Episode 64: Bad NFL anthem policies, inspirational Nassar survivors, & Julia Johnson on ultimate frisbee
***Trigger warning: The segment from 18:47-32:14 discusses sexual assault lawsuits***
In episode 64 of BIAD, Lindsay, Shireen, and Brenda discuss Kawhi Leonard’s move to Toronto (2:24), the disastrous new NFL anthem policies (5:54), and how Nassar survivors have inspired other sexual assault survivors to come forward and seek justice, especially in the case of Ohio State wrestling, USA Diving, and the University of Southern California (18:34).
Then, Shireen checks in with the amazing Julia Johnson, an ultimate frisbee athlete and documentary producer currently doing media at the World Club Championships in Ohio. (32:14)
Plus, as always, we roast things on the Burn Pile (46:36), celebrate Bad Ass Women of the Week (54:02), and revel in What’s Good in our worlds. (56:40)
For links and a transcript…
“San Antonio Spurs trade Kawhi Leonard to Toronto Raptors for DeMar DeRozan, others” http://www.nba.com/article/2018/07/18/report-san-antonio-spurs-toronto-raptors-engaged-serious-talks-kawhi-leonard
“Liberals are ruining football, to the tune of the NFL’s most profitable year” https://thinkprogress.org/nfl-revenue-record-high-cca4caa928e0/
“Titans’ Jurrell Casey Says He’ll Keep Protesting Injustice Despite NFL’s New Anthem Policy” https://deadspin.com/titans-jurrell-casey-says-hell-keep-protesting-injustic-1827698652
“Report: Dolphins List Anthem Protests As Punishable Offense” https://deadspin.com/report-dolphins-list-anthem-protests-as-punishable-off-1827732755
“NFL Stands Down, Suspends National Anthem Policy While It Negotiates With NFLPA” https://deadspin.com/nfl-stands-down-suspends-national-anthem-policy-while-1827737035
“President Trump tweets NFL players shouldn’t play or be paid if they kneel for national anthem” https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nfl/2018/07/20/president-trump-players-shouldnt-paid-if-kneeling-anthem/810484002/
“US Soccer maintains policy on standing for national anthem” https://www.starsandstripesfc.com/2017/9/26/16371086/us-soccer-stands-by-policy-standing-national-anthem-rapinoe-kneeling
“141 Nassar survivors take ESPYs stage to offer stunning message of hope to sexual assault victims” https://thinkprogress.org/141-nassar-survivors-take-espys-stage-to-offer-message-of-hope-d924076f4db4/
“Former Ohio State Wrestlers Sue University For Not Stopping Team Doctor’s Sexual Abuse” https://deadspin.com/former-ohio-state-wrestlers-sue-university-for-not-stop-1827661908
“‘Worse than gymnastics’: USA Diving accused of ignoring sexual abuse” (video) https://www.wusa9.com/video/news/nation-world/worse-than-gymnastics-usa-diving-accused-of-ignoring-sexual-abuse/65-8191529
“It’s 2018 And There’s Nothing Wrong With Dating A San Francisco 49er” https://deadspin.com/its-2018-and-theres-nothing-wrong-with-dating-a-san-fra-1827728464
“New Zealand retains Rugby World Cup Sevens women’s crown” https://www.cbc.ca/sports/rugby/rugby-world-cup-sevens-saturday-results-1.4756536
“How Liz Cambage is Rewriting the History Books” http://wings.wnba.com/news/how-liz-cambage-is-rewriting-the-history-books/
Lindsay: Hello, hello, hello flamethrowers. I’m Lindsay Gibbs, sports reporter at Think Progress, and I’m going to be your captain today on Burn It All Down, episode 64. Joining me today is the optimist herself, Shireen Ahmed, the badass freelance sports journalist in Toronto. And we have the esteemed woman who once kicked Sepp Blatter, FIFA President, Brenda Elsey, the Associate Professor of History at Hofstra University. How are my fine friends doing today?
Brenda: Very well, thank you.
Shireen: Very well.
Lindsay: You got it, right. Great, okay so first of all I want to shout out to our patrons. If you go to patreon.com/burnitalldown, you can make a monthly pledge for as little as two dollars to get access to special Patreon only content. This week, we’re going to publish a segment where we rant about the bullshit conditions that female pro athletes are forced to endure.
Among other things, we’re going to, including in that segment we’re going to dive into this devastating but phenomenally done investigative report by Equalizer Soccer, that talks about what Sky Blue FC players are forced to deal with on an ongoing basis.
So, if you want to be a part of that conversation, if you want to hear that, you need to just donate two dollars, less than a cup of coffee, really worth it. So thank you so much to all of our financial supporters, we literally could not do this without you.
Now on this week’s podcast, which you’re about to hear, we’re going to be discussing two topics that are unfortunately familiar to the Burn It All Down group. The updated drama about the NFL Anthem Policy, which, you know, I’m sorry, but we just have to talk about it. We’re also going to discuss the movement that it was inspired by the Nasser survivors, and that is leading to other sexual assault victims across collegiate and Olympic sports, taking a stand.
Shireen then is going to check in with the amazing Julia Johnston, an ultimate Frisbee athlete and documentary producer who is currently doing media at the World Club Championships in Ohio. We’re so excited for that. But first, Shireen, I need to check in with you about something else. There’s some pretty big Toronto news this week.
Lindsay: Kawhi Leonard is a Raptor, apparently. Please, how are you dealing with this? Are you-
Shireen: You know I love Kawhi Leonard, I okay, so I went to a birthday party yesterday with a really close friend of mine, whose son turned one, they’re huge, huge Raptors fan, he was adorable wearing a little Blue Jays uniform. So there was a lot of discussion about this and how everyone’s feeling.
Okay, first of all, we’re super excited, there is a huge sense of sadness because DeMar DeRozan was, loved Toronto. He loved, loved, loved Toronto, he was super loyal, he made it his home, he was part of different community endeavors and not just because it looked good on his Instagram. Like he was really, really invested in the city and felt that he was betrayed in the sense where he was lied to. I appreciate him, respect him and his efforts.
