Episode 77: What is the NCAA for, what’s wrong w/ USA Gymnastics, and an interview w/ Layshia Clarendon
On this week’s show, Brenda, Lindsay, and Jessica chat about NBA fights and the World Series matchup (5:25), before delving into a discussion (burn of?) the latest with the NCAA and so-called amateurism (25:19). Then Jessica interviews the WNBA and Team USA’s Layshia Clarendon about the FIBA Women’s World Cup, the WNBA off-season, and Clarendon’s new sponsorship with DivaCup (37:11). After that, the gang talks about the on-going shitshow that is USA Gymanstics following the recent arrest of former CEO Steve Penny and the 4-day tenure of interim CEO Mary Bono (52:27).
Of course, you’ll hear the Burn Pile (58:38), our Bad Ass Woman of the Week, starring the Reggae Girlz (1:00:42), and what is good in our worlds (1:04:56).
For links and a transcript…
“Breaking Down the Prosecution’s Wire Fraud Case in College Basketball’s Corruption Trial” https://www.si.com/college-basketball/2018/10/12/ncaa-corruption-bribery-trial-brian-bowen-christian-dawkins
“G League to offer $125K to elite prospects as alternative to college one-and-done route” http://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/25015812/g-league-offer-professional-path-elite-prospects-not-wanting-go-one-done-route-ncaa
“The NCAA’s silence about the death of Jordan McNair is deafening” https://thinkprogress.org/the-ncaas-silence-about-the-death-of-jordan-mcnair-is-deafening/
“The NCAA Is Gaslighting You” https://deadspin.com/the-ncaa-is-gaslighting-you-1829716653
“Nick Bosa Ditches Ohio State To Get Ready For The NFL” https://deadspin.com/nick-bosa-ditches-ohio-state-to-get-ready-for-the-nfl-1829790414
“Five days into the job, USA Gymnastics head Mary Bono resigns” https://www.thelily.com/five-days-into-the-job-usa-gymnastics-head-mary-bono-resigns/
“USA Gymnastics doesn’t deserve any more chances” https://thinkprogress.org/decertify-usag-b139f896e486/
“Former USA Gymnastics president arrested after grand jury indicts him for role in Nassar case” https://thinkprogress.org/former-usag-president-arrested-45756b6d4442/
“Steve Penny Asked F.B.I. to Help Protect U.S.A. Gymnastics’ Image During Sex Abuse Case” https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/18/sports/steve-penny-usa-gymnastics-fbi.html
“Umpires Ejections and Player Ethnicity: An Analysis” https://www.fangraphs.com/tht/umpires-ejections-and-player-ethnicity-an-analysis/
“Owner of Major League Baseball team among funders of racist super PAC” https://thinkprogress.org/san-francisco-giants-owner-bankrolling-racist-pac-5e1292058573/
“Marbella Ibarra, Pioneer of Women’s Soccer in Mexico, Found Dead” https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/18/sports/mar-ibarra-mexico-soccer.html
“Chloe Kim Nails Trick No Woman Has Ever Done In Competition” https://deadspin.com/chloe-kim-nails-trick-no-woman-has-ever-done-in-competi-1829845920
“‘I gave everything’: Jabeur blasts into first final in Moscow” http://www.wtatennis.com/news/i-gave-everything-jabeur-blasts-first-final-moscow
“Champions Corner: How Daria Kasatkina went from ‘completely freaking out’ to a Moscow fairytale” http://www.wtatennis.com/news/champions-corner-how-daria-kasatkina-went-completely-freaking-out-moscow-fairytale
“Jamaica’s incredible first ever Women’s World Cup qualification is a story worthy of the silver screen” https://theathletic.com/602710/2018/10/20/jamaicas-incredible-first-ever-womens-world-cup-qualification-is-a-story-worthy-of-the-silver-screen/
Brenda: Hello and welcome to this week of Burn It All Down. It may not be the feminist sports podcast you want, but it is the feminist sports podcast you need. I’m Brenda Elsey, Associate Professor of History at Hofstra University. I’ll be leading the show today, and I’m joined by the amazing Jessica Luther, author of Unsportsmanlike Conduct, College Football, and the Politics of Rape in Austin, Texas, and Lindsay Gibbs, the wordsmith at ThinkProgress who is in Washington, D.C.
