Episode 66: Ohio State University Bullshit, #UsToo, and Cara Snyder on the Gay Games

This week Brenda, Amira, Shireen and Jessica talk Lebron v. Trump (6:32), get into the disasters that are OSU coaches (17:39), the team discusses #UsToo and the importance of men in the fight against toxic and violent misogyny (29:06). Then Brenda interviews Cara Snyder on the Gay Games (45:00).

The team burns what needs to be burned (56:40) and they lift up the incredible women in sport (58:53). Plus, what’s good in our worlds.

Correction: there are 10,000 athletes, not 1,000, competing in the Gay Games.

For links and a transcript…


“LeBron Shows Trump What Winning Really Looks Like” https://www.thenation.com/article/lebron-shows-trump-winning-really-looks-like/

“Urban Meyer and Zach Smith: A timeline of key events in abuse scandal” http://www.sportingnews.com/us/ncaa-football/news/zach-smith-urban-meyer-timeline-domestic-violence-allegations-ohio-state-florida-courtney-smith-ex-wife/qdgwf1d3j9n41skbguxgqsql0

“Urban Meyer And Zach Smith Are Defending Themselves, Even If Their Answers Don’t Quite Make Sense” https://deadspin.com/urban-meyer-and-zach-smith-are-defending-themselves-eve-1828097766

“‘It Can Happen Even to Guys’: Ohio State Wrestlers Detail Abuse, Saying #UsToo” https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/02/us/politics/ohio-state-wrestlers-abuse-me-too.html

“Gay Games 2018: Everything you need to know about the world’s most inclusive sports event” https://www.pinknews.co.uk/2018/08/03/gay-games-2018-everything-you-need-to-know-about-the-worlds-most-inclusive-sports-event/

“Star Athlete Is Injured in Egg Attack, and Italy Debates ‘a Racism Emergency’” https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/03/world/europe/italy-racism-daisy-osakue.html

“Why Did EA Censor A Lyric About Colin Kaepernick In Madden 19? [Update]” https://deadspin.com/why-did-ea-censor-a-lyric-about-colin-kaepernick-in-mad-1828064120

“Predators’ Austin Watson arrested on domestic assault charge” https://www.sportsnet.ca/hockey/nhl/predators-austin-watson-arrested-domestic-assault-charge/

“Astros’ zero-tolerance policy murky after acquisition of Roberto Osuna” https://www.houstonchronicle.com/sports/columnists/dialcreech/article/Apparently-zero-tolerance-policy-has-a-fluid-13118322.php

“USA Beats Brazil, 4-1, to Claim First Tournament of Nations Title” https://www.ussoccer.com/stories/2018/08/03/02/46/20180802-recap-wnt-beats-brazil-wins-first-tournament-of-nations-title

“FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup France 2018” https://www.fifa.com/u20womensworldcup/

“These buff, badass women are competing in the CrossFit Games so they can be called the ‘Fittest on Earth'” https://www.yahoo.com/lifestyle/buff-badass-women-competing-crossfit-games-can-called-fittest-earth-180612556.html

“Women’s Hockey World Cup: Ireland into final with shootout win over Spain” https://www.bbc.com/sport/hockey/45070086


Shireen: Welcome to this week’s episode of Burn It All Down. It’s the feminist sports podcast you need. On this week’s panel we have Doctor Amira Rose Davis, who is the new head of the digital union of fellow home makeover app workers. She’s in Pennsylvania. Our all around weight lifting bad ass and baker extraordinaire, Jessica Luther, is in Texas. Brenda Elsey, who is our Escape Room expert who also once kicked Sepp Blatter, she’s in New York. And I’m Shireen Ahmed, glass half full, Ahmed. Working on my positivity in Toronto Canada.

Before we begin, I would like to thank our Patreons for their generous support, and would like to remind our new flame throwers about our Patreon campaign. You pledge a certain amount monthly as low as $2 and as high as you want, to become an official Patreon of the podcast. In exchange for your monthly contribution, you get access to special rewards. Like our monthly newsletter and Hot Takes. With the prices of a latte a month, you can get access to extra segments of the podcast, and an opportunity to record on the Burn Pile. Only available to those on our Patreon community. So far, we have been able to solidify funding for proper editing and transcripts, but are hoping to reach our dream of hiring a producer to help us with the show. Burn It All Down is a genuine labor of love and we all believe in this podcast. But having a producer to help us as we grow would be amazing, and we are so grateful for all of your support.

On this week’s show, we will get into what I can only call, the gong show that is the Ohio State University bullshit. We will also talk about #UsToo. And then Brenda has an incredible interview with PHD student, Cara Snyder, about the Gay Games.

But before we get going on that, I wanna hear y’all’s thoughts on LeBron James being amazing at opening schools. And also, let’s talk about how Trump is an ass.

Jessica: Yeah, it’s like the ever-green topic-

Shireen: Yes.

Jessica: Always here for it.

Brenda: I think every time Trump tweets about sports a fairy dies. I think there’s like some like goodness in the world that just like, lights go out.

Jessica: I mean-

Shireen: I just can’t believe this.

Jessica: I know-

Shireen: I just don’t. I don’t know-

Jessica: What do you say to that? Like …

Shireen: “U bum.”

Jessica: “U bum-“

Shireen: And then you-

Jessica: I know I actually looked up that Tweet again. And then for him to say … Trump to Tweet out, “I like Mike.” I mean … I-

Amira: And MJ gave the most MJ response. He literally had his spokesperson go, “I like LJ.” “I like LJ, I support the work, he does great work for his community.” And it’s like, Michael. Like, can you imagine how much cultural capital this man has and how much actual capital he has to be like a icon and then be like silent in the way he has. And he’s moved from Republicans bi-issues to Michael Jordan of the ’90s, but besides from that like one Gatorade commercial he did with Mia Hamm, he’s never like … this is significant for him. And then when you have LeBron out here building schools and being vocal, and Steph being vocal, and Serena being vocal. You see the chasm between like them and MJ and it like literally frustrates me. This whole scenario frustrated me.

Shireen: Well one of the really interesting things I found was that, when we look at how people talk about their mentors in terms of social justice, including Serena, they all mention Muhammad Ali. I’ve never seen anyone mention Michael Jordan, as sort of a mentor.

Jessica: No.

Shireen: I mean athletically, sure. But in terms of all round and that sort of organic athlete, I’ve never actually … Maybe I’ve missed it, but I’ve never heard anyone talk about Michael Jordan. And this is one of the reasons why probably.

Amira: Oh yeah, indeed.

Brenda: Well traditionally he’s a pretty hardcore North Carolina Republican, right?

Amira: Yeah, well he’s I think he’s a hardcore Capitalist who was always scared to offend his brood.

Brenda: Oh yeah, for sure.

Amira: You know and-

Brenda: Yeah.

Amira: And so that’s where you get that famous quote, ’cause that’s when Jesse Helms was running, and everybody wanted him to come out and be like, “Hey Jesse Helms is a little bit of a racist.” And also you know, “Don’t vote for him.” Or like at least do something in North Carolina.

