Episode 126: Oppression of Palestinian Football, Interview with Hemal Jhaveri, and Bandwagon Fans!
This week Brenda, Shireen and Jessica reflect on Lynsey Sharp's staggering (and giggle-worthy)loss [2:13]. The crews delves into a conversation about how Palestinian football and national joy is being targeted by the Israeli state, and how restricted mobility of players is a tool of oppression and continued violence in that region [4:58].
Then, Shireen interviews sports journalist Hemal Jhaveri about the case of harassment involving Auston Matthews of the Toronto Maple Leafs, how violence against women is horribly reported by hockey media, and why she writes and speaks up in this industry the way she does [18:25]. Then the crew has a candid and introspective chat about bandwagon fans, and why they should or should not be welcomed into sport. As usual, Shireen inserts commentary about the 2019 NBA Champions [37:24] .
Of course, you’ll hear the Burn Pile, [50:41] our Bad Ass Woman of the Week [1:01:01] and what is good in our worlds.
Israeli Government Bans Palestinian Soccer Players From Traveling To West Bank For Tournament Final: https://deadspin.com/israeli-government-bans-palestinian-soccer-players-from-1838525998
Israel Canceled the FIFA Palestine Cup for No Apparent Reason: https://www.thenation.com/article/fifa-palestine-cup/
Football in Palestine: a sporting pursuit seen as ‘more noble than war’: https://www.theguardian.com/football/2019/aug/03/football-palestine-book-extract-nicholas-blincoe
A Red Line for FIFA? Israel, Violence and What’s Left of Palestinian Soccer: https://www.thenation.com/article/red-line-fifa-israel-violence-and-whats-left-palestinian-soccer/
For Palestine women, winning comes second to overcoming ‘outdated vision of girls playing football’: https://www.thenational.ae/sport/for-palestine-women-winning-comes-second-to-overcoming-outdated-vision-of-girls-playing-football-1.640390
Year of the Sun? The 5 X factors in their semifinal series against the Sparks: https://theathletic.com/1218449/2019/09/17/year-of-the-sun-the-5-x-factors-in-their-semifinal-series-against-the-sparks/
Why ‘bandwagon fans’ are actually a good thing: https://globalnews.ca/news/5390936/bandwagon-raptor-fans/
Pep Guardiola defends Bernardo Silva over tweet that sparked racism row: https://www.theguardian.com/football/video/2019/sep/27/pep-guardiola-defends-bernardo-silva-over-tweet-racism-row-benjamin-mendy-video
Malcolm Gladwell's Penn State Rabbit Hole Isn't Very Deep: https://deadspin.com/malcolm-gladwells-penn-state-rabbit-hole-isnt-very-deep-1838381737
Osaka powers to hometown title at Toray Pan Pacific Open: https://www.wtatennis.com/news/i-just-wanted-win-really-bad-osaka-powers-hometown-title-toray-pan-pacific-open
SOFIA KENIN BEATS SAM STOSUR IN GUANGZHOU FOR THIRD WTA TITLE OF 2019: https://www.tennis.com/pro-game/2019/09/american-sofia-kenin-wins-guangzhou-wta-title-over-stosur/85087/
Muchova storms to maiden title in Seoul: https://www.wtatennis.com/news/muchova-storms-maiden-title-seoul-im-very-happy-hold-trophy
Rapinoe, Messi win FIFA player of the year awards: https://apnews.com/a87f3a89d1a146a39eac8a80baddc087
Seattle's Granato NHL's first female pro scout: https://www.espn.com/nhl/story/_/id/27698945/seattle-granato-nhl-first-female-pro-scout
BEKELE CLOCKS 2:01:41 IN BERLIN, SECOND FASTEST MARATHON EVER: https://www.iaaf.org/news/report/bekele-berlin-marathon-2019
Canadian elementary teacher, 41, aims to bring world championship marathon lessons back to the classroom: https://www.cbc.ca/sports/olympics/trackandfield/lyndsay-tessier-stafford-world-track-championships-scott-russell-1.5299436
Sifan Hassan the Dutch distance queen took gold, Ethiopia’s Letesenbet Gidey got silver, and Kenya’s Agnes Tirop got bronze: https://www.iaaf.org/news/report/womens-10000m-iaaf-world-athletics-championsh
Shireen: Welcome to this week's episode of Burn It All Down. It's the feminist sports podcast you need. I'm Shireen Ahmed, freelance writer and sports activist in Toronto, leading the toxic femininity charge this week. On our panel, we have the amazing Jessica Luther, weightlifter extraordinaire, and my favorite Ph.D. candidate/croissant maker and author of Unsportsmanlike Conduct, College Football and the Politics of Rape. She's in Austin. And Dr. Brenda Elsey, president of the Feminists for Leo Messi fan club, undeniable genius and associate professor of history at Hofstra University in Long Island.
Before I start, I would like to thank our patrons for their generous support and to remind our new flame throwers about our Patreon campaign, you pledge a certain amount monthly as low as $2 and as high as you want to become an official patron of the podcast. In exchange for your monthly contribution, you get access to special rewards. With the price of a latte a month, you can get access to extra segments of the podcast and opportunity to record on the Burn Pile and other special features only available to those in our Patreon community. So far, we've been able to solidify funding for proper editing and transcripts and our social media guru, Shelby, but are hoping to reach our dream of hiring a producer to help us with the show. Burn It All Down is a labor of love, and we all believe in this podcast, but having a producer to help us as we grow would be amazing. We are so grateful for your support and happy that our flame throwing community is growing.
We have a badass show for you this week, that includes discussions about FIFA, Palestine and the Israeli state. I will interview Hemal Jhaveri, a brilliant writer at USA Today about Auston Matthews’ sexual harassment and how the NHL does not deal with it properly. And then we will talk about bandwagon fans. Let's get started.
Before I start, let's talk about karma being a beautiful bitch. So right now, the IAAF Championships, the track and field championships are happening in Doha, Qatar, and I just want to talk about Lynsey Sharp losing so badly. Jess, can you take this one?
Jessica: Yeah, so Lynsey Sharp is a British 800 meter runner. It's important to say she's like a stereotypical thin white blonde woman. And the reason that we're sort of gloating here is that in Rio in 2016, she came in sixth in the 800 meter, and which Caster Semenya, who we've talked to a lot on the show, won and Sharp was critical of Semenya, saying, "You know, I've tried to avoid the issue all year, you can see how emotional it all was. We know how each other feels. It is out of our control and how much we rely on people at the top sorting it out. The public can see how difficult it is with the change of rule,” — which, the change of rule that Semenya was allowed to run, “…but all we can do is give it our best."
And Semenya's not in Doha at the World Athletics Championship defending her title because the IAAF created a rule specifically banning her. Sharp, she came in sixth in Rio and was complaining about the winner. She didn't even get out of her heat. She was fourth in her heat out in the first round, which does feel like a nice big kiss from karma.
Brenda: I'm just sitting here, smirking.
Jessica: I know. It's so good.
Brenda: It's just like all of Twitter sort of piling onto her is completely 100% deserved. She gave an interview. She was frustrated, I understand that. But you've had years to clarify and apologize and see what words like yours have done to the wonderful, beautiful Caster Semenya, so you know what? Ha ha.
