Episode 63: World Cup 2018 Finals, NWSL Season, Giro Rosa, Is it Football or Soccer?
On this week’s show Brenda, Jessica, and Shireen kick off their chat wishing for more coverage of the women’s cycling tournament the Giro Rosa. They react to the men’s World Cup 2018 finals and reflect on the tournament. Brenda interviews Professor Silke-Maria Weineck about her new book on the debate over soccer or football. Finally, they turn their attention to women’s soccer and review the state of the NWSL season.
Of course, you’ll hear the Burn Pile, our Bad Ass Woman of the Week, and what is good in our worlds.
Intro (6:49) Finals of Men’s World Cup (23:57) Interview with Silke-Maria Weineck (43:22) NWSL (55:17) Burn Pile (1:04:59) Bad Ass Women of the Week (1:02:30) What’s Good (1:07:55) Outro
For links, and transcript…
“The Cycling World Is Ignoring the Giro Rosa—and I’m Fed Up With It” https://www.bicycling.com/news/a22143431/giro-rosa/
“Non-allocated players at center of growing NWSL-USWNT tension” https://equalizersoccer.com/2018/07/13/non-allocated-players-at-center-of-growing-nwsl-uswnt-tension/
“Sam Kerr’s subdued Sky Blue return: ‘I felt like I was going to cry at some points in the game’” https://equalizersoccer.com/2018/07/09/sam-kerr-hat-trick-return-sky-blue-wish-things-were-better-nwsl/
Places to follow women’s footie:
“All Things Ill-Considered: NPR’s Sexist Blunder” https://www.chronicle.com/article/All-Things-Ill-Considered-/243865
“World Cup Wrap-Up: Deconstructing Les Bleus” https://www.thenation.com/article/world-cup-wrap-deconstructing-les-bleus/
“The Women’s World Cup Is Less Than a Year Away” https://foto.gettyimages.com/sports/world-cup/the-womens-world-cup-is-less-than-a-year-away/
“World Cup 2018: The Moral Clarity of Pussy Riot’s Protest” https://www.newyorker.com/sporting-scene/replay/world-cup-2018-the-moral-clarity-of-pussy-riots-protest
“Serena Williams, John Isner react to Donald Trump’s visit to Wimbledon” https://www.tennisworldusa.org/tennis/news/Serena_Williams/57548/serena-williams-john-isner-react-to-donald-trump-s-visit-to-wimbledon/
“Tennis star John Isner slams Colin Kaepernick’s national anthem protest” https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2016/aug/29/john-isner-us-open-colin-kaepernick-national-anthem-protest
“Wimbledon 2018: Fans outraged at ‘sexist’ schedule that may see women’s final delayed” http://www.sportingnews.com/tennis/news/wimbledon-2018-fans-outraged-at-sexist-schedule-that-may-see-womens-final-delayed/j1z8gvftrzm310ydlmpuf8rie
“Isner, Anderson agree: Wimbledon needs 5th-set tiebreaker” https://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/tennis/isner-anderson-agree-wimbledon-needs-5th-set-tiebreaker/2018/07/13/c4032120-86e5-11e8-9e06-4db52ac42e05_story.html?utm_term=.df2a7c02ba0b
“Argentine Report Claims Football Tennis Dispute Saw Messi ‘Ban Teammate’ From Playing in World Cup” https://www.si.com/soccer/2018/07/15/argentine-report-claims-football-tennis-dispute-saw-messi-ban-teammate-playing-world-cup
“How the Special Olympics Brought Mental Disability Out of the Shadows” http://www.chicagomag.com/city-life/July-2018/How-the-Special-Olympics-Brought-Mental-Disability-Out-of-the-Shadows/
“Women’s Sports Foundation Announces New President-Elect” https://www.womenssportsfoundation.org/media-center/press-releases/july-12-2018-press-release/
“UN Women announces Marta Vieira da Silva as Goodwill Ambassador” http://www.unwomen.org/en/news/stories/2018/7/press-release-un-women-announces-marta-vieira-da-silva-as-goodwill-ambassador
“Angelique Kerber ready to be on top of the world again after Wimbledon win” https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2018/jul/15/angelique-kerber-world-no1-wimbledon-win
“Around the World in 51 Soccer Movies” https://www.villagevoice.com/2018/07/13/around-the-world-in-51-soccer-movies/
Brenda: Welcome to this week’s episode of Burn It All Down. It’s the feminist sports podcast you need. I’m Brenda Elsey, associate Professes of History at Hofstra University, and killjoy extraordinaire. And today I’m joined by the brilliant Jessica Luther, independent writer and author of Unsportsmanlike Conduct: College Football and the Politics of Rape, who’s in Austin, Texas. And the wonderful losa, Shireen Ahmed, freelance sportswriter and cat lover in Toronto, Canada.
Before we begin, I’d like to thank our patrons for their generous support and remind our new flame throwers about our Patreon campaign. You can pledge a certain amount monthly to become an official patron of the podcast, and in exchange for your monthly contribution you get access to special rewards. With the price of a coffee you can get access to extra segments of the podcast, a monthly newsletter, and an opportunity to record on the burn pile. So far we’ve been able to solidify funding for editing and transcripts. But we’re hoping to reach our dream of hiring a producer to help us with the show.
This week we’ll deal with a wrap-up, the end of the men’s World Cup 2018. I interview Professor Silke-Maria Weineck author of, It’s Football, Not Soccer (and Vice Versa). And we check in on the NWSL, which is in the midst of a gang buster season. Before we get to all of that, there’s another important tournament I’d like to know more about, the women’s Giro d’Italia, or Giro Rosa, which wraps up today as we’re recording July 15th.
So Shireen, Jessica, have you been able to find out much about this tournament?
Shireen: Well right now we’re actually in the last stages of the race, meaning it’s about to finish. Right now as we’re recording, which is Sunday morning, and the top contenders, Annemiek van Vleuten of the Netherlands, she’s Dutch, and I’m literally refreshing my Twitter feed because as we talk about this really quickly, there is no live coverage, other than a livestream that I can’t access which is only in Italian. And I will, I should have preambled this by saying, until Jessica tweeted about the Giro Rosa, I had absolutely no idea that this race existed.
Jessica: Yeah, and I didn’t until I saw someone tweet about it in, a couple of days ago maybe? There was a male cyclist actually that someone had retweeted, who was angry about the lack of coverage. And so the Giro Rosa is a ten stage race, if you are at all familiar with cycling, and the Tour de France, which I guess is what most people are familiar with right, so they do the ten different stages, I’m sure, I don’t know a ton about it, but I’m sure they had the mountain stages and they probably had the what is it, the timed trials, all that stuff. And it started on July 6th, it ends today as Shireen said, like literally right now.
And there is almost no coverage of it at all, it’s incredibly difficult to stream, the piece that I tweeted out last night was about this, about how shitty the coverage is for women’s cycling and that it’s particularly painful because the Tour de France is often at the same time, and so people who are fans of cycling get to see how much emphasis is put on men’s cycling vs. nothing for women.
And I just wanted to mention that Kate Morrison, who is a sportswriter and she goes by the Twitter handle UnlikelyFanatic, when I tweeted about this last night, she responded, she’s actually a fan of women’s cycling, and what she said to me was quote, “Being a women’s cycling fan is just so frustrating all the time. It’s never streamed, and if it is streamed, it’s streamed at an ungodly hour, and it’s condescended to, and the prize money is shit for the racers.” So, you know, normal stuff for women’s sports, I mean this seems like an extreme example of what often happens with women’s sport, but yeah we just really wanted to give props to these women who have been racing their asses off for the last couple weeks and it’s all coming to a head today.
Shireen: Anna Schwinn is the author of the piece that Jessica talked about.
Jessica: Thank you.