On this week’s show, we’ll review the dumpster fire that is the NCAA, delve deeply into USA gymnastics, and we also have an interview between Jessica and Layshia Clarendon, who talked about playing for team USA in the FIBA Women’s World Cup, the WNBA off season, and about periods and sports. Okay, before we get started, let’s talk about what’s going on in the very recent past of sports history here. Linds, there was a fight in the NBA, is that right? There’s a fight and then we have baseball. What’s going on with the fight in the NBA here?
Lindsay: I’m so mad because I need west coast basketball not to be interesting so I can sleep. Now Lebron and the misfits are on the Lakers and I’m just never gonna be able to sleep again. So apparently last night, this is the second NBA game of the season for the Lakers and the Houston Rockets and it ended up with Chris Paul and I believe it was Rajon Rondo and then Brandon Ingram ran in there, all throwing punches at each other. Then there are allegations that Rondo was actually spitting on Chris Paul-
Brenda: Oh my gosh.
Lindsay: Nobody can … The Lakers are denying that that happened. Anyways, yeah so I just … Look, I’m not gonna lie, I love it when things get a little rowdy every once in a while. It’s very entertaining. I mean this is just hysterical. This is amazing and honestly I am gonna have to invest in some stronger coffee, I think is the only answer.
Brenda: Did you see any spitting though? How do you weigh in on the spitting controversy?
Lindsay: I didn’t see any spitting, no, but I also-
Jessica: I believe it’s possible that Rondo did that.
Lindsay: That’s the thing. It’s 100% possible that this happened. Yeah, but two of my favorite things about this were, okay, I have three favorite things very quickly. First of all it was Lebron James immediately going to his best friend Chris Paul and pulling him away as opposed to helping his Lakers teammates. Number two was the way that Brandon Ingram ran in there and was like, “I got this. I got this.” It had nothing to do with him but he was gonna take care of things, and as Jemele Hill wrote on Twitter, he probably earned the respect of his teammates last night. He was gonna help out. But number three was James Harden just literally standing there.
Brenda: I believe that, too.
Lindsay: It was all wonderful. We don’t want this to happen all the time, but every once in a while. I mean the second game. It’s too good.
Brenda: It’s all the personalities coming out in that kind of a moment. I mean you just broke it down so well. This is how all the personalities come to the fore when stuff like this happens, and we shouldn’t move on before mentioning, I’m sorry Amira’s not with us on this particular recording, but baseball. Are you watching?
Lindsay: Not yet, but I will be. This is my normal baseball watching. I’m finally ready to watch baseball now that we made it to the World Series. I know Amira must be thrilled. I’m sure she was tweeting about it. I didn’t actually check, but her Red Sox are in against the Dodgers, which former guest of the show Rhea Butcher, that’s their favorite team I believe. Or at least they root very hard for the Dodgers. It should be good as far as I can tell from my skimming of baseball reading. People think it will be a very good World Series, so I’ll probably tune in now.
Brenda: Baseball’s a lot of investment.
Lindsay: It is.
Brenda: We should just say it’s a big investment. I’m afraid to get too emotionally attached to baseball because of just the time consumption.
Lindsay: Well like last night, I usually watch much more of the playoffs than I have this year, but one of my colleagues Melanie Schmitz, Hey Mel, is a big Brewers fan, and so I was watching in the game seven, and because of her … I don’t really have a preference between the Dodgers or the Brewers, but because of her, I was rooting for the Brewers. Then I was like, “Why am I doing this to myself? It is very obvious that they are not gonna score any more runs. They are being horrible tonight.” Yet I couldn’t turn away because what if. But you know who I’m excited that’s in the World Series again is, Yasiel Puig, more Puig is good.
Jessica: Yeah, I agree with that.
Brenda: We all agree with that.
It’s not a surprised that Burn It All Down is monitoring very closely what happens in the NCAA. Jessica, would you like to give us a rundown of the most recent, I don’t know whether to call them scandals, or whether to say it’s systemic problems?
Jessica: Or just every day dealings?
Brenda: Yeah. Like every day all day?
