Episode 56: NFL’s anthem policy, men’s Champs League final, & the congressional USOC hearing
On this week’s show, the entire Burn It All Down crew is together again. Amira, Lindsay, Shireen, Brenda, and Jessica first discuss the NFL’s new anthem policy and the NBA’s reaction to Sterling Brown being tased by a group of Milwaukee police officers for a parking violation. Then we get in our feelings about the men’s Champions League final. Finally, we discuss last week’s congressional hearing in D.C. about the decades-long problem of sexual abuse in US Olympic sports.
Of course, you’ll hear the Burn Pile, our Bad Ass Woman of the Week, and what is good in our worlds.
Intro (6:27) NFL’s anthem policy (22:06) men’s Champions League final (32:45) Sexual abuse and the USOC (50:59) Burn Pile (1:01:38) Bad Ass Woman of the Week (1:03:06) What’s Good (1:08:00) Outro
For links and a transcript…
“Watch: Brandi Chastain Reacts to Her Hall of Fame Plaque on Jimmy Kimmel” https://www.si.com/soccer/2018/05/23/brandi-chastain-reacts-hof-fame-plaque-jimmy-kimmel
“Brandi Chastain: Plaque of US footballer sparks debate on social media” https://www.bbc.com/sport/football/44219670
“You Can’t Help but Notice the Bulge on Cristiano Ronaldo’s Statue” https://www.popsugar.com/celebrity/Cristiano-Ronaldo-Statue-Pictures-36317035
“New policy requires on-field players, personnel to stand for anthem” http://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/23582533/nfl-owners-approve-new-national-anthem-policy
“Answering the biggest questions around the NFL’s anthem policy” http://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/23585814/nfl-national-anthem-policy-faq-answering-biggest-questions
“With The Anthem Policy, NFL Owners Got Everything They Wanted” https://deadspin.com/with-the-anthem-policy-nfl-owners-got-everything-they-1826260327
“National anthem issue gets to heart of how the NFL, NBA deal with their players” https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/sports/wp/2018/05/24/national-anthem-issue-gets-to-heart-of-how-the-nfl-nba-deal-with-their-players/
“The N.F.L. Kneels to Trump” https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/23/opinion/nfl-protest-trump-anthem.html
“Milwaukee police release footage of stungun arrest of Bucks rookie” https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/video/2018/may/24/milwaukee-police-release-footage-of-stungun-arrest-of-bucks-rookie-video
“Milwaukee Bucks’ Sterling Brown releases statement about January arrest” https://www.nba.com/article/2018/05/23/milwaukee-bucks-sterling-brown-statement-arrest
“Sterling Brown’s arrest shows why NFL players have a reason to kneel” by WaPo editorial board https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/sterling-browns-arrest-shows-why-nfl-players-have-a-reason-to-kneel/2018/05/24/bceaeeb4-5f7f-11e8-a4a4-c070ef53f315_story.html
“Current USOC leaders knew about the prevalence of sex abuse in Olympic sports and did nothing” https://thinkprogress.org/usoc-leaders-knew-about-sex-abuse-in-olympic-sports-and-did-nothing-86064a61cef8/
“‘Smoke and mirrors’: Congressional hearing on Olympic sex abuse frustrates survivors” https://thinkprogress.org/congressional-hearing-on-olympic-sex-abuse-frustrates-survivors-71ac548b0a75/
“‘It’s coaches’ jobs to care about you!’: USA Swimming encourages kids to implicitly trust coaches” https://thinkprogress.org/safe-sport-usas-ef5f8e1b7ca2/
“Larry Nassar and USA Gymnastics’ cover story: ‘Can we just say i am sick?’” https://www.indystar.com/story/news/2018/05/24/larry-nassar-being-investigated-sexual-abuse-usa-gymnastics-agreed-cover/599381002/
“USA Gymnastics CEO provides no answers in congressional hearing to discuss sexual abuse” https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/olympics/2018/05/23/usa-gymnastics-ceo-provides-no-answers-hearing-sexual-abuse/639071002/
“CEO admits USOC didn’t wield its authority enough to prevent sexual abuse” https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/olympics/2018/05/23/usoc-didnt-use-its-authority-enough-prevent-sex-abuse-ceo-says/637863002/
“Shaq and Charles Barkley think Advil will fix Kevin Love’s concussion” http://www.sportingnews.com/nba/news/shaq-charles-barkley-think-advil-will-fix-kevin-love-concussion-video/1giboc9t40wfi1drsk4x13j4pa
“Monaco Grand Prix: Lewis Hamilton backs ‘grid girls’ return” https://www.bbc.com/sport/formula1/44233222
“Women team captain rues Pakistan Football Federation’s non-serious attitude” https://www.geo.tv/amp/196618
“The NCAA Is Running Out Of Excuses On Brain Injuries” https://deadspin.com/the-ncaa-is-running-out-of-excuses-on-brain-injuries-1819854361
“Local football player declared ineligible for NCAA because of cannabis oil” http://wgxa.tv/sports/high-school/local-football-player-declared-ineligible-for-ncaa-because-of-cannabis-oil
“WATCH: Jordan Matthews blasts 3-run HR to send Florida to College World Series” https://www.seccountry.com/florida/watch-jordan-matthews-blasts-3-run-hr-to-send-florida-to-college-world-series
“James Madison outlasts Boston College in thriller to win 2018 DI women’s lacrosse championship” https://www.ncaa.com/news/lacrosse-women/article/2018-05-27/james-madison-outlasts-boston-college-thriller-win-2018-di
“Turkish woman scores gold medal in Archery World Cup” http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/turkish-woman-scores-gold-medal-in-archery-world-cup-132413
“Perova beats Chang to avoid complete South Korean domination at Archery World Cup” https://www.insidethegames.biz/articles/1065523/perova-beats-chang-to-avoid-complete-south-korean-domination-at-archery-world-cup
Shireen: Welcome to this week’s episode of Burn it All Down, the feminist sports podcast you need. This week we have a full house. Amira Rose Davis, Assistant Professor of History in Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies at Penn State University. Jessica Luther, independent writer and author of Unsportsmanlike Conduct: College Football and the Politics of Rape. Brenda Elsey, Associate Professor of History at Hofstra University and Lindsay Gibbs, Sportswriter at Think Progress. I’m Shireen Ahmed, freelance sportswriter.
Before we begin, I would like to thank our patreons for their generous support and to remind our new flamethrowers about our Patreon campaign. You pledge a certain amount monthly, as low as $2 and as high as you want, to become an official patron of the podcast. In exchange for your monthly contribution, you will get access to special rewards. With the price of less than a latte a month, you can get access to extra segments of the podcast, a monthly newsletter, an opportunity to record on the burn pile only available to those in our Patreon community.
So far, we’ve been able to solidify funding for proper editing and transcripts but are hoping to reach our dream of hiring a producer to help us with the show. Burn It All Down is a labor of love and we believe in this podcast, but having a producer to help us as we grow would be amazing and we are so grateful for your support.
This week we will be discussing the NFL’s anthem policy, Sterling Brown and police brutality. Lindsay and Jessica will take us in to the US Olympic Committee hearings and all the shit that happens there. And we will be discussing the champs league final and what do we do with our feelings.