Shireen: That I got from her, and from bicycling.com. And I think I was really astounded because cycling is an elite sport, it’s super, super white, we know this. But it’s also very much about brand sponsoring, and in the piece, Schwinn actually points out the fact that brands don’t support Giro Rosa as just said, there’s zero coverage. So it’s not, but she also merges it in saying it’s not only the responsibility of the brand, it’s actually the sport itself that there’s no place within that community, it’s not valued.
And I think about cycling, it’s an expensive sport, it absolutely is an elite sport, and it makes me think about this that at every level of a sport for women, it’s the same issue inherently. It’s an issue of whether it’s valued or not quote unquote. And I just don’t mean monetarily, I mean time, effort.
It’s the same and it’s so frustrating but Jess, you replied to somebody and I will absolutely defer to you, not defer but agree with you 100% where you said its unsurprising. I wasn’t shocked, I was shocked I didn’t know about this but I wasn’t shocked to find out the issues that are happening within the sport.
Jessica: We’re talking about, I mean we care about women’s sports and it’s difficult to find. So, I mean, think about the vast majority of people who either aren’t super in to sports, or if they are, kind of leisurely follow it, I mean, it’s impossible to find anything. If us three are struggling, imagine the general public.
Brenda: Right, impossible.
Shireen: Yeah, Schwinn also described this from within the piece and I’ll just read it super quickly. She described the industry, media and the sport, they work together. She described them as an ecosystem, and I’ve never heard that metaphor before and I thought it was so important, because she says it’s critical to the growth and success of the whole ecosystem, that we give our upcoming athletes someone to cheer for.
And she also mentions that there are organizations like NICA and The Little Bellas who bring in young cyclists and who mentor them and work with them, and there’s also programs in the NCAA but it’s not enough. Because at the pro stages this is what the culmination is and we need this and we see this in women’s sports all the time. The pro stages is where there are similar challenges financially, in terms of popular support, in terms of attention, in terms of recognition. We’re seeing that with the WNBA, it’s all over the place.
Brenda: Yeah, okay. So listeners, you can expect to see the Giro Rosa come up next week in the Bad Ass Women of the Week, for sure. Oh my god you guys, that was a World Cup final.
Jessica: Yeah it was. Yes it was.
Shireen: It was the World Cup final.
Brenda: How you feeling?
Shireen: A little bit shaky after watching Danijel Subašić’s tears, overjoyed for Pogba because I love him and Kylian Mbappé is one of the few teenagers in football history to have scored in a World Cup final, he’s like the other one after Pele. So he’s 19, he has a lifetime to go, it’s overwhelming, it’s beautiful, I’m sad for Croatia, I have all these feelings.
Jessica: I thought it was a really good game, like I just thought it was a good 90 minutes of soccer. You know it was messy in points or whatever but I was riveted until the end, even though Croatia was down.
Brenda: Yeah it was riveting until the end and you felt like Croatia just wasn’t, they weren’t giving up.
Jessica: No, no, not at all. Which, credit to them. Because, I don’t-
Shireen: I think that too, the beginning of the game, Rakitić kept shooting in the first five minutes, it was ridiculous, they were attacking Croatia’s, they’re built on attack, I mean I think they’re solid in defense but they were doing what they were supposed to do. I think the tempo changed particularity after Griezmann dove like that. I tweeted to Brenda that he needed a scuba suit, I was appalled that wasn’t called for diving and then the off an own goal with Mandzukic. And then the pen and then we can talk about VAR and so much stuff.
Jessica: It seemed like Croatia had a moment there in the second half with goal three and four where they just kind of, their defense kind of fell apart for a real pivotal five, ten minutes. And they seemed to get it back together after that, but it was, that moment where you had to want, like the two things I kept wondering about Croatia is how tired as a team they were, but also their goalie who had that terrible hamstring injury at the end of the quarter final.
And then of course played the next game that went in to extra time, and he seemed like he was having trouble moving in the box like he needed to. So I kept wondering what the impact was, not that it, I mean France was playing phenomenal soccer so credit to them of course, they won that game. But I did wonder where Croatia was as far as being physically ready for this match.
Brenda: The goalie should have had that Mbappé goal, don’t you think Shireen? I mean that looked to me like a totally savable.
Shireen: Yeah, I think that the tenacity and speed at which Mbappé was running, I mean he was outrunning Vidal, Vida so much. And I think too that if you look at the possession, Croatia had 61% of possession in this match, and it makes you wonder, they weren’t able to close and maximize, and Jess, really good point, their defense did fall apart for goals three and four in that sense that it was just one boom right after the other, and that’s very smart attacking on France’s part when there’s a vulnerability in your opponent, and they seized it.
They maximized. Pavard scored, I believe and it just, no Paul Pogba sorry scored, and you just saw them explode, France explode. And for me I feel like France isn’t like Croatia in that they don’t hit the ground running. Like it takes them a little bit of time to warm up. And they did. And they did beautifully, and what they did is they paced themselves through the game and they didn’t stop.
I mean you could say the same for Croatia in that they kept pushing and pushing and pushing, but as far as the Subašić goal goes, Bren, I agree with Jess upon reflection now, I think Danijel Subašić is really physically exhausted. And the agility required, it wasn’t there we saw in the earlier part of the tournament.
Brenda: And I think psychologically to have the hand ball happen, and then to have the Griezmann dive was not probably great.
Jessica: Well they had, and the first goal, I mean Croatia scored the first two goals, just one of them for France. That first half scoring was rough for Croatia, and then to have the defense fall apart in the second half. Man, Croatia played hard but France, damn.
Brenda: I just can’t take the tears, I cannot take them crying.
Jessica: I know, I know.
Brenda: It’s seriously like, I could root against a team for a year. And when they start crying I’m like, I wish they would have won. It’s just very, I don’t know why it really gets me still.
Shireen: You’re very nice Brenda, because for me I can’t support just any tears. I was really happy with Ronaldo’s exit and I’m so happy he left. The World Cup tears, irrespective of his tears. But in this case because, and I’ve said, I’ve supported Le Bleu, I support Le Bleu publicly, but Croatia had my heart this tournament, and it’s not just because of Ivan Rakitić, it’s because of also their history, also because of the way that they played.
They were absolutely the underdogs, nobody expected them to make the finals, they’re a fantastic team and their hustle is legit. And the tears of Subašić who in my opinion should win the Golden Glove, he was definitely the keeper of this tournament for me 100%. Jess like you said, he had a hamstring injury, still saved two penalties with a hamstring injury.
Jessica: Right, right. Played extra time.
Jessica: He got that at the end of regular time, went through extra time and they did PK’s in that game before he was able to come out to do treatment.
Shireen: Yeah, so I mean I think that game against Russia for me symbolized everything that Croatia represents through him and it was incredible. Then there’s the joy you see, Benjamin Mendy, and Samuel Umtiti doing the crip walk with French flags.
Shireen: With French flags around their backs and for me they are the essence of what it is to be French. They are so French that it’s beautiful and that is exactly what French, being French is, is that. Is their celebration, their joy, their happiness. And I’m all there for that, I’m so there for that.
Brenda: Well it was great to see Paul Pogba, I know that Burn It All Down is a big fan of him, it was great to see him score. I think though too, I hope there’s, and I hate to be a bummer, because I ruin everybody’s party. But I want to say it’s great to see these diverse, multicultural teams, racially diverse teams, really throw in to question all the French right wingers grossness about how France didn’t have a white enough team and that whole rhetoric of the Le Pen’s.
But I also hope there’s some hard questions about what’s happening in the African Confederation where there’s all of this export of talent and complicated identities and an extraction of labor from those places. And they didn’t make it to the quarter finals for the first time since 1982. So I don’t think it’s cool for President Macron to say, oh, Africa should support France, it’s like, yeah, you’ve pretty much exploited Africa for quite a while now. So I don’t know.
