employer should have to deal with a potentially violent employee in some way. But as Linds said at the top of the show, the question right now is like, is there a right way to do this in professional sports? And Lindsay, I actually want to throw it to you because you wrote about Tyreek Hill this week for ThinkProgress, and you called the NFL policy, which is probably the most famous one out there, you called it "broken." So what do you think? What is the way forward? Can we do this in pro sports?
Lindsay: I regularly change my opinion on this.
Jessica: Yeah, me too.
Lindsay: It's something that I will admit, I did believe that there was a way forward here five years ago, but I know that the NFL, every single move that they've made on this front has pretty much been the wrong one. What really stuck out to me in the Tyreek Hill decision was that, first of all, it seems that under the NFL’s policy, he's not really considered a repeat offender because his first domestic violence wasn't when he was in the NFL.
So it seems like the fact that he was on tape, even if they couldn't figure out what happened to his child, the fact that he was on tape threatening a woman that he had previously pled guilty to assaulting should have been enough for a suspension of some kind under this policy. But it seems it was not. Another thing that really stuck out to me though was that she, his fiancée, Crystal Espinosa, didn't cooperate with the NFL.
And of course there's so many reasons why women or survivors of any kind would not want to participate in this process. But to me, I just kept thinking, they've had five years now to try and build up this trust and have failed. And that to me is the biggest problem that we're dealing with right now. Like nobody trusts the NFL to protect them, not the players and not the survivors.
And so we're left with this mess of a situation that leaves Tyreek Hill completely on the field, no questions asked. And that's what's really troublesome to me. And I just keep thinking, look, I know that it's widely considered, it's popular opinion the Ezekiel Elliott case he got a six game suspension was an overreach by the NFL and kind of a cover up type situation to try and pretend like they were being strict.
But the truth is there was a lot of really disturbing stuff in the Ezekiel Elliott case. We covered it back here on this podcast a long time ago. There were a lot of reasons to believe that Ezekiel Elliot was abusive towards his girlfriend, and his girlfriend did cooperate with investigators, with the NFL. But the NFL botched its punishment of Elliott so much that the case ended up being appealed time and time again and in court.
So all of a sudden you had the court transcripts of the NFL PA's lawyers going after this survivor's credibility in public. So this is all of a sudden public information. And I remember after that thinking, there's no way any survivor is going to work with the NFL again, there's just no way. And that's ultimately what we saw in the Tyreek Hill case. So it's tough. I think that there should be a way to do this, but it's not a straight way forward. Shireen.
Shireen: Yeah. Just listening to that, it's really hard because it's coming up everywhere. And thank you Jess for doing this. What I just wanted to say was just about Jonah Keri. I'm in Toronto. Well right now I'm not, but I'm based in Toronto. And Jonah Keri is a Canadian voice and this very respected voice in sports media. And he's also a huge ally of writers, like sports writers of color and people and that community.
And was someone who's sort of take on race and gender was fairly, like, it was nuanced. It was smart. He said the appropriate things where they needed to be said. And for that, this is something that's desperately lacking in Canadian sports media particularly. So I was literally shocked when I saw the news because, and this is a lesson for us within sports media and as women or non-binary folk, not to be surprised because this is a systemic problem.
The normalization of this type of violence is a systemic problem and not just in the industry, in sports, in society. And the fact that someone so outspoken or previous outspoken about Chapman, wasn't Jonah Keri really ... he's like, he tweeted about hating the Cubs or liking the Cubs but hating him, but can do this and just sort of be like, okay. And the fact that it happened before, I didn't know what happened in 2018 because I would've heard about it, but that it was ...
Lindsay: Nobody knew.
Shireen: Yeah, it's something that is normalized or considered acceptable and this is not someone that can feign ignorance about that type of toxicity when they've spoken about it. So what I'm trying to say is, and I don't want to simplify it by saying let's just not be surprised at the violence that men are capable of, but just look a little broader and say, "Look at the systems that they exist in." And it is very disappointing because like again, I'll say this, I was talking to a friend of mine who's a friend of the show about it.
