Episode 47: Athlete Moms, Athlete Activists, and Women are Athletes Worthy of Coverage
This week, Amira Rose Davis, Brenda Elsey, and Jessica Luther discuss Serena Williams and other athlete moms, including those in college. Jessica interviews Molly Yanity, assistant professor of journalism at Quinnipiac University, about what’s really wrong with the coverage of women’s basketball and women’s sports more generally. Then Amira, Brenda, and Jessica turn to professional leagues’ responses to athlete activism (which includes an update on Kaepernick).
As always, you’ll hear the Burn Pile, Bad Ass GIRLS of the Week, and what’s good in our worlds.
Intro (5:11) Athlete moms (19:20) Jessica interviews Molly Yanity (30:59) Athlete activism (48:48) Burn Pile (56:05) Bad Girls Woman of the Week (59:19) What’s Good (1:04:12) Outro
For links and a transcript…
“Serena Williams’ return sparks seeding debate about pregnancy” https://edition.cnn.com/2018/03/20/tennis/serena-williams-pregnancy-seeding-blake-miami/index.html
“James Blake: Tennis seedings punish Serena Williams, other returning mothers” https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/early-lead/wp/2018/03/20/james-blake-tennis-seedings-punish-serena-williams-other-returning-mothers
“Why Serena Williams’ Pregnancy Will Probably Boost Her Corporate Sponsorship Deals” http://fortune.com/2017/04/20/why-serena-williams-pregnancy-will-probably-boost-her-corporate-sponsorship-deals/
“What pregnancy means for top female athletes and endorsements” http://money.cnn.com/2018/02/26/news/companies/female-athletes-pregnancy/index.html
“How these two champion moms juggled work, family, and Olympic medals” https://www.boston.com/sports/olympics/2018/02/26/how-two-olympic-moms-juggled-work-family-medals
“5 Winter Olympians & Paralympians Who Are Mothers Competing In PyeongChang 2018” https://www.bustle.com/p/5-winter-olympians-paralympians-who-are-mothers-competing-in-pyeongchang-2018-7869817
“Sporting Mums” (video) http://www.skysports.com/watch/video/10199634/sporting-mums
“Single Mothers in College: Growing Enrollment, Financial Challenges, and the Benefits of Attainment” https://iwpr.org/publications/single-mothers-college-growing-enrollment-financial-challenges-benefits-attainment/
“O.J. Simpson: ‘I Think Colin [Kaepernick] Made a Mistake’” https://www.si.com/nfl/2018/03/16/oj-simpson-colin-kaepernick-national-anthem-protest
“Eric Reid Relents, Says He’ll No Longer Protest During The Anthem If An NFL Team Signs Him” https://deadspin.com/eric-reid-relents-says-hell-no-longer-protest-during-t-1824004016
“Grandstanding Houston PD Chief Calls Michael Bennett “Morally Corrupt” In Bizarre Press Conference” https://deadspin.com/grandstanding-houston-pd-chief-calls-michael-bennett-m-1824034509
“Johnny Manziel throws at San Diego pro day before scouts of 13 teams” http://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/22873404/johnny-manziel-throws-san-diego-pro-day-13-nfl-teams-watch
“Sacramento Kings Owner Calls Stephon Clark Killing a ‘Horrific Tragedy’” https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/23/sports/stephon-clark-sacramento-kings.html
“Martina Navratilova reveals staggering pay gap between herself and male Wimbledon commentator” https://thinkprogress.org/navratilova-equal-pay-6f2ddfabcf6a/
“Brennan lodges complaint with Australian Human Rights Commission over ban” https://www.theage.com.au/sport/afl/brennan-lodges-complaint-with-australian-human-rights-commission-over-ban-20180323-p4z5u3.html
“Tonga’s PM Assures That Girls Are Allowed to Play Rugby After Education Minister Says Otherwise” https://jezebel.com/tongas-pm-assures-that-girls-are-allowed-to-play-rugby-1824027866
“Chennedy Carter’s shot propels Texas A&M into Sweet 16” https://www.ncaa.com/news/basketball-women/article/2018-03-22/womens-basketball-chennedy-carters-shot-propels-texas-am
“Fifa rankings: England women up to all-time high of second behind USA” http://www.bbc.com/sport/football/43512457
“La mujer que derribó la puerta de los palcos de Sudamérica” https://ve.besoccer.com/noticia/la-presidenta-que-derribo-la-puerta-de-los-palcos-de-sudamerica-397587
“Buffalo head coach Felisha Legette-Jack discusses women of color in coaching” https://highposthoops.com/2018/03/24/buffalo-head-coach-felisha-legette-jack-discusses-women-color-coaching/
“North Valley’s Kelsey Anchors Makes History as Oregon’s First Female HS Baseball Coach” http://www.kdrv.com/content/news/North-Valleys-Kelsey-Anchors-Makes-History-as-Oregons-First-Female-HS-Baseball-Coach-477711283.html
“The story behind 11-year-old Naomi Wadler and her March for Our Lives speech” https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/the-story-behind-11-year-old-naomi-wadler-and-her-march-for-our-lives-speech/2018/03/25/3a6dccdc-3058-11e8-8abc-22a366b72f2d_story.html
“Parkland student survivor throws up on stage, then finishes her speech” https://www.cnn.com/2018/03/24/us/march-threw-up-on-stage/index.html
“Emma Gonzalez’s incredible moment of silence at March for Our Lives” https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2018/3/24/17159916/march-for-our-lives-emma-gonzalez-silence
“March for Our Lives’ Edna Chavez speaks for the kind of gun violence that doesn’t make front pages” https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2018/3/24/17159698/march-for-our-lives-edna-chavez-gun-violence
“Aalayah Eastmond headed to D.C. to fight for her ’17 angels'” (video) https://www.nbcnews.com/hallie-jackson/watch/aalayah-eastmond-headed-to-d-c-to-fight-for-her-17-angels-1192257091620
Amira: Hello, hello, hello, flamethrowers. Welcome to this week’s episode of Burn It All Down. It’s the feminist sports podcast you need.
I am Amira Rose Davis, Assistant Professor of History and Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies at Penn State and I’m joined today with the fabulous and phenomenal co-host that I have, Brenda Elsey, checking in from Argentina who’s the Associate Professor of History at Hofstra University. And Jessica Luther, who’s a freelance journalist in Austin, Texas. Welcome ladies.
Jessica: Good morning. Hello.
Amira: I would like to take this time to remind our flamethrowers out there about our Patreon campaign. How it works is that you pledge a certain amount monthly, as low as $2 or as high as you want, to become official patron of the podcast. In exchange for your monthly contribution, you get access to exclusive content. Over the Olympics, for instance, we did hot takes on everything that was happening in the Olympic games, we also have exclusive interviews there, giveaways, it’s definitely the place you wanna be. If you wanna join up for our Patreon campaign, you can go directly to Patreon, www.patreon.com/burnitalldown or you can go to our website, www.burnitalldownpod.com and navigate to Patreon from there.
So this week, on the episode, we’re gonna talk athlete moms. We’re also going to discuss Kaepernick continuing to be out of the NFL and the various league responses to protest and give an update in that regard. Plus, Jess interview Molly Yanity who’s Assistant Professor of Journalism at Quinnipiac College about sports media and women’s sports coverage.
