Episode 72: Troubles in North American WoSo w/ Lauren Silver and Lauryn Hutchinson
This week on Burn it All Down we start by talking Naomi Osaka’s post-US Open life (4:26) and a recap of sports stories that flew under the radar over the last week or so (18:55).
Then we tackle the troubling state of Women’s soccer in the Americas + Caribbean (34:44), and Amira talks with Lauryn Hutchinson from the Trinidad and Tobago Women’s National Team (43:33) and Lauren Silver from the Jamaican Women’s National Team (58:55) about their respective teams and the struggles they’re facing heading into CONCACAF.
Of course, you’ll hear the Burn Pile (1:09:05), our Bad Ass Women of the Week, starring the Seattle Storm (1:11:52), and what is good in our worlds (1:17:02).
For links and a transcript…
“Orioles Become 1st American Pro Sports Team with Braille on Uniforms” https://bleacherreport.com/articles/2795855-orioles-become-1st-american-pro-sports-team-with-braille-on-uniforms
“Sue Bird: Visit to White House ‘doesn’t feel exciting’ anymore” http://www.espn.com/wnba/story/_/id/24678520/sue-bird-says-seattle-storm-players-no-interest-white-house-visit
“NHL suspends Preds’ Austin Watson 27 games over domestic assault, now needs to figure out a policy” http://thecomeback.com/nhl/nhl-austin-watson-suspended-27-games-domestic-assault.html
“Trinidad And Tobago Players Make Passionate Pleas For Resources, Equality Ahead Of World Cup Qualifiers” https://the18.com/soccer-news/trinidad-and-tobago-womens-national-team-pleas-for-resources-equality
“Turf Wars- Is Everybody In?” http://footybedsheets.tumblr.com/post/99620975312/turf-wars-is-everybody-in
“El caso de la nena de 7 años que sacude las reglas de género en el fútbol santafecino” https://www.lanacion.com.ar/2171126-el-caso-nena-7-anos-sacude-reglas
“Mohun Bagan president’s blatant sexism to celebrate victory will shock you” https://www.dnaindia.com/sports/report-mohun-bagan-president-s-blatant-sexism-to-celebrate-victory-will-shock-you-2662801
“University of Cincinnati settles with ex-volleyball player” https://www.macon.com/sports/college/article218380405.html
“Lucía Barbuto, la primera presidenta de Banfield” https://www.sport.es/es/noticias/futbol-america/lucia-barbuto-primera-presidenta-banfield-7035991
“The champs are back! Seattle Storm wins the 2018 WNBA championship” https://www.seattletimes.com/sports/storm/the-champs-are-back-seattle-storm-wins-the-2018-wnba-championship/
“Culture of Support, Respect Fuels Hot Start for UO Soccer” https://goducks.com/news/2018/9/7/womens-soccer-culture-of-support-respect-fuels-hot-start-for-uo-soccer.aspx
Amira: Welcome to this week’s episode of Burn It All Down. It may not be the feminist sports podcast you want, but it’s definitely the feminist sports podcast you need. I’m Amira Rose Davis, Assistant Professor of History and Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies at Penn State University. It is my pleasure to steer the ship today. Joining me on board are three of my lovely cohost, Brenda Elsey, associate professor of history at Hofstra University, Shireen Ahmed, freelance journalist and newly launched consultant in Toronto, Canada, and Lindsay Gibbs, sportswriter for Thing Progress in Washington DC. Hey y’all?
Shireen: Good morning.
Amira: We have a packed show for you today. First, we’re going to talk about things you might have missed over the last week and a half in the sports world. With Cabernet and Nike, Serena and Naomi dominating the headlines and becoming national news stories, there was a lot of things that may have flown under the radar. We want to get together and talk about things that you might have missed and you might want to know that happened over the last week or even new angles on things that were talked about a lot. Then we’re going to pivot a little bit and we’re going to talk about the sad state of affairs of women’s soccer in North America, bringing you stories from Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, right here in the United States with Sky Blue.
Amira: We want to dig through what’s going on, what are some of the challenges these federations are facing and what can we do to continue to support and elevate the women’s game? Continuing with that theme, we’re going to bring you not one but two interviews. I’m going to sit down and talk with Lauren Silver, who plays for the reggae girls, Jamaican women’s national team. I’m also going to talk to Lauryn Hutchinson, and that’s Lauryn with a ‘Y’ and she plays for the Soca warriors, the Trinidad and Tobago Women’s national team.
Together with both Laure/yns, I want to get a little bit more information about what’s going on with their federations and give them a platform to air some of their concerns. I want to take a minute to talk about Naomi Osaka and the fun thing she’s doing since she won the US Open.
Lindsay: She’s hanging out with LeBron James and Channing Tatum. I assume that’s what you’re talking about.
Amira: Yes. That would be one of the things. She’s living her best life right now and I love it.
Lindsay: I know this isn’t the point, but she’s making so much money because, I don’t know if you’ve heard Japan, very rich market for athletes.
Amira: Yeah, she just signed a deal for Nissan and she did the talk show rounds. She was on Ellen. She was on the Today Show. Ellen asked her who her crush was and she said Michael B. Jordan and Ellen proceeded to send them a selfie. That absolutely mortified her, but then Michael B. Jordan sent her a video message back about how proud he was of her and how much he enjoyed watching her play. It’s super fun to see a smile returned to her face as she’s doing this post open circuit.
Shireen: Also, a really fun video that was circulating after her win was of her and her sister are playing a game with chopsticks and butt beans. It was when she was little and it’s absolutely adorable and the dexterity required for that. Actually, I was reading about it and it’s a very common game that is used for attention, for focus and for manual dexterity that parents use, and Japanese parents also often use with their kid. She was so efficient and fluid in her movement. It was incredible. It was really fun to watch.
Amira: Yeah, it was really cool, and you could see your competitive nature because she beat his sister and then she played her dad. You take the chopsticks and you have to put 10 of them out of the little bowl and then back in. With our sister she was winning the whole time, but with her dad it was kind of neck and neck and very close and you can see her right at the end go ahead and win and she jumps out and she’s like, “I win!” You hear her mom saying, Naomi is the winner, and she just has this big smile. You can see her competitive fuel behind this soft spoken exterior. Shireen, I’m with you. I really enjoyed that video.
Shireen: Yeah. It was beautiful. I was saying she’s lovely. That family is lovely. So, nice.
Amira: All right, so let’s get started. You may have heard that there was some controversy at the US Open. You may have … that Nike made Kaepernick a new spokesperson. There was many things in the sports world that became national news stories over the last, I’d say week and a half or so. One of the things that happens there is the hot takes come fast and flaming and sometimes the conversations gets redundant or goes in circles. One of the things we wanted to do today is talk about things you may have missed as these other stories took center stage.
What we’re going to do now is bring up different things that we noticed that we were paying attention to and we want to highlight throughout the last week in sports. It may be new angles on things we thought we knew or something that flew under the radar altogether. To kick us off, Shireen, what do you have? What did we miss last week?
Shireen: First of all, thank you for that because I think this is really important. Sometimes, stories that are relevant and necessary, they don’t get the attention they need. My specific contribution to this segment will be … it’s almost a pseudo burn, but it’s actually highlighting the fact that the national hockey league does not have a domestic violence policy. I say this because a couple of weeks ago actually burned this. In June, we found out that Austin Watson was actually arrested and was being investigated over domestic assault.
I didn’t really hear about this because I was head in the sand during World Cup, but then I found out about it later and in August we talked about it on the show a little bit. It was the burn. But what ended up happening was, he’s been suspended 27 games over his situation. Gary Bettman had come out and said that we found it to be … even though Watson in June had pleaded no contest, he was sentenced to one-year probation and had to do what’s called the 26 week “batterer intervention course”. I don’t even want to know what that is. Just the wording of this is so horrific. Anyways, it was his ex-girlfriend.