Shireen: I did not know that. I didn’t know that Macron had said that.
Brenda: Yeah, I mean it was like, he was like, we’re your best. He had said it going in to-
Jessica: Because that’s, it’s like one thing to be a Twitter joke and it’s another thing to be the President of the country that has a history of colonialism, violent colonialism.
Shireen: As we record this I’m watching Kylian Mbappé receive the Young Player Award of the tournament and Algerian mom Cameroonian dad, he is quintessentially French and it’s so, and he’s so effort, like he makes it look effortless, I’ve never seen a player, even that young of an age with a demeanor of calmness.
And for me, we’re recording this right after the match, I don’t think Luka Modrić, I’m about to tear up, can get, I mean this is a child who was brought up in moor and displacement, his grandfather was killed by Serb forces, he, there’s videos of him emerging with sheep. His family’s sheep flocks.
I mean, he’s a Golden Ball winner and I think he deserves it and I am getting super teary, because even though he plays for Real Madrid but that’s okay because Cristiano Ronaldo gone from Real Madrid now, so there’s a purification there. But I have so much respect because understanding and knowing what football means to you, is what football means in terms of hope to people in that it’s healing, he’s an example of that. The Croatian team is an example of that.
Brenda: Oh, that’s lovely.
Jessica: I was wondering, thinking about this French team in particular, what were they, the second youngest team in the World Cup? I wonder what this means for their future, to have Kylian Mbappé be 19 years old, what that means going forward. It just seems like France is really set up for a good run here.
Brenda: Yeah I mean and then again you really never know, because Germany should have been set up.
Jessica: That’s true, that’s true. That’s a really good point.
Brenda: It’s like mind boggling, soccer’s just like a mind boggling sport for me. I think I know what’s going to happen and then I don’t, it’s sort of like, very rare that teams repeat, very rare.
Jessica: Yeah that’s true.
Brenda: And very rare that they do it with the same person, which is why I think Pele kind of stays on the throne that he has in men’s football, you know what I’m saying? Because it’s really difficult, but it will be fun to watch, he’s clearly a graceful and beautiful player. Griezmann too. I mean, they work together really, they had a lot of magic. I think Shireen was tweeting about their bromance.
Jessica: Now that we made it through the whole World Cup, what did you guys think of the VAR?
Shireen: I mean I have a lot, I have so many thoughts about it. I will be very honest and say that I support VAR when it goes in favor of the team I’m cheering for. So I can be honest about that.
But I saw a tweet today and I thought it was really interesting, that somebody said that the essence of what VAR is supposed to be is be video assistant technology for the referee, but what happens in the situation and what we say today, with the handball being called against Croatia, was that when you put something in to slow motion and you judge on the intentionality, whether it was intentional handball in the box, which is an automatic red, or unintentional which is a penalty, we saw the latter.
When you watch it in slow motion, it actually is very different than what it looks like in full force in regular speed, which is what the official is supposed to judge on. And in my opinion, it does actually change the way it can be perceived without changing the wording of the rule.
And I also think that I saw somewhere and I wish I could give credit, I can’t remember where this, I got it from Clive, it might be retweeted from one of his friends, the black historian, that having more technology instead of more eyes doesn’t necessarily guarantee something beneficial.
Jessica: That’s interesting, I mean I think it was way more efficient than you normally see with say like American football or even basketball, it didn’t seem, they seem to have, they had it down in a way that it didn’t get in the way necessarily, the flow of the game, and I appreciated that aspect of it. Overall I thought they did a pretty good job with it, especially the first time out, but I totally hear your points there Shireen.
Brenda: Yeah, I think they’ll be studies and in retrospect we’ll also see how it’s used in different matches by different kinds of teams differently.
Jessica: Of course, like who is actually harmed by it and helped by it? Because we know how those things work.
Brenda: I do feel like I saw less VAR after the African teams were eliminated. I feel like, but let’s see, you know what I mean? That could be a first impression, so I think it’s going to affect the way teams play going forward, I think it will favor certain styles but I don’t think we know yet how that’s going to play out.
I kind of like that Neymar, I love Neymar and I hate the pearl clutching, but I do like that he got in trouble with that dive. I mean I am overall, I am satisfied with that because it, you know, 25 somersaults gets ridiculous, even for him. Even though the VAR went against my team at that time, I was still like yeah, yeah that was real bad. So I think it could be a good thing too.
What do you guys think about pitch invasions?
Jessica: Yeah that was Pussy Riot man, showing up on the field.
Shireen: I think Pussy Riot should win the Golden Ball actually. I think they should be awarded the Golden Ball for that maneuver, it was so good.
Jessica: So they put out a statement, and it’s in Russian, and according to Deadspin, and so this is, we’re recording right after this happened so I’m sure there will be more information by the time this hits our podcast, it’s on Tuesday, but according to Deadspin, quote, “a quick machine translation of the band’s demands, show they’re calling for the release of all political prisoners, the end of political arrests and the beginning of an open political process”.
I don’t know, I love it. I can’t, we can’t be sad about it, I love anytime someone directly interjects politics on to the pitch, I think is, I’m not going to be sad about it.
Brenda: No, me neither, and people were saying it’s unprecedented but it actually, I know it’s precedented, I know in 1974 in West Germany, people protesting the Chilean dictatorship entered the pitch, and the Iranian referee kind of just let them go for a while and they unfurled a big banner.
So it’s not the only time whatsoever that this has happened, but it’s the first time I know of a feminist organization doing it. So, hell yes. I’m all for it. I’m all for it. We know that this all came off as Putin wanted, Gianni Infantino said that we all fell in love with Russia, and everyone sort of, yeah.
Shireen: We did? I didn’t get the memo.
Jessica: To have that reminder right at the end that Russia is an often very oppressive state and that those women in particular have felt the physical oppression is really interesting. And the fact that it’s women doing it in the middle of this men’s sporting event, I don’t know.
Brenda: I’m here for it.
Jessica: I’m all right with it.
Brenda: I’m good.
Brenda: I’m here for it, I feel like all the players would be okay with it if they could just sit down and hear their story, so I was okay with it. I did find Gianni Infantino’s comments really over the top this week, and no doubt was also playing in to the fact that Trump is going to be meeting with Putin and now we’re looking forward to the 2026 World Cup and so it’s all sort of yucky. And I commend Pussy Riot for just being like, yeah fuck this.
Jessica: That’s such a really good Burn It All Down end the discussion of the World Cup. It’s very fitting for us.
Brenda: Well we also loved it, so it is fitting for us because it’s riveting.
Jessica: Yeah, no it’s perfect.
Shireen: Yes, and we can assure our listeners that in no way did we plot and scheme to have this scripted in this way, so we could end up talking about this with Pussy Riot and their resilience and resistance.
Brenda: But the last thing, what are we going to do now that it’s over? Wimbledon too, right at the same time.
Jessica: I know, I’m about to take a nap. So in my immediate future is napping and then I don’t know what I’m going to do this week. It’s going to be, I’m going to have to read a book or something. I don’t know.
Shireen: I’m going to do some media, I think for this. But I’m also probably definitely going to do laundry.
Brenda: Yeah. My house is screaming. My house is screaming right now, like what is wrong with you.
Jessica: Yeah. Love it.
Brenda: I love how we went from feminism to our domestic.
Jessica: It’s all wrapped up in one, we are complicated, nuanced layered people.
Shireen: We are, and understanding the different intersectional needs that we have, I also am going swimming today, going to hang out and that will be fun. So there will be a little bit of fun and a little bit of those domestic stuff and I will definitely be drinking more coffee today.
Jessica: It was a great World Cup but I’m looking forward to 2019.