And specifically on race because very few people in sports media that are as on point, particularly in Canada like Jonah Keri was. And that's not going to absolve him of anything. But I'm saying there's a loss here on different levels is what I'm saying.
Lindsay: Absolutely. Brenda.
Brenda: I guess when these things come up and when you start to get into these discussions, which are really interesting for me, I'm always struck by the tension between kind of punishment and culture change or, I don't even know how to say it, but I get a little bit frustrated I guess with all of these leagues for, even if they have a policy that's clear and good or whatever I think that is, and I'm not really great at that stuff.
At thinking, what's a punishment? Some of it feels like arbitrary, like what should you get for terrifying your wife and son? Everything. Everything bad. When I say I mean 14 games, 18 games? At a certain point it sort of removes the gravitas of it for me, when it's like counting games. So, it's like, I don't know, six, 12, 400, fuck it all. So that's kind of ... I'm a burn it all down person in terms of that I guess.
But okay. But on the flip side, I guess what it makes me feel like is there needs to be more proactive counseling help, not after the fact, but a whole recognition of culture change that just feels like it's not happening. And yes, that deals with the fact that women can be violent with one another too in intimate partner relationships as the rundown just included. It doesn't deny the fact that the majority of perpetrators are men and there's a reason for that.
But there needs to be some kind of, I feel like a discussion about kind of what is punishment, and what would change look like, and how do you get there? Because punishment just hasn't really ... not only because it's not enough punishment maybe or whatever, but also it just feels kind of hollow sometimes, given the gravity of these situations.
Lindsay: Well, and it feels to me it just feels so often like PR, like going through the motions, like people don't actually understand or appreciate the severity of what domestic abuse is and the nuances there. And there's a lot of people who are in the ‘cut them loose completely’ camp when something like this happens. But I don't really agree with that way for it either because we know the survivors are more in jeopardy when jobs are lost, and when they're in rapid transition, and in high stress situations.
And if you know that any allegation is going to automatically lead to a job loss, you would be much more hesitant to come forward. So it is complicated in that way. I do want to talk about the WNBA stuff cause everyone knows I follow the league really closely and love the league. I want to say first of all, this is the problem with lifting up female athletes only as role models and inspirations is like, "No, no, they're real people. They can be real shitty too."
But I think that my biggest problem with all this has been the Los Angeles Sparks have never seemed to grasp that they are not the victims in this and that what we're Riquna Williams did was really serious. And just the tone of how they've been talking about this is just down to like people I super admire like Chiney Ogwumike who I think is just phenomenal, just talking about this in a really lighthearted, really, "We're proud of our teammate for how she's handled this, and we'll get through this" type of way, and that's really bothersome.
But I think it's also important to take a moment and to shine a light on the fact that so often, we talk about domestic violence in a very gender-binary manner. And I think the WNBA, what's happening with WNBA is a good time to take a moment and remind us that domestic violence does occur in same sex couples. And often, I've been talking with a lot of experts this week because I really wanted to understand kind of the dynamics that are typically at play.
And what I've learned is that as hard as it is for a woman who has been abused by her male partner to get justice in the system, it's even much more difficult when it is a same sex partnership. Or you're dealing with trans or non-binary individuals, particularly when it's woman on woman, what often happens is since the police and the legal teams ... the police and the courts have no idea what to make of women batterers and women abusers.
So often, even more often than in cases of men and women, when the police come, they will arrest both parties. That the system will treat them both as the abusers, and there's really no path forward for support for either, for the victims or the abusers. And I think it's important that we kind of hold that as part of this conversation and remember that with all the dynamics at play. Jess, do you think that ... what do you think the WNBA should do from here?