But before we begin, let’s have a conversation about honoring athletes. And if you honor them via sculptures and you honor them via plaques, what does that look like and what should it look like? In most cases, we would say a plaque that’s to honor the athlete should look like the athlete, and I’m referring specifically to Brandi Chastain’s being honored by the Bay Area as a Hall of Fame and what happened with her plaque. Anyone, I hear all the giggles, anybody wanna jump in here, because I’m just like, she ended up looking like Gary Busey, so I really don’t understand.
Jessica: I don’t either. I think the worst part is there’s that one picture of her with it, and you just think, “How did she look at that and then have it in her to stand there and smile next to that plaque?”
Brenda: I just love her.
Jessica: She’s so gracious.
Brenda: I loved all the twitter attempts to find who it looked like more. And I know Shireen said Gary Busey but my favorite is Mickey Rooney. It does look so much like Mickey Rooney.
Shireen: And the thing is that, Brandi Chastain is an icon, not just for 99 wins but the way that she took off her shirt like she’s immortalized into my brain and then I see this plaque of her and I’m like, “what?” What is happening?
Amira: It was so bad. When I kept seeing it on Twitter, somehow I was not getting that it was supposed to be her. Why do they keep bringing Brandi into this conversation about this terrible plaque?
Lindsay: It all happened on the same day, or around the same time that Peter King from Sports Illustrated wrote his final MMQB, Monday Morning Quarterback column, and it actually looked a lot like Peter King. So, they were like, “This is just an ode to Peter King ’cause he’s leaving SI today.”
Brenda: I found out about it through Lindsay. Lindsay puts something like, “OMG” on Twitter. And I looked down, and I took me a long time to figure out what was going on. I was like, “Who is that?” And then I read, “Brandi Chastain” and I was like, “Oh, right, oh my god.”
Shireen: There was a really funny interview she did with Jimmy Kimmel and she was explaining that when she got up on the stage because they were honoring Harris Barton, Matt Cain and Tim Hardaway. And they were all a general likeness. And then she got up, and she didn’t actually look at her own plaque, and then she looked down and she was kind of like, “What the … what … the … what”. Her expression is hilarious. And she was, like you said, very very gracious. But I just would’ve been mortified so I guess they’re going to be doing one, and it was funny ’cause Jimmy Kimmel says, “Do you know who the artist is and why he hates you?”
Brenda: Can I just preview our champs league conversation by talking about Cristiano Ronaldo’s statue of himself?
Jessica: He deserves it though.
Brenda: Maybe athletes- what?
Jessica: I said he deserves it. That’s the difference.
Jessica: No …. he ….
Shireen: I love you Jess. Thank you for saying that because I’m still salty over here.
Brenda: Yeah, we’re about to go in on him hard. So I’m gonna preview a nasty thing about him. He did his own statue which we can link to the show notes if people care. And he made his genitalia huge.
Brenda: Yes. You haven’t seen this?
Brenda: He did his own statue. He commissioned his own statue in his home town.
Shireen: He has a museum there.
Amira: See, I’m not actually mad at that part because I was definitely the kid with the magazine of sports trophies, and I would order my own trophies for random things.
Lindsay: Oh my god!
Amira: I just am obsessed with … I mean I had a healthy amount of ones that I actually earned, but I was just like, “Hell yeah, I should have a trophy for just being awesome.” But I never inflated my own body on it.
Shireen: Amira you are like goals. I want trophies. I’m gonna order trophies for myself.
Lindsay: Shireen’s gonna do that today.
Shireen: … right now. But this is a good lesson for us at Burn It All Down because when we get our own plaques, we’ll be careful who’s commissioned for this. This is what I’m thinking.
Shireen: So moving on, Amira, would you like to take us through the first topic please?
Amira: So this past week, the NFL once again did not stop itself from being douchey. Can I say that? Well I did. They passed a new national anthem policy which is requiring players to stand and quote unquote “be respectful to the flag if they’re on the field at the time of the anthem performance.” Although they did give them the option to remain in the locker room if they would prefer. Although this was portrayed as compromise, I don’t know how you can have a compromise if you don’t consult players. It’s more erasure of their protest.
But anyways, the policy would subject the team to a fine if a player or any team personnel fails to show proper respect for the anthem. This is “they”, so would a fist in the air constitute disrespect? It leaves it open for much interpretation. The NFL PA instantly issued a scathing response, saying, “Management has chosen to quash the same freedom of speech that protects someone who wants to salute the flag in an effort to prevent someone who does not wish to do so. The sad irony of this rule is that anyone who wants to express their patriotism is subject to the whim of a person who calls themself an owner. I know that not all NFL CEOs are for this, and I know that true American patriots today are not cheering.”
Now, when they first wrote this news, it was reported to be unanimous decision. Come to find out, that that is just not true. They didn’t even put it to a vote, instead opting to poll the owners. We know that the 49ers owner has, for instance, abstained from the vote. And so there seems to be a little kind of weird backroom happenings on this policy in the first place.
Many players took to Twitter to complain about the policy, to speak about their lack of freedom of speech under this policy, and again, this policy is built on the false premise that players who are protesting during the anthem are somehow disrespecting the flag or disrespecting the troops. And that is a false premise. I don’t know how many times you can say this. This is going on three years of having this conversation, and players at this point have done town hall meetings, have written op-eds in the Players Tribune, had talked at length that what they’re protesting is police brutality, is anti-blackness, it’s systemic racism. They’re very clear issues.
Helping along, even if people still do not understand quite exactly what they’re doing even though it’s willful ignorance at this point, the same day that this policy was announced, we get a video of Milwaukee Bucks player Sterling Brown being tased for parking in a bad way. And if this video did not illustrate precisely what players who choose to kneel or put their fist in the air are talking about, then having them released on the same day made it very very stark. This is a terrible policy. I have many thoughts about it, and I’ve thoughts about the Sterling Brown video that was from an incident in January but just released, like I said, this past week.
So here we are, once again, dealing with the NFL, also known now as the No Freedom League and their bone headed moves to try to curtail protests, freedom of speech and control their predominantly black labor force. I’m just over it. I really have many thoughts, but I’m running out of words to give. What do you guys think?
Shireen: I just wanted to touch on that and I agree completely. Like you said, we’ve referenced the op-ed that Eric Reid wrote with the 49ers and why he kneeled with Kap first and what that was. And you’re absolutely right, it’s also putting the burden on the oppressed to keep explaining what’s happening. And this is just … it’s more than willful ignorance, it’s refusal to understand and to actually take accountability. This isn’t about disrespecting the flag at all. Then what about some of the arguments on Twitter? What about those flags that are make up of bananas or people that are disrespecting the flag if you wanna get very technical and legal about it. There’s lots of disrespect. You can’t technically have boxer shorts that are made out of the star spangled banner. It could be anything.
So this just goes to show that it’s so terrible and I just wanted to touch really quickly on Sterling Brown and how the Milwaukee Bucks actually released a statement which I thought was really powerful and important because it goes to show that people do understand. Sports teams and organizations can understand and what they said was, and I quote, “The abuse and intimidation that Sterling experienced at the hands of the Milwaukee police was shameful and inexcusable. Sterling has our full support as he shows his story and takes action to provide accountability. Unfortunately this isn’t an isolated case. It shouldn’t require an incident involving a professional athlete to draw attention to the fact that vulnerable people in our communities have experiences similar and even worse treatment.”
