Episode 127: WOMEN’S SPORTS! A roundtable, the Jeddah Women’s League, and the IAAF World Championships
Buckle in this episode for lots of coverage of women’s sports!
This week, Lindsay, Shireen, Amira, and Jessica talk about California’s new Fair Play to Pay Act [6:04] before doing a roundtable on women’s sports that includes college volleyball and soccer, flat track roller derby, the WNBA finals, tennis, the NWSL, international friendlies, and even a little bit of hockey. [27:22] Then Shireen interviews Saudi Arabian soccer player Bireen Sadagah about the historic Jeddah Women's League. [41:37]
Finally, the gang talks about the IAAF World Championships that took place in Doha, Qatar, and other than the amazing athleticism on display, was quite the disaster. [51:10]
Of course, you’ll hear the Burn Pile, [1:02:46] an expansive Bad Ass Woman of the Week, starring Dalilah Muhammad, [1:08:13] and what is good in our worlds.
California did the right thing. Don’t buy into the NCAA’s propaganda: https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/california-did-the-right-thing-dont-buy-into-the-ncaas-propaganda/2019/10/02/21ed7b14-e531-11e9-a331-2df12d56a80b_story.htm
California Will Let NCAA Athletes Get Paid for Their Labor: https://www.thenation.com/article/ncaa-california-law/
New starting-block cameras censored at Doha championships after female athletes protest: https://edition.cnn.com/2019/09/30/sport/athletics-starting-block-camera-scli-intl-spt/index.html
Doha world championships ‘catastrophe’ leaves athletics reeling: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2019/sep/30/doha-world-athletics-championships-crowds-iaaf
Over 40 Percent Of Competitors Withdraw From World Championship Marathon Run In Sweltering Qatari Heat: https://deadspin.com/over-40-percent-of-competitors-withdraw-from-world-cham-1838568790
Qatar blame TV schedule and Saudi-led blockade for poor IAAF World Championships crowds: https://staging.insidethegames.biz/articles/1085390/tv-and-saudi-blamed-for-athletics-crowds
Caster Semenya Barred From 800 Meters at World Championships: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/30/sports/caster-semenya-world-championships.html
Regina family considers legal action after daughter didn't make high school football team: https://beta.ctvnews.ca/local/regina/2019/10/2/1_4621468.html
Simone Biles set to star at likely last world championships, fueled by snub: https://olympics.nbcsports.com/2019/10/03/simone-biles-gymnastics-worlds/
Inside TheMaven's Plan To Turn Sports Illustrated Into A Rickety Content Mill: https://deadspin.com/inside-themavens-plan-to-turn-sports-illustrated-into-a-1838756286
Sudan's first ever women's club football league begins: https://www.france24.com/en/20190930-sudan-s-first-ever-women-s-club-football-league-begins
Iranian female weightlifters to make history at IWF Worlds: https://www.tehrantimes.com/news/440150/Iranian-female-weightlifters-to-make-history-at-IWF-Worlds
St. F.X. swaps traditional homecoming football game for women's rugby: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/st-f-x-homecoming-women-s-rugby-1.5307928
Simone Biles Successfully Lands Triple-Double, Double-Double, Expected To Soon Be Named The Biles II, The Biles: https://www.teamusa.org/News/2019/October/05/Simone-Biles-Successfully-Lands-Triple-Double-Double-Double-Soon-Be-Named-The-Biles-II-And-The-Biles
Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce crowned the fastest woman in the world: https://edition.cnn.com/2019/09/30/sport/doha-world-championships-shelly-ann-fraser-pryce-spt-intl/index.html
Allyson Felix breaks Usain Bolt record for world titles, gets first gold as a mom: https://olympics.nbcsports.com/2019/09/29/allyson-felix-usain-bolt-world-championships-record/
St. Louis native becomes first U.S. woman to win gold in hammer throw at World Championships: https://www.ksdk.com/article/sports/st-louis-native-becomes-first-us-woman-to-win-gold-in-hammer-throw-at-world-championship/63-f01857c4-29f8-4682-8bdd-c373ce3c1173
Kenya's Obiri defends 5,000m world title: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-athletics-world-obiri/kenyas-obiri-defends-5000m-world-title-idUSKCN1WK0IS
REPORT: WOMEN'S DISCUS - IAAF WORLD ATHLETICS CHAMPIONSHIPS DOHA 2019: https://www.iaaf.org/competitions/iaaf-world-championships/iaaf-world-athletics-championships-doha-2019-6033/news/report/women/discus-throw/final and https://www.iaaf.org/competitions/iaaf-world-championships/iaaf-world-athletics-championships-doha-2019-6033/news/report/women/heptathlon/800-metres
Jessica: Welcome to Burn It All Down, the feminist sports podcast you need. I'm Jessica Luther, freelance journalist and author in Austin, Texas. On today's show, I'm joined by Shireen Ahmed, a writer, public speaker and sports activist in Toronto; Amira Rose Davis, an assistant professor of history and African American Studies at Penn State University; and Lindsay Gibbs, a freelance sports reporter in Washington DC. I want to start at the top of the show by thanking our patrons. Without your support, we would never be able to make Burn It All Down and, wow, do we love making this show. Thank you so much for helping us do this. If you'd like to become a patron, it's easy. Go to patreon.com/burnitalldown.
On today's show, we're going to have a round table on women's sports because there are so many things happening in women's sports right now. Shireen interviews Saudi Arabian soccer player Bireen Sadagah about the historic Jeddah Women's League. Finally, we will talk about the disaster that has been the IAAF World Championships in Doha, Qatar. Of course, we'll cap off today's show by burning the things that deserve to be burned, doing shout outs to women who deserve shout outs and telling you what is good in our worlds.
It would be wrong, I think, for Burn It All Down to not say anything about this beautiful new law in California called the Fair Pay to Play Act, which says that college athletes in California are legally allowed to be paid for the use of their image or name. This isn't the school paying them, let's be clear, just that schools won't get the money anymore for selling the names and likenesses of the athletes.
We've talked about shamateurism on this program multiple times. If you want our more in-depth thoughts about this topic, I'd check out Episode 48 in particular, but for now I just wanted a moment to celebrate what the NCAA ensures us will be the end of the NCAA, and good riddance, I say. What do you all think about the Fair Pay to Play Act? Amira.
Amira: I'm laughing at O'Bannon, like ha ha! When you say it's the end of the NCAA, like we're supposed to hang our heads and weep. A-ha, ha! Good riddance!
Jessica: I know. They keep acting like we should be sad at this funeral instead of celebrating.
Jessica: I know, it's funny. Shireen, what were you going to say?
Shireen: No, no worries. I think we should call it the Katelyn Ohashi rule. I feel like there's so much happening. This is a really great step. I love that expression that they think we should be crying at this funeral, like pay the players.
Jessica: Just let them be paid. It's really warped. Lindsay, what were you thinking when you saw this?
Lindsay: Yeah, it's just so funny, they're using all this fear mongering. They're saying, "Oh, the NCAA is so afraid now that every state's going to develop different rules." It's like, well, there is one thing the NCAA could do, which is just change-
Jessica: There's a way out of this!
Lindsay: ... its rules at the national level, which is going to end up being the only way out, which is what's so rewarding about this, right? It's pretty remarkable to see them backed into a corner in this way. We must say this doesn't go into effect till 2023. The whole point of having that long leeway is to hopefully get it so that the NCAA does make changes at its level before then, right, so that there's time to force these changes on a much broader scale, but I do think that's really important.
Look, if anybody might be new to this podcast and has heard this fear mongering narrative from men who have never cared about women's sports, but suddenly really care about women's sports because they say that ending amateurism will end women sports, this is something we talk about all the time on this show, which is no! That won't happen. This is going to be good for women, too.
