Episode 76: Women’s WC Qualifiers, reporting on sexual assault, and Safia Ahmad of Les Canadiennes

On this week’s show Shireen and Brenda talk Mental Health day (7:13); before running down the CONCACAF Women’s World Cup qualifying tournament. They ask, what went wrong for Mexico, tip their hats to Jamaica and Panama, and look ahead to a Canada-USA final (20:41); Shireen interviews Safia Ahmad, the media relations manager for Les Canadiennes of CWHL and the women’s hockey season (37:29); Self-care when covering sexual assault stories

Then, there’s a Burn Pile (57:44); Bad Ass Women of the Week (1:03:04), and in What’s Good, we manage to find some things to celebrate in dark times (1:04:33).

For links and a transcript…


“Concacaf Group A redux” https://equalizersoccer.com/2018/10/10/lauletta-group-a-concacaf-qualifying-mexico-panama-uwswnt-trinidad-tobago-recap-analysis/

“Jamaica advance to face USWNT, Canada eliminates Costa Rica” https://equalizersoccer.com/2018/10/12/jamaica-advance-to-face-uswnt-canada-eliminates-costa-rica/

“U.S. women’s national team a class above CONCACAF” http://www.espn.com/espnw/sports/article/24953132/us-women-rout-trinidad-tobago-7-0-concacaf-world-cup-qualifying

“From boos to captain’s armband, Megan Rapinoe is better than ever” http://www.espn.com/espnw/sports/article/24942605/from-boos-captain-armband-megan-rapinoe-better-ever-us-women-soccer-team?sf199963053=1

“Canada downs Costa Rica 3-1 in Concacaf Women’s Championship” https://www.prosoccerusa.com/nwsl/highlights-canada-downs-costa-rica-3-1-in-concacaf-womens-championship/

“Sinclair scores 175th goal as Canada tops Costa Rica at CONCACAF Championship” https://www.ctvnews.ca/sports/sinclair-scores-175th-goal-as-canada-tops-costa-rica-at-concacaf-championship-1.4131176

“A Rape Accusation Against Cristiano Ronaldo Is Finally Getting Attention. It’s About Time Soccer Had Its #MeToo Moment” http://time.com/5416251/cristiano-ronaldo-rape-soccer-metoo/

“Ronaldo is an Icon of Corruption in Sports” https://sports.vice.com/en_us/article/a3pqab/ronaldo-is-an-icon-of-corruption-in-sports

“Sports Media Is Finally Covering One of the Biggest Stories of the Year. Why Did It Take So Long?” https://rewire.news/article/2018/10/09/sports-media-is-finally-covering-one-of-the-biggest-stories-of-the-year-why-did-it-take-so-long/

” Van Dyke verdict led to strong, controversial reactions from local schools” https://www.suntimeshighschoolsports.com/2018/10/12/van-dyke-chicago-high-school-football/

“Asian Para Games: Indonesian judoka out after ‘wanting to break’ rule by wearing hijab” http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/10/10/asian-para-games-indonesian-judoka-out-after-wanting-break-rule-wearing-hijab.html

“Big League Chew is putting a woman ballplayer on its package for the first time ever” https://twitter.com/nowthisnews/status/1050461783851495425?s=19

“Football-mad girl won fame because boys refused to shake her hand” https://amp.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/oct/13/football-mad-girl-fame-boys-refused-to-shake-hand


Shireen: Welcome to this week’s episode of Burn It All Down. It’s the feminist sports podcast you need.

On this week’s panel, it’s just me and Dr. Brenda Elsey, associate professor of history and undeniable genius at Hofstra University in New York. So we might be doing a little bit of Thelma and Louise.

Before we begin, I would like to thank our patrons for their generous support, and to remind our flamethrowers about our Patreon campaign. You pledge a certain amount monthly, as low as $2, and as high as you want to become an official patron of the podcast. In exchange for your monthly contribution, you get access to special rewards. And with the price of a latte a month, you can get access to extra segments of the podcast known as hot takes, a monthly newsletter, an opportunity to record on the burn pile, only available to those in our Patreon community. So far we’ve been able to solidify funding for proper editing and transcripts, but are hoping to reach our dream, hiring a producer to help us with the show. Burn It All Down is a labor of love, and we believe in this podcast. But having a producer to help us as we grow would be amazing. We are so grateful for your support.

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Now, on to the show.

Today, we are going to talk about CONCACAF, which I know is one of Brenda’s favorite subjects ever. So we will be doing that. I have an interview with Safia Ahmad, the media person and genius at Les Canadiennes CWHL team. And then, Brenda and I will talk a little bit about what it takes to write about sexualized violence in sport with one of the biggest athletic figures in the world, and we’ll talk a little bit about self care.

Moving on directly to that, Wednesday, October 10th was Mental Health Day. Now Bren, was there any tweet or post that moved you, that you found was helpful?

Brenda: It was Wednesday was Mental Health Day, and I was teaching the entire day. I left at 7 am and I got back at 11 pm. So ironically, I didn’t have that much time to do any good mental health work. But I would like to say that since last year I feel like the campaign grew a lot, and even on Thursday, Friday, into the weekend, I was seeing all kinds of wonderful and thoughtful and kind posts. I did like the ones that pointed out language that we should change and gave suggestions for things like how not to use the word crazy or insane and alternative language to use, because language matters, and I thought those were very moving. What about you?

Shireen: Yeah, no, thanks. I think that I totally agree with you, just the way that we need to rid ourselves of ableist language is really, really important. I’ve always loved an artist in Toronto named Hana Shafi, she does affirmation art, so I always share her stuff. And I did that. And I saw a story about an athlete, a skater, named Gabrielle Daleman. And she actually won bronze at the World Skating Championship last year. And she’s taking a break from skating for mental health. And that really struck me, because I remember thinking in my lifetime, I never saw stuff like that when I was younger. I never saw the openness and the willingness of people to understand or try to understand anyway that taking a break for mental health was actually really necessary and legitimate.

A quote from her is, quote, “I’m just more mature, I’m more confident, not only in my skating, but in myself,” Daleman said. “And that’s what I’ve struggled with in the past is self-love and self-confidence and speaking out about bullying, about my eating disorders, my mental health. That’s really helped me grow, and that’s what’s actually made me more confident in my skating and in myself.” End quote.

I found that to be incredibly moving, her story, and really important.

Brenda: Yeah. When you said I never saw these things when I was younger, I absolutely never saw these types of things. But then again that might be one positive thing about social media. I have a feeling that when we talk about writing about sexualized violence later in the show, we’re not gonna be so happy about social media. But it’s nice for players and athletes like that to have a direct communication in that sense, with people that follow them and look up to them, because I never remember hearing anything about mental health, anything talked about in a sensitive way, looking at it seriously as a challenge in one’s life. So it’s really great to see a shift in our own lifetime.