So I think that’s really important. So this just goes to show that the No Freedom League is continuing to be a Gong Show. Lindsay?
Lindsay: Yeah, I think it’s just important to remember that as recently as 2015, the NFL was paying … taxpayers were paying the league through the Department of Defense for such things as military flyovers, flag unfurlings, emotional color guard ceremonies, enlistment campaigns, and national anthem performances. So there was this paid patriotism that was going on that actually was revealed through a Republican oversight report by Senators Jeff Flake and John McCain, of all people, who said, “Yeah, this is paid patriotism, and this is wrong.” Taxpayer dollars should not be going to this.
And so, that was just a couple of years ago that this was happening. It wasn’t until 2009 that it was put into the guidebook or whatever it is, that players were encouraged to stand during the national anthem. Before that, though, a lot of teams would stay in the locker room. There was no codified thing. This is all been because Department of Defense giving money, and the NFL realizing they could benefit economically from the marketing of this faux patriotism.
So let’s not act like this has always been a moment about pure love for the country. I actually think that what the players who are taking a knee or raising a fist, which I’d like to say, this anthem … this does not stop them from raising a fist during the national anthem like some of them have done, but I would like to say that, that to me is much more patriotic than being paid to honor the service because they are actually wanting the country to be better for everyone.
So anyways, this is just … I know we’re not at the burn pile right now, but that’s the mood I’m in.
Brenda: Yeah, I always think too, that I’m really uncomfortable with this idea that somehow this is a time honored tradition that is as old as sports itself. The Star Spangled Banner wasn’t even the national anthem until 30’s. It’s a drinking song, so get over it. You know what I mean? Get over it. Seriously, it’s shocking to me that people have this idea that it’s always been around forever and it’s synonymous with the country and things like that. There’s lots of ways to feel about a country. Country is a little bit more complicated than that.
But anyway, I agree with everything that’s been said. I just wanted to add that this isn’t some thing that’s always been in sports and if you go to other countries, unless they’re playing international games, you don’t have the anthems. They’re not played. It’s weird. It’s different. It’s not like … these aren’t teams that are actually representing the nation, you know what I’m … they’re representing cities or states.
So it’s a bizarre thing that the US even has that, in my opinion. So, anyway, just throwing that out there that it’s not a foregone conclusion that this happens, and it’s not a global thing that everybody just throws out the anthem at whatever kind of pick up game you’ve got going on.
Shireen: That’s true. Jess?
Jessica: Yeah, that’s such a good point. One thing that I always find super strange is if you do just a 5K run in the US, they do the national anthem beforehand. Just the amount of time … the way that this has gotten looped into sport is really strange in so many ways. The one thing that I wanted to mention in this conversation was the NFL, with its idea of patriotism and respect and all this kind of bullshit that they’re peddling, it’s like, I can’t even hear it knowing that the team in the nation’s capital for this league is still named after a slur for native and indigenous people. It’s just like … the audacity that these people have to try to take this moral positioning when they’re still slurring native and indigenous people in this country all the time in the nation’s capital. It just … I don’t even know where to put all of my feelings about this. But I think about that every single time that I hear those words. And I just can’t get over it.
Amira: Yeah, I think that last year, it’s interesting. The US Soccer Federation targeted Megan Rapinoe’s kneeling in solidarity and passed a similar statute, saying that all players representing the US Soccer Federation must stand and respect the flag on the sidelines. I think it’s also interesting that the NBA also has similar policy, although that was something that was crafted in agreement with the players’ union.
So it’s going to be very interesting to see, going forward, how various leagues negotiate this and certainly seems, in particular with the NFL, in contract to the NBA, that players have systemically left out of this process. It’s also, I think, important to know in the discussions of paid patriotism, you’re precisely right, Lindsay, that in 2009, the DoD does start funding these paid patriotism displays that result in the NFL actually giving back $700.00 to taxpayers for inappropriately using these funds.
But we have to take a long look at this kind of spectacle in American sporting history. And a lot of it traces directly onto times of war. I mean, the first kind of recorded instance of standing and doing any sort of anthem was 1918 during a baseball game, which was around, right, drumming up druthers around World War I. And you can map on to the history of this nation at identifiable war, and I say identifiable war ’cause the nation is always at war, meddling in other countries, but identifiable wars that we think about. When you ratchet up the spectacle of the national anthem in the 70s and the 80s, the NFL really invested in infusing the Super Bowl with patriotism. In the cover of Times in the 70s, called it “The Great American Spectacle”.
And you had that for many years, going into the 90s, so you did have patriotism, really dripping around the NFL for many years. And then it stopped. And the reason why it stopped was because there was an anti-war fever in this country around 2007, 2008, and so if you think about the heyday of this being right after 9/11, and then when you get to 2008 and the kind of national mood has really changed, the NFL can’t tie it’s brand to patriotism and militarism in the same way. They’re worried about their bottom line.
And it’s that DoD contract that comes in right when people are very anti-Iraq war and trying to re-infuse the league. The Department of Defense sees football as this great vehicle for selling nationalism, and the NFL sees its brand tied to it in that way.
Lindsay: Yeah, and just … I feel like it’s important to note that so much of this, by the NFL, was a direct reaction to President Trump. They’re literally afraid of this baby’s tweets. And the fact that Trump has realized what a rallying cry, akin to lock her up this is for his base. And lo and behold, after this policy was revealed and CNN called it quote “A Big Win for Donald Trump”, barf, the … Trump goes on Fox and Friends or whatever that stupid morning show program is, and he says, “Well, even if they don’t come out of the locker room, you know, if they aren’t on the field standing, maybe they shouldn’t even be in this country.”
So even that’s not enough. Even this ridiculous policy that is clearly, clearly infringing on freedom of speech, we just like, that’s not even enough, he’s gonna keep moving the goal post forward because he knows how much his base loves to be angry at rich black men. So, it’s just so stupid that they’re giving in to him in this way. They should be standing by their players. And, if they do that, this will go away eventually. It’s just so ridiculous.
Amira: Which is funny because, you might see it going around Twitter, but there’s … what’s his face? Some, Peter K … some representative who joins the long tradition of likening protesting players to Nazis-
Brenda: Stephen King. Horrible.
Amira: Yeah, yeah, from Iowa. Which is ironic, given the fact that you might see this image going around Twitter that in 1934 there was actually a German football club who was banned or somehow prohibited from playing because they failed to give the Nazis salute. And so there is many historical parallels at work here.
Shireen: Yeah, I just, for me part of the thing was also seeing, just to echo what Lindsay was saying about Trump and his being the only non-American on this team, it’s really interesting because this amount of American exceptionalism that creeps in, that is exploited is so gross and then you get into these discussions about what that means and what does it mean to be American? And I mean, just with Trump saying that the players don’t come out of the change room they should be deported. So he’s basically willing, publicly, to say that he wants to expunge people from their own country who are trying to exercise the first amendment. Like from someone who’s not American, I’m like, this can’t be real. But it is all too real. And it’s ridiculous. Amira do you wanna wrap us up?
