Episode 65: Homophobia in women’s sport, Mesut Ozil & racism/islamophobia, and Katelyn Best on the NWSL
On this week’s show, the full crew is back together. Jessica, Lindsay, Shireen, Amira, and Brenda rave about the new single “Undefeated” about black female athletes (7:52). Then the group discusses Rene Portland, Jaelene Hinkle, and homophobia in women’s sports (21:30) before turning to the topic of German soccer player Mesut Ozil and his retirement from that national team in the wake of the racism and islamophobia he has faced (35:32).
Then Brenda interviews freelance writer and journalist Katelyn Best about the current NWSL season (49:38).
Of course, you’ll hear the Burn Pile (1:02:28), our Bad Ass Woman of the Week, starring the Rugby World Cup Sevens (1:05:30), and what is good in our worlds (1:10:15).
Correction: Trevor Noah’s horrible comments about Aboriginal people focused on those in Australia, not New Zealand.
For links and a transcript…
“New single, ‘Undefeated’ by Rayana Jay, is an anthem for black female athletes — and you can dance to it” http://theundefeated.com/features/new-single-undefeated-by-rayana-jay-is-an-anthem-for-black-female-athletes/
““Undefeated” is the long-awaited anthem for Black female athletes everywhere” https://www.babble.com/entertainment/undefeated-rayana-jay-single-black-female-athletes/
“Rene Portland, Penn State basketball coach accused of anti-gay discrimination, dies at 65” https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/obituaries/rene-portland-penn-state-basketball-coach-accused-of-anti-gay-discrimination-dies-at-65/2018/07/23/625993d4-8e81-11e8-8322-b5482bf5e0f5_story.html
“What another Jaelene Hinkle callup would mean for the USWNT on and off the field” https://equalizersoccer.com/2018/07/16/bush-what-another-jaelene-hinkle-callup-would-mean-for-the-uswnt-on-and-off-the-field/
“Jaelene Hinkle got called up to the USWNT. Now what?” https://www.starsandstripesfc.com/2018/7/18/17577246/jaelene-hinkle-called-up-uswnt-lgbtq-fans
“Call-up of Jaelene Hinkle, who refused to wear Pride jersey, poses difficult questions in women’s soccer” https://www.outsports.com/2018/7/18/17588902/jaelene-hinkle-homophobia-uswnt-soccer
“Why Stanford star Bryce Love’s absence from Pac-12 Media Day sets a dangerous precedent” https://www.cbssports.com/college-football/news/why-stanford-star-bryce-loves-absence-from-pac-12-media-day-sets-a-dangerous-precedent/
“Trevor Noah under fire as offensive joke about Aboriginal women resurfaces” https://www.cnn.com/2018/07/23/africa/trevor-noah-aboriginal-women-joke-intl/index.html
“Tell Trail Blazers: End Partnership with Leupold & Stevens” https://www.facebook.com/events/1005877939586114/
“Michigan State Reinstates Linebacker Who Called His Teammate The N-Word” https://deadspin.com/michigan-state-reinstates-linebacker-who-called-his-tea-1827840852
“Carta de la directiva del Barça femenino: “Menos cinismo”” https://www.mundodeportivo.com/futbol/fc-barcelona/20180727/451114243939/barca-femenino-gira-usa-eeuu-maria-teixidor.html
“Fernanda Pinilla: “Ser mujer en Chile es difícil y ser lesbiana es peor”” http://www.eldesconcierto.cl/2018/07/23/fernanda-pinilla-ser-mujer-en-chile-es-dificil-y-ser-lesbiana-es-peor/
“Rapes and beatings: the torments of South Korea’s young athletes” https://www.yahoo.com/news/rapes-beatings-torments-south-koreas-young-athletes-050014361–ten.html
“Jenny Boucek’s pregnancy represents a first for the NBA” http://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/24139796/zach-lowe-dallas-mavericks-assistant-coach-jenny-boucek-nba
“WWE announce first ever all women pay-per-view” https://www.thespec.com/whatson-story/8759015-wwe-announce-first-ever-all-women-pay-per-view/
“World Cup sevens an emblem of equality” https://www.newsroom.co.nz/2018/07/24/164570/world-cup-sevens-an-emblem-of-equality#
“Our living rowing legend; Ekaterina Karsten” http://www.worldrowing.com/news/our-living-rowing-legend-ekaterina-karsten (results from Austria: http://www.worldrowing.com/athletes/athlete/5540/results/karsten-ekaterina)
“Olympic champion Simone Biles wins 1st competition after long break” http://www.espn.com/olympics/gymnastics/story/_/id/24221723/simone-biles-triumphs-return-competition
“Allie Quigley’s 3-point shooting contest score was better than any WNBA or NBA player ever” https://www.sbnation.com/wnba/2018/7/28/17625848/allie-quigley-highlights-3-point-contest
Jessica: Welcome to Burn it All Down, the feminist sports podcast you need. We are so happy you’re here. On today’s show we have a full house: Brenda Elsey, an associate professor of History at Hofstra; Shireen Ahmed, a writer, public speaker, and sports activist in Toronto; Lindsay Gibbs, a reporter and ThinkProgress; Amira Rose Davis, an assistant professor of history in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Penn State University; and me, I’m Jessica Luther, freelance journalist and author in Austin, Texas.
As always, thank you to our patrons, whose support of this podcast through our ongoing Patreon campaign make Burn it All Down possible. We are forever and always grateful. If you would like to become a patron it’s easy. Go to patreon.com/burnitalldown. You can pledge as little as one dollar per month, but if you donate a little bit more you can access exclusives like an extra Patreon only segment or monthly newsletters.
On today’s show we’re going to talk about homophobia in sport in the wake of Rene Portland’s death and Jaelene Hinkle nearly making the US Women’s Soccer roster for the Tournament of Nations. Then we’ll discuss Mesut Ozil, who retired from the German National Team last week, stating that he was doing so because of the racism he has faced, asking quote, “I was born and educated in Germany, so why don’t people accept that I am German?” And Brenda interviews Katelyn Best, a writer and journalist who often covers soccer. They talk about this kick-ass NWSL season despite the tough conditions that persist. And, of course, we will cap it all off by burning things that deserve to be burned, doing shout-outs to women who deserve shout-outs, and telling you what is good in our world.
First though, this weekend was the WNBA All-Star game, and we actually had a really … Yay. And we had a really great Hot Take this week in case you missed that. You should go check that out. As part of the festivities, there was the release of a new single called, “Undefeated”. It’s by Rayana Jay, and according to the website, The Undefeated, it is quote, “An anthem celebrating the resilience of Black female athletes who face opponents on the courts, the playing fields, and the track as they battle stereotypes and the weight of racial history.” Also it’s a bopper.
Rayana Jay: [singing] You say I’m not good, you say I’m too bold/I’m comin’ off strong/You say I’m too this, you say I’m too that/Well, that’s too bad/’Cause it ain’t a secret, that’s how we treat it/But, I still believe it/I’m undefeated
Jessica: Shireen, I know that you are excited about this. What did you think of this song?
Shireen: I love music, and I think this was great. I think that I really, really appreciated that the song was specifically for black women athletes. I think that is so important because, actually, the Undefeated partnered with Disney for this song, and there’s this part in this that just really, really got to me, and they’re citing a study that’s part of this initiative, and it says, quote, “While white women were portrayed and treated as delicate and this civilizing influence during slavery times, black women were viewed as and treated as defiant, savage, and hyper-sexual.” The study writes, “The perception did not abate after slavery ended, and as a result the stereotype of the loud, immoral and aggressive black woman extended into the area of sports.