But before we start, in the throws of March Madness, guys, can I tell you something that’s just really grinding my gears because I don’t understand? I saw a Tweet when they were talking about Yukon scoring 140 points and the first comment was like, “Tell me when they make 140 sandwiches.”
Amira: And I was just like … guys, I don’t understand what … like it’s not even funny. It’s not even original. And then all the people who were like, “This is why nobody watches women’s basketball. Why do you even have a tournament, just give Yukon the crown.” And I was like, “But they didn’t even win last year.” Like it literally — like I understand misogyny, like I get that, I get patriarchy — I just cannot comprehend trolls. I don’t get why.
Jessica: Yeah, their deep investment —
Amira: Who has time?
Jessica: Their deep investment in telling us how much they don’t care is always fascinating to me. Like if you didn’t care, then just shut up! Like move on.
Brenda: They enjoy it.
Amira: I just don’t understand.
Brenda: I think there’s a pleasure in being able to tell women that they’re less than and they enjoy it.
Jessica: Yeah, absolutely.
Brenda: I think it’s like the kid on the back of the bus, you know, none of those guys are knocking down three pointers for some great division one school. They’re sitting on the couch, hating on women.
Brenda: But it’s so clear they enjoy it. They love the discussion of — and I’ve had this in the classroom, sadly, sometimes too — the enjoyment of discussing how women’s sports are never gonna be as good, and then they’re like, “Okay, so take Marta, she would never be Naylor,” like that’s a productive conversation.
Brenda: And they’re just gleeful.
Jessica: And part of it is this focus on that one game that Yukon played, which was round one, anyway, is just — it means that no one — there’s so much more basketball that was happening.
Amira: And so much competitive basketball.
Jessica: So much!
Amira: Good basketball.
Jessica: We just had two number 11’s make it into the Sweet 16 for women’s basketball.
Jessica: I mean the idea that they don’t also have this kind of parody is so ugh … I don’t know. It just makes me so angry the way that’s the intense focus when there’s just so much going on other than that.
Jessica: But it’s so good.
Brenda: And there’s nuns!
Amira: Precisely and I feel that there’s a certain thing that March Madness brings out, like this is obviously a 365 situation, but March Madness, in particular, seems to bring out the worst of it. When UMBC was making their run and their official Twitter handle took the time to say, “Hey, while you’re doing all your hot takes, remember we’re not the first sixteen seed in the NCAA post season tournament to upset number one seed, that was actually Harvard’s women’s basketball 20 years ago. So if you’re talking about us, make sure you just say the first 16 seed on the men’s side. And the backlash to that Tweet, and they started retweeting things like I can’t believe it’s affecting you that much to acknowledge — I’m like it’s so easy to acknowledge that it’s not the first. Like what?
Jessica: I know. Yeah. The rampant sexism that comes out in March Madness is just stunning.
Amira: It really is.
Jessica: And unsurprising! Stunning and unsurprising, so …
Alright. So Serena Williams is returning to tennis. In the last few weeks, we had the wonderful chance of seeing her play again. You might remember that when she left tennis to have her beautiful baby girl, she left ranked as the world’s number one. As she’s returned to tennis, she’s returned unseeded.
So, in the last week, in particular, because of the draws that she’s gotten as an unseeded entrant into these tournaments, she has been facing stiff competition from the start. She met her sister in the third round at Indian Wells, she just, this past week, drew Naomi Osaka very early and, ultimately, lost to her. So it has sparked conversation about the way the WTA welcomes women back following childbirth and if there is a disadvantage, and if it is unfair, if there, essentially, needs to be revision for what is their maternity leave policy.
So, Jess, I know I consider you the president of Serena’s Texas branch of her fan club.
Amira: So let me ask you, do you think is an issue about maternity leave?
Jessica: Yeah, it absolutely is and, can I just back up for one second to say how stunning it is that you just read a sentence that Venus and Serena played at Indian Wells together? That’s an amazing thing that I hadn’t really put that together until …
Amira: I know.
Jessica: Because of the history of racism that the two sisters faced many years ago, whoever knew that we would see that again? But, yeah, it’s definitely a maternity leave issue. They treat maternity leave as if it’s an injury and so the idea is that once you go away, you come back, you do have a protected ranking, which means that you get eight opportunities in that year to enter into a tournament that uses seeding — I guess they all do — and you’re guaranteed that you’ll get in, but you don’t get a seeding spot. I guess there’s some, like Wimbledon, could, in theory, seed Serena, despite whatever her ranking is, but she’s currently ranked 451 in the world.
So she is allowed to play in these tournaments — these eight tournaments, but she doesn’t get the advantage that you get when you’re seeded the way that you actually should be. So like you said, she’s ends up playing very good people in the early rounds of tournaments and that’s unfair to both her and the people she’s playing, right? If you’re number one and you have to face Serena Williams, that’s not really fair to you, either. Part of what you earn with your number one ranking is that you don’t have to play people like that, that good early on.
We also have Vika — Victoria Azarenka, who recently came back — I can’t remember what she was ranked when she left, but she is facing the same thing. She was gone for maternity leave and the idea is that who’s gonna take maternity leave if that’s what they’re risking, right? It’s not an injury. It’s not bad luck that happens to you or something like that.
I do think the WTA’s gonna have to figure this out. Last year, Azarenka had a custody battle with the father of her baby, so she hasn’t been playing as much as she wanted to, but last year, when she was on the circuit in 2017, she also addressed that the WTA doesn’t have the same stuff in place that the ATP, for the men, does. The men have nurseries and the women don’t. So the WTA has issues, yeah, yeah. The WTA has issues with parenting, in general, and they’re gonna have to figure this out and it just come to the floor because the most famous player, ever, is now a mother.
Amira: Right. That’s baffling. That makes no … okay.
Jessica: I know, I know. She was — it was back in July —
Brenda: I think it might be Roger Federer, right? Wasn’t it like a group of these men that got together —
Brenda: — to ask for it? I’m trying to remember.
Jessica: Yeah, I do think there was something like that and, I mean, part of it, the reason you’re thinking of Federer is that she was asked if Federer’s success — Azarenko was asked last July if Federer’s success, while being a father, is a success to her — or is an inspiration to her and Azarenko said, “Roger definitely has not inspired me. No disrespect to him and I think it’s amazing, you know, but it’s a little different for him.” So he definitely was wrapped into all this because he has twins — is there another baby? Anyway …
Brenda:I think so, yeah.
Jessica: He definitely, yeah. I mean there are definitely fathers on the circuit that don’t — we live in a gendered world and a sexist world and even the most famous of women will probably end up doing a lot of the childcare in the relationship because that’s often how it works and it’s hard, right?
I definitely wanna — one thing I would like to talk about with you guys that I think a lot about is that pregnancy is definitely a physical thing, and playing a sport is definitely a physical thing, and bodies change, and I don’t know how to have that conversation to both acknowledge that it does have an impact on you, physically, but also that women shouldn’t be punished for that either, and I struggle with that, sort of, that space.
