Episode 48: NCAA Shamateurism, Baseball with Rhea Butcher, and the Men’s World Cup

This week, Brenda Elsey, Amira Rose Davis, Lindsay Gibbs, and Jessica Luther discuss shamateurism in college athletics. Jessica interviews Rhea Butcher, comedian and host of the podcast Three Swings, about the baseball season that just got started. Then the gang talks about the upcoming men’s World Cup in Russia.

As always, you’ll hear the Burn Pile, Bad Ass Women of the Week, and what’s good in our worlds.

Intro (5:16) Shamateurism (22:24) Jessica interviews Rhea Butcher about this baseball season (34:30) Men’s World Cup (46:43) Burn Pile (56:50) Bad Ass Woman of the Week (58:45) What’s Good (1:04:55) Outro

For links and a transcript…

Links

“Ending the sham of NCAA amateurism will not end Title IX” https://thinkprogress.org/title-ix-amateurism-1398c640714f/

“Five-time Olympic gold medalist Katie Ledecky will turn pro” https://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/olympics/five-time-olympic-gold-medalist-katie-ledecky-will-leave-stanford-and-turn-pro/2018/03/26/556bf0dc-30fc-11e8-94fa-32d48460b955_story.html

“College Basketball Players Get None Of The NCAA Tournament Revenue — Is It Time To Unionize?” https://www.forbes.com/sites/marcedelman/2018/03/18/college-basketball-players-get-none-of-the-ncaa-tournaments-revenues-is-it-time-to-unionize/#14bdbcff5b47

“Fifa asked to probe monkey chants against France players in World Cup warm-up with Russia” https://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football/international/fifa-alleged-russia-racism-monkey-chants-france-players-world-cup-warm-up-a8277381.html

“Batshuayi doubts UEFA cares about racism after case dropped” https://apnews.com/amp/e6aac8ea925f409cbbce0e3c150094b4

“International football: talking points from the latest friendlies” https://www.theguardian.com/football/2018/mar/28/international-football-talking-points-friendlies-england-france-neymar

“Police efforts in lead up to World Cup ‘wasted’ after drunken behavior of England fans seen by Russian authorities” https://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football/world-cup/england-fans-russia-2018-world-cup-police-netherlands-violence-holland-a8275901.html

“Argentina equal worst ever defeat with horror show in Spain” http://www.goal.com/en-us/news/argentina-equal-worst-ever-defeat-with-horror-show-in-spain/h6ykbuo8zhkv1vws4n5le1gz7

“Cost to fill Panini World Cup sticker book is £773, says maths prof” https://www.theguardian.com/football/2018/mar/29/cost-to-fill-panini-world-cup-sticker-book-is-734-says-maths-prof

“How an Instagram Post Led to an N.F.L. Cheerleader’s Discrimination Case” https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/25/sports/saints-cheerleader.html

“MSU spent $500K in January to monitor social media accounts of Nassar victims, others” https://www.lansingstatejournal.com/story/news/local/2018/03/28/msu-spent-500-k-january-monitor-social-media-accounts-nassar-victims-others/447378002/

“Joel Embiid hurt after colliding with Markelle Fultz, taken to hospital” http://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/22947588/philadelphia-76ers-center-joel-embiid-game-facial-contusion

“South Carolina’s A’ja Wilson wins Wade Trophy as player of year” http://www.espn.com/womens-college-basketball/story/_/id/22959868/south-carolina-aja-wilson-wins-wade-trophy

“Hockey Player Breastfeeds Between Periods During Her Game” https://www.si.com/more-sports/2018/03/30/hockey-player-breastfeeds-during-her-game

“LaChina Robinson is the recipient of the 2018 Dawn Staley Excellence in Broadcasting Award” http://www.hoopfeed.com/content/2018/03/31/lachina-robinson-is-the-recipient-of-the-2018-dawn-staley-excellence-in-broadcasting-award/

“Edniesha Curry named assistant coach for Maine men’s basketball team” http://www.espn.com/espnw/sports/article/22969000/edniesha-curry-named-assistant-coach-maine-men-basketball-team?sf185941016=1

“Sloane Stephens Beats Jelena Ostapenko in Miami Open Final” https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/31/sports/tennis/sloane-stephens-jelena-ostapenko-miami-open-.html

“Notre Dame’s Muffet McGraw wins AP Coach of the Year after tough road to Final Four” https://www.ncaa.com/news/basketball-women/article/2018-03-29/notre-dames-muffet-mcgraw-wins-ap-coach-year-after-tough

Title IX Newsletter: https://mailchi.mp/14de94e22f9f/the-ix-newsletter-basketball-wednesday-with-howard-megdal-april-4-2018

Transcript

Brenda: Hello, Hola, and welcome to Burn It All Down, the sport and feminism podcast that you need. Today, we’ve got Amira Rose Davis, professor of History, Women’s and Gender and Sexuality Studies at Penn State, Independent journalist Jessica Luther in Austin, and Lindsay Gibbs, Wordsmith at ThinkProgress. I’m Brenda Elsey, Professor of History at Hofstra University but currently in Argentina Fulbrighting.

This week we’re gonna talk shamateurism in college athletics, Jessica talks about the upcoming baseball season and we’ll analyze the lead-up to the men’s World Cup in Russia. We’ll also burn some awful things that happened in sports this week and celebrate some bad-ass women’s accomplishments. But before all that, Lindsay, I was following you on Twitter this week and picked up on your bad dinner guest habits. I picked up on some bad dinner guest habits that you have. I take it you were invited to someone’s house for a perfectly respectable meal and got all sports fancy on them. You want to talk about what happened?

Lindsay: It was in public at a Cuban restaurant, in public, actually. My friend’s mom was in town really quickly and this has been planned for like a month and I remember checking the calendar because March is always, you know, there’s a lot of sports stuff in March so I don’t want to miss. I remember checking the calendar and thinking, “Oh that Friday night is good because the women’s NCAA tournament doesn’t start until, their final four they do Sunday/Tuesday.” Completely forgetting the women now do Friday/Sunday and so I just messed that up and all of a sudden the women’s Final Four was going on during this event so, you know what, it was really good games and my friends love me and understand me and there were enough people at the table to keep the conversation going, it wasn’t all on me, it was a big group, so I just very shamelessly watched the actual video. We’re not even talking following Tweets, we’re talking the actual video of the fourth quarter, in overtime, with the Mississippi State/Louisville game and I have zero regrets.

Jessica: Wow, that’s like a commercial. You see those commercials of like fans in places watching and I’m like, “That never happens.”

Amira: That is me all the time, so I am so happy that Lindsay is this way as well.

Lindsay: Watch ESPN, hit me up with your sponsorship dollars.

Brenda: There you go. That’s right, that’s right. PSA to all of our bow down co-host fans. We’re not really paying attention to you when we go out.

Lindsay: It was just, if it even had been a blowout, I would have very quickly not paid attention. You know, like I would have abandoned my hope very quickly and not paid attention but it was so good and I cared so much about this.

Brenda: Before you just described that game as good, but I bet you would describe it as a little more than that. What’s your reaction guys?