Jessica: Yeah, wrong.
Lindsay: It's going to be great for women, too.
Amira: I just wanted to hype up Lindsay's articles on this from, what, one was last year?
Amira: One was two years ago.
Jessica: Thank goodness they exist.
Amira: They're always my go to. It's like, "Oh, I've seen you've just discovered Title IX in women's sports and all of a sudden have a worry about them. Well, here's this great article about how actually Title IX is not your shield for being terrible," so yeah.
Jessica: Yeah, thank goodness. That was the first thing, yeah, I tweeted them out this week because it was like-
Lindsay: I appreciate that guys.
Jessica: Yeah, it's such a frustrating conversation to have in sports media. It's good that we're having this and we even have a law that it looks like we are actually going to have change and we look forward to it.
Amira: Also, one of the biggest growing revenue sports in the college landscape is softball. I think that it's particularly important to think about ... and a lot of teams from the Pac-12 are very good at softball, but thinking particularly about women's sports and what we mean by saying this is good for them too, when we think about women athletes in college, especially in a revenue sport like softball, but also in Olympic sports, sports that…gymnastics, all of these once every four year sports creates a opportunity for them to cash in when they have institutions and the resources and training facilities and all of these amenities behind them that isn't there at the professional level. I think that that's really important to think about actually college athletics for women as a space, one of the last prime spaces that they have, of well-resourced, even if they're relatively less resourced than the men, but more resources than professional women athletes have a lot of time, so it's really important.
Jessica: Yeah. Yeah. We’re clearly fans of Fair Pay to Play, so we'll be keeping up with this, of course. I'm sure we will be talking about it again, but let's get into it.
In prepping for this week's show, I realized that there was just a ton of stuff going on in women's sports right now and there is just no way for us to cover it all, even though we'd like to. I thought we could each just talk a bit about a different thing that's happening in the world of women's sports right now. This will not be comprehensive by any means, but hopefully we'll cover more bases this way. Amira, why don't you get us started?
Amira: Sure. I wanted to take you very quickly a peek inside the world of college women's soccer, as well as volleyball, give you a little bit of where we are in the season and what's going down. I'll start with soccer. You have an interesting season. It's being dominated by some familiar teams, UVA, Stanford, UNC. BYU is the only undefeated team left, although UVA hasn't lost a game. They've tied too. The ACC is absolutely dominating women's soccer. This isn't a new thing, so there's not really surprises there.
The real exciting thing about this season is that every ... the Power Five is basically entering their conference weeks, so they're in the middle of playing conference games. This is really exciting because a lot of conferences are much closer than they might appear to be. If you take the Big 10, for instance, which is the conference I know most about, that's where Penn State plays, Penn State who's had a very disappointing season thus far.
It's not been a great year. They've started the season projected to win the conference. They started this season ranked in the top five in the nation. As of recording today, they're ranked 28th right now. They had a series of bad road losses back to back to back. It's been a really frustrating season because they're either blowing teams out or losing by one in triple overtime. About a quarter of their losses have literally come in double or triple overtime.
It's the line, and this is not just a Penn State thing, the line between a lot of these teams is so, so thin. For example, in the Big 10 that are in the middle of conference play and they will be in the next few weeks as they wrap up the regular season heading into postseason tournaments, the line between the top 10 teams is only a six-point separation between the number one team and the number 10 team in the Big 10. There's five of those teams are tied at six points. Wisconsin is topping the Big 10 at 12 points, but there's a lot of room for movement there, especially when you're all playing each other for the next two weeks.
The soccer season is far from over. It's been very exciting to watch Penn State play still, because like I said, a lot of the games are going down to the wire or you're there in multiple overtimes, but the talent of other teams coming in, I mean, Oklahoma State came in to play Penn State and absolutely just went, pushed them to double overtime. Now, that's a team rising in the polls that is having an out of the world season. I'm really excited to see what happens in the next few weeks in the soccer landscape.
Now switching over to volleyball, there's been a little bit more of a surprise element to the women's volleyball season. Of course, you have your mainstays, your dominant teams that have been dominant for years. Nebraska, Stanford, Penn State, Texas, Minnesota are all still interchangeably in some order the top five to 10 teams in the country, but we've also had a lot of excitement. You have teams like University of Pittsburgh, who came to State College and beat Penn State for the first time in 30 years. Also, UC Irvine was down two sets to number 11 ranked University of Hawaii and came back and beat them five sets to two and it was their first time beating them in 40 tries.
There's been some games that have absolutely been upsets, have been very exciting to watch, but by far the biggest surprise are the women's college volleyball season and most exciting is Baylor University. They are absolutely dominant. They are ranked number one for the first time in program history. It's been really fun because each time they rise in the rankings, they're setting a new record.
Last week, it was like, "They're number two. They're the highest seated in program history," and now they're number one! Just to give you a quick insight into how dominant they're being, they've won 19 sets in a row. Their record in just ... their set record this season is 36 in two. They're led by an absolute dominant phenom, Yossiana Anderson, I feel like is her last name, but I might be making that up ... oh, I was making that up. Yossiana Pressley from Baylor, who's a black woman, one of many black women who are leading these teams.
It's a very exciting season. If you don't know, this is the last tidbit I'll give you about women's college ball. Next to basketball and track where black women are over represented statistically on those teams, the number of black women on collegiate sports programs is really tiny. Usually, if they're 20% in women's track and basketball in almost every other sport, they're less than 3%. The one exception to that, the fastest growing sport for black women is college volleyball, where they make up 11% of teams. Women like Yossiana Pressley at Baylor, who is leading her team, are becoming more and more common feature of these ball teams. Also, like soccer, they're entering conference play. There's a lot of match ups of the number two, number three teams going against each other in the coming weeks and we're heading into the postseason. There's going to be a lot of explosive, exciting matches happening both inside in the court and out on the soccer fields.
Jessica: Thank you so much, Amira. That was awesome. Didn't you interview Penn State volleyball player about being a black woman on a volleyball team-
Amira: Yes, exactly. Yeah.
Jessica: ... for the ... yeah. What was her name?
Amira: Simone Lee, before she graduated.
Amira: Now we have a fairly young team, but we also have four black women on this team who are ascending. They're young, but they are starting to step in to leadership roles. They graduated three black women in, but how it's growing…It’s not like the team is all white now. That's something you couldn't say five, six years ago.
Jessica: Okay. Yeah, so if anyone listening is interested in that, you should go back and find Amira's interview with Simone to hear more about that. I always feel with college soccer and volleyball that I should be getting out there, watching the Longhorns. I haven't done it.
Amira: Well, especially their volleyball team is so good!
Jessica: They're so good in both of those sports.
Jessica: I know. I got to get down to Gregory Gym and actually check them out. I assume they'll play ... maybe they'll play Baylor again. Maybe I should make sure to get there for that. I'm going to talk about women's flat track derby. I know that we have a fair amount of listeners who care very much about the sport and participate in it. They're in the middle of their playoffs. Let me just give a little bit of background and then tell you guys where they are in the playoffs right now.
The WFTDA, the Women's Flat Track Derby Association, they have 460 member leagues on six continents, which is pretty amazing. The competitive season ran this year. It runs from February to June and then the International WFTDA Playoffs started earlier last month in September. The way that the playoffs work, the top four teams based on end of season rankings received automatic invitations in top seating for the championships, which are going to take place next month, November 15th to the 17th in Montreal.
The remaining 24 teams were split then into two groups of 12. The first group of 12 played an elimination style bracket in Winston Salem in early September. Then the final 12 did the same thing in Seattle a week later. What we ended up with in Winston Salem, the Angel City Derby took the top spot, followed by the Texas Roller Girls and the 2x4 Roller Derby.