Jessica: Yeah. Last week lawyers gave closing arguments and what you’ve probably heard of us at the NCAA College Basketball Corruption trial. A lot of the news around the trial has been about Adidas employees paying players under the table in violation of the NCAA’s so called amateurism rules and coaches working with those employees to get recruits. But as Sports Illustrated’s Michael McCann laid out, this trial isn’t technically about those rules. Instead, “The Justice Department contends that payoffs to recruits de-fraud the universities that enroll these recruits.” Oh, those poor universities.
The payoff, McCann says, “Instantly makes a recruit and eventually the player ineligible under NCAA rules.” So the school, in theory, the school doesn’t know about this and ends up giving kids scholarships despite the fact that they’re technology ineligible “Under false and fraudulent pretenses.” McCann writes that there is one more part of the DOJ’s argument. “The Justice Department insists that the conspirators interfered with targeted schools’ inability to ‘control their assets,’ a term of art that includes distribution of finite scholarships and financial aid packages. Had the colleges not been deceived and enrolling ineligible recruits, they could have directed these assets to recruits who are both in appearance and in actuality complying with NCAA rules.” It’s like the DOJ doesn’t know anything about the NCAA.
Okay, so let’s be clear about this case. Universities, namely Louisville and Kansas, according to the DOJ, are the victims here. They’re the ones that need protection from the federal government against an underhanded company. Louisville, to be clear, is the highest grossing team in college basketball, generating something like 45 million dollars in annual revenue over the past several year. So to no one’s surprise, the defense’s argument is that the universities are not in fact victims in this system and they know all about how this works. Or as Dan Wetzel put it in a tweet this week, “Sport is so corrupt that there is no corruption.”
Lots of schools’ basketball programs have been implicated in some way, including Duke, Kansas, LSU, Michigan State, Oregon, and NC State among others. But if you’ll indulge me just a bit more. I’ve been reading Pamela Grundy’s book called Learning To Win, which is about sports in education North Carolina in the 20th century. It’s a history book. She mentions a 1929 report, so going way back, by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. At that point in 1929, the NCAA was, I don’t know, a couple decades old though organized collegiate sports were older than that.
According to Grundy, this 1929 report, “Offered a wide-ranging critique of university athletics raising questions about the academic performance of athletes, the effects of competition on relationships between schools, the ethics of athletic perquisites such as training tables, the profits derived from game receipts, and in particular the practice of financial aid for athletes, which it termed “the deepest shadow that darkens American college and school athletics.” So in short these problems are old and have long been acknowledged and criticized.
It always feels like we are inching closer to the end of amateurism, the amateurism lie that the NCAA is built upon, but it’s hard to imagine what the final nail in that coffin’s gonna be. We know so much about how terrible and false amateurism is. We know the NCAA is a corrupt and bag organization, and yet it’s still really hard for me to see how or when this change will come. There’s so much more to be said about this. I mean, so Lindsay, I know that you recently wrote about the NCAA’s response, or I guess non-response to Jordan McNair’s death, which if you listen to the program, you know that’s the player at Maryland who collapsed during practice earlier this year, later died from heat stroke.
In that piece, you talked about the fact that they’re not paying attention to McNair, but are still caring about amateurism. This is the thing that they’re so focused on. Will you just tell us a little bit about that?
Lindsay: Yeah, so I think really to understand how egregious this all is, you have to go back to why the NCAA first formed. It stemmed out of a encouragement from President Theodore Roosevelt back in 1905. In 1905, 18 college and amateur players died during football games. At this time, sport was a really different, the sport was very different. There weren’t many forward passes or anything like that, but it was still football. There was a lot of concern over the safety, which might sound familiar.
So Theodore Roosevelt wanting to preserve the sport, got a lot of the heads of football from these colleges like Harvard and other big name colleges, brought them all together and were essentially like, “You need to fix this. There need to be some sort of safety guidelines in place.” So in 1906, the NCAA was founded, this is from the NCAA’s website, so this isn’t even hidden, “To protect young people from the dangerous and exploitative athletic practices of the time.”
Brenda: Oh, the irony.
Lindsay: Yeah, so if you look just at what has happened in the last month, okay? Let’s just look at this last month. We’ve had all these reports coming out about what happened to Jordan McNair in Maryland. What we know is that his death from heat stroke was entirely preventable. If Maryland had followed its emergency action plan, which it is supposed to legally be require to have had its coaches and administrative staff practice and be ready to execute. If it had followed protocols for when a player is showing signs of heat stroke, what do you do, you put them in the ice bath. Instead, when Jordan McNair started showing signs of heat stroke, the training coach kept pushing him harder.
