Episode 67: WNBA travel woes, interview with Brenda Tracy, and salvaging the NCAA (or not)
This week, Brenda, Jessica, Lindsay, and Shireen share some back-to-school memories (6:40), talk WNBA travel troubles and upcoming contract negotiations (19:19), Jessica interviews sexual assault survivor and advocate Brenda Tracy (32:47), and the panel has an in-depth discussion about whether there is any salvaging the NCAA or hope in alternatives (49:11). They also burn some infuriating events in sports (1:00:12), celebrate some remarkable achievements of bad ass women (1:02:21), and talk about what is good in their worlds (1:07:35).
For links and a transcript…
Episode 67: WNBA travel woes, interview with Brenda Tracy, and salvaging the NCAA (or not)
This week, Brenda, Jessica, Lindsay, and Shireen share some back-to-school memories (6:40), talk WNBA travel troubles and upcoming contract negotiations (19:19), Jessica interviews sexual assault survivor and advocate Brenda Tracy (32:47), and the panel has an in-depth discussion about whether there is any salvaging the NCAA or hope in alternatives (49:11). They also burn some infuriating events in sports (1:00:12), celebrate some remarkable achievements of bad ass women (1:02:21), and talk about what is good in their worlds (1:07:35).
For links and a transcript…
“Las Vegas forfeits WNBA game canceled over travel delays” https://apnews.com/0b8fde75f225467eb8f06bbdc7e47c56/Las-Vegas-forfeits-WNBA-game-canceled-over-travel-delays
“Will Aces’ controversial decision effect change or be costly?” http://www.espn.com/espnw/sports/article/24307823/will-las-vegas-aces-controversial-decision-not-play-travel-woes-effect-change-costly
“Understanding Complexity And Significance Of WNBA’s CBA” https://www.wnbainsidr.com/insidr/understanding-complexity-and-significance-of-wnbas-cba
“‘Really Bold Move’: W.N.B.A. Union Praises Aces’ Boycott After 25-Hour Trip” https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/05/sports/wnba-las-vegas-aces-boycott.html
“WNBA legend Sue Bird sees the real power of the Las Vegas Aces decision to forfeit” https://www.sbnation.com/wnba/2018/8/10/17672034/sue-bird-aces-travel-forfeit-wnba
History of men traveling first class and women not:
“Here Come The Sexual Politics: Male Olympic Athletes Fly First Class, Women Fly Coach” https://www.cbsnews.com/news/fans-outraged-as-fc-barcelona-puts-womens-soccer-team-in-coach-while-men-fly-upfront/
“Fans outraged as FC Barcelona puts women’s soccer team in coach while men fly upfront” https://www.forbes.com/sites/johnclarke/2012/07/20/here-come-the-sexual-politics-male-olympic-athletes-fly-first-class-women-fly-coach/
“The NCAA Adopts Some New College Basketball Regulations, None Of Which Are “Paying The Players”” https://deadspin.com/the-ncaa-adopts-some-new-college-basketball-regulations-1828198642
“Brian Bowen Joins Australian NBL Via Program Designed To Compete With The NCAA” https://deadspin.com/brian-bowen-joins-australian-nbl-via-program-designed-t-1828174085
“College athletes need an alternative to the NCAA” http://www.columbiachronicle.com/metro/article_a3d4e4e8-a576-11e7-9ce2-875e7145999a.html
“LaVar Ball’s Idea for an NCAA-Alternative League is Good” https://sports.vice.com/en_us/article/qvwbbw/lavar-balls-idea-for-an-ncaa-alternative-league-is-good
“Is the NCAA Obsolete?” https://www.ucf.edu/pegasus/is-the-ncaa-obsolete/
“The inside story of a toxic culture at Maryland football” http://www.espn.com/college-football/story/_/id/24342005/maryland-terrapins-football-culture-toxic-coach-dj-durkin
“An open letter to ESPN (and to some extent, KFC) from Erica Vanstone and the WFTDA” https://wftda.com/an-open-letter-to-espn-and-to-some-extent-kfc-from-erica-vanstone-and-the-wftda/
“Mount St. Joseph’s Lauren Hill to be inducted into Ohio Basketball Hall of Fame” https://www.cincinnati.com/story/sports/2018/08/07/mount-st-josephs-lauren-hill-inducted-into-ohio-basketball-hof/929916002/
“Para Ana Guevara, la niñez y juventud es su primer objetivo” https://www.elsoldemexico.com.mx/deportes/para-ana-guevara-la-ninez-y-juventud-es-su-primer-objetivo-1988765.html
Brenda: Hello, and welcome to Burn It all Down, the feminist sports podcast you need. On this week’s panel, we have Shireen Ahmed, freelance sportswriter, activist, and the last optimist in the north in Prince Edward Island, the brilliant Lindsay Gibbs, sportswriter at Think Progress, Jessica Luther, independent writer and author of Unsportsmanlike Conduct: College Football and the Politics of Rape in Austin, Texas, and I’m Brenda Elsey, associate professor of history at Hofstra in New York.
On this show we’ll talk about the recent troubles in the WNBA, the upcoming contract negotiations. Jessica interviews Brenda Tracy, a sexual assault survivor and advocate about gender violence in sports, Ohio State, and Tracy’s new non-profit Set the Expectation, and why she focuses so much of her messaging on male athletes.
Finally, we’ll try to brainstorm on the NCAA. Should we blow it up entirely, run for our lives, or is there something worth salvaging? We’ll also burn the things that need to be burned and celebrate some badass women.
Before all that, I’d like to take a moment to shout out our wonderful Patreons who support this podcast. This is truly a labor of love, and we couldn’t do it without you. If you aren’t part of the Patreon community, please consider joining. An exchange for a monthly contribution, starting at just two dollars, you can access extra segments, newsletters and other content. We’re so grateful for your support.
For me, August is a funky month. Someone told me once that being a teacher is like being a perpetual fourth grader who doesn’t want the summer to end. I feel just like that. I try to meditate a bit on the things I love about going back to school, and I wanted to ask you all if you have any memories, warm, fuzzy memories from going back to school, or was it all treacherous, horrible, summer’s over?
Shireen: I loved school. I loved going back. I was usually bored by August. In Canada, in most places, we actually go back after Labor Day. We finish end of June. Ontario has amazing peaches in August, so for me, August is just lovely. I eat peaches and I look forward to school. I didn’t really always get new clothing. I love stationary, and I love school supplies, and I love pens. I probably have about a thousand pens in my house and maybe 500 in my glove compartment. I don’t know why, but it makes me happy to acquire stationary that I don’t need.
Brenda: I also love school supplies. I never got the Trapper Keepers that I wanted. They were always super expensive, the giant one with 12 different folders.
Linds, do you have something that you liked?
Lindsay: Yeah, I just remember my grandmother would always take me back to school shopping and spoil me. That was my favorite thing ever was to spend that time with her. She just was this type of southern woman who just was like, “You have to have all of these things.” It was just ridiculous. She just thought I had to have the most up-to-date Lisa Frank, and that was really cool, because I loved my parents, but they weren’t really attuned to any of that stuff. They had no emotions when it came to school supplies. They weren’t really that invested in the back-to-school process, so getting to spend that time with my grandmother. She would usually take me to Toys R Us and buy me a new Barbie right after we did our shopping, so that was great.