Lindsay: Well, I mean, I mean it was the most epic I think night of basketball, like forget any qualifiers it was just, to have two semifinals, the championship game on the line, and both games go to overtime in thrilling fashion and one of the overtimes even went to the last shot, which was Notre Dame’s victory over UCONN.

Now, by the time our listeners are hearing this podcast, we’re already going to know the champion, but if you want to go back and hear a play-by-play of this entire, both semifinals, we did a special patron-only segment. I interviewed Erica Aiello, who is a good friend of the podcast, a fellow flamethrower, who was in Columbus, Ohio watching these games. So, I interviewed her yesterday morning, we talked about, broke down both of these games for 30 minutes, and it was a blast. So, please listen to that if you want to hear more about it.

Amira: And you all, didn’t it feel so go after we talked about those trolls last week who were like, you now, in your face. Women’s basketball rules.

Jessica: Yeah, absolutely, I mean it was an amazing, I actually also, Lindsay, I will admit that I had forgotten that is was Friday/Sunday, I think that’s a good change. I’m excited that I get to watch the championship game tonight, but I had forgotten and I yesterday went back to rewatch it, on ESPN, and I knew the outcome and I was on the edge of my seat. Like it was just phenomenal basketball, it was phenomenal sport, I kept being like, “I know that happens.” Because I had to keep reminding myself, so I would calm down. It was wonderful.

Amira: I have to say that this is like a good excuse to watch the game under the table on your phone because I was like at a family vacation in Disney World, on like opening day of the NFL season, one year, and it’s like a not important thing at all, and I was glued to my phone and it ended up, [inaudible 00:04:54] everybody and giving them updates for their game and became the favorite person of all the dads in Disney World who were very angry that they were on the Tea Cups when they wanted to really be watching the game like I was.

Brenda: That’s amazing, awesome. Okay, well let’s move on. So, we’ve discussed during March madness several times the issue of not paying the tremendous players during March Madness. We’ve revisited this topic but given this week, we think it’s worth another go around. Jess do you want to start us off?

Jessica: Yeah. So, this week Katie Ledecky, the dominant American swimmer who won five medals, four of them Gold at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. Ledecky announced that she is giving up her last two years of eligibility at Stanford. She’s going to remain on campus she’ll train with her coach she’ll pursue her degree, but she was not going to compete for Stanford in swimming. She’s gonna sign with an agent and then pursue endorsements. She’ll also be able to finally access her monthly USA swimming training stipend, which she is not allowed to do under NCAA rules. This actually follows in the footsteps of Missy Franklin, if you guys remember the other swimmer, she turned pro in 2015 while still at Berkeley. But wait, isn’t it only men who suffer under the NCAA shamamateurism rules? That belief dovetails nicely with the myth that it is the existence of women’s sports that will destroy all sports if we start paying collegiate athletes since Title IX was a man that women get a little bit of the money too. So, this week, our own Lindsay Gibbs wrote a must-read piece at ThinkProgress that breaks all of this down.

There’s two parts of this that I want to quote and then I want to throw this open to the group. So first, and this is Lindsay, “Fundamentally, ending amateurism does not mean athletic departments will necessarily write fat checks to their athletes. Rather, the NCAA could adopt the amateurism model, which would allow student athletes to profit off of their likeness, work with sponsors directly, have an agent, get paid for appearances, and other things the NCAA’s ridiculous by-laws currently prohibit. And second, Lindsay writes, “For argument’s sake …” this is my favorite part, “For argument’s sake, let’s pretend that ending amateurism does lead to a stricter implementation of Title IX, and athletic department are required to pay female athletes one dollar for every dollar they pay male athletes. Well, okay, that’s great, lets do it.” Okay. Yeah Lindsay.

Amira: Go off Lindsay.

Brenda: So, it doesn’t actually seem that complicated to me. Universities figuring out some way to pay their players or allowing their players to get paid seems way easier to me then say players unionizing, which is an idea that people are floating. No matter what, I’m ready to lay to rest these misogynistic arguments that are used to prop up this racist system, so after this month of March Madness, which you guys produces something like $1 billion in revenue, do you all think that we’re really any closer to ending to pay for play, are going to be having this same discussion next March, do you think Katie Ledecky is big enough to sort of move us into a different discussion? Where are you guys with this right now?

Amira: I think.

Jessica: I think. Go ahead Amira. You go.

Amira: I’m being super pessimistic, so I maybe shouldn’t go. I mean, I think we will be having this conversation. I think that it’s a system that enjoys its exploitation of labor, particularly black labor. I think that you’re right, Title IX is used as a shield and people aren’t having genuine conversations. They’re just kind of wielding talking points and throwing out Title IX there and ideas about the purity of the game to wield a shield against actually having a conversation about this. The purity of the game, spare me that, we have amateurism in part to deny the ability to sue for Worker’s Compensation. That’s literally where we get half of these laws. So, I think that it’s going to take more to move this needle because we’ve been having these conversations for years and every time, I feel like we get to a point to like, “Maybe this is the time,” that it will move. I swear we just did this like a month ago when we were thinking about all of the programs caught up in this money scheme.

Brenda: Oh, the FBI thing. Yeah.

Amira: Exactly, when that happened we were like maybe this will be the end and March Madness is rolling on merrily.

Brenda: Yeah, I mean, I tend to think that as Jess said, this really isn’t that complicated. Colleges and universities pay students all of the time. As workers, there’s work-study programs, there’s research assistance, there’s all kind of student employment. There’s no reason that this couldn’t be another version of that. So, I kind of am shocked by that and also, I mean, amateurism is so ridiculous as a reason, as a value, as a moral value that people talk about in sports. The idea that, you know the NCAA is dedicated to amateurism, great, then why doesn’t the executive director work for free? How about that? How about you’re all amateurs and not just the students? Why are the students supposed to be these paragons of moral values that it supposedly stems from amateurism, which is ridiculous, but all of these old white guys, who run the whole show get paid $2 million a year? Like, if they love amateurism so much give up your salaries. Linds do you want to weigh in here?

Lindsay: No, it’s just it’s infuriating. I’m looking right now at an NCAA tweet from yesterday, I believe, from the @NCAA Twitter account that literally says, “What would happen if NCAA schools started paying men’s basketball and football players? Other sports would be eliminated.”  And then there’s a video of an interview between a journalist and mark Emmert, the head of the NCAA.

So that propaganda is still being put out there by the NCAA itself and, I will admit the Title IX argument, for me, it did scare me for a while because I think that it is, women sports are so important and Title IX has been so good for women’s sports. I’m not a fool, I do know that the biggest revenue sports are right now men’s basketball and football, which women do not participate in for the most part. So, that was a little scary but when I really sat down to look at it for this article, it just became, it was, my mind was just blown at how “No, no, we can do this, this could happen.” First of all, as I say clearly in the piece, you know in being this sham of you can’t at all profit off of your likeness, you can’t make any money because you’re a basketball player, or lacrosse player, period, while you’re still in the NCAA level.