They then ignored a lot of the signs. It took him, excuse me, let me find this exact quote because I just think it’s, from this, so from the onset of McNair’s symptoms until the call to 911 … Stop for a minute. I didn’t mention this happened during a conditioning program in May, so the peak of football season then, definitely when you need to be pushing players to the limit. From the onset of McNair’s symptoms until the call to 911, one hour and seven minutes elapsed. From the onset of his symptoms to the departure in the ambulance in route to the hospital was one hour and 39 minutes. A lot of that delay was due to the fact that there was construction going on at Maryland at the time. Nobody was out there.
Part of the emergency action plan is to have someone out there to greet the ambulance and guide them directly to where the player in distress is, because you know these football fields and training facilities are not easy to find. Nobody did that. Nobody did that. It’s simple things like this that just nobody did. Because of that, McNair, by the time he got to the hospital it was too late, he was in a coma, he was in the coma for two weeks and then he died. We know that heat stroke, if you get immediately into an ice bath, you have a very high chance of actually surviving. To me, when I look at this, it just seems very clearly that Maryland was in violation of the rules, that Maryland, that there were steps … Not all accidents that happen in football are preventable. Not all.
People can have undisclosed medical conditions. There are certainly some nuance to the conversation that has to take place around medical conditions, but in this case, from the reports that Maryland itself has done, we know that they took every step, yet has there been any discussion of NCAA sanctions? Has there been any discussion of giving the football team the death penalty for a year? So making sure, which I shouldn’t have even said that because it’s the term self is not appropriate in this context, but you know, of canceling the Maryland football team for just the season, giving its football players exemptions so that they can transfer immediately and figure out what’s going on and that they don’t lose a year of eligibility or anything, so try not to punish these players too much.
Just cancel the program for a year so that you can figure out what’s going on in the program where somebody died. No, I haven’t seen any widespread calls of that. I think there was one Deadspin piece mentioning it. However, what we do have is more stuff coming out about Louisville in this trial about players getting paid by Adidas and possibly assistant coaches on Louisville knowing about it. So there are all these calls for Louisville basketball to get the death penalty and to be canceled for a year. I just want to scream like, “Where are our priorities? How does this have any … How in the world is there complete silence from the NCAA and from those who hold the NCAA accountable about a program where a player literally died due to missteps, and yet when we find out a player was making money under the table and the whole system benefited from it, off with their heads?”
Brenda: I have to ask, you both are journalists that cover this all the time and I have tremendous respect for your work. I am an academic who’s actually on athletic committees, who liaisoned for the NCAA. I have to ask, Linds, you gave us this amazing history and Jessica too, 1929, 1906, what was the NCAA for? It was for the protection of players to avoid, I think you said exploitative practices? So really though, it sounds insincere but it’s not. What is the NCAA good for now? I want to, my knee jerk is absolutely nothing. That’s my response, but I have to ask you both. I mean do you see any purpose other than kind of putting some legitimacy onto amateurism or is there some purpose that the NCAA is actually serving besides that?
Lindsay: Jess, do you want to start this?
Jessica: I don’t know, I mean I don’t really know.
Brenda: I’m sorry, I know it’s a big question. But I just … We’ve talked about this a lot. I feel like we’re at the point where we’re pretty good at understanding it.
Jessica: Yeah no, I often ask myself what is the NCAA for. I mean certainly they’re doing organizational work around … I don’t know. As far as the upper level of administration of the NCAA, it clearly appears that the point of them is to make money, to make sure that the NCAA continues to just rake it in. I don’t have a better answer than that. Lindsay.
Lindsay: Okay, so the way they are structured right now is because it is all about making money, you’re not seeing the benefits that it should. There are ways to organize these television contracts and organize these conferences without the NCAA’s oversight. But I do want to … I talked with economist Andy Schwartz, who is a great expert and resource on all things NCAA corruption. He just wrote a great piece for Deadspin about how the NCAA is gaslighting all of us that I really recommend everyone read. But I talked with him last week about these trials and everything going on. I really loved what he said. He said, “There’s a world in which the NCAA takes all the expenses they put into making sure athletes don’t get discounts on tattoos and put it instead into making sure athletes are being educated and that when they are playing sports, the schools are using best practices for health and safety.”