And I think that’s so true because we see this often; we’ve seen it with Serena; we see it in the way that she’s criticized and critiqued for just playing hard. And it’s so … I love the way that this was folded into music for making it specific for these young girls who will hear it and say, “This is for me.” I thought it was great. What did y’all think?
Jessica: I liked it so much, and the video is beautiful, so you should definitely not only listen to it, but you should go watch the video because it features black women from a track team, which I can’t remember now–I should have written that down, which track team it is–but then, of course, lots of images and videos of black people and athletes across the years, and it’s just a powerful visual alongside the audio. Lindsay, what do you think?
Lindsay: Yeah, it was incredible; the entire all-star festivities were absolutely incredible. I’m still buzzing from Allie Quigley’s win in the three-point contest–I know we’re going to talk about that later, but if you haven’t seen that you need to see it. But overall I think this was great. It was really good to see The Undefeated recognize black female athletes. I love a lot of the work The Undefeated does, and look, no shade at all, but I just hope that this is a sign also that, that site is gonna start devoting more resources to the current black female athletes that we have, who are really just incredible and deserve more coverage. So, I hope that ESPN and The Undefeated that this is a sign moving forward that they’re starting to invest more than that. No shade, all positive, just hoping for more in the future.
Amira: Yeah, I think that it’s really interesting. This song is a part of The Undefeated’s ongoing series on black women athletes. They commissioned some artists, some black women artists to do pictures, what they understood the plight of black women athletes to be, and some of those images are really riveting, and so, it’s really encouraging. To echo what Lindsay said, I really enjoyed All-Star Week and although the competition I was most happy about was not actually the three-point competition or actually, anything with the ball, but the numerous dance-offs that happened at center court.
Jessica: So good.
Amira: They were amazing. A’ja Wilson was definitely at the forefront of this, but they even got Brittney up and moving, shaking her little butt at one point, and it was literally the video I kept on repeat giving me such joy. So, it was a fantastic All-Star Weekend.
Lindsay: We don’t deserve Liz Cambage; she is just too good for this world. There was a video of her with a Bluetooth speaker around her shoulder, and then she was hitting the speaker with her bum while she was dancing. She was amazing.
Jessica: She was bouncing it off her butt, yeah.
Lindsay: And my other favorite thing was her and Chiney Ogwumike posed together on the Orange Carpet, which is the WNBA’s version of the Red Carpet, and Janae tweeted it and hashtagged it, Team Ejected. Because they both got ejected from games in the last week. And I love that so much.
Jessica: Yeah, I feel like one of the real strengths of the WNBA All-Star Weekend was just seeing all of their personalities together in a really loose atmosphere. It was just a joy. Before we get going off of this topic, Shireen, did this remind you of any other songs that you love?
Shireen: Well, I love warm-up songs. I’m definitely adding this to my pre-game, you know, game face warm-up, and I think it’s good. I have warm down, “Waka Waka” by Shakira is my favorite for obvious reasons. But my warm-up is definitely you don’t know, Eminem, “50 Cent” is my game face, I’m gonna crush you on the pitch, and along with that is “Bend it Like Beckham” lovers will recognize Darshan by B21, which is part of that sound track, which is the track in the movie when Jess is running from the wedding to the final and ripping off her sari and putting it on her kit because I can relate to that in so many ways. It’s thrilling and exciting, and it’s amazing. If you’re ever in an Indian wedding or a South Asian wedding, they get Darshan on the floor; it’s one of those songs that everyone clears the tables and gets to the dance floor.
Jessica: That’s awesome. Well, thank you, all. And now on to the show.
Amira, do you wanna get us started?
Amira: I do. So, this past week Rene Portland, who was a basketball coach here at Penn State for many years, passed away of cancer. She was 65. And Rene Portland’s death has engendered much conversation about many things: women’s basketball and also, unfortunately, about homophobia and the persistence of homophobia, particularly in women’s sports. That’s because Rene Portland, who, yes, grew the game of basketball and was a tremendous women’s basketball coach, was also a flaming homophobe. She very famously said that the rules for her team was no drugs, no alcohol, no girls. Part of her recruitment package was going into living rooms and assuring parents that at Penn State their daughters could come play basketball, and they would not become lesbians.
And I think that it’s really, for me, points to something about women’s sports that historically, as the games have been growing, whether it’s women’s basketball or track or soccer, the biggest idea was that sports are a masculine enterprise, therefore, women who are playing sports are different, deviant; they are sexual others. And so, so many programs and people in the game, where it’s so hard to combat these stereotypes, that the pendulum swung the other way. So, track coaches that I study, for instance, were insistent on displaying the fact that their track runners had boyfriends.
Or baseball players that I write about, their photo shoots were purposely posed in dresses. At one time one of the players I write about in the Negro League was posed topless with her husband rubbing her down on her back as to emphasize their heterosexual inclinations. So, there’s a kind of duality here, and I think Rene Portland really sits at one place in that duality, where on one hand, she was a head coach from 1980 to 2007. She brought the Lady Lions here their first number one ranking, their first Final Four appearance.
She was named National Coach of the Year twice by the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association. She had a career record of 693 to 265 and did so by building this titan of a program that had never existed before, but she did so at the expense of women on her team feeling comfortable. And all of this came out when a former player, Jenn Harris, actually filed a lawsuit against this discrimination based on [inaudible 00:10:34] that came from Coach Portland on down to essentially punish her and humiliate her on the perception that she was a lesbian. And Jenn Harris isn’t actually gay, but it was the very perception that allowed her to still do this. And the result of the lawsuit, it was settled out of court, and at the end of that season she resigned her position.
And the last thing I wanna say about this as we transition to a larger discussion, and certainly, I think there’s a larger discussion to be had here. We had this week, of course, Jaelene Hinkle and women’s soccer also sitting at this connection where some sport that has been ridiculously progressive, having pride nights and pride jersey, there’s no reckoning with somebody who’s very publicly stated that she didn’t want to play because she would have to wear a pride jersey. So, you have this duality still, this tension still going back and forth, and I’d love to have a discussion about that.
The last thing I wanna say before we just into that is one of the reasons that Rene Portland had such a long tenure at Penn State and was so protected was because she was so protected by Paterno. He vouched for her. He was her biggest fan, and it was part and parcel of how he recruited. So, JoePa would go out there in living rooms and say, “Come, give me your sons; I’ll make them wholesome. This is a wholesome campus where they will learn how to be men, and I’ll protect them like a father figure.”
And the flip side of that coin was that Rene Portland was going into places and saying, “We have a wholesome community. Come here to Happy Valley; your girls will be safe, and don’t worry about them playing basketball because I absolutely will not allow lesbians on my team. They won’t get into any of that stuff. We are a wholesome environment.” And it was that one, two punch of recruiting that built up athletics here in many ways.
So, it’s not so much disentangled from what we understand about JoePa or legacies of masculinity, but it’s wrapped up in it, those anxieties about sexual orientation within the women’s game, and Rene Portland is a very pivotal figure in understanding that tension.
Jessica: Wow. Thank you, Amira. Lindsay.
Lindsay: Gosh, that was such good information. And I think it’s, like Amira is saying, it’s so important to realize that this is not just a Rene Portland thing, and this does not end with her leaving women’s basketball. We, of course, have Kim Mulkey at Baylor, who we know that basically made Brittney Griner stay in the closet while she was at Baylor and wanted her players to look a certain way and act a certain way so as to not be too gay or whatever that means, too stereotypically gay and to make all these religious fanatics more comfortable rooting with the basketball team.