Amira: Yeah, I just wanna end by quoting Malcolm Jenkins, who’s been an outspoken player on this issue for years now. And he said, “I will not let it silence me or stop me from fighting. This has never been about taking a knee, raising a fist, or anyone’s patriotism, but doing what we can to effect real change for real people.”
Shireen: Brenda, take us through the champs league final without breaking anything big.
Brenda: I mean, I don’t know what to say about it. It’s like, Real Madrid versus Liverpool is like gross and grosser. I don’t like either of them. I know Mohamed Salah, I know that we love him on this show and all humans should, but besides him and Mane, is there any reason to like either of those teams?
Shireen: Well I like Jurgen Klopp’s track suits. He looks like he’s coming out to go to the arcade instead of-
Brenda: I guess it’s … it was 3-1 and it was a disappointing game because the major plays came on disgusting intentional fouls for Sergio Ramos, really poor goal tending, and two quick good goals from Gareth Bale who I don’t like.
So, in no way was it a good match for me except that it’s over. So, I would just like to say that following the match, Cristiano Renaldo, who is the Champion Leagues all-time highest scorer, did not score, so maybe that’s okay. But he was asked if he was disappointed not to have scored, and he said, quote, and this just sums up why they’re so easy to hate, “Who’s disappointed? Perhaps they need to change the name of the Champions League to the CR7 Champions League. Who has the most titles and who has the most goals?”
Amira: Sorry, I’m still just thinking about his manufactured bulge.
Brenda: No but that’s actually an extension of the manufactured bulge. “Who cares about teamwork? Who cares that it’s eleven players? It’s a CR7, even though I didn’t score, and I kinda had a shitty game, it’s still all about me.” And for me, that’s Real Madrid all the time. I don’t know, and then Mohamad. So let’s talk Salah. Shireen?
Shireen: Mohamed Salah was Golden Boot possibility, just everything with him … we were so excited about … ’cause you know, Liverpool hasn’t been to the Champs final in over a decade. I think it was just, there was a lot of excitement about it. And there’s all these conversations that are really interesting happening about Mohamed Salah, and for me … and Sadio Mane, it’s really important, Sadio Mane has probably … has immerged for me and this is the one beacon light. He’s the first Senegalese to ever play in the Champs final. And his passing with Mohamed Salah in the first 20 minutes of the match was incredible. It was wordless. It was like this expressions of dedication and passion and the two of them were hustling. It was a beautiful thing to see. And luckily, Sadio Mane did score. He tied it up to 1-1. And it was gorgeous. It was just wonderful.
But that being said, the take down of Mohamed Salah by Ramos was awful. It looked like some MMA move. It was horrible, to which reports are saying that it’s a dislocated shoulder and Salah won’t actually be able to compete. There’s a possibility he might not be healed for the Worlds Cup. The first match is on the second day of the World Cup against Uruguay, which is actually the Day of Eid, which is really interesting. So all of us who are gonna be pretending to be at prayer will be on our phones watching the match, but …
I think the other thing too is, this is Egypt going to the World Cup, and I mean to put so much pressure on one person, this was actually a good reminder. I’m trying to be positive, ’cause remember, as Lindsay coined me, Shireen Half-Glass Full Ahmed, I think that you can’t put all your eggs in one basket in that way, and then as a professional athlete, there’s always a possibility that he could get injured. It’s just, it was really heartbreaking and infuriating in the way that he got injured. Ramos didn’t even get called on a foul.
Brenda: How could he not have? How did he not get a red card? For those of you who didn’t see it, he dragged Salah down to the ground, pulling on his arm. This is a game that doesn’t even involve your upper body.
Shireen: Well, I mean, if we just look at Ramos and his reputation for being that type of dirty defender, and for all of you listening that are Real Madrid fans, clearly this show has no love. The one exception and personal conundrum I have is Zidane, whom I love. And we’ll get into Zidane as well, because there was conversation happening on Twitter, which greatly disturbed me and it was disrespecting Zidane, because there was comments that Gareth Bale’s hit, which is less than two minutes after he got off the bench, he was the sub, he was better than Zidane’s Leverkusen 2002 Champs final goal. And I can’t have that. I’ll just tell y’all right now, I can’t have anyone disrespecting Zidane. There’s just … I can’t.
And Gareth Bale’s strike was amazing. I dislike him less because he’s Welsh, so I just think he’s really interesting as a player. I don’t love him, but he was a beautiful strike. He wasn’t even facing the net. It was a beautiful goal, I’m gonna give him that. But I don’t have room to discuss him. It’s like apples versus mangoes, you don’t compare the two, you just don’t. So, there’s all that happening. I’m calm now, I was really angry yesterday about the way it all turned out.
Also, Benzema’s goal, if anyone did not see it, was legitimately off the gaps of Loris Karius, who is the goalkeeper. And my daughter’s a goalkeeper, and she was watching and she texted me last night. And she’s like, “Mama,” ’cause they’re like fundamental errors. I don’t … and she felt terrible because at the end of the match she walked around the stadium crying and apologizing to local fans.
Lindsay: It was too much for me. I just … I don’t know how to react when professional athletes make these fundamental mistakes on the biggest stage. It’s too heartbreaking to watch. And I just couldn’t stop thinking about it the rest of the night, and of course, now he’s getting death threats, ’cause of course he is. I don’t know how you recover from this but I would like to offer to comfort him if he needs some comfort. Just putting it out there to the universe.
Brenda: He’s easy on forwards and the eyes.
Lindsay: So easy on the eyes.
Shireen: Oh Brenda, ouch. Burn
Brenda: It was a shitty game.
Shireen: I get what you’re saying, but-
Brenda: Why wasn’t he pulled? I just … I don’t … anyway. I would’ve pulled him right out.
Shireen: I know but I think Klopp was like, “Okay, you’re allowed to have one miss.” His goal … what I’m saying, folks, for those that didn’t see it, Benzema was being his typical Benzema-ian self, and you know, attacking as he should. He’s a forward. So Karius tried to roll the ball out on the deck, like, roll the ball and distribute it. But he didn’t do a very good job because it was like five yards in front of him was Benzema who got the ball and tapped it right back in. At that point, he’s known offsides because the ball is in front of Benzema. So it’s in play. And Karius started freaking out as his team and we’re all watching going, “Who are you yelling at? That’s totally on you.” So…
Brenda: He got an assist, Karius literally got an assist for that call.
Shireen: He got the assist. And the thing is, Lindsay, we’re talking about on the world stage. But the thing is, Karius had the ball in his possession and he’s the last defender. These are things you learn in under 10 goalkeeping camp. I mean, make sure…
Lindsay: I’m not saying he can make mistakes I’m saying it’s hard to see this. It’s hard, it physically hurts to watch somebody have these mental breakdowns. ‘Cause that’s what it is. I’m not saying … he obviously … I mean … yeah, I’m not saying he was right by any means. No, he fucked up, but I just … goalies … the whole thing about … I don’t know how you’re a goalie. That’s just … that position, that job … and I don’t know.
Shireen: I’ve said this before, and I’ll reiterate. I totally agree with you, being a goalie is ridiculous. You have to be a different type of person. But I also have a lot of the deeper … the mothers of goalkeepers who watch their children in that. And I remember having a conversation with a friend of mine, our daughters train together, and Doris said to me, “I can’t believe you don’t drink.” ‘Cause she has a thermos on the sidelines during play sometimes.