Shireen: Yeah, no, I absolutely agree without aging ourselves too young, because Brenda and I are both 26. Just kidding. Just kidding. yeah. No, it was really important to see that and to be reaffirmed, and even athletes, I know I’ve talked about Silken Laumann a lot in this regard, because I looked up to her growing up. When she came up, and even in my adulthood and wrote her book called Unsinkable, it really meant a lot for me, and I know that on our episode that we did add in our tweet thread about Mental Health Day, that episode, I believe it’s 23, was really important, where we went around the table and talked about what it meant to us. I always talk about her because I looked up to her as indomitable, and in many ways she is. But indomitable doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t struggle. It just means that you persevere, and that’s something I’ve learned about in my own journeys with mental health and learning from everybody else.

Brenda. Let’s talk CONCACAF. Take it away.

Brenda: Whoa. Obviously, I’m not really happy with what’s been going on, because I love Mexico. But, at the same time, really impressed with some other things. So this is where we’re at. We are up to the semifinals for CONCACAF. They are going to be played … We’re recording on Sunday morning, October 14th, and it’s this afternoon that the two semifinals will be played between Canada and Panama, and the US versus Jamaica. So we’re up to that point. We already know, for people that don’t follow soccer that closely, there are 24 teams that will be in the Women’s World Cup. This CONCACAF qualifying round, three will go forward, and then a fourth will play a playoff with Argentina, the first leg of which is November fifth, and the second leg … In Argentina. And the second leg is November 11th.

Where we’re at right now is that almost certainly we’ll see US, Canada, and then will we see Panama or Jamaica fit that third slot. A great thing is this also qualifies teams for the Pan American Games, and that means Jamaica and Panama will go to the 2019 games for sure. And since we’ve seen and talked about on the show the tremendous challenges that the Jamaican team has faced, not having a training camp, not being given proper resources, hopefully the fact that they were able to qualify for this will keep the federation under fire to try and give them the resources that they need. So that’s amazing, and huge hats off to them.

What do I think about this though? I mean, I don’t really think it’s great how little competition there is. I don’t think it’s great for the US and Canada in the long term to hardly be tested. For me it feels like Brazil in CONMEBOL, where they went into the qualifiers and cruised through. It feels like that for me to. I’m not gonna pretend to talk about Canada when I’m with Shireen on the show. But, at least it-

Shireen: You know, all hail, all hail, as our friend David Rudin says. All hail our lord, Christine Sinclair. But no, but can I ask you a question about this? I love your summary, which is really important for people to understand how the qualification for the Women’s World Cup works. But could you argue that this is only a reflection of globally what the scene looks like? It’s the same thing. There’s certain countries that overpower, that have … When we think of the Asian Confederation, I mean, other than Japan, actually, are there really any … There’s no Central Asian teams, there’s no South Asian teams that ever qualify. So CONCACAF is just another bit in that puzzle.

Brenda: Totally. I guess the two things, and this is a constant between CONCACAF and CONMEBOL in South America, that are surprising and disappointing is that there’s two new leagues in the Americas region that have done really well, and one is the Colombian one, and the other is Liga MX Femenil, right? And the Mexican Women’s Professional League has really made such great strides. And one of the characteristics of that is that the Mexican Women’s Professional League only took Mexican players the last couple of years by regulation, and that’s because they wanted to build up their national team.

Of course it’s tremendously disappointing to see that, and the exact same thing happened with Colombia, which also has now not qualified for the World Cup. So both of those were stunning, that you thought that these two very successful leagues that were exactly meant to help these teams go forward would pay off. Then again, it’s totally unrealistic to expect one season and two seasons of these leagues to make that kind of change. It’s probably not realistic to ask that of them. But I think it was-

Shireen: It’s not realistic.

Brenda: It’s not. But it was disappointing.

Shireen: Is that really a hard ask? Really?

Brenda: I mean, it was disappointing, it was really disappointing. To be fair, Mexico had some really tough luck. I don’t think, to be quite honest, I don’t think that Roberto Medina, who’s their head coach now, was really impressive at all. It didn’t seem like he knew his players. Then again, when in the 2-0 defeat from Panama, you had two things happen. One, Kaitlin Johnson, who plays for Sky Blue, just to say Kaitlin Johnson, we love you and we’re so sorry that you have to play for Sky Blue and Mexico, in the sense that that means you’re in two places where you deserve better in terms of conditions.

Shireen: You know what, the football gods have something in store for her, hopefully.

Brenda: Exactly. And also the entire press, which is very small, and we can talk about what little press this tournament has gotten, has misnamed her Kayla Johnson almost all week. She hit several shots off the post. So there was some bad luck in the defeat against Panama. And then everyone’s talking about Yenith Bailey, Panama’s 17 year old goalkeeper as the player of the tournament, so Panama’s had some huge luck. I think that US college recruiting teams are probably going crazy calling her right now.

Shireen: Yeah, she’s 17.

Brenda: Yeah, she’s 17, and she’s had an amazing tournament. And then you see Nayeli Rangel, or Rangel, who was the captain for Mexico that was featured in that Nike ad recently.

Shireen: Ah, yes yes yes yes yes.

Brenda: Yeah, she’s a midfielder for Tigres in the Mexican league, and she’s just not seemed to have a good tournament, and I’m not sure why. I guess we’ll hear more about that.

I think two bigger takeaways, and I wanna ask you about it, is I’ve been really disappointed in the lack of press coverage, for one. I think that there’s just not a depth of knowledge out there. So I just haven’t seen anything where there’s decent interviews with the Jamaican players and these exciting new teams. And secondly, I wanna ask you Shireen, Karina Leblanc, I haven’t seen come out very much at all.

Shireen: Karina, as some people may know, she’s actually, new position this year. Started for FIFA as the head of women’s soccer for CONCACAF. She’s been out, the last post I believe I saw for her was on International Day of the Girl. I could be wrong about that. But she should be in attendance at these matches. I know she’s working hard on the development side. But I don’t know. I don’t know beyond that. And there needs to be more. I don’t like the lack of coverage. I mean, I can watch the matches of Canada on Sports Net. I can log in, I can pay a certain amount, and I can always rely on my shady Reddit soccer stream friends to give me a link. But that’s the problem. Why isn’t this more easily accessible?

I mean, Canada, we’re ranked top 10 in the world. Why can’t I access this? This is ridiculous. I mean, the United States has about 600 sports channels. That’s what I feel anyway. So it’s easier to watch that. But what if I wanted to watch one of the lesser known teams? What if I wanted to watch Colombia play? Would it be easy accessible for me? And the answer is no.

In terms of … There’s been a lot of articles in Canada, especially because of … And you know I’m gonna drop this. Christine Sinclair scoring her 175th goal. So she’s 10 or 11 behind Abby Wambach, who I certainly believe she will pass at some point. And it’s a big deal. So there’s been stories about that, and Christine Sinclair, who is the unofficial prime minister of Canada, is also very humble. She’s not huge on media covering all this. She didn’t even tweet about her 175th goal, because that’s the way she is, although there’s tweets everywhere. She didn’t retweet any of them. She’s very, very quiet. She plays for the Portland Thorns right now as an off season, doing international duty. But it’s incredible to see that. And I would like to see more hoopla about Christine Sinclair. Not just her, but Jessie Fleming is 18 and a phenom. Would like to see more of that.