Then, in Seattle, it was the Denver Roller Derby in first, Montreal Roller Derby came in second and the Philly Roller Derby came in third. All six of those teams will now move on to Montreal next month for the finals. We will get to see who wins the flat track roller derby's highest honor, which is the coolest, the Hydra Trophy, which is an amazing name.
The number two and three teams from the playoff brackets, they'll play into the main bracket and then you'll have these eight teams across three days battling it out to see who's going to win. There are a lot of matches on Friday, November 15th, then the semi finals and constellation matches on Saturday and then the third place and finals on Sunday, November 17th. There's also going to be a special match titled We Are Nation, a Game Without Borders, between Team Indigenous Roller Derby and Jewish Roller Derby taking place at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, November 14th.
We will have someone from Team Indigenous on Burn It All Down very soon. For more information, you can find out stuff at wftda.com/champs. You can check out wftda.tv to watch this stuff. Then, finally I wanted to give a shout out to derbyapex.com, which has that kind of commentary and content to learn more about the sport, these teams, players on the teams. Shireen, did you have something to add about roller derby?
Shireen: I did, just really quickly. Thank you for the shout out to Team Indigenous Rising, who we will have somebody on the show really soon. I just wanted to say that, thank you so much just for that round up. Sometimes I'm trying to figure out how it works. Just wanted to keep in mind that what Jess was talking about was the WFTDA. There are regional leagues separate to that.
Jessica: Yeah, there's so much roller derby.
Shireen: There's a lot of roller derby.
Shireen: Just in Toronto, I just recently learned that it's actually correlated to the roller derby scene in Toronto, which is pretty intense and awesome, is actually correlated to when the hockey rinks close down because they use those spaces. It's basically between April and September is when there's a really active derby scene here because it's correlated. I mean, there's all these kinds of things. Just in addition to that, just check your local scene and find out when your local leagues are playing too, because they could differ.
Jessica: That's awesome. Thank you, Shireen. Lindsay, I think you have some stuff going on. Do you want to tell us about? Where are you right now?
Lindsay: Hi. I am here in Norwich, Connecticut, which is very close to Uncasville, Connecticut, which is where the Connecticut Sun play basketball. I am here for the WNBA finals, covering the Washington Mystics for The Athletic. I'm really excited to be here. Right now, the series is tied one, one. By the time you all hear this, you will know the outcome of game three. We will know who has the edge headed into game four, which will also be in Connecticut. Then, if there's a game five, that will be on Thursday night in DC.
Unfortunately, the Washington Mystics have been hit by injury. Elena Delle Done, MVP, 50-40-90 herself, three minutes into game two went up for a layup, pulled her back and was out for the rest of the game with back spasms. The next day, was diagnosed with a small herniated disc in her back. It's pinching a nerve. We do not know if she is going to play the game today. She is questionable. The head coach, Mike Thibault, is certainly not optimistic that we would be seeing her today. To take a bad situation and make it worse, 23-year-old Ariel Atkins, who was just in her second season in the league, bent down to pick something up in her apartment on Thursday night and couldn't stand back up. She, too, is having back spasms-
Jessica: Oh, my God.
Lindsay: ... and is questionable. These are two starters for the Mystics that combine for a total of 43 points in game one, both having back issues. It's gutting for a lot of reasons. First of all, you just want everyone to be healthy, but head coach Mike Thibault is the winningest coach in WNBA history. This is his fourth time in the finals. His first time, his team was a little bit of an underdog. They were a very young team.
His second time, though, they seem to have a good chance to win. This was 2005, when he was actually the head coach of the Connecticut Sun, and Lindsay Whalen, his starting point guard, was injured. She was playing at far less than 100% during those finals. Of course, last year was his second time in the WNBA finals. We all know that Elena Delle Done suffered a right knee contusion in the semi finals. She did play in the finals, but she was at 70%, if best.
Just for him to be back here to have a team that has clearly been the best team in the WNBA all season long, for this to finally seem like a time when he can win his WNBA championship, and then add injuries, it's just gutting. I don't want to take anything away from Connecticut, because they are a phenomenal team and you know asterisks don't really exist, but it is just hard not to talk about the injury situation with the Mystics, especially for me as Mystics beat reporter.
The Mystics are trying to stay positive. Like I said, a lot of this will be out to date. We already know who played in game three and the outcome of that game when you all hear this, but just would like to burn injuries because they just suck. Hopefully, the Mystics are just hoping they could get out of Connecticut with one game and take it to a game five in DC and give people some time to get healthy, which is possible. We'll have to see. Anyways, no matter what, the games have been absolutely thrilling. Both game one and game two were very high scoring, very competitive. I'll definitely be tuning in and it's going to be fun to see how the season ends.
Also, I've been watching women's tennis, obviously. I have to say, I know we're going to talk a little bit about Naomi Osaka later in this episode and what she accomplished this week, but the match, she played Bianca Andreescu in the quarterfinals of the China Open this week. It was the first time seeing them really square off. It was such an intense and thrilling match. Osaka ended up snapping Andreescu's winning streak, which was up to 17 notches or something ridiculous like that. Osaka's now the only top 10 player Andreescu's ever lost to, which is just nuts. I think, just for me, it was just a thrilling moment. I just feel like the future of women's tennis is in such great hands with these two. I really do feel like this is a rivalry we could be seeing time and time again. It's just it's so much fun to watch.
Jessica: Yay. Thank you so much, Lindsay. That is exciting. I didn't even realize until you had brought it up, but that was something I should be paying attention to as a huge women's tennis fan. That sounds great. Shireen, why don't you talk to us about soccer?
Shireen: I will talk to you about soccer any day. We're going to start with the NWSL, which is in the middle of their playoffs, in the beginning. What we've got are the teams are all ranked, going into the playoffs. We've got North Carolina Courage up top, followed by Chicago Red Stars, the Portland Thorns, then Reign FC. As we get further down the list, the standings are not great.
It's also to keep in mind that a lot of the players for the league are actually away on international duty right now. There's a lot of international friendlies happening in Tokyo qualifiers. Just for example, Orlando Pride has done not great. They're actually last in the standings because they're missing key players. One could technically argue that about North Carolina Courage, but they're in first place. There's a lot of really interesting conversations to have about that.
I did, in truest Shireen form, text Meg Linehan and Stephanie Yang this morning and say, "What are your predictions, friends?" I love them and I think they're super smart and the most knowledgeable people about women's soccer in the country. Both of them actually said that they would probably see the Chicago Red Stars taking it all, which is…North Carolina Courage has been a dominant force in the NWSL and we loved seeing it. I also have a personal stake, because Stephanie Labbé plays there now, but I think it's really good to see this. I mean, I also love, love, love the Portland Thorns, who are currently in third. We'll see what happens.
There's a lot of conversation. I think this is really great to note, that Seattle Reign last year had made the playoffs the first time since like 2014 or 2015 because of their coach who had come in. Their fans are actually starting to rival the Thorn fans who are legendary. The Portland Thorns fans are actually legendary and the Seattle Reign, because Seattle and Portland, every time those two teams meet, it's just this incredible, eclectic, challenge of bodies and thrashing and physical soccer. It's just Tobin Heath everywhere, angry! And I just love it.
It's all these beautiful ... sorry I'm just getting so carried away. I need some water. It's just this really beautiful thing. I love that that's happening. I love that women's soccer culture is picking up and rolling. It's been there established for a long time in some places, but to see it growing and trying to emulate other starting places, even if it's facetious in nature, I don't care, as long as you all love soccer.