That hurts literally everyone, and I feel like it especially hurts women because women don’t have as many professional opportunities as men do in sports. Of course, the men’s tournament on CBS right now, makes a lot more money than the women’s tournament, but there are still millions of people tune in to this women’s tournament on ESPN and there were probably going to be 50 or 60,000 people, about 50,000 I think fans in Columbus this weekend to watch these players and they’re going to be stars and the fact that they can’t immediately profit off of this in any way is infuriating especially when you consider that the WNBA only has a dozen teams. So few of them are going to be able to turn pro. So, it’s infuriating. And look, the thing is, everyone brings up these scare tactics. Well, how are Division III schools going to do this? Well, maybe the rule exempt Division III students from you know Division III schools from this.

Maybe that’s not realistic, maybe an NCAA stipend of salary cap goes to the top 73 schools in the power five conferences and they get to figure out what to do with that money, but the answer is, whatever they spend on men’s sports they have to spend on women’s sports, but everybody is working with the same rules and the same salary cap. Or it’s just fully a free market. There are just so many options here, and there are of course pros and cons to any of them but the answer isn’t, this is impossible because of women. The truth is these rules hurt women too, and it’s, I’m just really sick of this myth.

Brenda: Division III doesn’t even give college scholarships for sports.

Lindsay: Right, yeah.

Brenda: So when they bring that up I’m always like, “what are you talking about?” Amira, sorry weigh in.

Amira: The other thing about it is that the Title IX thing also doesn’t often get wielded by people who have absolutely no concern with women’s sports whatsoever. Just using it at that moment. I think on this line that Lindsay brought up about how it harms women athletes I think the other round with this conversation is about people pre-college who become notable athletes particularly women in gymnastics for instance, as Olympians often times they are teenagers and I think also mono Mo’ne Davis, and both of these situations, their really chance to capitalize on themselves occurred before they would go to college and they turn professional, or in the case of gymnasts turn professional often times forgoing a collegiate experience that they really want to have.

My daughter was watching the Simone Biles story and they have the scene where she’s like agonizing over getting a collegiate experience, that she really wanted to go to college and be on that team or turning professional. I think of Mo’ne Davis to think about the other ways this can harm, for instance, when Mo’ne Davis was getting all of this notoriety, because she was pitching lights out at the Little League World Series, Little League was building off of her image to revive the league that was in decline. Her face on Sports Illustrated and Disney Channel making a movie about her, Spike Lee is putting her in a car commercial, all of these things generated not only more women, more girls playing and the Little League, more African-Americans joining the Little League, compensation for all of these people who were using her image, all of this stuff, all of this money.

You could buy something on eBay that she had signed for thousands of dollars and she couldn’t touch any of it, because she had jones playing college basketball. And so, there’s a way that she was, you know people were definitely betting for her like this but because of amateurism, years into her future it held her kind of back in terms of what she’s able to make in the moment, where she was everywhere. And so, I think about, you know the shamamateurism as I am really hurting women but also hurting girls who are coming into sports that we now have less teams, less professional opportunities, needing to go overseas to continue to get compensated and when they do have the opportunities to make money before that, whether it’s in College or as teenagers, often times these same rules are preventing them from doing that.

Lindsay: Yeah, that is such a good point Amira and to your first point about how people who are using Title IX as this weapon and this fight don’t really care about women’s sports, this is a line that didn’t make it into the piece because I don’t know how familiar the general non-sports audience is with this, but I just keep saying the one about Title IX has become the one about Hope Solo of this conversation. People who really don’t care about these situations at all and are just utilizing it to try and just stop the conversation and its tracks, who don’t want to actually have a nuance conversation about gender and you know, power and patriarchy. But, that’s a really smart point, you know, and I honestly hadn’t thought that much about how much players like Mo’ne Davis and other, you often see this with rising tennis stars a lot too, it’s just horrible.

Jessica: Yeah, and think about Mo’ne Davis there’s like a whole thing where Geno Auriemma like reached out to her, after she said something about wanting to play for the Huskies and then there was immediately there were talking NCAA investigation to see if they had broken a rule by reaching out to her before they were, you know, it’s just like, holy moly and it was just because she had said that she was interested.

But there is also this moment last night in the men’s semifinal where they were talking about a player who was from Nigeria and his mom had come to the game. I can’t remember, I think he was on Kansas, and they were saying that he hadn’t seen her in six years because it’s so expensive for them to travel back-and-forth. And they made a passing comment about how the NCAA used to allow for programs to pay for those parent’s tickets to come and then they changed the rule and the commentator made a joke like, “Well they probably didn’t understand how expensive those flights were going to be.” I was like, who are you people that you were so disassociated from the humanity of these players and from the ridiculous money pile that the NCAA is sitting on, that these programs are sitting on that like you could hear the story. You could tell us the story of this young man who hasn’t seen his mother in six years, so you could pursue this career, make us money for a massive program, you know, and then make a joke.

Amira: You can’t buy a plane ticket?

Jessica: You can’t buy a plane ticket as if they don’t have the money for it and I just got so sad, in that moment, to think about there are more and more we are seeing players from around the world coming to play ball in this country.

Amira: And beyond around the world, I know kids you know who can’t get their parents from Texas to Louisville for a game.

Jessica: Yes, absolutely. It was so crass that that was coming from this commentator as a joke. That this is a joke to people.

Lindsay: But I will say that they are now, there is a siphon by the NCAA because they’re having recent reforms and that is actually what they used to pay for this trip this time, was the NCAA allows $3000 to go towards travel for these athletes at this point.

Brenda: That’s good.

Lindsay: So, that is a step in the right direction along with, you know, unlimited food from the food halls or whatever that new rule was.

Brenda: Wow.

Lindsay: I think that happened after the players said they were actually going hungry. Cool, cool. But I just, my last point here is, if the worst, first of all Title IX, the Title IX guidelines can be looked at to say that this doesn’t actually apply to salaries and that’s how there is currently such a discrepancy between salaries for men’s coaches, versus salaries for coaches of women’s teams and so all this fear mongering about one for one dollars that is going into this, it might not even apply legally at all anyways. There might be able to be a proportional thing and I know I would be okay with that. Like we could figure out something that seemed fair based on revenue, but if the law was interpreted one for one like Jess said at the beginning of this, I say, “Let’s do that.”

Women’s sports consistently gets trapped in this chicken versus egg, you know, is it the investment or is it the interest. Well let’s force these athletic departments to invest more in the women and let’s see if they are not a bit more motivated to push out these athletes push out these sports, try to make these teams successful and try and get their investment back. We’ve seen recently in women’s basketball, schools like South Carolina and Mississippi State go from having no history, no big programs there, to all of us sudden filling the arena almost every time and having these star athletes and making it to the big stages. It’s because they have, they got these great coaches, they invested money in these great coaches, and the departments started going from there and started pushing to get more fans, and fans, and interest, and success, it’s all tied together. So, I think even this worst-case scenario of, you know, the one for one dollar ends up being a great situation for women’s sports and I think these athletic departments would find it much easier to recoup their money if they just put in a little bit of effort.