Brenda: Nice. Wow.
Jessica: I’m the same as Shireen in how much I love pens, except I love one single pen, and this is well-known in my family. If Aaron borrows my pen, he knows that he has to give it right back. Yesterday we left the coffee shop, and I got very nervous that I’d left my pen, and it was in his pocket. It was a big moment.
But I remember, this will surprise no one that knows me, but I can remember, I don’t know if they do this anymore. We had to put book covers on our textbooks, and I can remember picking those out ’cause I’m a meticulous perfectionist, absolutely loved the meditation of putting the book cover exactly correctly on the book. But I also loved Lisa Frank a whole lot. That was one of those things that I thought about when thinking about going back to school, Lisa Frank stickers.
Brenda: I don’t know those.
Shireen: I don’t know those either. I have no idea what Lisa Frank stickers are. I don’t know.
Brenda: Do you think this is an age gap? I feel like this may be generational.
Shireen: I can’t even process this. I thought it was an American versus Canadian, so I’m really glad, Brenda, that you don’t know what they’re talking about either. I was like, “What is … Who is ..?” I thought Lisa Frank was some journalist I didn’t know of that you guys revered or something.
Brenda: Unless it’s a white Protestant thing, I’m going to go for the fact that this is generational maybe.
Lindsay: Lisa Frank?
Brenda: I have no idea what you’re talking about. Sounds to me like-
Lindsay: Jess, who are these people?
Jessica: I don’t-
Lindsay: What is happening? My jaw is on the ground.
Brenda: I feel like it’s like that Ashley something line of clothing with flowers. That’s what Lisa Frank-
Jessica: I don’t know y’all. Lisa Frank is like this trippy, the images are big and bold and there’s a lot of pink involved and-
Lindsay: Neon colors.
Jessica: Neon. It’s real aesthetic that is huge. I still think Lisa Frank is a thing.
Lindsay: All of our Patreons listening need to tweet Shireen and Brenda, A, your extreme disappointment in their just general knowledge but also your favorite Lisa Frank image and I will do the same when we are done recording. We can’t fix much friends, but we can fix this.
Shireen: Can I just defend my and Brenda’s honor and integrity and say that, for my part, I had the best collection of fuzzy animal stickers in the Atlantic coast. So I’m just gonna hold to my fuzzy animal stickers.
Brenda: I’m just gonna say I just cared about the academic work, okay? Whatever you, with your stickers, alright?
Lindsay: Okay, Professor.
Brenda: I’m just-
Shireen: I love you, Brenda Elsey. You just went there.
Brenda: I need some defense mechanism. I love stickers. I love stickers.
Alright, moving on. Jessica, can you tell us a little bit about the first forfeit in WNBA history this week?
Jessica: Yeah so earlier this month, on Friday, August 3rd, the Las Vegas Aces didn’t show up for their game in DC against the Washington Mystics. This is the first time ever in WNBA history that this had happened. The Aces had spent most of the previous 36 hours in airports and on planes in a travel nightmare scenario. It all unfolded on social media if you wanna go back and look at the tweets of the Aces players. So they arrived at the airport in Vegas for their 1:13 PM take off a day before the game and they didn’t arrive in DC until 3:30 PM the next day, mere hours before the game.
Citing their lack of sleep and proper nutrition and fear for players’ health and safety, the Aces announced about an hour before tip-off, that they would not play. The Mystics, who already had some fans in the stands at this point, refunded all the tickets and promised free tickets to everyone for another game. Travel woes are not new to WNBA players. They’ll all tell you about them if you ask. In part because teams are not allowed to do charter planes, because some teams can’t afford them, so it would give an unfair advantage to those that can, the Aces were told they could charter but by the time they were told that, it was too late to actually get one.
The WNBA decided that this is a forfeit which is no small thing especially at this point in the season. The Aces are just out of reach for the playoffs, but they were the ones who chose to miss the game. And there’s no time to reschedule because this is a shorter, tighter season than normal since the FIFA World Cup is in late September. Most teams are playing every other day between now and the end of the season and playoffs start almost immediately once the regular season ends.
So, the collective bargaining agreement, or the CBA, between the league and the players is a hot top right now and it all really came to a head around this forfeit. Because, if either the players or the league is going to opt out of the current version of the CBA, they have to say so by the end of October setting up negotiations and possibly a strike, something Diana Taurasi has suggested is a possibility. And as we have discussed on here before, players are being very vocal right now about wanting a bigger share of revenue and now you can add on player health and safety especially around travel.
I honestly don’t know what the Aces should have done. It feels like the players were in a lose/lose situation here. Did they owe it to the Mystics and fans of the game to play no matter what? As someone who only has an opportunity maybe once or twice a season to see a WNBA game, I certainly sympathize for fans who missed that chance when the Aces canceled, but can we really criticize them for prioritizing their health? And, is this at the feet of the players or the league? What do you guys think?
Brenda: Linds, what do you think?
Lindsay: This is really tough. As most of you know, I do Mystics beat reporting for High Post Hoops. I actually was out of town last weekend so I was not here for this entire incident but I was following it intently on social media. And I think that one of the biggest things to take in here is that, while every single team has had extremely bad travel circumstances this year, as Jessica mentioned, this season is three weeks shorter than normal seasons which is just, that’s a dramatic shortening of the season. So every single team has had these woes and I think that counting this officially as a forfeit was the only thing that the WNBA could have done. There was no time to reschedule. To have the Mystics lose a home game right now, one that wasn’t impacted by scheduling on their part, when they have gone on to the West Coast and played many back to backs and had many horrendous traveling circumstances on the West Coast themselves, would have just been completely unfair.
But I don’t blame the Aces at all. I actually think that what they have done, while I agree that they should be punished, I think the Las Vegas Aces organization should have to pay some money to the Mystics organization ’cause the Mystics organization opened up their house and that costs a lot of money to open up the arena and to refund all these tickets. This will end up being a big financial cost to the Mystics. So I think that they should be punished by the league because you just can’t set this precedent, that you can do it. But I think that what they did for the bigger picture is gonna be really useful.
I talked with Elena Delle Donne and Mo Currie, two very outspoken and veteran Mystics players on Thursday? I don’t know what day it is even today. Thursday sounds about right. After their win over the Seattle Storm. And both of them said that yeah, they were incredibly disappointed not to play. They think that they, individually, would have played and that’s part of it. But at the same time, people are talking about the WNBA’s travel circumstances in ways that we haven’t before. They almost took one for the team here. And by announcing this forfeit, by being so vocal against these conditions, they’re really pushing forward these issues that the WNBA players have. And everyone has said, if they opt out this fall, which I can’t imagine at the point in them not doing but of course it’s not a given right now, that we’re gonna see the travel issues are gonna be one of the main things on the agenda along with salary.