Jessica: Yeah, well I definitely think this is such a hard conversation because I'm with Brenda. Like what is punishment? But I mean basically they do have to flush out a DV policy in their CBA. At the basic, the most basic level, that has to be worked out. I hope that Engelbert, one of the things that she'll do coming in new is push on this. There has to be something because like you said, the LA Sparks did not handle this well.
It was really hard for me to follow the team at all because Williams is really good, and they were really excited about her. And so if you are watching it all, they were so thrilled while they were being pretty silent about these really terrible charges, and just as a fan, I would have to say I found it really ... it was the most distance I had felt from the league in a long time. And at minimum, they have to have some kind of policy. It'll be arbitrary and subjective once it comes to actually putting it into practice, but they've got to do something.
And I'm with you. I was bummed by Ogwumike's statements about Williams and centering her and the team as if that's the only issue. I think one of the things that happens a lot in gendered violence, interpersonal violence is like it becomes immediate. There isn't space for nuance. It's like did it happen or did it not happen? And we have to take a position on that, and from there, we then decide how we're going to manage it instead of like, how is everyone doing?
How is this woman managing right now? What has this been like for her? There's so much gray in there and it's so easy to just make it about right, wrong, whose side am I on, good, bad. When it's so rarely like that. So I don't know. I don't have a good answer for you, but I would like to see, I would like the WNBA to be transparent about this. I feel like that's another thing that the Sparks got wrong and lots of people get wrong.
I hope that they are really clear about how they make the decisions about this policy going forward.
Lindsay: I agree. And look, let's just say going away, Natasha Howard, speaking of players who are playing well, is phenomenal. She's an All Star. She's scheduled to be at WNBA All Star next week amid all this. So.
All right, well I am feeling particularly ready to burn shit down right now. So let's move on to the burn pile. Bren, can you get us started here?
Brenda: Sure. This week, former indoor 400 meter champion Kemi Adekoya has been banned for four years for doping in another drug case. So she runs for Bahrain, and Bahrain has over the last, I don't know, 15 years, has been wooing African athletes from Nigeria, Ethiopia primarily. But there's others as well. And when I read about it, it's like even four or five years ago, there were warning signs that again and again and again, these women are testing positive, and again and again and again, the women are paying the price.
So that gold metal gets struck, this record gets struck. They can't run again for four years, and basically there were allegations way back in 2014 and '15 that these athletes were being bought and sold by third parties. So they're being trafficked. Now, that's not everyone. Like for example, Ethiopian born Bahraini runner, Maryam Yusuf Jamal who I believe Shireen has featured a couple times on the show where has been a badass woman in different things, has never tested positive.
So I'm not trying to in any way say that these runners from the Gulf states are particularly sort of shady or seedy or anything like that, but the fact that they continue to punish these women who are in really dire circumstances, who are there only because they're good at running and not punishing the men who run that federation for me is like just one more example of women paying the price for men's greed and desires.
So I want to burn the IAAF, and by the way, IAAF, maybe this is what you should be doing instead of persecuting Caster Semenya. So maybe you can think about that. Burn.
Jessica: Yeah. So first I wanted to just give a quick update from my burn pile last week, Anna Tatishvili who was denied her first round lost paycheck at the French Open because officials felt she didn't try hard enough. She actually won her appeal, and she's going to get that prize money. So, I could even like retroactively take that burn back. But I now I want to burn something that I've already burned before and not that long ago.
So in episode 107 in late May, I said that I don't understand how horse racing is still a thing that exists. And I'm just back to say that again like nine weeks later. Earlier this week, two horses died at the Del Mar race track in California. They collided with each other during a training session, and they died on impact. According to the New York Times, one of the horses trainers said that it was a freak accident beyond anyone's control. To which I want to say really? Beyond anyone's control?
I can think of one way this accident never would have happened. And that's that you don't race horses. So, since December 30th of last year, 30 horses have died at the Santa Anita Park. At another California track, Golden Gate fields, 18 died this past winter season. And please indulge me as I repeat some of the stats that I said from last time. So according to the Mercury News, nearly 10 horses a week on average die during racing at US race courses in 2018, as many probably died in training, but no official count exists for that.