Brenda: Part of the reason, I think, it’s tough to have that conversation is there’s simply not a lot of research on elite women athletes and pregnancy. You know, because of these obstacles to them doing it, there’s just not much research, in terms of how their metabolism changes, how their skeletal frame changes, how it changes hormones in the long term, in relation to their athletics; there’s tons about pregnancy, but when you go and try to read —
I read one article in the British Medical Journal because part of my book has something to do with physical education and pregnancy and there’s no research out there, and I read this article in the British Journal of Medicine, which is really hard and I understood like 20%, but what I did understand was over and over again, they kept saying, “We simply don’t know enough to say.” So they were trying to look at the IOC and make recommendations about elite women athletes and pregnancy, and they couldn’t do it.
So I got enough to know that there’s just simply not that much research out there, which makes sense because there hasn’t been that many cases of women, because it is so difficult, who are able to maintain those two things.
Amira: Well it’s also beyond being difficult, historically speaking, one of the things that was understood about athletics was that, as a woman, you could participate in athletics, but it was very much something you did as a young woman. So what you see time and time again is that when you get married, when you have kids, that was seen as the end of your career.
Now you put away the childish things like being elite track star or a basketball plater and you settle into your real calling, which is as a housewife or your post-athletic career. For the elite athletes who did have kids at an early age or while they were in competition, a lot of them hid them. So Wilma Rudolph had a baby a year and a half before she won her three gold medals in Rome, right? That was a literally hidden child.
Jessica: Wow. Wow.
Amira: And the newspaper reporters used to send reporters down to Clarksville, Tennessee to try to catch her with her daughter. The thing is that her family has 22 kids in it so they would come own to the house and there would be kids everywhere and a huge family, so they could never do it, but she had a kid that we, even at the time, didn’t really remember. When I talked to Coach Temple before he passed away and he told me what Wilma didn’t come on one of the trips they made, she’s like, “Oh, yeah, she had the flu.” And I said, “Well, Coach, I know she was pregnant.” But he had gotten so used to, “Oh, she has the flu,” because there was this veil of secrecy around her pregnancy. And she was certainly not the only one.
So I think that, when we’re considering the way that it has taken a long time for us to have conversations, sort of get the research around elite women athletes having kids is because, for so long, having kids or choosing to settle down has been seen as retirement and that’s when it’s over.
I think that you see a lot of articles popping up about the soccer moms as women in the U.S. national team begin to have kids and bringing them around the team and so forth. As athletes like Serena continue to play longer, as we have sports technology that helps people sustain their bodies longer and stay in the game, as we open up professional opportunities for women so that they don’t have to be done after college, this is going to continue to be a conversation because more and more people are going to want to merge their family life with their careers and, especially, when we’re talking about professional women. They’re juggling the same thing that professional women are juggling everywhere. It seems like, in many cases, suffering the same kind of baby tax, if you will, that professional women, across the board.
Jessica: Yeah, can I just mention, very quickly, that the WNBA has a lot of moms, or more than we normally see. There was a player, Dearica Hamby, I wanna say, in San Antionio last year, who would breastfeed before she would come play basketball, which I just found — just the things that moms are doing are remarkable and, yeah, it would be amazing if we had a lot more data and understanding of what all that means.
Amira: Certainly. You know professional moms are not the only athletic moms out there. Brenda?
Brenda: Well, yeah I mean the student athlete moms are another segment of the population — single student mothers are the largest growing group of university students and one of the things that’s difficult, of course, is that even professors can’t even get their kids into university daycare.
Brenda: How on earth can any students do it — and like you said, nursing, I had an office, I could cover my window in my door, and tell people to go away, but if you’re a student athlete and — what — how is that working? So there’s a whole lot of obstacles to that and the thing is that, as pro-leagues grow, like the NWSL now, it had a big draft recently, and that’s gonna be an issue because if these women aren’t able to finish their college careers, then if there’s this pipeline into the end of the NWSL it becomes hard for them to get — to have the same opportunities to go pro, as well.
Amira: And I think, Brenda, one of the things that you touched on so much or so pointedly was access to things as college students. I was a student parent in college and even as a grad student, when I was a student parent twice over, it wasn’t even — I actually was barred from having access to the campus lactation rooms because you’re not faculty.
Amira: So there’s huge issues with how universities help student parents, in general, and then you compound that with student athletes who are in exploitative systems and have a lot on their plate, both as students and as athletes, and a lack of resources. If you guys remember, maybe like a couple months ago, one of the — for our best of episodes, I highlighted a young woman from Iowa who had graduated, she was a track star, and she was a young mom, and I think that one of the things there is her articulation of how much support and how many resources she had; and resources come in many ways, so it’s not just access to lactation rooms, but it’s healthcare. Is there ability for a student parents and student athletes to have access to comprehensive healthcare? Do you have a support system? And so, I think it’s such a necessary conversation for many, many reasons.
Jessica: And can I just add, very quickly, that one of the things that we very rarely talk about with Title IX, is that the access to education, your civil rights, one of the groups that falls under that are pregnant and mothering women, right? And we often hear about it on the high school level, but it applies in college as well. Universities need to be making sure that moms and pregnant women and pregnant people can access their education the same as everyone else, so it’s also a legal issue and a civil rights issue.
Amira: Precisely. Before we wrap up discussion, I just want to circle back to Serena on another note, which is, did you guys see these reports that people estimate that now that Serena’s a mom, she stands to actually make more in endorsements as a mother.
Jessica: That’s fascinating! It’s fascinating.
Amira: Which is fascinating and, for me, it was like it immediately struck me as, “Oh, of course,” because of racist stereotypes and tropes that had basically said that Serena can’t be the spokesperson as somebody who embraces femininity and all this stuff because of all this anxiety around her body, and her skin color, etc. Now, having a baby, somehow makes her maternal, it makes her feminine in a way that we know, in talking about endorsement deals for women athletes, that you have to play up your femininity and your sexuality.
There’s a very small window that is like a kind of computation that we see women athletes who can fit inside that are the people who yield the most endorsements. It’s why, for so long, Serena’s endorsement numbers were way down compared to people she regularly demolished on the court, so I found that absolutely fascinating.
Brenda: Yeah I read that article in Forbes and one of the things that got me so mad, is they said, “She’s now more likable.”
Brenda: And I was like, “Oh man!” Like, what? You’re trying to sort of declaw her with her maternity or something? Moms are fierce, like look out. You know? I think that’s just sort of a miscalculation on their part and Serena’s handling this whole thing with total badassery, but they’re like, “Yeah, more likable, more easy to get along with.” I thought that was really disturbing.
Jessica: We like you, Serena Williams. We’ve always liked you.
Amira: And then the words of Brenda: “Moms are fierce.”
Great. Next, Jess interviews Molly Yanity. Check it out.
Jessica: I am so excited today to be joined by Molly Yanity. She’s an Assistant Professor of Journalism at Quinnipiac. She writes, extensively, on the coverage of women’s sports and women in sports journalism. She was a sports reporter at the Seattle Post Intelligencer and, tell me if I have this correct, you were an editor for WNBA.com. Right?
Molly Yanity: Yes, right when the league first started.