We also had Amanda Ottaway was on this show; I interviewed her about her basketball memoir, “The Rebounders” a few months ago. And she played college basketball at Davidson, and she remembers very clearly her coach at Davidson at the time–this was about eight or nine years ago–not wanting her players to be out, wanting her players to present in a certain way, not recruiting more preferencing, preferring to recruit daintier women even if they weren’t the best women on the basketball court in a desire to preserve a certain image.
So, we just still see this happening, and it’s so important to continue to push against it. There’s always this notion that women’s sports are … Because there’s this notion that it’s mostly lesbians that play women’s sports, that, that’s a narrative that’s followed women’s sports around since the beginning of time, that women’s sports don’t have to deal with homophobia, but we know that, that’s absolutely not the case. And that’s why it’s so important to continue to celebrate these moments that we get, such as Sue Bird and Megan Rapinoe on the cover of ESPN The Body issue together, being an openly gay power couple, openly lesbian power couple.
That’s why I love looking at the WNBA All-Star styles, and you see such a mix of styles and presentations and personalities on the Red Carpet. Everyone really feeling comfortable fully being themselves, no matter how they choose to present themselves. And it does make me feel like we’ve come a long way. Women’s basketball, the WNBA tweeted out a picture of Delle Donne and her wife on the Red Carpet because it was team Delle Donne, and they sent Candice Dupree, whose wife, DeWanna Bonner was in the All-Star game. Candice Dupree tweeted a photo of her twins, her and Bonner’s twins at home wearing Dupree dash Bonner jerseys watching. And so little moments … I mean, you all have to go look at those photos obviously.
Jessica: Cute babies.
Lindsay: Pause this episode right now, come back, but go look at that. They’re just so cute. Those moments are just so important to continue to celebrate because they weren’t a given in this game even a decade ago, and if we don’t continue to celebrate and push them, then these coaches at the lower ranks, who are still spreading these messages of hate and fear are gonna continue to penetrate society.
Jessica: Yeah, that’s also interesting. I recently talked to Katie Barnes of ESPNW for a different project about LGBT athletes and one thing that they pointed out to me is that there are very few out female basketball players on the collegiate level, and the discrepancy there between the WNBA as an indicator of what those players are up against at that level. Brenda?
Brenda: I really love the point about, well, there’s this stereotype of women’s athletes as lesbian or somehow not properly sexually developed in the past, and so they’re facing all this homophobia, and yet at the same time, they do become places of underground community and solidarity among lesbians. So, it’s an interesting … And I think that’s why, and not only as athletes, but as fan as well, women’s soccer fans and communities of women’s soccer fans especially in places like LA in the 1990’s and the lesbian bars in Portland that are amazing sites of community and solidarity among lesbians. The thing is then, I think that’s why the issue of Hinkle is such a big deal.
It’s not that they haven’t faced homophobia before because they face it every day as we’re talking about, but there’s something about having that disruption within the team and then for fans to have to deal with that. And I think that Jill Ellis was asked yesterday in a press conference earlier this week about Hinkle and the issue of calling her up or not calling her up because she was called up and then she was cut from the final cut for the Tournament of Nations this week. And I think what drives me crazy about this is she said, “Well, it was just a soccer decision in the end.” I don’t know if y’all saw that.
And it’s like, well, okay, but maybe we don’t need Ellis to be responsible for this. We need the US Soccer Federation to have come out already and issued a statement, already levied a fine about hateful statements that you make to the press about teammates that are homophobic and/or racist, which is often the case as well. So, I don’t know. I don’t wanna go on too much about it, but I think there’s an interesting link there about why Hinkle’s such a big deal within the women’s soccer community.
Jessica: Yeah, and it was a really big deal. We’ll link to multiple pieces that were written about her being called up and all the emotions and feelings around that. Shireen?
Shireen: Yeah, just to get back to what you said about what Katie told you about the NCAA Level athletes and how not many of them are out, and they make a really good point because when we think about the power dynamic of those athletes at collegiate level, they don’t feel safe enough to actually come out. They might not, and it makes me think about how sad that is and how dangerous it is for the sports community when these athletes don’t even feel like it’s possible for them to be able to come out generally.
And that actually made me sit back a little bit and think how sad this is, sad and how we can’t let this perpetrate. These are athletes, and we have so many thoughts about NCAA and the brown and black bodies that are being used, and then they can’t even come out. And just on so many levels it makes me mad that this is the reality. And I have a really close friend who played Div One basketball, and off-record she told me that so many of her teammates identified as queer but not openly. And they were families, like Brenda said about underground communities. The communities are the players themselves respect and loved each other on teams. Yeah, sure, there was problems because people are human, but inherently, they all love each other, and they work together, and I just find that really, really upsetting. I find that really upsetting.
Amira: Yeah, I think that you put into things that are really current and existed when Rene Portland was a coach as well, which is how much the coaching levels, how it seeps in, and it goes all the way from the bottom to the top. One of the things about Rene Portland was when the NBA was wanting to launch the WNBA she was one of 10 coaches they consulted to shape the league. This is somebody who was a president of the women’s basketball coaching association, last year was inducted into the Hall of Fame for women’s basketball coaches. So, thinking about what that means, if you have somebody who’s crafting the game in such fashion, how coming out could be the end of your career in many ways. And I think that, that’s really important to talk about.
If anybody wants to have more information about Rene Portland or the lawsuit that Jenn Harris brought or the whole thing, there’s a great documentary called, “Training Rules”. It came out in 2009, and it follows this entire case, and I really recommend that everybody go and watch that, again, “Training Rules”.
And again on the last point that you made, Shireen, I wanna leave this off, returning to Jenn Harris who brought the lawsuit, and Jenn was asked, “Jenn, you’re not a lesbian, why do you care?” And she said, “I don’t need to be part of a group that is discriminated to call out discrimination. It’s the same thing with black people in the 60’s.” And Jenn is mixed. And she said, “This is putting notice to the homophobia in sports across the board. You cannot treat people like that.”
And I think that, that is really important to think about and to hold close as we wrestle with these competing legacies of building the game but also infusing it with hate.
Jessica: Shireen, will you please get us started on Ozil?
Shireen: Thanks, Jess. After the World Cup we all came to the same conclusion, rightly so, that Germany completely went out in flames, and we know this. And this happens. It happened with Brazil last time; it has happened many times with many great teams. One of the great players of the German National Team is Mesut Ozil. Now, Mesut Ozil is German with a very, very strong Turkish background, meaning he identifies very strongly. He has two identities. He said this in a recent Twitter post. He’s actually said he has two hearts, one is German, and one is Turkish. And as someone who is Canadian-Pakistani woman, I completely understand what that means. There shouldn’t be an issue about identities.
Now, the biggest thing was, very recently, Mesut Ozil announced that he was going to be quitting the German National Team. He made his debut in 2009 with a youth team and has gone on to win the world cup. He’s gone on to win championships. He now plays for Arsenal in the Premier League, but his post was harrowing, and what I wanna say before we really dive into this discussion is this is not a discussion, and I don’t wanna take it in to frame it as if we’re supporting Erdogan, the President of Turkey. We’re completely aware there’s some very problematic issues within Turkish politics: the muffling and incarceration of journalists, lack of free speech. And we’ll post a lot of links in the show notes when we talk about this.