Shireen: Can’t wait for 2019, it’s going to be amazing. I am a little salty that Thibaut Courtois got the Golden Glove and not Subašić, so I’m super annoyed at that, but that’s okay. You know felicitations, Le Bleu, you deserved it, you played amazing and I hope this is the beginning of many conversations about French identity and race because it was beautiful to see it there and I want it to continue.
Brenda: Totally. Great comments guys.
This week, on Burn It All Down, we’re thrilled to have with us Silke-Maria Weineck, the Professor of German and Comparative Literature at University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, and the co-author of, It’s Football, Not Soccer (and Vice Versa): On the History, Emotion, and Ideology Behind One of the Internet’s Most Ferocious Debates, along with Stefan Szymanski.
So, I want to just begin, because this is a co-authored book and we’re thrilled to have you here, Professor, welcome.
Silke-Maria: Thank you, it’s been my lifelong ambition to be part of an organization called Burn It All Down.
Brenda: And it’s part of our lifelong ambition to have guests like you. So this book has gotten a bit of attention in this week for probably not the right reasons. Could you tell us a little bit about what’s happened?
Silke-Maria: Oh dear, yes. So, my co-author is a fairly well-known name in sports culture studies. And he got in touch with Anders Kelto, sports journalist, and said we wrote this book, which you might be interested in covering or reviewing. And so Anders wrote back after a little bit and said, oh yeah, NPR, I said yes, for All Things Considered, and set up an interview.
And I was of course absolutely thrilled because I don’t do a lot of those. So we had about a 30 minute conversation in the NPR studio, and took off for the UP, for vacation. On the Saturday the piece came out, and I was kind of chagrined to see that none of my quotes had made it in, and Anders had actually emailed us beforehand and said oh, you know, the way the story came out, we couldn’t use any of your quotes. Sorry Silke. And so I was a bit miffed about that, as you can imagine.
And then I listened to the piece itself on All Things Considered, and I was shocked to hear that the book itself was not attributed to Stefan exclusively. So I got quite mad about that, as you can imagine, and to Stefan’s credit, he too. He was just as appalled, right? And so we both, almost at the same time wrote emails to Anders and said, what the hell, right, this is so not okay, this is very appalling. And Anders wrote back to Stefan, he cc’d me and said, oh.
Brenda: Of course. I’m amazed you were cc’d.
Silke-Maria: I know, and he said oh, I’m so sorry, I should have said co-author. And so that was the extent of it. And so I was fuming all day, and then decided that this was unproductive, and I wrote up this experience and sent it to someone I know at The Chronicle of Higher Education, and they thought it was an interesting story, and published it a few days later.
And then to my surprise, I thought okay, maybe a dozen fellow academics will read this, right, I mean it’s basically a trade publication. But it took off in ways I had not anticipated, and I just, to my narcissistic shame, went to a data analytics site today, and I saw that it had been shared almost 20,000 times on Facebook and Twitter. So it clearly struck a nerve.
Brenda: Yeah. Did you want to burn it all down, Professor Weineck?
Silke-Maria: I very much wanted to burn it all down and I felt I had in a kind of very gentle, German academic kind of way.
Brenda: Why do you think it caught on?
Silke-Maria: My sense is that the experience just rang a bell with so many women, both in the academy and in media, who’ve had their work misattributed, their voices taken out, particularly co-authors who published with male authors, they told me stories, so I got a lot of emails from people and tweet as well.
Brenda: I bet.
Silke-Maria: So, I think in some ways I almost felt I got sympathy in excess to the injury I had actually suffered. But it was also clear that I had ended up speaking for a lot of women to whom similar things had happened.
Brenda: Yes I’m sure, it’s been an incredible year in academia with all of the work being done in databases and whatnot to collect, for those of you who don’t know, there’s been a big movement to chronicle and collect information and data about sexual harassment in academia at all levels this year. So I’m sure it struck a big chord with a whole lot of people, sadly.
Silke-Maria: It appears to have, yeah.
Brenda: But I do want to talk about, because I want to do this thing where we actually talk to you about your work, since you didn’t get very much-
Brenda: Of a chance to talk about it.
Silke-Maria: I so appreciate that.
Brenda: So, we’re in the midst of the World Cup, and Burn It All Down’s been covering it a lot, a lot of us work on soccer, we’re super excited about it.
Silke-Maria: I saw that on your website.
Brenda: Yes. So give us a little bit of a sense of what you and your co-author found about the use of the word soccer vs. football.
Silke-Maria: Well first of all, we were just struck by how common this debate is. There are literally thousands of people who fight about this on the internet in very ritualized ways. There’s a conversation that has three or four versions and we try to analyze it at some point.
And we were also struck of course by how utterly pointless this debate is. Because there’s lots of diversions between American English and British English, and of course there are many languages not English that have yet different names for this indeed very beautiful game.
And so we’re thinking, there must be something else going on. So Stefan had already done some data analysis, some corpus analysis on the way the words are distributed historically in British and in American press. We looked mostly at Times of London and New York Times because they have very good archives, but also at other publication indexes.
But I was particularity interested and thinking through what the stakes were. Because if people get so upset about something that is really such a pointless thing to get so upset about, you immediately think okay, what’s this really about, right? And it was really interesting too, I spent months on internet comment sections.
Brenda: I’m so sorry.
Silke-Maria: Yeah, it was, it’s amusing but then it also gets old after a while indeed. But it was, for instance, absolutely fascinating to see how this debate plays out in Australia, where it has a very different history than in the transatlantic, English, American access.
Brenda: So, what’s the difference? What makes Australia different?
Silke-Maria: Well first of all, the internet debate is almost exclusively about America. There are a bunch of countries that use soccer instead of football, and usually this happens because they have another football code that is more popular. I mean grit iron, American football in the U.S. and in Canada, or Aussie rules in Australia, South Africa, Ireland has Gaelic right, so all these countries tend to use soccer because football is reserved for the sport they love more ferociously than they love soccer.
So, the debate is mostly driven by anger at America, we can maybe talk later about what this anger is about. In Australia, it’s a little different. So this comes in, but Australia has a very specific history where soccer was mostly played by immigrants who came over after World War II, and immigrants that were treated very badly and were subjected to really quite horrendous xenophobia.
So, the Australian Soccer Administration, wanted to get rid of the word soccer because it was associated with that particular history. On the other hand, lots of historians call, like you can’t do that. Australian rules football. We want to keep calling it soccer. So it’s kind of an intra country debate in Australia whereas otherwise it’s a debate between the United States and the rest of the world. Mostly the U.K. but not only.
Brenda: And if I understand it, or if I got this right, both soccer and football originated in England.
Silke-Maria: Absolutely, that was another thing I found so fascinating that soccer is, it’s an English word, it was coined in Oxford, so a very English word, if you want. But Oxford students back then, they had this fad, everything got an E-R tacked on, right so breakfast was breakers, and divinity was divers, and rugby was ruggers, and so assers wouldn’t have work for association football I suppose.
Brenda: Or it would have been amazing.
Silke-Maria: Or it would have been super cool indeed. But so they did the middle from association the soc, from association, and tacked the E-R on to that. And for the longest time, it was a perfectly acceptable synonym in England as we show in the data chapter of the book.
There are lots of autobiographies by major footballers, that are title My Life in Soccer, or the Soccer King and so on, but then at some point starting in the 70s, it became a bit of an outcast word, and now you can actually, you can get beaten up in a pub, I think, if you use soccer instead of football.
And that in part has to do with the fact that anti-Americanism in general rose in the 70s and then in the 80s with Regan in particular. But also it has to do with the fact that America really wasn’t at all on the map until then, but once they won the right to host the World Cup in the late 70s, the won the rights for, I think ’82, I’m terrible with dates. They only began to realize that soccer was the only word in use in America.
