Episode 32: Doping and the Olympics, Governance in Soccer, and Volleyball legend Sylvia Ortiz
On this week’s episode, Brenda Elsey, Shireen Ahmed, Amira Rose Davis, Lindsay Gibbs, and Jessica Luther talk about the Russian Olympic Committee being suspended from the 2018 Winter Olympics for systemic doping in previous Games, why a Jonas brother showed up to the FIFA trial, and Hope Solo’s bid for president of US Soccer.
Then Amira interviews volleyball legend, Sylvia Ortiz, about being politically active as a college athlete in the 1970s, her years of playing and coaching in the sport, and how the sport has changed in the last few decades.
As always, you’ll hear the Burn Pile, Bad Ass Woman of the Week, and what’s good in our worlds.
For links and transcript…
“Four More Russian Olympians Disqualified by I.O.C.” https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/24/sports/olympics/russia-doping-sochi-pyeongchang.html
“Latest Doping Penalties Lift U.S. Above Russia in Sochi Games Medals Tally” https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/22/sports/olympics/russia-doping-sochi.html
This week, Russia NOC banned from the Olympics, Russia says it’s not going to boycott, but there’s still lots of drama, this is historic, etc. https://thinkprogress.org/russia-ban-olympics-doping-2cf5aae644f2/
“FIFA trial hears of dancing, private jet, massages” http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/afp/article-5154553/FIFA-trial-hears-dancing-private-jet-massages.html
“Secret recordings emerge as key evidence at FIFA bribe trial” http://www.winchesterstar.com/associated_press/national_sports/secret-recordings-emerge-as-key-evidence-at-fifa-bribe-trial/article_12b9a6bb-f030-5bc5-ba42-0b736962d70f.html
“Kevin Jonas of the Jonas Brothers Just Testified in the FIFA Trial” https://www.si.com/2017/12/07/kevin-jonas-brothers-testify-fifa-corruption-trial
Hope Solo’s declaration of intention to run for US Soccer president: https://m.facebook.com/notes/hope-solo/why-im-running-for-president-of-us-soccer/10155450707144822/
“Hope Solo Announces She Is Running For U.S. Soccer Presidency” https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/12/08/569482746/hope-solo-announces-shes-running-for-u-s-soccer-presidency
“Hope Solo is not the right choice for U.S. Soccer president, but she is asking the right questions” http://www.espn.com/espnw/voices/article/21712878/hope-solo-not-right-choice-us-soccer-president-asking-right-questions
Kathy Carter’s campaign site: https://www.teamkathycarter.com/
“Who’s who in the race to be the next U.S. Soccer Federation president” http://www.espn.com/soccer/club/united-states/660/blog/post/3243127/us-soccer-federation-presidency-candidates
Inactivity of Nigerian women’s football team- have not played in over one year: https://twitter.com/LadiesMarch/status/937298597489659904
“Inactivity, a bane of women’s football in Africa” http://www.aipsmedia.com/2017/12/04/22053/football-womens-football-africa-africa-cup-of-nations
Inaccurate reporting on Nike ProSport Hijab: https://twitter.com/_shireenahmed_/status/937759705165737984
“Phone Records Contradict Oregon’s Stance on How Much Dana Altman Knew of Player’s Rape Case” https://www.si.com/college-basketball/2017/12/07/dana-altman-oregon-kavell-bigby-williams-investigation
“Ex-USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar sentenced to 60 years in federal child pornography case” https://www.indystar.com/story/news/crime/2017/12/07/ex-usa-gymnastics-doctor-larry-nassar-sentenced-60-years-federal-child-pornography-case/932660001/
Latoya Snell, a runner, chef and blogger at Running Fat Chef, says that comments about her weight from the sidelines won’t keep her away from future runs: https://theglowup.theroot.com/im-a-plus-size-runner-and-i-got-heckled-at-the-nyc-mara-1820797012/
“This plus-size marathoner gets heckled from the sidelines — but she won’t let that stop her” http://www.cbc.ca/amp/1.4436242?
Former Sweden goalkeeper Caroline Jonsson and former Chilean youth international Camila Garcia have joined FIFPro’s global board and will help advocate for professional footballers: https://www.fifpro.org/news/world-cup-finalist-government-advisor-join-fifpro-board/en/
Brigette Lacquette, a Metis woman, is the first Indigenous woman to play for Team Canada is hoping to score a spot on the Canadian Olympic team: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/1st-indigenous-woman-to-play-hockey-for-team-canada-tries-out-for-olympics-1.4434832?cmp=rss
New Zealand’s first transgender weightlifter Laurel Hubbard who recently won silver at the world champs in California: http://www.newshub.co.nz/home/new-zealand/2017/12/new-zealand-s-first-transgender-weightlifter-laurel-hubbard-speaks-out.html (h/t https://twitter.com/aubbloomfield/status/939055674142498816)
Brenda: Hey, welcome to Burn It All Down. I’m Brenda Elsey, associate professor of history at Hofstra University, and I get to keep this full house in order today. I’m joined by Shireen Ahmed, freelance sports writer in Toronto, Amira Rose Davis, assistant professor of history and women’s gender and sexuality studies at Penn State University, Lindsay Gibbs, sports writer at Think Progress in DC, and Jessica Luther, independent writer in Austin, Texas.
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Okay, so this week’s episode, we will talk about doping cases in Russia that prompted the country’s ban from the 2018 Winter Olympics, update you on the circus that is the FIFA trials, and the campaign for US soccer president, and then Amira Rose-Davis interviews former volleyball player and coach Sylvia Ortiz.
Before we get right to it, I want to ask Shireen, how are you feeling about your city’s big win?
Shireen: Oh, [inaudible 00:02:16] Toronto FC , I just want you on as the lone Canadian on this as a co-host. I want to let you know that we have claimed Jozy Altidor as ours [crosstalk 00:02:28]
Lindsay: You mean Sloane Stephen’s boyfriend? Sloane Stephen’s boyfriend?
Shireen: Sloane Stephen’s boyfriend, and of course she’s an honorary Torontonian as well, by association. We are thrilled. This was a really, really, really big deal, and there was so much happiness, there was so much joy, and for such a diverse, multicultural city like Toronto … We’ve always loved the world’s game. We’ve always loved the beautiful game, but to make it more of our own was just so special, and the goals were phenomenal. I’m not going to rant about the penalty that was not given [inaudible 00:03:01], but the ball doesn’t lie. I mean, they ended up winning two nothing anyway, so the ball doesn’t lie. The football gods were on our side, and we are extremely, extremely happy. There was no rioting, there was no nothing, there was no looting. There was people buying each other-
Brenda: So polite, so polite.
Shireen: … buying each other beer, and not jaywalking.
Brenda: But Shireen, I have a complaint, which is that Toronto FC doesn’t have anything I can call them by. You literally have no mascot.
Jessica: How is that possible?
Brenda: I wanted to say, “Shireen, how about them Cubs?” Kind of a thing, and you have … What’s going on with that?