Jessica: Oh, wow. Good. Okay, so I have Molly here with me today to talk about this media dustup, this week, this sort of back and forth discussion about women’s basketball. And it started when Yukon beat St. Francis 140-52, in very Yukon fashion. Josh Peter of the USA Today lamented that this domination by Yukon is bad for women’s basketball because there’s never a new idea.
David Berri, he responded to Peter with a piece at Forbes. Berri pointed out the competitive balance doesn’t actually have a dramatic impact on attendance and men’s sport — that’s always the idea, like if women’s basketball is more competitive, then people would care more — but then Berri drew attention to some stats in sports media that help explain the problem with — in women’s sports. He said about 90% of sports editors are male. It’s estimated that only about 10% of sports coverage is created by women. Although 40% of athletes are women, women’s sports receive only about 4% of sports coverage. And as Berri noted last November, major internet sites are more likely to cover animals than women’s sports.
This particular argument upset The Big Lead’s managing editor, Jason Lisk, a father of two daughters, who said the problem isn’t how dominate men are in sports media, but rather, “the truth is that a large segment of the sports consuming public doesn’t care about women’s sports.” You know rinse repeat every merge.
How did you feel when you saw all of this, Molly? What were you thinking about?
Molly: When I saw Lisk’s piece, the first thing that struck me is that this particular man, who I’ve never met, he doesn’t his history of women’s sports media in the United States. And I say that because there’s the Cooky and Messner study that has, over the last 25 years, tracked women’s sports coverage in mainstream media. The way they’ve done this, though, is they’ve done it by looking at highlights shows. They actually, literally, they record two solid weeks of Sports Center and ABC, CBS, NBC news casts in Los Angeles and see how much of their sports coverage is devoted to women’s sports.
So when they started this in 1989 and, at the time, they found that only 5% of the highlights are devoted to women’s sports. That grew to its peak in 1999 when it was almost 9%. And then it has been gradually going down and now, the last time they did this was 2014, it was 3.2%. So that is even lower than when it started in ’89.
Molly: Two percentage points lower. So, okay, we’ve got those baseline numbers established, but then, actually, let’s go back and think of what has gone on in women’s sports since 1989. The 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. That was a watershed moment for women’s sports in this country, in the world, honestly. For the U.S. women, this was the moment. The U.S. won gold medals in basketball, softball, beach volleyball, gymnastics, synchronized swimming, the soccer team was incredibly competitive. ’99 they win the Brandi Chastain shirt off World Cup, right?
Jessica: That’s how we all think of it, yes.
Molly: It really is. Honestly, the WNBA came out of that Olympics and the American Basketball League, there were two leagues that started; and at that same time you’ve gotta think of local newspapers are covering everything that’s going on their area really well, when it came to women’s sports, Time Inc. started Sports Illustrated for women. When Sports Illustrated for women actually — that started in ’98 and it was really picking up steam in 2000/2001. They had just done this great big redesign, had all this money put into it, and they gave their big presentation on the redesign on September 8, 2001. Three days later, the world changed.
Molly: When that happened, when 9/11 happened, America got caught up in this — and rightfully so — this patriotic, very hyper masculine fervor and things started to change. The U.S. goes to war. The economy collapses. When the economy collapses, in that study that I had mentioned, between 2004-2009, women’s coverage on the highlights shows went from 6% to 1.5%.
Molly: So we can see, in that span, that clearly the resources for women’s sports, for women’s sports coverage dropped. And it dropped dramatically. And the people making those decisions, at that time, Mr. Lisk, were men. Largely men in major media corporations making these decisions and it has never really rebounded, even with an upswing in the economy.
We’ve also seen, in that time — or actually should say since 2004 to now — newspapers, local newspapers shrink, magazines disappearing, and local newspapers were really the impetus behind a lot of coverage at the local level. If a local newspaper has to fill its pages, it’s going to go to the high school volleyball game. These jobs are no longer — and Lisk did make that point, which I thought was — that he was on the money on that, but the resources are gone, the people aren’t there to cover it, those are all the things that have gone into it and we talk about — I’m kinda gonna shift directions here just a little bit — the, “Oh, you know, people don’t care about it. That’s why we don’t cover it.” That’s sort of a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Jessica: Right? Talk about that some. I think that’s a huge part of this.
Molly: We could chicken and egg it, like, “Oh, we don’t cover it and nobody cares,” “But no one cares because no one covers it,” but I’m gonna throw this one out there: ESPN, do they create a market or do they respond to the market? I have one word to answer that question: Poker. Right? There is no huge demand in this country. There’s no big demand int this country to watch poker on TV. ESPN created that.
Molly: They created it with some really savvy production. Lo and behold, they put this on TV, they make stars of people like Phil Hellmuth and Phil Ivey and the next thing you know, people are not only watching poker, they’re playing it. It made a difference in that market. ESPN created that market.
As a massive sports fan and a massive fan of women’s sports, I would rather watch just about anything than watch poker.
Jessica: Yeah, me too. That’s like my example, the thing I won’t watch.
Molly: Yeah. The one — every time I see it I’m like, ESPN created this market and I’ll be damned they can’t show a regular season women’s college basketball game, but they can show this for hours.
Jessica: I don’t know if you know this, but at the point when ESPN decided to show the X Games, were they like a big thing? I feel like ESPN created the spectacle that goes with the X Games, which, of course, we’ve now seen has had a massive impact on, say, the Olympic level, right? Like that is a direct result of the X Games that ESPN basically created because someone there was really interested in it.
Molly: You know they created it because they were trying to get a young, male audience and they were trying to go for that 18-25, specifically.
Jessica: Yeah, because they knew they could. They can create audience if they create the product, right? And I think Cheryl Reeve, who is the head coach of the Minnesota Lynx, she has been a huge critic of the media, both local and national, and how they cover women’s sports. She responded to this article and she had a line in there that’s in all caps that said, “This is fact: the more women’s sports are covered, the more popular and mainstream they will become.” And I agree with her. I really do think that media has the ability to build up fan culture and create a shared experience and —
Molly: With darts — Yeah, we see them create — we see the media create stars all the time.
Molly: As individuals and I completely agree with it. When the WNBA first got rolling and I was editing that website, I was amazed at how — at that time you had ESPN airing a weekly game, at least one, NBC was airing a game, Lifetime actually had one too. So there were three games a week, or for sure three televised games a week and sometimes they’d do double headers. Were their ratings amazing? No, but they increased for a few years, there.
Molly: And they were sort of a star quality about some of the basketball players like Cheryl Swoopes and Lisa Leslie at the beginning there.
Jessica: Oh, yeah.
Molly: It really was at about that 2001 time when things just started to change.
Jessica: Oh, that’s interesting. I hadn’t even put all of that together, the chronology of it. You know, to wrap up here, where do we go from here? So what would you prescribe as the way to start fixing this?
Molly: Where I am, I’m trying to do what I can at the college level, in teaching the value of making — of how we make these decisions and how we create — I use the poker example in class and you can see the light bulbs clicking over heads when I use that. Quinnipiac University’s — Yukon had that 140 point first round game, but in their second round game, they only scored 71 points and that was the Quinnipiac women’s basketball team that held them.