Brenda: But if you can even deny a segregationist-

Amira: Right, exactly. The bar is very low here, and that’s when he famously said, “Will Republicans buy shoes too.” So brand over anything moral or what not. And in the last year, you’ve seen him put out like little small statements here or there, that you’re like, “Oh is he starting to be vocal again?” But it never, it always fizzles out and I think this was another scenario. Like, you have the President of The United States watching two black men on television and questioning their IQ just because it bothers him so much in the middle of the night. Like this is his living in his head. And then he tries to throw in this comparison and if you’re gonna make a statement, then make a statement. Like then say something. Repudiate this. But you know this was like the kind of most basic step he could take. It always leaves me wanting more with him.

Jessica: I just wanted to mention two of my favorite Tweets in response to this. There are lots of athletes who responded very angrily to Trump, but going off the fact that as Amira just said, I mean Trump was once again going off of … Was being racist about black people’s intelligence. Jess Dweck, had this great … She retweeted it and just wrote, “You thought HPB was HIV and looked directly into an eclipse.” And that just made me laugh. And then I really liked DragonFlyJonez. Who wrote , “And there we have it, if you think MJ is better than LeBron, then you’re riding with Trump.” “Thems the rules, glad I’m on the right side of history here.” Appreciated the hell out of that.

Shireen: So many good things to say.

Moving on. Jess can you take us into our first segment please.

Jessica: Yeah so, this is a bit of an intro. I apologize but it’s a complicated long situation. So in late July Zach Smith, he was the wide receivers coach at Ohio State and the Buckeye’s recruiting coordinator. He was fired after he was charged with criminal trespassing, because he dropped off his kids at his ex-wife’s home instead of the agreed upon location. Smith already had received a trespass warning late last year, in late 2017. After his ex-wife Courtney Smith who’s come forward very publicly, told police that neighbors had seen Zach Smith looking through the windows of her house and banging on her door in the middle of the night.

So Smith has been on the staff of the Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer for about a decade. Since Meyer was head coach down at the University of Florida. And in those ensuing years, Smith has repeatedly gotten in trouble for hurting his ex-wife. In 2009 while still an intern, Smith was charged with aggregated battery against her while she was pregnant. According to Brett McMurphy, the reporter who’s done the most extensive work on this case, former Ohio State head coach … Now I just want everyone to listen to this part. Former Ohio State head coach Earle Bruce who is Zach Smith’s grandfather and Urban Meyer’s mentor, asked her to drop the charges in 2009.

Meyer has told reporters that he knew of that incident. He said, “It came back to me that what was reported wasn’t actually what happened.” “And Shelley,” Meyer’s wife, “And I actually both got involved, because of our relationship with that family and advised for counseling and wanted to help as we moved forward.” Then in 2015 Smith was arrested again for felonious assault after he strangled her. At that point Courtney Smith directly contacted Shelley Meyer via text and even sent her pictures of her body showing the after effects of the abuse. McMurphy has posted screenshots of those. Urban Meyer says he didn’t know though. Okay, sure.

At Big Ten Media Days, which happened not long after Smith was fired, Meyer called the 2015 incident, “Nothing.” He’s reversed that though. Since he’s been placed, Urban Meyer’s been placed on paid leave while Ohio State investigates this. He has released a statement where he actually says he did report the 2015 thing up the … that incident up the chain. He also, of course, told us in his statement that he has a mom and a wife and two daughters and, “Those who know me best, know the admiration and respect I have for all women.”

So there’s two wrinkles here that I want to mention. One, in March Meyers signed a contract extension, and it added a requirement in his contract that he immediately report any known violations of Ohio State’s Sexual Misconduct Policy. That the contract list intimate violence and stalking as violations. And two, Zach Smith says … ESPN, for whatever fucking reason, put this guy on SportsCenter in a taped interview. Like you can go watch the abuser, Zach Smith, do this interview but anyway … In that interview he says that, “The Ohio State director, Gene Smith,” so a different Smith, “Also knew about the 2015 allegations.” And it looks like maybe Gene Smith might be the one who’s gonna take the fall for all this.

There will be a rally and support of Urban Meyer at the football stadium on Monday evening. Maybe 20 people will show up, maybe 200. I don’t know, I never really know what to expect from fans in these situations. This feels like a big deal for Meyer to even be on administrative leave. He’s one of the richest and most powerful head football coaches in the country. There was a similar incident at Colorado not that long ago and the coach who protected an abusive assistant coach there didn’t get in any kind of trouble. But it also feels like this is just all lip service as they write out the PR nightmare they found themselves in. I can’t tell if this is any different. What do you guys think after this week of all these revelations?

Amira: Yeah, it’s been ridiculous to see some of this stuff that’s happened. One, as you pointed out too, we see some of the same script that Jess, you write about so eloquently and you talk about a lot. So those, you know some of the same office skating and like apologies that site knowing women or loving women as somehow a thing that prevents you from … Yeah, I just hate-

Jessica: Yeah, it’s the worst. Yeah.

Amira: You know. And so you have some of those kind of factors. I think the thing with Urban has been very interesting because, if you know anything about Urban Meyer, you know he has particular allegations against him in Florida about kind of off the field things that he turned his blind eye to or ignored. Repeated arrests. Certainly stuff with Arron Hernandez. And so Urban, I think has been seen as this untouchable person who also has a kind of history of like being focused on football and not really caring much about what’s going on outside of that. So it, to me, was pretty significant for him to be on leave, because I didn’t expect that. That was not what I expected. But also the disparity here, in terms of people’s reactions, who are wanting there to be all these second chances and, “What they did isn’t this bad.” Or try to downplay what it means to fail to report this or to know and not do anything. When this is the same school, right, who takes action against players for a tattoo. So the disparity here for me is what is on Starke display.

Jessica: Yeah, and I think it’s interesting because these cases are really difficult, right, and they’re all individualized. And this is one of the issues with how we as a society and any particular institution manages an individual case. But in this one, it’s pretty clear that the victim, Courtney Smith, and I just feel like we have to just continue to mention that there is a victim and that the victim is not Ohio State football. That she wanted help and she wanted someone to do something for her. And didn’t receive that help over, an over, an over again. Like this isn’t one of those cases where, and which is so common, right? Because of how we manage gender violence in the society where the victim doesn’t want anyone to do anything, ’cause that will make the situation worse. She clearly wanted someone to step in and had reached out specifically to the Meyer family and to the families of other coaches at Ohio State. Especially in 2015, and no one did anything and when I think about Meyer at any point calling what happened in 2015, nothing. I don’t know. I mean I don’t even know how you … And then to say it was nothing, and to know that she was trying to advocate for herself and then for him to tell us that he admires and respects all women.

Shireen: For me it … This thing just that you both mentioned already, was this whole idea of, well I have a wife and I have daughters. I mean the whole premise that you only need to care about women if you have daughters or a wife is super problematic to begin with. And we’ve seen it, I know we talked about this when John McEnroe was making an absolute ridiculously misogynous statements about Serena. The whole idea of men use women as shields to protect themselves from being accused of misogyny to begin with. And we see so much of this here. Like how can I be a bad person and be sexist, I gave … I provided the sperm that created a daughter. Like, no. It doesn’t work like that. That’s like really all you did. So, I mean, this whole idea of using them as shields is just, it makes me so mad and it doesn’t get at the root of what the issue is. Brenda?