Shireen: Well, truthfully, we shall be known as the champions. We are happy to have you address us as that, but the other thing is, I just wanted to let you know about their mascot. You clearly don’t know about Bitchy the Hawk.
Jessica: Wait, what?
Shireen: Bitchy is a hawk [crosstalk 00:03:57]. This is a really cool article I forgot about from Bleacher Report, from 2013. Bitchy the Hawk is the mascot, quote unquote, who scares off seagulls that come to BMO Stadium. Bitchy was used to get the seagulls who used to come because the grass is really nice, to go and [crosstalk 00:04:17]
Lindsay: Wait, are you saying bitchy? Like-
Jessica: B as in boy?
Lindsay: B-I-T-C-H-Y? The cuss word, bitchy?
Shireen: Bitchy the Hawk.
Shireen: The hawk’s name is Bitchy.
Brenda: Okay, alright.
Lindsay: Okay, okay, all right.
Brenda: Can that be our show’s mascot?
Lindsay: Bitchy the Hawk, oh my God.
Brenda: I’m so good with that.
Shireen: Here’s what this article says in the importance of Bitchy, so there was an importance in being Bitchy. The proximity to Lake Ontario and all the fine food at BMO makes the stadium a haven for gulls, so the pesky birds have caused quite the nuisance for players, fans, and the cleanup staff. What Bitchy does is really selflessly keeps pests away from the field, and I think this is wonderful.
Jessica: Yes, all right, all right.
Lindsay: That’s wonderful. Look, we’ve got a bitchier intro music, and now we’ve got Bitchy the Hawk. I am all for this. This is great. [crosstalk 00:05:06]
Amira: I’m not sure you can have Jozy, because we need all the black people in soccer that we have already. We could just borrow him. I guess we do technically borrow what’s her face from Canada, so …
Brenda: Yeah, [crosstalk 00:05:21]
Shireen: But he is literally … he is going to eat for free for the rest of his life in this city, I can just [inaudible 00:05:31]
Amira: Lot’s of poutine.
Shireen: Lot’s of poutine.
Brenda: Okay. Whew. Let’s move on. On December 5th, the IOC announced that it would suspend the Russian National Team from taking part in the 2018 Winter Olympic games in South Korea’s Pyeongchang, over serious doping allegations. Athletes cleared of doping charges will be allowed to participate, but it’s not clear how that’s going to go. Jessica, what do you make of all this?
Jessica: Yeah, I’m super interested in doping, as the ladies on this show know. I’ve been pushing for this for a while. One of the things I wanted to start with, just in case people are interested in this, it’s fascinating. One of the major whistleblowers in this case is this guy named Grigory Rodchenkov. He’s the chemist who spent 10 years as Russia’s anti-doping lab chief and was key to carrying out the cheating scheme … Actually happened in [inaudible 00:06:29], which are kind of wild. A team assembled by Russia’s Sports Ministry tampered with more than 100 urine samples to conceal evidence of top athlete steroids use throughout the course of the competition. They did this in the dark of night, and this is a lot of what they’ve gotten in trouble for.
This guy, Rodchenkov … if you’re interested in how whistleblowing works, there’s a Netflix documentary specifically about him, called Icarus, that came out in August, I want to say. Rodchenkov is actually now in the witness protection program, somewhere, through the United States. It’s interesting because one of the things I wanted to say from the top, the IOCA’s statement never used the word banned. Russia’s just facing a host of sanctions for the upcoming games, like Russian officials aren’t allowed to attend, the flag will not be displayed, the anthem will not be played, athletes from Russia with histories of rigorous drug testing, they can petition to compete in neutral uniforms. A panel that the IOCA’s going to put together will rule on each athlete’s eligibility. Those who do receive a special dispensation will compete as individuals wearing that neutral uniform, but the record books will forever say that Russia won zero medals at the Olympics, which is something very important to Russia. I imagine Putin is very upset about that particular thing.
There are so many directions to discuss about doping. This one about … and then there are some about Russia in particular. For me, there’s always bigger questions about doping in general. I’m not sure that I get it, ultimately, outside of banning things that actively harm people, that are dangerous. I sort of chafe at the search for purity in sport that’ll never ring true for me when so many things are allowed, when there will always be disparities in what resources different athletes have access to, and when this idea of purity is used against [inaudible 00:08:16] sex and transgender athletes who want to compete. At the same time, I recognize that there are rules, and sport is nothing without them, literally. Sport is nothing without rules. Once there are rules in place, people have to follow them. If you don’t, then there are consequences.
In this case, systemic national attempts to circumvent the rules should then lead to wide-scale punishment of that nation, if we carry the logic to its conclusion. I mean, what else was the IOCA supposed to do in the face of what they had learned about what Russia did? Then finally, I’m sort of wondering what all this means for international politics, which is very heightened and tense in this particular moment. A lot of it’s swirling around Russia, who seem to be interfering and, in particular, getting caught interfering in a lot of different elections, and it’s the country who’s about to host The World Cup. The nation’s Deputy Prime Minister, Vitaly Mutko, was Russia’s top sports official during the 2014 Sochi Games, and was directly implicated by Dr. Rodchenkov. As part of the ruling, Mr. Mutko has been barred for life from the Olympics. He is in charge of The World Cup that will be happening in Russia. [crosstalk 00:09:23] it’s so much. This is real life, y’all.
Brenda: And Infantino has said nothing to remove him. He is still the head of the organizing committee.
Shireen: FIFA’s fine with it, FYI. FIFA’s good. The FIFA ethics committee is happy.
Brenda: Yeah, of course.
Shireen: So far.
Brenda: So I mean there are so many things here, but Lindsay, what do you think about all of this?
Lindsay: All right, well, I just want to take us back a little bit. I think it is important to go over a little bit of what actually Russia did, because I think you hear systematic doping and it’s kind of hard to wrap your head around. The information we have from Dr. Rodchenkov, I think is how you pronounce it, the whistleblower, is just extraordinary. WADA, the World Anti-Doping Agency, and also Rodchenkov, their studies have found that between 2011 and 2015, the Russian ministry of sport erased a minimum of 312 positive doping tests. For years, when Rodchenkov was the head of the Russia anti-doping efforts, he used his experience as a PhD in analytical chemistry to help Russian athletes with his go-to drug cocktail, which was a combo of three anabolic steroids that helped them recover faster. He would mix them with alcohol, [inaudible 00:10:39] whiskey for men and martini vermouth for women, of course, because doping is nothing without also gender stereotypes. And that helped the drugs absorb more quickly. Things really took a step up with Sochi. Putin really used Sochi as a way to completely lift up his reputation and kind of revamp his reputation within Russia. If you look at the approval ratings of Putin before Sochi versus after Sochi-
Brenda: Yes, yes.
Lindsay: It’s almost just like a straight arrow up, it’s staggering. Anyways, just to a little bit of what Rodchenkov, who told the New York Times all of this information as part of his whistleblowing … because he moved to Los Angeles with this filmmaker who was doing Icarus, because two other people implicated in this scandal have already been killed in Russia. He’s literally-
Jessica: Or I think they had died.