Anyway, the playoffs for NWSL are October 12th they start, October 20th, and then the final showdown is October 27th. Like I said, Meg and Steph have both said that they see Chicago doing really well, which I would actually really love to see because I don't think Sam Kerr has ever or will ever get the amount of props that she actually deserves. Australia did not have a great showing at the Women's World Cup in France, but I think she's incredible. She's beautifully supported by her team. There's a lot of cohesiveness. I'd like to see things being shaken up a little bit, so shake, shake!
I think it's also really great if we talk about international friendlies. I'm feeling a little bit raw this morning because I decided I wasn't going to get up at 1:30am and watch Canada play Japan. I know I love the Nadeshiko and I know they're fantastic and coming up and they are. The reason I'm glad I didn't wake up is Canada lost 4-nothing!
They didn't have a great showing either at the Women's World Cup, but it should be of no surprise to some people that, tactically, Japan is beautiful. They're working hard and they toil like no other. I'm happy for them, because I love them, but I'm also like, "Oh, my God, Canada." Just know on the US international scene or national scene rather, there was a goodbye for Jill Ellis recently. I just think that the players giving her her due props is also really important. I think she is actually a phenomenal, phenomenal player. There's some murmurings about who might take over her position. I'm interested in this a lot, as long as it's not Phil Neville. I'm really, really interested in who would take over.
I'm really happy to also tell you that Brazil beat England two, one, not because I don't love Ellen White, but because I cannot stand their insufferable coach, so happy to see that Pia Sundhage, who is now coaching Brazil, actually took over. Coaching matters a lot, y’all. I know that some people are out there with the impression, thinking that, "No coaching, it's the players…”
No. The players do what they need to do on the pitch. It's the coach that's strategizes, takes the time to assess the opponents and then put it into practice and into play. I love seeing Pia Sundhage. I think she's a phenomenal coach as well. For those that don't know who she is, she's a Swedish national who actually coached Sweden, then coached the United States before Jill Ellis and then she's taking over in Brazil now. From what I hear, they love her.
That's a little bit of that round up also, that in Europe the women's champs league is also begun. To be very honest, this analysis is very easy. We're just going to see Olympique Lyon just thrash everybody again. That's all we're going to see, Ada Hegerberg on the pitch surrounded by this beautiful gorgeous bunch of who I think are unicorns because they're fantastic. I know my friends in Germany are like, "No, what about Wolfsburg?" Yes, I hear you. I love you and props to you as well. You will definitely win Bundesliga again, but I'm sorry France Champs League, I'm predicting Lyon again. So! There was the soccer round up.
Jessica: Okay. Thank you all so much. I just learned a ton about things that I didn't know anything about and that's great. Before we dip out of this, I just want to mention women's hockey, because it's back. I highly suggest subscribing to The IX, spelled I-X, Newsletter if interested in following women's hockey this season, because friend of the show, Erica Ayala, does their Friday newsletter about hockey.
I know from last week's newsletter that the Swedish Women's Hockey League in the NCAA hockey has started back up. The Dream Gap Tour is still happening and the National Women's Hockey League is about to start. Just FYI, you can catch this year's National Women's Hockey League, this season's National Men's Hockey League on the streaming platform Twitch.
Up next, Shireen's interview with Saudi Arabian soccer player, Bireen Sadagah, about the historic Jeddah Women's League.
Shireen: Hello flamethrowers, it is Shireen here. I'm really, really excited to have our next guest on. Bireen Sadagah is with us from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Today is actually October 4th. We're recording super early for people in Eastern Daylight Time, because she's joining us today from Saudi Arabia, as today is the first day of Jeddah's Women's League. This is the first semi-professional women's football league in Saudi Arabia. It's a very big day. Bireen, how are you?
Bireen: I'm good. How are you, Shireen?
Shireen: I'm doing great. Just to give everybody a little bit of an idea, Bireen is actually a Saudi-born player. She's been playing football since she was three. She has played with the Arsenal Academy from 2008 to 2013 in Egypt. She also played for Wadi Degla, the first team in Egypt as well. Currently she is based in Saudi Arabia, and she is the section head of Trade, Finance and Treasury Accounting at a firm in Jeddah. Her favorite player is, rightly, Andrés Iniesta and Bireen is a striker. Bireen, so glad to have you on the show.
Bireen: It's good to be on the show. Thank you very much.
Shireen: Okay. Tell me a little bit about for people who are not familiar? A lot of what people hear about Saudi is that, "Well, women don't drive. How can they play football?" Can you explain where you played football and how you fell in love with the game?
Bireen: Well, first of all, everyone knows now actually women do drive since two years ago, so one thing off the list. Women can drive in Saudi Arabia. The second, I actually started playing football when I was very young. I used to watch the World Cup and then I just automatically fell in love with it. I saw the joy, the tears and everything. I felt like, "I want to be part of that. I want to learn that and I want to be that one day."
Shireen: What was your favorite World Cup team?
Bireen: Brazil! Always and forever.
Shireen: Ronaldinho have anything to do with it?
Bireen: Samba style.
Shireen: Yeah, that's awesome. When you were in Saudi, were there leagues for young girls for you to play in?
Shireen: Did you play on a boy’s team?
Bireen: No. In Saudi, when I was younger, I used to play at school, actually. I used to gather four or five girls from my class and we just used to play together during school hours, our breaks and lunch breaks. Then, on the weekends, I used to always go and play with my cousins. We used to go on the field, play there for seven hours every Thursday and Wednesday and that's it. This is how I learned football. I learned the basics of football, how everything is going, what are the fouls, all the rules. That was fun.
Shireen: When was the first time you played organized football for women?
Bireen: When I went to Egypt, it was the first time actually, because they had an academy. They had rules and policies and regulations for players, coaches, admins, all of that. It was kind of like a different world from what I used to play. Actually, I learned a lot, experience-wise, health-wise, education-wise, even like recovery-wise. Everything was there for you to understand. It was very informative and educational.
Shireen: That's awesome. I think that, in football, there is a position that just really resonates with you. For you, you love scoring. You love being a striker. What specifically about that position drew you to it?
Bireen: It's the joy, the joy of scoring, the joy of seeing how the goals reflect on your teammates, on your coaches, scoring the winning goals, all of this, the thrill itself. It's something nice actually, when you know that you help the team to win, you help the team to achieve the win or the tournament. It's nice to be part of that.
Shireen: For sure. I think that you're very well-suited to that. Do you want to tell me a little bit about Jeddah's Women's League? Tell me a little bit about how did this come to be? How long has this been in the works?
Bireen: Well, let's go further back. Since I came back from Egypt in late 2013, my sister and I were like, "We need to do something. We cannot stay and not be active. We have to establish a team. We have to look for girls. We have to teach the girls. We have to share the knowledge that we got from Egypt." Then, we started the team. Then, we gathered, at the beginning, we were around seven girls. Then, now my team is called Jeddah Eagles Ladies Football Club. Now we're almost 37 girls on the team.
Shireen: Wow. That's just one team?
Bireen: Yeah, that's just one team. We used to play friendly games with other teams. In Jeddah, we have around nine teams now. When we actually play friendly games, we actually felt bored, like, it's always a friendly game. We need competition. We need to enhance ourselves. We need to feel the competitiveness and how it feels to win something at the end of the season. We gathered with all the other teams in Jeddah and we actually put it on the table, like, come on, guys. Let's do something. Let's make a change. Let's be the change. That's how Jeddah Women's League was born.
Shireen: Where did you find all these women and from what ages are the players?
Bireen: The ages actually varies. We have from 15 until 33 years old.
Shireen: Okay. Where did you find everybody?