I think that we need to prop up our team a little bit more consistently, and you’re absolutely right, and Brenda, I’m very interested in Panama. I wanna know more about the Panamanian team. I wanna know, where did they come from, what happened?

And this upset over Mexico was incredible, because I just assumed, not only because I love Brenda, that Mexico would qualify, and the Tricolor, and they have a beautiful history and a consistency, so to speak. But in a way, could you argue, Brenda, that this is actually really good? I mean, I would have been happier if Panama knocked out the United States somehow. That would have been really fun for me. But is it not a progression that we see Panama beating them out? Is that a good thing?

Brenda: I don’t think so. I actually think it’s a pretty big step back for Mexico. The reason that that matters, which isn’t to take anything away from Panama, and not to be happy for them. I’m super happy for Panama and Jamaica. The reason I think that it’s disappointing that both Costa Rica and Mexico didn’t qualify is that those are two countries who can be places for Panamanian and Jamaican players to go and have professional careers. So that gets sparked forward if they do well in international competition.

What this does is allow for the patriarchs of Mexican soccer to say, “You know what? It hasn’t paid off, this experiment. So let’s stop investing …” So that’s my fear. And Costa Rica, the same thing. They have a wonderful woman coach, Valverde. There’s no secret about my crush on her and her suit coat jacket things that are amazing and tweed. She didn’t wear those, which I feel like was bad luck for Costa Rica.

Shireen: You mean, her blazers? The tweed blazers.

Brenda: Yeah. Yeah. Do you remember those from the Women’s World Cup?

Shireen: Yeah, amazing. Amazing.

Brenda: Yeah. yeah. And you know what? I didn’t see them. And maybe I missed them. But I saw a T-shirt the last time around, and I was like I’m not sure. But I feel like that’s bad luck for them.

It is important to remember too that Costa Rica were kind of ambassadors of Central American and Caribbean women’s football, and they played matches in Panama in the 1950s. So Panama women’s soccer and Costa Rican has been around a long time. I just hope, I would have hoped they did better simply because I think they’re in a position to be leaders in Latin America that would ultimately benefit players from Panama and Jamaica because I don’t think Panama and Jamaica are on the verge of creating a viable women’s professional league, whereas Costa Rica and Mexico are.

Shireen: But, I mean, it was a good thing to see, particularly after all the challenges that the Jamaican team has had, to see them advance. I mean, can you imagine, when teams that don’t get support from their federations, that don’t get what they need, still have … They definitely have what it takes, but they persevere to get it done to a degree. I find that incredible.

Brenda: Yeah, no, it’s amazing. It’s amazing.

Shireen: Like the Brazilians. They literally have no support. Likewise with Argentina. You’ve covered it so extensively, Brenda, not just the broken buses, but the lack of attention, the difficulties for their own communities or society and federation. I always blame federations on this. And we’ll talk about … I know that your blowtorch is ready for burning something a little bit later. But talking about the lack of not using women’s soccer as a shield to say, “Oh, look at us, we’re allies.” And this happens a lot in the sport community, the football community anyway.

But I’m just so excited for Jamaica. I think that moving forward, I’m gonna be positive as long as Canada keeps advancing. I’m not gonna lie about that. Shout out to Stephanie Yang, who feels very similarly, and who is an honorary Canadian because of her adoration and commitment to Christine Sinclair. Who by the way, actually this is a really good omen, because I know Brenda, you like this kind of stuff. Before I went to go see you, I forgot to talk to you about this, and Penn State, I found a quarter that Canada had issued for the Women’s World Cup 2015, and I found it in my pocket.

Brenda: Oh.

Shireen: Yeah.

Brenda: Magic. That’s the kind of football magic.

Shireen: That is football. It’s wonderful and I hold it very close, and I hope I didn’t put it in my purse and use it at Tim Horton’s. That would really suck. Anyways.

Brenda: But it might also be paying it forward in Canada. If you use it at Tim Horton’s, maybe it extends the good luck to the Canadian National Team.

Shireen: Maybe. Possibly.

Brenda: For listeners that don’t know, I don’t love Tim Horton’s.

Shireen: Oh, I don’t love Tim Horton’s either, but it’s like that civic duty. Anyways, let’s move on.

Brenda: Tim Horton’s, sponsor the Canadian Women’s National Team, please.

Shireen: Tim Horton’s can sponsor Burn It All Down.

Next is my interview with Safia Ahmad of Les Canadiennes.

I am so happy to have Safia Ahmad on Burn It All Down this week. Safia is the media relations manager for Les Canadiennes, the best women’s team in the CWHL, in my opinion. I’m not biased at all. She’s also right now doing some social media work for the Concordia Singers men’s hockey team. She has a podcast, The Last Stretch podcast, and she is somebody who I look to and learn from regularly in media. Safia, thank you so much for being on Burn It All Down.

Safia: Thank you so much for having me. I’m so excited to be on.

Shireen: Okay. Let’s talk CWHL. Last week we had our friend Erica Ayala talk about NWHL. Tell me a little bit about the season that starts when?

Safia: Our season, for Les Canadiennes, starts October 13th, so this Saturday at 6:30 pm. We’re actually opening in one of our new homes this season, at Place Bell, which is located in Lavalle, a city right outside Montreal. We’re really excited, and we’re playing the Calgary Inferno on Saturday and on Sunday, so back to back. And that matchup literally features 15 Olympians from all over the world, which is nuts.

Shireen: Safia, when does the CWHL season begin?

Safia: For Les Canadiennes, the season begins on October 13th, on Saturday. We’re playing the Calgary Inferno two days in a row, on Saturday and Sunday, at Place Bell, which is one of the arenas that we’re gonna be playing in this year, and also the new one for the year. So we’re really excited. The matchup features 15 Olympians, which is just insane. I had to count them up so many times just to make sure that it was reality.

Shireen: 15?

Safia: 15.

Shireen: Wow. And where are they from?

Safia: Mostly Canada and the US, but for Les Canadiennes it’s Canada, US. But for Calgary it’s Canada, USA, Japan, and Finland. It’s really exciting. I’m so excited for that weekend.

Shireen: Wow. Tell me a little bit about … The CWHL is basically … It has its own culture. I think we could say that, definitely. And could you explain for people that might not understand what the addition of teams from China means in this? And are they based here, or how does that work exactly?

Safia: I’m not an expert exactly on the issue, but what I can say is that the league introduced two Chinese teams last season, for 2017 and 2018. That was the Vanke Rays and the Kunlun Red Star. And basically what that meant was that obviously there was a huge international expansion, and it was, in a way it was really great for our league because more teams means more competition. Also it looks like it was also a bit of a strategic move on their end as well, because the 2022 Beijing winter games are on the way, so I feel like obviously they wanna get their women’s teams ready for those games. And what that meant is that they would often come to Canada, and the US, because last year there was the Boston Blades, now renamed the Worcester Blades, pardon my pronunciation.