The victim, the survivor actually is the mother of his child and she wanted it to be dismissed. But what had happened was Gary Bettman said that he has determined that national Nashville player Austin Watson engaged in physical confrontation. While tailored to specific facts, the individual involve, it’s necessary and consistent with NHL strongly held view that it cannot tolerate this type of conduct. Now the problem is the NHL “strongly held view”. What we ended up seeing is that this strongly held view is not tantamount to actually having a policy in place and it’s reprehensible that the NHL does not actually have a policy at all.
It’s not like the NHL is new to this kind of thing. One of the most horrific cases, in sports history, in my opinion, is in the NHL. I just really want to emphasize that this is something we should be paying attention to. This is something, if we’re hockey fans, and for any sports fans, we should be contacting the NHL, completely appalled, just send them a tweet, send them an email. My friends Sasky Stewart actually tweeted this out. She’s like, I can’t believe they don’t have a policy. We need to be aware of this. It’s not okay.
Amira: How do you think their non policy compares to some of the other policies or non-policies across professional sports? Do we see other professional sports teams with either a lack of policy or retroactively making one? How do you think hockey is comparing?
Shireen: Well, hockey is, and we know because of the Patrick Kane case, so there was nothing to do that. The black hawks run their own gong show and just absolve them of anything. Had the organization actually had a policy to do their own investigation or whatnot and actually have the players commit to that under contract, it would be a lot different. Right now, I feel like they’re absolved of anything. They’re immune to any type of penalty and I think it’s horrific. I’m not saying that the NFL’s policy is fantastic.
Don’t get me started on Goodell, but the thing is is that there is one in place, there’s something to abide by right now. If Bettman decides he wants to let it go or let it stay, there’s nothing to keep him within the lines. The thing is, I find it really problematic when one CEO or one commissioner has all the power. This is not the way to supposed to be. It’s supposed to be you follow those guidelines for the protection of society.
Sport is part of society and if these players committed egregious violent acts, they have to abide by that for the safety of everybody involved, and it’s not there. I’m fed up with that. I’m totally unsurprised, but I don’t want the NHL and hockey players to go unchecked and pun intended.
Amira: That is something that definitely might have missed last week, but we really need to be paying attention to. Thanks Shireen. Brenda, what do you think we missed last week?
Brenda: Well, I’m not sure everyone missed it and certainly Lindsay wrote a lot about this and she didn’t miss it. But the Seattle Storm beat the Phoenix Mercury last week to win the WNBA title. The issue came up of whether they would visit the White House or not. Maybe some people missed it, but what was fascinating to me is that the all-around awesome Sue Bird basically was like, “Well, this isn’t really a big issue with us. We’re just sure we don’t want to go.” Right, basically. It was pretty awesome.
The storm had visited the White House in 2011, so it’s not clear that they just wouldn’t be invited nor go. It was just wonderful the way that all the teammates came out about the decision and then discussed it and we’re very supportive of each other. We might have missed that a bit and we might have just missed a chance to ruminate a bit on how freaking awesome is Sue Bird in general because Brianna Stewart had this amazing lights out performance. But Sue Bird who calls herself the mother hen of that group had a beautiful piece in the Players Tribune called So I broke My Fucking nose.
If you haven’t read it because you missed it because there was a lot going on, I think it’s worth just taking some time to read through it. I don’t know. That’s what I’ve been paying attention to when I’m not doing Serena and Nike Kaepernick.
Amira: That’s definitely something that I saw a little bit on the radar, but I think that’s the conversation around White House visits say when the warriors were in conversation about going or not going. I think that one of the things that Sue said and point two is, I don’t even expect to invite because this administration has a long history of ignoring women champions altogether.
Brenda: Yeah. She said we’ve been watching what went on with Steph Curry. Of course, we’re all tuned into this, so it’s not an isolated decision. It was nice to see her recognized the fact that they are paying attention and they’re really involved in this.
Amira: Yeah, exactly. The thing that I don’t want to do is not something you may have missed, but a new angle on something that was talked about a lot. Of course, Colin Kaepernick’s the face of this new campaign and the commercial drew much conversation. A lot of conversation around this commercial. But one thing that I wanted to talk about it within that is the way that that commercial represents athletes with disabilities. I’m with thinking about this and revisiting the conversation we had on the podcast around the para games with my friend and colleague here at Penn State, Dr. Ballinger.
One of the things that I returned to is how she kept saying, we’re fighting with the Paralympics to say these are athletes. They’re athletes first and foremost and they’re athletes with varying abilities and different abilities, but they want to fight to be understood just on the terms of being athletes alone. One of the things that I really appreciated, despite my criticism and critique of this kind of corporate sponsorship of protests and athletic activism, one of the things that was present in that ad and the in the full-length ad was multiple images of athletes with disabilities. It wasn’t framed as this fodder for us to sob story, but rather an aspirational thing.
One of the athletes they featured was Shaquem Griffin, who, if you remember, joined his brother in Seattle this season in the NFL. He has one hand and he has been playing and I’ve been keeping an eye on him. He plays outside linebacker. To see him in the commercial and then to also, as the NFL season starts, to see him in action is just … representation matters. I thought that was something that was under … talked about in this commercial that didn’t it go and notice for many who advocate for disability awareness and rights. I wanted to just kind of center that for a second and say how welcome it was to have those representations in that way.
Along those lines, the other thing that happened this week was that the Baltimore Orioles became the first MLB team to incorporate braille lettering on their game day uniforms. They’re hosting a national federation of the blind at Camden Yards for this big night. One of the things they decided to do is the game day uniform is they’ll wear on September 18th are going to have their team names spelled out in braille. The first, I think hundred or 200 people coming into Camden Yards that day will receive a braille alphabet card. This week, they’ll make history when they wear these uniforms.
I think that that was something that is really interesting to think about how teams are positioning themselves to be inclusive in multiple ways.
Lindsay: I love that. I had not heard that. I definitely had missed that.
Amira: Lindsay, what did we miss this week?
Lindsay: Well, you might’ve missed that Tadd Fujikawa became the first professional … male professional golfer to publicly come out. Tadd was a star teenage sensation when he was in his teens as a teenager they should … but this is about 10 years ago is what I was trying to say. He became, I think it was at the time, the second youngest ever make the cut in a PGA tour event. He had a lot of other first. His pro career has stalled in and out, so he hasn’t made as many waves as maybe his early success would have forecasted. But he’s continued to be an outspoken, an important member of the golfing community.
Last year, I believe he opened up about mental illness and depression and anxiety and really shared his story in that way, which is always really powerful. Then this week he came out and said that … he did this in an Instagram post, but happened to be on World Suicide Day. He just said very powerfully that he wanted to publicly come out that hiding who he was for so many years as part of what led to struggles with mental illness and that he wanted to be a public face for the LGBTQ community.
It’s a beautiful post. We’ll link it in the notes. You should definitely go read it, but I think like there’s a few reasons why this didn’t get a lot of attention. Number one, the fact that he has not been a … he’s not one of the biggest names in golf. He’s a name that a lot in the golfing community remember from his early success, but he hasn’t been having success lately. Number two, you have to wonder if golf being such a conservative sport made people want to just glide right past this.
But I think it’s really important not to. It’s really important to take a moment and celebrate the fact that he came out. There weren’t a lot of golfers who tweeted their support. I actually don’t know if there were any and once again, he’s not a regular presence on the tour of these days. I don’t know that he knows a lot of the current golfers. I don’t know what his relationship is with everyone. I don’t want to make a huge deal out of that, but I would have really liked to have seen more outpouring of support from the PGA players and from the LPGA players.