But Kawhi Leonard’s coming and we’re going to win the championship. He’s here, he checked in, like I literally have a dream of going out for food with him and Serge Ibaka, and turning him in to a Le Canadiens friend because of course he’s going to watch women’s hockey when he moves here, obviously. And so, I also feel like this is one step closer to me being best friends with Tim Duncan, so I’m happy.
On the DeMar DeRozan thing, on the DeMar DeRozan thing, what, the only thing that makes me feel better is that he will have Pop as a coach. And everybody who’s a good human deserves Becky Hammon and Greg Popovich in their lives.
Lindsay: I agree with that but I just, I mean, the Spurs community is not happy with Kawhi, so I don’t know if this really brings you closer to getting in with the Spurs community. I think there’s a lot of healing that needs be done before like the Spurs-
Shireen: I don’t want to, I don’t want the community I just want Tim Duncan.
Lindsay: Right, but Tim Duncan is the community Shireen.
Shireen: Oh okay. Well, okay, but I also feel like there’s some understandings between, I think he’s mature enough as a player and as a person to understand that it’s complicated and it was complicated with Kawhi. We talked about this, what episode did we talk about this on?
Lindsay: I can’t remember.
Brenda: Like every other one?
Shireen: Yeah. No, just that we talked, we talked about-
Lindsay: Shireen, Shireen brings this up no matter what’s happening, so, it always comes back to Tim Duncan.
Shireen: I email him every month, like I do. And I will continue to do so until he replies. I think that you’re right Lindsay, it is complicated and he didn’t go out on the best notes but I really hope that DeMar DeRozan is loved by that community because he’s a wonderful person and incredible basketball player and I really hope, I mean it was a trade that felt sad on both ends to a degree, or there was elements of sadness, but you know, Kawhi was smiling, and someone was like, he has teeth? So this is a good, this is a good thing.
Brenda: Can I just really quickly though say, Stephen A. Smith’s comments about Kawhi going to Toronto being exiled to another country, as if Canada’s like this far flung destination in the middle of nowhere, can we just like, can we just be mad a little bit at the way that sports media handled this?
Lindsay: Well, I mean okay, there was just the funny thing though that Kawhi, it was no secret that Kawhi really wanted to go to Los Angeles, and it did feel a little bit like Popovich being like, oh you really want to go to Los Angeles? Here’s Toronto, which is a lovely city, but is not a Los Angeles. I mean, it’s different then Los Angeles, so you know a lot of people were saying that during the All Star weekend which was in Canada a couple years ago, when it was literally like negative 30 degrees or something.
It was just so cold, that Kawhi just didn’t leave his hotel the entire time. He didn’t see the city at all. So I think that’s mainly what people were joking about, expect for Stephen A. Smith who was probably meaning something horrible and just awful.
Brenda: Yeah, yeah. That’s who I want to really just zero in on is having the worst takes of all time about everything.
Lindsay: That, yes, we completely agree with that. All right well, I’m excited to see what happens this upcoming NBA season, I don’t fully believe that Kawhi is going to actually take the court as a Raptor, I just don’t fully trust him right now but I hope he does, I hope it works for everyone, and yeah, I hope that everyone can just move forward and be happy, because that’s ultimately what we want. Happiness after some intriguing drama, because who doesn’t love the intriguing drama first. Okay.
All right, so, let’s just dive right in, this week, the NFL continued to get in its own way when it comes to the Anthem Policy. Shireen, can you get us started here?
Shireen: Okay, I find this very interesting because in prep for this segment, I was reading about it, I’m like oh, the Anthem Policy, okay, the NFL is trying to create more policy around it, and the reason I was tipped off to this is because somebody had tweeted about the Miami Dolphins potentially being reprimanded if they kneel, and that means monetarily or that means playing time wise.
So, what ended up happening is that this particular policy that was being put forth by the NFL, the NFLPA was absolutely going to counter it and object to it, which they should. So, by Thursday, the NFL and the NFLPA had said that they’re going to suspend this policy that was in place, temporarily.
And I mean, we have to keep in mind too that the first preseason game doesn’t start until August 2nd, so right now there’s just discussion about it trying to get it in. Then later of course you have 45 way and then I’m not even going to read his garbage so it doesn’t matter.
But the interesting thing around this is how the discussion about the unity of the team. So like, if the Miami Dolphins as a team decide to kneel, and under this policy, would be suspended, would the whole team be suspended? So there’s really interesting conversations for me about what happens when, in this absolute, massive collaboration of people that work together? And Jurrell Casey even said that, of the Titans, that he will keep protesting and be fined.
We saw this very similarly in the WNBA, where the players continued to protest, wear tee shirts, were they weren’t allowed, it was against their policy, and be fined. And they took it because of what they believed in. So this is really, really, for me this is, there’s so many interesting conversations around this that are really, really important here. What happens when an organization like the NFL comes forward and says this is what we’re going to do because we know in terms of the players they’re not interested in the message.
They’re still conflating it with some type of loyalty otherwise this wouldn’t even be an issue. This is about people having right to freedom of expression and protesting the systemic violence against black folks and police brutality. So, that’s kind of what it is. And for me, as somebody who only follows NFL for political reasons, like you know, that type of, and social justice issues, it’s a continuation of a gong show for me.
Lindsay: Yeah, I mean, I just want to be clear about what happened. So, a few weeks ago the NFL announced its new Anthem Policy which we did discuss on the show, which said that during, that players were, if they went out on to the field for the anthem, they had to stand with their heart over, you know, they had to stand or else their team would receive a fine.
However, the policy said that the players could stay in the locker room if they so choose. But it also gave the individual team’s leeway to make their own rule. So then this week, what happened was, the Miami Dolphins, it was revealed that the Dolphins had it added to their contract with players to their rules, that if the player decided to protest, not only would the team pay the fine, but that player could be suspended for up to four games.
And so, this is what really kind of stoked the outrage again this week and rightfully so. Now the NFLPA had already come out and said we’re challenging this new policy because we don’t agree with it. The new NFL policy as a whole.
But then you had, after all the outrage about what the Dolphins were doing, and mind you the Dolphins, the owner of the Miami Dolphins, Stephen Ross, started the rise imitative in 2015, which is the Ross, I don’t know what it stands for, but it is devoted to fighting racism in sports, so you know. People, rich white billionaires continue to be hypocritical assholes, news at six, blah blah blah, but it’s just ridiculous.