Bireen: Actually, it's a word of mouth, you can say, Shireen, actually. When you go there, you play, you enjoy the game. You actually tell your friend, "Come on, let's try this. I had fun playing football. It's something new. It's something different." Here in Saudi, most girls, they only play volleyball and basketball. No one actually really plays football because they have the concept of football's only for men. I think we actually changed that thought.
Shireen: That's amazing. That's really, really important because, like many other places in Saudi, football is a huge passion for people to watch and stuff. I think that having this opportunity is wonderful. Was there a lot of support from community and from even local government to be able to set up Jeddah Women's League?
Bireen: Of course. We had support from the government and from private companies. Everyone was very excited because now it's a woman's time in Saudi, especially with the vision of the country, which is 2030. Everyone actually supports women to be empowered, be inspired and to make the change, because they saw how women started from scratch and how they actually became well-known and that they have their own vision and how to empower other women. It was very nice. It was very good. They were very supportive in that.
Shireen: Set us up a little bit for the scene. Do you play outdoors or do you play in indoor stadiums? Can people watch? Can young girls see you playing?
Bireen: Yeah. For the league, it's an outdoor, it's a 9v9 field. Everyone can actually come and watch the game. We have created a link for the audience to come. It's for free. Everyone's welcomed, however, men are not allowed. It's only females and children up to 12 years old.
Shireen: Yeah. That's so great that they'll be able to see you playing, these young girls, and be able to. Even I think we don't realize that young boys watching, it helps change their mindset also. I really hope that you get, all the stands are filled with just beyond family. One question, how big is the city of Jeddah, just so our listeners can understand, to have nine teams? How big is the city?
Bireen: Well, the city is very big actually. It's-
Bireen: Population-wise? Over, I think, two million.
Shireen: Wow. I mean, even to have nine teams within that, it's pretty good to have that many. That's what I'm saying.
Bireen: It's pretty good, of course. Most of the girls, they started when they heard that the league was around the corner. Some girls, they gathered each other and even though they play a different sport, but this is something good. Athletes are supposed to play different sports, athletes are supposed to understand, to have sportsmanship, to understand how football works. Basically, all of the sports, they need people who are flexible, who are intelligent, who can actually do a lot of coordination with their legs, hands. They have to think with the eye coordination and all the other reflexes. It's actually something good. We can build a future for the younger generations.
Shireen: What's the dream for the Women's League? What are you looking forward, to have like a hundred teams? What's the vision?
Bireen: The vision of Jeddah Women's League, actually it's people, to the young ladies actually, to be brave, to try something new, to understand that sports, it's supposed to be part of your life. It's supposed to be a part of your daily activities.
Shireen: That's excellent. I think that anytime there's a place that's expanding the game and growing the women's game is really important. Are the officials, the referees and linespeople, they're all women as well?
Bireen: Exactly. As for the league, we have our referees. The referee and the assistant referee are all females. We also have a medical team. The medical team consists of physios, nurses, EMS and physicians.
Shireen: Oh, wow. They're all female?
Bireen: Yeah, all female.
Shireen: Well, that's amazing. I think that that's really important.
Bireen: They're all volunteers, so this is something very important. We appreciate everyone out there that are supporting us, because they're doing this voluntarily. It's something very good, that there is good in people and they want to improve and they want to be part of the sports community.
Shireen: Yeah, I think that's wonderful when you're growing the game, not just for players, but for coaches, for officials giving an opportunity for people to get involved in the game.
Bireen: Exactly. This is what we are planning, that everyone to be part of something, everyone to be good at something, everyone to learn and to share this experience.
Shireen: I mean, I'm so happy to hear that. This is the first time in Saudi Arabia there's been something like an organized league for football?
Bireen: Yes, yes. This is the first, well, we call it the first edition for now…Our next plan is actually to play an 11v11 field. We're just hoping for this to be successful, the results and the feedback from everyone. As I told you earlier, the feedback from everyone, from the government, to the small companies, to the media, the journalism, everyone is happy and they're very supportive, even not only in Saudi Arabia, but also in the Middle East. We got supporters from Emirates, we got supporters from Kuwait, we had supporters from Lebanon, we had supporters from Egypt. Everyone is very happy because they see that we are making the change. This is something very wonderful.
Shireen: Are your players only from Saudi Arabia or can they be from anywhere in the Middle East?
Bireen: No, no, no, of course. Everyone is welcome to join any team, no nationalities, no age difference. Everyone is allowed to play. We have academies that teach football for beginners. It's something nice for them to feel like there's no difference between one another. We're all the same. We're all learning football and they're enjoying it.
Shireen: That's amazing. I just wanted to wish you luck. I know you're really busy today because you have to go in the ... who's your first match against?
Bireen: Our first match is against the White Lions. Yeah, it's going to be…
Shireen: Are they 45-minute halves?
Bireen: No, no. We're going to play 30 minutes. Yeah.
Shireen: Well, I wanted to wish you the best. You've got supporters and people that are cheering for you from this side of the world and just-
Bireen: Thank you very much. Thank you.
Shireen: ... congratulations on all of this. We hope it really goes well. I can't wait to keep hearing about it. Where can people find out more about Jeddah Women's League?
Bireen: You can follow our accounts on Instagram and on Twitter. We actually are very active and we post all of the details of the league, whether the schedules, the results, halftime, full time, everything. Everyone can follow us and see the results and how the league is going.
Shireen: That's awesome. I wish you all the best.
Bireen: Thank you very much. Thank you.
Shireen: I hope this grows, inshallah. I just wanted to thank you very much for being on Burn It All Down.
Bireen: Thank you for having me. Thank you very much. I know it's pretty early at your time. I really appreciate the sacrifices, even though I know it's almost the weekend for you guys! Thank you very much.
Shireen: No, no, it's a pleasure to have you on. I'm so excited to help amplify Jeddah Woman's League. I think this is, it's groundbreaking and it's part of football history. In addition to enjoying and winning, you should be very, very, very proud. Take care and good luck with today.
Bireen: Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you so much.
Jessica: I want to talk about the IAAF World Championships. This is track and field. I don't really necessarily want to talk about the feats of athleticism, but more the failure of the event itself. Shireen, will you get started?
Shireen: Absolutely. Where do I begin with this gong show of fuckery in Qatar? I do not have a lot of wonderful things to say, other than some of the really beautiful people I know who are from Doha and who reside in Doha, but let's not talk about that. Let's talk about the powers that be who are men who make decisions about things, including using indentured servitude to create stadiums for the 2022 Men's World Cup.
I'm getting to the track and field championships. I don't know who thought holding a marathon or holding these championships when it’s like 35 to 40 degrees Celsius at midnight was a great plan. I mean, that's the first place I'm going to step off of. Last Sunday, the women's marathon had more than half of the women pull out from competition because it was just too humid.
I think this is really interesting, that normally we don't see a lot of ... we don't see in media, it doesn't mean it's not there, but we don't see a lot of criticism of organized events. But a famous marathoner, Haile Gebrselassie, actually criticized them for having it there and sort of saying, this is a world champion, that having it there was irresponsible and "reckless," I believe was a word she used.
I think this is something that's really, really important to talk about. I think in addition to many other things, one, Caster Semenya is not in Doha defending her world title. We all know why that is. If you want to go back through our past episodes, we talk about Caster a lot on the show and are in solidarity with her at Burn It All Down.
I think that there's other issues, and we will talk about this a little bit in detail, in terms of the way that the actual events are being rolled out and presented by IAAF Media. In one of them, it was a story that wasn't reported on their own blog, because I follow that. It was actually reported in media that the starting blocks for the female runners, female athletes, they had requested that they turn off the cameras because the starting blocks have cameras.