There was one tweet from the PGA tour account that just said very by the books that he was … That Tadd was the first believed to have come out publicly, and so that was a nice acknowledgement at least. Then the USGA, the US Golf Association also releases a tweet saying something along the lines of it’s nice, golf is for everyone. But golf is certainly one of the sports that has been the most conservative. They’ve been the most vocally supportive of president Trump and they don’t have pride nights. It’s not promoted as being an inclusive sport to say the least.
It would have been nice to see a little bit more of a rallying around Tadd, but the good thing is there wasn’t a lot of negative. I didn’t see a lot of negative things either. I read a piece on golf.com saying, “Well maybe this is progress, the fact that it wasn’t that big of a deal.” But I don’t think golf has earned that much leeway. I think golf is a sport that really need these visible role models, really needs its biggest names to be speaking up for the LGBTQ community and that it really matters. We want to push people to do more. But here on this podcast, I just wanted to say, to thank Tadd for coming forward and thank him for being himself and I’m sure that he helped so many people.
Amira: On this show, in recent episodes, Lindsay has talked about the plight of Sky Blue in the NWSL. I mentioned in a Burn pile a few weeks ago, the Puerto Rican women’s national team protesting their federation during a game. Brenda has talked about the Argentinean national team. It seems like more things are coming out about women’s soccer teams, especially in the Caribbean, in the United States, in Latin America who are facing a lot of barriers from the federation.
As we move into World Cup qualifiers, with CONCACAF coming up, all of these things are coming more public. It all in all seems to be a sad state of affairs for women’s soccer in North America. I wanted to jump in and dig through some of this and see parallel problems, what are some of these squads facing and what should we be looking out for as we move into qualifiers. Shireen?
Shireen: Thanks, Amira. I’m really glad you qualified that and said that because the state of women’s soccer in so many places, although the women themselves, the players, the coaches, the volunteers and the fans are incredible in so many ways. We cite the positivity that we see Providence Park in Portland, we talk about how Seattle is this like … the playoffs between Seattle and Portland are riveting. But we also need to really talk about … when we talk about empowerment of women in sport through soccer, we have to look at the obvious shady places. One of those shady places and the women that aren’t getting the support they need and when I say shady, I’m talking about the federations that just consistently let down these players and those teams.
First of all, I’m going to point to Trinidad and Tobago. Now very recently, and we’re going to hear on Amira’s interview with Lauryn later on in the episode, a lot of players had actually taken to social media to go out and request things like snacks. We’re talking they requested proteins snacks, bananas, water, training facilities, access to money so they could have transportation. Previously on this show, Brenda has gone into detail to talk about the Argentine women’s team and how they’ve traveled in broken buses for like 18 hours at a time. This isn’t uncommon, and we’ve seen this before.
What’s happening in Trinidad and Tobago is actually not new. Before the CONCACAF qualifiers, which are basically the qualifiers leading up to the World Cup, I remember at the time I was absolutely appalled and mortified by the fact that the coach at the time named Randy Waldron had actually taken to twitter to implore the soccer community, the women’s community in general for support for that team, the Trinidad and Tobago team, the Soca warriors who are going to touch down in Texas and had nothing available. They barely had accommodations. They had no water. They had no equipment, and I’m wondering how can this happen?
How is it possible that the federation would let those players, who ended up placing fourth in that tournament … so they’re pretty good in the considering the fact they have absolutely no equipment and support. This is not something we’ve seen before. At this time, if everybody will recall, there was a lot of attention given to what was called The Turf Wars in terms of the US national players being very vocal about that in collaboration with players like Nadine Angerer and talking about how they were terribly unhappy to be playing on turf. I actually wrote a blog piece back then, 2014, in the fall and just talked about, I totally understand the frustration for the turf wars.
But we’re talking about teams here whose stories are not getting amplified, who struggles are not given any attention. They don’t have water. I’m sorry. Let’s focus emergency urgently on what needs to be talked about. Sadly, four years later, it’s still the same case for Trinidad and Tobago. I think this is … FIFA needs to do an emergency intervention here. Karina LeBlanc, who like the new representative for a woman and keep a new role really needs to roll up her sleeves and get involved here because this is super problematic.
Brenda: Yeah. I just like to add something about the FIFA. This year, FIFA unveiled, rolled out its new development scheme, which is called FIFA Forward. In the past, each women’s national team got $36000 per year as a minimum, but they were supposed to be giving. But wait, because it gets worse. None of that was ever … there was no accountability structure, meaning the confederations received it from FIFA, the confederations passed it onto the federations. The federations are not ever required to report how they spend that money, which means that money never ends up … there’s no water.
That’s what happens because it’s actually an incentive for them to funnel that money into the men’s teams, obviously. We saw during the 2015 arrests in Zurich that CONCACAF’s member nations were central to the embezzlement and mismanagement of funds. Now there’s this new program got rolled out January 2018 and it actually does not require a minimum spend on women at all. There’s incentives to spend on women that are really important incentives that could equal about 100000 per team, but the federation has to take the initiative to ask for that money and to make a program to develop women’s soccer, and so far as I can see, nobody’s doing that. It’s disgusting. Really. It’s criminal quite honestly and I just really feel for all these women. I agree with Shireen, Karina LeBlanc, our hopes are pinned on you.
Amira: It’s really appalling. Lindsey, do you have any Sky Blue updates?
Lindsay: I do. They finished their season. They did not go windlass. They won their final game, which was great for them. They had their porta potty the entire time they had the porta potties at the training facility. They had the trailer with the shower in it and just after all of the conditions came out … I guess I should take a moment to catch up people who might not have heard our previous episodes though. What are you doing if you haven’t heard our previous episodes? But anyways, we can talk about that later. Sky Blue FC is the New Jersey team in the national women’s soccer league and a couple of months ago reports came out in Equalizer Soccer in a few other women’s soccer publications about just the deplorable conditions within the organization.
Porta potties at the training facility, no plumbing at the training facility. They’re given the smallest amount of money possible on travel days. Their travel accommodations are just horrific. They’re often staying in the worst hotels when they do get to their locations. Not really given enough food to eat and not reimbursed for things such as medical expenses and just general foods, general self-care things that they should be taking care of. There’s no luxurious training facilities, as I mentioned, and that goes to just care. Like Carli Lloyd taking an ice bath in a trash can. That’s something that’s happening.
So, just amateur below amateur. After this came out, there were all the usual proclamations, we’re horrified, we’ll definitely do something about this. One of the people who owns the team is the New Jersey governor, Phil Murphy, who’s supposed to be proud Democrat, who loves to support women’s sports. But of course, nothing happened. Nothing got better throughout after this came out and they just had to live through the rest of their season in these conditions. Now it’s really time for US soccer in the women’s soccer league to step up, because the problem is that nobody wants to see this team fold.
They don’t want to see another team fold like the Boston breakers did last year, but you also can’t accept the most subpar conditions possible just because you don’t want to fold, something that women’s sports can’t just accept whatever they’re given. But a good sign, I think, is that Carly Lloyd who is on this team, of course, former FIFA player of the year, she had been very silent about this. Carli Lloyd doesn’t like to speak up much. She doesn’t really stick her neck out, but at the end of the season she really did actually take a stand and talk about how … she admitted. Look, I’m a little bit removed from everything. I have my own house. I don’t want to stay employer housing. I’m older than a lot of the people here.
She’s very much just in and out, but she came out and said, “I hate to say it. It’s a little different when a 26-year-old is talking about their roommate,” but she said, “As the season went on, I started to talk more and more with players and didn’t really know the stuff that in prior years had gone on. Some of this stuff was incredibly shocking.” She went on to say, “There needs to be some accountability and some professionalism, and I think we do need to make that better. I think that all the things have come out.