So, the NFL and the NFLPA have now suspended the new Anthem Policy by the NFL because they’re in works and obviously they’re realizing that what is happening isn’t tenable, that allowing each team to make their own decisions is not going to work in its own favor.
But I, what really grinds my gears, is that a saying that people use, I don’t know. But what really makes me so mad is we also found out this week that all of this knee jerk reaction, pardon the pun there, about this, the players protesting during the anthem, the reason the NFL and all these teams been making these new policies is because they’re afraid of this narrative that these protests are killing the NFL, that people aren’t tuning in to watch because of the President attacking the NFL for this, because the President takes any opportunity he can to attack black athletes as we’ve seen multiple times.
So, there’s been this narrative the past few weeks that the NFL’s audience is on a steep decline, that it’s because of the liberals and it’s because of these black athletes taking a knee. But we found out this week that yes, while the NFL ratings are down just a little bit because ratings across the board, no matter what are down, actually this was the highest year in league revenue ever.
So, in 2017 the league made more than eight billion dollars in revenue for the first time in history which is almost a five percent increase from the previous year. So the NFL doesn’t even need to be doing anything because it’s not losing money on this. So it’s just so stupid, it’s all so stupid. Brenda, do you have anything to add here?
Brenda: I hate this. Hate this so much, I’m just here having a tantrum. Listening to you both and I hope everyone heard both of my amazing co-hosts. This is not a protest against the anthem. It’s like with toddlers, you’re like, that’s one, that’s two, like, how many times can we literally, and they literally say it over and over.
So, I just find the whole thing incredibly frustrating, U.S. Soccer Federation considers itself ahead of the curve in its policy which I reread this morning. And it’s just absolutely infuriating, it’s an infringement on the 1st Amendment, I have no idea why this isn’t, you know, to have, and I’m sorry to bring up another federation because this isn’t the NFL, but I do think it’s interesting to look comparatively at how the different leagues are going to deal with this.
They can use the 1st Amendment to protect a homophone like Kinkel, right? And then they don’t use it to protect Megan Rapinoe or you know, so I think there’s something in common here about how larger social issues come in to play that they don’t want to say in these federation decision.
Lindsay: So, what is, can you remind us what the soccer, U.S. Soccer’s policy is Brenda?
Brenda: I believe that in the manual and we can post it to the show notes or I can get the exact quotation, the U.S. Soccer Federation deals with the National Team but then, because the U.S. Soccer Federation also is over the club teams, that policy applies to both the National Team and the club teams and it says that players are to show something like a degree of respect for the anthems, and they interpreted that as being that they had to stand.
Shireen: Like Brenda said, the NWSL is umbrellaed under the U.S. Soccer Federation so there’s no opportunity there for that. And I mean, this gets back to very much, Lindsay I was really pleased to see your piece about the financial aspect of it. Because I was under the impression that there would be a financial hit this year because viewership was down. And merchandise may not have been purchased the same way but the numbers are quite staggering.
And if it wasn’t for the Green Bay Packers we wouldn’t know that the NFL is still flourishing, it wasn’t still flourishing. For me that was really like wait a minute, it gets to the cricks of the issue, another issue rather, for me is that this is so much about money, and it always has been, and we know that it’s this, NFL is also this cesspool of misogyny and xenophobia and racism and lack of understanding of how to deal with anything important, an issue. But it also gets back to it’s a hugely capitalist based organization.
It’s not about the love of the players, it’s not about the love of the game, it’s not about advocacy for anybody, it’s really about money. And we talked about this on the show previously and this is like the last thing I’ll say about this is that I’ve never known a sport where it has to be one individual owner this way. So it’s not like, from what I understand, and correct me if I’m wrong, the NFL is owned by individuals, the teams. Except for the Green Bay Packers.
And so, for me, that also says a lot about how this system works, like financially how it works and how it’s expected to work. These are companies owned by these people that are business in essence and that’s really what it gets down to. Do they care about bettering society? No. Not really.
Lindsay: Yeah, it’s about business up until it’s putting Colin Kaepernick on your team would be good business, because you would probably win more games, it’s business up until a certain point and then it’s racism, right? I mean, it’s hard to divide the two completely, but I do want to give a shout out, we don’t often shout out owners on this show for good reasons, but the Giants co-owner Steve Tisch did come out this week and said that no matter what happens his players will not be punished if they actually take a knee during the anthem or protest in any way, and he also really spoke directly to the stuff Trump was saying, Trump of course, Trump uses this issue to rile up his base no matter what.
And so Steve Tisch came out and said hopefully Trump will have much more going on that he’s going to deal with, and he said Trump shouldn’t worry about what the NFL players do and he also added that Trump has no understanding of why the players take a knee, or why they’re protesting and when the new season starts I hope Trump’s priorities are not criticizing the NFL and telling owners what to do and what not to do.
So, it was good to hear that from Steve Tisch, I think the biggest thing for the players going forward, is as Shireen was mentioning at the start of this, solidarity. And it’s really important for the NFLPA to fight this, and ultimately the NFL just has to get out of its own way, it has to stop being afraid of these tweets from the President, it has to believe in its players, it has to believe in its product and it’s never going to satisfy Trump or any of the right wing because Trump wants this to be an issue because he thinks it’s a good issue for him in rallies and elections, so he’s never going to stop this.
So, the NFL has to stop reacting to what Trump and what the far, far right people are doing. They just can’t. They’re not going to win that battle with them. All right, I’m done with that.
Next, we’re going to dive in to sexual assault. This is, there will probably be some graphic information we’ll put in the show notes some time stamps for you, but just want to get that out of the way. Brenda is going to get us started here.
Brenda: So, this week 141 survivors of Larry Nassar’s abuse took the stage to accept the Arthur Ash Courage Award at the ESPY’s. Lindsay has a great piece on it in Think Progress, seeing the women crowded on the stage was moving, a really moving visual.