According to the experts the Mercury News interviewed about this, that fatality rate in the US is anywhere from two and a half to five times greater than Asia, Australia, or Europe. What? I will remain shocked at that every time I read it. Every time I read it. And the thing is, people who track the statistics say that these are normal numbers, that the main change around this is that people are now paying attention.
A decade ago, Golden Gate Fields had a year where 53 horses died on the track, while Los Alamitos in Orange County reported 73 horses that died in training or racing. So there's lots of possible reasons for all this, including greedy track owners who do little to hold accountable the training practices that are more dangerous for the animals, climate change that's led to torrential downpours after years of drought that make track conditions perilous.
The use of performance enhancing drugs, and that some people run young horses whose bones and muscles are not fully developed, all terrible. But whatever the reason is, I don't care. Why are we trying to mitigate horse deaths when we could just not race them? I'm not a fan of PETA, the People for Ethical Treatment of Animals because their campaigns against animal cruelty too often they're racist or sexist.
But putting that aside for one minute, I do want to quote their senior vice president, Kathy Guillermo who said in a statement about these recent horse deaths at Del Mar where the horses collided, "Saying that deaths are inevitable in racing is like saying a swim team can't compete without drowning. If racing can't be done without horses dying, it shouldn't be done at all." And I agree with her. And so once more, I want burn these preventable horse deaths.
Lindsay: All right. So it's been a while since we've discussed anything related to the Larry Nassar case. But today I'm here to remind you that while Nassar is behind bars, so many of his enablers are still free. So this particular burn pile goes to John Geddert. He was the head coach for the 2012 London Olympics for Team USA. He's the coach at the Twistars Gym in Michigan where Nassar abused so many for so long.
He himself has been accused of both physical and mental abuse and verbal abuse of his gymnasts. And he and Nassar really came up together in the gymnastics world in Michigan. So in a book excerpt from Abigail Pesta’s upcoming book, The Girls: An All-American Town, A Predatory Doctor, and the Untold Story of the Gymnast Who Brought Him Down. So Sara Teristi said that in 1988, Geddert began to see Nassar abusing her.
So the abuse was, I'm not going to get into explicits because we've had a very explicit podcast already. But let's just say that he saw it escalate starting when she was 14 going to when she was 16, and it was complete sexual abuse. This man is still free. He's still out and about. And I want to throw that on the burn pile and throw all the people who have not been brought to justice in this case right onto the burn pile because this fight, it's far from over. Burn.
Shireen: Okay. So this week what I am burning is this listing on a trampoline, which was for sale on a website in the UK. Now you're like, what's weird about that? What's weird about that is actually the way that the trampoline was listed for sale. So this is a 40 inch mini bouncer, and it was sold on Amazon, listed for 95 euros. Now according to the details on this trampoline, it was important for the seller to state that, "Not advised for child or woman to install alone. Additional assistance from men is preferred."
So the seller of this trampoline, which I guess was imperative to specifically state that women wouldn't be able to assemble this said trampoline. I know this seems like, we burn a lot of stuff that's crucial. But you know what, when we talk about systems of sexism, this trampoline seller is a part of the problem. Do you need to say that? Do you think that any woman buying a trampoline will just simply be like, "Oh, I'm just going to buy this trampoline, and it looks easy."
No, she would have realized, she would know that it's not a joke. Much like Ikea furniture, you need to organize and mobilize in order to assemble the bloody thing. So that seller ... so essentially the post was taken down, and then Amazon got on and was just like this is a third party seller, et cetera, et cetera. And I think that the company itself, new one, "This trampoline can be a bit tricky when installing elastic cord parts. It needs some strength.
And although we have a matching tool, it is best to wear gloves when installing the elastic rope. So we recommend men first." Again, what? "But if the lady can also install it, it will even be more perfect."