But the crux of this issue that I wanna get at is specifically the idea of racialized identities in being born of immigrant experience and how according to Ozil himself, and there’s a couple pieces that I wanted to highlight what he said that we’ve heard again. We’ve heard from Lilian Thuram; we’ve heard from Romelu Lukaku of Belgium. We’ve heard many French players say this, and I’m just giving you context for this. Ozil wrote in his Twitter post, which was four screen shots was, “I am German when we win, but I am an immigrant when we lose.”
And this is so common within the discussion of people with immigrant experience or first generation that when they are deemed worthy they are collectively loved by society, and we’ve talked about this on this show actually when we talked about race and France, and the World Cup win. But this is something that really needs to be addressed because it’s a constant use of these bodies of these people that will never fully be wherever they have, if they’re born there or if they’re immigrated there. It doesn’t matter, and it’s almost like they’re disposable, and that’s that crux of what I wanna get to in this discussion.
Now, there was a bunch of things that happened specifically with Ozil, just to give people a background. There was a couple of German politicians who really went at him. And what had happened, this whole thing started when he actually met President Erdogan in London at a charity event. And, for those that don’t know, Erdogan used to play football and has always considered himself a footballer and loves it, and they talked it. And the German media then took out the photo, and everything from calling him a goat-fucker, these are actual … Which is a very common slur directed to Muslims.
And it’s so upsetting because this is a man who literally was at a charitable event. Yes, he’s standing with Erdogan, and whatever side of the political thing you stand on, that’s not acceptable? Now, we can also talk about the way that the German politicians, German actual politicians, twisted this to call him everything from a traitor … There’s on specific, a man named Reinhard Grindel, and he had said in the parliament that, quote, “Multi-culturalism is in a reality a myth and a life-long lie.”
So, it’s this idea of if you’re German, you have to be German and nothing else. You cannot have another identity. It’s not acceptable, and you won’t be German. And Mesut Ozil pushed back and sort of like, it doesn’t work like this. So, I think what I wanted to say was I just wanted to quote this last piece, and then we’ll really get into it. He wrote, “The treatment I have received from the DFB,” which is the German National Federation, “and many others makes me no longer want to wear the German National Team shirt. I feel unwanted and think that what I have achieved since my international debut in 2009 has been forgotten. People with racially discriminative backgrounds should not be allowed to work in the largest football federation in the world that has many players from dual-heritage families. Attitudes like theirs simply do not reflect the players they supposedly represent.” End of quote.
And I recommend everyone go out and have a look at this, and then we can jump into it and have a discussion about that, but it was a big shock because Mesut Ozil was basically, in my opinion, used as a target because Germany completely flailed. And if someone wants to be blamed I think it should be Manuel Neuer, but that’s just my personal opinion.
Jessica: Okay. Brenda.
Brenda: Well, now that Ozil’s off of Germany, I have absolutely no reason to ever root for the ever now. So, I’m free. All my hatred towards the German National Team, I always hedged because I love Ozil, so now I get to be like, “Woot, I can full out hate watch Germany.” I just wanted to say that the criticism that’s been launched about his decision to leave the National Team is as disturbing as the reasons and just prove his point exactly.
He has right now done amazing things in Arsenal and other places, and the president of Bayern said that he’s been, quote, “Shit for years.” And then, another, the President of Frankfurt–and this is really tied to this toxic masculinity–the President of Frankfurt said basically, quote, “His blanket charge of racism simply does not correspond to reality.” End of quote.
So, the denial that any racism exists, which we know it does; it’s so documented; it’s so well-founded. To deny that and then to turn around and say, “And since this isn’t real, he needs to be a man.” Is what they keep saying, “He’s a coward; he’s not a man; he’s not a warrior.” So, being a man, to be manly is to accept violent racism at your place of work.
So, it’s all linked that somehow Turkish men aren’t real men; there’s an effeminization of Turkish men in Germany that somehow they’re weakening the national state. So, anyway, the criticism and the fallout after has been disgusting, and has just proven Ozil’s point right and left.
Jessica: Wow. Oh, my goodness. Okay. There was the social media positive response, which was this clever little hashtag called, me two, but that’s T, W, O for people, who second generation immigrants who, in the way that Ozil talked about have multiple identities to back him up and to show that they too face this kind of racism and discrimination and that he is not alone. So, the racism that he’s facing, and all of these other firsthand accounts of the racism that other people have faced that are in a similar position to him have just, like Brenda said, reinforced exactly his point to begin with. Amira?
Amira: Yeah, I was gonna echo that and also say, as Shireen alluded to, when you take Ozil’s words and you put them against words of players on many National Teams, who have expressed similar sentiments, it paints a really stirring picture of what it means to be accepted, what citizenship claims mean and what it means to be a racial or ethnic minority playing at the highest level for your country, whether it’s in the Olympics or World Cup.
And I think that this is something that we’re going to see again. We’ve certainly seen it before. I think as Women’s World Cup rolls around, then of course, the Olympics, we’ll see this, and we’ll see this sentiment over and over and over again, which is that you can play, you can bring glory, and you can get conditional acceptance, but the line is very thin, and I think the other thing to parse out is between the rhetoric and then that there’s been historically times where this has been actually used to make citizenship claims. And there was a Panamanian sprinter, a woman in the 50’s, who literally performed well enough that she was bestowed citizenship where before she didn’t have it because of her birth in the canal zone.
And I think about, Trevor Noah had a piece about this when he got into a tussle with the French ambassador over talking about France as a African victory, the World Cup win. He talked about the story of the immigrant in France who scaled the building to save the cat. Was it a cat? Was it a baby? It’s a cat.
Amira: It was a baby. Cat? He scaled the building to save something.
Brenda: It’s a baby.
Amira: The baby. And Trevor joked, how did that work? Going up he was a immigrant, but once he got the baby and came back down he was a citizen. And it was joke, but also he actually got citizenship. And so there’s actually real citizenship claims that are wrapped up in these ideas about proving yourself worthy of becoming a national of whatever country, and the sports field has been one venue of that, and I think, it actually really throws into question what citizenship means in various countries?
Certainly I’m more versed in the United States, and there’s a lot of conversation about birthright citizenship that’s going on right now. Martha Jones, her new book on this came out, but these contested claims of citizenship and how one can become a citizen is really compelling to me.
Lindsay: Yeah, we’re just seeing this all over the place. There was recently an incident in Russia where a teenager soccer player had his contract canceled by a Russian second division team, Torpedo Moscow, just six days after signing it because the fans of the club didn’t want to have a black player on their team. He was a defender. He was actually born in Russia. This is Erving Botaka-Yobama, but he is of Congolese descent, and so after he signed with Torpedo there was this torrent of hate coming down, including one group, which said, “Black may be one of club’s colors, but we only want whites in our ranks.” And so just six days after he was signed the team rescinded the contract, and they, of course, said that it had nothing to do with racism, but it was a financial decision.
But we all know that … We can all read through the lines there, and so, it’s just disgusting. This is all coming on the heels of the World Cup that went so well, but there’s just so much work to be done in this area. It’s good to have players who are speaking out against it.
Shireen: Just to re-emphasize because this is important, by no means here at Burn it All Down are we not cognizant of the issues within Turkish politics, revolving around sport and revolving around everything else. And just to point this out, Deniz Naki was suspended by the Turkish Football Association after supporting personally the Kurdish fighters but was then accused by the state of propagating terrorism, and criminal charges against him were formally dropped, and then there was an attack on his life.