Lindsay: They had died, but they had died under very suspicious circumstances, I should say.
Jessica: As they do, as they do.
Lindsay: Yes. He said that each night during Sochi, he’d receive a list from the Sports Ministry official detailing the samples that would need to be swapped. This is during the Sochi Olympics. Samples were anonymous, which meant that the athletes had to assist with this part. They would snap photos of their sample form so that he would have the seven-digit numbers associated with their urine samples-
Lindsay: … and then … picture a movie, so everything’s in shadows right now. When he got the signal that the samples were ready, Dr. Rodchenkov would take off his lab coat, change into a Russian National team sweatshirt, and make his way downstairs to a storage space that had been converted into a makeshift lab, its lone window covered with tape. Then, one of his colleagues would pass the sealed samples to him through a hole in the wall that was covered by a cabinet during the daytime hours. Rodchenkov would then pass the samples along to, quote, the man he believed was a Russian intelligence officer, who would then take the samples away and return them hours laters with caps unlocked. The officer also supplied clean urine that was supplied by the athletes months prior to the Olympics.
Lindsay: This was an extremely elaborate scheme.
Jessica: Yeah, sophisticated.
Lindsay: Sophisticated, that has been said to have involved people at the highest level of … It’s not the KGB anymore, I believe it’s called the FBS, but anyways, the Russian intelligence agency. Rodchenkov believes there were dozens, maybe even up to 100, working undercover at the Olympics.
Brenda: Amira, do you have a kind of history thingy to share?
Amira: I always have history thingies.
Brenda: I love history thingies.
Amira: Well, yeah. It’s really interesting to think about this in the context of, as Jess alluded to, international politics and diplomacy. It made me think a lot about the 1980s, and really Cold War claims against the Soviet Union and the United States. One of the things that’s reoccurring over the course of the Cold War … so folks who don’t know, the Cold War is this ideological standoff between emerging super powers of the United States of America and Soviet Union, from the end of the second World War up through the late 20th century. One of the things that happens in this moment is that the United States and Soviet Union are competing against everything. They’re competing about refrigerators, they’re competing about a space race, they’re competing about arms, nuclear arms. Everything is a competition, and sports is completely a part of this.
One of the things that they have are dual meets. In these dual meets, it’s no other countries, just United States and Soviet Union. They happen both here as well as over there. It’s track and field. There’s no final … I mean, trials, it’s just straight the Russian athletes, the United States athletes and they’re racing. This was even kind of rigged in this way, where you basically can’t … they basically split it so every time the races happened, it was a draw. Nobody ever won but they kept staging them. One of the claims that constantly comes up in this moment against the Soviet Union is how the United States are pure athletes because it’s about democracy and it’s homegrown and people are just naturally there. It’s not state-sponsored. They’re not being groomed to have this kind of national export of excellence in athletics. This is a reoccurring comment that gets brought up over and over again.
When you flash forward to the 1980s and the United States boycotts the Olympic games in Moscow in the 1980s. 1984 is rolling around, and in the months leading up to ’84 …. and actually the New York Times documented this last summer, I believe, in August. There was a actual plan and documents revealed in the early ’80s that reveal a kind of doping scheme in Russia leading up to the ’84 games, that we don’t know if was ever put in action because they actually withdrew from the ’84 games citing that anti-Soviet Union frenzy was being whipped up in the United States, and that the athletes and themselves weren’t protected. I think that this kind of history of using the Olympic games certainly obviously has long histories about how it reflects international politics.
As much as they claim to be a kind of politic-free space, but particularly this kind of claim about Russia, and we know that it has a lot of validity to it, but tying it to how the state and the government is functioning, and intertwining it with that, and separating … and kind of getting on a high horse, if you will, and saying, “Well, America is not doing this,” and, “Of course there’s doping in the United States, we see it.” The way that they try to distance or make examples of those people, I think, is really interesting. That tie between the country and the athletes and the schematics are what I’m really, really interested in. My last point here, and I’ll throw it back to you guys, is I am really interested in, as Jess brought up, the sanctimony of this. I’m interested in the response of it.
I keep thinking about Ben Johnson, Canadian sprinter, but I keep thinking about a comment that he made, which is how racist he felt the reaction was to his positive result after the ’88 games, and how swift his downfall was. I’m thinking about Marion Jones, I’m thinking about how disposable some of these athletes become if they test positive and I’m very interested, in the Russia case, to see how the state is still taking up or protecting their athletes.
Lindsay: I think that’s a great point, Amira. I think you have to look at a national identity aspect of this, which is where, I think, then the politics that Jess was mentioning come in. Russia’s been incredibly defiant about this. They have not admitted, despite all this evidence, that they did something wrong. There was a lot of questions, and still are a little bit, about whether or not Putin was going to boycott the Olympics after this announcement, because not boycotting kind of implies that you agree with their findings. What Russia wants to do is continue to paint this as a campaign from the West against their very values. One funny note from Bonnie D. Ford, who is the most prominent Olympics reporter, and … for ESPN, her work is phenomenal. In a breakdown of this, she said that last week photos of Russia National Team’s officially branded apparel was unveiled. It showed men’s and women’s sweatshirts emblazoned with the slogans, “Russians did it, and ‘I don’t do doping.'”
They’ve been just incredibly defiant. Right after this, quote unquote, ban was announced by the IOC, a pundit on Russian state TV said, “If the IOC decides on a neutral flag for Russian athletes, that’s comparable to genocide because it affects a large number of citizens of a particular country.” Another Russia 24 news channel had struck a big red mark through the Olympic rings on their logo, so they just were like done.
Lindsay: Russia’s not handling this well, but there are no indications right now that Putin is going to boycott. He said he will allow athletes, if they qualify, to compete.
Brenda: Well, that’s a lot to think about, but before we start thinking that politics is removed from US propaganda, just watch Rocky IV, which has a huge part on doping, a huge part on doping. And Russia as the dopers. It’s worth some bit of circumspection in regards to what the US does with this information.
Brenda: Okay. Soccer governance continues to provide chuckles and outrage for us here at Burn It All Down. PSA for listeners not aware, what makes FIFA so powerful is that it administers, RE, takes a cut from, all organized soccer under its umbrella, even your local soccer club. It’s a little different than comparing it to other types of international sports organizations. I just want to sort of explain why we continue harping on FIFA as such an important body. I know last week we talked a bit, but since then there’s been further hijinks at the FIFA trials in Brooklyn, and a really interesting race for US soccer president. Shireen, you want to start us off?