Jessica: The lady.
Shireen: The lady. So I'm not going to buy a trampoline, but if I ever do buy a trampoline, I am never going to fucking have a man assemble it just because this is my way of resisting. I want to burn this shit down. So burn.
Lindsay: All right. After all that burning, it is time to lift up some of the most badass people, particularly women this week. But first of all, we want to send our condolences to the family and friends and teammates of Dineo Marakalla. She was a player with the TUT Ladies Football Team, and she passed away on Saturday afternoon and we just want to send all of our love to her because it's a very tragic loss. All right.
For our badass women. We want to talk about, first of all, give my shout out to Barbora Strycova and Hsieh Su-wei who won the doubles title at Wimbledon last weekend. That was after we recorded, so we didn't get to give them a shout out and they are the best people ever. If you do not follow them or check for their press conferences, you really should.
Jessica: It's true.
Lindsay: We want to give a shout out to the latest woman to join the NBA coaching ranks, Lindsey Harding, former Duke and WNBA star who the Sacramento Kings hired as an assistant coach. Congratulations to Australia and New Zealand who reached the final in the 2019 Netball World Cup. Belinda Sharpe became the first female referee of a National Rugby League game in Australia. Yuka Saso of the Philippines came from behind to win the 2019 girls’ junior PGA Championship.
She won with a 3 under 67 to finish at 14 under for the championship, two strokes ahead of the runner up. South Korea's water polo team. They lost every game of the world championships, a 64-0 defeat followed by 30 to one. But they scored their first point ever and the celebration is badass women of the week worthy for sure. So congratulations to them.
I want to give a shout out to the Argentinian league who the women there are finally getting their first professional contracts. We talked about that on the show, but that's going into ... that's being executed going into action this week. So we're thrilled for them. Simone Biles, she won the US Classic on Saturday night to maintain her six year winning streak.
Special shout out to Dr. Ornella Nzindukiyimana of St. Francis Xavier University who is the Gigliola Gori Early Career Student Award winner of 2019. She presented her paper on ‘That's Jean Lowe’: On Being a Black Canadian Female Track Athlete in 1940s Toronto at the International Society for the History of Physical Education and Sport Conference in Madrid on Wednesday, July 17th. Congratulations! Now can I please get a drum roll?
All right. This weekend, Li Na became the first Asian born player to be inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame, no, she's from China. She won the 2011 French Open and she became China's first ever grand slam singles champion. She also won the 2014 Australian Open, nine WTA tournaments, and was a career high of number two. And if you don't know her, Google Li Na speeches, and you will not be disappointed.
I miss her on the tennis tour so much. If you know, she always liked to joke about her husband Dennis and give him a hard time about his snoring or things like that. And in her speech at the Hall of Fame, she did the same. She said, "It's been five years since I retired, and that time I had two children. It's great. Sadly, same husband."
Shireen: Oh God.
Lindsay: We love you Li Na, and we love you Dennis too!
All right, what is good this week? Brenda.
Brenda: What is good this week is that I live close to Bard College and they have this cool thing called the Spiegeltent over the summer and they bring artists and for a very, very long time, I loved Hedwig and the Angry Inch and it soundtrack and the movie and all that other stuff. And I know Neil Patrick Harris did a fine job, but it's not the same as John Cameron Mitchell coming back to do it. And so, I have tickets on Saturday to go see him perform as Hedwig in Hedwig and the Angry Inch. And I am so, so excited.
So that's what's good for me. Oh. And I saw Amira and her kids, she breezed through town just really quick. We had lunch. They haven't accepted me in terms of letting me hug and touch them constantly yet, but I'm working on figuring it out. I'm working on figuring it out because they are so cute. So anyway, we had a BIAD baby lunch between my kids and her kids, which makes six.
Lindsay: That's incredible. Jess?