Brenda: I’d just like to point that Urban Meyers stands to make $7.6 million this year, and if I see one more person tweeting out about his reputation and what he is … The scrutiny … Like I see so many Ohio State people kind of pointing out that he’s somehow unfairly under scrutiny. It’s $7.6-million of public money. We’re allowed to scrutinize his behavior. He’s a state employee.

Jessica: Works at a school.

Brenda: It’s un-fucking-believable. It’s tax paying dollars. It’s not even the same kind of job. Not that it would be okay if he worked for Apple. You know, or some sort of large thing … but it’s especially egregious to me. The idea that these people deserve kind of kid gloves around major ethical issues, when they’re receiving public funds from all of us and breaking the law and abusing women. I just can’t handle it.

Amira: What Jess said, I really wanna highlight. Like bold in with like the screaming face emoji. Like Ohio State football is not the victim here. And it’s very telling I think, anytime this happens and unfortunately we have a lot of things to draw on now. Where institutions fail and then people within institutions have made bad decisions and people have been harmed. And what that breeds in comment boards and tweets and messages is this full throated defense of these football programs, or basketball programs that people hold so dear. And they run and take up shields to defend them, and it’s like that is not the victims. If something happens that implicates the team or that has blowback to the team, again, that is a consequence of actions taken to actually harmed a real person.

And that’s … It’s so incredibly frustrating and I always think about what Jess says is like, if you’re cheering this because you don’t like the Ohio State football team, then just wait. Because no institution here is … Power, misogyny, corruption, racism, these are happening across the nation. Some things have come to light, whether it’s Baylor, Penn State, Michigan State. Other places haven’t, but again, this is not about the Ohio State football team.

Shireen: I just wanted to read a tweet by Richard Deitsch and this was on August, 1st, and this stuck with me. And he wrote, it’s a tweet and he wrote, “Something that gets lost today, but the thing I take away most from everything said and written about Urban Meyers today: Courtney Smith is a courageous woman.” “An entire system is set up against her.” And for me that was so poignant because, the system is not a justice system. It’s a legal system. And we know this, we’ve written about this, we talk about this on our work. That this whole idea of a survivor coming forward and talking, the entire system, ranging everything from NFL to NCAA, like to everything. The entire concept is stacked up against women and this is something that I’m really glad was pointed out and that the burden of coming forward always lies on the person who is abused. And it makes me really mad.

Brenda, can you take us into #UsToo?

Brenda: Yes. So over a 100 wrestlers at Ohio State have now come forward to detail sexual abuse they suffered at the hands of Richard Strauss, a doctor at the time from the 1970s to the 1990s. Strauss committed suicide in 2005. And wrapped up in all of this, is the high ranking Republican Jim Jordan. The Ohio congressman, who was assistant wrestling coach between 1987 and 1995. Several wrestlers and staff members say that, that Jordan was told of the abuse and did nothing. Jordan flatly denies the seemingly obvious reality which is that he knew very well and didn’t care enough to bother with it. Three lawsuits have been filed, accusing Ohio State of enabling a sexual predator. In all of this is also the fact that Jim Jordan is up for speaker of the house. That Paul Ryan … A position Paul Ryan will leave vacant soon. And so Jordan has also come out against these wrestlers and said that they have political motives for coming forward with their stories and their suffering, and their pain. And accused them of fabricating this.

There was a New York Time piece on the victims by Catie Edmondson and Marc Tracy and we’ll link it in the show notes, and it’s a pretty sensitive synopsis of the case. And in it they say, “Having built their identities around traditional notions of toughness and stoicism, many are struggling with a new identity.” Here he’s talking about the victims and their masculinity in this sense. But I don’t think the authors do an adequate job of explaining the relationship of the hashtag that’s come out, #UsToo with #MeToo. And I think it deserves a good hard think, I really do.

I question the #UsToo. And wait, we can talk about this, but if men abused by Strauss at Ohio State take inspiration from Nassar’s victims at Michigan State, which they say that they do, why a separate hashtag? They suffered under the same sexist homophobic abusive system as did those women. And we know sexism hurts men, we know its predicated on hating the feminine and ultimately degrading femininity. So is there a need to separate these movements from one another? Is that a sign of denigrating women once again, or are they trying not to monopolize the space of the, Me Too? I don’t have the answer for every case, but I think it’s just worth having a conversation about, so I just wanted to sort of bring that all up.

What do you all think about that?

Jessica: Yeah, I think that’s a really interesting question and one I hadn’t really thought about. I do think there are different issues that male victims of gender violence face and so in some way I think it’s useful that there is a separate but related hashtag. So that you understand that what they’re talking about is related to Me Too. You know when all of this stuff came out … I’m just gonna mention real quick, the idea that it’s these wrestlers that have political motivation for coming forward and not Jim Jordan, who has political motivation for trying to shut them down, I mean that’s a laugh. But anyway, one of the big responses from people supporting Jim Jordan was that these men couldn’t have been abused because they were big, muscular, physically powerful men. That it was not possible for them to face abuse unless they wanted it to happen. That’s like the implication, right? That they could’ve physically stopped this guy that, that’s the only thing that goes into abuse. That there isn’t you know, the power structures around them. The emotional and physical abuse that also goes along side. The gaslighting, all that sort of stuff.

And so you know, you get this with women too, of course. Women don’t fight back hard enough, there for they deserved what happened to them, or they didn’t indicate well enough that they didn’t want it to happen. I mean, that kind of rhetoric is used against women as well when it comes to gender violence. But there was a particular flavor to the dismissal of these accounts that really was wrapped up and our ideas of masculinity that I think Us Too can draw particular attention to, that would get lost I believe in … if it wasn’t separated out. But I do take your point, Brenda, that is interesting to think, why don’t they just feel like they can be a part of the Mee Too Movement. That’s a really good question.

Amira: Yeah. I definitely had the same kind of interpretation as Jess in terms of thinking about male survivors. And I think in the wake of Me Too Movement, there has been an underlining concurrent conversation about how do we grapple with male survivors. And studies have shown that one in six men in the United States for instance, have experienced childhood sexual abuse compared to one in four women. But also those are terrible numbers. And I think Jess point to some really important things about, what does survivorship look like for men. And certainly when you have these kind of other scandals at Penn State, or the Catholic church for instance, you have young boys.

And so there’s kind of perception of what survivorship looks like that doesn’t necessarily align with these muscular wrestlers. And I think that rhetoric around that, that Jess teed up on is really important, because there’s a lot of work that say like Terry Crews has been doing in the wake of Me Too, to say, “Yes, me too.” And you know, size and design all this stuff doesn’t impede your ability to be abused and that’s about power dynamics.

And I think that was really useful, and it also made me reflect on … Shireen, I don’t know if you remember this … There was kind of similar instance in Canada, of a big scandal with a hockey coach who was accused. Gram James, of sexual abuse and pleaded guilty to it, of Sheldon Kennedy and Theoren Fleury, who came forward. And basically the rhetoric around that, I’ve gone back and looked at it, was this kind of but they’re NHL players and they’re hockey players. Like what’s going on here. And essentially Theo Fleury, when he wrote his book, he talked about this and then he went on to help form organizations like, Male Survivor, that focus on this saying, “I’ve been reflecting on this a long time and I want to make the biggest impact on preventing this kind of thing to happen int he future.” And a lot of the work they do is disabusing this notion that you can be athletic, you can be male, you can have muscles, and all this stuff and you still can be victim of sexual abuse.