Now, Turkey is geopolitically in a very, very tough position. It’s got Turkish fighters resisting in Syria, and there’s so many things happening. And we’re very cognizant of this, but the issue with Ozil, because I’ve gotten a lot of messages, and I actually had a good friend, who messaged me, who would like to stay anonymous for their own safety, and sent me a lot of links and has a very different take on the Mesut Ozil situation specifically because of what’s transpiring there. And Erdogan doesn’t have a lot of fans that way, and people that talk about press freedom and personal political expression, freedom of expression are talking about this as well. But the issue that we’re getting at here is on race and identity.
And people can say, Mesut Ozil has also said and been criticized in my opinion, rightly so, that it wasn’t a political move. But when you stand with a leader, it becomes this conundrum of you stand with someone who, yes, is the president of your home country but is also very problematic. So what does that look like? And then all of gets rolled into it, which by no means excuses the racism hit against him.
And just to wrap up Mesut Ozil also quoted two of Miroslav Klose and Lukas Podolski, who are actually Polish-Germans, but they’re not referred to as Polish-Germans; they’re just referred to as German. And I think this is a very important point because I did an interview recently about the issue of racial identity in France and football, and the issue is not about immigration. It’s framed about immigration because all of Europe is so fucking xenophobic so much. But the issue is really about race, and what Lindsay just talked about, the player in Russia, it’s absolutely about race.
Because we let the issue of Polish immigrants go because they’re white; it’s a non-starter. And Mesut Ozil is very fair skinned; he’s white passing. Can you imagine, yes, if he was of Congolese descent. But the thing is …
Amira: And he’s a Muslim, that’s the other …
Shireen: Well, this is, he identifies very strongly, he’s gone for Umrah and has taken pictures outside the Kaaba. Can’t get more Muslim than that. So, I think that there’s so many things that we want to address and realize that it’s really complicated. But what is not complicated is Islamophobia, xenophobia, and racism in football.
Jessica: Up next, Brenda’s interview with Katelyn Best about the NWSL.
Brenda: We’re excited to have with us today Katelyn Best, freelance soccer writer from Portland who covers the Thorns and LGBTQ issues in sport. Welcome to Burn it All Down, Katelyn.
Katelyn: Hey, thanks for having me.
Brenda: So, right now we feel like it’s a really exciting time to talk about women’s soccer. There’s so much that’s been going on, and it just feels like a natural progression from the men’s World Cup to start amping up our excitement for France 2019 and because the NWSL season seems like it’s just gang busters.
Katelyn: Yeah. Absolutely.
Brenda: Yeah, so I’d like to start out just by asking you, how do you think the season’s going?
Katelyn: This is really wild season. If you look back over the last five years. This is, I think the closest the league has ever been, especially by this point in the season. You basically have North Carolina at the top, far and away the best team; they only have one loss on the season. And then, after them at slots two through seven right now, you could potentially still see all those teams as playoff contenders or sneaking in if results fall a certain way, so it’s a really exciting season, and I don’t think anybody really knows what’s gonna happen in these last, what are we at? Six weeks left in the season. So, it’s been really exciting, and it’s a great time to be an NWSL fan.
Brenda: Has there been any team that surprised you in particular?
Katelyn: I would have to say Houston because coming into the season it was pretty much a consensus that their off season had been a complete disaster. Nobody knew what they were doing. There was the whole debacle where they traded for Christen Press and then Christen Press didn’t end up going there, and they made all these trades that didn’t make a lot of sense to anybody.
But then coming into the season I think that Vera Pauw who is a Dutch coach who has experience coaching only on the international level before this. She’s done really well with this team, and you look at their roster and compare it to the other rosters of the other four or five teams that are may in contention for the playoffs, you wouldn’t think on paper that they would be as good as they have been. And they haven’t been great; they’re in sixth place; they’re kind of a middling win/loss record, but I think they have surprised a lot of people in that they’ve been able to get quite a few results. They’ve been able to get results against some good teams. So, that’s, to me, been one of the more interesting stories of the season.
Brenda: And how’s attendance been?
Katelyn: Attendance has, I believe, been down since last year. That’s, I guess, one of the worst stories of the season. I’m in Portland, so my perspective is a little skewed.
Katelyn: I would have to check; I would have to look that up, but in Portland I think it’s been down a little bit over last year but not significantly. But then, I think in Orlando, they have not been doing very well at all. But then you also do have Utah coming in whose been averaging, I think, like 8,000 a game, which is pretty good especially for an expansion team. So, if they could keep that up in years to come that’ll be good.
Brenda: Yeah. As you’re getting toward the end of the season, some developments have happened that you’ve been writing about for the Equalizer, so I wanted to ask you a little bit about that article you wrote about the players association and what’s going on with that.
Katelyn: Well, so I don’t know that there’s been developments on that front, but this is just something that I’ve been thinking about throughout the season. So, basically, the NWSL Players Association officially formed in, I think, May of 2017 or beginning of last season sometime. And they pretty much announced their formation, and there was a little bit of publicity at that time, and then they kind of flew under the radar for a while. So, I was just wondering what’s going on with that.
And so, I checked in with Yael Averbuch, and couple of the other players on the executive board there. And basically, my question was, why is it still the case that this is not an actual union yet? So, basically, now it’s just this group of players. The league recognizes them and deals with them, and has talks with them, but they don’t actually have any legal authority. They can’t bargain collectively on the behalf of their players, which is the legal definition of a union.
Basically the story is that this is intentional; they’re going at this slow pace deliberately because these players all understand that the NWSL is a league that needs to continue to survive, and they all understand that you had WUSA; you had WPS before the NWSL, and both of those leagues failed because it was too expensive, and these teams weren’t profitable essentially.
So, with the players association, they’re not marching into the league office and demanding higher salaries, anything like that. This is basically a group that exists so that they can talk to the league, which as individuals is something that’s very hard for them to do. So, it’s an interesting thing. It’s not, I think, how a lot of people think of labor unions or think of how employees want to relate to their employer in terms of … They really do think of this as a collaboration with the league.
Brenda: And what do you think … Ultimately, what kinds of things do they want to bring to the table? What concerns do they want to bring?
Katelyn: Well, so, ultimately I think they want what everybody wants for women’s soccer, which is for them to make good salaries and have good facilities and be treated like professionals all across the board. It’s funny, every time I ask somebody about specific issues there were some … I don’t know, reticence, but really what I was told a number of times by a number of different players was just, “We wanna be able to talk to the league and know what’s happening, and if something’s going on we’re the first ones that you talk to about that.”
So, you look at a situation like when Boston folded in the off season or when Kansas City relocated. Those are the types of situations where they really just want to be informed about what’s happening, and that’s really been their main concern that everybody told me about when I was reporting on this story.
Brenda: Given what has been going on at clubs like Sky Blue right now, do you think that an association would help a situation like that?
Katelyn: So, basically, a few weeks ago Chicago played at game at Yurcak Field against Sky Blue, and Sam Kerr, who is the Australian star who played the last few seasons at Sky Blue and just moved to Chicago this season. She scored a hat trick, and you watch this game, and I don’t know; It’s one of the more surreal things I’ve ever seen in a soccer game because she scores these goals, and as she’s doing it she just jogs away from the goal kind of hanging her head. And so, even as the game is happening it’s like, what’s happening here? This is not a normal reaction to scoring a goal. And then after the …
Brenda: There was no celebration.
Katelyn: Yeah. It was strange. And then, after the game she talked to Dan Lauletta with Equalizer and basically said, “I hated coming here and doing this. I hated playing against this team, against my former teammates, who I still really care about. And the conditions at Sky Blue were just so bad that I didn’t even want to be here playing this game.” And so, after that people started looking into it.