Shireen: Absolutely. Thanks, Bren. Money laundering, bribing, private jets, mansions, massages. This isn’t some type of theatrical escapade. It is actually the ongoing FIFA trial of three prominent ex-FIFA folks. José Maria Marin, the former Brazilian confederation head. Juan Angel Napout, former FIFA vice president and head of Paraguayan soccer. Manuel Burga, who’s ran, basically, Peruvian soccer for a very long time. Now, these were among the 42 people initially indicted in this mega scandal, which was a result of us finding out … us meaning the world … about a quarter century of endemic corruption at FIFA. I mean, I think it’s really important when we look at the facts and look at everything coming out in terms of the trial.
There’ve been reports of hundreds of thousands of dollars being given to Honduras, Costa Rica, El Salvador, and Guatemala. I mean, I’m not trying to point only at the [inaudible 00:21:34] in Latin America and say, “Well, these are the corrupt places,” because I firmly believe that FIFA has corrupted federations all around the world equally. Now, that being said, some of the … I mean, the least offensive thing that I’ve found about this is the detail that Napout is interested in massages, manicures, and pedicures, because hello, we all enjoy these things, but not with underage sex workers, and not with money that absolutely does not belong to him. Money that’s supposed to be used for the development of the world’s game. When we see this and hear about this, I, as a staunch advocate of the women’s game, get really frustrated and angry.
Now, in an interesting turn, for the TMZ lovers out there of sport, in an interesting turn of events, Kevin Jonas, yes, of the Jonas Brothers, was actually called to testify in this trial. I know that some of us have to say about this. I mean, to be very honest [inaudible 00:22:28] heard this, my first response was sort of echoing Lindsay who was just like, “What?” Who I know will talk about this.
Lindsay: Thank you, thank you.
Shireen: [inaudible 00:22:36] could be … there could be absolutely-
Lindsay: I was like, “Who is that again?”
Shireen: There could be absolutely nothing that would shock me about this. I mean, it’s not even … I mean, Brenda alluded to this being a circus show, but Cirque du Soleil for me is about artistry and [crosstalk 00:22:51]. This is a fucking gong show. I mean, all I need now is Shakira to come out somewhere with Beyonce and just slay with a baseball bat or hot sauce. What I really, really want to happen is … if [inaudible 00:23:07] go Jonas brothers, is Hanson to come up with some version of MMMBop-
Shireen: … about FIFA. That would actually make me happy. I’m going to throw it out to everybody else, and then we can talk about the next most exciting thing in soccer right now.
Brenda: Who wants to talk about the Jonas Brothers?
Lindsay: Can I? Can I? Can I? Please, please, please.
Brenda: Yes, yes, yes.
Lindsay: This is all the notes. I have to thank The Comeback for this wonderful information, that is who I found this out from this week. I will quote their lead, “Get ready for the latest twist of this FIFA corruption trial. Kevin Jonas of the Jonas Brothers was named as a witness for the prosecution, and testified about the validity of a Paul McCartney concert that took place in Argentina.” Yes, friends, the entire reason Kevin Jonas was there was to say that he was actually at a Paul McCartney concert, that presumably thousands of other people were at, but they called, of all people, Kevin Jonas of the Jonas Brothers to testify to this because one of the defendants in the FIFA trial just refused to state that this concert ever even took place. They had to prove-
Jessica: [crosstalk 00:24:17] amazing.
Amira: Wow, amazing.
Lindsay: They had to prove in court that the concert did take place. To do that, they called in a Jonas brother, who wasn’t also performing at the concert, he was just in the crowd.
Amira: Didn’t he miss the opening sets anyways?
Lindsay: Yeah, yeah. I’m getting there, Amira. I’m getting there, Amira. BuzzFeed’s Ken Bensinger, who thank God was live tweeting this … I mean, bless you. Apparently, he sat in the witness stand and he very politely answered three or four questions. He did determine that the Paul McCartney concert took place because as he said, that’s something you remember, Paul McCartney’s great, you don’t just forget that, very special. Under questioning, he said he didn’t know who the defendant was, never saw him at the concert, but Kevin Jonas was … did arrive late to the concert and missed the first two songs of McCartney’s because of traffic. That is …
Brenda: Now we know.
Lindsay: Now we know.
Brenda: All right, they need them to call Paul McCartney to the stand [crosstalk 00:25:21]
Shireen: This is the smoking gun that the prosecutors is coming out with, is Kevin Jonas? This can’t even be a Law & Order episode, which is why they haven’t done it yet, because this is ridiculous.
Lindsay: How do you just pretend a concert didn’t happen? [crosstalk 00:25:40]
Amira: It’s a favor living in the [inaudible 00:25:41] alternate reality.
Lindsay: … excuse isn’t that, “I wasn’t there.” It isn’t like, “I didn’t do this bad thing.” It’s that, “That Paul McCartney concert that thousands of people attended didn’t exist.”
Brenda: Didn’t happen.
Shireen: Maybe he’s not a Beatles fan? [crosstalk 00:25:53]
Brenda: I feel like in between those sandwiches and sleeping jurors, somewhere José Marin, who’s so slimy, is looking at Jonas saying, “Is that celibacy ring real?”
Lindsay: Oh, jeez.
Amira: I thought they took those off.
Brenda: I think there’s got to be such a cultural disconnect.
Lindsay: Well, he’s married now. He’s married, so …
Brenda: That’s the married one?
Lindsay: Yeah, that’s the married one.
Brenda: Oh, okay. I thought that was Nick.
Lindsay: No. I don’t-
Amira: Oh, no he took his off, though. I just watched a whole documentary.
Jessica: Amira knows.
Brenda: Okay. In other soccer governance news, Shireen, we know that US soccer president Sunil Gulati announced he will not run for reelection. And [crosstalk 00:26:36]-
Shireen: Cue tears from no one.
Brenda: Yeah, cue tears from no one. We’re recording Sunday, December 10th, so there’s still two days remaining for new candidates. That’s when candidates must file the necessary paperwork to run for US soccer president. That includes a background check, and three nomination letters. That’s not much. Shireen?
Shireen: Brenda, I’m going to nominate you. We have more than enough people on this show to-
Jessica: Oh, I’ll write a letter. I’ll write a letter.
Shireen: I’ll totally write a letter. No, [crosstalk 00:27:07] in other news, and our little group chat was ablaze this week with this news, it was Hope Solo released … announced that she would be running for US soccer president, and she announced it on Facebook. It was really late at night. I think it was like 10:30, and just it went … everything lit up and there was think pieces on it. I mean, I read her statement. To be honest with you, something she said about talking and she’s critiquing, very specifically, the pay to play system and how it was financially taxing. Her actual quote was, “I have personally witnessed young players heartbroken over the financial reality that they could no longer pursue their dream.” It’s very expensive, I mean, we’ve talked about this on the show, how expensive competitive sports are and inaccessible and really, really cost prohibitive.
The reality is Hope Solo … okay, I can’t even with all the problematic things there. The reality is is that I think … there was a really interesting article that we will link, and I really liked this. Hope Solo is not the right choice for US soccer president, but she is asking the right questions. This was by Graham Hays, for ESPNW, and I think I really liked the way this article was written. I thought it was fair. The US soccer presidency is a diplomatic position of sorts. It’s one that involves, obviously, managing, but it is a sort of diplomatic position in that you have to work with federations all over the world and other massively corrupt governing bodies.