But yeah, so they travel to Canada and they played multiple games at a time here because it was more efficient that way, and then each team from North America would travel to China once for an entire week about to face them four times. Now the thing is that this year, there’s only one Chinese team. The league had decided based on player surveys and whatnot that after last year’s experience with traveling and having that jet lag and everything, it was really intense to play both teams four times a week, and it made more sense to have one team there. So they combined the teams, so now it’s the Shenzhen KRS Vanke Rays. So it’s all two for one in a way.

This year, when each team goes, we’re only gonna be playing three games against them. So it’s still really exciting. There are six teams instead of seven. But the competition’s still alive and well, and we’re really excited for that challenge.

Shireen: Yeah, that’s wonderful. So how many times have Les Canadiennes won the Clarkson Cup?

Safia: Four times.

Shireen: Out of how many?

Safia: The CWHL’s been around for, we’re entering our 12th year.

Shireen: 12th year.

Safia: The league’s entering its 12th year.

Shireen: And do you feel like the competition is getting more intense, which is a very good thing for a women’s sport, for women’s hockey?

Safia: Yeah, I agree. I think competition is becoming a lot more intense. I mean, I started working with Les Canadiennes last season. So prior to that, I knew the team existed, I knew that they were called the Montreal Stars for a very long time, and that they rebranded to Les Canadiennes. If I’m not mistaken, in the 2015-2016 season. So I knew the team had existed, but I wasn’t following them too closely. But talking to different volunteers and staff members on the team, it looks like the game is growing each and every single year. There are more girls, women, coming and applying for the draft every summer. So it looks like it’s getting better and better, and obviously the CWHL is the place to be. It’s a great league to develop. And it’s a great way to prepare for, if you’re aiming for those national teams, it’s a great way to keep in shape and prepare for those, and also to win the ultimate championship, the Clarkson Cup. So what more could you want?

Shireen: Absolutely. Well, I personally want a gold, Olympic gold medal for Canada, but that’s okay, I’ll stay salty for another couple of years until that happens.

Safia: I mean, yeah, that would be nice.

Shireen: We know that was gonna come up at some point. So would you call the NWHL your sister league, or is it a cousin league, or how does … And do the teams ever get to play friendlies against each other?

Safia: With regards to the NWHL, again, I’m just speaking from my experience from the past year, and not even year and a half, I guess, the one season I did there. I mean, I think that the CWHL and the NWHL work in parallel. It used to be that a lot of the American players would go to the NW, a lot of the Canadian players would stay in the CW, and it almost seemed like it was really intense stance that both nations were taking. But now, there’s a lot more overlap. We have American players hopping into the CWHL. Obviously Hillary Knight with Les Canadiennes.

Shireen: Wow, shout out. So exciting.

Safia: Shout out to Hillary Knight.

Shireen: Yeah. I was a bit excited when I heard that announcement, I have to admit.

Safia: Oh yeah. I couldn’t believe it. I was really giddy when it happened. And then there’s Shannon Szabados, who went over to the NWHL. So I feel like there’s a lot of overlap. In terms of how much the teams communicate, I think that would be more at the league level, because I never really have to deal with the NWHL too much. So I think it might be best to ask them. But honestly, I think ultimately, at the end of the day, both leagues really want the best for women’s hockey, and that’s to help them grow the game and be the best of the best, and hopefully be able to make a proper career out of this and make a living wage from it. So I think it’s the same goal at the end of the day, right?

Shireen: Yeah, absolutely. And I know that when you and I first met, I was pretty astounded about some things, namely that at the time, I think we’ve known each other for about more than three years, the CWHL players were not paid. And I didn’t actually know this. And a lot of people didn’t know this, because we assume that a lot of the players, like you said in the CW, are Canadian Olympians that have brought home championship medals, world championships, gold medals, and that they were literally doing this, and not only doing this … Like I’ve hung out after a Toronto Furies, Les Canadiennes game, and I’ve seen the way they manage the media, the fans. They’re always offering their time and themselves. They’re more ambassadors than just players. It’s incredible.

Just to say that are you optimistic about that living wage, about women’s hockey players being able to literally be self-sustaining in Canada in the future?

Safia: Yeah, I definitely am optimistic. I mean, the fact that they just started receiving a salary last season is incredible. The last season, the league was in its 11th year, so that means from 2007 until last season, there wasn’t a living wage, and the fact that we’re finally at a point where we can offer players something. I mean it’s not everything, and a lot of our players still need to have a second job. But the fact is, at least now they’re getting something, and I think as much as it’s between 2,000 and 10,000, as much as it’s not, you can’t live off of that, I definitely think that because the players are starting to get paid, there’s hope for the future. I have no doubt about that. And like I said, the game is growing, people are interested, people wanna watch hockey. So I feel like the league is gonna continue to grow, and the players are, I think they’re pretty hopeful for that.

I would hope so, anyways. I would hope that receiving the salary from last year and going into this season, I’m hoping that they feel optimistic as well. Because the way I see it, I think it’s a huge step forward, and I really think it’s a really good thing for the women’s game in Canada.

Shireen: How long does the CW season last?

Safia: It starts in October, the regular season starts in October, and usually when it’s not an Olympic year, it runs until about end of February, beginning March.

Shireen: So, do those players … We’ve seen the WNBA, a lot of players have the WNBA season, and then when they finish they go abroad to play, like Europe, other … Is that similar with the CW?

Safia: Not to my knowledge, no. Because usually hockey seasons around the world I would think follow the same schedule. So I think once the season ends, like I said, I mean so many of these players have second jobs. I think it’s time for them to rest a little bit and take a breather for five seconds. Obviously for national team players, I think there are still camps and whatnot. But to my knowledge, no one has gone off and joined another team.

I know that happens sometimes in men’s hockey, where the season ends in the winter and then they go off to, for example, Australia, and then they’ll go play their winter, which is great. But I haven’t heard that for women just yet.

Shireen: The other thing I was gonna ask was that you studied journalism, and then parlayed that into your love, which is sports and specifically hockey, although your knowledge is very, very vast. Were you always a hockey fan, and were you always a Habs fan?

Safia: It’s funny you ask that, because I actually hated sports as a kid. I grew up with two older sisters who loved hockey, and I’d be that little annoying kid who’d be like, “I don’t wanna watch this, this is boring, this sucks, who cares.” And something clicked I think at around age 14, 15, I don’t know if it was puberty or the hormones, I don’t know what happened, but I started … Basically we would receive the Montreal Gazette at home all the time, and I would read the sports section, because we didn’t have RDS or any of those channels to watch the games. So I’d start reading game reviews on the Habs. And from there, that’s where my interest grew. So it went from writing, I started listening to the radio of replay by play commentary during hockey games. And then finally we got extended cable or whatever it’s called. A better package.

So, we got RDS and I started watching, and it was always with the Habs first. It was back when Saku Koivu, who was still on the team, Alex Kovalev was still on the team. I’m getting chills just talking about it because it feels so long ago and also, I really identified with that team, even though it wasn’t a perfect team by no means. So I started out as a Habs fan, and that passion grew, and I remember when I was in cegep, so around 2010, 2012, I was wondering, is there a women’s hockey team in the city? And that’s when I discovered the Montreal Stars.