Jessica: Yeah, exactly. Exactly.
Shireen: I think that I agree with Brenda, the Twitter pile was hilarious. And normally, I'm a very positive person and I appreciate women in sports. I appreciate the effort. But oh my gosh, it was so great to see that just in the sense of one of the memes I saw was a person looking around and this quote by this really funny person who I think Shane Thomas, a friend of the show retweeted was Lynsey Sharp looking around to blame an African, just for herself. I just couldn't stop laughing at that. Because like, if you're going to be homophobic and racist, I'm sorry, I'm not cheering for you, hard stop. Brenda, do you want to take us into our first discussion, please?
Brenda: Sure. So this week, there's something that had occurred in global football that was very distressing, and also part of years and years, decades and decades of oppression of the Palestinian people. And what happened is I'll just explain a little bit that there's a cup, a tournament called the FIFA Palestine Cup. And it's meant to choose the best club cup, or club team, right? Not the national team. These are club teams. And the idea is that it's going to have the champion of the Gaza Cup, which is a league in Gaza, and the champion of the West Bank, and they're going to play each other. And then once they do, they'll be able to go on to the Asian Club Championship and then possibly even qualify for the World Cup Club Championship.
So this is a pretty big deal. It's really like something that teams look forward to and train for, players train their whole lives for. And what happened is the first time it was supposed to be held was this past July, and the Israeli government denied exit visas to the players. And once again this past week, the Israeli government has refused to give travel permits to most of the members. I think only 10 received them of the Gaza base club Khadamat Rafah. Those are the defending champions of this Cup. And they were trying to play Nablus’ FC Balata. And that's located in the Central West Bank. So okay, that's just a little bit of background. Just so you know, these teams, I mean, Palestinians have been playing since the 19th century, first official league 1928. And they've been officially in FIFA since 1998.
So this shouldn't be... the issue is that this shouldn't be happening right now. There is no reason except just outright cruelty on the part of the Israeli government. They presented no reasons for denying them the travel permits. And I've written a lot about Chile. I've written a lot about Palestinians in Chile, who have played in Chile since the 1910s, and who are often used on the national team because of these types of issues. So they frequently use the Palestinian diaspora to try to put together teams. It's just heartbreaking and cruel. It's just cruel to do this. There's no other intention. And there have been Jewish activists and groups on the grassroots level who have said the same thing, that there isn't a reason about security concerns, that this is just about crushing the hopes and dreams of Palestinian athletes and this also happens to happen to the women's team quite a lot and we can talk about that too. So I don't want to take up much more time. But I just wanted to set the stage for our discussion.
Jessica: Yeah, I just wanted to ask a quick question to make sure that I understand exactly what's happening. Based on what I read, this team is just, they have to pass through Israeli territory so they need permission from Israel to move through that and they're just trying to go, I read, several dozen kilometers. That's as far as they need to go and they're just not letting them move through that space. Is that correct?
Shireen: Well, no, yes and no. It's occupied territory, so for Gazans to leave Gaza, which is occupied, they have to go through an Israeli checkpoint. So they actually have to go through security and it's a trip that is about, I think it was about 87 miles to Nablus. So I might be getting that wrong. Sorry, to my friends from Gaza if I'm getting that wrong. But this is what we see of the restricted mobility of daily life of people who are oppressed and live under these restrictions.
And the reason stated by the Israeli state was they have links to "terrorism", and this is arbitrary, there's no proof. And the thing is that they don't have to prove it to anybody. They decide the rules, judge and jury, et cetera. And it's a very specific attempt to quash any hope and joy, which is very well linked to football in that region. And so to answer your question, they have to go through the security specifically. It's still Palestine, but they don't even have the freedom of mobility there. And it's been very stressful.
I've written about the topic, the specific targeting of Palestinian footballers, specifically in Gaza because it's one of the most heavily policed. It is the most heavily restricted and policed places. It's also one of the most resilient and beautiful places. Football is a huge, huge part of life there. Women play on the beach, people play everywhere. And I do want to just shout out quickly, Dave Zirin, who has written extensively on this for a very long time. And I really would be remiss if I didn't give Dave that job tip specifically, because he was the reason I started sportswriting when I read a story of his in 2013, very specifically how the Israeli state targets infrastructure to destroy the hope of youth. And this is part of a plan of oppression, part of what that is, and this is no different.
I mean, we've heard cases of Mahmoud Sarsak, who was a Palestinian footballer who went on a hunger strike just to protest this and that was in 2012, I believe. And we see this constantly. We see how the feet of footballers were specifically targeted by Israeli snipers, by the IDF, the Israeli Defense Forces, and they're just trying to play football and quashing any possibility of that demoralizes people and this is a very intentional thing.
I think that we've seen some solidarity around the world. Celtic fans in Scotland, are very…we see pieces of this all over the place, where Celtic fans in Scotland will hold up flags and show their Palestinian solidarity. But then you run into the issue of you can't have political statements and the club gets fined. So as Brenda was talking about, there's places all over the world, particularly in Chile and in Latin America, where they are showing signs of this, but we hear very little from FIFA, and FIFA recognizing Palestine as an actual country in 1998 was a very big deal because they were met with a lot of resistance.
Now FIFA very badly tries to sort of pander to everybody in so far that they put the Israeli state into UEFA. And I don't know if a lot of people know this, but clubs in Israel-
Brenda: Which is the European-
Shireen: Which is the European Confederation, because they were getting resistance in the Asian Football Confederation, which handles all of Asia and the Middle East and Central Asia. The Israeli state clubs don't actually, they don't actually play in that region. They play in Europe to sort of accommodate. So there's this constant lack of resolution and Brenda has talked about FIFA trying to play diplomat, including places or clubs like Barcelona, who although I love Barça, is not anywhere near any type of diplomacy and has no standing there. So I don't even know that's a thing. But Brenda, go ahead.
Brenda: I just wanted to add that that 1998 recognition of Palestine by FIFA was considered, as you're saying, a really important thing. For Palestinians, the idea of nationhood has been so besieged and attacked, and it was seen as this really wonderful step. It was fiercely opposed by Israel, so even recognizing them has been completely frustrating for Israel. The other issue though, is that FIFA has, their bylaws insist that member states abide by UN rulings. And that's what they're leaning on.
And one of the things that has been very frustrating is the continuing recognition of clubs based in Jewish settlements and places that the UN has said that Israel should not be settling. So FIFA should be reacting to this. They have in their by-laws all sorts of ways in which to do so and not only to this, but the denial of travel permits, much less the murder of many Palestinian players, detentions, illegal detentions, you name it, destruction of facilities, and Shireen has written about this so much so I'm not telling you anything new. But I think there's a way that it's so obvious in FIFA by-laws that they should not be accepting this. I mean, Israeli Football Federation should be paying serious fines and getting seriously sanctioned for doing anything with those clubs that are on occupied territories, illegal settlements.