Lindsay: That’s amazing.
Shireen: Obviously, I don’t drink but I … it was just … you have to manage other ways. And I felt really bad for Karius, I honestly did, because he’s going to live with this and I really really hope he has the support he needs. Because this is a doozie. Like this is a real doozie.
Lindsay: Once again, if he needs some extra support …
Brenda: He needs some extra practice … I mean, it’s … it wasn’t just one mistake. It was really … I … okay.
Jessica: Is he German?
Jessica: Was he playing for Germany? Will we see him in a World Cup?
Brenda: Probably not, he hasn’t been used much, right Shireen? He’s technically, I mean, has he been called up?
Shireen: He’s third string, and Jess, Team Germany boasts Manuel Neuer, who is the top goalie in the world and he’s never gonna come out of nets until he’s like 90.
Jessica: So he doesn’t have to go compete in the World Cup after this, right? So we’re not gonna … I mean, he’ll get a break.
Shireen: I mean, I don’t know if he’s been called to the team. If he’s been called to the team, he’s gonna go. But I don’t think he’ll see a second time on the pitch, I can tell you that.
Jessica: That’s what I mean.
Brenda: I think he was just U16, I don’t think he’s ever even come out, right, as a full, but I don’t know. But not now.
Jessica: Yeah, I just mean, he’ll get to stay home probably and everyone will focus on the World Cup.
Brenda: Yeah, I’ve never seen him. He’s never played for the senior side. He played-
Lindsay: How old is he?
Brenda: Yeah, so I wouldn’t see that happening. So he’ll have lots of time for Lindsay to talk him through. What he needs to do next.
Shireen: And I’m just gonna end this segment with saying for Real Madrid and their winning this, I hope they drop that trophy under a bus somehow, which they’re notorious for. So, I’m just gonna say that.
Amira: Shireen Glass Half Full, on it again.
Brenda: Glass half anybody but Real Madrid.
Shireen: Moving on to our next segment, Jess?
Jessica: Yeah, so this week, in Washington DC, the House Commerce Committee held a hearing about sexual abuse in Olympic sports. Our own Lindsay Gibbs was there and reported extensively about it this week for Think Progress, and we’re gonna link all of her work in our show notes. The heads of the US Olympics committee, USA Gymnastics, USA Tae Kwon Do, USA Swimming, USA Volleyball, and the US Center for Safe Sport were all present because, as we’ve said repeatedly on Burn It All Down, the issue of sexual abuse goes so far past gymnastics. Though I do want to point out that … gymnastics was under the spotlight, and rightly so, Kerry Perry, the CEO of USAG, who took over in December of 2017, use the excuse repeatedly that because she just took over only a few months ago, she doesn’t know much about what happened before she got there. It’s just … the balls of … the brazenness of it all.
Overall the hearing was meh. Lindsay reported, “There was a disturbing lack of urgency from of the assembled Olympic leaders to take blame for past sins and enact policies and procedures to make their sports safer.” Which is sad, given other reporting that came out this week. The indie star, once again showing that USA Gymnastics allowed Larry Nassar to set the narrative around why he would not be attending a gymnastics event while under investigation for child sexual abuse. Nassar didn’t want to say that he was missing it for “personal reasons”, so suggested instead that they say he was sick, because, and I quote, “That would make more sense to everyone.” The attorney for USAG agreed.
And Lindsay has a piece about the troubling Safe Sport materials that USA Swimming created that essentially grooms kids to implicitly trust coaches, which is anathema to teaching kids to question abusive behavior, which is at the heart of a lot of what we’ve been talking about. So Lindsay, I want to hear more from you. Will you tell us a little bit more about the USA Swimming stuff, but also your experiences this week at the hearing?
Lindsay: Yeah, thanks Jess. So let’s just start with this USA Swimming material. So I was alerted to this actually by a survivor of sexual abuse, by USA swimming coaches. She was abuse in the 80s and is now an advocate. And she’s done work with USA Swimming and with Safe Sport. They have brought her to speak at events to kind of tout the progress they’ve made. And then she sat down and she was really looking at this Safe Sport material. And it was … she was like, “Wow,” I think her exact quote, her name is Dani Bostick, her exact quote to me was that, “Safe Sport is actively promoting the same behaviors and attitudes that put me at risk and gave my predator access to me.” Which that quote just really stayed with me.
I mean, essentially, what Safe Sport is doing is it’s having, just for a minute … it gets a little complicated. So there is the US Center for Safe Sport, which is just launched last year. It took seven years to launch. And it independently, I’m using air quotes because it’s still funded, and there’s a lot of governance overlap with the USOC, but it is independent from all the individual sport governing bodies. So they are there to investigate claims of sexual abuse and sexual misconduct by people within the sports. So that is there primary job.
However, each individual sport also has a Safe Sport program, and within those programs, they deal with any safety concerns that are not sexual abuse, but they’re also supposed to be the arm that is educating everyone about ways to prevent sexual abuse. And as I just said, a big part of sexual abuses, especially within swimming, has been grooming. And a lot of what these, the problem has been is that 65% of sexual abuse cases in swimming, USA swimming, have been at the hands of coaches. And many of these are quote-unquote “relationships”.
So what happens is, within USA Swimming, it has been so normalized for a 25 year old coach to fall in love with his 14, 15 year old student, and for them to stay together. This has just been a normal thing to the point that it wasn’t until 2014 that this was a … that it became an official rule that no matter the age, a coach and a student, so somebody with that power dynamic, could not be together. So even if the age of consent somewhere is 16, you can’t do that. Which seems like a good rule to me, I don’t know.
But these materials were guiding conversations that were supposed to be helping these young athletes between the ages of 6-11 is when most of these materials are geared for. They’re supposed to be helping set emotional and physical boundaries, and yet within these materials, so much of it was, “Talk to your coach. Your coach is the one you can trust. Your coach should be able to take care of you at any time. Your coach should be the person who you can talk to, not just about swimming, but about all stressors in your life.” And it’s just mind boggling to read through this, ’cause of course, in a completely ideal world, this dynamic would be fine. But that’s not the world that Safe Sport is set up to address.
And so teaching these young kids through activities that the coach is the leader and the one you should trust above all else, that’s just teaching them to accept the grooming. And so that was just really really bothersome.
So one of the things was at this hearing, the head of the USA Swimming touted their Safe Sport program 15 times in this opening statement as a reason why USA Swimming should be completely trusted and why they are doing the right thing. So it just gets back to the fact that nobody knows anything that’s happening.
I talked to a couple of victims after the hearing, and it was really … they were not happy with the way the hearing went. As Jess mentioned, there was a staggering lack of urgency from all of these leaders. Everyone seemed so afraid to say the wrong thing that they gave vague answers, such as, “We’re working on that.” Or, “Yes, you’re right, that is disturbing. We’ll do better in the future.” There were no concrete timelines given. Nobody truly took accountability, and I just don’t know where this leads us. If at this point in this process, these leaders still don’t have the urgency and the ability to make changes quickly, then where do we go?