In other words, if the NCAA is an oversight that is making sure that educations are being prioritized somehow within this system and that schools are following the best health and safety practices, that would be super useful to have a governing body oversight into all of those things. But as it is now, the NCAA shows time and time again as we saw with, look I’m a big Tar heel fan, but as we saw with their decision that UNC didn’t have any sanctions for the fraud that they had with their classes. As we see with them looking their other way in Jordan McNair, they don’t care about those things. Instead, all they want to make sure is that athletes aren’t getting paid.
Brenda: Yeah, the Duke trials right now, or not Duke trials, I mean the NCAA trials that are going on in Manhattan have highlighted for me the way in which the NCAA looks a lot like FIFA, and just because it’s the same courthouse, the same sorts of arguments being made, and the same smoke and mirrors that ends up that’s what’s really behind it is just more smoke and mirrors. And that FIFA for me covers up for clubs and for conferences, and the NCAA for me covers up for university programs. Its purpose is to be the go between between university programs and the public and say this is what we do and this is why we do it. It gets thrown up to faculty too, to not get involved. “Whoa, these are NCAA regulations.” No one really knows what that is. I have a handbook from the NCAA. It’s like 600 pages long and I’m not real clear.
Lindsay: Yeah. It feels like a book of suggestions more than anything.
Lindsay: Like we suggest you do these things.
Brenda: Absolutely. Exactly. These are recommendations or these are targets or these are the ideas, but not real clear what the power behind those suggestions are. It’s pretty interesting to see this trial unfold. I was reading about Duke and its relationship. One of the things that shocked me is that there were FBI wiretaps. What is the FBI doing? Isn’t it busy?
Lindsay: The FBI is the one bringing this case. It’s ridiculous
Brenda: For me, just like FIFA. You think to yourself, “But why is the FBI so interested in this stuff?” It’s really fascinating to see how the last three years all of a sudden it’s become a DOJ issues, right, sports and now the doping, FIFA, and now this. It’s really interesting to ask, “What are they getting out of that?” Linds, did you want to jump on something here?
Lindsay: Yeah, I do want to say though that one clear distinction though, between … At least at FIFA they were going after top FIFA brass. Here they’re not even going after the NCAA. This has nothing to do with the NCAA. They’re going after a few rogue, I mean “rogue” players. Do you know what I mean? An agent and an Adidas executive and these stars. The NCAA is not actually on trial. However, the NCAA actually was on trial. Last month in California there was a ten day bench trial in the federal case Alston versus NCAA, which is a class action on behalf of former men’s and women’s college players against the NCAA and the 11 major conferences.
These players are essentially arguing that limiting compensation for NCAA student athletes to just scholarships is a violation of federal anti-trust law. But the NCAA is arguing that getting rid of these scholarship caps would ruin college sports and if players can earn more than just a scholarship, that it’s gonna ruin college sports. Now the huge … There’s a lot of things to bang your head against the wall for. Because it’s a bench trial, we won’t know, the judge has awhile. There’s probably gonna be another hearing and then we won’t hear from the judge probably until January is the guesses that I have gotten.
However, what’s incredibly infuriating is in New York right now, you have a trial that is going on that where it is out in the open. Both parties are agreeing that essentially everyone breaks these NCAA rules. Do you know what I mean? And yet interest in college sports is higher than it’s ever been. And yet in this other completely separate trial in California, you’re having NCAA argue that if the athletes get more than a scholarship and if people know about it, it’s gonna ruin college sports, so it’s just like you want to pull your hair out.
Brenda: Yeah. Just as someone who teaches too, I don’t know which of my students are on scholarships. They’re all the same. It wouldn’t change my relationship with them, and thus I don’t think it would change their whole college experience. So whose experience is it changing? Is it changing an audience that’s invested in thinking that they’re poor and they don’t do this for money or something? This ideal that-
Jessica: That’s literally it. They say that if-
Lindsay: That’s literally their argument.
Brenda: But we think that that’s silly, I think grown ass people think that’s silly if you break it down like that. If you confront people like that, and then the NCAA is just making money.