Shireen: Yeah, thanks for that Bren. I wrote about this for Mondoweiss in 2016 where FIFA, in all their phenomenal reign, had just kept postponing decisions about sanctioning the Israeli state teams in occupied territories and that's how FIFA handles this. And in 2016, Human Rights Watch got involved and released a really damning report, emphasizing and pointing that FIFA should really speak up about the IFA, which is the Israeli Football Association, and they're literally being played on occupied land. And the teams in question were Beitar Givat Ze’ev, Beitar Ironi Ariel and Beitar Ironi Maale Adumim, Ironi Yehuda and Hapoel Bik’at. And they're all literally based in illegal settlements in the West Bank land that was illegally seized.
But then again, you get to a place where you're living under oppression, where that’s just what happens. And I think there's a very long history here, that we're going to add links to the show notes so people can read up about it. But this is also something we felt important to talk about because other than Dave at The Nation, and I know that Deadspin had an article about it as well, and I just want to say this is not something that's much reported on, and Luis Paez-Pumar wrote about it for Deadspin, that this is something that people don't know that's happening right in front of them because mainstream media in the West doesn't often choose to write about this. Jess?
Jessica: Yeah, I'm mainly just listening to you guys and learning. I was telling you guys that, sad to admit that, but before Shireen really brought this up as a topic I didn't know a ton about it. It had really flown under my radar. And it is really shocking stuff. And I think it just, I mean, I don't have anything smart or brilliant to say. Just clearly, it's such a perfect example of the way that sports are inherently political, and I do find that tension with FIFA really fascinating, that FIFA's recognition of Palestine in 1998 was so important to the point that Israel was so angry about it, I think shows how much it mattered. But the fact that FIFA is also so arbitrary in how it decides to punish people who break their rules, how it's letting these people down and letting the game down, and just again showing that it's all political all the time, especially for the lived experiences of the people who they're failing.
Brenda: I guess the last thing I would like to do is blame one more institution, I'm sorry, run by privileged white dudes.
Jessica: You don't have to apologize. We never apologize.
Brenda: Yeah, not here, right?
Jessica: Not here.
Brenda: But it's also UEFA. What the hell are you doing? That's another, I mean, I remember Desmond Tutu coming out and saying UEFA needs to strip Israel of these championships because what they're doing is essentially totally at odds with UN Human Rights established rules. How can they get away with this? And I know how they can get away with this, it's about power. But I just want to reiterate there are also tons of organizations that we can put links to in the show notes. There are ones that are Jewish that are pro Palestinian statehood that are also very active in Europe and trying to pressure UEFA. So we know that the resistance is out there and also needs more attention, but just to shit on UEFA before we do.
Shireen: Moving on to our next segment, I had a fantastic conversation with Hemal Jhaveri, who is a brilliant writer at USA Today, For The Win specifically, and she and I talked about Auston Matthews of the Toronto Maple Leafs, the alleged harassment case that he's involved in and what media got wrong.
Hello, flame throwers, Shireen here. I am so happy to have Hemal Jhaveri with me today. Hemal is an amazing writer and editor at USA Today For The Win, where she focuses on the intersections of sports and culture. In addition to being a very powerful writer, she's also a slayer of karaoke and I am so happy to have her on today to talk about many things, including Auston Matthews, the Maple Leafs, and why hockey media is shitty. But also maybe she can sing some Gold Digger for me later. Hello, Hemal.
Hemal: Hi, how are you? Thank you so much for having me.
Shireen: Thank you for being on Burn it All Down. So let's jump right in to this festering pile of garbage that we see, very timely. And for those that don't know what happened with Auston Matthews and who he is, would you mind giving us a quick summary?
Hemal: Sure. So if you are not familiar, Auston Matthews is basically the golden child in Toronto for the Toronto Maple Leafs. He is a star player and he's one of hockey's rising stars. If you are familiar with hockey at all, you've kind of heard of Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin. Auston Matthews is basically what is known as probably a generational player. He is a kid with a lot of talent, and is expected to do great things for the Maple Leafs.
Shireen: How old is Auston Matthews?
Hemal: He just turned 22.
Hemal: Yeah, so he just turned 22, which I think his age will actually be a little bit relevant as we keep talking about this. Now, the incident in question, it came out earlier this week, that Auston Matthews was actually, there had been disorderly conduct charges filed against him for an incident that took place on May 26th, a few months ago, where a security guard who works at his building filed a report stating that Matthews and a few of his friends tried to get into her car, where she was sitting and doing paperwork at about two o'clock in the morning.
Now, she says that after this happened, she got out of the car and confronted them and asked them, do you understand that why this would be so scary for a woman? And instead of being apologetic or trite, she said that Matthews kind of tried to play it off as a joke, said “I was just trying to be funny.” His friends tried to defuse the situation. And at that point, according to the report, Matthews walked away and pulled down his pants and mooned her. And there's further reporting that came out in The Athletic where Katie Strang says that this is not the first time that they've actually interacted with this security officer. So they knew that she was a woman alone in her car. And then apparently, she filed a police report the next day. And it actually only came to light earlier this week, and Matthews had not even told the team about it. So that's where we stand with the situation as it is now.
Shireen: I just have so many questions like, I know that, and they also... there's reports that alcohol played a factor in this too, that he was intoxicated. Now, where to start that this security guard who according to also what you wrote, is a vet?
Hemal: Is a vet, yeah. She is a military veteran who told them that she suffered from PTSD.
Shireen: No, absolutely. So having a bunch of guys, white guys try to break into her car, I mean, I would be terrified.
Hemal: Yeah, there's so many things about this story that I find really disturbing. And one of the first, which is first the incident itself, which is that he was, according to the report again, visibly intoxicated, as were his friends, that they tried to get into her vehicle at two o'clock in the morning, played it off as a joke, and then refused to see the seriousness of kind of what they had done.
They were not, or at least Matthews was not apologetic about the situation. When I first heard about it, my initial reaction was kind of this horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach, because I don't want to speak for every woman but as a woman, I feel like we've all experienced this kind of fear, this kind of fear of a bunch of drunk rowdy guys coming at you and kind of this internal punching, because you just have no idea what's going to happen next. They could just walk by and nothing could happen, or you're going to get harassed, or it's going to turn violent.
So that was my initial reaction to it. And then what was even more distressing is hockey media's reaction to this story, because it did not mirror at all the general public reaction that I was seeing from women, and it seems again so simplistic to say that this is a weird gender divide but it was very much a gender divide. Women that I was seeing on social media were talking about how upsetting this incident was, and men on social media and a lot of hockey writers as well, were just saying, were leaning into the jokes. They were leaning into the butt jokes. They were talking about, "Well, he was just being a drunk idiot. It's not that big of a deal." It's just a very massive divide. And it was actually pretty frustrating.
Shireen: I think as someone else who plays a part in the media, I'm in Toronto, and not a Leafs fan. But that's not going to... I mean, I respected Denis Potvin back in the day. So let's just leave it out there. But your piece in For The Win was really, really important. And I really hope everybody reads it. We're going to attach it in the show notes, just sort of speaking about that, and talking about how media responded. And I mean, let's be very clear about this. Hockey media in North America is I would say 98% white able bodied men. I would actually think that statistic is fair.