The reality is is that I don’t see her being able to do this. I mean, aside from being absolutely rude to former players … I mean, she trashed, openly, Briana Scurry, which pissed me off to no end and I find unforgivable to her implications in very public domestic violence cases. Also, her being incredibly rude to opponents in the Olympics. It’s just not … I, personally, don’t see it. It doesn’t mean that I can’t support the idea of women, because one of the things for me is there needs to be more women positions of governance in soccer across the board. I support this, but there are other noms. Can we not look at them?
Brenda: There are other noms. The one thing I’ll say is none of the other noms have put forward a class argument about the pay to play system. Hope Solo didn’t do a perfect job in her statement of making clear that they pay to play system is a way that US women’s soccer stays predominantly white, it excludes players of color in swaths. In part, because of that. I totally agree, Shireen, I don’t think Hope Solo is the candidate, but I wish that some of the other candidates would take up that argument in a serious way. Thus far, I haven’t seen it. Does anybody else have candidates that they’re interested in?
Shireen: I’ll just add in really quickly that I’m never going to look to US soccer for critical race analysis. That’s just never going to happen, but I agree with you. I think it’s a responsibility to talk about this and it’s a badly kept secret, that race is a huge problem at national-level soccer. That’s not even with Canada taking Josie, that’s just with across the board.
Brenda: Well, it’s usually only discussed in light of the men’s team. The women’s team gets very little scrutiny for how white it’s been. Briana Scurry, obviously, is someone who has broken barriers early on, but who has also pointed out the trouble or difficulty. Another woman candidate is Kathy Carter, who is up to run. She is sort of basing her presidency on her corporate experience in PR, and doesn’t seem to have any of those criticisms. She also, so far as I can tell, and we’ll link her … she has a very flash … she is in PR. She has a very flashy, very inviting website about her candidacy. It doesn’t say anything about demanding equal pay, so far as I could tell, between the men and women’s team. That’s fairly important. Some of the men actually do have that. We’ll come back to this, anyway, but you can bet that whatever happens, it’ll be an ongoing saga, for sure. I think the elections take place in February, am I right?
Jessica: I think so. We’ll know a lot more after these nominations become official, which will probably be when you guys are listening, but we don’t have that information now. Yeah. I mean, as with everything, it’s going to be dramatic, so we’ll be talking about it.
Brenda: For sure. This week, Amira Rose Davis sat down with Sylvia Ortiz, the legendary former volleyball player and coach. Amira, would you like to intro the interview?
Amira: I would. In 1977, thousands of women gathered in Houston, Texas for the first national women’s conference, to celebrate the international women’s year. Many celebrities, notable feminists, three former first ladies, packed the convention hall. A torch had been carried by a team of runners including former athletes, girl’s athletics teams, regular everyday women. They ran from Seneca Falls to the convention site in Houston. To cap off this over-2,000 mile, six week marathon, three torch bearers, diverse athletes from Houston, were selected to run the torch the last mile side-by-side with the great niece of Susan B. Anthony, Bella Abzug, Billie Jean King, and Betty Friedan. Sylvia Ortiz, a volleyball player at the University of Houston, was one of those torch bearers.
Today, I speak with her about being politically active as a college athlete in the 1970s and how it compares to today. Her years of playing and coaching volleyball, and the ways the game has changed, and access equity in the sport. Check it out. Sylvia, I came to know you through the 1977 women’s convention. There’s this iconic image of you and Michelle Cearcy and Peggy Kokernot holding this torch as you run it into this convention. Everybody’s screaming and yelling, and I would like to start there. How did you come to be involved in this moment? How did you decide to go? And what was that decision like?
Sylvia Ortiz: Wow. Actually, I was selected through the University of Houston. They were, at the time, for that last mile in Houston, searching for a white athlete, black, and a Mexican-American, or Hispanic, what’s [inaudible 00:33:37]. Actually, I was at the University of Houston at the time, and I had just … I was graduating December of ’77. I was really basically the only Mexican at the University of Houston that was in athletics, that played volleyball and badminton. We didn’t have basketball yet, or softball. Well, no, I’m sorry. Basketball was there, no softball. Yeah, that’s how it was selected. It wasn’t even applied for. At the time, as you mentioned, I mean, times were crazy back then with women’s rights and equal rights and gay rights and everything else. My degree is as a … I was a teacher.
It was kind of scary for me, because I had just gotten a head job in high school. For me to be the front and center of this convention, it was scary for me, honestly. I didn’t know how anybody was going to react to it, my district that I was just hired by. [inaudible 00:34:39] at the time. I think the thing I regret the most is that I really wasn’t into the women’s movement at that time and the way I was selected was just through that, through the University of Houston. My regret is that instead of being able to embrace that whole event, I was so scared. I really have very little emotional memory of that convention, and I get sad because I see the pictures and I see myself on the steps with the [inaudible 00:35:13] first ladies and Billie Jean King, Bella Abzug, arm in arm, and I was in such fear of my job and everything else around me, I just … That’s my biggest regret about the whole …
Amira: When you look around today and we seem to have another sweeping moment of organized athletic activism, do you think about that? Think about this kind of moment in the ’70s, when you were being the poster child of a very contentious debate about women’s rights and about gay rights. Do you see any parallels today, or do you see college athletes facing similar constraints on activism?
Sylvia: I want to believe it’s come a long way. I mean, obviously we’re not where we need to be yet, in women’s athletics, at all. I can say that there are more opportunities available for women, and [inaudible 00:36:08] speak out in athletics. No, I don’t think there’s a fear anymore of whether you’re speaking out because you’re gay or you’re fighting for anything in your … at your university, as a coach. Everything was so unequal back then. In today’s time, I do think there have … we have made a lot of headway, especially when [inaudible 00:36:28] came about. Big controversy, but obviously brought about a lot of changes in athletics for women. It’s just really provided way many … way more opportunities. I mean, scholarships in general. There just weren’t that many. There were partials, maybe, even at [D1 00:36:45] schools.
Amira: What was it like playing in this moment right after title nine? [inaudible 00:36:50] title nine passes in 1972, so you’re really one of the first waves of college athletes after this legislation. What was it like?
Sylvia: Well, it took a while because in 1972, I graduated from high school. Again, I was not very savvy on what was going on as far as any kind of athletic world. I mean, except for when I was playing [inaudible 00:37:15], which was an inner-city considered at that time. I was in HISD, Houston Independent School Districts. We didn’t have a whole lot at my high school, but we had a great coach and that’s how we did a lot. By the time I got to the University of Houston in ’72 … It was the fall of ’73, I guess. Looking back, there was nothing equal about it. I mean, we traveled. We did all those things, we practiced in a coliseum area. We practiced upstairs above the gym facility there at [inaudible 00:37:47] Gym at the University of Houston. Looks nothing like it did then. It doesn’t look like that now.