Jessica: Yeah and I just wanted to add, one thing that’s come up a lot in the conversation around this is, and Lindsay just mentioned this when she was talking about the Mystics traveling from DC to the West Coast to play, is something in the NBA’s CBA that has to do with time zone. It was that they had a hellish nightmare experience as the Aces but also, that they were traveling from Nevada to DC that made it all more difficult. And the NBA’s CBA actually has a part that says quote “no team shall be required to play a scheduled game on the same day that such team has traveled across two time zones except in unusual circumstances and unless the player’s association consents thereto, which consent cannot be unreasonably withheld.” This is part of the conversation, too. This comparison with the NBA, both in the revenue percentage that players get for their salaries but now, this part of what’s in the CBA for players’ safety, health, and travel, and this is one of the big comparisons that we see.
Shireen: Well, I just wanted to actually mention the whole idea of travel. And when I saw this story first come across, it wasn’t surprising that they had such a difficult time in travel because as we know, it’s almost like men’s teams get priority. They get first class, they get every accommodation required especially if they’re competing, where that doesn’t transfer over. I think that there’s a tradition of this and we know, for example, we just talked about this on the show a couple of weeks ago. The idea that Barcelona traveled to the United States, Barca B. It wasn’t even the A team, they have their own plane. But the B were in first class and the women were in the back. The women’s first team. And then we’ve seen this a couple years ago, during the Olympics, rather the Japanese men’s team were flying first class and the women were in coach. They couldn’t stretch out the way they needed to be, they didn’t have space, and we’ve seen this constantly. And this is just, for me, it’s a slightly different point than what we’re talking about right now but just the idea of travel and accommodation and just having women be no different than cargo in some instances.
Shireen: The women of the WNBA are very, very tall. Can they even sit comfortably in economy seats? I have two sons that are 6’4. They can’t sit comfortably without their legs sticking in the aisle. How is it possible? I can’t imagine Liz Cambage sitting in economy. I don’t even know how that’s physically possible. So there’s this overlooking of their needs which makes me really, really mad.
Brenda: Yeah and plus they’re sitting together like that. So it’s not like they’re next to someone like me that can give them a little extra room. They could take some inches from me but they must be sitting together, I imagine anyway. Linds?
Lindsay: Yeah. I think just building on what Jess was talking about earlier. One of the things that Mo Currie, once again a veteran for the Washington Mystics who’s been involved in CBA negotiations before, I was talking with her and she said that right now, you can really just feel the energy among the players in a way that she hasn’t seen in ten years in the league. She said that they have these calls where you can call in to be updated by the players’ association. Conference calls and things. And she says that, just anecdotally, there are many more people calling in on those than every before. There are many more people involved in these text chains than ever before. And I think that’s a really exciting place to be. The truth is, that while the WNBA is still a new league and it’s still really finding its platform and finding its fan base, it does have power. These women do have a voice and there are fans of this league.
There are reasons why ESPN should want to have more games because people watch them. There are reasons why they should want to splurge for good travel because in that case, the quality on the court is going to be better. It’s been a tough season because while every team has had really bad stretches, they haven’t all come at the same time. So the Mystics had really horrible scheduling earlier in the year and right now, it’s a little bit better. It’s still incredibly difficult but they haven’t had as many West Coast trips. Whereas right now, you’re seeing the Dallas Wings playing four games in six days and they’re on a huge losing streak.
And it’s just really unfortunate because we’re coming here at the end of…this should be the really exciting playoff run and one of the most exciting teams is just gassed because of the schedule. You just see it really impacting the product on the court and that’s what’s disappointing. And I’m just so proud of these players for saying, “Look. We’re not being spoiled divas. This is for the good of the league and we’re gonna fight for this.” And like I said, the WNBA should have absolutely given a forfeit. I don’t think that’s up for debate. I know some people do, but I don’t see any other way they could have done it except for, you know what? You know what league has a partnership with the WNBA and has a billion charter planes just sitting around? Once the Las Vegas Aces figured it out, that they were gonna be delayed in this way, do you think that in a couple of hours, a charter plane could have been arranged? Yes, I do.
Brenda: That is a super good point, Lindsay. That is an amazing point. Wonder who we know that might be able to help out with this problem.
Lindsay: Oh, I can’t imagine.
Brenda: And it did seem like Coach Bill Laimbeer was supportive of the players and their decision. And as someone from Detroit, I just wanted to give a quick shout out to that.
Lindsay: He’s not known as the most player friendly coach.
Brenda: No. So I thought, it must be pretty bad when you’ve got Bill Laimbeer defending his players. Jessica?
Jessica: Yeah, I thought we could just wrap this up with a couple quotes from current players. I really liked hearing from Lindsay about what Elena Delle Donne and Monique Currie had to say about this and I was just really taken by how many…I’m in love with this season and these women and how vocal a lot of them have been. Layshia Clarendon, who was a former guest on Burn it All Down, about the Aces deciding not to play, she said quote, “I am personally in support of it. If an injury happens in that game, that’s a lot of money and physical wellness to lose. I applaud them for making the decision. They are fighting for the playoffs. It’s a really bold move to stick up for yourself like that.”
And legendary Sue Bird, who has been playing in this league for a very long time and has plenty of stories herself, she thanked the Aces for taking this taking. Quote, “It’s unfortunate they had to take an L, but simultaneously, if it gets things moving in the right direction in terms of our CBA and rules, then it’s a positive thing.”
Brenda: Oh, nice to see some collective action happening and appreciation for it.
Now, Jessica interviews Brenda Tracy.
Jessica: On November 20th, 2014, the Oregonian published a story about Brenda Tracy. A woman who reported to police in 1998 that multiple Oregon State football players had raped her. The coach of the team at the time, Mike Riley, called what his players did a bad choice, words Tracy said hurt her. About 18 months after the publication of the Oregonian piece, Tracy met with Riley who was then the head coach at Nebraska. And ever since she has been meeting with football teams and other athletes as well as speaking to journalists, coaches, people at the NCAA, and athletic officials about her experience. Recently, she started a nonprofit called Set the Expectation, which we’ll hear about in a few minutes. Thank you, Brenda Tracy for joining me on Burn it All Down today.
Brenda Tracy: Thank you so much for having me.
Jessica: So, you and I both know a lot about the topic of gender violence in sport and we’ve actually even sat on a panel together around this topic. I thought that I would just start today and this is partly a selfish question on my part, but I wanted to ask you, what is it that you think a lot of people don’t understand about this issue that if they did understand it, they would perhaps see this differently? What are people missing around this topic?
Brenda: I don’t think people understand the true impact of sexual assault and rape on the victim. I really don’t think they grasp at all how your entire life is changed forever and that it literally affects every single aspect of your life. From relationships to the way you view the world, finances. I am able to trace back every single thing in my life back to this incident and how it changed me. And just the amount of human suffering. I don’t think people get it and I think if they understood that, they would see this differently. A lot differently.
Jessica: Yeah, that’s something that I think we are really good at centering the perpetrators of this kind of violence and harm and we seem to easily empathize with them and worry over them in a way that we don’t seem to with victims. We immediately question them in a way that’s not even close. There’s no balance.