We can say to ourself, that’s a good thing. How can we make this better? Because we don’t want another team folding. We don’t want another team that’s falling out of the pack in the NWSL.” Carli Lloyd is from New Jersey and she’s really made a commitment to stay with the team as long as it is there. She wants to be near her family, but they need her in this fight. I was glad to see her finally speak up, late, but it was better than.
Shireen: Okay. I’m just going to throw in and just push back a little on the Carli Lloyd thing. The fact that she has to say, “As the season went on, I started to talk to other players.” What does that even mean? This is Carli Lloyd, her voice. When she was asked about this initially, she said, consistently, no comment, no comment. Now, as someone who loves soccer and follows it, she said nothing for a very long time and you can’t absolve yourself by saying, “Well, I have my own house.” How can you not be aware that there’s porta potties and their training conditions are crappy.
Yes, you get endorsements. Yes, you’re the darling of the US Soccer Association because of your phenomenal goal, which I absolutely love, which in my opinion, as I digress, is far better than Beckham’s from half during the World Cup final, but that’s not the point. I’m not going to give Carli Lloyd any cookies here. Then we see the likes of people like Pino. Pino goes out on a limb all the time. There’s a reason why she’s beloved. There’s a reason why … and you know what? I’m sorry. Pino has the guts to do and follow convictions. I don’t expect everyone to be an activist, but Carli Lloyd, it was happening to her in front of her, around her.
Pino gets up and talks about stuff that doesn’t necessarily affect her, which makes her a great ally. Carli Lloyd can’t even stand up and say anything about what’s happening in front of her face, under her nose. I’m sorry. No cookies for Carli.
Lindsay: You don’t have to give her cookies, but you have to say it’s important for the future of this fight that she’s speaking up now. That doesn’t absolve her from not speaking out previously, but I’d given up hope of forever speaking out period because of how ridiculous she had been. What I’m saying is that for the future of this fight, for the future of this team, Carli Lloyd has to be speaking out. There’s no other way, so at least she’s doing it now.
Shireen: Yeah. But I’m not going to look to her to lead the fight. You can’t join the fight three quarters way through and then expect to be in a leadership position on it. Sam Kerr did more for that team in terms of speaking out and she wasn’t even on the team anymore. We’ve got a look for a different strategy to someone to lead and that’s part of the problem.
Amira: I think it’s really important to put the Sky Blue conversation in context with these other federations, one, because I think there’s a way in which some people could look at Trinidad and Tobago or Puerto Rico or Argentina and say, okay, well these are … or maybe not Argentina, but these are developing or less resource countries. Of course, they don’t value women’s soccer and there’s a fallacy that the United States has been the best gold standard for how they treat women in sports and that they’re like head and shoulders above the rest of the world. I think, of course, if you’re using the national team was the standard that obfuscates some of the very real barriers these other teams are facing like Sky Blue.
I think it’s important to put it in a conversation together. If we do, if we take sky blue and Trinidad and Tobago in Puerto Rico and Argentina and Jamaica and we take all of these issues together and the federation’s lack of concern and resource allocation towards development of women’s sports, what are the takeaways? Is this a conversation about the devaluation of women’s soccer or women’s football globally or especially North America? Does this point to a problem with the federations in generally? What are some of the takeaways of this larger conversation?
Lindsay: That women are supposed to just be happy with what they’re given, that in order to get anything above the bare minimum. I think it’s generous to even call the conditions we’re talking about the bare minimum in many cases. You have to speak up and you have to fight. That there are people in power who still do not see this as a priority, see it as a burden that they have to give anything to women’s soccer. I just think it just shows that the fight is just far over.
Shireen: Yeah. For me, it points very much at how federations are irresponsible and don’t care the way that they’re supposed to, regardless of how many publications and reports FIFA puts out. I agree with Lindsay, women are expected to just get whatever they get and just be happy with it. Never mind that they win championships. What did they actually have to do beyond be the best of the best of the best? I blame those federations. I will forever be frustrated with the lack of support they get at that level. It’s deplorable.
Brenda: I guess the thing that’s most disheartening for me in terms of a takeaway is that it just actually reflects the larger point, which is that women just aren’t worth men’s time or resources. It’s blatant and it’s just they don’t care. They don’t care. Women aren’t allowed to represent the nation. Women aren’t allowed to ask for things. You could say women make progress. I remember this beautiful quote by Jorge Valdano that I love so much that says, soccer is the most important of unimportant things. It’s just like, if it’s so unimportant then why do you fight it so hard?
Why is it so hard for them all the time just to get the bare minimum of respect and a emoticon of a quality even in places like Norway. When we say soccer’s maybe this landscape is US for women, it’s not really because pay equity isn’t even there. Even when women sell more tickets than men, it doesn’t matter. No arguments actually matter because they’re just not true. The only one that’s true is they don’t care about women and they’re not worth their time. I know it’s simple, but that is my takeaway.
Amira: This week two players from different national teams both took to social media telling bass the conditions and lack of resources the squads had in preparation for CONCACAF. I spoke to both Lauryn Hutchinson and Lauren silver who represents Trinidad and Tobago in Jamaica respectively to dig a little bit deeper on these issues and asked them about the current state of the women’s game and what they think needs to be done moving forward to ensure that these teams, these women, have the support and resources that they need to continue to compete at a high level.
First step is Lauryn Hutchinson. That’s Lauryn with a ‘Y’. Lauryn is a defender for the Soca warriors at the Trinidad and Tobago Women’s national team. She also played at VCU and was a standout there and she’s been with the national team for about seven years. Lauryn, welcome to the show.
Lauryn Hutchins: Hi. Thank you so much. I really appreciate it and I’m so grateful for this opportunity and I appreciate everyone that’s tuning in too.
Amira: If you could, just to start us off, what’s going on? What’s happening here?
Lauryn: Well, at the end of the day, I think what’s going on at the same mistakes. I think in general, there’s a repeating situation of the lack of resources or the support that national teams need to be successful. My mom’s a school teacher and I talk about this all the time. When she goes into the classroom, she doesn’t expect the children get A’s without providing the tools that they need. She creates the culture for them. She makes sure that they can flourish under her and they can get those grades and be successful and learn those concepts. She has to imply that first.
I feel it’s the same concept has to be applied to these national teams. They expect us to come to training camp, perform and not be given the resources and then qualify for these world cups and Olympics and the like. Once you qualify, we’ll be able to provide all of those resources, but what about trying to help us out and try to support us in the best way? I think at this point, a lot of national team players, not just for my own national team but for other national teams too, are in a situation of they want and need more support. This is the only way that we know how to get support right now.
Amira: One of those alarming things that you mentioned on the video that you posted to social media was that there was not going to be a training camp before CONCACAF.
Lauryn: When I originally did my first post, they were talks about a camp, but there’s nothing in writing. Until we saw something in writing, there no camp. Once the video went viral, there were talks about doing a camp. That video really got the ball rolling with some things. Right now, what I’m doing is I’m hosting four my teammates in Richmond, Virginia and we’re doing our own minicamp because we’ve run out of time with the hopes of an official national team camp next week. There’s still nothing in writing, but at least it’s being talked about. As of today, there’s nothing on board, but hopefully, fingers crossed, there will be a camp next week. If not, we’ll just continue our mini prep kit here.
Amira: Yeah. It’s wild that you’re essentially throwing you’re this close to CONCACAF. Let me know, what needs to be done? What can be done to support Trinidad and Tobago’s national team right now?