And so it became their word, and then it became a bad word. And people care about this with really stunning intensity, if I can tell you a short story about this?
Brenda: Please, yeah.
Silke-Maria: So, we were hiking in the midlands in England and we ran in to this lovely young couple, and we were talking, and she said oh, you live in America, well my brother lives on the West Coast and he has a five-year-old boy and we call him every week, just to remind him, it’s football, not soccer. And she was dead serious. This was not a joke, right, she really, really cared about this.
I had another friend on Facebook, got incredibly mad at me when I pointed out that soccer was in use in England in the 60s and 70s. He said no, this was wrong. And then I gave him a list of book titles which had soccer and which were published in the U.K. and he literally came back at me saying, fuck you. And unfriended me. And blocked me from all further interactions. I know. So these are the kind of experiences that make me really want to write about this, right.
Brenda: You’re brave.
Silke-Maria: Yeah, I’m a contrarian.
Brenda: I mean one of the things that peaks my interest too as a Latin Americanist, writing about it is that it’s always been wonderful for me, but it’s also always been a battle that football and football work in Spanish and English. But it’s always been a battle with publishers.
Silke-Maria: I bet.
Brenda: And so, the question is, what are you going to do? So, the first line of my first book says, football, also known as soccer.
Silke-Maria: Very good.
Brenda: And that was the thing. But with search engines and stuff it really does affect how even the literally on football or soccer is produced.
Brenda: This debate, I mean it’s really interesting.
Silke-Maria: Absolutely. There are whole Australian government websites that try to navigate this in really comical ways. Football, by which we mean soccer, which is otherwise known as football, but we call it soccer, but not really because we’ve renamed it, and so on and so on. It’s something to behold.
Brenda: So now that we’re in the post Regan era, and in this kind of new, I don’t know, new world order, how did the debate change in recent years? Or did it?
Silke-Maria: Probably not that much, but so many ways, the fury at the word soccer is tied in with fury at America. I mean soccer, I don’t have to tell you that, you know more about than I do, I’m sure. I mean it’s a global game and it’s the most popular sport in almost every country on earth, right. Whereas in the U.S. it’s like number five I think in terms of spectator sports.
And so, the people who are incensed about the word soccer I think are really incensed about America’s refusal to love soccer as much, but also about that refusal saying something about America refusing to join the global community on an equal footing.
So, in some ways it all gets tied up with the word soccer, somehow gets conflated with not having universal health insurance. Right, or any other things on which America is exceptional. To Americans, American exceptionalism, while to many Americans, is a good thing, to the rest of the world, it’s at least a mixed bag. So I think the Trump administration has rather intensified that feeling.
Brenda: And also probably intensified the embrace of soccer, with the 2026 bid.
Silke-Maria: Yes. It’s going to be very interesting to see how this plays out. So the bid itself, only uses soccer in proper names, like when they refer to MLS, right, Major League Soccer.
Brenda: Oh, okay.
Silke-Maria: So, they’re being polite about this.
Brenda: So, the rest of the bid uses football?
Silke-Maria: Yes, yes.
Silke-Maria: It uses football throughout which is kind of a conciliatory gesture, but in general Americans care about this a lot less than Europeans, particularly English people or South Americans. My sense is that Americans often go out of their way to say oh, we know you call it football right, sorry, we already have a sport that we call football. But we can call it football while we’re talking to you.
Brenda: Well, or maybe do you think it’s the type of fan in the U.S. of football is just different and more open to the world and perhaps more tied?
Brenda: Yeah, okay.
Silke-Maria: Absolutely, it’s young people, it’s kind of hipsters, it’s people who have traveled a lot, and so on and so on.
Brenda: Immigrants, I guess, probably huge numbers.
Silke-Maria: Immigrants, yes.
Brenda: Well actually, that’s another question I had for you. How does the Latino immigration, I’ve read that the Mexican team is the popular team in the U.S., the Mexican National Team. How is that, do you see it impacting that or do you see that simply taking up the word soccer?
Silke-Maria: I do see a lot of people now arguing that in America it should be called fútbol, but it’s a little bit hard acoustically I think to distinguish between football and fútbol. But in print that might actually be a growing trend.
Brenda: Hm. That’s very interesting. Yeah, it’s such, it seems like such a small thing that you’ve opened and unpacked such big ideas from.
Silke-Maria: It really, I mean it was absolutely fascinating to also analyze the comment structure and the argument structure about why Americans shouldn’t be allowed to call American football, football. And the way these fights always seemed to devolve in to attacks on masculinity on both sides. It’s very comical.
Brenda: How does that, when the attacks from the football to the soccer side, how does masculinity play in to that?
Silke-Maria: Well so usually if the question is who has to write to the word football. And as far as I can tell the way this argument goes in the back ground, this isn’t articulated, but that because these are all manly pursuits, the most manly have earned the right to the word football. So the attack on soccer form the American side is of course diving right, and they’re all sissy’s, and they’re slender and they’re short and they’re basically women and homosexuals which is almost the same thing for that particular crowd. So it’s just all the usual misogyny, homophobia attack.
Whereas the attack from the other side in American football then goes well at least we don’t have to strap on 50 pounds of armor to play a mild game of rugby. And so there’s this kind of very ritual fight between the, whose sport is more manly and who is therefore allowed to use the word football and lorded it over the other group. It doesn’t make a lot of sense, I have a feeling I’m a bit floundering in trying to explain this.
Brenda: Don’t we all. The amazing thing is that both England and the U.S. are coming up on the World Cup of 2019, the women’s World Cup.
Silke-Maria: I know, and boy do the American women kick ass, right.
Brenda: Do you see the same things in debates among fans of the women’s game?
Silke-Maria: It very rarely comes up. Every once in a while there’s a poke, but I mean as women’s sports in general rarely really come up, right? This is definitely not the focus.
Brenda: Mm-hmm (affirmative), that’s interesting. That’s very, very interesting that it’s coming up in these particular communities.
Well before we end, I have to ask you, as a Professor of German.
Brenda: And also German by sort of, growing up, yes?
Silke-Maria: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Brenda: You were raised in Germany?
Silke-Maria: I grew up in Germany. I came to grad school here in the 90s.
Brenda: And just fell in love with the soccer culture? And so I have to ask you, this World Cup, what has your experience been like and who do you want to win this weekend?
Silke-Maria: Well my boyfriend is English, so it has been a very mixed experience between triumph and great sadness. But he’s taking it well, stiff upper lip and all that.
Brenda: And you?
Silke-Maria: Well I had my great disappointment rather early on, so I was not as emotionally involved as he was. I find it very difficult to decided who I want to root for, but I think in the end it will have to be Croatia because I think they just play beautiful, beautiful football slash soccer. And also you know, it’s a country of four million people and they just became a state now, and right a few decades ago, and I think it would be just wonderful if somebody, I just read that they had a one in 30 chance of winning out of 32 teams and I think it would just be a wonderful underdog story.
Brenda: It’s always nice to see a new winner.
Brenda: Well, Professor Weineck, I would like to thank you very much for being on Burn It All Down and best of luck with your new book.
Silke-Maria: Thank you, Brenda.
Brenda: So, the men’s 2018 World Cup has come to an end. In the midst of the men’s World Cup frenzy, there’s been a really exciting NWSL season going on. Jess, do you want to take us in to this discussion?
Jessica: Yeah, sure, so, if you need your soccer fix now that the World Cup is over, this is the reminder from Burn It All Down crew, that the National Women’s Soccer League is in the middle of the season and is going strong. If you have not seen Marta’s spectacular goal in the 86th minute of the Orlando Pride’s match against the Washington Spirit a week ago you need to go look it up, I think I have watch it like 25 times in the last week. And this is just of course one of many highlights.