And there was another article that came out on Equalizer giving the inside scoop on what the conditions are like at Sky Blue, which is bad. The housing situation has been really unstable. You have players sleeping in bunk beds and showing up in New Jersey now sure where they’re supposed to be living and being told they have to move suddenly. And then, I think one of the more shocking things to a lot of people was there’s no showers at the field where they play, and there’s … It’s basically not a professional team. These are standards that you just would not expect to see in a professional league.
So, as all these revelations are coming out the players association, I guess, did get in touch with the league, and they wouldn’t tell me much about exactly what’s been happening there, but I think that basically the players association took the concerns of the Sky Blue players and just took them directly to the league office, which is something that, on their own, those players don’t really have a way of doing. So, that’s one example of a situation where despite not having the legal backing of a union it’s been useful to have this official group that the league recognizes, essentially.
Brenda: Right, and I’ve been reading a lot about salary numbers and how it’s difficult to understand them because the cap is 41,000 right now per year?
Katelyn: That’s the individual maximum salary.
Brenda: That’s the individual, but then when you go through what the budgets actually are for a player to make 41,000 means other players are making 15, 16.
Katelyn: Yeah. I don’t have the total salary cap I front of me, but you’re right; it’s basically …
Brenda: 270 or something. It’s about 270 …
Katelyn: Something like that.
Brenda: Something like that?
Katelyn: So, it basically works out so if you add up all … Their roster rules are complicated, but basically, it works out so if you add up all the players who are actually counted as being under each club’s salary rather than the allocated players, who are paid by the federations. There really can only be a couple of players making more than the league minimum because their chunk that they take bumps everybody else down to the minimum or close to the minimum. So, the salary rules in the NWSL are … I don’t know. It’s sort of byzantine and essentially most people in the league are making somewhere near the minimum is the understanding that we have.
Brenda: Do you remember the minimum?
Katelyn: The minimum is–I actually do have that in front of me– it’s 15,750.
Brenda: Okay. Thank you.
Brenda: That’d be really hard to living in Portland, 15,000.
Katelyn: Yeah, well, I will say that teams provide housing, and depending on the team, there’s a number of … Provide housing; they provide players with cars; they get a certain number of meals on training days or game days, so it’s not like you’re really out here trying to scratch out a living completely on $15,000, but you’re right; it’s not very much money, and it’s not a good living, and it certainly is not fair for what they’re doing as athletes.
Brenda: Yeah, because they’re amazing.
Brenda: So, real quick, I just don’t want to let you go before talking about one of the most pressing issues that has come up in LGBTQ community around the US national women’s team, Hinkle?
Brenda: We’ve covered this a lot on Burn it All Down, so I think our listeners are pretty good with the background on it, but I’d like to get your thoughts about what’s been going on the last week. She got called up; now it looks like called off.
Katelyn: Right, so we’re in an interesting … It’s been a strange couple of weeks. The first thing that happened, I think, two weeks ago was we found out that she was getting called back into the National Team for the … Or into the camp, I should say, for the Tournament of Nations, and, of course, there was an outcry over that, and I was one of the people making that outcry because of the homophobic actions and comments that she’s made in the past. And then, just a week after that we found out that she had been cut from the final 23 player roster along with Kealia Ohai.
And it’s just a really strange turn of events because when she got called in I was very uncomfortable with the notion of her playing for the National Team. And, as I wrote at the time, I have to look ahead at 2019, at the World Cup and if Jaelene Hinkle is on the team can I support that? Do I want the US to win another World Cup if she is on the field?
But on the other hand there is definitely a pure soccer argument made. The consensus is that she is the best left back in the league. And there’s the further complicating thing of the United States is infamously thin on defenders in general but especially on wide defenders to the point where in the Tournament of Nations right now we have Crystal Dunn playing at left back. So, there was a soccer argument to be made for including her in the team. Which, whether you agree with that or not, it’s there I think.
So, then for her to be called into camp for two or three days and then cut was really … I don’t know. It’s a strange turn of events, and I think that the speculation out there, and to me, the only thing that makes sense is that they basically called her in to quell speculation or rumors or whatever that she was being kept out of National Team because of that situation with the Pride Month jerseys. So, it’s a strange situation, and it’s something that I’m continuing to look into.
Brenda: Yeah, we’ve covered it a lot. It’s super complicated. I mean, it’s not complicated that she’s a bigot. That’s not complicated. That’s really basic. But what US Soccer can do, what recourse they can do, I think they could have done a whole lot more. I think there’s a lot more to be done other than keeping her or cutting her from a team.
Brenda: There’s also their statements that they could have made. There’s training that they could do. And so, I guess I was supremely disappointed at the focus being on Jill Ellis and cutting or not cutting. Whereas, I thought, hey, even before that, why is US Soccer not issuing stuff? Why isn’t NWSL issuing stuff? Why are they letting 700 Club on North Carolina grounds?
Katelyn: Yeah, that is a separate issue, and it’s one that I think a lot of NWSL fans and specifically North Carolina fans are pretty upset with the club for allowing them to film at their stadium.
Brenda: Yeah, so I felt like there was so much … All the attention on Yahoo Sports or whatever was about that question. When it’s like, I think in the women’s soccer community there was a whole lot more complicated criticisms too that people like you made at the time. So, it’ll be really interesting. Is there anything you’re looking forward to seeing at the Tournament of Nations? So far, I saw Alex Morgan’s hat trick yesterday.
Katelyn: Yeah, I enjoyed that game. I’m looking forward to … I always like to see Australia play. Sam Kerr scored a great goal against Brazil the other day, so it’s always exciting to see them play. It’ll be good. USA-Australia should be a great game. And yeah, I’m looking forward to the rest of the games for sure.
Brenda: Can you tell our listeners your Twitter handle?
Katelyn: My Twitter handle is @bestkabest B, E, S, T, K, A, B, E, S, T.
Brenda: And we’ll also tag you with this interview, so you can follow Katelyn that way and also at Equalizer. Thank you for being with us today, Katelyn.
Katelyn: Yeah, thanks for having me.
Jessica: Now it’s time for everyone’s favorite segment. We like to call it the Burn Pile, where we pile up all the things we’ve hated this week in sports and set them aflame. I’m gonna go first this time. This week Stanford football star, Bryce Love, did not attend the Pac-12 media day in person but instead Skyped in. And CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd wrote an entire column on it, quote, “Still, there was a hole in the college football universe when the Pac-12’s best player and perhaps nation’s best as well was a no-show at Media Day.”
Here’s the thing though: Love didn’t attend Media Day because he was going to class, because he’s a student, because he had school to attend. Dodd tells us that Love is majoring in human biology with an interest in pediatrics and stem cell research and is trying to graduation by December, which means he has more classes during the summer. The column is dumb in general because it’s a lot about how Dodd doesn’t seem to like technology. He’s very anti Skype, but it’s specifically terrible because he actually writes: I’m gonna quote this, quote, “But his absence does set a dangerous precedent. This is going to give every star player an excuse to Skype in.”
Okay, wow. So, this is one Media Day. The season hasn’t started yet. All of these media people are going to get plenty of access to this player in August and throughout the season. It just really shows that this is all about the spectacle of the sport over and above the actual lives and education of these players, and the NCAA doesn’t even need to do that messaging themselves when there are sports media members like Dodd to carry that ridiculous water for them. So, good on Love for going to class and his dedication to both his education and his football career. And shame on Dodd for this column trying to shame him for it. So, just burn that whole thing. Burn it.
Jessica: Shireen, what are you burning this week?