Shireen: Yeah the Sheldon Kennedy and Theo Fleury situation really changed the way that it’s spoken of up here. Because like you said, NHL, incredible amounts of machismo in that sport, but what happened was they debunked that notion of what a survivor can be. And in this entire rhetoric of … There’s an incredible amount of feminization and de-masculation of survivors. Almost an attempt to belittle them. To sort of this idea that if you’re abused or you’re a survivor it’s ’cause you’re weak, you’re a woman, et cetera, et cetera. So these conversations, #UsToo and the conversations had by Theo Fleury and Sheldon Kennedy are really, really important because what it does is say, listen this is a systemic thing.

This type of abuse is rooted in violence and power and yes it’s rooted in misogyny, and this is really, really problematic and we need to talk about it. And it was incredibly powerful thing to happen, and I think that’s one of the really important pieces here, is when we talk about survivorship. And you know everyone assumes, oh it’s always women and this and young girls and stuff. But it’s so jarring and important for us to understand that it specifically, it can be anyone. So many people are vulnerable to this and we have to talk about it in this way. Jessica?

Jessica: Yeah, I have two last quick points. First, I just want to point out that we started this show by talking about LeBron James and the work that he’s doing in Ohio with school there. And that the rest of the show has been about whatever the hell is going on at Ohio State, which is not that far away. And I keep thinking of those two things, and I just want to point out that this is Ohio State story too. And there’s also an ongoing case against a diving coach at Ohio State. And we have Ohio State football and that these things are never just the … It is always systemic. Like, if anyone looks hard enough they’re gonna find it in all the cracks and crevasses and that should just encourage people to keep asking questions and to keep looking.

Brenda: And I think even to question if Universities are places that can handle these types of activities. Like, have we gotten to a point where we just realize that this is just not … these institutions are not capable of adequately addressing a whole culture of sexual violence. I just, I don’t know. I question a lot and just … I’d just like to say one small thing, I don’t in any way want to … I applaud these men for coming forward and I do know that there’s, specificities involved in the gendered expectations that go into coming forward with sexual abuse. At the same time I guess my only worry or concern with these types of conversations is that there’s not an equivalence made between girls and boys and men and women all the time because, they are different in terms of numbers. And girls and women do suffer it much, much more. And that’s not to like say it’s not important, that it’s not so important, but it is to say that equivalency shouldn’t be made. Because, that’s just not the case.

I remember Michael Kimmel, who’s a really important researcher in masculinity, responding to a New York Times article that was about men as allies. And the New York Times article was written by a historian Stephanie Coontz and she said, “How can we help men, by helping women.” And Kimmel said, “I’d like to suggest that converse is equally true.” “How can we help women by helping men.” And I would like to suggest that’s utter bullshit and just shows that he has no … That many of these people just don’t understand the privilege that so goes into being a man. And so I just wanted to just always be cautious which, again, doesn’t mean Us Too is not awesome. And again, I supper applaud, applaud these really brave and courageous men for what they’re doing. I just wanna say I get a little worried sometimes when allyship just doesn’t seem to go both ways.

Amira: I think that one of the things that I took away from this and … was the kind of way that people were talking about watching the Nassar trial, and having this kind of catapult them. And I think it was also to me a reminder and a testament of the power of survivors speaking out in the way that it can help other people find their voice.

Shireen: Now Brenda interviews Cara Snyder about the Gay Games. Brenda?

Brenda: I’m so excited to have today, Cara Snyder. A PHD student in women’s studies at University of Maryland College Park. She is lucky enough to be in Paris for the Gay Games 2018, and we’re thrilled to talk to her about it today. Welcome to Burn It All Down.

Cara: Thank you so much Brenda. I’m so excited to be here.

Brenda: So, tell me a little bit about the Gay Games.

Cara: Yeah, I’m actually learning about the Gay Games too, so the full name is the Gay Games and Cultural Events. And they are probably the most well-known LGBT amateur sporting competition. There are multiple, this is probably the most well-known. The first iteration of the games took place in San Francisco in 1982. And the objective is to foster pride and to create an avenue at that time, mostly for lesbians and gays, to be welcomed as full human beings both in athletic contexts and society at large.

So the person who founded them, his name is Doctor Thomas Waddell. He was a cisgender, gay, Deck athlete. Olympic Deck athlete and a civil rights activist. And he actually christened the event, the Olympics, but the US Olympic Committee, who I know you all are fans of-

Brenda: No.

Cara: Took the organizers to court and forbade the use of Olympics in the title. So that’s why it’s actually called, the Gay Games. And I raise that point because other groups like, the Police Olympics for instance, have not been taken to court over this Olympic name. But the Gay Games have been. So that’s something we can talk about or not, yeah.

Brenda: Wow. Wow.

Cara: Yeah, it’s so-

Brenda: Okay.

Cara: But like the Olympics they happen every four years. The Gay Games happen every four years, and so far they’ve taken place in the US, and Canada, and Europe, and Australia. But unlike the Olympics, they’re open to anyone. So in terms of the number of participants, they’re actually larger than the Olympics. And this year as you mention, they’re in Paris from August 1st to August 12th and the next iteration of the Gay Games in 2020, will be in Hong Kong.

Brenda: So, is there a winter, summer thing?

Cara: There’s not. There were original thoughts to have an Olympic one for the summer, but that never actually came to fruition. And part of it is because, one of the things I’m excited about despite all my critiques of the Gay Games, they really have been heroic work of finding funding every year, which is a huge struggle. So they have just never been able to … It’s hard enough to put on one every four years, so they have never been able to realize different seasonal games.

Brenda: So that all sounds wonderful, but you say you have some critiques I hear-

Cara: Yeah …

Brenda: So, we’re not afraid of that at Burn It All Down, so what is your-

Cara: I know I’m just fresh off of the-

Brenda: What’s your-

Cara: The opening ceremonies were last night, so I have a lot of critiques after these opening ceremonies. So they’re over a 1,000 athletes competing, which is really exciting. They’re from 91 countries and they’re competing in 36 different sporting events. So that’s major. But, 3,000 of those athletes are from the United States. Another 3,000 are from France. The UK and Germany also had huge delegations. And just from kind of a scan of what things are … the numbers and the people that were there, it seems like 80% of the athletes competing are white cisgender men. Which is pretty disappointing for a competition that purports to be about diversity. So that’s probably my biggest critique. And I’m also here, I was supposed to follow … I was supposed to come with a team, Brazil’s first team of trans men athletes. They’re called the Meninos Bons de Bola. So I was just in Sao Paulo and I was with them for three weeks and then we were supposed to go to Paris together and funding fell through for this team. And I would say that the Gay Games has not done a good job in general in thinking about the T in the LGBT, which is across the board happening in a lot of queer spaces.