Molly: We have a very successful women’s basketball program, women’s hockey, rugby … really successful programs and they are enviable beats for the student media to have — that the students that do that are — take great pride in it. So, for me, I love that and I think that we just have to be cognizant of these decisions that are made and where resources go in media companies.
Molly: That’s what I got.
Jessica: And I do think it matters in moments like this. NBC, for the first time ever, they spent more time showing women competing at the Olympics than they did men, right?
Jessica: So the idea that it’s just the market is not fair and is not true. NBC clearly doesn’t believe it. And with one of the biggest sporting things that they do put a lot of money into. Yeah, I like that idea that it’s really about being conscious of the choices that they’re making.
Molly: Yeah. One of the other things in thinking about Lisk’s article, he mentioned that he has two daughter and every now and then they’ll try to get to — I think it was University of Missouri’s basketball game — you know, so many of the people that write these stories or the hot takes on the Yukon women’s bad for the game, whatever — they jump in at this point when they haven’t seen games all season. So the other prescriptive part of this is if you don’t know what you’re talking about, be quiet.
Molly: Because I see that over and over again. How many women’s college basketball games have you been to this year? My goodness! I mean if you want to see some great basketball, go watch any SCC women’s basketball game. Any big ten, any Pac-12 game. These are games that are just so exciting and you get into the tournaments — the conference tournaments — and that is great basketball with arenas that are just buzzing. Get into those communities and check it out. I think it is a product that is just so fun and everybody involved with it, in the most part, are engaging individuals who want to promote their sport and want to be part of the community. It’s really fun.
Jessica: Aww, thank you so much for joining us, Molly. It’s really great to have you on Burn it All Down.
Molly: Thank you so much. I’m a big fan.
Amira: So free agency for the NFL is in full swing and in the wheelings and dealings and constant tweaks from Schefter about who’s going where and whatnot, one name remains conspicuously unsigned and that is Colin Kaepernick. And I think that we’ve become so accustomed to him not being in the League and so accustomed to understanding why he’s not in the league that it’s almost like a blip on the back of our radar; it’s not really coming to the floor again.
Despite the fact that he’s working out. Despite the fact that he’s retweeting videos of him working out, and he’s been working out, and maintaining playing shape for the last two years, really. But he’s not the only conspicuous free agent.
Eric Reid, who you remember as one of the first people to join with Kaepernick to protest alongside of him, to be outspoken, he’s also a free agent. Devin McCourty of the New England Patriots, and also a member of the NFL Players Coalition, said on Friday, “Whether you’re talking about Kaepernick or Eric Reid, all the guys in the Coalition have said from the start the same thing, that these guys deserve a job and we believe, like everyone else, that the reason they don’t have a job is because they’re outspoken.”
So there’s reverberations of the League’s response to Kaepernick that we’re still feeling today. Brenda?
Brenda: Yeah. I mean I don’t know what else, even, sometimes there is to say about this. I wanted to ask you all if you had read a little bit about — what did OJ say about this?
Jessica: Oh, I’ve got it! I’ve got it right here! “I think Colin — ” this is OJ Simpson, everybody — “I think Colin made a mistake. I really appreciate what he was trying to say. I thought he made a bad choice in attacking the flag. The flag represents what we want America to be.” OJ Simpson, everybody.
Brenda: Oh boy.
Amira: I just can’t.
Jessica: Well if anybody knows about making mistakes … God … I just …
Amira: Who asked him —
Jessica: The Buffalo News, apparently.
Brenda: That’s exactly what my point was, how are these people actually qualified to be commenting on Kaepernick who’s done all of this amazing social justice work. Why are they the people who should weigh in on — I mean, OJ — I don’t know. Do you all think that Reid is the same case? I mean I don’t know that I know football well enough. I read all the stuff on Kaepernick that basically says, look, I mean you can prove all of these quarterbacks have gotten picked up before him, if you just know anything about football, regardless of politics, but what about Reid? I don’t know as much about his on-field record. Do you all?
Jessica: I think he’s considered one of the best safeties.
Amira: Yeah, he’s a pro-bowl safety.
Jessica: Yeah, he’s good.
Amira: Like there’s no way that he’s not qualified to be on an NFL roster. That’s the short story.
Jessica: Yeah, so Reid has backed off now. He’s given a quote saying that he probably won’t be protesting during the anthem anymore and he did say that it’s because the narrative around it got so garbled that people don’t understand what it is they’re actually working towards because they focus so hard on the anthem thing itself, rather than what it is they want to draw attention to. But it’s hard …
Amira: And Eric had a —
Jessica: Yeah, no you go — it’s just hard not to read it within the larger context of him watching what happened to his friend, Colin, and now trying to get on another team. I don’t want to tell Eric Reid what he should be doing, he’s done a lot of good stuff here, and he’s, clearly, very smart and capable, but, damn, the way people have messed up all of this for these players just burns me.
Brenda: That’s sad. That’s sad to read. You know? That he has to back off on his First Amendments rights for that.
Amira: Exactly. And Eric has — Precisely and Eric had a very important tweet the other day, too, when somebody was basically saying, “Yeah, the GMs and whatnot.” And he retweeted and said, “It’s not the GMs. The GMs are on board. It’s the ownership.” Which makes me believe that there’s been conversations with him from teams who are interested, but ultimately feel like their hands are tied because of ownership.
Jessica: Yeah, wow. And then part of what the discussion was this week that Johnny Manziel, who disgracefully left the NFL after lots of things including reports of terrible domestic violence, he was — I’m gonna try to get this right — there was a pro day, somewhere in California, and he was the one throwing balls at the pro day, which is basically where scouts go to look at potential athletes for the NFL. So, immediately, there were comparisons. Like why is this guy getting a chance in front of scouts when Kaepernick can’t get anything? And I have lots of feelings about Johnny Manziel and whatever, but to his credit, which is a really hard thing for me to say —
Amira: It was a twist that I did not see coming.
Jessica: To Manziel’s credit, he took to Twitter to directly talk about these comparisons and he said that he’s tired of being compared to Kaepernick because, “Kap is doing amazing things right now, changing lives and donating millions of dollars, his impact off the field from a societal standpoint is legendary and straight admirable.” He then said, “The fact — ” Yeah And then he said, “The facts of the matter are the reason he’s not being signed are non-football based. The guy took a team to the Superbowl and continuously wreaked havoc on the NFC West and the League. Maybe he had a bad year two years ago, but he’s not a bad player and that’s a fact. In my opinion, the guy still has a lot in the tank and it’s not my place to say what he wants to do with his career.”
So people are right, they should be comparing these — why does Manziel get the second chance, here, and Kaepernick doesn’t. That’s a good question to be asking. Manziel has said that he agrees with everyone who thinks that that’s weird, that Kap doesn’t have another chance, so, man, when you’re on the wrong side with Johnny Manziel I don’t — where are we? Where are we as a society?
Brenda: This is an upside down world.
Amira: Well you know the other person who was on that New Yorker cover with Martin Luther King and Kaepernick was Michael Bennett.