The number itself sent a strong message, but so did just seeing their beautiful faces, putting humanity in front of a number, and these are less than half of the victims who have now come forwards. And while Michigan State and USA Gymnastics continue to disappoint us in their reaction, these survivors have already inspired others to come forward. So this week we learned that there’s a class action lawsuit by four former Ohio State wrestlers, who are suing the university for failing to respond to complaints of sexual harassment and abuse for decades.
According to the former students, team doctor Richard Strauss, quote “sexually assaulted, abused, battered, molested, and/or harassed 1,500 to 2,500 male students.” End of quote. Dr. Strauss committed suicide in 2005, so he won’t be appearing. The assistant coach in the early to mid ’90s is now the powerful republican Congressman Jim Jordan, who has denied knowing about Dr. Strauss, but former colleagues and wrestlers quickly spoke up to say there’s no way that he didn’t know.
And if that weren’t bad enough, Ohio State, listen to this. Another class action lawsuit against USA Diving, accuses the National Governing Body of ignoring or obstructing sexual abuse allegations. In the lawsuit, former athletes describe USA Diving coach Will Bohonyi of coercing and forcing two of his former athletes into having frequent sex. These are minors as well. Daily sex with a minor said to be of the age 13 to 14 years old. Bohonyi coached at the Ohio State University Diving Club.
So, here’s the thing. There’s this really important and poorly understood relationship between these sports organizations like USA Gymnastics, USA Diving, their relationship to National Olympic Committees and universities. So it gets, somehow this should be that there’s many eyes watching and protecting athletes, but instead there’s many places to shift burden to.
But these are the same people, so it’s really important to understand that the same people, it’s sort of like, what are those circles that are like, you know, there’s that overlap thing?
Lindsay: A Venn Diagram?
Brenda: Really bad, yeah. And there’s all these same wretched people in there, and they’re not protecting the athletes, they’re shifting blame back and forth to one another. Why is this not a huge crisis right now? It is July, kids are getting ready to go to orientation at universities, where is the outrage of administrators and parents and faculty who are buying up their tickets to go see Ohio State sports games?
So, I just, I’m just going to stop there just to express my incredible exasperation at the fact that we’re gearing up to get ready, it’s a really important time, fall, back to school and all of that, and I just don’t hear the kind of disgust that I’m hoping for.
Lindsay: I completely agree with you Brenda, it is just devastating to read through these reports and what’s so frustrating is look, there were two class action lawsuits against Ohio State this week, actually three total against Ohio State including the divers. There were two just for the wrestling, just for Dr. Strauss, in the wrestling.
And I’ve been reading through those for peace, I think progress. And there’s really no way to read through those and not believe that Jim Jordan, this republican Congressman, knew about it, and to not feel so devastated that nobody seems to care that’s what he’s, you know, that he knew about it, that he’s continuing to be able to be one of the most powerful figures in the republican party and that it just turns into this cycle of enabling.
I mean, I wrote this week like, some of the people who are now enabling Jim Jordan, so the people who are in the republican, or are his GOP colleagues who are saying, everything that Jim Jordan is doing, I believe when he said that he didn’t know anything. Some of these congressmen are the same people who are overseeing investigations into USA Gymnastics and Michigan State, and other US Olympic Organizations, to investigate their enabling.
So, it just becomes this cycle of enabling that never ends because nobody ever steps up to end it, right? The circle just keeps going and like you said Brenda everybody just keeps passing the buck. However, we should not ever, ever, ever, ever frame this as, bad news for Jim Jordan, like I’ve seen some political headline writers do when more information about this has come out.
Yes, Jim Jordan should be held accountable and we should not forget the fact that he won’t even now say he fully supports these wrestlers who are coming forward. He even now is just trying to protect himself and not really talk about the victims.
It would be one thing if he said look, looking back on it, knowing what I know now, I do wish I had behaved differently, there were signs I missed. It would be one thing if he said that, but he’s not even saying that. So I just think it’s so frustrating, we have to just remember that these are student athletes, or, athletes of any kind who are chasing their dreams, who are trying to do something good for their health, good for their life and who these systems are just completely throwing under the bus and ignoring.
I mean one of the differences that’s been put, that’s been you know, very widely circulated about the difference between the Nasser survivors and the people who were abused by Dr. Strauss, or I don’t like calling him doctor anymore, so we’ll just say Strauss. That they were older boys, they were in college, collegiate age, 18, some 17, 19.
But it doesn’t matter because they’re still under the power of the system. They’re still there on scholarships, they don’t want to speak up, they don’t want to lose their scholarship. This is a man they’re being told to trust. A lot of these people are just you know, they’re holding on to their future, so anyways, it’s just so sad all around, Brenda and then Shireen.
Brenda: Can I just say something really quickly about that very point that you brought up Linds, of people saying, well, they’re 18 or something. First of all, if we had a really sane and rational system of things, they should be considered employees for the university. So they’re not, but they should and then they would have greater legal recourse, right, because they would have been harassed and assaulted in a hostile work place as well.
So, A, that’s a ridiculous argument that doesn’t understand the way in which they are in fact employees and in special categories, or should be considered that way, and secondly, I teach freshman every year for 17 years. They can’t do their laundry, they are in a precious and vulnerable time of transition, for the first time without their families, they are not usually, and if they are mature, amazing, but they are not usually mature at all. They do not know where to buy tissues.
These are like, these are kids, you know what I’m saying? They’re still kids, that’s why they’re not of legal drinking age still. So you know, come on. God. Gross. Anyway, I just hate, hate arguments that diminish the violence of this.
Shireen: I mean there’s a bunch of things about this starting off with I’m just going to backtrack a little about the ESPY’s, and how absolutely profound that entire thing was. I mean having that many women. And I think this is something that is a visual piece as well.
The amount of survivors, it’s different to read it, it’s different to hear about it, to actually see those survivors standing there, I hope it had the effect that it needed to. Because it’s one thing too for people to dismiss it, oh you know, just this is an ongoing story, whatever, whatever, but to see those survivors standing there, it was like, it was incredible.
And Lindsay, your piece had me in tears, thank you, I was unable to do anything for like an hour and I had to do an interview and I was unable to do anything because I just was like, oh wow. Note to self, don’t read Lindsay’s work before you’re about to do something important because it will move you.