Jessica: Right, like if you watch March Madness in the year that NCAA puts out commercials that are literally amateurism is everything. We were like everything would be ruined if amateurism doesn’t exist anymore. One thing I did want to mention right at the end here is that there are, what we’re seeing now are some alternative things happening around how the NCAA functions. There’s a lot to say about these G League, the NBA G League contracts. They’re gonna start paying, what was it, $125,000 yearly contracts to certain G League players. There’s a lot to say there about investment in which basketball players, but the fact that that’s an … You can go around the NCAA system and get paid.
And then on the football side, which we haven’t talked too much about football this time around, but Ohio State, the defensive end, I want to say Nick Bosa, I hope I’m saying his name correctly. He’s a junior. He might go number one in the NFL draft next year. He got injured and he decided to leave school and focus on his body and get himself ready for the NFL draft. That’s sort of … That’s a more extreme version of what we’ve seen with these players who are deciding not to play in bowl games anymore because they’re protecting their bodies for the next round. So, you’re seeing players and other outside leagues offering different possible, these are the things that maybe will make a difference. That these are the things that seem like they are actually putting money pressure on this organization. I don’t know outside of something like that whatever is gonna change with the NCAA, so I’m always paying attention to those kind of developments and I hope we see more of it.
Brenda: This week Jessica Luther sat down with Layshia Clarendon to catch up on the FIBA World Cup and periods and the WBNA.
Jessica: Well I am very excited today because I am joined by Layshia Clarendon. She’s a guard now for the Connecticut Sun, formerly of the Atlanta Dream, and a 2017 WNBA all-star. She recently played on the US National team at the FIBA World Cup. What did you guys, did you get gold medals Layshia?
Layshia: We did, yeah. Won the gold.
Jessica: Won the gold, all right. So let’s start there. Let’s start with the FIBA World Cup. It was in Tenerife, correct, Spain?
Jessica: That looked beautiful. Did you have time to see stuff?
Layshia: Yeah, we got time to see a little bit. I mean mostly though you’re really just practicing and playing a ton of games. But we had one or two days where we went and explored a little bit by the water, got in the ocean and saw some black sand beaches, so that was really cool.
Jessica: Nice. What is your favorite memory from the competition?
Layshia: I think sharing the whole experience with my wife. She was there and people, like her, your person that just pours into you so much and they really see what goes on behind the scenes and in the off season and practicing and the emotional labor, the tears and all of that. And so to share that with her, it was just really special to see how far we’ve come and that we did it together, because it’s a dream that I have that she’s always supported.
Jessica: That’s lovely. How are you feeling about the sport of women’s basketball internationally at this point? It seems like it’s really just getting so much better than we’ve ever seen it.
Layshia: It is really good. It was really really physical, so that’s why I feel like maybe the rumor was, “Oh European basketball is not as tough or they do Euro steps and stuff,” but we were getting beat up. I don’t know if it’s because US has a target on our back, but these teams were really physical. The game was just as fast as the WNBA, but I felt like even more physical, or maybe the refs let the physicality go a little more, and so that was really interesting. I haven’t played overseas since my rookie year so I can’t speak to the overseas play outside of that, but it seemed like the world is getting a lot better and some of the veteran players definitely mentioned that as well.
These are their best national teams. Belgium was one of the really good teams we played as well, and one of their first times at the World Cup. Nigeria I think had their first ever FIBA wins. I think they had two or three of them, and so you’re really starting to see teams. The talent overall in women’s basketball is just getting better and better every year, so it’s really cool to see not only in our league, but in a global level as well.
Jessica: Yeah, so you just mentioned that in your off season you actually don’t go overseas, so what do you do in your off season? How do you keep up, stay fit, that kind of thing?
Layshia: I work out a ton. I take the first month or so off and just rest, recover, literally eat whatever I want. I’ve totally been drinking wine like every other night. Things you just don’t do during the season to really just take that mental break and not burn out. Then I just get to go through a full off season and really get better at things on the court and off the court. Physically I was a lot faster coming into this season. I think it really showed with my defense and took a lot of pride in being known as more of a defender this year. Then I get to work on some things in terms of basketball as well, so whatever you want to add to your game and continue to get at ball screens, and so it just really gives you that time to get better. I have it all set up month-by-month and the phases that I progress in leading up to the season, and then I broadcast with the PAC-12 network. This will be my third year doing that.