But again, like I said, I wasn’t really following them too closely. But hockey is always my first love. And the funny thing is, I’ve probably played it barely once, because I can barely skate, and definitely I can’t hold a hockey stick. It’s so weird to me. But like you, I’m much better with my feet when it comes to soccer. So yeah. No, hockey’s always been a really big passion of mine, and I’m really glad that I discovered women’s hockey, because I almost feel like a kid again. I feel like I’m rediscovering it all over again.

Shireen: That’s amazing. So, I know this is a very biased question. Who is your favorite Les Canadiennes, other than Meg, who is the coach, the general manager. Do you have a favorite?

Safia: Oh man. That’s hard. It’s really hard for me to pick a favorite. I remember last season, I really identified with Noémie Marin, who is now retired, which made me so sad. We had a lot of retirees before the season began actually this year. So, Noémie Marin was one of my favorite, favorite players. I think her work ethic on the ice and her overall professionalism and the way she carried herself, I thought she was outstanding. So many of these players are amazing.

This year, I mean, we have so many talented players. Shout out to Mel Desrochers, my cohost, The Last Stretch podcast. She’s pretty good too. But I think it’s gonna be to be determined for this year. I mean, I’m a fan of so many of the women on the team right now that it’s hard to pick one. But yeah, no, Noémie Marin was definitely my first, as you say in French, “coup de cœur.”

Shireen: Aw. Aw, that’s so sweet. I am so happy to talk to you about this. I was wondering if you could let us know where to find your work, your podcast, and where else we can find you.

Safia: Definitely. You can follow me on Twitter @safs_onthego. Our podcast, The Last Stretch podcast, is also on Twitter @laststretchpod, on Instagram as well, same handle, safs_onthego, same thing for thelaststretchpod. And yeah, that’s basically where you can find me. And yeah, that’s it.

Shireen: I have a special affinity for Safia because she’s also one of the very few brown women in sports media. So not only do we share a love of the same women’s hockey team, we share a love of Korean … What was it, when we went to go eat in Toronto, Saf? What was it …

Safia: I think it was Korean food.

Shireen: It was Korean, wasn’t it? But that we didn’t end up having it, because all the food was pork based. So we ended up having vegetarian. That was amazing.

Safia: Yeah. The broth was all pork. It was so sad.

Shireen: And we waited in line. Anyways. That was wonderful. I can’t wait to see you again when you’re in Toronto. Hopefully. There’s a game October 27th, Toronto Furies against Les Canadiennes. I can’t wait to go. I will hopefully see you there, and if not … Can you let our listeners know, is it possible for them to buy CWHL seasons tickets? Is that a possibility this year?

Safia: Yes, it definitely is a possibility. You can always, if you wanna get season tickets to our games, you can go on our website at montreal.thecwhl.com, and under our tickets tab we have a variety of options, one of which is getting season tickets, and as well if you visit the CWHL website, fairly certain, I won’t speak on behalf of other teams, I’m assuming that they offer season passes. Actually yes, they do offer season passes. I don’t know what I’m saying. But you can go on the league website and definitely get some season tickets and passes there.

Shireen: Thank you so much for being on Burn It All Down. It’s always lovely to chat with you, and good luck with the season. Please give Julie Chu a hug, because she’s so much fun. And bow when you see Pou, because Marie-Philip Poulin. I always said if I get a kitten I’m gonna name it Pou. She’s my-

Safia: I will definitely do all of that. Thank you so much for having me on Burn It All Down. I’m such a huge fan of yours, of the podcast, of everything that you guys do. Thank you so much, and yeah, I hope to see you in Toronto, if not in Montreal.

Shireen: Yeah. And thank you for doing what you do to help grow the women’s game, and it can never … We know it’s never enough that we do, but the fact that everyone does it together is incredible. The work that you do is so appreciated. And say hi to everybody in Montreal.

Safia: Will do. Thanks a lot Shireen.

Shireen: Thanks, take care Saf.

Safia: You too.

Shireen: As some of our listeners might know, there’s a certain case involving a very high profiled footballer named Cristiano Ronaldo. Some of you might have heard of him. He’s a Portuguese player, and is allegedly one of the, arguably one of the best in the world. He plays for Juventus in Italy. Now, at Burn It All Down, we have had the honor to write and the ability to share our thoughts, Brenda and I, on various platforms, and I know Jessica has also been interviewed for this. She couldn’t be with us this week. And I know that the team talked about Ronaldo last week.

But what I wanted to do in some unofficial capacity is a lot of the stuff, and maybe unload a little bit. Brenda, do you wanna unload a little bit?

Brenda: oh, I’m always ready to unload on Cristiano Ronaldo.

Shireen: And not only on that person, but also on the process. And I know that a couple weeks ago, Jessica and Lindsay talked about what it takes. Now for all of you know, we all have, Brenda and Amira are actually professors. Their work, and so much of the work, writing about this stuff is on top of everything else. Burn It All Down is on top of everything else. And we wanted to share, I specifically wanted to share a little bit of that, and maybe highlight a bit of what happens.

Brenda had an amazing piece for Vice Sports she co-wrote with Jennifer Doyle, and that was just incredible, on how Cristiano Ronaldo is a symbol of corruption as well in the system, which was so beautifully done, Brenda, and so powerful. Brenda and I were lucky to co-write, which was actually something on my bucket list, and part of my what’s good for this week, to co-write with Brenda for Rewire on critiquing media. And then I had written for Time Magazine last week.

It was just all of these things coming down. Brenda, were there any after effects of that for you?

Brenda: Well, I mean, I think there’s a couple things, and I would love to hear, and I’m sorry that Jess and Lindsay and Amira can’t be here, because I’d love to hear what they have to say too, but there’s a couple things. First, you’re writing this, and the whole time you’re writing it, you’re anticipating what people’s reactions are. So I feel like there’s a low level headache that comes the entire time you’re writing. Usually I write history stuff about people that are super dead, and I never … And not powerful like this guy. It’s also important to remember that I’ve been threatened by FIFA on several occasions with lawsuits, so I’m always super worried. At the same time, both pieces were collaborative, one with you, and I respect you so much, and that’s wonderful, same with Jen.

Being collaborative for me really helps with that. That’s a huge help. Because I don’t question myself as much, because it’s a beautiful experience to have sisterhood in writing these kinds of things. And then the other thing, the secondary fallout is what people say to you. So I’m gonna read you a tweet I got yesterday.

Shireen: Yeah, for sure.

Brenda: From a person who I won’t give you his Twitter handle, but you can see it if you want. And he sent me a picture of Cristiano Ronaldo and three of his children. I don’t know where the fourth is. It’s missing in action.

Shireen: God.

Brenda: And his partner in a bra with Minnie Mouse ears. And it says, “Here’s a picture for you, Dr. Elsie. May it shine some light on your bitter, shriveled, female soul if you have any, LOL.”

Isn’t that amazing, Shireen?

Shireen: Your bitter, shriveled soul?

Brenda: My female soul.

Shireen: Oh, your female soul. I love your bitter, shriveled female soul.