Brenda: And they’ve never really cared about recouping their money if it’s men’s sports. By the way they are perfectly happy to lose money, like University of New Mexico, one thing that’s most never on the table, just to wrap it up as one more idea, is that women and men actually unionize together a student athletes. There’s no reason that that can’t happen. In fact, the National Labor Relations Board already said that student athletes qualify as employees of the University, they just use their only dirty discretion not to take up the case when it was Northwestern. So, you know one hopeful kind of beacon is that these are still students, they actually have a ton of collective action ideals and they’re into teamwork and there’s a possibility that they could unionize together. There’s no reason to assume that it has to be just one sport at one college or anything like that. But if we’re being creative we can think big, like Lindsay said.

Jessica: Okay great, that was a really interesting discussion and one I’m sure we’ll come back to. I’m excited to welcome Rhea Butcher to Burn it All Down. They’re not only a stand-up comedian, check them out on the HBO special Two Dope Queens and star of the show, Take my Wife, that you should immediately download from iTunes, but Rhea is also the host of a new podcast, Three Swings, it’s all baseball, all the time. Even for a non-baseball person like me, it’s a lovely listen each week. Rhea is charming and funny and so knowledgeable about baseball. We are thrilled to have them here. Welcome to Burn it all Down Rhea Butcher.

Rhea Butcher: OMG, Jessica Luther, thank you so much for having me. This is such a dream.

Jessica: Yeah. So you are currently on tour, yes? Where are you right now?

Rhea: I am right now, I’m in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

Jessica: All right.

Rhea: Home of the Barn Stormers.

Jessica: That’s a great name.

Rhea: It’s a great name for sure, their season doesn’t start until May so I’m going to swing by the stadium on my way out, but I just did a show here. It’s a lovely little town, I recommend it if you’re on this side of the country, to check it out. They’ve got a lot of, you know, reclaimed spaces that are now coffee shops, yoga stuff, but very cool little spot.

Jessica: Cool, nice.  So, you’re on this week because last week was the start of the baseball season.

Rhea: Yes.

Jessica: I’m going to start with a super easy question. What are your hopes and dreams for the season Rhea? What are you looking forward to at this point, looking forward across, I don’t know, how many games does baseball do? Hundreds it feels like.

Rhea: 162.

Jessica: All right, so you have 160+ games to go, what are you looking forward to?

Rhea: Well, let’s see. I mean, I’m looking forward to well, number one, I feel like the popularity of baseball has upticked a lot over the past couple seasons and this season is no exception. I would say that I’m personally responsible for that, so I’m already pretty excited about the fact that people are just generally more into baseball than they were before, and I will take credit for all of it.

So my MLB checks should be coming in the mail any minute now. I’m sure that they’re going to start paying me for that. Something that I’m looking forward to is surprises, because I think that I was going into this season with the same kind of bully system that everybody was kind of on board with, which is like, okay, Nationals, Yankees, Cubs, you know, like Cleveland, like all these sort of non-competitive divisions, which are happening because, if you’re not like following baseball very specifically, like a lot of teams are purposely tanking or kind of doing what the Houston Astros did in the four or five years ago, generally speaking, of just new, they were going to be in for just a couple bad seasons and just like building their farm system up.

But it’s kind of across the board and I think it’s not necessarily great for baseball, it’s not great for any sport for like seven or eight teams to be like, “Yeah, we don’t care about winning.”

Jessica: Right.

Rhea: Because they want to get to a cross down or whatever. But what I do think is already a surprise that is evident is how competitive the White Sox are in the Central Division and that is a team that I’ve been consistently saying like, “They’re the Chicago White Sox and they’re in the American Central League.” Everyone just thinks Cleveland is gonna run away with it. I still think that holds true but everyone has been saying like it’s Cleveland and then maybe the Twins. I just don’t think that’s just like actually true.

Jessica: Okay.

Rhea: I think the White Sox are gonna win a lot more games and if they don’t win a lot of games, then they will at least be losing with a lot of runs, which is still an exciting way to watch a baseball game. They don’t really have the rotation that’s gonna, they don’t have the full picture. This Matt Davidson that just came up, who’s had some like strike out issues over the seasons, I mean, he hit four home runs on opening day.

Jessica: Whoa

Rhea: That hasn’t happened since I believe the 60’s. I didn’t write down the thing, so if I got the date wrong, don’t yell at me at your desk. Well, do it if you need to get some energy out but I understand.

I don’t like to take notes, I like to just talk about baseball off the top of my brain because I feel like that’s the most fun way to talk about it. But sometimes it gets me in trouble because I don’t have the things written down.

So, I think it’s just really that, in general, like people sort of going, “Well, it’s going to be the Astros, it’s going to be the Dodgers,” like, I think this weekend has already proved, I’m not sure that it’s just going to be the Dodgers. I wasn’t really going into the season thinking they were gonna have the same season that they did last year. My belief is that it’s going to be a lot different than everyone’s anticipating.

Jessica: So, on Burn It All Down, we often talk about the intersection of sports and culture, in particular, and I feel like one thing I don’t know a lot about in baseball, and I was hoping to ask you about, are maybe specific story lines that you pay attention to, like we talked a lot about athlete activism and we shouldn’t expect any of that in baseball, right? What kind of story lines like that should we be looking for with baseball this season?

Rhea: I mean, I think it has the potential to happen this year, in terms of on-field activism. I’m not holding my breath though. It is, it’s silly of me to say baseball is really Republican. Hockey, football, and baseball are all very Republican and the NBA is the least Republican out of all of them, in terms of like the owners of the team are Republicans. I’m not like starting a fight here, they’re very openly Republican.

Jessica: Right.

Rhea: Like donating to the GOP and stuff so it is a sport that has hesitated for players to participate in activism other than simply existing. So that is how I’m describing, you know, Jackie Robinson’s activism of playing the sport. You know what I mean?

Jessica: Right.

Rhea: I recently, if you’re a fan of Jackie Robinson or just the story line of Jackie Robinson, I highly recommend reading his autobiography because I think similar to someone like Martin Luther King, we have this sort of really simplified the story over history to sort of, I think, make ourselves feel better and to realize like what Jackie Robinson actually went through and actually wanted to do and what he continued to do when he stopped playing baseball. And also the fact that he died like in his 60’s, and I mean, 100% that’s because of what he had to deal with in his life.

The like actual violence of dealing with people who didn’t want him to play a sport.

Jessica: Right.

Rhea: You know what I mean? And so I think that baseball is one of those sports where it’s this sort of quiet activism but I do, a player that has been very vocal, who I like a lot is Adam Jones, the center fielder for the Baltimore Orioles.

Jessica: Oh, right.

Rhea: He also, last season was like in Boston, a bunch of people just started calling him the N word and like other slurs and stuff and it was like a big deal and he didn’t back down about it. So, I think that these things are going to continue to happen. Also, another story line that I want to point out that is from last season, but I think it’s important to talk about, Kevin Pillar, who is the center fielder for the Toronto Bluejays who last night just stole second, third and home in the same inning, which has never happened for that franchise. It’s also, you know, speaking of Jackie Robinson, like people don’t really steal home very often and I highly recommend if you’re not even a baseball fan just watching that sequence of events. It’s wild because that’s sort of like talking about the pitcher showdowns, he like got in the pitchers head and just, it was like a head-to-head thing and he won.