Brenda: Where were they looking for funding-

Cara: Yeah, so there was a bunch of different places. There was like the Prefeito of Sao Paulo, there were some-

Brenda: Can you just tell us names-

Cara: Yeah, like the municipality of Sao Paulo. Like some government funders. There were also some like queer leagues and organizations. They had tried a couple different private organizations as well. And this happened to a lot of delegations all on … Like in a note, an article that talks about … Even though whether the Brazil is sending the largest number of athletes it’s ever sent, a lot of athletes that were supposed to go that were promised funding from various sources, did not actually receive the funding when push came to shove.

Brenda: Why do you think that is? Do you think they’re just over extended or … this, the team just-

Cara: I think so when you say that you are about diversity, you need to then restructure things to match that promise. So you can’t just say, we are about diversity, but then you have you know, the majority of your athletes are from western countries that can afford to come to Paris for 10 days, right? So you have to restructure funding so that this is actually possible, so in the case of the Meninos Bons de Bola, they would have needed everything fully funded. None of them has passports. Once they got here they would have needed accommodation and food. It would have really been a major financial undertaking, but I think that the roll organizers of the Gay Games should be to reallocate that funding. So, you know athletes, there shouldn’t be 3,000 competitors from the United States. Some of that funding should be redistributed and it should be used in favor of sending athletes who don’t have the same opportunities.

Brenda: So, tell us a little bit about opening ceremonies.

Cara: So, the opening ceremony, it began with a country procession. So, I guess, this actually happens in the Olympics as well, I think? Each country … Like athletes from each country process in, okay. So that also happened here.

Brenda: How are you not watching the Olympic processions? I feel like this is … You need to come-

Cara: I know-

Brenda: with Burn It All Down and watch this next time. Because we’re super into this. So, okay, there’s … Okay, so there’s a procession, tell us about it-

Cara: Yeah, so there’s a procession. There were two announcers. Everything was happening in French and English. And they called the athletes in by countries, and the United States delegation was so big that they actually had just a delegation from San Francisco. And then they divided the United States by actual, by states. So they had like Alaska, and Hawaii and …

Brenda: Wow.

Cara: But every other place was by country. And I was sitting next to two women who helped organize the procession and so we noticed for instance, Saudi Arabia had a delegation but there was … The athletes weren’t marching with Saudi Arabia and the organizer beside me mentioned that this is because some athletes didn’t want their pictures all over the media. So, there are indeed … So she said … And I was wondering like why are there … Why does it say Saudi Arabia and then there’s no athletes marching after Saudi Arabia. And she said they’re actually five athletes, but they didn’t want to have their picture plastered all over the media. I know that’s a good a question. I wish I did know.

Brenda: Do you know what sports they’re from?

Cara: The person with the microphone asked the sign holder of Saudi Arabia what sport she was competing in and then she kind of embarrassingly said like, “I’m just a volunteer holding the sign.” So, I’ll have to investigate afterwards what sports they’re competing in.

Brenda: And what was the crowd like? What was the crowd-

Cara: The crowd it was really … everybody was really excited when the procession was happening. And then right after the procession … So it was all this wonderful energy and then they had politicians speak. And one of the politicians, I don’t know enough about the political scene of Paris, but apparently one of the politicians … So there’s the Mayor was there, but then there was also this representative from the like larger, they call it … It’s like the Ile de Paris. So there’s like Paris and then there’s like the greater Paris. So there was a representative from the greater Paris and I guess he is part of a conservative right wing party, and he got booed off the stage.

So that was kind of exciting to see happen, but I guess people liked the Mayor. But they were about four different political representatives, and they just kept … they spoke for about an hour and half. It was too much, and they just used the same empty words about like diversity and equality. There was some weird colonial language about like, the French or about fraternité, égalité, liberté, and we should take that message, and we should export it to all the other countries in the world that are here playing sports. So there was some-

Brenda: Like you tried with Haiti, that’s amazing.

Cara: Exactly. Exactly.

Brenda: What a good plan.

Cara: You know how it’s hard to enjoy things when you’re a feminist. You got the killjoy, so it was kinda hard to enjoy a lot of what was happening.

Brenda: So, was there one delegation that like stuck out for cool outfits, like for the Olympic procession?

Cara: Mexico. Mexico. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Mexico-

Brenda: Mexico?

Cara: I actually expected like more people to be dressed up. Most people were just in their athletic clothes. But Mexico did it, they just had all types of like painting and costumes and they looked like they were going to a carnival, so they were really exciting.

Brenda: What kind of costumes did they have? Carnival type costumes or Mardi Gras type things?

Cara: Yeah, I know.

Brenda: It’s gotta be Mexico, right? I mean they’re the fun of every international event.

Cara: They were.

Brenda: It’s ridiculous. And kind of … Does it make you though … I don’t know, have you seen Hannah Gadsby’s comedy?

Cara: I haven’t.

Brenda: So, she is this lesbian comic from Australia and she says this thing that is interesting to me about the identity being really tied to wonderful expression and costumes. She’s like, “But, then it’s just not a place for the quiet gays.”

Cara: I think they’re a lot of quiet gays here actually. Thinks they’re athletes. Maybe she should come to the Gay Games.

Brenda: That’s what my question was, yeah. Is there something fundamentally kind of different about that? In a gay pride parade sort of celebration.

Cara: That’s really interesting. Yeah, maybe I expected it to be more of a gay pride celebration and it didn’t feel like that at all. It was very much like a procession of people in their clothes.

Brenda: So even though your Brazilian team didn’t get to go, the trans men, Meninos, were there other Brazilians there that you were interested in sending?

Cara: Yeah, so there is another team called the Beats Cats they’re from Rio. They’re playing soccer and they are gay men. They were funded by a sauna, a bathhouse. So that’s how they got their funding. But, I think many of the players are wealthy anyway because … You know within the LGBT community, gay men still have a lot of privileges, right? Because, they’re a lot more cisgendered and can navigate the world as men. Like the Beats Cats, a lot of them are doctors and lawyers and that’s just … Trans people are not allowed that same access to wealth and employment. So the Beats Cats, in my understanding, could have funded themselves anyway and yet they were the ones who received funding.

Brenda: So, what other sports are you excited about?

Cara: So, I’m excited about … So Accept This Tea, and again in French it’s probably like accept the tea or something. They are a team of trans women volleyball players and they’re to my knowledge, they’re the only trans-identified team in the competition. I can’t wait. I know. It’s really-

Brenda: The only one.

Cara: Again, kinda disappointing. So, but I can’t wait to cheer for them and they wrote a powerful letter to the organizers of the Gay Games. Taking them to task for not inviting them to speak during the conference portion of the Gay Games, so the first days were conferences. And again, I can share that letter that they wrote.

Brenda: In the notes.

Cara: Yeah. So-

Brenda: That’d be great.

Cara: They had done a lot in like the pre-Gay Games in the organizing and then were subsequently not invited to talk on a panel about trans athletes. So this panel had … You know, about trans athletes and had no trans athletes present, which is really problematic. And they wrote, the wrote a letter on Facebook kinda denouncing that, but I’m excited to see them play. I’m also excited about dance sport. So I’m here for the soccer, but this dance sport, is gonna be really interesting to me because, I do enjoy dancing. I do some salsa dancing in DC, and I’m always, whenever I go out, I’m always kind of just shocked by how heteronormative dance spaces are. Yeah.