Lauryn: I think it’s not letting the conversation die after CONCACAF. Whatever happens, happens at CONCACAF whether we qualify or other teams qualify. What happens is, is these amazing stories and then as soon as it’s done, it’s never talked about until another three, four years and it needs to be talked about immediately. As soon as these CONCACAF and World Cup qualifying in a World Cup and Olympics or done, it needs to be, okay, these are the teams that need support, these are the teams that need help. How are we going to put a plan in place to help as much as we can? That’s the point of this whole thing is to bring the community together, to spread positivity and give all the national team players the correct environment to check in.
Amira: Right, and this is not just Trinidad and Tobago, right? On the show we’ve talked about federations that are facing similar issues from Jamaica to Argentina to Puerto Rico and even the NWSL like Sky Blue where you have players taking ice baths in garbage cans. What does it say about the state of women’s soccer? It seems like you have some very well-resourced teams, but then you have all of these federations that seem to be letting women down and letting these players down who are supposed to be representing these countries.
Lauryn: It’s crazy because in my brain, I go through so many different emotions because he look at soccer 10, 15, 20 years ago, there were no teams that were able to even compete in these positions. I try to look at it in the most positive light as I can is that there are teams now and there are competing and that are catching up to some of the bigger teams in the world. I’m really happy that the game is evolving, but it’s like we’re still trying to catch up all the resources and how to organize and how to get this and how to support the ladies the best way we can.
I do think the sport is growing, but I think now that it’s grown to a place where we’ve got the amazing teams, absolutely tremendous talent, now we have to be able to match it with …support and those resources. It’s unfortunate some of the stories that come out and of course, social media today things can be spread across the world in seconds. I think we just really need to start talking about it and support each other.
Amira: The pressure, where does it need to be applied? Does it need to be applied with the federations? Does it need to go up to CONCACAF and FIFA? Is it just that all these junctions need to do better? Is it all hands-on deck kind of situation?
Lauryn: Yeah, I think that’s a great question, and the answer to that question is, I have no idea. I just want to be able to put pressure wherever it needs to be. If it’s a group effort and it needs to be federation players, coaches, CONCACAF, FIFA, and all those things, awesome. I’m still learning who needs to get the ball to move, you know what I mean? I think that’s where everyone else is too. They’re like, who do we need to talk to get things moving and that’s why I say speaking on these podcasts and these also shows, the right person will eventually hear it and hopefully make the move for us.
Amira: Yeah. One of the things that my cohost said recently is like, Karina LeBlanc, you’re in this position now, it’s time to roll up their sleeves, get to work on. There’s some hope that this is something that she can really help with in this new position, but I think this other point you raised is so important that you can’t let the conversation die out after France next year or after the Olympics because it’s in these in between years where a lot of this stuff can institutionalize and resources allocated. I think that that’s such a huge point to put on people’s radars is that we have to continue to talk about these issues even CONCACAF is not around the corner.
Lauryn: Yeah, and I appreciate it. I actually just met Karina not even two weeks ago. I think she just moved into her new place a few weeks ago in the United States and she has literally been thrown into the fire. After talking to her for about 10 slash 20 minutes, her soul and her heart is so in this and I absolutely think that she’s going to be someone going to be a cornerstone from the logistical side for growing women’s soccer, just not in this country, in the United States, but also around the world.
Amira: That’s wonderful.
Lauryn: Yeah, she’s phenomenal. I’m really excited to be getting her onboard with some things.
Amira: All right. Before I get off the phone with you, I have to know, CONCACAF is coming up quite fast and you have a draw with United States, Mexico, Panama. What are you looking forward to? What are you excited about this tournament?
Lauryn: It’s a dream. It is such an honor to put on the red, white and black and represents and inspire so many people. Not only that, I own a business here in Richmond, Virginia called Evolve that empowers young women. The families that have come up and help us have been amazing, and it inspires young girls too and now they’re fans of Trinidad and Tobago, not just as a team but for the country. I’m excited to represent the country. I’m excited to be around the best players in the world because I think CONCACAF is extremely competitive.
I’m excited to travel. I’m excited to put a grind. We’re already in the ground, but the grind of 90 minutes plus on the field and fighting and just being with my sisters and really doing everything in my power to qualify for a world cup. It’s the dream. It’s every little girl’s dream.
Amira: Well, Lauryn, thank you so much for coming on Burn It All Down. We’re definitely going to have the Soca warriors on our radar, be watching you guys in CONCACAF, and we want to continue to amplify this issue. From all my flame throwers, for more information, I’m going to link Lauryn’s social media pages as well as ways to help to the show notes. Lauryn, thanks so much again for coming on the show.
Lauryn: Thank you. Thank you to everyone tuning in. Be kind to one another and just live out that passion. Thank you so much.
Amira: Next, I spoke to Lauren Silver. Lauren’s a midfielder with the reggae girls, Jamaican women’s national team. She played soccer at University of Florida and has been playing in the Jamaican national system for about four years now. Lauryn Hutchinson, she also took to social media this week to talk about some of the issues her squad was facing as they prepare for CONCACAF. Lauren, welcome to the show. Can you start us off by giving us the lay of the land? What are some of the issues that the reggae girls are facing right now?
Lauren Silver: Right. We’re about two weeks out, I think, from CONCACA, which is the biggest tournament that I’ll ever play in, that most of the guys will ever play in. We have no camp up till today. They’re trying to bring some of the girls in I think a couple of days before the tournament starts, but really there’s not really much that can be accomplished in that time. Right now everybody in their designated spot. Some of the are at their colleges, some girls are still in high school, so they’re playing club soccer still. Some girls are playing professionally overseas and have contracts and then there’re some girls like myself who are uncontracted players trying to scramble to make sure that we get the work and that we need to so we can be prepared.
Amira: Yeah. Going into a tournament as big as CONCACAF, you would expect to have more resources from your federation. Correct?
Lauren: Right. We don’t have any resources from the federation as of now, which could include per diem, it can include a camp, it can include … even if we’re out here training by ourselves, they could somehow find a way to sponsor us, which isn’t happening either. Right now, there’s two girls, Kenny Asher and Allison Lacey midfielder and there’s me in Coral Springs, Florida. We are an owner of a gym who’s also Jamaican. His name is Manny Mayor and he owns One to One Fitness in coral Springs, Florida. He’s sponsoring us by allowing us to use his gym to do all of our strength training.
He also owns a recovery center where did we do we NormaTec, we get massages, we often get nutritional smoothies and protein shakes and all that stuff there. He’s sponsoring all of that for the three of us. He’s also sponsoring us to live in his house for the time that we’ve been here. We’ll be here about a month by the time we get to CONCACAF, and so he’s sponsoring us also living here. We’re using a trainer, as well. His name is Eko and that’s one of our players, Christina Chang, her fiancé, who’s spending his training us for free.
He’s been doing that for us, and then … let me see who else we have going. We pretty much had all these resources here that we’ve had to seek out ourselves and none of this is coming from the JFF. We’re here just with the resources that pulled together at the last minute and we’re exhausting those at this point.
Amira: If you will, for casual soccer fans, can you tell us a little bit about what should a federation be doing especially leading into a major tournament? What do you expect from the JFF?
Lauren: What I would expect from the JFF and like any federation that wants us to succeed at a high level, not just to maintain or to something on a level but to really succeed, to really see us flourish as a team, there should be contract, number one, on the team. For instance, for people who don’t know soccer, I’m 25 years old. I shouldn’t be playing on a professional team and at some point I probably will be this year, so I’m looking at some teams actually and looking to play the coming year. But I should be playing on a professional team and I should be contracted by Jamaica.
Every time we have a chance where we have a tournament that they want me to participate in, I have a ongoing contracts with them that pays me to do that. So, then when I leave my given club, or I leave my job, I’m still having a source of income. Right now, that’s not a thing nor is that for the boys team as well. The men’s team, they’re not contracted, I don’t think. For us to run properly the camps and not just seven-day camps or a five day camp before a huge tournament. For instance, we went and participated in the Caribbean finals for the World Cup qualifiers in Jamaica about two weeks ago.