Lindsay: Please don’t give anyone any restrictions, I need everybody to read my work all the time, it is very important to my future employment.
Shireen: Okay, fair enough, fair enough. It was really, really incredible, and about the Ohio State enablement, the fact that the athletes talked about how much the Nasser survivors inspired them. This really, really, really affected me because the first of all, coming forward, and we had Rachel Denhollander on this show. The amount of oh my god, what it took for her to come forward, what it took for these survivors to speak up. What it took for them to gather together and mobilize in a way, particularly at a sentencing hearing, was unbelievable.
And the fact that the actually inspired other survivors, was so much a crux of what happens when the system is clearly broken, they will not be advocated for as Brenda said, they are being, a massive disservice to these incredible people that just really wanted to engage in a sport that they loved, and they worked so hard.
But the other point of this is just that, how these survivors affect each other, and I really hope from all this, there are other people out there, and if you’re out there and you’re inspired by this or you can help someone else who’s going through this, it can affect change. And this is where, as much as so much of this stuff is disgusting, there’s beauty in this type of healing and I’m grateful to them, very grateful to them for that.
Lindsay: Yeah, I completely agree Shireen, it’s pretty incredible. In one hand when you’re reading through these lawsuits and when you’re reading these stories, it’s traumatic and there’s second hand trauma and it’s hard to process and it feels like the world is getting worse, but what’s important to remember is that these are actually signs that the world is getting better, that people are feeling free to speak up, to shine light into dark spaces.
And it’s really important that we have men and women coming forward to expose these systems of enablement and there’s a really long way to go until there’s accountability and it’s going to feel like it’s getting worse before it gets better because the hope is that as more feel comfortable coming forward and as more are inspired by these Nasser survivors, that means we’re going to have more horrifying stories out in the open.
That doesn’t mean that things are getting worse like I just said, it’s a sign of progress and we all have to remember to see it in that way. And one of the stories that doesn’t get enough attention on this podcast and in my work and that’s because it’s not athletes that are primarily affected and my work focuses on athletes, but we have to mention that this, you know, USC, University of Southern California has been dealing with this as well. At least 200 former USC students have joint lawsuits against the university, saying that for nearly 30 years a campus gynecologist was sexually abusing patients and that the university just completely failed to heed warning.
So that’s going on at the same time and that’s another, I mean some of the lawyers who are representing Nasser survivors are representing some of these women at USC who are coming forward. So it’s just important that we look at this holistic movement, and to think it all started with an investigative report by Indie star and by Rachel Denhollander deciding to come forward.
And it’s a movement and it’s an important one and it’s a hard movement to look towards. Jennifer Garner introduced the segment at the ESPY’s about this, about the Nasser survivors, and one of the things she said was, this is a really hard story to hear, but you all, we have to listen to it.
And that’s how I feel and that’s why I want to keep devoting segments to stuff like this on our podcast even though we know we hear from some of you that this is hard to listen to, we get it you know. But let’s think about this in a positive light that change is coming and it’s because of these brave women.
All right, next we have a very special guest, we’re going to dive in to the world of ultimate Frisbee which I’m excited to learn more about. Shireen, can you tell us a little bit about your interview?
Shireen: Thanks so much Linds, it was a pleasure speaking to Julia Johnson, she was super busy as most of our flamethrowers, a lot of our flamethrowers rather would know, the Ultimate Frisbee Cup Championship is being, was being held and just wrapped up, and Julia gave some incredible insight, not only as an ultimate athlete, but also as a woman of color and a producer in a documentary called The Sky is Red.
She also, I just want to make one quick correction that she talked about five million people playing ultimate in the Unites States, it’s actually five million globally, although it’s now been updated to seven million. So just a quick correction to that number. And thank you to Julia for emailing me back and saying it’s actually this. And that’s about it. I had a great time talking to her, please enjoy.
I am so excited to have Julia Johnson on Burn It All Down today, I’m excited for many reasons, one because so many of our ultimate Frisbee flame throwers have been eagerly waiting for us to talk about it, but also because she’s phenomenal and currently acting as a media expert at the World Ultimate Club Championships being held in Cincinnati, Ohio, they started on July 14th and will carry on until the 21st.
Julia is a freelance video producer, currently based in Seattle, she’s also an ultimate Frisbee athlete, and a complete phenom, she’s producer of the incredible documentary, Sky is Red film, it’s a film documenting the push for gender, race and class equity in the world of ultimate Frisbee. Welcome Julia.
Julia: Hi, thank you for having me Shireen, I’m excited to talk to you.
Shireen: So thankful that you were able to do this in the media frenzy of what’s happening where you are. Can you tell me a little bit, for those that aren’t familiar with ultimate Frisbee, what is happening at the Club Championships?
Julia: Sure, so right now I’m actually in one of the rooms of the broadcasting trailer where we have our livestream set up and we have a couple editing stations and our team is operating out of here. But this event in particular is the World Ultimate Club Championships. So differentiate a little bit from other international playing opportunities in ultimate countries, receive bids for their club teams. So these teams play with each other throughout the year and oftentimes have to be a top finalist in their country’s national competition.
So the United States, depending on the division, women’s mixed or men’s, gets three to five bids and at our national tournament which is in October, the teams that finish in those places then get a bid to Worlds, but that’s just for clubs so it’s a little bit different in each country, depending on the national governing body, but that’s the structure, it’s posted here too
Shireen: Okay, that sounds great. So ultimate is one of the few sports that actually have mixed gender teams as well. Has that always been the case?
Julia: It has not always been the case in a division sense, or in a recognized sense. In weaves and things, people play mixed all the time but Joey Gray actually founded the mixed division for club and club ultimate is based on city and there’s no age restrictions, anyone can try out, it’s based purely on skill.
So, that’s separate from the college division which actually just started a mixed program this past year, this past academic year. And so they’re trying that out and it’s very much in the works but they’re trying to build it up to emulate the club division.
Shireen: So, the NCAA actually recognizes mixed ultimate Frisbee as a sport as of this past academic year?
Julia: Not the NCAA. Ultimate, as a sport is not recognized by the NCAA, but USA Ultimate which is a national governing body, does recognize it.