Brenda: Yeah, not at all. It’s funny ’cause I say a lot of times, if you can understand how just the mere accusation of rape could ruin that person’s life, then how can you not understand how the actual incident of rape could ruin someone’s life? It just doesn’t really connect with me how people don’t understand that. That’s something I work so hard on when I share my story, is trying to get people to understand how much suffering there really is ’cause it’s an intense amount. It’s really frustrating for me to see the lack of empathy and compassion for survivors. People look at it like it’s just this solitary thing that happened, this incident. And just let time pass and you’ll forget about it. Doesn’t work like that.
Jessica: Yeah. That’s another thing I mention a lot, is who actually gets to move on when we move on from this. One of the things that people ask me a lot and I assume people ask you a lot is, why sports? You and I both know, you could tell the story in lots of different spaces and parts of our culture. Why do you think it’s important to be talking about this in a sports space?
Brenda: Well, first off, I think that culture is about our ideas and our beliefs. And I think that in society, we’re learning about perpetrators of victims through the lens of sports. It’s the sport stories that shape our ideas and our beliefs about who a perpetrator is and who a victim is. ‘Cause you’re not hearing about the chess club president on the campus, right? You’re hearing about a football player. You’re hearing about an NFL player. It’s the sport stories and there’s nothing bigger than sports in this country. It’s our religion. It’s not a good place to learn about the dynamics of domestic violence, sexual assault, and who a perpetrator is and who a victim is because in that space, everybody thinks athletes are heroes. So how could they be a rapist? And that, all the victims are these gold diggers that just are trying to ruin their life so we’re getting a lot of misinformation and we’re learning the wrong things and it’s all through the lens of sports. So I wanna get into that space and say, “This is wrong and this is not okay.”
Brenda: And this is why we shouldn’t have violent offenders in sports, either. Because they’re shaping the narrative. And these stories are shaping the narrative.
Jessica: Right. So that’s a perfect segue. I would love to hear more about Set the Expectation and the work that you’ve been doing over the last couple of years and why you think it’s…you talk to both male and female athletes. It’s clear from your social media. But I know that you think it’s particularly important to be speaking to male athletes about this issue. So can you tell us about the work that you’re doing and why that audience in particular matters to you?
Brenda: Sure. I think in the beginning, somewhere in 2015, 16, I don’t know, somewhere though, I kinda had to make a decision about you know, was I gonna start doing advocacy work or was I just gonna go back to my nurse job? And when I decided to do this work, I thought, what is it exactly that I wanna do? What is it that I want to accomplish? What does an advocate do? And the first thing, this is kind of naïve, but the first thing I thought is, “Am I supposed to start a nonprofit? Is that what advocates do?” Then I was like, “Well okay, first let me get a grasp on what people are doing.”
So, I got on Google and I started looking at stuff and I saw all these organizations for helping survivors and supporting survivors. And I saw all these women, everywhere, doing all kinds of work. Lots of women. Lots of women, women, women. And I was like, “Well what are the guys doing?” And so I starting Googling that and there weren’t as many results about organizations run by men, about men, for survivors, male survivors. So just not a lot going on. So I thought, how, why? Because for me, it was really simple for me. I’ve always understood the vast majority of sexual violence is carried out by men against other men and women and children and humanity. So I was like, “Well, why is the onus on women to stop this if we’re not the ones that are perpetrating it? Why isn’t this about men?”
So, I just kind of knew from there that I wanted to address men. I wanted to talk to them. I wanted to talk to the men that are silent. The men that are just not having conversations with each other, not holding each other accountable. I think if women could stop sexual violence, we would have already done it. I just feel very passionately about that. I think that we’ve been trying and we need men to help us. We need good men to align themselves with us. We have to have a culture shift and a change. That is why I decided to focus on men. Specifically, not perpetrators. I don’t go out and try to reform a sociopath. I’m kind of like, “F you, you’re a rapist. I don’t have a lot of sympathy for you.” But I do wanna talk to the guy that wouldn’t do this but also doesn’t have the courage to check his friend. Doesn’t think it’s his problem because it’s a women’s issue. The guy who knows something’s going on, doesn’t say anything. The guys that are complicit in their silence. I wanna talk to those guys.
And I thought, you know, how do I work smarter and not harder? Go to athletes. So that’s my thing. Go to the good guys that are in sports.
Jessica: Right. So explain then why it’s called Set the Expectation.
Brenda: Set the Expectation started because after I met Coach Riley in 2016, that story went viral and programs started inviting me. I went to Oklahoma, University of Florida, big programs, little programs. And I met all kinds of coaches in all kinds of different programs and I recognized really early on that there were some coaches who were standing in front of the room, setting the expectation on behavior. “Your behavior matters. If you do A, B, C, you harm another person, you’re out of here. There’s no place for you on this team.” And other coaches were actively recruiting violent athletes, they were harboring violent athletes, they weren’t having conversations, they were covering things up. It was really ugly and there was a huge disparity on what was going on. So, I thought, “What can I do to fix this? How can I get all these coaches on the same page to do the minimum? Set the expectation.” So I came up with a pledge and a campaign and it kind of started from there.
Brenda: ‘Cause I really think if you don’t set the expectation, then how do you expect your men to reach it?
Brenda: These are coaches. All they do all day is set expectations. They set goals. This is what they do. Come on. Have a discussion about behavior. Stop placing winning over human life. Do the right thing. So that’s kind of where it started and it’s just kind of grown from there. It started with the pledge just over a year ago. It’s kind of grown from there.
Jessica: That’s great. So I wanna specifically talk about the story that’s in the news right now which we could have had you on this podcast so many times over. We talk a lot about gender and violence in sport but right now, it’s Ohio State. It’s Ohio State for two different reasons so I’m gonna start with the football and if any listeners don’t know a lot about what’s going on at Ohio State, we talked about it extensively on episode 66 which was last week. So you should go listen to that, the transcript’s available on the website if you’d rather read about it.
But in this case of Ohio State, I’d like to hear, what would have been the right choice for Urban Meyer? Where do you think he messed up in that series of events that we’re now just learning about?
Brenda: I think there’s a lot of missteps obviously. But I think that the first incident, Zach Smith should have been gone. He should have been off the team and he should have been gone. I was horrified when I listened to his interview and how to me, and maybe it’s just me because I have a radar for this, but just the blatant rhetoric and who he is. He smells like and reeks of being an abuser when I watched him on TV. And I was just like, “How do you have this guy in your program?” But he should have gotten rid of him a long time ago. It’s like a one strike, you’re out kind of thing. Especially when we’re talking about domestic violence and sexual assault and really egregious type crimes. Bye. This should have happened a long time ago.
Jessica: One of the things that you hear a lot, and I know that you get this as much as I do, you get all the apologists that come up with whatever it is that they’re gonna say. And you hear that, how could he have really known? But he told us that he knew what happened in 2009. It wasn’t a secret.
Brenda: Yeah. No, it wasn’t a secret. He was aware and he knew what was going on.
Jessica: So, what do you think Ohio State should do now?
Brenda: Well I think that they should follow through on their contract. I think there’s a contract with Urban Meyer that says that he can be dismissed if he ignores or doesn’t handle things properly. And I think that that’s probably what they’re gonna find in their investigation and I think they should follow through on what they put in their contract with him. So I don’t think there’s any other option at this point other than to let him go.