Jessica: Wow.

Rhea: Those are the kinds of things that I love about baseball. It’s like not always hitting a home run, it’s not always these big showboatie kind of fun things that we all love to see a home run that leaves the stadium, or hit something, or somebody catches, or whatever, but also just like stealing bases is also really fun to see somebody do that sort of strategy. It’s like an arm wrestling match, you know, like who’s going to get the upper hand.

So, Kevin Pillar, last season, now I’m trying to remember the exact context, he, I can’t remember, I literally cannot remember the context of how it happened but something happened on the field and he used a gay slur. The one that you’re probably thinking about.

Jessica: Oh.

Rhea: Right? Everyone saw it, everyone heard it and it was a big deal and then he was you know reprimanded by whatever MLB rules or whatever and handed down a fine and then given like community service or whatever and I will say that while I don’t have his quote pulled up here or anything like that, he did sort of apologize and he like well, I’m sorry if I offended you kind of thing, but I do think he was genuinely was trying to work out publicly instead of privately. He didn’t come out with some press release or something, he was just saying like, “Yeah it was the moment, I shouldn’t have said what I said, I understand this.” I do want to actually take a moment and say I’m grateful that someone’s trying.

It sucks that these words are in our brains and that’s the first thing we go to when we’re mad. That’s to me the problem. You know, we need to reconsider why we use words instead of just saying like, “Shit” you know what I mean? It’s like you can just say something that doesn’t have anything to do with anyone’s, who they are or whatever. But, at the same time, it’s much better than when issues happen and then people are just like, “He’s paid his fine, let him go.” I much prefer someone trying to apologize and trying to admit they were wrong and understand what they did and then try not to like hold that grudge.

I’m not like some huge fan of the guy, I’m saying like the play that he did was cool, I’m not like a big Kevin Pillar fan at all.

Jessica: Right.

Rhea: But like when he said that, and I don’t really like you for that, but I don’t think you can just always be mad at people and never get over the hump of like, “Well they did try the thing.” But, personally, my biggest difficulty with baseball is its issue with domestic violence. It has like just a really serious domestic violence problem that they’re really not doing much to fix. They really seem to be creating just even more of an apparatus so like, “Sweep it under the rug.” If you get caught on PEDs you’re suspended for 80 days and if you are, if you commit domestic violence, you get a 15 day suspension.

Jessica: Right.

Rhea: I think that sends a pretty specific message and I think the MLB needs to realize that they have a lot of kids watching, girls and boys and gender non-conforming kids and I think that when you say, “It’s much worse to take steroids than it is to hurt someone” I think that’s setting a bad precedent for the children that are watching.

I watch baseball and love baseball with the darkness in my heart that is ever present with everything that we love and I tried to raise awareness for those things and like in the World Series, when Aroldis Chapman was pitching, I was happy to see some Cubs fans donating money to domestic violence, shelters, and stuff like that. But I do really think that, at least because it comes back to this sort of like, they get caught with this thing, the charges go away so they don’t get suspended, and then they have a press junket or whatever and they’re like, “It went away, leave him alone.” I don’t understand why you just can’t have the conversation that like, “This was a bad thing that happened, I’m not proud of what I’ve done, I’m seeking treatment, you shouldn’t do these things, I know I was wrong.” Because they are leaders and entertainers and kids are watching this and when kids see like, “Yeah, he’s fine,” that just perpetuates the whole thing.

Jessica: No, and I totally agree, one thing, because I end up talking about gender violence a lot with sport and one thing I always point out is, it’s over for whom?

Rhea: Right, exactly.

Jessica: You know, like there are long standing things that often happen to the victims of this violence, so to say it’s over is always a very privileged position to begin with. Well, this is all perfect. Thank you so much Rhea for joining us on Burn It All Down, that was a real pleasure and enjoy your baseball season.

Rhea: Oh thank you Jessica. Yay, you too, as much as you participate in it.

Jessica: Thank you.

Brenda: We don’t have much time left before the Men’s World Cup in Russia 2018. Linds, can you give us an update a little bit on what’s going on?

Lindsay: Yeah, having the World Cup in Russia is going just about as well as you might imagine it is going. If you haven’t been keeping up with the latest World Cup news, you might have been hearing about Russia in the news lately because of a nerve agent attack on a former Russian spy in Britain, that the British government, and pretty much everyone, has blamed on Moscow. This has led to countries all across the world, including the United States, expelling Russian diplomats from their borders. Even the United States expelled, I believe, 60 Russian diplomats, of course, the United States doesn’t have to worry about its World Cup decision, sob, sob, sob, self burn, self burn, but however, there are a lot of countries who do.

So, Britain, England, however you, United Kingdom, announced, Theresa May said that there could be other actions taken against the World Cup. She floated the idea of a possible World Cup boycott. They have walked that back, Boris Johnson walked that back this week, however, Britain is doing a diplomat boycott, so no UK diplomats will be going to Russia for the World Cup. Iceland has also followed that lead, so Iceland will not be sending its diplomats to the World Cup in Russia either.

Australia announced that it could be considering a boycott of the World Cup as well, for the players I’m talking about, because of, if Russia doesn’t clean up it’s act and if there’s further action, such as, you know, nerve gas poisonings, nerve agent attacks, you know, cool stuff like that. So, in other words, this has just turned into a really big mess. We are less than, a little bit more than two months away from the World Cup kicking out and there are a lot of reasons to be concerned. So my first question for you guys, we’re going to get into many other things that deal with the World Cup after this, but the first question, do you guys think there’s actually going to be any team that ends up boycotting this World Cup?

Jessica: No.

Brenda: Me neither.

Jessica: My long answer is, I don’t think so. It’s really hard for me to image that, at this point, it’s such a huge deal for countries to participate that I don’t, I don’t even know like would teams go along with it, if the government told them to? I don’t know. It’s an interesting thought.

Brenda: And the thing is if they did something like that then the federation would be banned for a very, very long time. It wouldn’t just be like this go around, FIFA would probably put one of the longest and harshest bans on that federation from any international play and that could be like, that could be five years, six years. So, it wouldn’t just be this World Cup, they would be out of the next one for sure.

Jessica: I think, that given its track record of threats and things like that, I couldn’t foresee it. You know, letting a federation do that and then come back to qualify for the next one. Because that’s their whole politics thing, which is hilarious and ridiculous that no politics in sports and they use it to, you know, basically keep their authoritarian reign on the entire sport. I think that the stakes would be really high for the following World Cup, which is of course, another human rights horror story. I think that will keep them from doing it. I think if England’s no doing it and they’re the country most in it, then you know, I’m not sure anyone else would.

Lindsay: I think that makes perfect sense but I there are a lot of other reasons to be concerned about the actual World Cup.

Jessica: What was the, there was yet another act of racism this week to add to the long list.

Brenda: Yeah, yeah, Russia is the story that keeps on giving when it comes to all kinds of different homophobic, racist, sexist types of football violence. Yeah, this week Fairnet, you know PRO Power who’s a friend of the show and has different kinds of NGO work in football and racism, urged FIFA to go and investigate what happened last week in St. Petersburg when there was a monkey chant that was directed at black French players during a friendly, became very unfriendly. Yeah, exactly. I mean, France won 3-1 and it’s Paul Pogba who I have to say has suffered racial abuse his entire career, so it’s just heartbreaking to see it once again.