Now also to minimize that, I mean when I first saw this news, my immediate thought was, "I wonder who's going to come out and what defenses will be used.", and they were really, they ranged from, "Oh, he's a kid.", to, "Oh, this is funny." And like you said, and even people who I thought might be more critical were not. So I mean, that's my own fault for believing that there could be some critical analysis of the situation. But even the idea of joking, it takes away so much. And that was your point that it's not a joke, like this is quite serious. And when the people who are supposed to be reporting on it are doing a terrible job, because reducing it to laughter, like this is about somebody actually being scared. No, it wasn't. Thank God, it wasn't rape. But this is the first step in a society that is totally complicit in rape apologia. This is what it is, I guess it's this toxic environment where these kinds of things are considered not only acceptable, but just part of the status quo.
And like I said, your piece was really important. As a woman of color and a visibly South Asian woman, do you ever think when you write these pieces, do you ever anticipate the pushback you'll get? Because you're literally putting yourself out on a limb here.
Hemal: Yeah, absolutely. This might be a little bit of a segue. But I guess it's important to frame this in the context of the discussion that we're going to have but I think I made a choice. I'm not sure it was a conscious choice but it was definitely a choice that I made to approach the sport the way that I do, because I knew that it was going to end up burning a lot of bridges for me. It was going to end up costing me access, costing me a good relationship with the league. But I felt that it was necessary, because there are very few, I won't say nobody but there are very few people who are able to write from this perspective.
So when I first started my career, I was a social media editor when I first started, and I really wanted to write about hockey, I really wanted to write about sports. So I pursued that very heavily and I was grateful for my bosses who let me do that. And for the first couple of years, I was on a very traditional hockey reporting path. I tried to write profiles, I kind of picked up like, feel good stories, I tried to maintain this solid relationship with the league so that I could cultivate sources. And then what I started to realize is that I was really censoring myself from some of the things that I wanted to say, because I felt like I had to maintain these relationships.
And that is what a lot of hockey media has to do. You have to hold your tongue, because you will lose access. And it kind of came through, when allegations against Patrick Kane came out, when the NHL decided to have Kid Rock play the All Star Game, these were all decisions that I did not agree with that I did not see people writing columns about why this might be upsetting to certain fans. And there was a whole swath of people that were just being ignored. And I had a platform and I had something to say. And I was like, "Well, I'm going to say it."
And that has kind of led me down this path. But I'm very aware that I'm definitely not... the NHL does not look at me as a favorable media member. There are people who they will go to when they have stories that they want to break. I'm not that person. And I knew that that's kind of the path I was putting myself on but I felt like it's really important, because who else is going to say this? There are very few people that are able to say it. So yeah, I do, just kind of a long way of answering your question in that I knew the pushback that I was going to get. I knew that I would be burning potential networking bridges by calling out three really popular white male hockey writers who I know just through the industry, like I don't know Bruce Arthur but I know Pete Blackburn, who I mentioned in the article, Greg Wyshynski, who I also mentioned in the article, but it was important enough that I had to say, "You can't do this.” Because who else is going to say that? Who else is going to be that voice?
Shireen: Yeah, I think that as far as I'm concerned, you're definitely one of the places I like to get my hockey news from because of your perspective. And I know that our listeners out there, and if you're not already following Hemal, she'll give us information on where to find her work. I think it's really important. Your perspective is so fresh, it's so smart. It's so necessary, particularly in this abyss of male toxicity that is hockey, and for those of us that really love it. I'm assuming that the Hurricanes are your team. Are the Hurricanes your team?
Hemal: You know, I'm based out of Washington, D.C. So I guess if I had to pick a team, I might pick the Capitals, but I've been so immersed in hockey now that I've kind of lost all my fandom. It's probably the saddest part of having to cover it professionally for work. I still have players that I really, really like that I think fingers crossed, I hope are just decent. So I'm not a huge fan of any team anymore. But I guess if I had to pick regionally since I'm based out of Washington, D.C., it's the Capitals.
Shireen: Yeah, sorry to digress. I just was like trying to place you. I thought for some reason you were in North Carolina.
Shireen: But I think that, I mean, and I'm like, "Oh, I love the Caps." They were really great with Black Girl Hockey Club. They were really great with Fatima Al Ali, who was from the United Arab Emirates, but then someone will fire back and say, "Yeah, well, they went to the White House and Ovi hangs out with Ivanka Trump." So it's like hockey is one of those places that you really struggle with. There's pros, there's cons, there's many, many cons, you're trying to find the light in that tunnel, and you actually are a light in that tunnel.
So I want to thank you for the work you do and I really recognize what you were saying about feeling like you're burning bridges. I mean, people have said that the work that I do is trailblazing and I'm like, you mean it's blazing! Because the whole path is just like firing down and calling out. And it was very important for you to name the people that can need to do better. And I really appreciate that. And on that note, are there people starting with yourself that you trust to do this kind of reporting? Where can we look for what you think is solid reporting with nuance?
Hemal: Yeah, I think that there are different places. I think Jemele Hill, she is a columnist at The Atlantic, she's obviously, she does a lot more column writing now. But that's the place I go to for perspective. I think Katie Strang at The Athletic is really good as well. She, in addition to this Auston Matthews story, when Slava Voynov was trying to get back into the NHL, had a really great story about breaking down the exact nature of allegations against him, so that you could totally see what he was being accused of doing so it became very difficult to sweep everything under the rug, I think she's great.
There is a local website called Russian Machine. It's like a fan blog for Washington Capitals fans, but they frankly do really, really incredible work. There are two white guys who are in charge of it, Peter and Ian, but they have a long list of staff writers who are intersectional, queer, and they publish really great work. Some columns, there's a great column on there, about the Auston Matthews things, which is a personal perspective from a woman about an incident that occurred to her that made the the Auston Matthews situation so personal. So they do great work as well.
Shireen: Yeah, and thank you for that. And I know our listeners are taking note in addition to helping us learn more, and it's particularly I think in a place that's so dominated by a very single lens, that it's really great. And it can be a deterrent for people that want to get into hockey. That can mean the whole perspective is let's open up this game. It's a really fun game. It's fun to watch. And I grew up watching hockey, not only because I'm Canadian, because my mother was obsessed with the Canadiens. And so I think it's still as obsessed. I think that that's really important to provide. And just to let everybody know that there are alternatives to the people that you mentioned. And I think sometimes we tend to forget that that there are definitely really great alternatives and independent or lesser known so to speak, journalists out there doing this work.
So there's some conversation, and here's a question specifically about this topic, about this issue. Do you think that maybe sports media and the dude bros out there were less fiery in their condemnation or non condemnation, because the captaincy is also under debate and they were trying to minimize? Do you think that played a factor in this?
Hemal: I'm not really sure. I think that one of the things that frustrated me most about this story was not just what Auston Matthews is accused of having doing, but was the reaction from the media, because like you said, they are primarily male cishet guys, primarily white. And they all leaned into this one narrative, which is just about the captaincy. Is he mature enough to have the captaincy? And I think for them, it was a very traditional and very safe route to go. It's kind of the obvious storyline. If you are coming from the perspective of that hockey writer whose job it is to just write about hockey, then you're immediately going to latch on to, "Oh, what does this mean for his captaincy?", or come down one side or the other on whether or not he deserves to be a captain or whether or not he doesn't deserve to be a captain. And to me, that was just indicative of the majority of the media being unable to look outside their own perspective, being unable or unwilling to see this as way more serious than just does he deserve to be a captain.