Jessica: Yeah, that would be something if that happened. The other big story out of Ohio State is the wrestling team. And this is a particularly different story than one we normally talk about because the vast majority of the survivors who’ve come forward are men. And our society at large, but especially in sport, we don’t tend to see that very much despite the fact that we know that a lot of men are survivors. And it’s interesting, last week we talked about this on the podcast, that those wrestlers created a hashtag, Us Too. And we had a discussion about whether or not those men should be under the umbrella of Me Too or if it makes sense for them to have a separate hashtag because of the particulars that male survivors fall under.
And I’m wondering, as a survivor, as an advocate for survivors, what do you think about that? Do you like the idea of the Us Too as sort of a spotlight? Or do you have a fear as some of us on the podcast do that that would just…men always eclipse women. And sort of takes away from the reality that it is men perpetrating this crime, that there is a gendered imbalance of who’s perpetrating. So just wondering your thoughts on that ’cause we had a big discussion about it last week.
Brenda: Yeah and I heard that discussion. And I think that we have to meet society where it’s at right now. And I think that right now in the current climate we’re living in, I think Us Too is necessary. Because I think that Me Too, for the general public, they have pegged it as a women’s movement. It’s about women.
Jessica: Yeah, that’s fair.
Brenda: And there’s even, amongst women, there’s even women that feel like white women have hijacked Me Too. And so there’s all that stuff going on, right? Around race and different things. So I think that the Us Too right now is necessary because I think that men are getting lost in the discussion and I think every survivor matters. And I understand that men are the vast perpetrators or I don’t know if that’s grammatically correct but I’m just saying, they mainly perpetrate this crime. But for me, every survivor matters. And these are crimes against humanity and it could happen to anybody. Anybody could be a victim and unfortunately, men, male survivors, are getting lost in the discussion.
And so, I think that, what I would like to see is, I would like to see people right now using hashtag Me Too and hashtag Us Too. I know that if I had been thinking about this, if I used the hashtag, I’mma put hashtag Us Too on there, too. I think that we can hopefully walk a parallel line and campaign and work together and align ourselves together as survivors and support each other. And hopefully get to a point where people understand that survivorship can be anyone. Any walk of life, any person. And that’s the hope for the future but right now, we’re not in that space right now in our country.
Jessica: Great. Well thank you so much for your thoughts today, Brenda. And thank you for doing the work that’s getting us slowly there to that point in our country. It was great to have you on today.
Brenda: It feels slow, doesn’t it?
Jessica: It always feels slow.
Brenda Tracy: Yeah. Thank you for having me.
Brenda Elsey: I’d like to follow up the interview with Brenda Tracy to poke a little bit more at the NCAA and its usefulness or not. Lindsay, could you kick it off for us?
Lindsay: Sure. I mean, I could answer that question super quickly but I’m assuming you want me to-
Brenda: Play along, Lindsay.
Lindsay: Okay, sorry. I’ll be good. Okay. So obviously, as we talked about at the top of the show, school’s almost back in session which means it’s time to talk about the NCAA. Not that we ever really stopped talked about the NCAA here because they keep coming up with fun ways to get in the news. So this week, the NCAA announced new reforms. Wow.
Some of these reforms say that elite college players and elite high school players can now sign with NCAA approved agents. That players who declare for the draft and sign with agents but find themselves undrafted, can now return to school and players who leave school but come back to finish their degree will have their fees covered by the school.
So those are three pretty good things so we’re all done here, right? That’s good? Well I know this is gonna be hard to believe but no. Actually, the NCAA, while they got a lot of positive headlines when first releasing these reforms, it turned out that the way they’ve gone about implementing them is maybe not the most effective way. I know. Hold your shock please.
First of all, it’s really important to admit that these rules only apply to a very, very small number of athletes. It’s focused on men’s basketball really and the number of men’s basketball players who declare for the draft and then don’t come back, it’s minuscule really. So this is not a widespread reform. It’s just kind of a common sense, saying it should happen. Also, I love this, the NBA and USA Basketball were absolutely blindsided by the NCAA’s announcement despite the fact that the NCAA actually expects USA Basketball to be the ones deciding who counts as an elite player.
So, the NCAA basically just blindsided USA Basketball with a bunch of work that they don’t have the infrastructure or the desire to actually do. So now USA Basketball is supposed to, on the fly, come up with this infrastructure of evaluating the nation’s top prospects and selecting a yet to be determined number of players who will actually be allowed to sign with agents. Wow. The fact that there’s been so little communication and that the NCAA didn’t really go over these rules with USA Basketball and the NBA is, well it’s just not surprising actually, but it’s pretty exasperating.
But ultimately, this comes down to the fact that none of these rules are just pay the players or take violence against women seriously. Which are two of the things that we talk about the most. This week, we also had the news that 13 University of North Carolina football players will be suspended for at least one game and some for as many as four games because they sold shoes. That the UNC and the NCAA had provided them. So look, it’s just hard to take any NCAA reform seriously when stuff like that is still going on.
I know that there’s kind of a lot to unpack here, but I would say that I’m leaning, Brenda, towards the not side.
Brenda: I’m not surprised to hear you say that. I also am just a bit uncomfortable with the NCAA’s ability to regulate university athletics. Every single level. And I just wanna talk really briefly about this UNC issue. So these 13 players, first of all, are football players. And these are Michael Jordan shoes. So it’s not as if they gave a piece of equipment that the university gave to them, right? This was a gift. This is a gift that they were given by the university and they decided to sell it and obviously, this doesn’t stem from their long term enterprise of reselling gifted shoes, but because they need the money.
And the coach, and Larry Fedora, I just can’t stand him anyway on so many levels. I can’t. And making two million dollars a year and then saying, “Oh you know, these players are being punished for their poor decisions. They knew the rules.” You need money. Have you ever needed money? I imagine that’s impossible for him to picture with his two million dollars. Less than one percent of college athletes will go professional. They come from social-economically challenged backgrounds. This is just ridiculous. Okay but let’s hear from a more optimistic member of the cast.
Shireen: Okay on this particular issue, I’m sorry, my optimism is waning. I know.
Brenda: The NCAA is that bad. It’s that bad that it’s actually ruined Shireen’s optimism.
Shireen: I mean, I have optimism that, I’m actually really pleased that the athletes went out and did this. Basically, took their shoes, sold them for as much as 3500 US which is incredible. And the whole idea that we’re even having a conversation. I’ve been reading some really bad takes about this. People seem to be surprised that athletes need money to survive. Their images are used, the teams are being used, the names are being used. These athletes don’t get anything and I realized that there’s new policy in place about agency and having an agent and this and that, but it really doesn’t amount to the fact that these players need to be paid. It’s so basic for me.
It’s not that I’m becoming pessimistic so everybody relax. I’m still optimistic. I’m just dumbfounded at the level of folly here and thinking how NCAA executives think this is a smart plan. I’m actually confused how these people, probably white men, have come to the conclusion that this is an intelligent step. So this is what it is for me.