Shireen: Okay, okay. Totally understand. So that means it would be played as an intramural sport on most campuses?
Julia: Yeah, so it’d be a club sport. So there’s intramural which are just teams from that university and then club sports you represent your university and you travel but you aren’t eligible for things like scholarships. But you can still get a very, very small amount of funding, depending on your school and their process.
Shireen: Is there a push from within the ultimate community to get that recognition from the NCAA? Do you know?
Julia: It is a bit of a conflict I would say. Similar to how the Olympic Committee recognized ultimate as a sport in itself this past voting cycle. There are people in the community who really want that and they want that validation and that accreditation in the sport and there’s people that come from more grassroots and don’t really care and just want to play and don’t want it to be, become this official regulated thing. So it kind of depends on who you talk to.
Shireen: Yeah, totally, I can understand both sides. Actually it’s very similar to cricket, which a lot of people don’t know is not recognized in Canada or the U.S. on campuses it’s very similar actually. But like you said there’s grassroots folks that want to keep the purity of the sport, because it came from within communities.
Speaking of communities, I’m so excited about The Sky is Red, it’s going to be a phenomenal documentary, and you sort of explore lines of gender, race and class as well. And tell me about the level of diversity in ultimate, like I’m seeing a lot about really positive, pro gear stuff, which is amazing and one of the few sports other than roller derby that sort of embrace anyone. What about in terms of race? How diverse is ultimate really?
Julia: Yeah, it’s definitely something we’re exploring with the film and there’s other groups around the country and around the world that are also exploring that. It’s not that diverse, it’s, I believe the national governing body has five million members, so like registered ultimate players which is not super up to date given that word is growing. But, it really isn’t, it’s not accessible for people in like a socioeconomic sense, and most of the people that play it are white.
It depends on the region, I grew up playing in Southern California and I would say there’s a pretty equivalent number of Asian people playing as there are white people, but if you go to other regions of the country, it’s different, but if you’re looking at member base and statistics, it’s predominately white.
And a lot of that does go back to access in a financial way because even though, to literally play ultimate you need a five-dollar disc and you need a pair of cleats and some cones, that isn’t how playing at a high level operates. And so people who play beyond in a park, you need thousands of dollars a year to even be able to access that.
Shireen: Wow. And you said five million worldwide was the statistic you gave, a number you gave. And that’s globally, is that what you’re saying? Like five million worldwide?
Julia: Sorry, no, in the U.S.
Shireen: Wow, five million’s a lot.
Julia: Yeah. Yeah we did some kind of research for that for the doc, and that’s, yeah, it’s a number that’s always changing and it’s a number that we’ve heard from USA Ultimate, given there’s no way to track people who play in local leagues or pick up or things like that, it fluctuates I’m sure but the sport is growing and it’s one of the fastest growing sports so hopefully it’s on an upward trend.
Shireen: So, what is it about ultimate that you love? What is it that made you fall in love with the sport Julia?
Julia: I really love the community. I got into ultimate in college so nowadays a lot of resources put into youth programs, there are kids who start playing in middle school and start, you know they get to college and they’re very good. I played soccer and tennis growing up, and basketball, so when I got to college I had my cleats and my dorm room neighbor was like, come try this sport, ultimate.
And I never really looked back. I can’t necessarily pin it down to one thing that really engages me but I like that there’s a space for competition as well as a space for respect and friendship and a lot of the things that you’ll ultimate people talk about.
Shireen: That’s so beautiful, just sort of like your connection, because you never know what you’ll be connected to. I have a lot of friends, like former soccer players, and they converted to ultimate a little later.
Shireen: Which is, I grew up on the east coast of Canada and there’s a fairly impressive ultimate Frisbee scene there which surprised me. And I’m in Toronto now, and it’s something that I’ve seen, a sport that I don’t know much about but has really embraced people and encourages new athletes to come out, like people that wouldn’t consider themselves athletes necessarily, because of preconceived societal notions. So ultimate really brings people in.
You want to have fun, you want to go out, come out. Like is that, but at the higher echelons of ultimate, it’s a pure, very intense sport isn’t it? Like levels of competition are quite intense. So in terms of comradery and culture, what’s ultimate like that way? Is it like rugby where it’s just like a lot of fun and everyone loves and sort of gets along or is it more complicated than that?
Julia: Yeah, I think what I’m seeing here and this is my first experience at an international tournament, and one thing that I know we’ve been talking about is it’s really cool to see, for example, like after every game, the two teams playing will take a group photo and there’s something called Spirit of the Game, which transitions in to having things called spirit circles at the end of games. Some teams will award MVPs and give out kind of like a gift from their country.
And if you look at other high-level sports, or any other sports at high levels, you don’t see that. You don’t see like, you don’t see two NBA teams taking a group photo together afterwards and I know my experience in ultimate, even at a college rivalry level, like half my best friends went to UCLA and I went USC and you don’t get that in other sports.
And so, I think that is something that you get at the grassroots level and at the highest level, and because of the structure of it where you can have a college team that’s different then a club team, and then you can play on an international team and you’re always playing with different people that you get that range of people to play with and pay against. And more often than not it turns into friendships.
Shireen: That’s so important about, particularly about young sports, or not young sports but sort of less popular ones and very grassroots oriented sports where there’s a sense of community. Just really, really great and something I know you’re exploring in the doc. Julia, tell me how people can find your work and find out more about the documentary.
Julia: Sure, so we’re on all social media platforms. Our Twitter and Instagram handle are @skyisredfilm and then we’re on Facebook as well, Facebook.com/skyisred. We have a Kickstarter page that was, a campaign that was run back in October of 2017 and that has a lot of information as well.
It’s been a year, a little over a year since the inception of this project so things are definitely changing, but if you want to get to know a little bit more about what our values and what our mission is as filmmakers, anyone can check that out. And our social media’s been up to date so you can follow along there too.
Shireen: That’s awesome. Now can you tell me if you have any predictions? I think this interview will air after the final. Any insights about the potential winners or can you not say or would rather not say?
Julia: Yeah, no I can definitely say. I think in the women’s division, I would love to see one of the Colombia women’s teams, Revolution, win. They won the U.S. Open last year and that’s a tournament that U.S.A. Ultimate hosts, but they invite top teams from other countries.