Before we got there we had, I think it was five days or something like that to come into camp and then straight from camp we had to go straight into our tournament. Now if you think about it, girls like me who … there’s like six or seven of us I think or seven of us, I’m not sure of that, that are not under contract or not playing in colleges or in on club teams. We don’t have proper training. When we go into the camp like that, we have to rely heavily on ourselves to come into camp in shape and be able to play a 90-minute games, which is hard to accomplish when you’re not playing in a team setting.
If we have more camps throughout the year, it’ll give more of the girls an opportunity to be playing on a regular basis. Plus, maybe it’ll give us more opportunity to find more clubs overseas for players to be placed on so that they’re getting the proper training before they even get into camp in the first place. Other things that we would need, making sure we have the proper meals and feeding our bodies and filling our bodies with good proteins and carbohydrates and good stuff that’ll help us like vegetables and we need fruit, stuff like that. A dietician and nutritionist who’s on staff to make sure that we’re doing those things.
What else can a functioning federation need? We need backing and support from national federation, the people believing in us. We need the social media to be on their A game. If you look at the JFF Instagram, this is a woman’s World Cup campaign. We’re going into the world cup 2019 next year. While it is important to continue to coach for the boys who do have events and things coming up, the men’s World Cup passed this summer and that’s done. Now it’s should be to really shine the light on the woman’s side so that way people have exposure to what you can get out there. We’re doing really well to, so we have something to boast about, something for the social media to post about because we’re winning.
The social media games could be up because we’re not on there as much as you should be. That would really help our federation because if we’re doing well it’s a win-win for both of us.
Amira: Yeah. I think some of the point you raised prompts this next question. Is this about federations having a lack of resources or is it about a gender allocation of those resources or a combination of both?
Lauren: I think the idea of man playing soccer has always been the primary thought for all OF human kind. if you think about it, Men are always first. It’s always been like that, and especially with the men’s program has been around a lot longer and the woman’s program actually took a break. Right before I went and played CONCACAF in 2014, the women’s program just ended. There was no woman’s program. There’s an inconsistency with that and that I think was a big thing for us to overcome as a program. But definitely I think the men get more per diem than the women’s team.
All of our gear is the men’s gear. It’s not women’s gear and men’s gear. Everything is on the team. I remember when I first started playing, one of the persons that ever played with the women’s program, we were wearing shirts that said reggae boys. The gear we were wearing is the boys, so pretty much everything for the boys and I feel like we get hand me down from that. It’s definitely I think that gender inequality type situation to and then I also think the federation along with not maybe having all the resources they can use. I feel like they do have resources, but I don’t know if they have the proper staff to manage it and allocate it properly.
Amira: You mentioned social media before and I wanted to know, when did you decide … how did you decide to take to social media to amplify these issues?
Lauren: Right. Initially I did an Instagram story that just caused some chaos and one of the newspaper places, newspaper quoted an article about me. Also, I confronted the JFF president about some of the things I was saying. At first, I was just upset because we literally just … we came back from Jamaica and we did a great job and then to hear the backlash to see them come out with an article about no camp, no problem. Even if that is the media slurring some of the things that the JFF might be trying to say, it’s not okay for us to accept that message regardless.
To have that come out and there not to be a follow up if we felt otherwise, that’s unacceptable. That got me going, which is why I did the initial story and then I came out with a live Instagram stories because I wanted to … After that I got a little bit of backlash from the JFF and from people and other articles. Honestly, I don’t really care, to be honest. I’m supporting a bigger cause than say I’m supporting Jamaica. I’m supporting Jamaica, I’m supporting my staff and my coaches and more importantly, I have more integrity than that.
I’m not going to let someone … I’m not going to let one of us be blurred. We deserved a lot of respect and we deserve lot of credibility for what we’ve accomplished with very little resources. So, that is me speaking my mind. I went on and did the live story because I had … obviously, you can talk for as long as you want. On there, I was explaining in detail what I meant by that. I have nothing against the JFF, I have nothing against anyone. I want to work with these people as closely as I can and I want them to be as honest as much as possible so we can all accomplish the goal which is to qualify for World Cup.
How can you best do that? Players need to have incentive. If there’s no incentive, it’s not going to happen. I’m trying to help them because I’m telling them, the players need a motivation or after a period of time, you’re not going to see the same results. We’re working off of nothing right now. That gets old very fast. The coaches are working off of nothing. The trainers are working off of nothing. Nobody is getting paid and at the end of the day, it’s not all about money. The whole goal is we want to qualify for the World Cup, but we need these incentives.
Whether that’s more takes, we’re going to have more camps or we’re going to have women’s review or we’re going to promote the women’s team more. We’re going to post you guys more on social media. Get these little wins, I would call them. Having these little wins in here would go a long way for that. But you’re not getting any of those things and qualifying for a World Cup, you already have so many obstacles in the way. The federation shouldn’t be another adversity for us. We should work alongside of each other to accomplish this goal of qualifying for a World Cup. But if they want, respect from us they need to give respect as well.
Amira: One of the things you say on your video is, this would not happen in the United States. Now, certainly we see with something like Sky Blue and the NWSL that there’s issues internally here too. But as a larger federation the US team, national team, Canada, France, they’re fairly well resource team’s relatively speaking. I’m wondering, is there a larger body? Does FIFA need to intervene to figure out a way to quell some of the disparities between these federations? What are you looking at it as the commonalities or barriers between getting places like Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago to have more resources?
Lauren: Right. I’m not expert in the CONCACAF’s deeper distribution, allocation of resources, so I’m not going to pretend. That’s my little disclaimer. There it is in case someone else wants to write another article about something that I said. I have no idea about those particular monies and where they go and how that works. But I do think that there is a bit of this, not entitlement but expectation that the United States and Canada they’ve always qualified deservingly. They’ve always shown up and they always take it professionally, not just the players, but the coaching staff.
Not just the coaching staff, but for the most part, even with the US federation, every federation, they have their politics, but their politics is better than us, which is why they’re competing. But I think there is a bit of a discrepancy between United States and Canada and teams like that that have a bit more structure compared to the Caribbean and Latin American countries. I don’t know how their resources are handled and I also don’t know where our federation even gets their money or get their resources and I don’t know how they allocate it.
We might be getting things and we might not be allocating it properly or we might be discriminated against and not getting enough of the resources and thus we are allocating it properly, but we’re not getting funded enough. I don’t know how that works, but it does seem to be a trend to me and I think something happens that … something that happens over and over again isn’t a coincidence and it needs to be addressed. I’ve reached out. I’ve tried to contact FIFA, I’ve tried Karina LeBlanc who’s supposed to the women’s, I think-
Amira: Women’s head.
Lauren: Yeah, she’s the women’s designated side to CONCACAF and I feel like that’s why I also promoted this idea about doing media player union like they do in the NFL, some place for players to come together from all countries. Because the US though they might have more resources than us and are extremely successful, they have their own struggles as well. They’re different than ours and I’m not going to sit here and say like … I feel like our issues right now are really troubling because we’re struggling to even get camps to get into CONCACAF to qualify for the World Cup. Our struggles are a lot more complex that theirs in that sense, but they still have struggles too.
This is an opportunity for players to get together and just talking about all those things, to come together and to understand like the federation. It shouldn’t be a secret what’s going on in the federation. I should have knowledge. I should be able to know is there a discrepancy between the Caribbean and the United States and Canadian Federation. If there is, what is it? The fact that that is not common knowledge, it goes to show that there’s some sneaky things going on.