Jessica: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Amira: In this illustration. And Michael Bennett also made news. He’s been one of the most consistent outspoken athletes, as well. Recently traded from Seattle or acquired by the Eagles, which also has its share of outspoken people like Chris Long and Malcolm Jenkins. So he joins the Eagles, this week he was indicted by a Texas court going back to Super Bowl LI, which, if you remember, the Patriots came back form 28-3 to win a Super Bowl — so we’re talking about, not this year’s Super Bowl, we’re talking about last year’s Super Bowl — was indicted because after that game, they alleged that he didn’t listen to security officers, pushed past them, injuring a 66 year old paraplegic security officer at the stadium, gave this outrageous quote to a cop, which I don’t understand any black person except like maybe I don’t know, but it seems, on its face, outrageous that he told a cop, “Fuck you, I could own this. You know who I am,” and then marched on the field to find his brother, Martellus Bennett, who was playing for the Patriots at the time, to celebrate the win with him.
So this case has taken a very long time. They indicted him and then we retreated to — I don’t even know. I don’t have an adjective to describe the despicable nature of this press conference. Jess?
Jessica: Yeah, welcome to Art Acevedo, who is now the Houston police department chief who used to be the Austin police department chief. We have lots of feelings about Art Acevedo, here in Austin, Texas, but he is now at Houston and he called Bennett morally corrupt, morally bankrupt, and said, “I think it’s pretty pathetic that you’d put your hands on a 66 year old paraplegic and treat them like they don’t exist.”
I mean he’s been indicted on felony charges for this and I just — I mean for us — I mean part of it in here, in Texas, is like watching the discussion around how law enforcement has talked about Michael Bennet this week versus how law enforcement here in Austin has talked about a 23 year old white man who wreaked terror on this city and killed two people, injured a handful more with the bombs that he sent to people, and he was — those bombs were an outcry of a challenged young man or whatever they said; and then on the flip side you’re getting Acevedo talking about Michael Bennett being morally bankrupt and morally corrupt. That’s been very stark, that the relief of those two things up against each other.
And knowing that Art Acevedo, the reason we have an interim police chief in Austin, to say those things this week is because Art Acevedo left to go to Houston. So this is the police department he left behind and was in charge of for a very long time. So I don’t even know what to make of all this. You know?
Amira: Well, you know Michael’s book is coming out next week.
Jessica: Yeah, Things That Make White People Uncomfortable, is the name of that book.
Amira: Yeah, exactly.
Jessica: Michael Bennett.
Brenda: Things that challenged white people.
Jessica: Yeah, yeah. Man.
Amira: Well, you know the NFL continues to blubber its way through this moment, on the NBA where we’ve seen athletes and coaches continually being outspoken and not afraid of opinions and uplifting the opinions of athletes and coaches. We have seen this pattern continue this week.
Jessica: Horrible news out of Sacramento in the last week. A man named Stephon Clark, a black man, he was unarmed, he was shot 20 times in the back in his grandmother’s backyard. He was only holding a cellphone. It’s another just … it’s horrible.
Thousands of fans were unable to get into the arena to watch a Sacramento Kings game this week, though, because there were massive protests and they blocked the entrance. The police actually sent people home who were supposed to be able to get in to the watch the game. Only 2,000 fans actually made it into arena and the game was delayed by 20 minutes.
One of the things that was amazing, and it’s like the bar’s so low that this is what is amazing, but it’s still that the owner of the team, he took to the court afterwards and mic in hand and I sort of held my breath when I watched the video because you just never know where it’s coming from; and he actually took the time to acknowledge the horrific tragedy in our community, is what he called it, and he said, “On behalf of the players, the executives, the ownership, and the entire Kings family, I first of all want to express our deepest sympathies for the family.” He went on to say that, “We at the kings recognize your people’s ability to protest peacefully and we respect that. We here at the Kings recognize that we have a big platform, it’s a privilege, but it’s also a responsibility. It’s a responsibility that we take very seriously and we stand with you. Old, young, black, white, brown, and we are all united in our commitment.”
I mean, he didn’t apologize for the protesting, which I just — he was like, “No, this is — we understand why this happened tonight and we stand with you as a community.” And I just find that to be a remarkable thing for an owner of a professional team, in any capacity, to say and to call the death of Stephon Clark a tragedy on that — he’s right with the platform that he has, I just find that to be remarkable. The difference, again, stark relief — I have used that now multiple times today, but it is really something that that is what happened this week — in the same week when we’re talking about Manziel, Kaepernick, and Bennett.
Brenda: Why is that? I mean I know that there’s basic reasons, but why are these things so different, because of the NFL and the NBA just have called to take a totally different political feelings in the Trump era.
Amira: Well one of the reasons is that the NBA turns on its players — the brand through the NBA is the players, right? You have smaller teams, you have highly visible folks —
Jessica: And they don’t wear helmets.
Amira: Whereas —
Jessica: You can see their faces.
Amira: And the NFL is much more like, I don’t know, I wanna say like a factory. You have helmets on the head, the product is on the field, but part of that is not necessarily knowing who everybody is. You might know the players on your team and obviously you have some superstars, but those are large teams. There’s a thing that they always say, the NFL players are the players who leave the biggest tips or who spend the most in the club or whatnot because they have to really flash money because people don’t know them without their helmets — with their helmets off.
So the NBA has long, in a lot of spaces, understood that its brand is tied to their players. And the players have really led the way on this. Obviously Pop and Steve Kerr have been outspoken coaches, but it’s really been the players who have been outspoken and showing the League, “Hey, this is what we’re gonna do.” The League can’t stomp down on that.
You can look to something like the WNBA where the players tried to do the same thing and, in the WNBA, they tried to assess fines for them wearing black shirts and protest and part of the reason they thought they could get away with that in the WNBA was because they don’t have the same branding. Of course, when social media got ahold of it, it disrupted that and they rescinded the fine amount, but I think it points to that it’s not necessarily that NBA leadership loves the outspokenness of its athletes, but they understand that their entire brand is tied to these athletes in the way that the NFL understands itself as a much larger corporation that is serving the interests of the ownership.
Brenda: I wonder — I would be so curious to kind of read some data on fans, too. I mean I just have the sense, especially with all kinds of the different fantasy leagues and stuff that the demographic that the NFL has maintained is just politically different than the NBA.
Amira: Yeah, that’s certainly part of it.
Brenda: It’s just politically more conservative than our basketball fans.
Jessica: That would make sense.
Amira: I think there has been some work on that and I think that that is a really apt observation because that certainly goes into it as well.
Brenda: It’s a chicken and the egg, the defense department gives money for the NFL to stage these kinds of patriotic things because it thinks it sort of pleasing a certain segment of the population, but why didn’t they invest that in the NBA? You know what I’m saying?
Brenda: So that’s kind of interesting. I don’t know. It’s just fascinating to think about —
Amira: But the thing about fandom, because I think you’re completely right about that, but also fandom has its limitations. If you remember, I think one of the biggest fan bases for both the WNBA and for women’s soccer is the same kind of fan base, is catering to the same fan base, and the WNBA has partnered with pride groups. They have pride night and yet they still tried to assess the fine. I think that the WNSL is a great point in this where they actually passed a rule after Rapinoe kneeled, right?
Jessica: Yeah, yeah, mm-hmm (affirmative).
Amira: And the — go ahead, Brenda.
Brenda: No, no, I want you to finish because you’re right about this. The limits of fandom. No, I — go, go, go.