So, Revolution has already beaten the top teams from the U.S. who often win these tournaments. So, that’d be really exciting. I don’t follow men’s ultimate at all to be honest.
Shireen: That’s totally okay.
Julia: So, I could not even tell you.
Shireen: That’s totally okay.
Julia: Yeah, I couldn’t even tell you who’s playing beyond the American teams. And then in the mixed division, Lili, who’s the director for The Sky is Red, Captains BFG, so they got third at the U.S.A. Nationals last year to qualify for Worlds, but I’d love to see them win this tournament. So I’m routing for them.
Shireen: Totally, so we’ve got, we’re cheering for Lili and we’re cheering for a team from Colombia, which is pretty amazing. I want to thank you so much Julia, I know how busy this week is for you, but we really appreciate you coming on here and best of luck with all the media projects and everybody, please hire Julia because she’s incredibly talented and awesome. And also I hope you really enjoy this week and good luck. Is it the pitch? Or is it the field? What’s it called? What’s the correct terminology?
Julia: I guess the Americans would call it the field, but I have heard other countries calling it a pitch, so either works.
Shireen: Awesome, so have a great week and congratulations on everything and we will definitely have you on again to talk about the film as it get closer to the release date.
Julia: Yeah, definitely, I’d love that. Thanks so much Shireen.
Lindsay: All right. I am feeling particularly ragey today. Are you guys too? It’s Burn Pile time. Brenda, can you get us started?
Brenda: Sure. Mine on the surface, my Burn Pile doesn’t sound glamorous. It doesn’t sound heated because it’s about scheduling. You know, that doesn’t really draw up a lot of ire in most people. But when it comes to women athletes, as we’ve seen, it’s one of those ways in which sexism rears its ugly head. And what has happened, and I can barely, I am so pissed. So you should first of all, just to say, I’m going to try to get this out.
CONMEBOL, which regulates all of South American soccer or football, has scheduled the men’s Copa America, which is the premier tournament for men in the entire continent and they also have guests from North America, usually Concacaf, they have scheduled the finals for July 7th of 2019. July 7th, 2019 is important because it is the final of the Women’s World Cup of 2019. This is the second time that CONMEBOL has done this, they refuse to change it despite my raging tweets at them. My phone calls, my emails, my crappy petitions, it is so disrespectful to the women who will be competing there.
So, for right now, we know that CONMEBOL teams Argentina, will be maybe playing, but for sure, Chile and Brazil. Argentina waits for the North American Concacaf to finish their qualifiers in October, and then there’s a playoff. So basically in the Women’s World Cup, South America has 2.5 slots, meaning the third team which is Argentina has to compete with a North American team.
So, we don’t know yet, but we at least know that two really important women’s sides, Chile for the first time will be competing, and Brazil, which we have a lot of hopes will do really well in the tournament. Brazil is also the host of Copa America for the men’s.
So you can see why this is so enraging. It’s basically like saying, women, who cares, you either won’t get that far or we didn’t bother to check the FIFA schedule, or just we don’t care. It’s not the same fan base. And I think not only are they wrong but they’re sexist and awful. So I want to burn CONMEBOL’s decisions entirely. Just burn it. Burn it, burn it, burn it.
Shireen: I want to burn a couple things and I know I do this really often, I’ll like sneak in another burn, a lesser burn to a larger burn.
Brenda: Sneaky burner.
Shireen: Sneaky burner. Okay so it turns out at the ESPY’s, and this is around the ESPY’s. I have so many issues with Danica Patrick. I have so many issues with her. I get it, she’s this woman that was in the space that was predominately occupied, is predominately occupied by men. We’ve talked about it on the show. I also cannot and will never get over the fact that she’s a Trump supporter and publicly supported him. So that’s, I think I’ve already burned that before, just like a little bit of a reigniting of the burn metaphorically.
Now the thing I’m really going to burn, is I just found out about this yesterday. One because, it’s so, it’s such a conundrum because it’s of a person I don’t like, who was discriminated against. Caitlyn Jenner. And I don’t like their policies on anything because they also supported Trump and are, I just can’t. Was actually misgendered by boxer Amir Khan at the ESPY’s, who said hey, Bruce Jenner.
It’s not Bruce Jenner. She’s Caitlyn Jenner. And she changed her name legally. And so he came out apologizing and his apology was really, really dumb. Because he was like, oh I’ve been told that it’s not okay, I didn’t mean anything by it. And I’m like, but that’s exactly the thing. When you misgender somebody and you are transphobic, and you don’t, quote unquote, mean anything by it, it means that you simply don’t care and you have to do better.
Like this is somebody, regardless of my feelings for Caitlyn Jenner and her political opinions, they’re an accomplished, accomplished athlete. And that space, that ESPY space is for them. And I’m just really annoyed at the whole thing, so I want to burn this transphobia, I want to burn athletes who have really problematic political opinions and are like super privileged and white. So I just kind of want to burn everything, I hope that’s okay.
Lindsay: Yeah, sure.
Brenda: Burn it all down.
Lindsay: Yes, burn. All right. I’m going to do two really quick burns, one because I just found about the second one. So, first of all, Jimmy Garoppolo, who is now San Francisco 49ers quarterback, he went out on a date in Los Angeles with a woman who works in porn, and everyone freaked out. Like this was the most horrifying thing they’d ever seen.
People who were quiet about athletes actually beating women or raping women were outraged at this. And so I just want to burn that because like, it’s okay. It’s okay. Everything’s fine. And feminists in general need to do a better job of sticking up for those who work in porn and sex workers, so I thought Deadspin had a really, really perfect post about this that I just kind of want to highlight, which was, it’s 2018, and there’s nothing wrong with dating a San Francisco 49er.
So, they were kind of calling out the hypocrisy there, I loved that, so we’ll throw that, we’ll throw all that slut shaming onto the Burn Pile. And I also want to give a shout out to the hot take we had this week, when our friend Shakeia Taylor came and talked with Jess Luther about what’s been going on in baseball so far this year, it’s on the feed if you haven’t listened to it.