The season’s going to culminate in September with a four team play-off and then a championship on September 22nd. Currently the North Carolina Courage are dominating, followed by the Seattle Reign FC, Orlando Pride and the Chicago Red Stars. So I wish that we could just sit here and talk about how great these women are and these games are, but of course that’s so rarely possible especially with women’s sports, where organizations, teams, players, they’re always running up against all sorts of obstacles, right? Despite the fact that they often have incredibly dedicated fan bases.
So I wanted to start, there’s multiple things to talk about, but I was just going to start with the tricky overlap of the NWSL and U.S. soccer, which is kind of coming to a head right now. And I’m going to rely heavily on a piece by John Halloran and Jeff, I’m going to rely heavily on a piece by John Halloran and Jeff Kassouf at The Equalizer which everyone should immediately go subscribe to, to talk through this. We’ll link this in the show notes.
So, U.S. soccer pays the salaries of the core, the most in demand U.S. National Team Players, as well as the leagues front office, which is small. U.S. Soccer public records lists the NWL expenses as 2.3 million dollars from last year according to The Equalizer. But now, they’re reporting that the U.S. National Team Players called in for the Tournament of Nations, which is going to take place soon between U.S., Australia, Brazil and Japan. They will not play, in the four NWSL matches on July 20th and 21st, in order to participate in the training camp to get ready for the tournament.
This would be a grin and bear it moment for the teams, but players are getting called in who are not actually paid by U.S. soccer, but instead are paid by their respective club teams, quote “that those non-allocated players won’t as of now be available for the weekend of July 20th has drawn the eye of NWSL coaches who feel they are being unnecessarily stripped of players a day early at an important part of the season. A cooperative schedule was agreed upon between league and federation prior to the season, but the fluid U.S. player pool makes it difficult for coaches to plan on who won’t be around.
So one important point here, the Tournament of Nations is not within an official FIFA window, so clubs don’t actually have to release their players to National Teams, and not all these non-allocated players actually want to miss their club games. So U.S. Soccer, it relies on the NWSL for talent, and to keep talent in the U.S., to build the players games in between the National Team events, the NWSL obviously relies on U.S. Soccer for money and resources, but of course the NWSL feels sort of second fiddle to U.S. Soccer, and this is all leading in to next year. 2019, World Cup, the same time as the NWSL season.
So we’re going to see all of this at a higher, more frenzied level next year. And so what I wanted to start with, I actually wanted to, Brenda, I was wondering if you could talk about whether or not this kind of tug of war, like is this something that we see in other places, is this a uniquely U.S. problem? How much is this a problem just of women’s soccer in general?
Brenda: Okay so, there’s not that many women’s leagues in places like Latin America that are thriving enough to have this problem.
Jessica: I see.
Brenda: So, on the one hand it’s a kind of good problem to have, because it means you have a league to have a tug of war with. Right now, you wouldn’t have that in Brazil, because even though they have leagues, they’re unable to string together six seasons like the NWSL has. So, you’re not quite getting the same thing, though we hope to have this type of problem down the line to a certain extent.
But we do see it a lot in the men’s game. A lot. A lot of arguments about when they get, when they’re released from club play. In general, I think the sad thing for the players is that they desperately need both stages. They need to be seen on both stages, and this kind of tension, it just bodes really poorly for their careers because on the one hand, they really need to be seen internationally, there aren’t that many leagues.
And on the other hand, they really need this thriving, domestic club play that they’re in. So it really just hurts the players to see this kind of stuff. I heard that the NWSL is thinking of going to FIFA over it, and my first reaction, yeah.
Jessica: Oh wow.
Brenda: And my first reaction is like, really?
Shireen: My first reaction is why?
Brenda: Right, I mean what are they going to do for you? I mean they’re going to say, U.S. Soccer doesn’t have the right to do this, okay, yeah I guess they don’t have the right, but you know what, the NWSL does well by having these really star, marquis, international events as well. And it sort of feels like a pissing contest because it is all men in this administration right now. I mean Jill Ellis is the coach obviously but the rest of U.S. Soccer is really dominated by men, and in NWSL ranks are predominately as well.
So, that kind of has an optic to it that’s gendered for me, but it’s like, why can’t you guys just get along right now for these women to have both stages. But I mean, the season itself has been really great, so, I mean that’s one of the ways I’m going to get through the lack of World Cup.
Jessica: Yeah, absolutely. I feel like we should talk about Sam Kerr.
Brenda: Yeah, let’s talk about Sam Kerr.
Jessica: She’s amazing right now, she’s playing lights out.
Brenda: She’s 23 years old and is the first person to score 50 goals in the NWSL.
Shireen: I can’t say enough about Sam Kerr, I think I was really, really, I joined the legions of fans who were really irritated when she wasn’t even up for Player of the Year by FIFA.
Jessica: Oh, that’s right.
Shireen: Carly Lloyd was, and Deyna Castellanos was also, and I mean I was mortified because she had been outstanding at the Olympics and then after she has continued to be outstanding. Sam Kerr, what I love about her is she’s actually indigenous from Australia, and she talks about her indigeneity, and she’s talks about her identity and she talks about growing the game in Australia. And she’s fearless. And she’s fierce. And there’s also been a little bit of drama. NWSL and I honestly felt like I am, is that an ostrich?
Shireen: With my head in the sand?
Shireen: Or a flamingo, some bird. Okay, some bird. I’m just going to say turkey, but just because I’m hungry I’m thinking turkey. You know I like turkey, you know that. And I’m so wrapped up in World Cup, I have no idea what I’m going to do with my life as of later today, but NWSL is the best place to go for this. Because it’s a little bit of, what I’ve been hearing, I know my friend Eric Ayala has been working on this piece, investigating.
Sam Kerr wasn’t happy at Sky Blue. And she made those comments publicly, this is nothing that I’m disclosing to everybody, and she made those comments to which Denise Reddy and Carli Lloyd replied with no comment. And from what I understand, the ongoings at Sky Blue have not been stellar. So, Sam Kerr left for Chicago for the Red Stars, where she’s again, just kicking it.
So Dan Lauletta, on Twitter said, on Kerr returning, going to Chicago, if I’m honest, I didn’t enjoy it, and she means in reference to Sky Blue. Quote, “I wish things were better here and then I could stay. I scored a hat trick, but I wasn’t myself. I feel sad, I feel sick, playing against these girls, they’re my lifelong friends. It just sucks that’s the way it had to be. I’m just going to say, the girls deserve better and I’m going to leave it at that. These girls are great girls, they give everything of themselves for this club and this league and they just deserve better.” And then she ends by saying, “I wish I could take every single one of them with me but this is not the way it is. I felt like I was going to cry at some points in the game.”
Jessica: Yeah, so this was her return. So she’s at Chicago and she had gone back to Sky, to play against Sky Blue at their stadium and that’s how she felt while playing.
Brenda: And Sky Blue has the worst record in the history of the league this season.
Jessica: They’re very, very bad.
Brenda: 0, 12 and 3 with Carli Lloyd.
Brenda: Though, I mean, we have to think that whatever she’s saying indicates some kind of, something else might be going on. But I thought it was like a really classy and moving statement from Sam Kerr.
Shireen: Can we talk about Marta bitch slapping another player and getting a red card?
Brenda: Marta got her first-
Jessica: Tell me more about this.
Brenda: Marta got her first red card in the NWSL.
Jessica: What did she do?
Shireen: Jeff Kassouf actually tweeted it, or retweeted. And it was on someone’s cell phone so it’s a little bit grainy, but you see, you see what’s going on there.
Jessica: She slapped her?
Brenda: Take us through it, take us through.