Jessica: So, when you’re training in the off season, are you by yourself?
Layshia: It depends on where I’m at and what year it is. Most of the time I am pretty much alone. I’m not with a teammate because I’m in California and everyone goes overseas or to their hometowns. So most of the time I’m on my own, purely with lifting and conditioning. Last year I was in Chico with my wife. We lived up there for the off season. Whole Body Fitness was one of the groups I work with and it’s a gym, and so I got to work out with them and a group of guys which is really nice because the years before that I was totally on my own just going-
Jessica: That’s hard. That’s hard to be on your own.
Layshia: Oh yeah. Pushing yourself and just not having anyone to compete against. I definitely have the competitiveness against myself, but it’s just different when you’re looking to your right and your left and you’re chasing someone in a workout or they’re chasing you so you know you have to go faster than when it’s just you by yourself. Having that coach there being like, “All right, 5, 4, 3.” When you’re rest and recovery he’s like, “All right, back in the play again.” You’re cussing him out under your breath. You’re like, “No!” So that was really nice, then actually shout out to my wife again. She would work out with me some in the off season, so that was nice. It’s a big challenge in our off seasons when players do decide to stay is what’s in place to help them be successful. I think if they’re not involved in their college programs or in the same city or area then what resources do they have? You’re kind of left on your own to figure it out.
Jessica: It’s always so interesting to me because going overseas of course is wear and tear on the body in a whole different way, so they’re keeping up but then they’re really wearing themselves down. Then you have the other side of it which is your experience in the off season. Now I want to get to the reason that I initially contacted you to talk to you. You, in August it was announced that you are going to be, or you are now a spokesperson for Diva Cup. Will you first explain what Diva Cup is for anyone listening that doesn’t know?
Layshia: Yes, this is one of my favorite sponsorships ever, something I’m really uber excitedly passionate about. Diva Cup is a menstrual product. It’s an alternative to tampons or pads. It’s a silicone, small cup, and when I say cup people are like, “What? Does the blood drop in there? I don’t get it.” I have to explain it to them and so, it’s just a silicone cup that you insert. You can wear it all day, I think up to 12 hours. You have to change it less often. It’s just an amazing menstrual product that I’m always encouraging people to give it a try.
Jessica: How did you find out about it?
Layshia: One of my friends when I lived in Indiana had been using it for a while, so she was telling me about one day in a casual conversation. This was back, I think my rookie season in 2013. I was like, “Oh cool. I’ll give it a shot.” I remember I didn’t want to try it in the season because I was a little nervous the first time like, “What if it leaks? We wear white.” So I tried it in the off season. So, going into 2014 I started wearing it. I tried it in the off season and I remember the first time I went to the bathroom. I was working for the Players Tribune at the time, I was doing an internship, so I went to the bathroom and then I walked out and I was just like, “Oh my God. I feel like I have a secret.”
This is liberation that no one knows about. I totally just used the bathroom and it was great and I was on my period and I didn’t have to worry about carrying a tampon to the bathroom and the string getting wet and just all those things that we deal with as women. I was just like, “That was easy. I just peed like normal and moved on with my life.” Having used it on the court it was like a whole other level of awesomeness.
Jessica: And I just find this absolutely fascinating because it is this one … I mean we obviously have a stigma around talking about our periods just in general, but sport is such an interesting thing because I mean part of the deal is that we’re obsessing over bodies, right? And my very short lived basketball career was 7th and 8th grade, but when I was thinking when I was preparing to talk to you about this, I was thinking about the first real conversation that I ever had with a bunch of girls about periods was at a basketball practice. I remember it viscerally Layshia, because that was when I found out that there are girls who don’t have six day long periods. I was like, “What is this magic body that you have?”
Jessica: That was the first real substantial discussion that I ever had was with my basketball team, and so I just think it’s interesting. I mean is this something that you as an athlete have ended up … I assume you talk to your teammates about this and how you guys deal with this part of your body. You have to have conversations, right?