There was also black face and other types awful racist actions during the Confederation Cups in Russia, so there’s pretty much every reason to believe that racism, homophobia and misogyny will be, will have really a huge platform in Russia. It’s pretty frightening.

Jessica: Yeah, especially, homophobia, like homophobic violence is a real issue in Russia.

Brenda: Yeah, FIFA told people to not to go, that maybe gay people should just project themselves and not go. What’s that? That’s a thing? An international organization can be like well for your own safety, it’s just better if you stay home?”

Jessica: Yeah, and then add on to it that’s like, you know, ongoing issue of racism. I just, well I don’t even know, it’s gonna be a mess, I mean, you know, the soccer will probably be pretty but everything around it’s gonna be a big mess.

Brenda: Yeah, even when the soccer’s party, I mean, you also just, you feel so awful because so much of the prettyness comes from the players of color who are subject to this and how many gay players who won’t ever come out because they just sort of allow this type of stuff. The friendlies have been crazy, I mean the friendlies are just wild to talk about the actual stuff on the field. Have any of you gotten a chance, I know March Madness makes it difficult but have any of you seen any of the friendlies at all?

Jessica: Also, being in America makes it difficult. We have such a terrible soccer fan culture here.

Amira: Especially because everybody’s just ignoring that the World Cup is going to happen since the United States is not fielding a team for the first time since 1986.

Jessica: Yeah, it does feel like that. So, what’s been going on Brenda? Tell us about the wildness.

Brenda: Well, one of the things that always depresses me is I always wish that US journalists would just get on board and realize that a third of the population is Mexican-American or some heritage and just say we have another team at the World Cup, but I know that’s like way not going to happen ever. But it would be awesome if mainstream journalists just said, “You know what, there’s a whole bunch of people in the US that also belong to this other national team and we could just adopt it as a second national team.” Right? Go Mexico. But it never happens but I’m always like, “Why doesn’t it happen?” You know, when Argentina isn’t rooting for Argentina usually breaks for Italy because there are so many immigrants.

Jessica: Oh, interesting.

Amira: Precisely, because I always think about World Cup. You know my friend Sarah and her family always roots for Iran and that’s, we’re a nation of immigrants supposedly and so it shouldn’t be surprising that there’s other vested rooting interests that do exist in this country.

Brenda: Yeah, like we could still make it fun if we weren’t so provincial. But we’re just not gonna. That’s just not going to be a uh-uh. What’s been going on? I mean basically Argentina suffered its worse ever defeat in Europe or at least since like, it was real bad and being here in Argentina they just keep replaying it to hurt themselves. I have no idea, like you’ll be a, I know, it’s like, it’s like don’t cry for me Argentina, just I keep wanting to sing it every time I go to lunch. It’s just like they sit there and watch it in restaurants. They just watch themselves lose, over and over.

Jessica: That’s so sad.

Amira: Was it a bad loss with the score or a bad loss like last minute dagger to the heart.

Brenda: The score, it was 6-1 of a loss against Spain. Yeah, real bad, so of course it kicks up all this colonization feelings, and you know again Spanish immigrants about a third of Argentina came, probably applied for a Spanish Passport about a third from Italy, so it’s especially painful in some ways. So, yeah, I just can’t believe it, I mean, everywhere you go they just replay this awful game. Brazil got, I know its like, I kind of like it’s sort of heartwarming.

It makes you sort of love them as fans that they’re just sort of hanging their head and like would be down.

Lindsay: It’s so emo, oh my God.

Brenda: It is, and can Messi possibly save them from everything, I mean, it’s 11 players. I don’t think he can sort of fly in. They’re saving him, of course, because if he got injured, what would, God forbid. So, it’s been interesting, Brazil is looking so good, beat Germany 1-0 without Neymar so that’s, that was an amazing match-up because they are generally considered number one and two so that was, that was the one that I was watching too and pretty impressive. Here, I don’t know if you guys have seen the, if you all have seen the Panini sticker books?

Jessica: No, I don’t even know what that is.

Brenda: Okay, they’re a huge thing, they’re a huge thing throughout the world. There are these sticker books that you get and you get a certain amount of stickers where you put players faces, like baseball cards, into all the national teams and you collect the stickers and then your book you try to get all filled up.

Jessica: Okay.

Brenda: Little kids do it all over the world so it’s a big deal when these books came out and they came out last week. The amazing thing just about to come out of vacation of the World Cup is that a math professor and figured how much it actually costs to fill up your Panini book and it’s about $800.

Jessica: Whoa.

Brenda: So, yeah, it’s like this never-ending commercialism, right and what they do, what kids do they actually have this underground practice of trading so if you were to go and do it on your own it would be like $800 but all these kids do it in school and it’s adorable. They’re doing it in schools here and it cuts the cost down to about $200 to fill up your Panini book but still, it’s unbelievable. It’s an unbelievable commodification. It just gets you going because you’ve almost got, it happened to me with the last women’s World Cup. I had my Panini sticker book and I kept not getting the cards that I wanted to kept buying packs, you know, just to fill it up. So, it’s like this crazy thing.

Amira: Can we go back, are you saying panini, like a press sandwich?

Brenda: Panini, it’s, yes, like your press sandwich but it’s a company that comes out with sticker books about the World Cup. In this case it’s not a press sandwich book.

Jessica: That’s funny.

Brenda: That would be yummy.

Amira: I thought it was designed like that.

Brenda: No, it’s just like, I’ll link it to the show notes because they also do it for the women’s World Cup and it’s really fun. But unfortunately, very costful.

Jessica: It’s amazing.

Brenda: So the commodity vacations speeding up, the friendlies are speeding up, human rights violations speeding up.

Amira: And also, Brenda, wants you to know that if you have cards to trade for her Panini book she’s looking.

Jessica: Yeah, let Brenda know.

Brenda: Yeah, I am. I am in a, it could be a Patreon giveaway, my panini book. If I get in all filled, yeah, if I get it all filled up for those of you who have been so wonderfully supportive, I will dish it out.

Jessica: Dang, all right.

Brenda: Now for everybody’s favorite segment. Let’s go over some of the things that have really gotten our goats this week on the burn pile. Amira.

Amira: I am burning, Bailey Davis, I’m not burning Bailey Davis, Bailey Davis is who I’m talking about. Bailey Davis was a cheerleader for the New Orleans Saints and she is filing a discrimination case against the NFL and I’m burning the contents of the case. She’s basically claiming that she got fired because she’s held to a different standard as a cheerleader. She posted a picture on her Instagram in a one piece bathing suit and it was a public picture and that was in violation of the many, many, many, many, many, many, rules that guide the work of NFL cheerleaders.