Amira: I’m want to pivot a little bit before I let you go here and ask you about CONCACAF itself. You have a draw with the three C’s, Canada, Costa Rica and Cuba. What are you looking forward to about this tournament? Is there anything in particular you’re excited about? How do you feel about the draws?
Lauren: I’m excited to play. Just to be able to play at an international level on a platform like that is a once in a lifetime opportunity. I’m excited personally to play because I just love the game and that’s why I’m still playing. I’m looking forward to getting to play these really competitive diverse sides. Canada, a team that we have never seen before. We mainly ever only ever played Caribbean teams and then just most recently we played Colombia, Venezuela, Costa Rica, Cuba, which … well, Cuba was with us in the Caribbean final, but we’ll see them again.
We just recently played a lot of these different teams, so it’d be nice to play against Canada, a team that we never played again. At a level that they play at, I just want to see where we hang with them. I’m excited about the group of girls that we have and I’m excited to see this group of girls in action against a side like Canada. I think we can hang. I want to see us compete, so I’m excited to see that. I’m excited to play Costa Rica and Cuba again because those are the two teams that we actually had the opportunity to this year. So, to get to play them again and have teams in play and understand their style and to see us play and have adapt to it, I’m excited to play against them again and see how that goes.
Amira: Yes. Well, we are so excited to watch the reggae girls get to work. We will continue to do what we can to try to amplify your voices and your stories and we’ll also be watching you on the field in just a few weeks. Thank you so much Lauren, best of luck and thank you again for coming on Burn It All Down.
Lauren: Thanks for having me.
Amira: Now, it’s time for everyone’s favorite segment, the burn pile. Brenda, what are you torching today?
Brenda: I’m torching something that happened in Argentina. I had to say, I’m so sorry that Argentina ends up on my burn pile so often, but I hope that Argentines understand it as a point of love. I think that the Argentines’ sport culture is fascinating. I study it. I lived there last semester and I miss it, but this is some serious bullshit what you’re about to hear right now. Seven-year-old Candelaria Cabrera, who lives in Santa Fe, Argentina and is a soccer player. You should remember Santa Fe as the home of … a region in Argentina that is the home of Messi and many other amazing talents. What happened is she’s been playing on the club Huracan, which is a very traditional, longstanding club in Argentina.
She’s a seven-year-old phenom, totally obsessed with soccer, tons of talent for seven. God! My kids are playing soccer and they’re just like, “What? I’ve a game today?” Versus, totally the self-motivated kid that just loves it. She’s on this club and because of an antiquated law … not law, regulation, basically it says there’s no mixed soccer teams in Santa Fe. The Argentine federation could have chosen to ignore it, but they didn’t. Huracan, her club got a letter telling them that she needed to be kicked off the team. Her and her mom just cried and cried is what her mom said to the press and she said, Noriega told me that the people who make these laws that are bad people.
I’ll tell you, there’s no girls teams there. It means she can’t play. It doesn’t mean … I tried to get my daughter into a club play in Argentina, we probably went to like 20 different clubs and there are teams at the age of 11 and 12, but not that young. There’s not mixed teams that young. Anyway, essentially the Argentine federation, you’re making little girls cry. I want to burn that rule and burn them for enforcing it. Burn.
Amira: Shireen, what are you burning?
Shireen: Just so we don’t make North America, Latin America feel like they’re the only sexist ones in football, my burn comes directly from the Calcutta Football League. Now, the championship was won by a team called Mohun Bagan and their president said after the win blatantly sexist comments, “daughters were being born for the last seven years and suddenly his son has been born.” How would you like it if that was the case with you? I had the same feeling Tutu Bose, who was fondly known as Tutu.
Now, Tutu, let me tell you something, associating and affiliating a win with having … birthing a boy is nonsensical, ridiculously steeped in patriarchy and unfair to the millions of girls who played soccer in India, including Yuwa, which is an amazing organization in Ranchi, India, which actually helps prevent human trafficking and use this football as a means to empower young girls to stay in school to stay healthy and provide their communities and participate. This Tutu is literally … he apologized later with one of those really vacuous, I’m so sorry. I didn’t actually mean to offend anyone. It’s not me type of non-apologies. Of course, it’s you. You said it Twat waffle. Anyways, so that’s what I’m burning. Burn
Amira: Yeah. I’m going to take this back to the United States for my burn and I don’t know if anybody remembers this story back in March about a University of Cincinnati volleyball player, Shalom Ifeanyi, who was dismissed from the team because of her Instagram pictures. One of the things that happened with this case is that her coach continuously was policing her Instagram pictures, telling her they were inappropriate, sending her text messages with screenshots of her IG posts saying you need to delete these.
Then these text messages you can see Shalom saying, “But I’m fully closed. There’s people in our team that are in bikinis. It’s not my fault that I have curves. It’s not my fault that I have a chest. I feel like your body shaming me. I feel like you’re penalizing me as a black woman. It’s not my fault that I’m not tiny and white.” There exchanges kept going on and on with our coach taking her picture and saying, “See, what do you think if a football player saw this picture? You are to sensual or …” A series of critiques about her body and what she put on her Instagram page, which eventually lead to our dismissal from the University of Cincinnati volleyball team.
That’s the backstory to the fact that Shalom then filed a lawsuit against the University of Cincinnati for this dismissal and her racist sexist treatment while she was a student there. This week, it was announced that University of Cincinnati settled with Shalom for $40000 on the condition that she never enroll in Cincinnati again or ever play for their team again. While this may seem like a win, the thing that I want to burn in particular is it’s another case in which we can see the ridiculousness of the NCAA amateurism and transfer rules. Again, the NCA, which does not penalize coaches for say, jumping ship to schools in the middle of the year, getting out of their contract and taking another job, and yet for players who do that, they need to sit out a year.
Now we have a case with a young woman who was horribly treated by her coach, was body shamed because of her thickness, her blackness, her body and was dismissed from the team based on that. Enough to reach a settlement in a lawsuit with this university because she had the screenshots of all these text messages. At the end of the day, even though she is one her lawsuit, because of NCAA transfer rules, she still can’t play anywhere. If she transferred somewhere, which she can never play Cincinnati again. If she wants to play basketball again, she’s a senior, she would have to sit out in the year. Essentially this is how her … I meant volleyball.
Essentially this is how her volleyball career has ended, a sport she’s played her entire life. It’s ended with the shame of being policed for her body type. It’s ended in a lawsuit and it’s ended with the game that she likes so much being now put out of reach because of the NCAA’s stupid amateurism rules. That is my friends, what I want to burn down.
Amira: Lindsay, take us home. What are you burning?
Lindsay: Well, I know you’ll all be shocked that this has to do with the Nassar case. I just feel that it is my obligation to each week remind you that there are new things to burn about this. First of all, it’s worth noting that this week was marked the two-year anniversary of the Indianapolis Star first publishing allegations of abuse against Nassar. That was when Rachael Denhollander first came forward. This has now been in our lives for two full years. But in a federal lawsuit filed this week, Erica Davis, who was a former field hockey player at Michigan State University, alleges that … trigger warning, obviously. Skip ahead a couple of minutes if you don’t want to listen to this.
But she alleges that Nassar drugged and raped her during a medical appointment back in 1992 when she was only 17 years old. This rape was reportedly videotaped and he reportedly in pregnancy her during this, though she later suffered a miscarriage. This lawsuit also says that George Perles, who was the school’s athletic director in ’92 and is currently, as in today, right now, a MSU trustee, on the board of trustees. Perles reportedly knew about the allegations and the existence of a video back in ’92, but intervene to keep them quiet. Davis also tried to go to the Michigan State Police Department in October of ’92, but the detective explicitly told her that he was powerless to investigate anything in the athletic department.