Amira: Well I think that is — but one of the things you allude to it is that there’s all of these things driving these disparate responses. I think fandom is definitely one of them, and I think the way the different sports think that they make money or position themselves, and then you have to look at leadership. So I think that there’s so many reasons why we get these disparate reactions.
Brenda: Yeah, I mean I was just thinking that the WNBA and the NWSL, to me, has a big difference in terms of, I think, racial breakdown of their fans and so that is kind of interesting, as well, to think about. But that was it, it wasn’t like a great thought, it was just an observation of how that would play into their reaction to protests, is —
Amira: In what protest?
Brenda: — is a very —
Brenda: A reaction to the WNBA’s and kind of their more severe answer than one might expect.
Amira: Well, no, but I think that you’re exactly right on that, like there’s a reason why these are spaces in which they can have pride alliances and whatnot, in that regard, be very progressive and we know, right, that when it comes to race, we’re talking about a different kind of can of worms. I think that you’re right to point out those disparities in demographics around fandom and the players playing because, I think, that that is a reason why, especially when you’re trying to keep this “family image” because the biggest revenue, the biggest kind of fan locations for a lot of these sports are — somebody was just telling me this week — the crowd is under seven or over sixty-five, right? The marketing is like this is a, inter-generational family event that we can go see women’s basketball or soccer. And this idea that family friendly means that we’re not talking about white supremacy, I think goes a long way.
Well we will continue to monitor this situation, we continue to say Stephon Clark’s name and lift him up along with all the other victims of police brutality, gun violence, it’s a kind of depressing note to end on, but this is where we are.
It’s time to burn some things. Jess, what are you burning this week?
Jessica: Yeah, well it was hard to choose and I wanna give —
Amira: There’s so much to burn this week.
Jessica: Yeah, I wanna give a shutout to Lindsay who is always doing amazing work with ThinkProgress, but she had a great piece about discrimination in sled hockey and another about discrimination in wrestling, and both of those stories are worthy of burn piles and everyone should go check those out at ThinkProgress, but I chose to go with discrimination in tennis commentating because wtf? The BBC pays Martina Navratilova ten times less than they pay John McEnroe for tennis commentating.
Amira: Ten times?
Jessica: Ten times less than they pay John McEnroe for tennis commentating during Wimbledon and, according to Navratilova the BBC top brass told her to her face that they were making comparable amounts of money and she only found out his salary when it was published last year in the media.
I’m not only annoyed because of the actual pay disparity here, but more because Navratilova is so much better at commentating than John McEnroe.
Amira: She is good.
Jessica: Right? And then beyond all of this, Navratilova was a better player. What she did during her career was so much better than what he did if we compare the stats. Lindsay wrote a great piece about this for ThinkProgress and it’s typically great in the fashion that Lindsay is, and she drops lots of wonderful comparisons between McEnroe and Navratilova throughout the entire thing, including that Martina “won a combined 59 major titles in singles, doubles, and mixed doubles while McEnroe had 17 combined major titles.” Lindsay writes, “That means McEnroe, who won the Wimbledon singles title three times in his career, was paid ten times as much as Navratilova who won the Wimbledon singles title nine times in her career.”
It’s really a disservice, more than anything, to the BBC listeners. ESPN has yet to hire Martina to do commentary, so I only get to hear her when she’s on the tennis channel, and it’s simply not enough for me. She’s very good at this.
Amira: Really? I didn’t realize that.
Amira: I guess you’re right. I never hear — why?
Jessica: I don’t know because they have Evert and Carillo and I guess they already are stacked, but McEnroe, on the other hand, I have to mute him all the time. I can barely stand listening to him so burn all of that. Burn.
Amira: Yeah, burn.
Brenda, what are you burning?
Brenda: I’m burning something I didn’t know that much about and then I got all in a huff over this week. It’s not uncommon for me. So it’s about Australian Rules Football League and I don’t really watch it, so I sat down and watched a few clips and read about it to understand the story a little bit better.
The captain of the Western Bulldogs, Katie Brennan, received a two game suspension and this meant she was out of the final of their whole season. It was controversial enough that she filed a complaint with the Australian Human Rights Commission.
So I monitor human rights stuff and this one of those strange stories that pops up and brings all my worlds together and, evidently, she was suspended for what is called a swing tackle, which, if you can imagine, involves a player being “slung” to the ground. So, you get the idea and there are twelve different types of permissible tackles, so knowing all this, there are different tackles that have been deemed permissible, informally, between the men’s and the women’s side.
So basically they’re trying to get these women to “behave themselves.”
Brenda: And do softer tackles and then the sole reason that she didn’t get the option of paying a fine is because they thought that they paid her too little for her to actually pay up the fine and so they suspended her, which led them in these proceedings to figure that the average wage for a men’s AFL player is 371,000 and the women receive 10,500.
Brenda: So because they don’t pay them enough, they can’t fine them.
Jessica: So they have to suspend them.
Brenda: That that’s how they suspend them and she’s the captain.
Amira: It’s so ridiculous.
Brenda: And this is the final and you know women’s leagues frequently don’t even get to finish seasons because of the disorganization of the leagues, and here she is — so I wanna burn these different standards, the pay disparity, and trying to get women to behave in some dainty way in Australian Rules Football League, which just is not the place to do it.
Amira: Burning it. Well along those lines I want to burn this Tongan rugby situation that you may have heard about. Essentially, there’s official letter sent out by the Ministry of Education to a Tongan high school that, essentially, boiled down to say that girls shouldn’t be playing sports, particularly rugby, because it goes against the young women’s dignity and Tongan culture and traditions.
This was met with immediate backlash by many people in Tonga, including women’s rights activist ‘Ofa Guttenbeil-Likiliki, who said this “takes us right back to the thinking that education is only academic and for girls to remain in that lane and sports is just for boys. It’s taken us back from all the work we’ve done so far in trying to achieve and bring forward gender equality in Tonga. Furthermore,” she went on to say that resting on ideas about tradition and culture was just a shield and that Tongan history is full of strong women and strong women athletes, including a woman Teuila Fotu-Moala who is in New Zealand who’s excelling in rugby, or Valerie Adams who’s a two time Olympic champion, four time world champion in shot put, who competes for New Zealand, but is also half Tongan; she also took to Twitter to say “Tongan women must be free to choose their own destiny and not be held back by misguided and stubborn misinterpretation.”
Now after the backlash of this letter, they kind of walked it back and said, “Well, no, no, no. We’re dealing with an actual disaster in the Gulf and this letter was going to schools to essentially say that kids can’t be outside playing sports all day, etc. etc.” But that doesn’t really speak to why girls, in particular, were singled out to be the ones who needed to, apparently, put the sports down because they weren’t being dainty enough or it would somehow fly in the face of cultural values.
So I think that the outrage is not just towards this letter, but overall, again, feeling like there’s more barriers put for girls and women who want to aspire to be elite athletes or who just want to play sports. And this kind of use of tradition and culture to do it, to be the battering ram when many of these women are drawing from that tradition, are drawing from that culture, and that’s what’s propelling them into sport.
And so I’m just over it and I’m burning it down.