Jessica: Yeah. One thing I think a lot about the NCAA and I’m not an economist and I won’t pretend to…I don’t totally understand how this whole system works. That this is a total monopoly that the NCAA has and I don’t always get why schools sign up for it. It’s one of those where because it already exists and this is how it is, that everyone just has to go along with it. And I just keep wondering what is the NCAA actually for at this point? Outside of making money. I know what they say that they’re for. I find it all very confusing.
One thing I think is interesting are players who are opting out of this system. Right? So we have, someone went into the NBA D-League instead of going into college. We have players that are going overseas to Australia, to Europe, to Asia, playing their way through those systems in order to get back to the NBA. You know, there’s interesting ideas of there’s a pay for play system they’re trying to put in for HBCUs. It’s just interesting to me that anyone…why do these schools put up with this? At this point, what are we getting out of any of this? Except a funneling of money into very particular pockets. Which maybe that’s it. Maybe that’s the whole answer and it’s often a very powerful one.
But I’m sort of constantly struck by why this even exists.
Brenda: Yeah. The NCAA, of course, is a voluntary organization. And schools don’t, in any way, need to join. And yet, they sort of pretend like it’s a concrete brick building. These are just a collection of universities that choose to belong to this group. So I agree with you, Jess, that a lot of these different options are very attractive to think about. Schools pay a membership fee to the NCAA. Very few of them have athletic programs that are profitable and of course, the dream is to get into that ten billion dollar March Madness moment.
But very, very few of them will. And so, the NCAA is supposed to represent these different divisions, many of whom don’t even have scholarships. So I always have the feeling that schools are comfortable with the NCAA setting some murky regulations and hiding behind the NCAA. These programs actually throw it out as if it’s a real powerful thing. But instead, it’s like a collection of hodgepodge rules and regulations and programs that want something in front of them. I don’t know if that makes sense but that’s the way I feel. It’s a lot of smoke and mirrors. And behind the smoke and mirrors are pretty corrupt programs. And in front of the smoke and mirrors is a pretty confused NCAA.
Because I’ve looked at the rules and regulations and I find them confusing. And I love reading, okay? The other thing I saw was Lavar Ball’s…he has this other thing where he was suggesting that Nike could create a league of high school graduates. And if I’m not comfortable with the NCAA, I’m twice as nervous about Nike.
Jessica: But maybe there’s contracts. But if there are actual contracts-
Jessica: And they’re using agents and they’re…yeah it’s not great but at the same time, if they’re able to negotiate and have some role and actually get paid. I mean, if you’re picking devils, I don’t know.
Brenda: Totally. I mean, at least they would have something to bargain about. Something is more than nothing at this point. And disturbingly enough, a lot of these schools have business programs that have come out recently with plans to make athletic programs more profitable. We tweeted something out about the UNC business professor who identified athletes rights as a threat to university athletic programs as well as the American Disabilities Act.
Jessica: Yeah that was some real bullshit right there.
Brenda: And on UNC stationary. On letterhead, I guess it’s not stationary, but letterhead. It says, “These are the looming threats.” And it’s so shameful as a university that you would consider the ADA which has made universities a much more wonderful place to work and live and learn, and athletes right as threatening? How can they even let this out? It’s just like, wow. Anyway, Shireen, you have a daughter thinking about going into college athletics. What’s it like to be on that, on the parental side?
Shireen: Well, wow, she’s going into grade 11 and they call it, what is it, a sophomore year? We just call it grade 11 in Canada
Jessica: Junior year.
Shireen: Junior year. So she’s not allowed to actually be contacted by Div-1 coaches until September of the year she’s in her junior year. So there’s a lot of circumventing the system. They’re getting looks for her, she has a recruiting coach, it’s very weird. There’s a lot of rules about it but there’s a lot of ways…as many rules as we’re being informed of, she’s also getting ways that are loopholes. She’s had some viewings, she’s had some invitations to a couple colleges in Michigan to go down. And I also wonder if these people think we’re made of money because you know, I have a money fountain in my backyard that we can just roam the United States visiting colleges. And my kid’s like, “Why not?” And I’m like, “Get a paper route or in fact, get a job because this is really, really time consuming and expensive.”
And lucky for me, she’s very invested in the process herself. She manages her files and her stuff. I tried, and I’ll be honest about this, I tried to record her. We were at a tournament in Pennsylvania. My kid’s a goal keeper. They went into penalty shoot outs for the final. Does anyone think I actually was able to capture anything? Because I was freaking out the entire time. So, someone will shoot at her and I’ve been fired from doing photography or videography because the camera will aim up because I’m freaking out.
And you have to get all of these shots. You have to get sessions of them in training, people put them to music. It’s all these little details of things you have to do but this is a system. I actually think this is an industry which is what it is. It’s mind blowing how much they expect of these kids and the power that these people have.
What she ended up doing, she ended up sitting down and emailing coaches individually and they respond to her. She’s been having some responses in Canada and the US. She’s really got her heart set on a couple places. I really want her to go to Uconn. I would love her to go to Stars ’cause I’m obsessed with them. But that’s okay. It’s not about me.
Brenda: Well, if she signs Div-1, you won’t have a right to those videos anymore.
Brenda: If she’s a superstar, in certain tournaments, the NCAA owns their images.
Shireen: Oh my god. You know what? I actually would laugh that NCAA would fight me over images of a five foot ten girl in hijab, like whatever. You want that? You know what, take it.
Brenda: Who knows?
Shireen: I don’t know. I think it’s different and also I’m investigating other things like NAIA has different rules. I didn’t even know that the NAIA existed. I’d never heard of it before this process so there’s a lot of different things.
What I want for her is options like any parent. I want her to thrive and I want her to have options. It’s messy. It’s really messy.
Brenda: Yeah. Lindsay? You wanna sort of round out our tried to be constructive but still hating NCAA conversation?
Lindsay: Yeah, a couple of things. Just building what Brenda was saying earlier. The reason why we’re not gonna see any reform is because the people who were benefiting from this system are the ones with all the power. These coaches don’t want the players to have rights because they wanna get paid multimillion dollar a year. And if we start paying players, they might just be paid one million dollars a year or something like that. And these recruiters and agents, there’s just so many people who have built themselves power within the system. The vast majority of them are white men and of course, they’re nervous about the system changing because what does that mean for their power?
And this is ultimately why reform in any industry is so difficult. Because there is a group of people who are usually in charge of it who are the ones who have benefited from it and don’t wanna see it changed.
And also, we always hear when we talk about this, “Well, they are getting paid. They’re getting scholarships. Do you know how expensive school is?” Listen, as somebody who is in debt right now, unfathomably in debt, impacts my life on a daily basis, I cry often about it debt, from going to college, yes. I do get how big a scholarship is. But we know that these players aren’t being able to really maximize a scholarship. That every single thing about their schedule is based around athletics first, education second. And secondly, that the actual way they’re treated in these systems can be horrendous.
Just this week, an ESPN investigation came down about the environment. The toxic culture at Maryland football. Which actually led to a player, Jordan McNair, died of heat stroke earlier this year. His temperature was up to 106 degrees. And this investigation from ESPN, which of course we’ll link in the show, just goes on into detail. It goes beyond just, “we wanna be tough on you ’cause that’s the way to be a good athlete”, it’s abusive. It’s emotionally and physically and mentally abusive. And this is what these kids are having to go through in order to get a scholarship. And that is not okay.