Brenda: So dance sport, I mean is this competitive dancing … like dancing off?

Cara: Exactly, think of like, ballroom dancing competition.

Brenda: Or-

Cara: Yeah. But it will be a lot of the-

Brenda: Really?

Cara: Couples with the same sex. So, that will be exciting. Yeah.

Brenda: Well, yeah. Yeah.

Cara: So, we’ll see some queer dancing, which I’m really excited about. Yeah. And even-

Brenda: That sounds amazing. That really sounds amazing.

Cara: I was gonna say-

Brenda: Yeah, go ahead.

Cara: When I teach my students some interesting queering sports, which is one of the reasons why I love the Burn It All Down podcast so much. When I say queering sports, what do I mean by that? When I explain queer to students, I talk about queer as a noun, an adjective, and a verb. So as a noun and an adjective you can think of people who identify as queer or doing things that are non-normative. But when you think of the verb to queer, it’s to make something strange, to make something not normative. So when I think about that for sports, one of the things I love about the Meninos Bons de Bola, or about … It seems like the Gay Games, is that the emphasis is not on winning. They’re thinking about the purpose of sports in a different way other than competition, and by competition by like winning by dominating over another person.

So I’m excited about queering sports in that way. In soccer there’s two categories. One is competitive and one is recreational, for instance. So I’ll be really interested to see what recreational competition looks like versus competitive competition.

Brenda: Yeah, that’s really cool. That’s a really cool idea about what queering sports means. I love that.

Cara: I know!

Brenda: Yeah. I wanna queer everything like that. That’s so great. I just sort of was thinking about that and what would the world look like, if it was like that and so much better.

Cara: Exactly.

Brenda: Wondering then, for all of the sort of people who can’t seem-

Cara: Oh my gosh-

Brenda: To get over gender verification in the Olympics (ah, barf) and all that stuff. So these games, do they have any gender divisions or sexual identification divisions, or is a sport like discus throwing just not gender tagged.

Cara: So, you are allowed to … Unfortunately it is still gender binary, but you can play with which ever gender you choose to identify as.

Brenda: All right, I got it.

Cara: Right, so it’s interesting-

Brenda: So, they do have for men and women?

Cara: I haven’t seen it from the soccer competitions yet, but I notice in the way that they named it, it says men and all genders. But then the women, it’s just exclusively women. So I’m kind of curious to see what that will mean. And I guess that’s not surprising, right? For all the reasons that you talk about all the time on your podcast. Like why is it that women is this kind of like frozen category in sports. Why are people so afraid of … I don’t know. Integrated … But it will be interesting like, do they all have trans women?

Brenda: Right, right. No, I know-

Cara: To play with women. Like what do they mean when they say men and all other genders? Does that mean that … Yeah, so I’ll just have to kind of see what they mean.

Brenda: Like so all of the nine non-binary would go with the men.

Cara: In the case of soccer, it seems like that is the case.

Right, right. Yeah.

Brenda: Interesting. Interesting. That does give one pause, right?

Cara: Yeah.

Brenda: Why would non-identifying go in men? It would be really interesting … I mean we can find somebody about that-

Cara: Right.

Brenda: But it would be just fascinating to figure out why that is.

Well Cara, thank you so much for being on Burn It All Down and we hope you have wonderful time. We’ll be watching your adventures.

Cara: Thank you so much for having me.

Shireen: Now on to our favorite segment, the Burn Pile. Brenda, would you like to go first?

Brenda: Sure. I have a very non-controversial burn, which is, I would like to burn racism.

Jessica: Yay, go ahead.

Brenda: I feel like we’re all okay with that burn. Specifically the uber-talented Italian discus thrower, Daisy Osakue, who is 22 years old. She was born and raised in Turin, Italy, and has experienced an incredibly violent incident. She, last week young men outside of her apartment complex, threw an egg at her that caught her cornea. Really serious and she’s become this symbol, a lightning rod of conversation in Italy about the racism that’s really just … I don’t know, but I keep reading people say, “Oh, it’s becoming more racist.” And it’s like I don’t know Berlusconi, it seems like it’s been real racist for a real long time. So, I’m kinda like, really? Again?

But in any case, what’s clear about this is that Osakue is being manipulated for political use by right wing politicians, who have called her and said, “Oh she said, when I called her, she didn’t think it was a racist attack.” Shit like that. And then Osakue, who actually plays in Tex at University track and field in Texas. And says, no you know I said, I didn’t think Italy was just a racist country. So, it’s unbelievable, there’s this politician called Savini, he has got a record of using black Italian athletes to say that Italy is not racist. He twisted Mario Balotelli’s words in different sorts of context and basically is saying, “Well, this just doesn’t exist, it’s not a problem.”

And this discus thrower, if you read her story … I mean, you don’t need to read a bunch of like stories to know that racism is wrong, but every time you do it’s just like … Jesus. It’s so painful. And so she’s … I encourage you to read this story. We’ll put it in the show notes. She’s such a formidable athlete and now her vision is permanently damaged by this incident by these young men who just don’t care. Who are just awful and violent and her … I know it’s like, okay and her sports career. There’s more than just her sports career. But it’s just a reflection of how inhuman is that racism. So I just want to burn it. I just want to burn that Italian racism and racism everywhere in general.

Group: Burn. Burn. Burn. Burn.

Shireen: Amira?

Amira: Yeah, I want to burn Madden 19 and EA. The ridiculous thing that they did, which is that they took Colin Kaepernick’s name out of a lyric that they used on the game. And apparently it’s the second year in the row that they’ve done this. And so, essentially some people had early access to Madden 19, they were listening to it and realized that in Big Bank, in the song Big Bank there’s a lyric that says, “Feed me to the wolves now I lead the pack and shit.” “You boys all cap, I’m more Colin Kaepernick.” And realized that when that lyric came on the song when it was playing in the background that they scrubbed that line from the song. And so people jumped on and listened to those who had early access, confirmed it and at first EA was like, “We scrubbed random lyrics for time.” “This has nothing to do with Kaepernick.” And then somebody went back to Madden 18 and realized that there was a song last year again, that had another Kaepernick reference. Which was also scrubbed.

And so then what happened, Nessa, Kaepernick’s girlfriend tweeted at it, people who were on the song, they started … Big Sean started tweeting like you know, how ridiculous it was at them directly. Big Sean said, “It’s disappointing and appalling that the NFL and EA Sports took Kaepernick’s name out of my verse on Big Bank from Madden 19 like it was a curse word.” “He’s not a curse, he’s a gift.” “Nobody from my team approved this.” Kaepernick retweeted that and said, “Most love brother, thank you for having my back.” And so when all this happened, then EA released a statement where they said, they called it, “Unfortunate mistake, members of our team misunderstood the fact that while we don’t have the rights to include Kaepernick in the game, this doesn’t effect soundtracks.” “We messed up and the edit shouldn’t of happened.” “We will make it right with a Madden update.” “We meant no disrespect and we apologize.”