Now, if anyone's unfamiliar with the way an athlete starts to run in track and field competition, they're literally bent over the starting block in a ready position and you know, in tiny shorts. All the power to women that wear what they want to, but I don't know if I would feel comfortable with a camera literally up my wahoo as I'm like bent over. I just don't ... I totally understand how that would not make people happy.
The excuse used, the defense that, "Well, it helps them decide their form," let them do that in training. Make them as comfortable, because the last thing you want these athletes that give their all, they absolutely give their all to train, is to feel uncomfortable and body-conscious. It's clearly a man who made this ridiculous, vacuous decision. I'm so mad about this. I didn't know this was turning into a massive burn pile, but anyways, it is what it is.
Jessica: Well, yeah. I mean, you think about the moment a runner gets up to the blocks and all the things, they probably have a pretty in-depth checklist that they're going down mentally to get ready for the gun to go off. Then, the idea that you're then thinking about whether or not your crotch is getting shot is a hell of a thing. Lindsay?
Lindsay: Yeah. I mean, this whole thing is just, it's really bonkers. Is that a word? I don't know what to say. I was reading really interesting stuff about how they are…They have all this air conditioning blasting in the stadium itself, but of course not outside. So first of all, this does not sound like it's a green event, climate-wise. They're creating these own internal climates, but then the players are having to take extra accommodations to make sure they don't get sick because of all the temperature changes their bodies are going through, like going from outside where it's so hot.
Then, of course you can't air condition the entire outdoors, though I'm sure they've tried. The marathon is, as we've talked about, starting at midnight and players are dropping like flies out of the marathon because it's outdoor racewalking. I read the men's record was something like 30 minutes off of world record pace, the leader was in this, because of the heat.
None of this is in the best interest of the athletes. That's what's just so ridiculous. I mean, this is about who paid the most money to the IAAF. At the end of the day, this isn't good for the athletes. It doesn't seem to be good for the sport. It seems to be good for lining the pockets of the people in charge. I think it's tough. It's tough to see all of this going down. I don't know, I just can't stop thinking about the marathoners and the racewalkers and all of that air conditioning. I don't know. I just can't. I can't really stop thinking about all of it. It just kind of seems surreal.
Jessica: Yeah. The IAAF World Championships, they happen every two years. They're the third biggest…We talk about mega events a lot on the show, right? This is the third biggest one that gets put on. I mean, it's a huge deal. Amira, what are you thinking about all this?
Amira: Yeah. Just to piggyback off what you were saying, it's one of the major events. We have to say, this is the kind of coming out party for Qatar, who is hosting the 2022 World Cup. A lot of the complaints will feel similar. The attendance of people, there's pictures. If you look at the stadiums, there's nobody there! The numbers they're giving out are clearly cooked, because they're like, "70% full," and you can literally play a game, can you find a row of people?
I think that's a concern. I think concerns that have been raised before in terms of the World Cup are also applicable here. This is a place that is largely subsidized and supplemented by migrant laborers who are toiling in this heat to build these large structures to court these international sporting events. It's very hard to watch the buildings that the track events are occupying without thinking of how many migrant workers have lost their lives or had their movement restricted or whatever because they're getting ready to pour all of this international sporting money, in the terms of both these World Championships and in the future of the World Cup.
I find it really troubling. It's so hard, because you have that duality like you do with a lot of mega sporting events, where the behind-the-scenes curtain, how the sausage gets made, that makes you really sick. Then, you have wonderful athletic achievements happening in front of your face that make me weepy-eyed and happy. I think that that's kind of what, the world champs fell into that category for me. I don't know. I don't have any answers. I just think that acknowledging that you're kind of sitting in that, you're dwelling in that duality, if you will, that that's about where I'm at.
Jessica: Yeah, it's such a ... I mean, if you haven't seen them, you should go look at the pictures of the empty stadium and to think about that this is the third largest sporting event in the world, that these athletes train incredibly hard to get here and then they win. There were world records that were being set and there's no one there to cheer them on.
Then, it's just also basic dumb shit. There was a gold medal for Qatar in the high jump, the men's high jump on Friday. Then, the sound system failed in the stadium. They had to delay it until today, Sunday. He'll finally get his medal ceremony. The fans that were actually there to see the hometown guy were leaving, because they were so frustrated because they didn't know whether or not the medal ceremony was going to happen.
I mean, just from, again, the marathon pictures…As someone married to a marathon runner who, he's out there right now running in 95 degree heat and he's kind of been a mess this summer. I can't imagine what it means to be failed so entirely by the organization that is supposed to be helping you out. We've talked a lot about the way that IAAF history, the Caster Semenya, and this seems to be like this blown up version of just, like Lindsay said, how they don't care about that.
Amira: Their blatant disregard, yeah.
Jessica: Yeah. It's just such a disappointment. Last thing I'll say, the next one will be in 2021. It'll be in Eugene, Oregon. The University of Oregon's Hayward Field will host the event. It's being almost completely rebuilt to have a 30,000 person capacity. Of course, the person paying for that is Nike founder, Phil Knight. I'm sure we'll have something to say in 2021 about the IAAF World Championships.
Okay, now it's time for everyone's favorite segment that we like to call the Burn Pile, where we pile up all the things we've hated this week in sport and set them aflame. Amira, do you want to get us started? What are you burning?
Amira: Yeah. I want to burn the way the way FIG, the International Gymnastics Federation, specifically the Women's Technical Committee, has rated Simone Biles' beam dismount. If you recall, a few months ago, a few weeks ago, I don't remember when, I talked about how she did this beam dismount in the effort to lead to it to be named after her. The ratings came out of it, and not to get super technical with gymnastics ratings, but basically the long and short of it is that they devalued it extremely much. They made it…so much. When the announcement was made, Simone retweeted it and said, "hahahaHAHAHAHAHhahaHahaAhahAhahahaAhahahHAHAahaaaaaaaHa bullshit" and she was completely right.
Jessica: Oh, wow!
Amira: After people online heard of how they were classifying it, which is basically they were classifying a double-double, just slightly more difficult…So basically, she, after the backlash to their announcement on Twitter, among other things, the WTC decided to come out and clarify why they rated her move so low. They basically said, "Part of what we were considering is that, if other gymnasts attempt to do it, they're going to hurt themselves."
Think about what they're saying, "Because other people aren't as good as you. We're going to devalue that move that you're doing," instead of, I don't know, dinging points off of the execution score of gymnasts who try for big power moves that they can't hit. Like what? They're penalizing her for being so good! Simone, to her credit, completely gets that. She said, quote, "Am I in a league of my own? Yes! But that doesn't mean you can't give me credit for what I'm doing," yes, Simone, exactly, I stan a confident, correct and champion queen.
Absolutely ridiculous. They're basically penalizing Simone for being so beyond what other people can do. It's important to note that she's cautious herself. She doesn't go into throwing really difficult moves. She's on record talking about how her coach has to convince her that she's ready to attempt some of these moves. It just feels like just another way that she's being policed within the sport that has clearly doesn’t know what to do with the problem that is Simone Biles and who can't deal with the fact that she's wiping the floor with everybody all the time! Just get used to it, because she's fucking great. I don't know what else to say besides value her more, value her moves correctly. I want to burn this down.
Jessica: Okay. Lindsay, what do you want to torch?
Lindsay: I want to torch Penny Toler and everything that's happened with the Los Angeles Sparks recently. Penny Toler is the general manager or was the general manager of the Los Angeles Sparks for the WNBA. She was relieved of her duties last week after an ESPN report by Ramona Shelburne revealed that, in the playoffs in the semi-final series against the Connecticut Sun in which the Connecticut Sun won three to nothing, Toler went on an obscenity-laden rant that included the N word and other charged insults.