Brenda: Bitter, shriveled female soul. I’ve been called … At least on Facebook you can delete stuff. I’ve been called an old lady who just needs to get some. So there’s this. And you should ignore it, but it’s really hard. You get stuff way worse than this, Shireen, because you have many more followers. What do you do with that garbage?

Shireen: I’m a big proponent of the block. The mute and the block, depending-

Brenda: The mute and the block, okay.

Shireen: The mute and the block. I also got an email that I thought was really interesting. The Time piece, because it’s probably largest circulated publication I’ve ever published for, and it came so quickly. It literally, I formulated that piece within two hours, and I sent it off to the editor in London, and I woke up the next morning, because she needed it London time, and I had hammered it out. And I got an email a couple days later as I was at a dinner. And it said … The subject was thoughtful remarks. And this is how you know that it’s gonna be rude. Because when the subject line is so nice, you know that something’s coming.

I get this through my website, this Square Space website that I have, the shireenahmed.com. And the message was, “You are the kind of journalist that is just out to seek attention for herself. You defend gold digging whores like Catherine Mayorga who should be sued for millions in damages and locked up for framing hero of modern era sportsmanship like the great Cristiano Ronaldo. I hope that your movement and publication fail women, children, and we’ll all support Ronaldo through these slanderous and false claims. I sincerely hope that you learn your lesson next time you try to support some hooker from Las Vegas that was fortunate enough to even have pictures with someone of Ronaldo’s caliber.”

It’s from somebody named Nader Afdad. They have to put … It can be a fake name. I don’t know. On the tweet of Time Magazine itself, all the replies, because I’m verified, it will filter some out, and I find that helpful sometimes, but there was a lot of STFU, there was a lot of, “Were you in the room?” And I’m thinking, I’m sorry, you don’t know how journalism works. You don’t actually have to be present during the crime to report on it. That’s actually not how it works. There was a lot of accusations.

This is why I think it’s really interesting that Cristiano Ronaldo’s team, as of a couple days ago, have gone after the Der Spiegel team, who are ready for this. They were ready, they have their documentation, they are … What I would love to see is the Der Spiegel team sue Cristiano, counter sue for defamation, because they’re accusing them of not being very astute journalists, which they are. They were ready for this. I think they, I really believe that the team at Der Spiegel, and I get a little inspiration for them.

Brenda, you and I know that when we pitched our story to Rewire, nobody wanted it. So it’s like, it’s validating in a way that this is all coming out. But it’s the same thing about the story that I’d been writing about, about stadium ban and women in Iran. Nobody wanted it. And suddenly, New York Times is interested. And it’s something that you and I have been talking about for a very long time. This is something that we knew was out there. But it’s not real until certain male journalists decide to write about it, or certain editors decide that it’s acceptable to publish. And that motivates me.

I mean, as far as the hate and the anger, the rape threats are always jarring. I mean, the profanity I can handle, it doesn’t bother me, and the tweets at me. It doesn’t bother me at all. And there are people who get far worse than I do. I mean, I know that Jessica gets that, Lindsay definitely gets that, Amir gets that, you get that. Like you said very poignantly, when you’re writing, you are actually anticipating this. And I decided to actually not at all, this time, on this particular story that I wrote for Time, not give any fucks about what people would say. Because that’s what I needed to do at that time to write what I needed to write.

Writing with you for Rewire is also great, because there’s that team, there’s that wall that we can both put up and support each other, and the feedback from Rewire has actually been very positive, because our analysis was of the media itself. And I was really … I remember texting you and saying that I was grateful that other journalists were screenshotting what we wrote, and are complicit in the problem. And we all are part of the problem. So I think that that’s super important.

Brenda: Yeah, I think so too. I mean, when we go after the media certainly, there’s less of a pushback against general people on social media, like his supporters. But the piece that Jen and I wrote got a bit more pushback. Because I think we focused more on Ronaldo himself as a franchise. Him himself, so look at him and his team, the fact that he reaps about $1 billion for his sponsors, and the kind of power and corruption that surround him, and all of that we know, and yet it’s Mayorga who gets the scrutiny. So when we went after that, we got a bit more from Juve fans. And it’s very clear who they are. But it’s hard to flush out that garbage from your brain all the time. And I can’t imagine people who do it even more, how they do it.

But for me, it gets sad. These types of pieces, it’s not like you write, and you’re ever fully celebrating. You’re never like, oh I wrote this great thing and it’s so happy and great.

I think that’s important for people who don’t write about it to understand that these are things that are a tremendous amount of work, and you should be able to be happy about them. But you can’t. You can’t because of the subject matter, you can’t because of the way people respond.

Shireen: No. My gosh no. I would love to never have to write about this again. I would love to, yeah. But that’ snot the reality of the situation. You were just mentioning about the Juve fans. Where are the Real Madrid fans here? Are they all … Madristas. Are they all happy that he’s gone so they can just focus? Well yeah, I mean I’m happy to say, I’m glad Ronaldo’s gone from Madrid, because I really like Luka Modric and I feel that I can care about him nicely now. Although I still hate Ramos, you know that.

I think that I love what you said, that you’re never fully celebrating. Yeah, sure. I had somebody say to me, “Oh, about time, that’s amazing.” And I remember thinking no, Rewire. That actually … It’s not where I get published. It’s actually what is being published.

Brenda: And I can’t believe people don’t understand the way freelance journalism works. They’re always like, “Oh, you’re trying to make millions of dollars on the backs of these players.” It’s like, if I was trying to make millions of dollars, seriously, I would not be doing this.

Shireen: Yeah. You’re not minting money out of freelance journalism. I don’t know who thinks that … No. You’re absolutely right. It’s just not …

Brenda: I got that all the time, I got so many Facebook comments that were like … Because at first I made the mistake of making that article public. And then I immediately did just friends. Because within 20 seconds it was like, “You are a greedy, horrible person trying to make money.” It’s like, are you … You’re talking about like $100.

Shireen: I know. Wasn’t a guy named Alessio something, because I got that same thing on my Footy Bedsheets Facebook page when I posted the Time piece, was you’re greedy. I got a message, a private message to my professional page. And the same accusations, you don’t know what you’re talking about, and you’re trying to get money. And I’m like no, if I was trying to get money from Ronaldo, I wouldn’t start at $100, you’re right. Let’s say I was gonna try and get rich. No, it wouldn’t be that.

Brenda: The way to get rich is to play on all the tropes and all the patriarchal comfort zones. I would be writing things like Leo Messi talks about his bathing routine and how it makes him a better football player. That’s what I would be writing about.

Shireen: You know what, Brenda? Screw it. Let’s go after that money and write a piece about Wags. Let’s do that instead.

Brenda: Oh yeah, like what kind of … 10 top plastic surgeries that they’ve gotten.

Shireen: Oh yeah.

Brenda: Let’s pick them apart in media because that’ll get us a byline in Sports Illustrated or whatever. It’s unbelievable that people think this. They really don’t understand. And Jen and I tried to take on some of the comments in the article itself. When we wrote the piece for Vice, Ronaldo’s an icon of corruption, we were trying to put him in a web, a network. And when we did that, we addressed the social media commentary about were you in the room. And one of the things about were you in the room, besides the fact that I assume it’s rhetorical … I don’t think anybody who would write that is listening to the show, but if you are, we obviously were not in the room. If we were in the room, we would have been trying everything to help Mayorga. No, we were not in the room.