Jessica: Yeah, I wanted to ask you what the point of the hearings were? I know part of it was to make these people sit in front of Congress and answer questions because USOC is funded by Congress, correct? But was there anything beyond that? What is Congress trying to figure out at this point? Are they trying to figure out whether or not to continue funding? Or what rules should be changed … can you just give me an idea of why they were doing this?
Lindsay: Yeah, to the best of my ability. ‘Cause it’s all still a little fuzzy to be honest. So there are three separate Congressional investigations going on right now that were spurred by the Larry Nassar case. We have two in the House, and one in the Senate. That seems confusing? Well, yes. I agree. I too am confused. What was supposed to happen this week was we were supposed to have two back-to-back Congressional hearings. One in the Senate, which was supposed to be … deal with a lot of the people who have been fired and let go or resigned, so a lot of the people from the past. And then this one in the House, which was supposed to deal with a lot of the current leaders, to see where they were and to see what they were willing to admit, to see what they were willing to accept responsibility for, and to see what plans they had in place going forward.
So unfortunately, the first one was postponed. The Senate hearing, which was the one I was most looking forward to, because it seems like it would have been the most productive as far as getting answers about what happened in the past. That was postponed indefinitely. I think they’re going to have to use subpoena power to get some of these people to appear, so that’s fun. And then the Congressional hearing in the House, which is the one that did go on, and that was on Wednesday, this was a lot to see, first of all, how is the Center for Safe Sport doing? How is it funded right now? What is going on with it? And also, to try and get these leaders to admit, under oath, because these hearings are under oath, what has been done and what is being done to make things safer.
So, I mean, one of the big things is Kerry Perry, who is the gymnastics CEO as you mentioned. She’s not given a press conference or talked to media at all since she took the job in December 2017. So this was a very rare opportunity to get her to answer questions and for people to be able to hear it. She actually ran away from the hearing afterwards and still didn’t talk to media. And the answers she gave during the hearing were very very very lacking. However, at least we got her to answer some sort of questions.
Shireen: Yeah, I just have a question. Why was the Senate Committee postponed? And sorry if you’ve already explained that, why was it postponed?
Lindsay: What they do, as far as I understand it, is they first send out … to come. And the hope is that these people will come on their own will and they are not gonna have to do subpoena power. So it seems like they were trying-
Shireen: Oh so they won’t come.
Lindsay: So yeah, so what I’ve heard and, I’ve been getting different answer from this, it was hard to find any answers. But what I’ve heard from people close to the situation is that there’s a few things that are holding this up. First of all is that Scott Blackmun, who’s the former CEO of the US Olympic Committee, he actually does have cancer right now. So he is … that is an actual thing he is dealing with, so that does make, of course, travel difficult. ‘Course, you would think that there’s some, I don’t know, technologies, that we could use to phone him in or video conference him in. But they weren’t able to get that worked out before Tuesday’s hearing. And also it seems that the former CEO of USA Gymnastics also was not willing to just come on his own will.
So like I said, they’re gonna have to take further steps it seems to do subpoena power or … and I don’t know what the timeline for that will be. Any other questions? I feel like this is a good way for me to do this.
Shireen: Yeah, so what’s next Lindsay? What are we looking at next? If we’re not gonna heads of federations and the US director, she’s not … she’s running away from everything. How do we make change? Are these sessions … you said they’re helpful in the sense of getting people to answer questions, but what are we looking at next? And what type of closure do victims get?
Lindsay: Not much. So the thing is, from victims, on the one hand, the victims I talked to were very disappointed with how easily it seemed like the heads of these organizations got off within this Congressional hearing. But at the same time, they could recognize what a huge deal it was to even reach the level of a Congressional hearing.
So Jessica Howard, who was one of the Nassar survivors, who was at this hearing, and she came forward pretty early on in the process. And she did, she expressed to me that any attention this is getting is still a massive accomplishment for those that came forward, and the fact that we have Congress behind us trying to legislate change. She said, “It makes me believe in the good that can come from these situations, and I honestly didn’t think that was possible.” So I don’t want to, in all of my criticisms of this hearing and of where these leaders are, to deny the fact that the only reason we’re here is because these survivors have spoken up. And that is … we just need to remember how strong they’ve been and how incredible that is, and continue to push for more.
I think we as people in media, as fans, we have to clamoring for accountability. We have to keep clamoring for Perry to give an actual press conference. We need to keep clamoring for timelines, because the truth is the only time any changes have been made, were when basically this Nassar trial reached the peak in January because of these victims. That’s what got the attention of Congress and that’s what got attention of the media and of everyone. And that’s what forced some changes to be made. So I think it’s really up on all of us to make sure that these survivors are not screaming into the wind, and that we help amplify their voices and help keep pushing forward for accountability.
Ultimately, there need to be systemic changes. We need to figure out ways to give more power to the athletes, which I think in my mind means a lot more oversight and fairness in things such as, not just travel, things where you know people are vulnerable, but the selection of teams for these things. People are always so afraid to speak up because they’re afraid, the same people I’m speaking out against are the people who are picking me. Picking the teams for the Olympics, you know?
So we’ve gotta make sure that all of these processes are much more transparent, that they give more power to the athletes themselves and we really need to make sure that we can clear house, as far as the people who were there, who were involved in these cover ups, who set by idly when the US Olympic Committee and USA Gymnastics said, “It is not our job, legally, to protect these kids from sexual abuse.” We need to make sure all those people are out the door and that we have fresh faces in.
Amira: I think the other thing that this points to is the opportunity to really re-evaluate the way that we fund and consider the USOC and amateur sports and Olympic sports in this country. I mean, Congressional hearing are great, but Congress has it’s own damn issues. And there’s been a long history of not paying attention to this unless there is some sort of crisis, right? And this got national media attention … was a black eye and all of a sudden they’re spurn to action. There needs to be so much more oversight and investment, and really, this is why in other countries departments that are literally in charge of the, kind of, export of sport. And we have come to this idea, that somehow, again, because we’re exceptional and American, that we’re super democratic in the way that we manage our Olympic sports is somehow different. But there needs to be targeted oversight and resources and, kind of, monitoring that doesn’t just happen in a moment of crisis. And it’s about abuse, but it’s also about spending. It’s exactly the issues that you brought up Lindsay.
And so I’m really curious to see, I mean I don’t have any optimism in this regard, but it would be also a moment to just talk about the function of the USOC in general. Talking about the way that currently the … you know, everything’s set up and it’s just … yeah.
Lindsay: Yeah, absolutely. I think one of the things that did come from this hearing was finding out how much the Center for Safe Sport was operating with right now. So the CEO, Shellie Pfohl, said that originally when it was launched last spring, that the organization, the Center for Safe Sport was receiving about 20-30 complaints of sexual abuse every month. But after the Me Too movement and Nassar’s victims speaking up, they’re now receiving 20-30 complaints per week. They only have still about… they only have about 14 people on staff, that includes support staff. Seven of their investigators are outsourced. I think they still only have four or five full time investigators. The case load for each of these people is just astronomical.
And that was one of the frustrating things about this hearing, was sitting there and everyone was like, “Oh, well, how do we make sure that you have more funding? And how do we make sure that this center is not just funded by the USOC because that’s not independence. If the money’s still coming from the USOC, that’s not independence. And the obvious reason is Congress just should not give the money to the USOC to give to the center. Congress should directly fund this center, so that it is independent from the USOC. And yet, that answer just didn’t seem to be floated. I mean, Congress did say … there were a few of the representatives who said things like, “Let us know how much money you need and we will figure out ways to get that to you.”