I mean, they have all the updated … the facility, it’s … I’m so proud of how far it’s come. We had nothing compared to what they have now. We played with the bare minimum at the University of Houston. That was pretty much my whole five years there. We never made it out of there. Through the years, though, it was nice to see the bigger changes come about, where everybody was catching up, facility-wise, and the scholarship’s number one. That the D1 programs, we’re now getting women’s scholarships, [inaudible 00:38:23] team. Yes, it’s come a long way, but by no means … this fight’s still going on. I mean, the money is still not as equitable in some of your smaller schools. As a high school coach of 38 years, I fought for years for my programs in girl’s sports. During that time, we were controlled, let’s say late ’70s to probably the mid to late ’80s, we were controlled by a football coach who [crosstalk 00:38:54] campus athletic director.
We had no insight to what funds were being spent where. Although, we were lucky to get new uniforms every five years or so. Certainly, it wasn’t equitable. I can say that now that I’ve been through the whole … my whole career. I will say that as far as women in administration in athletics, most of your district athletic directors were male, and still are in Texas. There are a few more women in your big 6A schools. Actually, a good friend of mine that I taught with for 18 years at my first school … was a head basketball coach there … she’s now the athletic director at [inaudible 00:39:36] school district. Those are major milestones for women’s athletics.
My last job in high school was in the Dallas, Fort Worth area. I was actually a campus coordinator equal to the men’s football coach. He was [inaudible 00:39:49] he was in charge of the men’s sports on campus, and I was in charge of the women’s sports on campus. That’s what I did there, and I actually had hands on the budget, for the entire campus budget, with the football coach. Of course, we worked together. It was great to work with. They had a good athletic director supporting women’s sports, and so I was able to get in on those decisions, on where the money was spent. That’s when I really understood how shorted we really were all those years, back in the day.
Amira: Right. Yeah, it’s so interesting. This is such a great reminder about how all of the multiple ways that money is involved in governing sports. That kind of reminds me, I’ve been getting really into [inaudible 00:40:36] volleyball. On the podcast a few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of speaking to Simone Lee, who’s here at Penn State, just was named Big 10 Player of The Year. We had a wonderful conversation. One of the things that came up was about access and equity within the sport of volleyball. I’m wondering if you have any comments or ideas about volleyball itself as a sport. Is this one of the sports that you need to go through club teams? Is there a kind of class disparity within volleyball?
Sylvia: When club [inaudible 00:41:08] began in Texas here, and it started out the bay area, it was pretty much … it was very expensive, number one, and continues to be. Parents are paying a lot of money to play. Yes, unless your kids are involved in top-level club programs, I’d say across the country now, your chances of going on and playing aren’t going to be very good. Now, there [inaudible 00:41:36] good side and bad side to that. I think it’s been great for the sport in the sense that college recruiting, they have tons to choose from now. It’s not like you go to a club tournament as a college coach and everybody that’s anybody is playing. It makes the recruiting, I guess, in one sense, a lot easier.
On the other hand, like I said, all kids can’t afford your top-level club programs, and so in that sense, they’re at a disadvantage depending on where you come from. If you’re from an intercity school where funds are tight and kids … socioeconomically, they’re not upper class or even upper middle class. It’s pretty hard to explore those top-level teams. Years ago, they used to even give scholarships in clubs for kids, to help out. That’s pretty much non-existent anymore, because there’s so many kids playing, they have their pick. I think that’s kind of … if there’s a downside to it, I’d say it’s that. It’s hard to get there unless you have money. The big pluses, [inaudible 00:42:40] the level of play, the power game, it’s just … it’s amazing how far it’s come. All the rule changes, I think, have been wonderful for volleyball. It’s exciting.
I think one of the big factors is the big kids that are playing now today. In my day, you had a six footer and they didn’t even touch a volleyball until they were in volleyball. That’s [inaudible 00:43:03] started little dribblers, you didn’t have that. Volleyball, if you got a six footer, very uncoordinated in high school, couldn’t walk and chew gum. Now, with clubs … [Reese 00:43:13] Nelson, I’m sure you’ve heard of her with her BYOP program, that’s amazing. It’s like having little dribblers or peewee [crosstalk 00:43:22] for baseball, things like that. Yeah, look how tall they are and what they’re doing. They’re amazing, and it’s so much fun to watch.
Amira: One of the things that maybe hasn’t changed so much, and kind of returning to when you said you were selected by the women’s convention because they were looking for a Mexican-American. What do you think about the state of Latina athletes? I feel like it’s definitely under-represented population in women’s athletics, at a high level. What is your experience with that?
Sylvia: Personally, my experience was one that if my high school coach hadn’t stepped into my life, if I hadn’t had her in high school, I probably wouldn’t have gone to college, because I was one of those that grew up where my mom and dad didn’t go to school. I wasn’t headed to college. She took me and said, “You’re going to go,” and I went. Everything was amazing for me. I mean, my athletic career I played volleyball, softball, badminton, and all those things. That wouldn’t have occurred where I came from.
Culturally for us, it has changed. I mean, Hispanic women and … are just on the chart now. The convention, the 40th anniversary here in Houston that occurred, it was so refreshing to see so many Latinas out leading and trying to get things going in that direction. Athletically, I don’t know, honestly, because there are opportunities out there. I know soccer is one sport where they do play more, but volleyball, gosh. You have to be so dang tall, and just … we’re just not that tall.
I will say that’s why the Libero comes into play. Softball is another sport that I think in the Texas area you will see more Hispanics playing, or Latinas. These days, what’s correct? I don’t know, but in the national softball tournament, if you look across that scale, there are quite a few Latinas playing, and on some of the top teams. I mean, in the country. Again, size isn’t a factor there. I would say we’re hindered somewhat inside volleyball, only because there is a place, there’s a Libero, but obviously not many positions available. You’re limited there, but I think it’s on the rise. I mean, I don’t think it’s a culture thing anymore for Latinas or any … or women of any color. Fortunately, we’re breaking out of that mold and not feeling like we have to be so traditional or submissive to anyone. Hopefully that’s going to continue to improve. It would be a dream to see a first Latina Olympian in volleyball. Wouldn’t that be amazing?
Amira: Yes, it would. Well, thank you so much for taking the time to chat about your experiences as an athlete in the ’70s. It’s something that is so important to understand where women’s athletics came from and the long history of involvement of women, women of color, in the game and in all types of sports. I appreciate your time.
Sylvia: Oh, no problem. I appreciate you talking to me, and thank you for the work you do.
Amira: Oh, thank you.
Sylvia: Appreciate it.
Brenda: And now it’s time for our weekly catharsis where we burn everything that’s been horrible in sports. Amira, can you get us started?
Amira: Yes. Today, I have a burn unburn. In light of our conversation last week, and in subsequent weeks, I want to revisit the burn that I did of Gabby Douglas for her comments that were victim-shamey comments in response to Aly Raisman. The reason why I want to revisit this is in light of her coming forward to say that she also was abused by Larry Nassar. Now, one of the things that I really want to make clear here is that while sometimes we burn people, a lot of what we do are burning actions. We’re not throwing Gabby on the burn pile.