Jessica: Yeah. I'm super excited that Veronica Mars is back and back a week early. They were supposed to release it on Friday and they ended up releasing it this past Friday. So I've been watching that. And I was actually watching the previous seasons to get ready. So, just thrilled. I love that show. And then I wanted to mention, I have my 16th wedding anniversary with Aaron on Friday, and he bought me the best gift. I posted these pictures on Twitter and Instagram. You should go look at it.
I have been ... I think I wrote on Instagram, “heavily advocating for a piece of yard art.” It's like an almost life size, metal, flat Bigfoot. And I just think this is hilarious. And so, now it looks like there's a Bigfoot sneaking out from behind the tree in our yard that you can see from the road. And I just think that is really funny. And so, he finally relented and that was my present for my 16th wedding anniversary, was my almost life size, Bigfoot yard art. So that made me very, very happy.
Brenda: Yeah, you should check it out. I checked it out on Instagram and it's really cool.
Shireen: It's really cute. Yeah. Just your smile, Jessica, is amazing. Like you're so excited. You're so excited.
Jessica: I'm so happy. It makes me laugh every time. I laugh every time I see it.
Lindsay: It's incredible. Shireen?
Shireen: I am in Edmonton, Alberta, I've never been here before, and there's a lot of mosquitoes and it's not like sweltering like it is on the east coast everywhere else. So I'm grateful for that. I'm also super, super excited for Algeria winning AFCON, like just so excited, so excited for the solidarity that they've shown with Palestine, which was really exciting for me to see too. Just there's a lot of happiness.
My daughter's best friend from a soccer team is in Algeria right now. She's Algerian. And she's just like, it's Eid constantly. Like it's wild. This is such a big deal. And I follow an Algerian female player too because Algeria does have women's team, and just to sort of bring attention to that and just sort of say, I hope this is an opportunity for people to recognize the women as well that play in their country.
Just last thing that I'm really excited about other than all the ice cream I've been eating as I'm around Edmonton is there's a song by Maître Gims and Maluma who is ... Maluma is a Columbian singer. And then Maître Gims is like my favorite French rapper. He's Congolese French. And I'm just obsessed with this because I feel like this song represents me and my friend Erin, although neither of us are Congolese or Colombian or men.
But I'm just saying, it's just like this great song and I am really excited by and listening to it incessantly, and that's about it. So that's ... it's just happy. So happy.
Lindsay: That's amazing. I, this week had a collision of my two worlds when Megan Rapinoe was in Charlotte and met all the Carolina Panthers. And so, there are wild these photos of a ... because they were hosting a big soccer match and it was incredible. So there's the head coach of the Carolina Panthers posing with Megan Rapinoe, and he's got his world championship shirt on, and she's with two of the biggest stars, Jonathan Stewart and Christian McCaffrey.
I haven't seen the Megan Rapinoe Cam Newton crossover yet, which is what I really need, but it's just she's got a Panthers jersey with Rapinoe on the back. If you know me, you know the Carolina Panthers are my team, I can't quit them. And so to see Megan Rapinoe with them was super exciting. Also, this week is WNBA All Star. I'm going to be in Vegas. Flame throwers, please hit me up if you're going to be there. And my goal is to get lots of interviews and lots of content for Burn It All Down, and hopefully we can do some sort of meetup while we're there because it's going to be great. So please hit me up all. I will probably cry every time I meet a friend there. So make me cry. Okay.
Shireen: Just one thing I wanted to piggyback off what Linds just said about Pinoe. Pinoe was there at the Arsenal Fiorentina match. And she also met Héctor Bellerín, who is a gunner and that photo is awesome. So basically, all these incredible male athletes are giving their due regard to the queen. So, it's fantastic to see.
Lindsay: It's so cool. You can see like I knew it was a really big game, but all I paid attention to was the Panthers stuff because I just love them so much. Okay, thank you all so, so much for listening to Burn It All Down. We just are forever indebted for you, indebted to you for letting us do this project that we worked so hard on. To support us, go to iTunes and leave a five star review please. That helps people find us.
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