So after saying oh, it was random, then they say, no, no, no it was just an unfortunate mistake. On Madden last year, you could play Kaepernick as free agent, now he’s not in the game anymore. And to me this whole kerfuffle just is beyond … I don’t, I don’t even know. But, I think Madden tries to be very life like and scrubbing his name is another form of trying to erase who he is and the symbol that he’s become. The NFL would like to be able to scrub his name but, thankfully that’s not happening. ‘Cause there’s enough people paying attention and seeing how his being blackballed and if you’re trying to defend a case against collusion, having a game partner scrub his name is not exactly helping your case in my opinion. And so I just want to burn down the continued alienation and attempted eraser of Colin Kaepernick buy Madden 19, EA Sports, and by the NFL as well. So burn that down.

Group: Burn. Burn.

Shireen: I’m gonna go next. So this incident happened in June, late June, and like a turkey with my head in the sand … I know its ostrich, but I’m gonna go with turkey. What happened, I had no idea that NHL, the predators … One of their players Austin Watson, was actually arrested for domestic violence, and I had no idea that this had happened. And in fact, just a props to my friend Amina Mohammad, who told me this and she said, “You know I know you’re super busy with the World Cup but, you know this thing happened.” And when I Googled it, I had to go down to two pages to find anything about it, and this was about five days ago. And I was annoyed at that … I was annoyed at that because I had no idea.

It didn’t get very much press. I found one article on Sportsnet about it. And the issue with the Sportsnet’s article was at the time, it mentioned you know this is on June 20th, that Tennessee police have arrested him for a charge of domestic assault. But it’s a very short article, because there was not a lot of information at the time. But the latter part of the article goes on to talk about how he’s a first strong draft pick, and how many goals he’d scored with the Predators. And I … I mean this is, par for course … a sports writer’s attempt to report on domestic violence and it’s so upsetting a, that I had to search so long and hard to find it.

And just a quick update. Watson has actually pleaded, he went before a judge and pleaded, no contest. And what the NHL did in addition to releasing an absolutely stupid statement, was that … So Watson pleaded, no contest, and what that actually means is if he abides by the terms set out, which is three months’ probation, his case will actually be expunged and erased from his record. So that’s basically it. That’s basically what’s gonna happen in the NHL and both the Predators said something to the effect of, the NHL released a statement saying that following today’s events national, we’ve notified the club and that we’ll be initiating an investigation. But basically we can’t say anything about it and we view it seriously, but we will refrain from making any comments until the investigation is complete.

And that was something they released in June as well. So very, very weak comments on it, and the Preds did the same thing. You know, we can’t talk about it, so basically no one’s talking about it until their “investigation” is done. But that is not leading anywhere because he’s spending no con … He’s pleaded no contest and now nothing. Nothing comes of it. And this is a continuation. I’m also just really frustrated that, I as a sports writer, had no idea, because I had to dig to find it. Had I not been notified, I wouldn’t have known at all and I want to burn all of that.

Group: Burn. Burn.

Shireen: Jess.

Jessica: Yeah, so early last week the Houston Astros, the current World Series champs announced that they were trading Ken Giles, David Paulino, and Hector Perez to the Toronto, Blue Jays in exchange for Roberto Osuna. Now, Shireen talked about Osuna in episode 54, so over 10 weeks ago right after he was arrested for assault and put on administrative leave by the MLB for a possible violation of their domestic violence policy. He hasn’t played since because, in June, the MLB handed down a 75 game unpaid suspension. Retroactive to that initial suspension in may for, “Violating Major League Baseball’s joint domestic violence, sexual assault, and child abuse policy.” That suspension ended this weekend. Perfect timing for the Astros.

In acquiring Osuna at the tail end of his suspension, the general manager for the Astros, Jeff Luhnow, had to explain how a clubhouse with a … Get this, zero tolerance policy for gender violence, acquired this player. So when asked about it, Luhnow said … And this is a long quote, but you guys should hear the whole thing. “We don’t condone or support this sort of behavior from our players.” “Having said that, Roberto did this as he was a member of another team and he has been appropriately punished and paid the penalty for the situation by Major League Baseball.” “In complying with their policies, and he has taken subsequent steps with trying to seek help and improve his outlook and his life.” “Quite frankly, I believe you can have a zero tolerance policy and also have an opportunity to give people second chances when they have made mistakes in the past in other organizations.” “That’s kind of put two things together.”

If you’re currently asking, “What the fuck?” You’re not alone. So, I just … Zero tolerance apparently only applies on the Astros while you’re currently on the team. And if you believe that even that is true after all of this, well … good luck to you. So, not only is this decision and it’s reasoning an insult to victims of domestic abuse and specifically to the woman that Osuna has been charged with assaulting. Criminal case is still pending. But to all of our intellects. The Astros want to win, and they must think Osuna will help them. There’s no reason to pretend this is anything else, so save the excuse making when it comes to why you violated your own zero tolerance policy. So this week I’m burning this trade, this decision, and this shitty reasoning for all of it.

Group: Burn. Burn. Burn. Burn.

Shireen: After all that epic burning, we move on to shouting out some incredible people. For bad ass women of the week. First of all, all the team at Burn it all Down would like to shout out a big get well soon to Annie Wickett, who plays with the Washington Spirit Reserves. She suffered a stroke. We will actually be linking a link to her GoFundMe campaign towards her recovery. Also want to give an honorable mention to the US Women’s National Soccer Team, who won the Tournament of Nations, an incredibly exciting tournament which is just a little bit of a precursor to the upcoming Women’s World Cup 2019 next year.

Want to shout out good luck to everyone participating in the FIFA Women’s Under 20 World Cup, which starts today and we’re recording Sunday morning in France. It’s gonna be amazing. Teams everywhere from Korea, Japan, Ghana are there, it’s gonna be incredible. And if you look really hard you can probably find it somewhere on Livestream. Somewhere tucked away on Reddit. Congratulations to all 280 girls who took part in the all-girls Baseball for All Nationals Tournament this past weekend. This weekend was also the CrossFit Games, which is in its 11th year and which determines the fittest on earth. The competition will end after we record this episode, but we wanted to give a shout out to everyone who competed and to the competition itself. Which is always awarded equal prize money to its male and female competitors. Also, today is the final of the Women’s Field Hockey World Cup. It’s Ireland versus the Netherlands, with Ireland ranked 16 in the world, lowest in the competition and with the team primarily made up of armatures. Which meant they had to fund their own way. Congratulations all around.

Now can I get a drum roll please. This just sounds like some messed up beatboxing, is what this sounds like.

Brenda: I thought I was okay. I thought that was one of our better ones.

Shireen: Congratulations to Corey Bostick, a 20-year-old junior broadcast journalism major. And she’s the first ever female drum major of the Florida ANM University Marching 100, congratulations.

Group: Yay! Yay! Woo hoo!

Shireen: Now what’s good, Amira?

Amira: Oh the Red Sox. They are making my summer really wonderful. 8.5 games up on the Yankees and they’re going for the sweep tonight, having already won this series, including a 15 to 7 absolute thumping two days ago. This is the biggest lead they’ve had in division since September, of 2013 and their current record 78 and 34 is also the most wins that they’ve had in their first 110 or so ever. And so, they are on a roll, they’ve won seven of eight, 22 of the last 27, and basically 17 out of 20 at home. Their home record is like 41 to 15.