In weeks that we’ve burned people that we like, like Megan Rapinoe, there’s times where things can still be very harmful. I think that Gabby’s case really reminds us and illustrates the way that hurt people can hurt people, and that [inaudible 00:47:40] one of the insidious things about assault and coverup and pain, is that it manifests in multiple ways, and create a cycle, and it create … dismissal can create internal problems. I think that that’s really on display here. I think that it’s really, really worth it to always say, “It’s not okay to victim shame.” It’s worth it to say that it’s not okay to perpetuate ideas that it matters what you’re wearing. I also think we have to hold space for people to grow, and I think that I also kind of want to slow burn the process that lead her to disclosing this.
I thought it was kind of a forced move, and it’s clear that she has things to process, but I did want to hold space [inaudible 00:48:22] knowledge that she’s in this moment of growth, and that she is dealing with this, and that she is also a victim. Victim shaming has no place in our society, and also, we … and part of that is also being accountable to survivors and uplifting them in a multitude of ways. My kind of burn unburn is about the bravery of Gabby Douglas coming forward, burning the process that lead her to do it. Yeah.
Brenda: There you have it. Our first unburn, the way hurt people can hurt people. That’s a [crosstalk 00:48:53]-
Amira: It’s not as light as our usual burn, but I think it’s a necessary addition.
Lindsay: And we’ll just throw all-
Lindsay: … everything that lead to … like you said, to Gabby having to disclose and also just victim shaming in general. I think we can do another burn for that.
Lindsay: Burn, burn, burn.
Brenda: On that note, Lindsay.
Lindsay: Yeah, this is kind of related. Last week, if you listen to last week’s episode, which if you haven’t, I would as you to go back and do that when you’re done with this one. We talked to Rachael Denhollander and he was the first victim to come forward publicly to accuse or to talk about the abuse she suffered at the hands of Larry Nassar. Now, this week, Nassar was sentenced to 60 years in prison on federal charges of child pornography. He has two sentencing hearings upcoming in January. That’s all really exciting, and it is because of the two women we talked to last week on the show that Nassar is being brought to justice, because of the investigative reporting by the Indy Star, and because of Denhollander really starting this wave of victims coming forward.
That’s really incredible, but we want to put on the burn pile, once again, USA gymnastics, who the very same day this historic ruling came down to put Nassar in jail, USA gymnastics filed a ruling asking to be dismissed, so they wanted to dismiss the civil suit against USA gymnastics. The name of the court case is Denhollander et al., meaning all the victims, versus Michigan State et al., meaning Michigan state and the other institutions who are responsible, including USA gymnastics. USA gymnastics filed to dismiss this case against them, saying, “Plaintiff’s negligence-based claim fails as a matter of law because USA gymnastics did not owe a legal duty to the plaintiffs. USA gymnastics had no legal duty to protect plaintiffs from Nassar’s criminal conduct,” and it also says that, “USA gymnastics has no duty to warn Michigan State, [inaudible 00:50:58] or others of the reported concerns about Nassar.” Holy God.
Jessica: It’s terrifying. It’s terrifying.
Lindsay: USA gymnastics, I don’t even know how you come back from that. If you really want to argue over these technicalities, and think that because this is a legal thing that this is the right thing to do, it is not. You failed hundreds and hundreds and hundreds … we’ll never know how many … girls. Burn.
Brenda: Burn. Jessica?
Jessica: Yeah, so I want to talk about Oregon basketball. In October, Kenny Jacoby, who’s a young reporter from Sports Illustrated, who actually will graduate from Oregon any day now, that’s how young he is, reported on a case of a basketball player, Kavell Bigby-Williams, a power forward who had transferred to Oregon from Gillette College in Wyoming back in 2016. Bigby-Williams went back to Wyoming in September of 2016 for a visit, returning to Oregon with an investigation for rape hanging over him. Oregon told Jacoby that head coach Dana Altman was aware that police were looking into Bigby-Williams, but Altman didn’t know why or anything about the nature of the allegation.
According to a UO spokesperson, it is the school’s practice not to notify coaches when student athletes are accused of sexual assault so as not to risk, quote, “Tainting investigations.” Jacoby didn’t let it go. He requested Altman’s phone records from the days around when the school learned about what had been reported in Wyoming. Here’s what he found, quote, “In the first 48 hours after school officials learned of the police investigation into Bigby-Williams, Altman had five phone calls with Lisa [Peterson 00:52:29], the school’s Deputy Title Nine Coordinator, and another four phone calls with Bigby-Williams’ former coach at Gillette College, Shawn Neary. Both Peterson and Neary had direct knowledge of the criminal investigations into Bigby-Williams.” How about that? Altman has told another reporter … he didn’t answer any of Jacoby’s requests … that he didn’t ask for any specifics on those calls, y’all, he just asked if there were criminal charges pending. Okay, sure.
The thing is, this isn’t a first for Oregon and Altman. In march of 2014, three men’s basketball players were accused of gang raping a fellow student. One of those students was a transfer student who had left his previous school after he was reported for sexual assault. There’s a lot of muddied water as to who knew what when and how the school made decisions about that case, but the players were not disciplined until after the NCAA tournament. In May of that year, they were dismissed from the team, and then expelled from school. Months later, a local news station quote reported that, quote, “University of Oregon officials may have delayed the expulsion of the three men’s basketball players in order to maintain the team’s academic rating, avoiding NCAA sanctions and assuring bonuses be paid to coaches and officials.” Now there’s the Bigby-Williams case. It sure is helpful when coaches don’t know anything about anything bad. Burn that excuse.
Shireen: Okay, so mine’s pretty quick. I just, I had a lot of things to burn this week, but one of the most frustrating things I kept founding was that we heard lots of reports, again, about the Nike Pro Sport Hijab, the Pro Hijab that came out. They’re actually releasing it for sale on December 1st. If anyone wants to buy me one, I’m totally open for that, or they want to send me free swag, fine, whatever. The reality is the way that this was reported on. The release was supposed to come only in the Middle East in spring 2018, but now it’s being sold worldwide. Now, the problem is, like I said, the reporting has said that this is the first hijab, sports hijab of its type, et cetera, et cetera, which is absolutely not true.
I mean, there’s a 20 year history of modest sportswear and how people have been doing it. What bothers me is this capitalist sort of encroachment onto everything else that’s already been done. Yes, arguably Nike is the biggest sportswear brand in the world, but doesn’t mean that they’re the first, doesn’t mean they were the most original. Literally, their ideas have been coming off the backs of other … predominantly women’s work. I wrote a piece for Muslim [inaudible 00:54:53] media watch about this, it was pretty ranty because I mean, I tend to do that. It’s fine, but I just don’t like it. What’s happening is the athletes are being used as marketing tools, and I totally understand that, because in world where Muslim women don’t often get a choice to be brand ambassadors, Nike is a great opportunity.