Now, Toler herself is a black woman, so the first thing I would like to burn is any comparison that this is like anything Donald Sterling ever did because that is just a very false equivalence here. However, I think that it is clear by the players that talked to Ramona Shelburne that the way that Toler was behaving was making them feel uncomfortable and undervalued and disrespected and that she had, I think it's safe to say, lost the good faith of the players who worked under her.
First, I would like to burn that and the fact that Toler ... this wasn't an isolated incident. It doesn't seem like Penny Toler was fired just for this one report, but that this had been something that have been brewing behind the scenes, both due to the way she had been treating players and due to some of her decisions. I think if you look at that roster, they've not done a good job of maximizing Candace Parker and Nneka Ogwumike to MVP players.
She also, earlier this year when Riquna Williams, when the Sparks decided to reassign Riquna Williams after Riquna Williams had been arrested for domestic violence, Penny Toler never came out and talked to the press about that decision. She didn't talk about why Williams was staying on the team, why the team itself wasn't issuing any suspension. It was the WNBA who issued Williams a 10-game suspension.
She also did not publicly come forward after hiring Derek Fisher, the head coach during the off season. Derek Fisher is somebody who had absolutely no women's basketball coaching experience, period. I think it's good that the Sparks are moving on, but I don't think that Derek Fisher should get out of this all unscathed either. This is a man who knew so little about women's basketball, but he didn't know that women, according to this ESPN report, he wasn't aware that women usually practice against men. There's usually a male practice squad, which is just common knowledge. He should know these things.
I just think there's a lot in this about how the players would come to him with ideas about offensive plays and he would completely ignore them. He would keep just preaching effort and execution, but never really evolving their offense. Look, I think it is good that somebody has finally stepped up to make changes in the Sparks. I'd like to burn Penny Toler's treatment of the players and I'd like to burn the fact that Derek Fisher was given this job and that he seems to be continuously employed despite this season. Burn.
Jessica: Okay, I'm going to go next. I'm going to be quick. I am really sad about Sports Illustrated. This week, their new ownership and management laid off half! yes, half! of the staff. They will be replaced most likely by a bunch of freelancers and bloggers to create capital C content for the site. Sports Illustrated is now owned by the Meredith Corporation, a media conglomerate which sold SI's licensing rights to Authentic Brands Group, what a name! And handed over editorial control to the dumb single worded ‘TheMaven.’
Before the layoffs began on Thursday, SI staffers circulated a memo begging Meredith and Authentic to, quote, "Save the future of the storied title." The staffers fear what will happen to SI once TheMaven, again that's one word, takes over. One of the new TheMaven executives is Ross Levinsohn, who was forced out of the LA Times as that paper's publisher in 2017 after allegations of sexual harassment.
In March 2018, Levinsohn was the focus of an NPR investigation when he was the CEO of the digital division at Tronc. Like who names these things? God. It had a lot to say about his shady business practices, many of them with his partner at TheMaven, James Heckman. There's literally a subheader in the NPR article titled Partying As a Strategy, so cool.
According to a comprehensive piece at Deadspin, about everything that went down at Sports Illustrated over the last few months, and especially this last week, quote, "TheMaven wants to build out a network of SI-branded Maven team communities that will drive traffic through a combination of cynical SEO ploys, news aggregation and low paid and unpaid labor."
Fuck all of this. It's not that SI is some perfect paragon of sports media, certainly not, but you could count on it for good analysis and in-depth investigative journalism. I, myself, wrote two major pieces for them over the years. One was the only national piece on the Vanderbilt football rape case. The other was my co-authored piece with Jon Wertheim last year about sexual harassment and the business operations of the Dallas Mavericks.
I'm sad for the people who lost their jobs this week. I'm sad for what will come with SI and I'm sad for sports media business generally right now. I just want to burn all of this. Burn.
Jessica: All right. Shireen, what are you burning?
Shireen: I want to say thank you to my friend and colleague, sports reporter Claire Hanna of CTV Regina for actually tipping me towards the story. Her colleague, Stef Davis in Regina, reported on this, but I'm going to burn the stories about Hannah Ounsworth, who is a grade 12 student at Dr. Martin LeBoldus High School in Regina. She was essentially cut, but not even given an opportunity to play on the boys football team.
Now, basically what happened is Hannah is an experienced football player and wanted to try out. She's 5'10", 150 pounds. She had been training in the offseason. She approached the coach and said there's a tremendous culture, she and her two younger sisters played football. I mean football, actual football, not soccer. Her parents also attended that high school and understand and appreciate the culture around it.
The coach, John Ford, his name, said, "Well, I'm just going to refer you to elite women's tackle," and she did. She went and played a season there, did really well, but she still wanted to represent her school. There is no opportunity for a women's team. There's not enough girls to make a girls team, sorry, at the high school.
In most provinces, the rule is that there's not, in school boards rather, if there's not a girls team offered, a student can try out for the boys team and vice versa. If there's no sport that has enough people to create a boys team, they can try out for the girls team, whatever, to not as to discriminate. Anyways, she tried out. She had been working out.
This coach, Ford, set her up to play nose tackle. The assumption is, is that, not assumption, it's just that they felt, the Ounsworths felt that they set Hannah up to fail. For those that don't know, and I didn't know this, nose tackle is predominantly played by one of the biggest players on the team. They set her up to fail, so they could later argue she couldn't match up physically. Then, Coach Ford said she didn't make the roster because they only take 46 players, whereas last year and the year before and the year before, there was 50 or 51 players on the roster.
It's just excuses are getting minimal. Hannah and her family have actually registered a human rights complaint and are actually considering legal action. According to Hannah, she's doing this for the girls that will come after her and want the opportunity to play. I want to burn those ridiculous, devastatingly stupid excuses from John Ford. That's not good enough. I want to burn the systems that keep women from doing what they're good at. I want to burn those decisions that are made by men that effectively prevent and exclude women from playing what they love. Burn.
Jessica: After all that burning, it's time to celebrate some remarkable women in sports this week with our Badass Woman of the Week segment. Like I said, warning up front, women have been doing a lot of things this week, so get ready. First up, our honorable mentions. Sandy Lindsay and Rimla Akhtar were appointed to the Rugby Football League Board of the UK.
Congrats to Rutgers University coach and basketball Hall of Famer C. Vivian Stringer, who was the first African-American woman to receive the John R. Wooden awards, Legends of Coaching honor. Sudan football scores a major win with its first women's football club league that has 21 teams. Good luck to all the players, coaches and staff involved.
Shout out to the Iranian weightlifters who participated in the International Weightlifting Federation, IWF, World Weightlifting Championships for the first time ever. It was only two years ago that the Iranian Weightlifting Federation announced that women weightlifters could officially compete in the sport. For 65 years at St. Francis Xavier University and Ingonish, Nova Scotia, homecoming weekend always featured the men's football team. Not this year. The six-time national champion women's rugby team took center stage during the primetime slot on Saturday afternoon against rivals Acadia University. They beat Acadia 57 to 12. Sammy Nadeau was player of the match.
As Amira mentioned, Simone Biles, she's amazing. She performed two new skills during the women's qualification round at the FIG World Championships in Stuttgart, Germany over the weekend. She did a triple twisting double back flip, known as a triple double, in her floor exercise. Then, when dismounting the balance beam, Biles did a double twisting double back flip, known as a double-double. The first will be known as Biles Two and the latter as The Biles. This means that Biles will now have four different skills named after her.
Naomi Osaka won the China Open, defeating the Canadian sensation Bianca Andreescu in the quarterfinals. Last year's China Open winner Carolina Wozniacki in the semi finals and number one ranked Ash Barty in the finals. South Korean golfer, Mi Jung Hur, won the Indy Women in Tech Championship, her second LPGA title of the year.