And she’s filing the case to say she’s an NFL employee and the rules about cheerleaders and the fraternization with players disproportionately affect them. So, just to example some of the rules that she’s up against and that she’s highlighting, the cheerleaders must block players from following them on all forms of social media, they cannot post pictures of themselves in any gear, in Saints gear whatsoever, meaning they can’t market themselves as a Saints cheerleader because they can’t wear the gear, outside of the official picture.

Brenda: Wow.

Amira: The thing that most irritated me was that they can’t dine in the same restaurant as a player or speak to them in any detail besides from saying “Hi” or “Good game.”

But this restaurant rule, in particular, if the Saints cheerleader enters a restaurant and sees that a player is already there, they have to leave. But, if they’re in the restaurant first and a player comes in, they still have to leave.

Brenda: What?

Amira: Yeah, it’s absolutely ridiculous. No. This case is built on the rule book and private text messages and emails with the Saints organization but we know that many teams follow very similar rules. If anybody’s watching, Making of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader, you’ll notice that a lot of these things, kind of rules about fraternization and about body image are widespread across the league.

So, she’s filing a discrimination case with the EEOC essentially saying, I get paid $10 and hour but we’re still league employees, but we’re being held to a different standard because we’re penalized for all these things and yet players can fraternize with us, they can create burner accounts and talk to us if they’re in a restaurant with us and they don’t leave, there’s absolutely no criminalization levied on them in particular there’s this idea that the league says that all of these rules are happening to protect the women.

So, there’s this idea that these rules are in protection of cheerleaders to protect them from the big scary football players and essentially what they’re saying that, no, there should uniform rules so if the fraternization policies can hurt us and we can get in trouble, then it should go both ways. We don’t need your protection, you’re actually just limiting our labor options and you’re putting more rules on us and this is a long history of policing women’s bodies and policing their actions under the guise of their “protection.”

So, I’m leaving you with this one quote from her because she’s, you only can be a cheerleader for four years and she’s not gonna be able to continue on the team, but she still filed the case because she wanted to help other cheerleaders. She says, “I’m doing this for them, so they can do what they love and feel protected and empowered and be a female athlete and not pushed to the side and feel unimportant.” So, I wanna stand in solidarity with Bailey Davis, no relation, and burn down these awful double standard fraternization rules that the NFL cheerleaders are subjected to. Burn it.

Brenda: Burn.

Jessica: Burn.

Brenda: Jessica, on that note.

Jessica: Yeah, I have a different cheerleader burn. So the New York Post ran a piece this week about how the Los Angeles Rams are going to have two men on their cheerleading squad this year. Just so no ones confused, the Baltimore Ravens and the Indianapolis Colts do have men on their cheerleading teams but they’re technically stunt men. They don’t actually dance alongside the women. This will change with the Rams, but to be clear, they have a lot of cheerleaders so these two men are on the squad along with 74 women, right. There’s a lot of them and two of them are now men.

So, of course, the idea that there are any men dancing alongside female cheerleaders is upsetting to the homophobic men amongst us, which is a lot of men, if we’re going to be honest, because the truth is NFL cheerleading for a lot of this is about titillation as much as about creating enthusiasm in the stadium. And so what does that mean then if men are doing those titillating dances as well?

So, I’m here today to burn the reactions to the news that these two men are going to be cheerleaders and I specifically want to call out, but not by name, because that’s too much for him, I want to call out the former chief-of-staff and campaign manager to US Senate Leader Mitch McConnell. This guy, he tweeted, “It’s like the NFL brass sits around and brainstorms ways to alienate it’s fan base. Kneeling didn’t quite get it done guys, let’s get some male cheerleaders out there. They’ll hate that.” What a fun mixture of racism, sexism, and homophobia all rolled into one. Though it did make me pause to imagine what NFL fan culture could be like without the fans who are alienated by social and racial justice and those who are opposed to smashing rigid gender ideas. That could be very nice.

But still, I want to burn this typical, predictable and sad response to the new of these two men will be cheerleading for the LA Rams this year. Burn.

Brenda: Burn.

Amira: Burn.

Lindsay: Yeah, this is a slightly more narrow focused burn but I just would like to burn Joel Embiid’s facial contusion that he had to have surgery on this week. I am not a Philadelphia sports fan in general, but I’ve just fallen in love with the Philadelphia 76ers this season mainly because of Joel Embiid because he is just so much fun to watch. And here they are they’re going into the playoffs, finally, after this long saga of the number one pick in the draft, Markelle Fultz, completely losing his shot in bizarre fashion. Nobody knew exactly what happened, he was on the bench for most of the year, he came back last week and looked pretty good. He looked like he showed these signs like wow, you are adding dimension to this team. This is why you were the number one overall draft pick. This could be an exciting extra weapon to add to this team for the playoffs. Could this team make a run?

And then in the second game that Fultz was back, he goes and just in a freak accident, his shoulder collides with Joel Embiid’s face and Embiid goes down, and he had to have surgery this week for the orbital bone on his face and he, nobody knows when he’s going to be back. They’re thinking maybe the second round of the playoffs but nobody’s really sure and he’ll definitely have a facial mask on and it just, kick bubble wrap, can we just have these guys be healthy.

I love the NBA playoffs, I want to see all the teams at full strength especially a team that’s been as snake bitten by injuries as the 76ers. We need these young exciting players in the NBA to really help, you know, keep things exciting, keep things going, so burn freak accidents and injuries that are going to ruin the quality of the playoffs. Burn.

Jessica: Burn.

Brenda: Burn. Okay, finally revisiting the giant burn flame, how do you say something so atomic flames of Michigan State University and its ongoing inability to make reparations, reconciliation with anybody decent following the Larry Nassar cases. We learned this week from the Lansing State Journal that Michigan University spent over $500,000 of public money, yes, that’s yours and mine just in December/January to monitor social media activity and public perception during the lead up to and trial of Larry Nassar.

The screen shots, if you haven’t seen them posted, show intense email communications and the types of strategies that MSU had to deal with this and if you think of the evilest way possible, it would be that. Basically, they’re celebrating when blame gets put on USA gymnastics instead of themselves. They’re looking for ways to spin it that way and it’s very obvious from the communication that they have with the public relations firm that they have Weber Shandwick in New York. The firm responded to a lot of criticism saying they were not hired to monitor victims social media but that’s exactly what they were hired to do and if you read the emails it’s very obvious.

And in response to criticism of their actions and of the field of PR in itself, places like PR News said instead of talking about ethics in public relations and things like that, they wanted to remind everyone in the profession that any communication with clients can end up in journalists hands.

Jessica: Yeah, don’t email. That was the lesson from this.

Brenda: Yeah, so don’t question the fact that you’re monitoring victims of sexual assault and violence, just make sure you’re more secretive about wanting to monitor and twist stories. So, shame on you Michigan State, shame on you to public relations firms and shame on everybody working there for not having any decency or ethics or values at least, I mean people working there that make decisions, obviously, there’s plenty of people at MSU and I’m sure at this PR firm that aren’t like that but the decision making people have shown themselves to be shameful. So I want to burn it, burn this spin, burn the investment of public money in monitoring victims. Burn.

Jessica: Burn.

Lindsay: Burn.

Amira: Burn.