And I really hope that going forward that that’s what happens because this … as long as there’s so much overlap between the Center for Safe Sport and the US Olympic Committee, we’re not gonna really be making any progress at all. And that’s the most disappointing thing. And look, there’s tons more we could talk about. I could talk about this for hours, but ultimately, I’ll just end with a quote that one of the lawyers told me. So John Little, who’s been one of the lawyers for a lot of victims who’ve been suing people within the Olympic movement, and he said, “Congress created the USOC, and they can end the USOC.”
And that’s true. And we need Congress to recognize it’s power and as Amira said, it’s terrifying to be relying on Congress for anything these days. But if we can’t agree that athletes trying to get … go to the Olympics should not be sexually abused, then I don’t even know if we have any starting place at all.
Shireen: Okay, onto our favorite part of the show, where we actually burn things. Brenda.
Brenda: I’m not even 100% sure how to formulate this burn, but I feel like everyone’s going to know what I mean. I would like to burn the reaction to the Formula One banning of grid girls. Do you know … you sound surprised, Linds.
Lindsay: I just, I hadn’t heard this story and-
Brenda: Okay, so supposedly, I don’t even know that I would call it a ban. What I’m about to actually burn is the way in which it’s been reported and reacted to. But in any case, supposedly they are not using grid girls. Now grid girls, I guess, are women, and not girls at all, who are scantily clad and kind of raise those signs up. Do you know what I mean?
Brenda: Alright, makes sense. I didn’t that’s what they were called. I had no idea what they are.
Anyway, the reaction to this has been to blame feminists for ruining things that are good.
Jessica: Feminists are amazing.
Brenda: Yeah, and this is the reaction from places … you know and they’re not media outlets that we probably read a lot with respect, but anyhow, I can link them to the show but I don’t really want to give them a bunch of clicks either. But this is the Independent, “These sexy young women, who have traditionally been a fixture of the racing scene, didn’t perform any ostensible function that actually has any impact on the sport, but simply stood, track side, presented the odd trophy, and gave male punters something pretty to look at while the cars were at the other end of the track.”
But then the article goes on to say, that this in fact a mean thing that middle class feminists are doing, by ripping away opportunities from these young women. That it’s actually middle class feminists … I’m so glad you’re laughing already, really, ’cause it means I don’t have that much explaining to do.
So it’s like fuck you guys. First of all, Formula One never ever ever listens to feminists. That’s not why this decision is being made. This is being made for, I don’t know what, but something to do, I’m sure, with trying to attract a female audience, trying to capture new market segments … there is never room in which they’re like, “You know what? Screw our finances, let’s focus on the real moral value at stake here. Feminism.”
So don’t blame feminism when it’s not in charge of Formula One. So … and I saw like eight articles … so I wanna burn a blaming the Me Too movement, they blamed the Me Too movement and Harvey Weinstein for ruining male pleasure with grid girls and pitting women against each other, once again. So I wanna burn all the media surrounding that, and all the blame on feminism, when feminism doesn’t make these decisions.
Lindasy: I’m kinda fine taking responsibility for this one.
Shireen: I’m going to go next after I recover from the shock that feminism is not in control of Formula One. Other than the metaphorical burn of Sergio Ramos forever, I hope he descends in the the deepest pits of hell for hurting Mo Salah, but that’s okay. And that’s okay. I’m not allowed to spar because it’s Ramadan but I can say that.
What I wanted to actually burn was a friend of mine, Hajra Khan, is actually the captain of the Pakistani woman’s football team. She was approached by the Pakistan Football Federation, which was actually banned by FIFA, but now has been reinstated, but they were banned for … that ban was overturned and there were activities for the men’s team have resumed. But they approached her to do a promotional video. What ended up happening is that she took the opportunity to ask them, “Well, what about any calendar events for the women’s team?” And they have the Asian Games 2018 that are just in a few months from now. And they haven’t heard anything from the Federation on organizing training camp, anything. Nothing.
So she asked that particular official, and he was just like, “There’s nothing there. There’s the South Asian Federation games that are scheduled to happen, there’s a couple.” Now the Pakistani Women’s Team hasn’t had any type of interaction or matches since November 2014, when the country hosted the South Asian Women’s Football Championship in Islamabad. So that’s almost four years ago, and instead they keep coming at her saying, “Can you do this?” ‘Cause she’s by far the countries most successful female footballer. She’s been mentioned a bunch of times in our Baddest Woman of the Week. She’s the first female player to play overseas in a foreign league. She played in the Maldives and was asked to try out for Bundesliga.
So they keep asking her for her face to help them with the campaign while completely ignoring the fact that she’s captain of the women’s side. So I wanna burn this because the sexism is glaring and obvious. And it’s infuriating to not be able to give these women the chance that they so desperately are trying to get. So I wanna burn that.
Amira: Yeah, so, generally burning all of the NFL crap, but also on the game 5 or whatever game it was, of the Rockets – Warriors, TNT panned to the sideline and were all too happy to shout out and spot Justin Timberlake and JJ Watt. And then just continue to talk about them, completely ignoring that Kealia Ohai, who is Houston Dash Soccer extraordinaire captain and professional player, by the way. I know, it’s infuriating.
Lindsay: Cameo by Amira’s son.
Amira: Was right next to JJ Watt, and instead played it like that was … she was just JJ Watt’s girlfriend, just a piece of arm candy. She’s a professional athlete. And I think I’m equally burning the reaction to and attempt to normalize it and say, “Oh, they couldn’t be bothered to know.” Are you serious? Have you not heard a TNT broadcast? They come out with random stats. All you have to do is Google her.
The normalization of it, like, “Oh, it’s not their fault that they didn’t know that she was a professional athlete, so everybody should just get over it.” There’s all these things and it’s like, no. Actually, first of all, they can Google. Second of all, even if they got it wrong, the answer is not to say, “Oh it’s okay that they got it wrong.” The answer is to say, “Yeah, they should probably figure out how to Google” or “Hey, we should get more NWSL games on stations and visible so people have no excuse to not know who she is.” And so, that was annoying. And I’m burning it down.
Lindsay: Yeah, so this is actually related to the same broadcasters, but last night, in the middle of Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals, when Shaq and Charles Barkley and their whole crew was talking about Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals … how are you feeling, Amira, by the way? How are you doing?
Amira: I’m fine. They have to come back to the Bean, thank you very much.
Lindsay: Yeah, that is true. So, they were previewing that, and they mentioned that Kevin Love was gonna be out of Game 7 because he was in concussion protocol. Kevin Love had a nasty hit to his head in Game 6 and was sent out early from that game, was put into concussion protocol, and thank goodness, these protocols are in place because as we all know, concussions are incredibly serious serious issues.
Well, what did this group of announcers say? Shaq goes, quote, “Nothing is keeping me from Game 7. I’m going to Walgreens to get some Advil.” What? What? Like Kevin Love is purposely like, “Yeah, I don’t wanna play. Keep me out.” No no no. These protocols are in place to protect players and their brains from themselves and from this game, which at the end of the day, is not as important as them actually having brains when they leave the sport.