Shireen: Okay, so this, we will actually, I would love to add this Bren if it’s okay to the show notes, and this is three days ago. So it was just really, really, really intense. So they’re playing and she’s coming up against another player, and I don’t know who the other player is, but I do know who the other player is, hang on one second. Orlando was having a really tough, tough match and it was against Houston Dash.
And so what ended up happening was in that sense of frustration, because the match was actually delayed two hours because of rain, so two hour match, so I think the kick-off would have been at like ten or eleven, it would have been really, really late, like ten maybe. And they’re playing well in to the night. So what ended up happening is that in the last moments, Marta was issued a straight red, and it says in this article by Orlando Pride which is really funny, that what looked to be touching a Houston player, in either the neck or the face.
She didn’t look to be touching, she literally slapped her, and at first she did like a little slap and then, Marta’s no shrinking violet, like she went back and then just did a shove in the face. And literally the ref is like, five, not even five, two feet away, and then follows Marta, and then Marta’s out. But this was very, very late in the game, so that would be really interesting. And then there was, from what I understand, there was tons and tons and tons of frustration, Orlando only had six of the 26 shots, Sydney Leroux scored much, much later in the game but they still lost.
But, I think that there’s this incredible, as much as I love Marta, and she sambas all over the pitch, her frustration on the pitch is very palpable. And you can tell when she’s angry, and she was angry. Like I love Marta, I never, ever want her to be angry at me, is all I’m going to say.
Brenda: I was interviewing a former Mexican National player at one point, and we were watching a game together, and we were watching Marta, and I said something like, oh I just love her. And she said, that’s only because you haven’t had to play against her.
Jessica: That’s amazing.
Brenda: And I said, true.
Shireen: I’ve heard that as well.
Brenda: I know, and then I thought to myself, well of course, she has to be such a fierce competitor, she is not interested in playing nice.
Shireen: No, no. But that’s part of her charm.
Brenda: Yeah, well. It is, it is. Jess?
Jessica: Yeah, I was just going to wrap up by letting people know of some changes to the coverage for the NWSL in case they’re coming back to it or you’re new to it and you want to follow along. They’ve been streaming the games on Verizon’s go90 service, but that service is actually going to stop at the end of July. And for August and September, you can watch the games on nwslsoccer.com, or the NWSL app.
And there was also a change that six of the games normally would be shown on Lifetime, that would normally be shown on Lifetime in the middle of the afternoon on Saturdays, they’re actually going to be instead on the evenings on ESPN news. That’s both to protect the safety of the players because these games can be incredibly hot in the sun, but also to boost attendance because fans don’t want to sit in the heat of the sun.
And if you are trying to figure out how to follow women’s soccer, The Victory Press, Unusual Efforts, The IX newsletter and The Equalizer, there are amazing resources out there for WoSo fans, so please check it out and enjoy the rest of the NWSL season.
Brenda: Okay, now it’s time for everybody’s favorite part of the show, where we gather up all the awful and upsetting things that happen in sport this week and set them aflame. Shireen, do you want to start us off?
Shireen: I do want to start us off, I’m always happy to burn things. There was lots to burn this week. And I don’t want to talk about 45, I don’t like 45, I’ve never liked 45, but he’s going to tie in. So John Isner is a tennis dude. And in doing my research for this particular segment, I realized that he played a match against Kevin Anderson which went on for like, 750 hours, from what I understood. No, I’m sorry, six hours and something.
Anyways it was like the longest match between men in the history of Wimbledon. That is fine and props to both for the athletic feat, but John Isner is a Trump supporter. And what he said when he was asked, because as most people might know, Trump is actually visiting the U.K. and I think if you go and search for, there’s baby Trump balloons being flown everywhere, which I enjoy tremendously, and right now I believe Trump is in Scotland at some golf club where people are protesting. The amount of people on the streets of London, was incredible. And they weren’t there cheering for the Four Lions and the World Cup, they were there to actually protest Trump, which I got incredible amounts of joy from.
Anyway, so when Isner was asked, he said, certainly, I’d love to have Trump come watch me. That would be awesome, maybe I’ll tweet to him if I win on Wednesday. I know a lot of people won’t like that, but I don’t care. Good for you, John Isner, it’s good that you don’t care, because that’s what keeps humanity going in the world, the fact that you don’t care.
So I’m going to burn that, and just, before I burn it, very similarly, Serena Williams was asked the same question and all hail Serena, we love her, this is no surprise to anyone on the show, that listens to the show or other. So she was asked, and she said something so, being the queen of poise and dignity and amazingness that she is, she said something to the effect of, I feel like he has a right to do whatever he wants. If he wants to come to Wimbledon Final, he has that right. I hope I’ll be there, I don’t know, I still have a lot of matches to win. For me, I can’t even think that far.
I just thought the way she handled it was incredibly classy and honest and sincere because that’s Serena. So, John Isner and your love for Trump, I want to burn.
Jessica: Yeah so, I’m going to stay on the Wimbledon train, by the time you hear this it will have all been over, I’m sad about that, anyone who knows me knows how much I love tennis, but boy oh boy do I want to throw two related things around scheduling and play on to the burn pile. First up is the lack of a final set tie break if you followed me at all on Twitter this last week, you will know this.
So at the Australian Open, the French Open, and Wimbledon, if a match goes to the final set, players play until one of them wins at least six games, and by two more than their opponent. At the U.S. Open, if the final set reaches six games all, they play a tie break as you would in any other set.
This is how all of them should do it. Because what you end up with are ridiculous last sets that can go on for hours, as we saw, Shireen just mention with Kevin Anderson and John Isner, in a semi-final this last weekend. Anderson finally won at 26, 24 in the fifth, and Shireen, that was not the longest. Isner and Mahut a few years ago played for days. It was ridiculous, it was something like an eleven hour match. And I don’t remember the final score.
So, anyway, kudos for continuing on that long but this is dumb. If you get to that point in a match, both players deserve to win. There’s no reason to wear them physically down like that, Anderson could barely talk when he was finished and he wasn’t like happy that he won. He was just tired. And it’s also not that exciting to watch, I’m sorry not sorry about that.
Especially not when you’re impatiently waiting for the match that’s going to follow which what was happening with Anderson and Isner, because after them was the second semi-final match between the greats, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. Their matches tend to go long, they had an epic final themselves in Australia one year where they could both barely stand when it was over. They literally went and got them chairs, so they could sit down during the ceremony. And indeed it hit the eleven P.M. curfew imposed by the Village of Wimbledon. So Djokovic and Nadal had to come back the next morning and continue play, they went to ten eighth in the fifth, with Djokovic winning, and again it took forever.
And I was so impatient because their match bumped back the women’s final from it’s set start time on Center Court. And I had planned my whole morning, this is very self-indulgent, but still. I had planned my whole morning around that set start time, as I’m very sure both Serena and Angie Kerber had done as well.
And thinking about them, it’s really hard to warm up properly when you don’t actually know when you’re going to play. And I missed almost the entire match because I had a personal training appointment, I had to go deadlift, and I thought that it would take place after the match ended. Had the match started when it was scheduled.
So plenty of people were upset about this because this would not happen to a men’s match. The women always play their final first. They’re squished in between the men’s semifinals and the women, the men’s semifinal and the men’s final. Williams called the scheduling a quote, “necessary evil” because she is, as Shireen said, very classy with her words. But it’s also shit for the men. As we’re recording right now, Anderson and Djokovic are playing, and I can’t even imagine how tired they both are. But whatever.
So first, these tournaments need to implement a final set tie break. If I had my druthers, for all singles players, men and women, they’d play three setters the first week, five setters the second, with tie breaks in all sets. But I don’t rule the world so that’s not going to happen. But they at least need the tie breaks. It would help preserve the health of the players over the stretch of the two weeks, and it would avoid the kind of scheduling cluster fuck we saw at the end of this year’s Wimbledon, in which, of course, the women’s finals scheduling was collateral damage. So burn, all of that. Burn.