But one of the things they talked about was Josh Hader’s incredibly racist, sexist, homophobic tweets that surfaced during the All Star game. And that’s been a controversy, and when Hader came out to play last night for his team which is the Brewers, he got a standing ovation from the crowd.
A standing ovation. Like he had just overcome something. What in the world? What in the world? He had tweets that were things like, literally, quote, “white power”. And sure these were when he was 17, but I don’t care, even if his views have changed, he still deserves to be shamed for ever having them. And he just, there’s no need to give him a standing ovation. So, boo, throwing that onto the Burn Pile as well. Burn.
Brenda: Burn. Yuck.
Lindsay: All right. Now it’s time to lift up some really badass women this week. First of all I want to give a shout out to Rachel Denhollander, we’ve brought up her a couple of times in the show all ready, she is of course the first survivor of Nassar’s abuse to come forward and talk publicly. But she gave birth on Friday, so she wasn’t at the ESPY’s, because she was literally about to give birth.
But she gave birth on Friday, named her daughter Ellora Renee Joy which is a beautiful name, and the name Renee, the middle name Renee is named after Detective Lieutenant Andrea Renee Mumford who was one of the people who brought Nassar to justice. So I just thought that was beautiful and wanted to give her a shout out.
Shireen: Oh, that was wonderful.
Lindsay: We also had Lise Klaveness who became the first woman in Norwegian soccer to be named as the Director of the Men’s and Women’s team. We have Michaela Blyde who had a hat trick for the New Zealand Black Ferns, who won the Rugby World Cup Sevens, which was just held in San Francisco, so congratulations to them. They beat France who came in second and team USA won bronze, so congratulations to everyone there.
It was also an incredibly exciting week in the WNBA. We had Tiffany Hayes of the Atlanta Dream, shoot the longest game winning shot in WNBA history to take down the Connecticut Sun, it was absolutely thrilling. You had Allisha Gray who is now in her sophomore season, but she won the Nickelodeon’s Kid’s Choice Sports Favorite Newcomer of the Year award, and that leads us to, can I have a drum roll please?
All right, our badass woman of the week is Liz Cambage, who else, the center for the Dallas Wings who scored a WNBA record 53 points, in a game against the New York Liberty earlier this week and she followed that up against the Washington Mystic scoring 35 points and had 17 rebound in that game as well. So her 88 combined total points across two games are also a WNBA best.
And as we will discuss in our Patreon only segment, about women’s sports, she’s also just been incredibly outspoken about the WNBA players and deserving better. She also talks out of, she’s just not afraid to speak out against anything, racism, sexism, all of it. And she’s just such a breath of fresh air, so I feel like we’ll be talking about her a lot more.
Okay friends. Anything good happening in your lives? Shireen?
Shireen: Yeah, I’ve been enjoying the rugby sevens tournament, Canada came 7th but that’s okay. I just really like rugby, it’s very short, it’s a lot of fun and people are interested in watching. The men’s tournament is still happening as we record on Sunday, the women have wrapped up. But it’s pretty incredible to watch, very short halves and it’s a lot of fun, really, really, really, really speedy and enjoying that tremendously.
I have been enjoying the summertime coolness. I’m not a fan of sweltering heat so it’s been beautiful in Toronto. Just no coincidence it coincides with Kawhi Leonard’s arrival. So it’s been beautiful, today there is a bunch of rain so I’m really enjoying the summer and just sort of taking it easy. And going through Law and Order season 16, so very happy about that.
Lindsay: Oh, Bren?
Brenda: Now that the World Cup, the men’s World Cup is over, I’ve cleaned my house and that’s really nice.
Lindsay: Wow, I’m very jealous.
Brenda: It went way too far.
Lindsay: Can you come to me? Yeah.
Brenda: It went way, way too far. So I’m happy to have gotten a bit to my normal dishevelment, domestically speaking instead of the pigsty that it was during the men’s World Cup, and part of that is outdoor work too, and I want to say that I, if I’m ever fired from academia, and I obviously haven’t made it as a professional soccer player, I could be a blueberry farmer.
Brenda: I have amazing blueberries of a great variety, probably like, I don’t know, 26, 27 bushes here in the Hudson Valley. I know, and I am loving it. So it’s been a rough season because it’s been dry, but now it’s raining and so gardening, which I think technically the Rhodes Scholarship used to define as a sport.
Lindsay: (Laughs) I’m sorry.
Brenda: I can look that up. I’m like pretty sure. So it’s kind of like I think maybe Burn It All Down does need next summer like a gardening podcast, just one episode. There has to be competitive gardening, I mean that’s what county fairs are.
Shireen: There’s competitive corn hole, I’m sure there’s competitive gardening.
Brenda: Yeah, there has to be. Like biggest pumpkin or something?
Shireen: Oh yeah, definitely, definitely.
Brenda: I don’t know, yeah. So, that’s what’s good is my new sporting activity.
Lindsay: This is too much for me. For me what’s good is that I, it looks like I might have a couple of hours without rain here so I can actually try and get in a run, it’s supposed to rain in D.C. for a week straight pretty much, so that is not what’s good because I am over that.
But yeah, I have gotten back in to one of my favorite shows, which is back on Netflix, which yes goes against everything we speak out against here on Burn It All Down, but I still enjoy the show anyways, it’s called Last Chance U and it’s about football players in junior colleges who are you know, kind of on their last chance to get their, you know, they’ve been kicked out of bigger programs for a lot of different reasons and are trying to make it.
So, I haven’t watched this season yet, so if it’s incredibly problematic then you know, I never said any of this. But I’m excited to watch it. And yeah, I think that’s it. I don’t know. Things continue to be rough but, you know, we’re making it through. This podcast is what’s good for me, so.
All right, thank you all so, so much for joining us today, this was a blast as always. We’ll be back next week and like I said we’ll have a special Patreon only segment this week. Please go to patreon.com/burnitalldown and help us to grow.
We have really exciting things in the works that we can’t wait to share with you. We’re also on Facebook at Burnitalldown, we’re on Twitter @burnitdownpod, our website is www.burnitalldownpod.com, and we will look forward to hearing from you all. This week and going forward. Thanks so much.