Shireen: Okay, so bear with me, I’m doing a stretch because it’s not necessarily sports, but it is sports. Okay, so we love Mo Salah, Mohamed Salah of Liverpool. We love him and the Egyptian National Team. He had a photo with Trevor Noah, and everyone’s like, yay, and I tweeted this photo out because I was so excited. In fact, I asked my good friend Sonja Cori Missio to photoshop me in because she photoshopped me into a Law and Order photo; that was amazing.
But what I didn’t know and one of our flame throwers, who’s really amazing, Hillary Haldane, who’s a big supporter, she actually let me know that Trevor Noah made some really super racist comments against indigenous women in New Zealand. And I did not know this because I’m out there unabashedly quoting Trevor Noah on everything from identity in football and everything else. And I didn’t know, and this is a burn because apparently he did this stand-up act and commented about the physicality of indigenous women and how they are not good-looking.
And I did not know this, and I was like, “Okay, can I just categorize him as a problematic fav?” No, because his apology and recognition of that was very much, “I’m just not gonna use that material again; it’s from 2013.” He didn’t come out and say, “I’m stupid. I shouldn’t have said that; it’s untrue.” And so, he really got dragged by women from New Zealand and the Kiwi community that was just like, “This is totally unacceptable.”
Especially being from a marginalized … I mean, god, Trevor Noah grew up in Apartheid, come on. If anyone should be aware of that and also the use of this absolute horrible misogyny and commenting on the physical appearance of women is just totally unacceptable. So, the reason that I’m tying into Mo Salah because it’s not the first time Mo Salah’s been photographed with someone problematic. When he was in Grozny for the World Cup he was seen photographed much against sometimes his own will, but he had to by commitment, with a former Chechen warlord. So, I’m gonna burn Mo Salah being in photos with people that are super problematic, but I’m also gonna burn metaphorically Trevor Noah and this horrible, horrible, horrible commentary that he had because I love the Black Ferns so much.
Jessica: All right, Lindsay.
Lindsay: Yeah, let’s take a little trip to Portland. Let’s add the Portland Trail Blazers; every single one of their NBA home games they have a big segment called the Leupold Hometown Heroes. This is a segment that really, really celebrates military people, people in the Army, the Navy, the Marines, also first responders, or just people in the community who have done something incredibly heroic. These people get free tickets to the game; they get some gift baskets from the Trail Blazers and from Leupold, and they also get recognition in game where Leupold and Stevens in Leupold Home Town Heroes are just splashed all across the arena in Portland. So, yeah, it’s a big deal there.
Well, Leupold and Stevens happens to be a sniper scope manufacturer, who the Democratic Socialists of America in the Portland chapter, found out that they actually have a contract with the Israeli Defense Army. And provider 800 sniper scopes to the Israeli Defense Army, and you can see in photos, in Getty photos images of Leupold snipers being pointed at the Palestinians. So, this is just absolutely absurd, and we need to burn these types of partnerships. The DSA is doing some good activism trying to get people to stop, trying to get this contract to end or for Leupold to end their contract with the Israeli Defense Army, but look it’s just pretty unacceptable, and so I would just like to burn that entire partnership, burn Leupold and Stevens, and burn these wars.
Jessica: All right. Amira, what made you mad this week?
Amira: Yeah. So, back to Media Day. At the last day of Big Ten Football Media Days, Michigan State Spartan coach Mark Dantonio confirmed that Jon Reschke is going to be back on Michigan State’s football roster. If you remember 17 months ago Reschke came to a quote, unquote, mutual decision to leave the team after text surfaces. Now, if you read this people will say, “racially insensitive texts.” But I’m just going to call it racism because they are racist texts, in which he was talking about a member of his football team, and it said, quote, “Honestly don’t know who for sure but probably [redacted teammate] or another shitty fucking nigger with no morals.”
And after this was screen-shotted they came to a mutual decision for him leaving the team. Now 17 months later he is back on the squad. In order to bolster, defend this decision they had two of the captains of the football team who are both black be front and center on Media Day to basically speak for the players and say, “We’ve accepted his apology, and we’re welcoming him back with unity. He has grown.”
But what I particularly want to burn is the narrative that this is setting up, and I think we saw this last week with Hader and the standing ovation he got for returning to the mound after his own problematic Tweets resurfaced. Dantonio at the Media Day said the following, quote, “He paid the ultimate price by being out of football for a year. We’ll see how he comes out of it. This will be a story to watch as we move forward.”
And that rhetoric is what I particularly want to burn: the idea that if you say racist things and then face consequences, the fact that you can build a victim-y return underdog story from coming back from the consequences of your racist or sexist actions is infuriating to me. And the whole way that this is framed is like, look, the black players on his team voted him back, so nobody else can talk anything about his text messages or his questionable character.
Oh, look, everybody’s talking about peace and forgiveness and unity, and he’s paid the ultimate price by not playing football for a year. And so, now this is a story to watch, now we can watch his numbers grow; we can applaud him for coming back from such circumstances, and it takes on the air of somebody returning from a tragedy or a massive injury or unfairly being locked up or something that’s actually terrible and not something of their own damn doing.
So, whatever, I’m over it. Media days, this season has barely started, and the Media Days are already like … I’m just over it all. So, I’m burning it down.
Jessica: All right. Brenda, what are you burning this week?
Brenda: I’m burning Barca, which is not a common burn for me, given that it is the home of Messi, but it’s also the home of Barcelona Femininos, which is a great women’s soccer team in La Liga. And Barca as part of its larger project to have a US soccer presence, and we’ve talked about this on Burn it All Down for about the past year. It’s unclear if they want a sister slash brother club, if they want a franchise. It’s not clear, but they made their intent known that they want to have a presence in US soccer.
And they’re doing a tour of the US on the West coast. And it turns out that at the last minute they decided to add the women’s team, but the men’s team flew first class, and the women’s team flew coach. This got onto social media, and there was some justified anger about the gender gap in terms of resources and things like that. And so, there were people that posted things, like look at this; this is indicative of larger problems of gender inequity in sport.
That seems pretty reasonable, right? No. No. No. That is a bridge too far for Barca because the fact that they would even bother to bring their women’s team was a milestone in soccer history that they deserved credit for. So, the club issued a statement basically saying, “Whoops, we forgot to tell the players not to share photos of themselves on airplanes on social media.”
What is wrong? What?
[crosstalk 01:00:42] like, “Shit, we totally forgot to tell those women to genuflect in front of first class from coach and thank us the entire time and not post it on social media please.”
And then, other part of my burn, last part of my burn, which is totally related is the coach of Barca women’s soccer team, and I admire her very much as a soccer coach, Maria Teixidor, jumped to the defense of the club. Jumped to the defense, saying, “Someday women’s football will be filling stadiums and making the same money and getting the same resources of men, but in the meantime we need to recognize this great thing that Barca’s done. Less cynicism.” Is what she said. As if that just happens by chance, as if people, a patriarchal misogynist sports culture just decides to invest in women’s soccer, or men’s soccer just happenstance.
These sports have been invested in, and there’s a history there, and why would she issue that? What a lack of leadership. Who made her do that? So, I’m furious about this letter because how does Maria think that they even got a women’s team in La Liga? Does she really think it’s just like men woke up one day and figured out that they shouldn’t hate women? So, I just, I wanna … No, it’s like work and effort and protest and talent and all those things of all those women that she is responsible for coaching. So, I wanna just burn the letter, burn Barca’s ridiculousness, and while I hope they have a wonderful tour, I wanna burn the way it’s been done.