Brenda: Now it’s time for everybody’s favorite segment where we take the things in sports that we’ve hated all week and set them aflame. Jess, do you wanna start us off?
Jessica: Yeah. My burn this week totally builds off of the conversation that we just had. Y’all, it isn’t even the start of college football season yet and I am just 100 percent over college football coaches. So last month at the ACC Media Day, UNC’s head football coach, Larry Fedora…yes, that’s his real name. First, he got mad that people ever suggest any relationship between CTE and football. And then he said that because the game is changing in response to the suggestion that CTE and football are related, quote, “Our game is under attack. I fear that the game will be pushed so far from what we know that we won’t recognize it ten years from now. And if it does, our country will go down too.” Dude, calm the fuck down.
And then also, everything that Brenda already said about Larry Fedora in relationship to the shoe thing. And then there’s Urban Meyer and whatever the fuck he’s doing over at Ohio State. And I just hate how quickly the conversation in that case went from a woman reported repeatedly that a coach on Meyer’s staff hurt her to “if Meyer goes, what coach will take his place?” I just, ugh.
And then finally, as Lindsay just talked about, there’s DJ Durkin at Maryland. And hellish and deadly program that he’s been running there. Durkin coached under Will Muschamp when Muschamp, who’s the head coach now at South Carolina, when Muschamp was at Florida. And Muschamp was asked about the line between coaching and abuse after this report came out on ESPN and instead of taking any time to remember Jordan McNair, the young player at Maryland who died earlier this summer from heat stroke suffered at practice, Muschamp did a full throated defense of Durkin. Saying Durkin is quote, “An outstanding football coach. And he’s also an outstanding husband and a father. And he treats people with respect.” That is what Muschamp said when asked about the case that led to a dead player.
What about McNair, you asshole? These are often, not only the highest paid employees at the university, a school where they work, but they are often the highest paid state employee wherever they live. But then they chafe at any and all scrutiny about how they treat the players on their teams or students at their school often casting themselves as victims of that scrutiny. That is 100 percent what Muschamp did.
And in the case of Fedora, making these ridiculous claims about the end of civilization. When I think about how exhausted I already am, I get so sad because we have months and months of a 24 hour sports media who loves nothing more than to tell us all the football stories and chronicle the minutia of everything that these head coaches say. So today, I am metaphorically burning college football coaches and all of their shit. Burn.
Brenda: Oh burn. Burn. Okay, Shireen?
Shireen: Okay, this was actually brought to my attention from a former guest of ours, Dr. Alex Hannah. And she had been on in our pride party in our first year. This is regarding the WFDTA which is the World Flat Track Derby Association and their treatment by ESPN. So I am actually legitimately burning ESPN. And this is actually an open letter that was written from Erica Vanstone, who also goes by the derby name, Double H. And what I’m gonna do is I’m just gonna give you a quick background that a lot of the time in derby, the jammers and the skaters and players and even managers teams have names. They have names they go by while they compete.
And I’m not here to convince everybody that roller derby is a sport. We know it is. End of story. Like bust, it’s a sport. Now the fact of the matter is, what ended up happening is they were, the WFTDA, which is a federation that I love and hold dear to my heart only because a lot of you might remember, that when Donald Trump came out with a Muslim ban, the WFTDA was the first sport federation in the world to publicly denounce it. And they ended up changing the location of the world championship because some of their team members would be affected by that. And they didn’t want anyone participating to feel uncomfortable or scared or terrorized by this man and his policy.
So mad respect to them from the get-go. They’re also one of the most inclusive federations in sports I know of. No one’s perfect, I realize this. But they’re one of the most progressive even in their conversations. So they were actually in discussions with ESPN about airing their international championship event. And they were in conversations with ESPN3 and the platform. So what ended up happening was that, in the morning of October 2017, just nine days before it was supposed to be a live broadcast, everything changed.
They’d been working for months to secure funding, skater input, this, sponsorship, everything. ESPN told them they wouldn’t be airing their event live. And the reason, this is the kicker here, the reason and I’m quoting Erica’s piece which we’ll link to the show was that the network was on high alert because of a failed Barstool Van Talk enterprise.
Jessica: Oh no.
Shireen: Yeah. So they were canceling a women’s sport event…
Shireen: from a live broadcast because there were angry men out there. This legitimately happened.
Brenda: Sounds legit.
Shireen: It’s so par for the course here. It’s so upsetting because these are people. And what I love about roller derby and much like ultimate Frisbee, they’re grassroots movements, right? They are literally so legitimate and so beautiful and they’re by the skater, for the skater. And that’s their main principle of operation which I think is incredible. And they’ve created spaces for non-binary folks, for trans athletes. It’s a really great space to be in. Yes, it has to work on diversity, we know this. But the fact of this treatment from ESPN is just disgusting and I want to burn it. Burn.
Brenda: Burn. Linds?
Lindsay: Yeah. So last week, you all opened up the show talking about LeBron James’ school which was just incredible that he opened. And this week, a bunch of people got mad online because the school is actually a public school. So let me take you back, I know you might be mad, be confused. So obviously, LeBron James got a lot of rightful praise when his I-Promise Academy opened last week because it was doing a lot of wonderful things. Like I said, we talked about it at the top of the show. There’s tons of articles. But after a few days of praising this black, male athlete, some people on the right got a little mad online. And they started writing articles such as, the lion’s share of LeBron’s school is actually paid for by taxpayers. This school is costing taxpayers millions of dollars.
Our friend, Clay Travis, I use friend in the very ironic sense, wrote a big article that said LeBron James didn’t pay for the vast majority of quote, “his”, unquote school. So what these people are mad about is the fact that this is actually a public school which LeBron James has always said. And which also got a lot of praise when it was first revealed. The fact that this is a school that is working within the actual system in Akron County to actually make things better for students. And to provide what is hopefully a workable model for other public schools to copy, to utilize. And that’s really incredible.
And yes, that means he might not be spending as much of his own money, but it’s a lot more work. And he’s doing a lot more that could hopefully last for good. And LeBron James has always said this was a public school. And guess what? Public schools are paid for by taxpayers. So it looks like right now, his foundation, we’re not quite sure the exact financials right now, but that they’re putting about two million dollars a year into this and that eight million dollars of taxpayers’ money is going into this school.
But that’s taxpayer money that’s just being reallocated. It is not an additional taxpayer money. He’s not costing the taxpayers any more money. Because these students, the way it works, these students and these teachers are staying within the system so they’re just reallocating the money. So anyway, just like burn all these people trying to tear down this man for doing something wonderful. Who just have to get outraged about absolutely anything. Burn.
Brenda: Burn. My burn is super short and it’s not sweet. And it’s the He Too, Us Too movements. Sometimes I hate being right and I thought when I saw it first sort of start, Us Too, He Too coming together, which is not the fault of victims who have come forward, but a kind of media cycle and different organizations like the National Mens Rights Council and things like that, it looks scary to me. In terms of taking advantage of some of these stories and then snowballing it into a general discourse that somehow men are victims of quote, unquote reverse sexism. Which doesn’t exist just like reverse racism. It’s no such thing. It’s the same thing as the people who claim CTE isn’t caused by football. It’s a similar, kind of mystical unicorn thinking.