And this has particularly bothered me because the implication here is that Kevin Love is weak. And we know that Kevin Love has been open about his mental health struggles this year. So, I just wanna burn that whole thing. We should be well beyond joking about concussions, and implying that not playing through concussions makes you weak. Burn.
Jessica: Yeah, so I’m here to once again throw the NCAA on the burn pile. I could be burning Patrick Hruby’s latest dead spin, or what he reports on, about how the NCAA and how it little it cares about CTE and other long term brain injuries that it’s athletes sustain while playing in college. You should read that piece and we’ll link to it in the show notes.
But instead, I wanna tell you about CJ Harris. He’s a football player from Georgia. He got a walk on offer from Auburn. He was thrilled about the opportunity, until he received word that he will not longer be offered this, because he says, he uses cannabis oil, which is banned by the NCAA. And so he can’t play. You see, Harris began to have seizures in high school and was diagnosed with epilepsy. He had 14 seizures and tried a whole host of medications before his doctor suggested he start on cannabis oil back in January of 2017. He hasn’t had a seizure since.
According to SB Nation, “The NCAA has exceptions to it’s drug policy for players who use specific drugs for medical reasons, but it classifies marijuana as an illicit drug and doesn’t have a medical exception for it’s use.” There are reports that once Auburn found out about his epilepsy, they rescinded the offer in order to protect Harris’ health, which is something all on it’s own because, what about all the other players? But okay.
So either way, I just feel really terrible for this kid and I hate how draconian the NCAA is about certain things and totally uninterested when it comes to others. So burn.
Shireen: Now it’s time to amplify and elevate some incredible women. I actually just wanted to mention … I know we just mentioned Hajra Khan of the Pakistan Women’s Soccer team, but she’s actually head of a campaign for bringing awareness to women’s health and, in particular, menstrual health in sports. So I just wanted to mention that.
Florida’s softball’s Jordan Matthews who sent the Gators to the Women’s College World Series with a walk off, three run homer and beat Texas A&M. By the time you hear this episode, either James Madison or Boston College would have won the NCAA LaCrosse Championship. So congratulate to the women on both teams for making it the final.
Now, can I get a drum roll please?
And Badass Women of the Week are the women who actually just competed in the Archery World Cup, which just wrapped in Antalya, Turkey. And those specific winners are Ksenia Perova of Russia for recurve, Yesin Bostan of Turkey for compound, and then the recurve women’s team of Korea, and the compound women’s team of Chinese Tai Pei. We see you. It might not be the world’s most popular sport, but we see you, and we recognize that amazingness and that bad-assery.
Shireen: Now, what’s good? Brenda.
Brenda: Museums. Museums are good. They’re so good, they’re so much fun. I love being a tourist, so last couple weekends I’ve had some talks in Buenos Aires and that means that I’ve got … even though I’ve been here a lot, in life, it’s for work usually, and so I’ve done a bunch of tourist stuff. And I went into the national … it’s not Independence Day but it’s the day that’s like the Declaration of Independence here, the Cabildo, which is 25th of May.
And so all the museums are open and kind of bustling, and I’ve been doing a ton of them, and I just love public historians. I love the way that they try to make the stories interesting and accessible and I love looking at costumes from the 18th century and it’s just really fun. So it’s what’s good in my world.
Shireen: That’s awesome! Linds?
Lindsay: French Open starts today.
Lindsay: I have been so busy, I mean, we’re always busy but the things I’ve been working on have really consumed me in not healthy ways this spring, so I’ve not been following tennis as much as I usually do, and so I’m gonna change that over the next two weeks and we will definitely, my co-hosts don’t know this yet, but we’re definitely gonna be talking about it on this show. So, stay tuned.
Shireen: Awesome. Amira?
Amira: My something good is that Samari took up track and field, which made me happy, then ran my event, which made me happy, and you know, if you know anything about me that it makes me really anxious to be on the sidelines during my kids sporting events. I can barely watch ’cause I’m too invested. So I have to be kind of casually disinterested to make it through.
And so, she was running in the meet and she absolutely dominated in her district. There’s about ten elementary schools, there was about, I’d say, 75 fourth grade girls that she was competing against in various events, and she took 2nd in the 50 meters, 1st in the 100, and the 4 by 1 team smoked them so bad that in the landscape version of my video of the meet, you can’t even seen another team in the frame. And I just … my heart was … I was so proud of her and she said, “Mommy, I found a sport that I want to stick to. And that just made my day. So that’s my big something good.
I’m also very glad that we’re a feminist sports podcast that is completely chill with kids talking through the attempt to make this wonderful episode. And then lastly, this is the last week of my 20s guys. So I am thankful for almost 30 years on this earth. Right? Yes? Can you say hi? Say ‘hi’. Okay.
Jessica: Well it’s really hard to follow up all that adorableness, and so I’m going to second Lindsay. I have on my notes French Open with an exclamation point. I’m very excited and I’m sad … so I’m excited ’cause I’m about to go on vacation. The family is headed to Ireland, but I will be gone for the next two episodes, so Lindsay will have to really hold it down for the tennis excitement on this podcast. And I just wanted to also mention the WNBA, we’re just into the season, and there’ve already been a series of amazing close, really well played games that have been so exciting to watch. And that has just given me so much joy.
Lindsay: I get to see Minnesota Lynx today. Okay, sorry.
Jessica: I’m so jealous.
Shireen: I’m gonna say what’s good is Sadio Mane yesterday. He made me really happy, despite the turn of events and the results of the Champs League final. I also want to sort of acknowledge babies, generally. Babies, not just on the show, like Zachary one of our low-key co-hosts, but also I’m just visiting my aunt, and there’s two babies in the home and it’s been wonderful. I watched one with my baby nephew, Zidan. His name is Zidan actually so we watched the final together. And it’s been a really long time since I’ve had babies like that around me, and it was just … it was wonderful and sweet. I also got pooed on yesterday during the Champs League final, so … but that’s okay. It happens. And-
Lindsay: Does it? Does it just happen?
Shireen: It does. He leaked. He leaked, and he leaked onto me, which was just reminiscent of what Sergio Ramos did to Mo Salah, so that was fine. And the weather’s getting better. And I am also … what’s good is summer tires. The thing … you gotta take off your winter tires and you put on your summer one and it’s for sure there will be no more snow storms. So that’s what’s good for me.
Lindsay: Oh gosh, that is so Canada. I love it.
Shireen: That’s all for this week in Burn It All Down. Burn It All Down lives in SoundCloud and can be found on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play and TuneIn. We appreciate all your reviews and feedback so please subscribe/rate us and share. But also let us know what we did well and how we can improve. You can find us on Facebook at Burn It All Down, on Twitter at BurnItAllDownPod, or on Instagram at Burnitalldownpod. You can email us, firstname.lastname@example.org. And check out our website, www.burnitalldownpod.com, where you will find previous episodes, transcripts and a link to our Patreon. We would appreciate you subscribing, sharing and rating our show, which helps us do the work we love to do, and keep burning what needs to be burned.
On behalf of Amira, Jessica, Lindsay, Brenda, I’m Shireen, and thank you for joining us.
Amira: Zachary, say bye-bye.
Zachary: bye bye.