Shireen: No, we were not in the room. No.

Brenda: We were not in the room. Were they in the room? And the reason that they’re writing that is because they actually picture themselves in the room. And that’s what we tried to talk about, was that the identification with sports stars is so unique, it’s disturbing and it’s troubling and it’s powerful. And those fans actually are thinking of themselves in the room. That’s why they say it over and over again, because they’ve been able to project themselves onto these stars, and they feel they have a sense of intimacy. And it’s a really sick relationship that they have between them and these stars. Because they don’t know Ronaldo. But sponsors want you to think that you know him.

Shireen: Someone pointed out to me that he’s going really big, his social media is posting pictures of his family and projecting this. And you were right to say that someone sent you a picture of his family. And people are trying to say, “Well he’s got children, so he’s infallible.” I’m like, I have children. I have four children, and I actually gave birth to them. So why don’t I get that benefit of the doubt? Is that the standard? If you have kids and you post a nice Instagram post, that that’s it?

Also, I think the trope that I pointed out of people saying, “Well he’s so good on the pitch it doesn’t matter,” that quickly faded away, which I am happy to see. It was not a, “Oh, he’s such a strong player.” Now people are trying to support his character, and I’m really … I’m actually, I’m waiting to see that house of cards crumble and fall down and tumble. And I’m waiting to see if … Someone pointed this out to me, that Nike hasn’t dropped him. EA Sports did take him off the cover. But Nike – is it Nike, or Nike, I don’t know – they haven’t severed any ties. They are quote unquote monitoring still. How much are they gonna monitor?

Brenda: He has a lifetime contract.

Shireen: Yeah, but he’s one of-

Brenda: I’m sorry criminal charges.

Shireen: … only … If they file criminal charges, and he’s … That must be part of a sub clause.

Brenda: That’s what I’m saying is he’s uniquely linked to them. So it’ll be interesting to see what they do, because he’s only one of three players that’s ever gotten a lifetime contract with Nike. And I don’t know the stipulations of that contract. You pointing that out is actually really important, because that is a very unique relationship.

Shireen: Well, lesson to CEOs of sports companies, do not ever issue a lifetime membership to anyone except Christine Sinclair.

Brenda: Or Burn It All Down.

Shireen: Or Burn It All Down. Because this is … You shouldn’t do it as practice. And this should be a case for Harvard Business Review or something. Just don’t do that. Because men are trash.

Brenda: Can I ask you something, Shireen, though? Can I ask you what you think about him being left off the Portugal team this week?

Shireen: He’s been left off for a while in the sense of none of the qualifying matches against Scotland, that they played against Scotland … Because Reynaldo Sanchez wasn’t playing anyway and he wasn’t playing well. I think I had a moment of compassion momentarily during the Euros when Portugal won, only because I really liked Reynaldo Sanchez, the 19 year old, at the time phenom, who’s fallen off the face of the earth. I looked at this in my own piece about it as well that he was left off the squad, but it wasn’t because Portugal and the federation actually cared that he was being implicated in a rape case. It was because something else, or whatnot, and they came up with full fledged support. Even the prime minister of the country came out and supported him.

That he wasn’t selected, it does nothing for me. It doesn’t hurt him at all. It in fact gives him more attention because of the statement that came out in support of him. I am not a fan of the way he plays. I don’t care. His free kicks are nice, but so were Beckham’s, and Beckham hasn’t raped anyone. And my favorite movie is not named after him. So I couldn’t care less for Ronaldo in many, many ways. And it’s not …

This is the other thing Brenda, because I’m a Culé, does that mean that I’m going after … This is something else. And I made it the point to say on Twitter that if god forbid, god forbid. And you and I were exchanging on this. If Iniesta or Javi came out with these, implicated in something like this, I would cry forever. But I would also cancel them. Because that’s what needs to happen. You are not allowed. You are not … It’s not okay to continue supporting someone when this is happening. No. And you said that. You said that about Messi.

Brenda: Absolutely. I can’t understand why people would make an equivalence between a football match and sexual assault. I can’t even engage with people like that. I don’t even know what to say.

Shireen: Well there’s many, and many are tweeting you.

Brenda: Yeah. No, I know. I know. But you just put it so clearly. I mean, you would just cancel them, and it’s like, yeah. And I don’t think I fully understand the psychology of someone who wouldn’t.

Shireen: Yeah. Speaking of that, do you have any self care practices that you have put into overdrive?

Brenda: I just think I’m really committed to writing with women that I admire and respect, and trying to be grateful that they’re in it with me. And that’s been my self care. I don’t know how you and Jess and Linds have written about this solo. I think it’s really brave.

Shireen: I, like I said, collaborating with you was very important to me, also because you’re a genius. For those that don’t know, Brenda is actually a genius. The flow of it was important, because we also felt the same way. And that was very helpful.

In terms of, I don’t write about it as much as Jess and Linds do, and Linds turns out piece after piece on this, which can get very … I have no idea. For me they’re superwomen. My self care practice has been chips, specifically Cheeto Crunch Its. Now that Halloween is coming soon, there’s also very easily accessible little bags of chips, where you can eat five of them and not feel bad because they’re so small. So that’s okay. And then, clips of … Right now I’m going through Jane Austen movie clip thing. So I’m watching Persuasion clips. I know. It’s weird. I need to decolonize my brain. And I really do. For someone that’s anti-imperialist, I really love Jane Austen movies. I need to deal with that my own way.

Anyways. That’s mine. Do you have any, is there food that you turn to, Bren, or is there something? Or is it just Messi you think about?

Brenda: I do beer.

Shireen: Okay.

Brenda: Beer is the food that helps me.

Shireen: Okay, fair enough.

Brenda: I will say there are Burn It All Down fans like Maria, @WaitingforValdez, Mentado who sent me clips of Sissi’s free kicks to make me feel better.

Shireen: Oh, that’s wonderful.

Brenda: And I would like to say that that’s awesome, that I do indulge myself staring at repetitive football highlights that I like a lot. But, beer.

Shireen: That’s awesome. On that note, we’ll move on.

Now it’s time for everyone’s favorite segment, which is the burn pile. Brenda, what are you torching?

Brenda: Oh my gosh. I had so many this week. I have a list. I’m just gonna stick to one so that we can focus all of our fire.

Shireen: Okay.

Brenda: But friend of the show Evan Moore has written on this story, and basically for those of you who haven’t been following it, in Chicago there was a very important case involving police officer Jason Van Dyke. And he was convicted last week of second degree murder in the 2014 shooting of 17 year old Laquan McDonald. And because of racial profiling and Black Lives Matter, this was a real flash point case for the City of Chicago. It’s the first Chicago PD officer I believe to be convicted since 1980.

Tensions were very high. Once the verdict was read, though, Chicago Public Schools came out and told coaches and athletic directors that the games on Friday, the day of the conviction, were canceled, quote “Out of an abundance of caution regarding the timing of the Van Dyke trial verdict announcement,” end of quote.