Shireen: And I think that's a really important perspective. And again, I thank you for sharing that with us. Because basically, if y'all want to know anything about hockey, just follow Hemal. That's all I'm going to say. I'm just going to leave it there. And I really do appreciate you saying and being honest, because sometimes people don't understand what it takes for those of us in the margins, to say what we want to say. There are different types of retribution, like being blacklisted from certain places, unwelcomed, becoming persona non grata. So to do what you do, is just you have so much integrity, and I want to thank you. We're big fans at the show of your work.
Hemal: Oh wow, thank you so much. It's so nice to hear that. I am not going to lie, it kind of makes it all worthwhile. I appreciate it.
Shireen: And I do want to encourage people and this is maybe I'll put into practice more of thanking people publicly for that work in addition to privately because I think that also gives us a little bit of a boost. I know when someone reaches out, it really makes it feel but your writing on this made it feel like less of a load to carry as somebody who loves hockey, so I also really want to thank you for that. And are you going to do a little bit of Gold Digger singing for me?
Hemal: No way, but I will…open invite. You said that you've never been to karaoke. So I'm actually inviting myself. The next time I'm in Toronto, or you're in Washington, DC. We're going to go do karaoke and do Gold Digger.
Shireen: Oh, you know what? That would be amazing. Next time you're in Toronto, hit me up. I will totally, totally go. I'll get my crew here together. And we'll do a little karaoke thing. It will be tons of fun. But thank you so much for being on Burn it All Down. Where can we find your work?
Shireen: Awesome. And again, thank you so much for being on the show. You're a delight. And I love your work. Brilliant. So thanks so much.
Hemal: Well, right back at you guys. I'm so appreciative of the work that you guys do. So this has been super fun for me and an honor.
Shireen: Jessica, can you take us into our next conversation?
Jessica: Yeah, so I was thinking about bandwagon fans recently, which is the idea, the fair weather fan who shows up when teams are suddenly winning. In part, this was inspired because Courtney Williams, she's a guard for the Connecticut Sun, who today Sunday, so when you guys hear this, this will have already happened but today starts the WNBA Finals and the Sun are meeting the Washington Mystics. Courtney Williams said to The Athletic's Molly Yanity before the start of the Sun's semifinal series against the LA Sparks, which I think part of the context here is that I believe the Sparks, even though they were seeded lower, were in the betting books, they were supposed to win, slight underdog for the Connecticut Sun.
So Courtney Williams said, "Yes, we have a chip on our shoulder, the media, everyone always picks against us. Don't matter. We matter. They're counting us out. And we already have a bandwagon that is full. Don't try to get on it too late." So I thought this is so interesting. There's always this conversation that comes up around the bandwagon fan and I'm not mad at Williams. I love her swagger. I love swagger in general. I love her for pointing out that this WNBA team has a lot of dedicated and long term fans who've been here the whole time.
And I don't honestly think that Williams would turn away a new fan who's suddenly found the team because they have the media hype and presence because they've done so well in the playoffs and because finally just it seems like in general, the media is paying attention to the WNBA in a new way. But you also do get that feeling of how do we say it? Dance with the one that brought you, or if you don't love us at our worst, you don't deserve us at our best, this way, that that's being a better fan if you are willing to slug it out with them.
But I don't know, fans are fans, right? And they have to start somewhere. And I think on some level, I take this all personally because I'm a total fair weather fan! I will bounce around. I get invested in teams for very short periods of time. It's interesting because my son always wants to know who I think is going to win. That's his sense of what sport is is like you have to pick a team and root for them. And then I guess my last thought before I throw it to you guys is I was thinking about Burn it All Down. And we're 126 weeks into this, which is like a lot of our lives so far. And when we get a new person who is so excited to have found us, I'm just excited that they're here. And not that I'm mad, you know what I mean? I like to think, I don't know, it seems like sport, the whole point is to grow community. I'm always here for it. But I do get that tension there with…you really want to respect the fans who've seen you through the bad times. So I don't know. What do you guys think about this?
Shireen: I love your parallel to Burn it All Down. And you're right, anytime we have listeners, we do have listeners that will be like, "Oh, we've been listening since week one." And I'm like, "Really?"
Jessica: Yeah, and I love them.
Shireen: I know. They're like, so dedicated and I totally appreciate that. And we love you and that support because I literally thought it was just the five of us listening and my mom for week one. But it's really nice to see that. But that doesn't mean that we're not happy to embrace new people. And this conversation came up a lot. And for those of you that have forgotten for five minutes before I remind you that the 2019 NBA championship of the Toronto Raptors, the champions, so I'll weave that into every episode I'm on.
Jessica: You do, you do.
Shireen: I do, unapologetically.
Brenda: Time is ticking though!
Jessica: So there was a lot of conversation, sorry, just the conversation about that. And there's a lot of people that weren't into basketball that suddenly came into basketball. But what that did was maybe introduce new people to a sport that they felt connected to somehow for whatever reason, maybe it wasn't basketball that they love, but it was Serge Ibaka, because it's very difficult not to love Serge Ibaka or different communities that fell in love with them. And you had people of all ages and all backgrounds really falling in love with the sport and I think that's really beautiful and there are definitely those that say that if you weren't here from the beginning, if you weren't here from like 96, 95, forget it. If you don't know Vince Carter is, you don't belong here.
No, you always belong here. And this ownership of sport is, it's like entitlement and I don't love it. Personally, I'm a huge jumper, so I fell in love with Ranieri and I fell in love with Riyad Mahrez and all of that team and I'm not, I'm a long suffering Arsenal supporter. So I will jump. I also will jump wherever Yaya Touré goes. I will jump wherever, I will do that because sport is so problematic. Also, that you find the gems and you follow them like Pogba, I'll follow him. So it's just if we put up these borders, and borders are manmade anyway, but if we put up these other restrictions and these barriers, I'm just like nah! Brenda?
Brenda: I can't think of a different, a more challenging moment for hardcore women's soccer fans than this past World Cup. Everybody all of a sudden knew all kinds of stuff about women's soccer. Which they don't.
Jessica: And that's a good point when people jump in and they're suddenly experts. That is a wrinkle.
Brenda: Not only experts but have super bad takes, especially dudes that don't care about women's soccer on a regular basis who are like “Julie Ertz is going to have a breakout World Cup.” No, she's not. She's actually not.
Jessica: I love that. You brought it back.
Brenda: Because she's not and she won't. And I know she's married to an NFL player, which is how most... it's like if Stephanie Yang had that opinion, fair, we can argue about that. Right?
Shireen: But Stephanie didn't have that opinion.
Brenda: But some girl coming in that just knows that she's married to an NFL player and thinks that's badass. And so he Wiki-ed her or something, it's like come on, dude. Don't even pretend you know anything! People are like, I saw people on Twitter saying stuff like, "Oh, Megan Rapinoe’s playing back so far deep for a striker." It's like, "What are you talking about?"
Shireen: Yeah, what are you talking about?