I’m sure the product is amazing, whatever, but I just really dislike that we cut out those parts of history. Not just because I have two historians as co-hosts. Just really, I hate the fact that this happens because the work that I do, and the work that all these women have done, and these athletes have done, it literally just discounts it. I really want to burn that this week.
Brenda: Okay, I’m going to close out this week with a match tip to Shireen for reminding me of this awful garbage. I want to burn the inactivity of women’s football, particularly in Nigeria. I know we’ve covered this, but understand we’re going to keep covering it because it’s the mundane machinery that keeps women’s football pushed aside globally, despite all of FIFAs bullshit rhetoric to the contrary. Last year, 40,000 people attended the final of the women’s Africa Cup of Nations between Cameroon and Nigeria.
No sooner had it been played than the Nigerian players had to protest because those women had not received the promised salaries and bonuses. Now, poof, total inactivity for the past year. If you go to the FA, the official FA site on FIFA and you click on women, there’s nothing there. There’s no … nothing on deck, no scheduled friendlies. You only get the men’s last friendly with Argentina, which they won, and that’s it. When officials were asked, and this is … I really want to extra burn this … they responded that it was strategy.
Jessica: Oh my God. [crosstalk 00:56:47]
Brenda: Ha, ha, ha, ha. No one thinks that’s strategy. Nowhere and no place does somebody say, “We’re just not going to play a year, strategically.” That’s stupid, and we don’t believe that.
Brenda: We don’t believe that, Nigeria FA. None of us believe it, so way … and Nigeria’s had a professional women’s league for decades. That is just total fakery. I want to burn it. Help me burn it.
Brenda: Okay. Rising like the phoenix from the ashes are our badass women of the week. We’re going to start off with some wonderful honorable mentions. First, we’d like to … before we even do that … recognize the victims of Larry Nassar, who was sentenced to 60 years in prison this week. Our honorable mentions include Latoya Snell, a runner, chef, and blogger at Running Fat Chef, who says that comments about her weight won’t keep her away from future runs. Great work to combat fat shaming on her part. Former Sweden goal keeper, Carolyn Johnson, and former Chilean youth international, and one of my favorite people, Camila Garcia, have joined FIFA pros global board and will help advocate for professional footballers. [inaudible 00:58:05], a Metis woman, is the first indigenous woman to play for team Canada, and is hoping to score a spot on the Olympic hockey team. Best of luck to her. Can I get a drum roll? … Okay.
Lindsay: That was fancy.
Brenda: That was amazing. The bum bum is so holiday spirit, as well. We should thank friend of the show, Aubrey Bloomfield for this suggestion, the badass woman of the week is Laurel Hubbard, New Zealand’s first transgender weightlifter, who recently won silver at the world championships in California. Her silver medals are the first ever claimed by a New Zealand weightlifter at a senior world championships. She changed gender four years ago and complies with all physical conditions put in place by the international Olympic committee, including having her testosterone tested. She continues, despite that, to face nasty abuse in social media and transphobic comments and complaints from coaches and other athletes. Even to the press, other coaches have expressed they don’t want her to win, they don’t want her to compete. For her perseverance and badassery, congratulations Laurel Hubbard, you are our badass woman of the week.
Brenda: As we wind down what has been a difficult year for many of us, let’s talk about what’s giving us hope. Lindsay?
Lindsay: Yeah, I got to actually meet miss Amira in person this week, and we had never met in person. We had margaritas, we had our own burn pile. It was wonderful, and yeah. That made me really happy. Honestly, I’m really excited about this Patreon campaign. I think, in addition to helping make us sustainable, I think it’s going to be a great way for us to connect with our listeners a little bit more, and get our listeners a little bit more involved in the show. We just love you guys so much and we’re so excited about the future. We’re so appreciative for all the work you’ve done getting us this far.
Brenda: We forgot to put on the rewards Shireen selfies. I think [crosstalk 01:00:11] really big section.
Lindsay: I thought those were just for me, Brenda.
Brenda: Speaking of which, Shireen, what’s keeping you going?
Shireen: Well, first and foremost, the TFC winning was a really, really big thing.
I’m still reveling in that, and I will revel in it for a while and buy some Champion gear. I did order a pair of new sneakers because I’m running and the sneakers that I got from Adidas are actually called Vengeful Woman, that’s the name of the sneakers, which I am all about. I also am really excited about a lot of things. One is because a Danish national newspaper actual named Nadia Nadeem dane of the year, who you all know I love so much, and Berlingske is the name of the newspaper, so I’m also really excited about that for her. I’m just accumulating joy, and we celebrated my mom’s birthday over the weekend. Happy birthday, momma. Love her.
Brenda: Yay. Happy birthday. Amira?
Amira: Yes, well, I had a great time meeting Lindsay as well. It was worth the DC traffic. I’m hopeful that by the time you hear this, fun listeners, I will be done grading. Then I’m off to Hawaii. I’m very excited. I am doing a little bit of work. I have some really cool research to do about the first black woman athletic director there at the University of Manoa, and her relationship to the author of Title Nine. I’m very excited to get into the archives and do that. I’m also excited because my husband’s coming with me but the kids are not. A little end-of-the-semester vacation for me as well.
Brenda: Awesome. Jess?
Jessica: Yeah. It snowed in Texas this week. My son, who is nine, could not remember ever seeing snow at our house. There was snow when he was a baby, but he could not remember it. He was so excited. He made snowballs. He wasn’t good at it, so I had like a whole five minute … he told me all about it. We have one in our freezer now, because he wanted to keep it. He played out in it for a couple hours. His joy was just contagious, it was so fun. Then the best part was that the snow only stuck around for 18 hours or so and we’re back to sunny days in the 60’s.
Brenda: Okay, and for me, it’s finishing the semester. I feel like even the most beautiful and constructive teacher student relationships should and must come to an end.
Amira: Hear, hear.
Brenda: I have loved my students, and it’s a warm fuzzy feeling to take stock of what we’ve learned this semester. It’s a warm fuzzy feeling to be moving on. That’s what’s good for me this week, is the closure, the reflection, the closure, all that jazz. All right, that’s it for this week’s episode of Burn It All Down. We’d like to thank Hofstra University for its ongoing support. Burn It All Down lives on SoundCloud, but can also be heard on Apple Podcast, iTunes, Tune In, and Google Play. We always appreciate your reviews and feedback, so please subscribe, rate, tell us what you liked or what you didn’t like about the show.
We hope you’ll also follow us on Twitter at burnitdownpod, and on Facebook at Burn It All Down. You can also reach us via our website at burnitalldownpod.com. That’s where you can find our show notes and links to the topics that we discuss. Of course, you can always email us at email@example.com. That’s it for us this week. I’m Brenda Elsey, on behalf of Shireen Ahmed, Amira Rose-Davis, Lindsay Gibbs, and Jessica Luther, wishing you a peaceful and marvelous end to 2017.