Now I'm going to do it. I'm going to try to recognize as many women as I can from the IAAF World Championships because we talked about them, but we didn't actually talk about all the athletic feats. Forgive me if I leave someone out, but also stick with me as I run through this. Okay, here we go. Jamaica's Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce won the hundred meters in 10.71 seconds, her fourth World Championship title. She gave birth to her son only two years ago and is once again the world's fastest woman. Fraser-Pryce went on to win gold as part of the 4 x 100 meter Jamaican relay team.
Dina Asher-Smith, a British sprinter, won the 200 meter after getting silver in the 100. Salwa Eid Naser from Bahrain took the gold in the 400 meters, winning in 48.14 seconds. Halimah Nakaayi won Uganda's first ever 800 gold medal. In fact, Uganda had never even had a finalist in the 800 meters at the World Championship. Kenya's Hellen Obiri defended her 5,000 meter title, winning in 14 minutes, 26.72 seconds.
Dutch runner, Sifan Hassan, completed an unprecedented 1,500 meter, 10,000 meter double gold, never done before in athletics history, in the 1,500 meters, which is not quite a mile in distance. She obliterated the championship record, running a three-minute 51.95 second time, the sixth fastest in history. American, Allyson Felix, won a gold in the mixed gender 400 meter relay, breaking her tie with Usain Bolt for the most gold medals in World Championship history. Felix now has 12. She is a new mom. Her daughter was born last November, 10 months ago. We talked about Felix recently on the show because she came forward about how Nike has very poor policies around pregnant athletes and now look at her.
Okay, we're still going. DeAnna Price became the first US woman to win the World Championship Gold Medal in hammer throw. Gong Lijiao of China won the shot put title. Yaime Perez from Cuba took gold in the discus throw. Venezuelan, Yulimar Rojas, won her second consecutive World Championship title in the triple jump. Katarina Johnson-Thompson from Britain won the heptathlon with 6,981 points, breaking Jessica Ennis-Hill's British record and beating the silver medalist by a whopping 304 points.
You must now be thinking, "Who could possibly be the last one of the week?" Can I get a drum roll, please? Okay, it was very hard. This was a hard choice this week, but it's so deserved. Our Badass Woman of The Week is Dalilah Muhammad, the American 400 meter hurdler. She has broken her own world record again. She clocked a time of 52.16 seconds, which was just faster than her 52.20 that she set in July. The previous record, the one she set in July, was 16 years old when she did that and she's now bested herself. That's remarkable. Shout out to Sydney McLaughlin, who got silver and a time of 52.23, which was McLaughlin's personal record and makes her the second fastest ever runner of the 400 meter hurdles behind Muhammad.
Okay, let's do some What's Good before we get out of here. Amira, what's good with you?
Amira: Yeah, seeing my kids again. I just got back from research in Switzerland and then Paris and London. I had a wonderful time with my husband and at the archives. I found picture, photograph that I've been looking for for multiple years for the book. That was really, yeah, it was a huge breakthrough. It was very exciting. It was all around a really good trip. There's nothing like coming home and getting those hugs from the kids. Then like after 15 minutes, yo, parenting…
Amira: ... is mad hard.
Amira: Space is something I would need! It's barely happened, and we hit the ground running. It's wedding season still, so I'm solo parenting and they're just all on me. It's a lot. It's a lot, a lot. I'm really happy that we got to do that. I'm looking forward to fall, because it's here.
Jessica: Awesome. Well, we're glad that you're back, even though we did enjoy your Instagram stories, as we talked about last week on the show. Lindsay, what's good with you?
Lindsay: I have had quite the week as some of you know. Yeah, what's good is that I am in person covering the WNBA Finals and that worked out time-wise for me to be able to do this. Last week, I got to go home very quickly for a wedding celebration for my cousin. Her wedding had been in the Czech Republic, so I had missed that. It was great to be able to briefly celebrate with family about her happy day.
In between a lot of drama this past month, there have just been so many great moments and really holding on to that as I kind of figure out what my life is going to look like after the WNBA Finals end. I'm really, I think, excited for the future and just really grateful that shit happens, but just overall, there's just really ... I don't really have any room to complain. That's a pretty good feeling.
Jessica: Well, I'm excited for what's coming next for you as well. What's good for me, as Amira said, that it's fall. I hear what you're saying, Amira, and I don't totally believe you.
Amira: I know.
Jessica: Tomorrow, this is actually what's good for me, I wrote this down, tomorrow, we're supposed to be I think in the low 80s, which will be the first time that we have been in the 80s since probably May. We have been in the 90s and triple digits since then. We have not at night dipped into the 60s since then. This week, we're supposed to get our first 70s and 80s and then at night into the 60s, maybe even to the 50s in the next week, which will be a hell of a turnaround for us. I mean, it's been lows of 75 for months now.
September was the hottest September we've ever had, so I'm just really excited about possibly opening the windows or maybe going for a walk. I have forgotten what those things are like, to live in that weather. Then, the other thing that's good for me this week is I'm going to go see my friend Mobley, who I've talked about on the show. He's a musician. He's playing a concert later this week and I am excited to see that. I get to stand outside in the nice weather, so it all comes together for me. Shireen, what's good for you?
Shireen: I just wanted to apologize to the world, because last week, as I talked about the Dream Gap Tour that I attended, I actually forgot to mention that I had a photo and met Marie-Philip Poulin. I think I wanted to keep it the best for last and that I forgot to mention it. I just don't want her to think I don't stan her, because I'm sure she was really upset about not hearing about it being spread and center. Yeah, right.
Anyways, I also am very excited about my TEDx Toronto talk. I know I keep talking about it, but I mean, I'm very excited and I'm working really hard. Shout out to my coach, Marinela, who I love and who hates attention and public anything, so I'm going to shout her out. I also just really want to say that I love fall. As Jessica's talking about the sweltering heat, I am wrapped in layers and layers. I love fall. I'm sorry I look so cute, totally not sorry, in fall wear. I'm excited that it's here. I recently got a new pair of sneakers, but I'm not going to talk about why…Okay, totally, I bought a new pair of Adidas—
Lindsay: Yeah. I was about to say, "Yeah, Shireen, you've got two seconds." Literally, three, two, one, go!
Shireen: I am not great with keeping that excited. Anyway, they're gorgeous. They're Adidas. I'm so happy and I just wanted to shout out, just really quickly, my best friend, Nabila, who was with me as I got them. She’s in London and I miss her and I love her a lot. Naboo, I just thank you for your being my personal sociologist.
Jessica: That's it for this week's episode. Thank you all for joining us. You can find Burn It All Down on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. If you want to subscribe to Burn It All Down, you can do so on Apple Podcasts, SoundCloud, Stitcher, Google Play and TuneIn. For information about the show and links and transcripts for each episode, check out our website, burnitalldownpod.com. You can also email us from the site to give us feedback. We love hearing from you.
If you enjoyed this week's show, do me a favor and share it with two people in your life whom you think would be interested in Burn It All Down. If it's chilly fall weather, if you need a new sweatshirt, a new blanket, we have Burn It All Down merchandise at our Teespring store. Also, we would love it if you would rate the show at whichever place you listen to it. Ratings really do help us to reach the new listeners who need this feminist sports podcast, but don't yet know it exists. One more thank you to our patrons. We couldn't do this without you, literally. You can sign up to be a monthly sustaining donor to Burn It All Down at patreon.com/burnitalldown. That's P-A-T-R-E-O-N.com/burnitalldown. That's it for us. Until next week, burn on, not out.