Brenda: It's like you're taking up my Twitter space. And yes, I may follow you for the occasional intelligent tweet about men's basketball. But this is simply not your platform right now. You know, Alexi Lalas talking about Ada Hegerberg, as if he's watched a women's game, knows the pay gap, or understands a single thing. So I get, bandwagon fans, yay. I generally, I can be one too. I'm one right now with the Rugby World Cup. I'm a super bandwagon, I'm just like hanging off the sides. They're barely letting me on!
Shireen: Who are you supporting for rugby?
Brenda: New Zealand.
Shireen: Oh hey, we good.
Jessica: Which is like that, that's like a total bandwagon. So if you know anything about rugby, you know that you should root for New Zealand.
Jessica: If you want to feel good about it, yeah.
Brenda: So I guess it's a difference between bandwagon fans, which I am sometimes and I'm cool with, and bandwagon ‘I think I'm an expert now’ fans.
Shireen: Yes, absolutely. There's a difference between expertise and there's a difference, and Bren, you have a rightful place in football with that expertise. Specifically, you have a Ph.D. and you wrote a book. I don't know what Alexi Lalas has other than his name.
Brenda: I wrote two new books.
Shireen: Oh, you already wrote two. You have two books and I have both of them! And I will just digress for two seconds on two things. I'm so mad Julie Ertz is part of the World 11 and I cannot even get over that. I'm so mad about that, just does not deserve to be there. And the second thing is I get back to this rainy day in June where I was walking in Trocadéro with the well known Jessica Luther. And it was, we went by the FOX media booth, and I was so ready to heckle but it was pouring rain. And Jessica was like, "Let's go."
Jessica: I didn't have a raincoat or an umbrella in my own defense.
Brenda: Tell people what you were doing there.
Shireen: I wanted to go heckle! We were there to cover the Women's World Cup. And then I knew that FOX was at Trocadéro and we were at the Eiffel Tower and we had a lovely picnic. And then it started to pour and rain in Paris. I'm forgiving, and gross, and I was ready to try to make eye contact with the bodyguards or the security.
Jessica: You went up to the bodyguards!
Shireen: Did I?
Jessica: You were really close. You were going to like, you were going to talk your way in.
Shireen: I was going to try and maybe offer him a decal, the security guard. You never know. But I just was so frustrated at that, masquerading as an expert about something I clearly don't know. I mean, I thought FOX did a great coverage. I'm a big fan of Aaron West. He's a great guy, and he's a friend of the show. But I'm not interested in Alexi Lalas talking about anything. You're not an expert. You're not a bandwagon fan. You're not even a fan and that much is so clear. And you're right, Brenda, he's taking up a lot of space. So as much as it's okay for us to be bandwagon fans, there are certain bandwagon fans that I think it's okay for us to resist against. Jess?
Jessica: Yeah, no, that's such a good point. There does seem to, you think you have to be really transparent in your newness I think as a bandwagon fan instead of trying to act like you understand everything, if you're going to do it the right way. Because I mean, part of why we love sport is winning and watching something because you know that that might be the outcome, and that you will get to feel happy alongside whatever team that you are rooting for. And I don't begrudge anyone wanting to feel that and jumping on when that's more of a guarantee.
But you both are so correct that it's this sort of, I don't know that yeah, the person who shows up and then immediately acts like they know everything. Just, just embrace that you are new there and that you don't know everything. And it's okay to be fair weather in that way. You have to start somewhere, if you're going to become a longstanding fan. And yeah, I guess you just have to be transparent about that.
Brenda: Yeah, I think the transparency is good, or just especially if there's people in media supporting and sharing people's work that have been long in that space versus sort of just taking total credit for the one opinion you have that might work out like look, Barcelona won or something, I don't know. But those informed opinions are really important when you do get to the big issues in sports. So there is a way in which the bandwagon-y stuff can drive you crazy.
At the same time, the fact that Megan Rapinoe, that there are like U.S. football players doing the Megan Rapinoe is so awesome.
Jessica: Yeah, welcome.
Brenda: So awesome! I'm like and I don't even know if maybe they've always been longtime women's soccer fans. But I'm going to take a guess that they're bandwagon fans and they're the ones that we want. That's what you're going for. So as much as I'm talking about the World Cup and how that felt sometimes, it also feels so great to have my Instagram and my Facebook and my Twitter feeds, all with people who don't normally do things like share women's soccer stories getting excited about it. That's really awesome. And it gives me a chance to have conversations with people that I like and that I'm friends with that usually think what I do is incredibly boring.
So that's really nice. I remember when Alex Morgan retweeted that article I'd written with Jen Doyle. Unlike four years ago, I felt like nobody would know who that was. And not nobody, okay, she's very famous. But my friends, nerdy, bookie folk, they're not into soccer. So anyway, so that's been wonderful and their fight for pay equality and Megan Rapinoe's speech that was also about anti racism, all those things make me also excited and proud that I can share the things I like the most with people that I can't always share them with.
Shireen: On to our favorite part of the show, the Burn Pile. Brenda, what are you burning this week?
Brenda: Okay, I don't often burn the behavior of fellow women. Well, I guess we did Lynsey Sharp at the top of the show.
Jessica: Yeah, you're on a roll, Bren, you're on a roll. Just go ahead.
Brenda: Okay, fine. Michelle Roberts, the Executive Director of the National Basketball Players Association, props to her for being the first woman to hold that position and the first woman to be the leader of a major union of professional sports here in the U.S. She's a lawyer and great for her for being a pioneer. Unfortunately, at this point, she decided in a recent event where it was a forum moderated by Jemele Hill and also with Adam Silver, she spoke about the pay gap between the WNBA and NBA. And I'd like to think that I'm channeling Lindsay Gibbs, who's not on the show today.
Jessica: I think that's a fair statement.
Brenda: But I'd like to just say that I'm doing this because I imagine she would, and she'd do it way better. So I'll just be quick. But Michelle Roberts said, "What I think we have to be realistic about in some respects is the revenue that is generated in each game. The men's game is just much more profitable and generates more revenue than the women's game does." First, that's dumb. That's a stupid, stupid thing to say. Nobody nowhere is scratching their head and saying, "I wonder if the WNBA generates as much revenue as the NBA." Nobody ever anywhere said that, I'm sure except Michelle Roberts had to somehow qualify that.
So she's using this old trope that pretends that there's no reason for that gap to exist, that it's just a natural gap, not one that's created by the fact of coverage, of moving venues. And it's just for me incredibly disrespectful during the WNBA Playoffs for a player representative, someone who's supposed to be pro union, someone who's supposed to care about gender discrimination and pay to come out with that bullshit. I can only imagine Jemele Hill's face. I mean, I didn't watch the entire thing but I bet it was wonderful. So I just want to really, I want to burn the fact that it hurts to see a pioneering woman reiterate some very hack kind of argument that is so facile and I want to burn the fact that she didn't even bother to look if that's what any WNBA player ever said. Are any of those WNBA players unrealistic about revenue or are they realistic? But you didn't bother to look. So I want to burn that, burn.
Shireen: Burn. I'll go next. And this was a recurring theme that we've talked about on the show a lot is racism in men's football and football generally. I really want to burn this. It started when Manchester City's Bernardo Silva sent out a tweet about his teammate Benjamin Mendy, and Mendy, he plays for the French national team as well. He plays for Man City with Silva. So he tweeted a photo of Mendy as a young boy like a school photo, and he's adorable. And then beside it, he pasted a racist caricature. And it was like, "Oh, we all know who this is." And it's like, and then like a ha ha, kind of thing.