Now, this lawsuit is significant because … well, it’s just significant the allegations themselves, but in the context of the broader scope of the Nassar investigation, this is the first time someone has accused Nassar of rape through, I guess what you would call intercourse. Everything else has been digital. It’s not the earliest known incident of Nassar’s sexual abuse, but it is the earliest instance of someone reporting it to Michigan State. This is five years earlier than we previously had heard that someone had reported Nassar’s assaults to Michigan state. We now know that there is a possibility that Michigan state could have prevented this if they had actually acted lawfully in ’92.
They would have prevented so much. I just want to throw all that on the burn pile. Most notably that there is a Michigan state trustee current day who reportedly knew about this. Burn.
Amira: After all that burning, it’s time to recognize some bad ass women. First, Lucio Barbuto, the first woman president of the Argentine club, Banfield to preside over our first division football club in the entire country. Also, I want to shout out the University of Oregon’s women’s soccer team, which is not only off to a great start, but it attributed it to the open discussions of black lives matter and their socioeconomic differences. They embrace teammates who have put fists in the air and a call for attention of issues of racial inequality and they continued as a team to take critical stands and have these hard conversations about social injustice and inequality.
This nomination for bad ass woman of the week come to us from flame thrower, Susie Stephen. Thank you for this nomination. They are certainly doing bad ass work over there in Oregon. Also, want to highlight the Sky Blue keeper, Kailen Sheridan, who had an NWSL record of 108 C’s on the season, despite all the mayhem that is happening with that soccer club. Congrats to you Kailen. In Darfur, the Darfur United Women’s team in collaboration with iACT, has announced that they are underway in creating the United Women’s team, the first soccer team of Darfuri women living in refugees camps in eastern Chad.
This will give Darfuri women the first opportunity had in their lives to be part of an organized soccer team as this sport is typically reserved for men in their community. That’s very exciting and I can’t wait to see that come to fruitation. Also, want to shout out Zeina Nassar, the new German featherweight champion. Also, Irtiqa Ayoub, a rugby player from occupied Kashmir region of India who just won the talent award at the Eminence of warm ceremony. She’s certainly an inspiration. Now, a drum roll please. No surprise here. Our bad ass women of the week goes to the Seattle storm, WNBA champions. The Seattle storm swept the Washington Mystics winning game three on Wednesday night.
Breana Stewart led the entire way of that game and average 25 points in six rebounds in the whole series, which is one of the big reasons that she was named finals MVP. This is the third title for the Storm who also won the title in 2004 and 2010. Congrats to the Seattle Storm, WNBA champions yet again. All right, y’all, what’s good in your lives? Bren?
Brenda: What’s good in my life? I’m kind of being crushed by the weight of work and …
Amira: Yeah, preach.
Brenda: … I am not super doing great with that. Sorry to everyone who might be listening to this if I owe you papers, if I owe you articles that are late, if I owe you manuscript reviews that are late, et cetera, et cetera, I’m really sorry. It’s not just you and it’s not you, it’s me. That’s where I am. What’s been good is the occasional time where people share cool shit on social media and this includes footballers with animals, dancing children. This morning it was more of your dad putting on some Facebook, some insane throw in slip somebody did. The woman slips and throws it in.
I know this has been done before but it was a special equal. Thank you to all the people who are giving me short little distractions in the midst of the work shit storm that I met right now.
Lindsay: Yeah. First and foremost, my family is in North Carolina and so far everybody is safe and sound. I am definitely grateful for that and also just sending thoughts and prayers to everybody who’s being impacted by the storm down there of course. But look, I got to cover WNBA finals game this week up. Do you hear my dog? He’s doing a little scratching. I got to cover a WNBA finals game this week and that was a dream come true. I was sad that the Mystics couldn’t extend the series. I would have loved to have covered at least one more.
It was pretty remarkable to be there, and it just felt like a momentous moment for me personally. Although, I have to say my body did not realize how thin I’d been spreading myself during the WNBA season, essentially doing two full-time jobs. It has just collapsed these past few day. It’s just been like done, done. Even though, of course, but my body is done. But that was just remarkable, and it was so cool to see these … covering the WNBA is my favorite thing I do. I was just grateful for that.
Amira: And do a tremendous job at it. I’m like Bren. The pace of this semester has set in and my to-do list is overflowing. That’s not wonderful, but I did take two days at the end of this week in the middle of media mayhem around Serena. I escaped back down to the DMV and I did a guest lecture … two guest lectures actually at Morgan State in my friend Sarah’s class, one of my closest friends. She is starting her first year as an assistant professor at Morgan State. It’s so much fun in her class talking about black athletes in the diaspora and athletic activism across the globe and certainly of course dissecting all the latest with Kaepernick and Serena with her students as well as my students.
It was very generative conversations and different ones as well. My real what’s good is that as part of that visit, I dragged Sarah with me to an escape room, just the two of us and we got out with 12 minutes to spare. That was awesome. You know me, I love escape rooms and it was the second one I’ve done in the last 10 days. I’m hoping, cross your fingers, in just a mere two weeks to do an escape room with Brenda and Shireen. That is what’s good for me. Escape rooms, always. Shireen?
Shireen: Thank you. I recently relaunched my website about a week ago and then this past week I formally announced about my inclusion and diversity consultancy business, which is a continuation of what I actually already do. It’s just me being more firm and say, you don’t get my time for free. Please don’t email me with requests to give you 20 hours just because you know you’d appreciate it and I’m a kind human. No, pay me. I’m damn good at what I do, and I’d be happy to help you out of your little conundrum that basically involves the exclusion of many marginalized racialized communities.
That’s what’s good. In addition to the escape room, I just found out also that when we go to Dickinson friend and I will be picked up but at the same driver at the same time, so I’m extremely excited about that. I’m so excited and I’m also so excited for our little trip with Amira to the escape room and I’ve requested Missy Elliot. Maybe she’ll show up. I don’t know. I would love that. Burn it all down, March, I’m so excited for my tote bag. Today I’m going to actually go see Freedom Fields at the Toronto international film festival, which is an incredible documentary about young girls, young footballers in Libya, posts Gaddafi and how they use football to actually empower themselves and the community around them.
I’m so excited to see this film. It got a standing ovation three days ago at the opening and I’m really excited. The last film I saw the Toronto international film festival about football was Becca over 15 years ago. So, I’m really excited.
Amira: That’s it for Burn It All Down. Burn It All Down lives on SoundCloud, but it can also be found on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play, wherever you get your podcasts from. We appreciate your reviews and feedback, so feel free to subscribe, rate. Let us know what we did well and how we can improve. If you love our podcast, share it with a friend. Tell a coworker about your favorite feminist sports podcast. Get the word out. You can find us on Facebook at Burn It All Down or on twitter, Burn It All Down Pod.
We also are on Instagram, Burn It All Down Pod. We’re available by email, firstname.lastname@example.org, and certainly check out our website, burnitalldownpod.com. There you’ll find previous episodes, transcripts, a link to our Patreon, and as Shireen noted also now a link to our new merchandise store front. Get your mugs, your hoodies, your pillows. There is a lot of fun merch. There’s two new logos and that is underway and available now. If you haven’t yet picked up your merchandise, head on over to our webpage, get the link there. You can go on twitter, you can see the link there.
If you have got merch, thank you so much for showing off the podcast and your support of the podcast. Keep throwing those flames. As it starts to come to you, as it starts to ship to you, we would love to see you in them. I cannot wait for the selfies with the flame shirts or the coffee mugs. I can’t wait to see your match book pillows on your couch. Send those pictures into us. We would love to see Burn It All Down out there in our flame for our community. Again, thank you for listening.
This has been Amira Rose Davis, here with Brenda Elsey, Lindsay Gibbs, Shireen Ahmed. See you next week, flame throwers.