Basically, the message to the children who play for Chicago Public Schools was that there was going to be violence in reaction to it. And this I think as an educator is a terrible message. Obviously the idea is they were ready with this. They didn’t just come out with this statement. And it showed that they really had a negative image of their own students. That they would think that violence would ensue because of this trial.

Evan Moore wrote about it very locally, and I wanna burn the idea that educators assume that especially their black students might react in some violent way to a criminal trial, and that that characterization sends a message to their own students that says we don’t believe in what you’ve done. It seems very cowardly. Or, we don’t believe that you won’t do what other people have done. And I think that sends a very cowardly image of the school district, and also a very negative image of their students.

Some of the high schools actually continued with the games, and I found that really heartening. And they explicitly said no violence is happening here, we want our students to be able to be trusted and enjoy the sport that they’ve worked so hard for. So I wanna burn that approach to high school athletics.

Shireen: Burn.

Brenda: Burn.

Shireen: Burn. I will go next. Well, next. I’m the only one.

Brenda: Are you sure? We could just back and forth on burns all day.

Shireen: We could do table tennis round of burn pile.

Brenda: Completely.

Shireen: What I’m going to burn, this infuriated me, it’s something that’s always in the back of my mind, about hijab bans in sports. As we know, taekwondo and karate actually have made some amendments to their uniform rules and permit hijab. So I was reading this, and right now for people that don’t know, the Asian para games are on. They’re under way. And I think that they’re actually being held in Indonesia.

What happened was there is a judoka, and her name is Miftahul Jannah. She’s blind, and she was disqualified from competition because she didn’t want to take off her hijab. And head coverings cannot be worn during competitions, according to the International Judo Federation regulations. Like I said, karate, taekwondo allow Muslim athletes to wear a specific type of mandated hijab during competition. But judo doesn’t.

The IJF refereeing rules, in article number four, number four, say that the head of the judoka shall not be covered except for bandaging of a medical nature. Those numbers are very important, because they make people think that this type of misogyny and very thinly veiled gendered Islamophobia is acceptable. So article four, number four, whatever.

I think that the reality of what actually happens here is that it’s exclusion. And she was disqualified, she wasn’t able to play, and she had a very poignant statement. She said she knew about the rule, but she insisted on wearing hijab anyway, and quote, Jannah said, “I want to break that rule. I want to challenge that rule. Because I want to stick to my principle.” And this is really important here. This is her principle. This is who she is. Is there actually any indication, and I want the IJF to actually come out and show that there has been some type of medical injury sustained by hijab, because we know that that doesn’t happen. We asked for it with FIFA, we asked for it with FIBA, we asked for it with IFBB. It doesn’t exist.

Why are people making up these rules? And the people that make up these rules are men. Did they actually sit down and talk to women in hijab and actually investigate medically whether there have been injuries sustained, or to somebody else? No. So I wanna burn that, and I will forever burn it, because it’s just simply exclusionary. So burn.

Brenda: Burn.

Shireen: Now, moving on to a space where we can talk about happy things, and amplify wonderful, wonderful people. Honorable mentions are to Megan McPeak for calling the preseason Pistons game. I also wanna give out an honorable mention to the fictional cartoon girl on the Big League Chew packagings, because for the first time, there will be a girl on the package of that famous chewing gum, and that’s okay.

As far as our badass woman of the week, can I get a drumroll, Brenda?

Brenda: How was that?

Shireen: Brilliant, thank you. Our badass girl of the week is actually Darcy Yarnold, a young girl, footballer in England who was bullied by horribly mean little boys and their parents, and she was not after a match, she wasn’t given high fives by the other team. But she persevered because she’s awesome, and her mother ended up posting something on Facebook, which went viral, and Darcy was not only invited to be the mascot for the Manchester women’s side, she was invited to be the mascot a the Lionesses upcoming game, which I think is brilliant. So congratulations to Darcy, keep playing, keep forcing people to realize how awesome you are, because you are.

Brenda: Yay.

Shireen: Brenda. Tell me what’s good.

Brenda: Hmm. Well. I meditated on this a lot. Actually I love this segment on the show when we talk about self care and stuff like that, because it makes me think of what I’m grateful for and what’s coming up this week. So it’s actually an amazing segment that forces me to do it, then get out of my negative Nellie … Everyone knows, Shireen’s glass half full, I’m glass super empty. Glass entirely empty.

Anyway, what am I excited about? First I went to Penn State and I saw the amazing Amir Rose Davis.

Shireen: Yeah.

Brenda: And friend of the show Jaime Schultz. And I did an escape room with her, and we threw axes. We went to a place where we threw axes at targets. That was so awesome. We missed all the other bad people. But it was really fun. Also, Simone Biles tweeting, getting all political on her Twitter, I love that. That’s been making me really happy about the new USA Gymnastics coach, et cetera et cetera. So super excited about that, following her and seeing how she develops.

And then, I’m really excited because I have Monday off where my kids are in school. And I know it sounds lame, but catching up with grading and stuff like that’s gonna be awesome, so I’m in a really good mood about that. And I encourage everyone to give your employees a day off. An extra day. In this case it’s the fall break for Hofstra, and I don’t know, I’m tickled about it. I’m exciting to catching up, and reading people’s work. So I’m feeling happy about that. What about you, Shireen?

Shireen: I am off on a personal vacation for a little while as of Tuesday. I will miss the Burn It All Down team very much, because I was due. It’s been a while since all of us were on the bus together, or on the cruise ship, the yacht, whatever it is. Because we’re all trying to extract money, remember?

Brenda: Oh yeah. Oh yeah, we’re all smoking cigars topless, Rihanna style.

Shireen: Totally. Oh my god. So I’m excited about that. I love fall so much. The leaves have started changing. I had a really nice family jam over the Thanksgiving weekend. I’m still really reeling from that happiness. I am also really happy about chunky sweaters, very chunky warm sweaters. And I know we talk about that a lot, because it’s getting quite cold. So I love that. The crisp air. And I’m grateful for my friends, particularly this week, the Burn It All Down team. I wake up and it sounds really … A total homage, but I wanna be like I am so grateful, #blessed, but I know I really feel that way some days when I’m like I can’t do anything. I lean on my lady army, who are always there to help me. So I wanted to say thank you to you specifically Brenda, who I WhatsApp a lot with caps, or whatever I’m complaining about, and I love that. And I wanna shout out all the women and NB’s out there that support each other, and continuously provide support in our own communities, which we always, always need.

That’s my what’s good.

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 Tune In. We appreciate your views and feedback, so please subscribe and write to let us know what we did well and how we can improve. You can find us on Facebook @burnitalldown, on Twitter @burnitalldownpod, or in Instagram @burnitalldownpod. You can email us at burnitalldownpod@gmail.com, and check out our website, www.burnitalldownpod.com, where you will find previous episodes, transcripts, a link to our Patreon.

We would appreciate you subscribing, sharing, and reading our show, which helps us do the work we love to do, and keep burning what needs to be burned.

On behalf of Brenda and myself, thank you so much, and we’ll see you next week.

Shelby Weldon