So everyone's like, what is happening? And it took me back to when Antoine Griezmann had blackface, and everyone's confused and he did, his best friend is Paul Pogba, and so anyways, what I'm specifically burning is the coach of the team, the manager, Pep Guardiola, who is a legend at Barcelona and someone I'm so ready to cancel, defended it and said, "You know, they're good friends."
So having a Black friend allows you to do this? And then he gets into the discussion saying it's not racist, he’s not racist. But what I'm burning here is the conflation of what is racist. A person doesn't necessarily have to be racist in order to do racist things all the time. And I know that sounds really bizarre, but what I'm trying to say is fine, Silva's very close to him and thought that was funny, but it's okay to call out people who aren't bigots necessarily and say what you did was racist so stop doing that.
And instead, Guardiola gets up there and, you know, post training presser and was addressing the questions. I think it was post match presser actually, and was like, no, defending it. Instead of saying, "Yeah, this was a terrible, terrible thing to do. We will talk about it. This is unacceptable."
So that's one part of my burn. Second part of my burn is media going after Black players and asking them specifically what they think. Raheem Sterling, who I love, was saying that he defended Silva and said, "You know, we're all friends.", which surprised me because Raheem Sterling has been the stalwart in terms of talking about racism. But the media even doing that bothers me. Ask a white player, ask somebody else. Don't put the burden on Black men to have to do this work what they do. And it puts Sterling in a terrible position to have to speak up against a teammate, which I think this can be held and addressed within the locker room and education be done, which is sorely lacking. So I'm going to burn Pep Guardiola's vacuous commentary on this. And I also want to burn the fact that people are pushing Black men to do the work on this. So I'm going to burn all of that. Jessica?
Jessica: Yeah. So Malcolm Gladwell has a new book called Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know About the People We Don't Know. According to his publisher, this is what the book is about, "Something is very wrong, Gladwell argues with the tools and strategies we use to make sense of people we don't know. And because we don't know how to talk to strangers, we are inviting conflict and misunderstanding in ways that have a profound effect on our lives in our world." I have not read this book, and I will not be reading this book. I shouldn't have to ingest harmful material and be harmed by it in order to wonder aloud if it needs to exist.
But my understanding from reading a ton of reviews is that he builds his argument in this book around psychologist Tim Levine's idea that we as members of a society have a "default to truth” that makes it so we have a hard time recognizing a liar and on the flip side, often recognizing people telling the truth.
Cool theory, much intellectual. In his Gladwell way, he argues his overall thesis by applying it to a whole host of different scenarios. And the problem with Gladwell, one of them, is that he delves into topics he doesn't know much about outside of the way a particular story can be twisted into fitting whatever pet theory he's trying to prove. In Talking to Strangers, that means that in at least two cases of sexual violence, he pushes aside what we know about campus sexual assault and about power structures and accountability in big time college football, a couple topics that I feel like I know a little bit about, to make dumb but also harmful arguments.
Okay, so stick with me here. So in a chapter on campus sexual assault, he focuses on the infamous Brock Turner case, often frustratingly referred to as the ‘Stanford Swimmer case.’ You'll remember it as a case where Turner was convicted of sexual assault for raping Chanel Miller when she was unconscious. Two witnesses intervened. Just a side note, Miller has recently disclosed her identity publicly and she has a new book called Know My Name.
So according to the New York Times book review of Talking to Strangers, Gladwell describes this assault thusly, "A young woman.", this is hard for me to even read, "A young woman and a young man meet at a party, then proceed to tragically misunderstand each other's intentions, and they're drunk." Holy shit. Who cares what else he has to say about any of this? That should be enough. But that leads me to his chapter on Sandusky and Penn State. Tom Ley, bless his heart, wrote about this for Deadspin, and we will link to this in the show notes. But I will warn you it's an incredibly hard thing to read and I found it very upsetting.
Gladwell uses the work of one John Ziegler to mainly make his case. And Ziegler is a conservative radio host who is also a die hard Paterno apologist who believes Sandusky is innocent. Yes, you heard all that correctly. Gladwell then compares the Sandusky case to the Nassar case in order to make some kind of argument that victims who remain close to their abusers are likely not victims at all, or some shit.
I honestly…it just hurts me. The excerpt that Ley gives for this bit has no true logic based on what we know about how common it actually is for abuse victims to remain friendly with their abusers. Ley writes, "Gladwell wants it known that Paterno and the other Penn State administrators can't possibly be held morally responsible for never bringing McQueary's story to the police, the original report. As Levine's theory demonstrates, they were simply acting like any rational human being would have. They were defaulting to the truth that Sandusky was a good and trustworthy guy rather than a potential pedophile.
Ley then explains all the information about the case that Gladwell glosses over to make his argument. And look, I get how seductive Gladwell’s writing is. This is why I'm spending so much time saying all of this. I read Outliers over a decade ago. I was taken in by it. He seems to make the complicated uncomplicated, and who doesn't want to uncomplicate things, especially in these moments? But that's bullshit, and especially when it comes to deeply difficult issues in our society like gendered violence. And I'm just going to give Tom Ley the last word here about this, words that will hopefully convince you that you're listening not to give Gladwell your money, "Gladwell is after nothing more than his own gratification here and the fact that he's willing to use two infamous sexual assault cases as rhetorical springboards tells you all you need to know about how shallow his well of ideas has gotten." Burn all of this, burn.
Shireen: Burn. Moving on to some happiness, which we so desperately need after that intense Burn Pile, I will start with honorable mentions. This week in tennis saw titles for multiple women. Naomi Osaka won the Toray Pan Pacific Open in Osaka, Japan, the city where she was born. Sofia Kenin won the Guangzhou International, claiming her third WTA singles title of the year. Karolína Muchová won her first career title at the KEB Hana Bank Korea Open in Seoul. Congratulations to winners of FIFA's Best Awards, including Megan Rapinoe, who won Women's Player of the Year, U.S. coach Jill Ellis, who won Women's Coach of the Year, Sari van Veenendaal of the Netherlands, who very rightly won Best Women's Goalkeeper.
Shout outs to FIFA Pro Women's World 11, Rapinoe and van Veenendaal, as well as Lucy Bronze, Nilla Fischer, Kelley O’Hara, Wendie Renard, Julie Ertz, Amandine Henry, Rose Lavelle, Alex Morgan and Marta. Seattle NHL team hired their first scouts and among them is former USA star and Hockey Hall of Famer Cammi Granato. She will be the first female pro scout in the NHL.
15,000 fans attended the final game of the season for the Ecuadorian Women's Football League. And that's amazing. England's legendary women's cricket player Sarah Taylor has announced her retirement. We wish you all the best, Sarah and bon courage and good luck to all the players, coaches and administration in the Jeddah Women's Football League, which is starting on October 4. Also good luck to all the women competing at the IAAF 2019 Worlds in Doha, including 41 year old Canadian grade three teacher Lyndsay Tessier, who actually finished ninth in the marathon. We have some results in the 10,000 meters. Sifan Hassan, the Dutch distance queen, took gold. Ethiopia's Letesenbet Gidey got silver and Kenya's Agnes Tirop got bronze.