So, I’m frustrated to see a lot of the athletes’ stories being spun out and I’m not gonna link anything to the show notes because I don’t wanna give any of these media outlets more clicks. But for those of you who have paid some attention, you’ve sent it. The hashtag He Too and the hashtag Us Too being linked now to this kind of effort to say, women owned businesses have persecuted men. You know, comedy shows, sports, it’s all sort of wrapped into a cultural war against men.
Many of the athletes and the male victims coming out have cited Michigan State and the victims of Larry Nassar as an inspiration. Why is their umbrella not good enough to stand under? Why, why? And so I wanna burn that. I wanna burn that they can’t take leadership from women because I think at the end, that’s what it’s about. And so I wanna burn those hashtag movements. Not everyone in that hashtag, but the way in which it’s being used. I wanna burn that. So burn.
Brenda: After all of that burning, let’s make ourselves feel better by remembering some badass women who have accomplished great things this week.
Honorable mentions go to:
Renee Young, the first female commentator for the full duration of RAW which will happen this week,
Parisa Pour Taherian for being the first woman photojournalist to cover a men’s football match in Iran and doing it from a rooftop,
Sue Bird for being the all-time leader of minutes played in the WNBA, show favorite,
Lauren Hill of Mount St. Josephs for her induction into the Ohio Basketball Hall of Fame,
the women’s tennis players who played at Rogers Cup in Canada including Francoise Abanda and Sloane Stephens and Simona Halep,
Dina Asher Smith of Great Britain for winning gold in the hundred meters at the Euro Track and Field championships with a time of 10.8 seconds. She has the fastest time in the world for this year.
And can I get a drum roll please? You’re doing like a baseline back there, Lindsay. And I totally appreciate it.
Lindsay: I like to mix it up a little bit, you know? You can’t have the same thing every week.
Brenda: That’s right. Keeping it fresh. The badass woman of the week goes to former Olympian and senator, Ana Guevara, for her new cabinet position leading Mexico’s sports governing body, the Comisión Nacional de Cultura física y Deporte which is the highest cabinet position of sports in Mexico and means that a woman for the first time and a proclaimed feminist and former Olympian will be leading the charge to benefit and better and diversify Mexican sports in the next six years. So congratulations to Ana Guevara for being such a great leader.
In the dark days, it’s nice to wrap up the show by talking about what’s good in our week. Lindsay, what’s good in your world this week?
Lindsay: Once again, I’m not prepared for this question which is just really remarkable. Luckily, I wrote something down so I just need to find that really quickly because I did not sleep much last night. You know, first of all, I am not gonna be here next weekend but it’s because I will be at a bachelorette for one of my best friends. So I’m really excited about that. And also, I’m excited for the end of this WNBA season. Today, I will be going to the Dallas Wings, Washington Mystics game. And I cannot wait to see how that ends up turning out. I think, as we mentioned, it’s just gonna be a really thrilling end to the season and my doc is loading. ‘Cause I think I’m forgetting something.
Lindsay: Oh my god, thank you! Okay I’m so glad I wrote this down. I knew I was forgetting something. So the Phoenix Mercury had a bobblehead giveaway this week. The name of the bobblehead was DeMomma Bonner so DeWanna Bonner. They were bobbleheads of DeWanna Bonner. And the bobbleheads included her two championship trophies that she’s won with the Phoenix Mercury and her two twins, one in each arm. Because she gave birth to twins a year ago, 13 months ago, and she’s already back. She was in the all-star game. So I am so jealous of everyone who has a DeMomma Bonner bobblehead and if a friend of Burn it All Down wants to send us one, that would be cool. I just thought these were the coolest bobbleheads I’ve ever seen. She has her twins and her championship trophies. What a great thing! Okay thank you.
Brenda: Nice. Jess?
Jessica: Wow, that’s hard to follow. So I did have a big thing yesterday at the gym. I set a new personal record for dead lifts. I picked up 85 kilograms which is 187 pounds. I did it three times in three separate sets. That was five more kilograms than my previous personal best. I’m feeling very proud of my body these days.
I also recently made Oreos from a recipe in my favorite cookbook, Brave Tart. And y’all, these homemade Oreos are amazing. I’m just very proud of that. And then, finally, I’m headed to Texas Tech later this week to Lubbock to participate in a conference titled, Ending Sexual Harassment in the Academy. So I’m real excited about that.
Brenda: Please, Jessica, end it.
Jessica: I know. I can do it.
Brenda: Please. I want that conference to end it. So badly for all of us. What’s good in my week is that I’m going to Chile and I leave Saturday of this coming week and so I’ll miss the next episode. And we are having the very first international forum of South American national women’s soccer teams. And there’s never been an association before and so I wrote a grant and I would like to thank the FARE Network for helping us to have this forum.
So, there’s representatives from all over CONMABOL which is South America. And the women are getting together to share their experiences, their successes in collective action and hopefully, to form the very first organization and its United Nations women in Chile that is hosting us. And so I’m super excited and honored to be opening it and just super excited about that. Shireen?
Shireen: Congrats, Brenda. That’s awesome. That’s really great. I am in the most beautiful place in the world to me, in the most precious place, which is Princeton, Rhode Island, Canada. I love it here. I’m happy. Also, I had lobster for dinner last night and there’s no beautiful way and graceful way to eat a lobster. You literally have to rip it apart which is lovely. So those of you are dating, I don’t suggest going to eat a lobster on your first date. And what else?
My best friend is getting married next weekend. I love Catherine very much and I have been waiting since I was 14 for her to get married so I’ve been very patient. Because I need to be a bridesmaid, I’ve never been one. And yes this is so much about me because when she called me to tell me she was getting married, I screamed. I was excited. And was like, “Of course I’ll be your bridesmaid, ” because that’s implied. I am very excited so I won’t be on the show next week because I will be doing bridesmaid duties and just enjoying the moment with her.
And her wedding is in Nova Scotia, which is where I am from and grew up so I’m happy to be back in that province. I’m just really enjoying. Also, what’s good is also me driving across eastern Canada for 17 hours with my kids and listening to the Indigo Girls on full blast. Which is really fun. We have a rule that whoever drives picks the music. So they tried to overthrow me and not have me drive but I hung in there. So that was wonderful. So I’m enjoying this very much.
Brenda: Yay. That always makes me feel warm and fuzzy.
That’s it for this week in Burn It All Down. Burn It All Down lives on SoundCloud, but can be found on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play, and TuneIn. We appreciate your reviews and feedback so please subscribe and rate. Let us know what we did well and how we can improve. You can also find us on Facebook at Burn It All Down, on Twitter at Burn it All Down pod, or on Instagram at Burn It All Down pod, and you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out our website www.burnitalldownpod.com and you can find previous episodes, transcripts, and a link to our patreon. We would appreciate you subscribing, sharing, and rating the show. And it helps us do the work that we love to do even better. That’s it for me, Brenda Elsey, for Jessica Luther, Shireen Ahmed, and Lindsay Gibbs. Have a fantastic week.