Brenda: Hey, and now like salve on our burns we are going to celebrate some of the wonderful accomplishments of women this week. So honorable mentions for bad-ass women of the week include: University of South Carolina’s Asia Wilson who won the Wade Trophy for her wonderful season this year in women’s basketball. Hockey player Sarah Small who posted pics of herself nursing between periods of ice hockey to help normalize breastfeeding. Very brave, very wonderful. Latina Robinson former guest on Burn It All Down is the recipient of the 2018 Dawn Staley Excellence in Broadcasting Award. Edniesha Curry named assistant coach for Maine men’s basketball team. That makes her the only woman currently holding a full-time position as an assistant coach for a men’s NCAA Division I basketball team. And Sloan Stevens, who won the second biggest title of her career this weekend in Miami, where she defeated French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko in the final. Can I get a drum roll this week? A good one?

Bad-ass women of the week. Notre Dame’s women’s head basketball coach Ann O’Brien better known as Muffet McGraw was named the AP Coach of the Year and we’d also like to include with the bad-ass women of the week award this week her Fighting Irish team who overcame UCONN in a tremendous performance in overtime. Throughout the season, the team seemed plagued by injuries and at one point McGraw’s interview was really touching, she said, “I just don’t know why this keeps happening to us.” And here they are in the finals so best of luck and congratulations.

Finally, what’s good for our week.  Amira.

Amira: Oh yay.

Brenda: What’s happening in your world?

Amira: Well, this is a big week for us and for me. We are welcoming to campus Gold Medalist Tommie Smith who you may know from the iconic picture of his protest at the 1968 Olympic games along with John Carlos as well as Wyomia Tyus who is a two time gold medal or multiple time gold medalist, two time Olympian, who also protested in her own way in 1968 and Dr. Harry Edwards who’s the architect of the proposed boycott in 68 and the Godfather of sociology of sport. All three of them will be coming here to Penn State, they get in tomorrow and I’m hosting a conversation with them on Tuesday that is going to reflect on 1968 and the Olympics but also talk about the renaissance of athletic activism and share their stories.

I’m really excited to be joining them in conversation and to have them here and to have time with Wyomia who I write a lot about in my book, so any time with her is really exciting time. Anytime you’re doing history and the people you are writing about are going to come sit in your office and get tea with you and hang out with you for three days, it’s like a really, really exuberant time. So, I’m looking forward to that, I’m really, really overjoyed and that’s my something good. Oh, oh, and I got my big girl luggage and it’s as amazing as I thought it would be. My luggage came.

Brenda: It’s everything you’ve hoped for?

Amira: Come on you have to remember this stuff, it’s super important.

Brenda: Yes.

Amira: It’s amazing actually, and now I want more and more and more of it.

Brenda: Nice. Speaking of luggage, that’s just a perfect segue into what’s good in my week this week. I went to Uruguay yesterday, I’m going to Ireland tomorrow and I’m in Argentina today. I feel like such a jet setter. I know, my career is never going to reap a huge financial rewards but in terms of interesting places I get to go it definitely does. And my kids, my partner, they’re just such troopers. I trek them all around Cologne Del Sacramento yesterday in Uruguay and now I’m like, back to Argentina. My family’s been up for it and I just feel really lucky that I get to do it. I’m looking forward to a conference in Belfast this week. Jessica?

Jessica: Wow, how fun.

Brenda: Yeah.

Jessica: Mine is really tiny. Mine’s really small compared to those things but that’s all right. So, in my family we’ve been watching Star Trek the Next Generation and for my kid it’s the first time he’s watched it, but the show’s been like really important to me my entire life. It first aired when I was like eight years old. It’s really fun to see it again, especially alongside of my kid but what I have really enjoyed about it this time, more than any other time, is Counselor Deanna Troi, like she’s the real MVP of Star Trek Next Generation and I have loved watching her in this moment. She’s so empathetic, she’s always the one pushing everyone around her to be more open minded and she’s bravely honest.

She also saves their asses a lot because of these qualities that she has so it’s just been really fun to watch her in that character as an adult and a woman and rethinking what I thought about her in the past and seeing how great she is in this show. So that’s been good in my world.

Amira: Aw, I love that.

Lindsay: Nice.

Brenda: Me too, I had that with Little House on the Prairie and my kids.

Jessica: Yeah, it’s really fun.

Lindsay: I’m going to go a little outside of me but I’m still buzzing from those final four games on Friday night and I’ve just been thinking about how much I love women’s sports and the people who cover women’s sports so I just want to give a little shout out to a couple of places that I think we should all really support and especially if you’re a fan of Burn It All Down, you might think about supporting these places. One is a Title IX newsletter, which Howard Mendel, who is a friend of the show has started and what it is, is every week you will get on different days, I think it’s a Monday, Wednesday, Friday. You will get digest of what is going on in women’s hockey one day, women’s soccer another day, and women’s basketball another day.

Howard does one of the newsletters. He does the basketball, he has a soccer reporter from the AP who is fabulous who does the soccer one and then Erica Aiello, who I interviewed this week about the issues in our Patreon-only segment about the final four, she’s in charge of the hockey and it’s just such a great way to keep up with women’s sports. If you don’t have the time to watch everything and to pay attention to everything.

So, I just really want to shout out that project and also Equalizer Soccer who does some of the best reporting coverage on women’s soccer ever, of anyone. They are starting a subscription model and it’s very, the prices are very reasonable and they really want to kind of step up their game ahead of the 2019 World Cup so that’s if you’re a soccer fan. Really consider supporting that as well and we’ll Tweet out that link. Again, I just want to thank our Patreon and you know, keep giving us feedback because a lot of times with our recording schedule, one of the most frustrating things for us is that we can’t react as quickly or as in time to the big sporting events because we usually record on Sunday mornings and they don’t come out until Tuesday, so it’s hard to time things perfectly

So, One of the things we’re hoping to do more of, if you guys like it is having more segments on our Patreon page that really are just reacting to the big news in sports with other women who are covering these sports stories or participating in them.

So, let us know if you like that and just continue to support these people who are covering women’s sports and who are giving of the time and attention that it deserves.

Brenda: Yay, thanks Linds. I don’t even have to do the Patreon thing at the end because that’s exactly the type of thing I wanted to say. Our ongoing like ever, ever appreciation to our community and all the suggestions and feedback.

So, that’s it for this week in Burn It All Down. Burn It All Down lives on SoundCloud but can also be found on the iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play and TuneIn. As Lindsay said, we appreciate your reviews and feedback so please subscribe and rate to let us know what we did well also how we can improve, anything you’d really like to hear about hear us discuss. You can find us on Facebook at Burn It All Down, on Twitter @BurnItAllDownPod, on Instagram at Burn It all Down Pod and you can email us at burnitalldownpod@gmail.com

Check out our website, www.burnitalldownpod.com. There we’ve got previous episodes transcripts, links to the Patreon, show notes and things that we mention we try to put links up there so we would really appreciate again you subscribing, sharing, and rating our show and it helps us just keep doing the work that we do even better than we’re able to already do it. We hope you have an awesome week. On behalf of Amira, Lindsay, and Jessica, I’m Brenda, keep burnin’.

Shelby Weldon