Now, Ashete Bekere of Ethiopia won the Berlin Marathon in two hours, 20 minutes and 14 seconds. Berlin is one of the five major marathons in the world and historically has the fastest course. Bekere's country mate, Mare Dibaba, came in only seven seconds behind her. Now can I get a drum roll please? Amazing. That was amazing. Ruth Chepngetich of Kenya for winning the gold in women's marathon final at the IAAF Championships in Doha, Qatar in sweltering over 35 degrees (95 Fahrenheit!) Congratulations, Ruth. You are amazing. Now moving on to What's Good. What's good, Brenda?
Brenda: Oh, there's a lot, no, no, no, that's not true. I did have a rough, when I think about what's good in sports right now, in my usual sports, it's sad just because Messi is injured and boo. And I think Valverde doesn't know what he's doing at Barcelona. And so I have that frustration. What's good though related to my sports is the New Zealand thing still and the Rugby World Cup that Japan keeps winning, and I think that's so exciting. And the images, everyone just looks so happy. And then on top of it, another cool thing about the host country is I talked on last week's show about their beer consumption, but apparently they're also just giant eaters. And so the Japanese have had to overturn a rule that they had where you couldn't bring outside food. They had to let the rugby people bring in outside food. So the food ban has been lifted because of this voracious World Cup. First, there was the beer shortage problem. And now it's like food and I'm just like, also loving what must be the spectatorship there.
Jessica: We got to get Brenda to the World Rugby.
Brenda: I do! I do. Well the women's one is-
Jessica: The World Cup.
Brenda: Yeah, I'm ready. I got to get ready for by the time the women's one comes around in a couple years, I'm going to really know what I'm talking about. And then just finally, I have to say I love to the FIFA Best Awards, because ha ha ha ha, Ronaldo! Of course you're not the best player in the world! And I think it's amazing that he never puts Messi on his ballot. So let's talk about karma. How could you not put Messi on the top three? At least Messi puts Ronaldo. He's not like demented.
Jessica: So we know that? We know how they vote?
Jessica: Oh wow, okay.
Shireen: I'll actually link it to the show notes. You can see who voted, like one person from each team, usually the captain, except in the case of the U.S. because they're both, like co-captains were nominated. So Jill Ellis put in the ballot for them. But you can see who voted for whom.
Brenda: Yeah, it's amazing. So Messi picked my Mané, and then he picked Ronaldo second. Ronaldo didn't even put Messi on his ballot nor has he ever, so literally Ronaldo dug deep. He doesn't think that Messi has been one of the top three players in the world, ever! I love it. Of course he lost.
Shireen: I'll go next. I had an amazing time last weekend. The PWHP Dream Gap Tour of Women's Hockey, excellence! I got to go see a game, two games actually. It was a lot of fun. I went with Dr. Courtney Szto and Dr. Eun-Young Lee, who are my friends and hockey players and enthusiasts. It was incredible. I got to meet Hilary Knight. I gave her a decal. She was a little bit wary of me at first because I think it was a little bit enthusiastic. And rightly so. She's got a lot of fans and sometimes, it's important to be aware of who's coming at you so excitedly, but she was great. And she actually said she knew Burn It All Down because her teammate, former Les Canadiennes, Melanie Desrochers, who is a huge fan of the show. She talks about us in the locker room.
And I mean, just the fact that these incredible players hear about our show in the locker room really excites me. I got to meet Jessica Platt, who is a former Toronto Furies player and just was so excited to meet her and give her tons of decals, was really happy to represent. Something else that's happening in my life is I'm a TEDx Toronto speaker. And I'm really excited about that. It's going to happen October 26. I just found out that the whole conference is being hosted by Kardinal Offishall. I love Kardi, he's Toronto's Kardi. He's a legend. And I'm so, so excited.
I still will talk to him because I found the lyrics of the song with Akon dangerous, a little bit misogynist, so I will say this to him. But anyways, and the last thing I'm going to talk about, which has just personally given me a lot of laughs and jokes are our very own Dr. Amira Rose Davis' videos with her husband, Michael while they traveled through Europe. I'm literally dying with laughter because I follow them both. And then I'll see Amira's and then I'll see Michael's. And they're just hilarious, particularly because he called her his little croissant, and I just could not stop laughing. So thank you both for doing that. And on that note of love, I just finished reading Pride, Prejudice and other Flavors. It was written by Sonali Dev and it was gifted to me by Jessica Luther and I have never read romance before. And it was just a really wonderful, wonderful read by a South Asian author that I really appreciated. So that's pretty wonderful. Jess?
Jessica: Yeah, well Shireen reading a romance novel is what’s good for me. I have, I don't know, September's always such a busy time for me. So part of what's good is that I survived September, but I want to just give everyone a Jane The Virgin update. I've made it to the middle of the fourth season. I deeply love the show. I'm in, man. I wish it could go faster almost because I want to know sort of how it's all going to resolve. But I do, I just think it's one of the best written like…the storytelling is phenomenal. And Rogelio forever, right?
I did want to give a couple shoutouts to a couple of white dudes who have been making my life good this week. I'm in love with a podcast called Hit Parade that's hosted by a guy named Chris Molanphy. This is a music podcast, where he tells you why number one songs are number one at a certain period of time. And you get this amazing historical context that's both musical and cultural. And I just credit to Chris Molanphy because he's not a bro. And what I mean by that is that he is non judgmental about the music itself.
And so I just listened to an episode about Britney Spears and Swedish pop music and how these and Max Martin that producer and how these two things come together and there's just no judgment on his part about Britney Spears. It's music that people love and he's going to tell you why they love it and how it fits into that moment in time. The latest episode is about Rhythm Nation, which is one of my all time favorite albums and it's just brilliant and I learned so much listening to it, so Hit Parade. And then the other thing is Nice Try is a new book by friend of the show and my own personal friend, Josh Gondelman. And he is a comedian, he is lovely and the book is really about the difference between being nice and being good and his own personal journey moving from being a nice boy to a good man and what that means to do that and how he defines up for himself but he's also just very funny and earnest and the book is lovely, so Nice Try by Josh Gondelman has been, I literally am laughing out loud as I read it so I can't really, I do it in public, people look at me when I'm reading the book. So that's what's good for me.
Shireen: Awesome. That's it for this week in Burn It All Down. Although we are done for now, you can always burn all day and all night in our fabulous array of merchandise, which includes mugs, pillows, tees, hoodies, bags, and decals. What better way to crush toxic patriarchy in sports and sports media by getting someone you love or getting yourself a pillow with our logo on it? Burn It All Down lives on Soundcloud but it can be found on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Play and TuneIn. We appreciate your reviews and feedback so please subscribe and rate to let know what we did well and how we can improve.
You can find us on Facebook and Instagram @burnitalldownpod and on Twitter @burnitdownpod. 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. We would appreciate you subscribing, sharing and rating our show. It helps us do the work we love to do and keeps burning what needs to be burned. As Brenda always says, burn on and not out. On behalf of Jessica and Brenda, I'm Shireen. Thank you so much.