Brenda: And an endorsement for Jess to rule the world.
Jessica: Thank you.
Brenda: You’re welcome. All right, I’m going to take the last burn. It’s no secret that I love Lionel Messi. So my burn is as it frequently is, about Argentina. I knew to expect months and years of terrible football overage after his not so great World Cup of 2018. But, the level of journalism, and I say this with giant air quotation marks, like I’m flailing right now, is even worse than I thought. It is even worse than I thought.
The new focus is that Messi was furious in March because an assistant coach gave him a correction and touched his shoulder. The other scandalous piece of information that’s come out, is that Giovani Lo Celso who is a PSG player normally, beat Messi at a game of football tennis, thereby causing Messi to ban him from playing for the national team. There are no sources. None. In any of this coverage. Not one. There are phantom quotations without attribution.
Now, this doesn’t make me mad because I’m a fan of Messi, because who cares, he’s way better than them in every single way, but, because they’re not going to fix what’s wrong with Argentine football if they can’t analyze anything, if they can’t analyze their way out of a paper bag. And so it’s not just that sports journalism in Argentina is sexist, racist and sensationalized, but it’s weak.
And amidst all of this tons of coverage, there isn’t one mention of the fact that the women’s team is fighting to qualify for the women’s World Cup 2019 in a playoff round with CONCACAF’s runner up. Hello? Let these people regroup and focus on the total disaster that is AFFA, and stop ignoring the fact that you have a perfectly good story in front of your face that needs to be analyzed. And by the way, I just really doubt Lo Celso beat Messi in a game of football tennis, I would like to see that. I would really, really like to see that. So, I want to burn the fact that there’s this really poor journalism focused on gossip instead of getting together a beautiful football culture and putting it back on its feet, literally, and just totally ignoring the women’s side, which is having all types of interesting developments.
Brenda: After all that burning, let’s talk about some amazing accomplishments of women in sport this week. And I have to say, this week we have a really dynamite list. Honorable mentions go to first all of the organizers and participants in the 50th anniversary rendition of the Special Olympics.
Secondly, the Women’s Sports Foundation, which announced last week that U.S.A. bobsledder, Alana Myers Taylor, a two time world champion and three time Olympic Medalist, is their President elect. She will serve a one year term as President, beginning in 2019 and will co-chair the foundations Athlete Advisory Council.
Honorable mention also goes to Sam Kerr, who we’ve mentioned before, the Australian Women’s National Team player and Chicago Red Stars forward, who is the first NWSL player to reach 50 career goals. Once again, at the age of 23. Also, Marta, for becoming UN Ambassador for Women and Girls in Sport. We heartedly endorse this position, all though she probably should not slap anybody. Not very good, Marta.
India’s 18 year old, Hima Das, made history by becoming the country’s first track athlete to become a world champion at any level after winning the women’s 400 meters at the U20 World Championship in Finland this past Thursday. Maya Moore, the Lynx superstar, who is the second woman to grace the cover of Slam magazine, the last one was Chamique Holdsclaw in 1998.
Serena Williams, who we know had multiple surgeries and many health difficulties made her way all the way to the Wimbledon finals. After losing, she told reporters, quote, “This is literally just the beginning. My journey has just begun, but I think these two weeks have really showed that I can compete and that I come out and be a contender to win grand slams.” End of quote. How graceful and competitive is she.
Raha Moharrak, first Saudi woman to climb the seven summits of the world, and our best, hearty congratulations to all of the women who competed in Giro Rosa and who didn’t get the coverage that they should have. Finally, can I get a drum roll? Angelique Kerber, who beat Serena Williams six three, six three in the women’s final at Wimbledon. After Kerber won the Australian and U.S. Open, she had struggled throughout 2017, and we’d like to congratulate her on her return to championship form. As a result, she got an amazing hug from Serena Williams.
Moving on to how are we getting through the end of days. What’s good in our week? Jessica?
Jessica: Yeah let me think. I feel like I’ve been watching Outlander, and it’s just a really pretty show, there are very pretty people on it, so that’s been very nice. And then I just wanted to say, I was on the Smart Bitches Trashy Books podcast, and that just warms my heart, it’s a romance novel site that I have been in love with for many, many years so it’s quite an honor for me this last week, and it means that lots of romance people were tweeting at me and stuff like that. So, it was very fun to have, you know how much I love romance novels and how much they sustain me, so that was a really big, fun deal for me.
Brenda: Yeah, if people haven’t checked out that interview with Jess, they definitely should. Shireen?
Shireen: I was in Buenos-Aires for almost a week and it was amazing, and that’s why I was my subpar burn when you mentioned, Ben, just because I was thinking a lot about everything, like politics and stuff when I was there. It’s an incredible city, I had an amazing time.
Following that, my third child turned 14, which was like a huge deal, he’s also like six foot three, and just really simple, he’s like let’s just go for ice cream. I was like, okay, he’s super chill and he enjoyed himself tremendously and I made it in to his Instagram story which is a very big deal.
So what’s giving me a little bit of joy and this is really fun because it’s sort of like the segue away from burn pile, broadly published a piece and I cannot believe, I was appalled and offended and took it as a personal insult, declared that She’s the Man is the most important soccer movie of all time. Now, what ended up happening is the backlash against this was real, it was intense, people came out from all over the place to rally around Bend it like Beckham, so the replies to that piece, and of course I wish all the best for the author of the piece, but they were so misinformed.
So I would enjoy tremendously reading and seeing all the tweets which a lot of people were sharing with me because I love that movie, it’s my favorite movie of all time. Now just moving on from that really quickly, Bilge Ebiri is an incredible journalist and film critic with The Village Voice, and he reviewed 51 soccer films from around the world for The Village Voice. And we’re going to share that link because it is incredible.
And of course, Bend it like Beckham is in there, so is Offside, one of my other favorite films by Jafar Panahi, about the stadium ban and women in Iran, and also a movie that I have yet to see called 17, which is about the Jordanian under 17 Women’s World Cup that was held in 2016. So and it’s incredible, there are films from the last 20, 30 years. And his tweet was amazing, he’s like, I did a thing and I am tired. And it was incredible, mad props to him, so I will definitely, that is good, it’s very, very good, so I’m very excited about that.
Brenda: Is the FIFA movie at the bottom?
Shireen: He didn’t include it, I don’t believe. He’s a smart, smart person, smart guy.
Brenda: It’s just too horrible? Okay. Well for me what’s good in my week is that along with Josh Nadel, I turned in my copyedited manuscript for Futbolera.
Shireen: Yah, Bren. I want a signed copy.
Brenda: You will get a signed copy with a big ribbon and everything you want, I’m just so excited about it, it’s a history of women’s soccer and other sports in Latin America with special emphasis on Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Costa Rica, Chile, El Salvador, we just worked our behinds off for the last four years and I’m really excited that it’s going to come out before the women’s World Cup, so, yah.
Brenda: Maybe self-indulgent but very happy about it, so thanks for sharing that small joy with me.
Shireen: Big joy, big joy.
Brenda: That’s it for this week in Burn It All Down. Burn It All Down lives on SoundCloud but can be found in iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play and Tune In. We appreciate your reviews and feedback, so please subscribe and rate to 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 @burnitalldownpod, or on Instagram @burnitalldownpod. And you can email us at email@example.com.
Check out our website, www.burnitalldownpod.com, where you’ll find previous episodes, transcripts, and the link to our Patreon. Once again, we’d appreciate you subscribing, sharing and rating our show, which helps us do the work we love to do, and doing it even better than we already do. So, for me Brenda Elsey, alone Shireen Ahmed and Jessica Luther, thanks for listening and have a terrific week.