So it’s been especially fun watching it. You know I am absolutely obsessed with Mookie Betts and he’s having extraordinary year in contention for the AL and MVP and it’s just a lot of fun watching him and J. D. Martinez and Alex Cora manage this team in his first season over here. And it’s just been a rock rolling time and you know I love watching the Yankees lose almost as much as I like watching the Red Sox win, so it’s been a good weekend. And that’s what I will be doing tonight. My daughter is home from sleep away camp so I’m going to bribe her to watch baseball with me and hear all her camp stories while watching the rivalry renewed.

Shireen: Awesome. Brenda.

Brenda: Well, I like the Mets. So there’s nothing good about baseball for me. And I also like Michael Bennett, and so I just want to say, did you all see the Immigrants Made America Great hat this week?

Jessica: No.

Shireen: Yeah, he’s awesome.

Brenda: I know, he wore it at training camp and it was so awesome and I just love seeing the athletes right now who are supporting one another. Particularly black athletes, obviously. White athletes are failing a bit at this fashion political statement game right now and I think they really need to step it up in terms of what they’re sporting. Ha-ha, get it? But yeah, Michael Bennett and … You know look, black community, immigrant community so often pitted against each other by the far right. I think it’s super meaningful to see Michael Bennett coming out to support immigrant rights, so that’s what’s good in my world.

Shireen: Beautiful. I just came back from Minneapolis and I wanted to shout out team at Mizna, the literary art journal. This particular journal release was on sports. Minneapolis wowed me, it’s not only the land of Prince, so it’s like blessed and magical, it was actually really beautiful. My friend Lana Barkawi, who’s executive creative director of the organization, took me to this park called Minnehaha. And it’s an Ojibwe term which means, of many waters, and it was just really, really beautiful. Never mind I couldn’t find WNBA gear and I tweeted Lynx, because I was really pissed off about that. I’m actively going to seek it because, The Lynx, hello? Their amazing.

I was in a city that’s so full of sport, like the Timberwolves, Minnesota United, they’ve got The Wild, WNBA, like The Twins. It was also a city very rich in art culture and I really, really, really respect that and I think it’s wonderful and they often intertwine. And I love that too, I love a place that can recognize all the power that the people have through sport, through art, and it was really, really wonderful.

Another quick thing and I’m going to humbly ask, I’ve been nominated as this woman of the year award by this organization in Toronto called, Max Gala, Muslims in Excellence. And I’m gonna be asking for votes, ’cause it’s a vote thing. So I’ve decided to become really competitive about it and win so I can talk about actually the fact that previous to this, there’s been a lot of criticism about anti blackness in there. Like the lack of inclusion of black Muslims in this and how it’s slightly elitist. So I want that mic, which means I need to win this award to get that mic to talk about that when I win, Inshallah.

So I’m gonna ask for all your votes. I’ve been tweeting about it and I will continue to tweet about it. So that’s what’s good for me.

Brenda: I want a sticker that says I voted, please. I voted. So I think those like … I’m waiting for my I voted for Shireen sticker.

Shireen: Oh, you’re so sweet.

Amira: Speaking of competitive things, can we make a show note?

Brenda: She can’t let it go. Amira’s not gonna let this go.

Amira: I’m not.

Shireen: Go ahead.

Amira: Shireen, can you also acknowledge that I am absolutely dominate in Escape Room?

Shireen: I saw that, I saw that in the convo and I do, I … My apologies.

Brenda: I knew it was coming.

Shireen: In my intro I said that Brenda was the Escape Room master. But I would like to correct this, Brenda I’m sorry, I’m gonna take this trophy away from you.

Brenda: I’m gonna tell you that’s some bullshit right now, because that’s gonna have to be a head-to-head competition. Okay? Like-

Amira: Oh yes, sounds like a plan.

Brenda: You can’t just take it away, without a fair play game here.

Amira: Okay, name the Escape Room and I am so there.

Brenda: Okay.

Amira: But I do at least want to share it, because I have literally conquered Escape Rooms across multiple scenes. Like it’s my thing to do.

Jessica: Okay. Okay. Did you buy yourself a trophy Amira?

Amira: No, I wanted … You know what Jess …

Brenda: I’m not above it.

Shireen: Okay.

Amira: Exactly.

Shireen: I’m just popping popcorn over here and I love you all, but in the … I’m just sort of like, okay, I’m so focused on winning my own competition. Brenda I love you, but I’m gonna give this to Amira this time, and I will-

Amira: Or we can all meet up and do a Escape Room together.

Brenda: I just wanted Amira that, that trophy is meaningless. That she’s … You can give her the trophy but it’s meaningless unless there’s an actual competition between-

Amira: Okay, listen.

Shireen: I don’t let Amira bully me, she’s a Bruins fan, I will never let Amira bully me into something. But I do recognize, I want to recognize and I appreciate her. So, mea culpa for me, could I rephrase and say, both are extraordinary Escape Room folks and I love you both very much. And I would … You know what I’ll do, I’ll put my money on Jess though she’s a silent assassin, I feel like sitting over there. I feel like there’s something about Jess.

Jessica: I’ve never done one.

Amira: Oh!

Brenda: Look out world.

Amira: Next time I’m Texas I’m taking you.

Shireen: You know what Jess, I don’t believe you. I feel like you’re an out-of-state champion quietly and you run your game and you’re gonna like give us a smack down when we all get together. But yeah, this is beautiful. I love you both and you’re both exquisitely talented. Vote for me, vote for me, vote for me. Okay. Jess.

Jessica: Wow, well that was what’s good in my week. That conversation right there. I would like to mention, I don’t follow major league soccer really at all, but when I was at Atlanta recently, I went to the Atlanta United game and got to see Josef Martinez, a Venezuelan soccer player score his sixth hat trick. He’s only been in the MLS for two years and he is on a tear this season, and will easily beat the scoring goal. There’s a scoring record for the season. Like I think he’s at 25 and the record is 27 in a season and they just had their All-Star break. So yeah, it’s plenty of time to just destroy it and that has just been really, really fun. And the other thing is, after we finish recording today, I am off to take a donut making class. Aaron and I are doing this to celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary, and if you’re calculating, that means we got married when we were 14. I’m very excited, we’re gonna learn to do churros, beignets, and do a cream filled donut and I’m just really excited about that. So, that’s what’s good.

Shireen: Amazing.

So that’s it for this week, in what we’ll call the Escape Room hunger games and Burn It All Down. Burn It All Down lives on SoundCloud but can be found on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play, and Tune It. We appreciate your reviews and feedback. So please subscribe and rate to let us know what we did well and how we can improve. Your views mean so much to us and actually boost our listenership. You can find us on Facebook @ Burn It All Down, on Twitter @BurnItAllDownPod or Instagram at @burnitalldownpod. Or you can email us at burnitalldownpod@gmail.com, where we will reply in a timely manner. Check out our website www.burnitalldownpod.com, where you will find previous episodes, transcripts, guest list, and a link to our Patreon. We would appreciate you subscribing, sharing, and rating our show, which helps us to do the work we love to do. And keep burning what needs to be burned. On behalf of Amira, Jessica, Brenda, I’m Shireen, thank you so much for being here this week.

Shelby Weldon