Amira: After all that burning, it’s time to highlight some badass women of the week. We have a few honorable mentions. Kennedy Carter, who’s last minute three last weekend lifted Texas A&M to the Sweet 16 and I was extra proud of watching her. She played AU with my little cousin, Alexis Morris, who I also want to shutout because I love her so much, and that was amazing to see. And also, generally, just want to shutout all the women playing in March Madness this year. It’s amazing, you’re all phenomenal, the games have been out of this world, and I am looking forward to the continuation of the Elite Eight and the Final Four coming up next week.
We also want to shout out English Women’s National Team who’s achieved second place in the world’s soccer rankings. This is the highest they’ve ever been before. Congratulations to you.
Paola Salazar, who’s become the first women’s president of a top division’s men’s club in South America. She is in Colombia and that is an amazing accomplishment. Kudos to you.
We also want to shout out Buffalo Head Coach Felicia Legette-Jack, who’s team lost in the Sweet 16 round, but in the post-game she was asked a question about the lack of women of color in coaching and she responded by saying, “I am saddened by it. I understand the problem. I know that the majority of women basketball players look like me. I think that young — if we really care about them as people, then they will have role models that look like them because we are going to play for years or whomever and then they get an opportunity to go into this world, and they’re not going to find anybody that looks like them, and they’re going to have to figure out how to navigate it at a different level.”
I also want to shout out Kelsey Anchors who’s recently named head coach of North Valley High School’s baseball team. She’s making history as the first women, ever, to coach a high school baseball team in the entire state of Oregon, which is ridiculous, but kudos to you, Kelsey.
And drum roll please.
Jessica: I like that!
Amira: It had a rhythm to it.
Amira: I know. You guys are — woo hoo!
Our badass women of the week, are actually some badass girls of the week, we wanted to celebrate and uplift Sam Fuentes, Aalayah Eastmond, Edna Chavez, Emma Gonzalez, Naomi Wadler, and the rest of the students who took to the streets to say “Never Again” and march for our lives. We were incredibly inspired by your actions, by your words. I, particularly, was so inspired by Naomi, who’s eleven years old, and got up on that stage to say, “I want to remember the African American girls who are often just statistics. Who are cut down and who don’t make the front page news.”
There was an incredible commitment to intersectionality on display. Edna was from LA, Naomi’s from Virginia — youth of color from all over the country, in particular, took the stage to share it with the Stoneman Douglas students and they were just so fierce. The kids are alright and they’re propelling us to a better future, and we respect that, and honor that today. You are our badass girls of the week.
So what’s good, guys? What’s good in your life, Brenda?
Brenda: Visitors is what’s good in my life. Visitors are amazing. They’re coming here in droves. Well, there’s been three. That’s a lot and we’re getting two more. And you have visitors, and you spend too much money going out to restaurants you wouldn’t otherwise, and it’s loads of fun, and you do touristy things and you don’t feel silly about it. So visitors are inspiring me to get out there and do all of the lists of things that are — that I had made up to do in Argentina and if it weren’t for them, I feel like I would not be so motivated. So not only is their presence wonderful, but it’s also gotten me to strap up my boots and get going. So visitors are wonderful.
Amira: That’s so fun. Although I never got an invitation to visit you.
Brenda: It is obviously an open invitation. [inaudible 01:00:20] Burn it All Down in Buenos Aires, which would be amazing and we could all do it together. So, yeah.
Brenda: Life goals.
Amira: Well I’m excited because David Leonard is flying in to state college today to give a wonderful talk early this week on Playing While White, his book that’s out now. I’m really excited to welcome him.
I’m also really, really, really, really excited because I just bought myself “Yay, you made it through your first year on the ten year track” luggage.
Amira: And I am so excited and it has like a charging port, which, if you know me, knows that my phone can never stay charged.
Jessica: I want one of those.
Amira: I can charge my phone on my luggage. I’m amazing, I won’t tell you the brand because they don’t pay me.
Brenda: Well maybe they could sponsor the podcast.
Amira: I know and I am so thrilled about this luggage, but I also can’t figure out if it’s: A, normal to be this hype around luggage. B, if my being hype around luggage is a sign of my impending 30s and I have basically two and a half months until I hit 30 and so now I’m like freaking out because I’m like, “Why? Is this a sign that I’m getting old?” Or is it just that academia has finally got to me.
Brenda: I will not respond to that being someone who is way older than you. I am not even gonna — I don’t hear that right now. Old.
Amira: I’m getting older.
Jessica: Thank you. That’s better. Good luggage.
Amira: Anyway, my luggage is badass.
Jessica: I’m excited for you.
Brenda: Me, too.
Amira: Jess, what’s going on with you?
Jessica: Yeah, so I did it. I went to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter Universal and it was amazing. If you like Harry Potter at all, you have to go there. It is really quite a thing. And I had, in two days, I had four butterbeers. They’re really —
Amira: Did you like the frozen, the hot, or the regular the best?
Jessica: I never had the regular because I ended up having two frozen and two hot and I couldn’t pick between them. It’s very, very good.
Brenda: Is it actual beer?
Jessica: No, no.
Jessica: It’s not. It’s very expensive cream soda.
Amira: I know, we should make some spiked butterbeer and pedal it on the corner.
Jessica: But it is really good. It’s like drinking ice cream. And then, I just wanted to mention, this one’s kind of a downer, but it’s amazing. There’s a podcast I binge listened to, recently, called Missing and Murdered. It’s hosted by Connie Walker. It’s a CBC podcast about missing and murdered indigenous women in Canada. There’s two seasons. They’re towards the end of the second one now and it’s — she’s an amazing investigative journalist. The podcast is just riveting and the stories and the history that she is talking about, and the now, that she’s talking about is not covered enough. And Americans can really take a lot of stuff from this, there’s a lot of parallels in Canada and the U.S. and the way that we have treated indigenous and native people. It’s just a really great podcast. Missing and Murdered.
And then I wanna mention Nailed It! Which is a Netflix show that we’ve been watching in my family, hosted by the hilarious Nicole Byer, it’s this great thing where they bring in these people who do not know how to bake and then they give them perfect, professional cakes that they have to then try to make on their own and they are disasters. Every time they reveal the disaster, they have to say, “Nailed it!” And it is just like — I don’t know.
Amira: It’s like the Buzzfeed list of skills of Pinterest Nailed It moments come to life.
Jessica: Yes, it is.
Amira: I am in for it. I am going to binge that tonight.
Jessica: It is so funny. Like you will love it. We have watched it multiple times, already, in this family and the teaser is that the 6th and final episode, the final cake they have to make is a Trump cake. So if you like to see disasters from cakes, I highly recommend, Nailed It! So that’s what’s good in my world.
Amira: That’s awesome. I also just want to send a Happy Birthday shutout to my niece, Navayah, who is two this weekend. Happy Birthday, baby girl.
That’s it for this week in Burn It All Down. Burn It All Down lives on Soundcloud, but it also can be found on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play, and TuneIn. We appreciate your reviews and feedback, so subscribe, rate, let us know how well we did or what we can improve on. Send us an email, send us a Tweet, we love to hear from you.
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From Amira Rose Davis, Jessica Luther, and Brenda Elsey: Peace!