Jessica: After all that burning it’s time to celebrate some remarkable women in sports this week with our Bad Ass Woman of the Week segment. First, our honorable mentions:
Fernanda Pinilla, a Chilean National Soccer Team player, who openly declared herself a lesbian, saying, quote, “It’s hard to be a woman in Chile. It’s even hard to be a gay woman in Chile.”
Estudiantes de la Plata, an Argentine women’s soccer team, who won the silver cup, but since the Argentinian Federation didn’t have a trophy available, they celebrated by lifting a brick instead.
Kim Eun-hee, a Korean tennis player who has disclosed being raped by a former coach when she was 10 years old. She is speaking out to raise awareness.
Jenny Boucek, a former Sacramento Kings assistant coach, who was the first woman to be hired as an assistant coach by the Dallas Mavericks. Her official title is: Assistant to the Basketball Staff Special Projects, which is a non-traveling coaching position, which was a specific demand of Boucek’s as she is about to give birth to her first child and did not want to have to travel for the first six months. Dallas hired her knowing this and created this position for her.
The 50 women of WWE Evolution, who will participate in the first all women Pay-Per-View WWE Show on October 28th.
Jawahir JJ Roble, the first black hijab-wearing referee in Europe, who just officiated her first international tournament in Denmark at the Dana Cup.
Ekaterina Karsten of Belarus, who participated in the World Rowing Cup Two in Austria last month, a five time Olympic medalist, including two golds. Karsten in 46 and still competing, regularly placing in the top 10 in global competition. In Austria she came in second with her coxless four crew.
Simone Biles, who won her first competition in two years at the US Classic in Columbus, Ohio this weekend.
The Chicago Sky’s Allie Quigley, who with a score of 29 out of 39 possible points in the final round of the Three-Point Shootout at the WNBA All-Star game repeated as champion from behind the arc.
Okay, after all those honorable mentions, a drum roll please.
Okay. Thank you. That’s the highlight of my week. Our Bad Ass Women of the week are the women of the Rugby World Cup Sevens. 16 teams competed, and the New Zealand Black Ferns were champions. Sarah Goss of the Black Ferns won the Mark of Excellence Award. Her teammate, Michaela Blyde, won both top scorer and AIG Players of the Final. And Anne-Cecile Ciofani of France won Break Out Player of the Tournament.
This was a big moment for women in Rugby Sevens. For the first time the women’s and men’s tournament was held together. Every match was televised, and for the first time all the commentators and referees were all women. There were also some female referees for the men’s matches.
Congratulations to all the women who participated in the Rugby World Cup Sevens; you are all bad asses.
Okay, what’s good y’all? Amira, what’s been good for you?
Amira: Yeah, minor wins. As you know, I’ve been going through a difficult move, but I am currently reporting this in my guest room slash new office, and it is set up, and half my books are unpacked, and the wifi is on in my house, and my printer’s hooked up, and I know where the outlets are, so I’m just calling that a complete win, and I am happy.
Jessica: Outlets are great. Good.
Amira: That is my something that’s … Oh, and Samari’s been at sleep away camp for a week. She has another week, but I will get to see my baby girl again on Saturday.
Jessica: Oh, good. Lindsay, what’s good with you?
Lindsay: This week there are a couple things: first of all the City Open is in town. Washington, DC tennis. So, I will get to go see some tennis, maybe even as soon as I finish reporting this podcast. But I’m not gonna be here for the finals, and that’s okay. Or the quarter finals or the semis really because on Thursday morning I’m leaving to go to my aunt’s cabin in the middle of the woods on a lake in the mountains in North Carolina, where I don’t even think I’ll have cell phone service. And I’m gonna hang out with my aunt and uncle and a couple of my favorite cousins for four days and be just completely disconnected and eat delicious food and lay out by the water. So, I’m really excited for that too.
Jessica: That sounds great. I am genuinely jealous of that. Okay. Brenda, what’s good for you?
Brenda: Well, I think that you suggested this on a what’s good for you, Jessica. Some weeks ago Hannah Gadsby’s Nanette, and so that stuck in my head somehow, and I watched in last night, and it’s gonna take me a few weeks to process it, and I think I need a few weeks to re-watch it to have for sure thoughts and feelings.
But one thing in particular I just really liked. Sometimes when people say something they do it so succinctly and so well, and when she said that straight white men’s misogyny was a mental illness and she talked about that and what that would mean to consider it as such. It was just one of those ideas that–I don’t know–got me thinking. And I love when stuff like that happens. So, I’m super grateful that I watched it. Like I said, I still have a lot to think about it, but that’s what’s good for me is a new, new perspectives, watching creative people like that, that can show me a different way to think about the same stuff.
Jessica: Yes, you’re right. It felt like your brain was expanding while you’re watching it. Shireen, what’s good for you?
Shireen: I got lots of good stuff. I’m very excited today. We’re recording on Sunday morning. I have actually been awarded something called the Naim Malik Community Award by an organization called Salaam Cup, which is a ball hockey league for men in Toronto. It’s a Muslim league. Anyone can join, but it’s super cool, and I’m really, really honored by this, so of course, I’m going to go in this leaf’s nation wearing my Montreal Canadians jersey to accept this award.
Later this week I get to go to Minneapolis. I guest edited a journal by Mizna, which is literary journal of Arab writers. And this particular issue was called, playing the field because it’s a sports edition, and I was so humbled and honored. The team of the journal are all women, and they’re incredible, so I’ll be in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The event is on Thursday night at Subtext Books, 7:00 PM, and I will be wearing the Minnesota United jersey that my friend, Jessica Lopez gifted me, the pride special one, so I’m very, very excited about that.
Jessica: Wow. Congratulations on all of that. That’s very exciting.
Shireen: Thank you.
Jessica: My what’s good … After Shireen said all that great stuff, okay. My what’s good is that last night we watched Paddington Two, and I just wanna say the Paddington movies are beautiful, and they will make your heart happy, and they’re so well done, and they’re sweet and funny, and I’m just here to rep Paddington and Paddington Two, and I really can’t say enough about these cute bear movies, and you guys should watch those if you need an uplift. Okay, that’s what’s good for me.
Shireen: Can I just add on thing really, really quickly? I don’t speak on behalf of my co-hosts because y’all are brilliant and articulate, but I would like to add that what’s good as usual is Burn it All Down. This community, I love y’all very much, and it’s always a what’s good for me, but I just wanted to reiterate and underline and bold it this week because I love you guys a lot.
Amira: And now that my guest room is done you guys can come visit.
Jessica: That would be amazing. Let’s all pile in.
That’s it for this week’s episode. Thank you all for joining us. You can find Burn it All Down on Facebook and Twitter. If you want to subscribe to Burn it All Down you can do so on Apple Podcasts, SoundCloud, Stitcher, Google Play, and Tune-In. For more information about the show and links and transcripts for each episode check out our website burnitalldownpod.com. You can also e-mail us from the site to give us feedback. We love hearing from you. If you enjoyed this week’s show do me a favor and share it with two people in your life whom you think would be interested in Burn it All Down. Also, please rate the show at whichever place you listen to it. The ratings really do help us reach new listeners who need this feminist sports podcast but don’t yet know it exists.
One more thank you to our patrons. We could not do this without you. You can sign up to be a monthly sustaining donor to Burn it All Down at patreon.com/burnitalldown. That’s P, A, T, R, E, O, N dot com slash burnitalldown. So, that’s it for Shireen Ahmed, Amira Rose Davis, Brenda Elsey, and Lindsay Gibbs. I’m Jessica Luther. Until next week.