Layshia: Oh yeah, 100%. I think I said when I first posted, like if you’ve ever been in a locker room with me you know how excited I am about partnering with Diva Cup now because I’ve talked about it on every team I’ve been on and every locker room and with multiple teammates and actually was able to give my Connecticut teammates all a Diva Cup right after I signed with Diva, so that was pretty cool. And having the discussion, and just really funny. You just get an array of things and you get, throughout the teams I’ve played out, Indiana, Atlanta, and Connecticut, you get such a mixed review of how people respond to periods. I think it’s definitely a microcosm for a larger society.
You see people who are totally grossed out about their periods and people who are interested in the Diva Cup and people who don’t want to talk about it. In the locker rooms, like you said, our bodies are literally like our jobs. You’re changing in locker rooms, you’re naked around each other. It’s inevitable. A lot of teams actually end up syncing up. That’s a funny thing everyone talks about, there will be like seven people on their period. There’s times when you’re just like, “Oh I need a tampon,” or I need something from your teammates because you’re around each other all the time or one of you is cramping. You’re like, “All right, I know practice is gonna be tough. We got your back.” And so a ton of conversations about it.
I try to take an educational approach with a lot of my teammates. We’ve been breaking down the stigma. You know, some people are like, “It’s so gross. And blood. It’s a cup and you pour it out.” I’m like, “It’s gross as compared to shoving a bleached piece of toilet paper in your vagina essentially?” It’s just breaking down that stigma and education around it, and for me, just wanting people to understand and know and to just really realize how awesome this product is. I think it’s cool that I’ve used it for so long. I’ve actually been hunting Diva Cup down to work with them. I’m like, “Let me write a blog.” Since I used it in Indiana, I was trying to partner with them for the last few years because it really does change how you perform on the courts. It’s just so liberating is the word I always use.
Jessica: I do think it matters that you’re an athlete. I think there’s another level to it. The idea that you do it while you’re active and it works, for some reason it’s really road tested.
Layshia: Right, diving on the floor, jumping, squatting, being in a defensive stance, all of the movements that we do throughout our day. Once you know how to use it, it doesn’t leak. That’s the issue that so many athletes have and I know that I’ve had problems. Who’s played sports for years and never had their tampon leak, right?
Jessica: Right and you’re sweating and yeah.
Layshia: You’re worrying if you have a heavy flow or God forbid you were wearing white that day. You’re like oh my God. I had someone in camp, I don’t even remember who it was, during USA was like, “Oh my God, we’re wearing white and I’m on my period.” We’re all like, “Oh no! I’ll look out for you.” Get up and go in the game and we’re like okay, she’s gonna be good. We got your back.
Jessica: What was the response to the announcement that you’re gonna work with Diva Cup? Did you have one?
Layshia: From the outside?
Layshia: Really positive. I think people want to have more of the conversations. It’s just the stigma and the silence. Then even the shame for a lot of women, we’ve all I think experienced that hiding the tampon to go to the bathroom moment of like, “Literally, this is something that happens to a large percentage of the population. Why I am I hiding my tampon being afraid to go to the bathroom so people will know?” I really want to break the stigma around that and I think people will be really open to engaging in those conversations, so I got a lot of positive feedback.
Jessica: Thank you so much. I’m going to put a link to Diva Cup in the show notes, so if anyone’s interested in check it out more, and just thank you so much for your time Layshia. Thanks for talking about this with me. There is so much stigma and I just think the more we talk about it you just start to wear that down, so thank you.
Layshia: Exactly. Thanks for having me.
Brenda: Lindsay, it was … I just say that and you laugh.
Lindsay: Well there’s just-
Brenda: Here it comes.
Lindsay: I know what’s coming.
Brenda: You know what’s coming.
Lindsay: I know what’s coming.
Brenda: But our listeners might not. So listeners, what’s coming is I’m gonna ask Lindsay about gymnastics. Lindsay, give us an update.
Lindsay: USA gymnastics right now is making the NCAA look competent and not corrupt. That is how bad things have gotten in the NCAA. The last time we picked up with the NCAA I believe was when Kerry Perry resigned. There was this very tumultuous thing about six weeks ago when they announced a new elite development coordinator. That elite development coordinator, however, had publicly defended Larry Nassar even after 60 Nassar survivors had come forward talking about abuse and after he had already been indicted on counts of sexual assault, so while this was back in 2016 it was well after the case had gained a lot of legs. This same elite development coordinator had on Facebook attacked, not attacked, but shamed survivors such as Aly Raisman for speaking up against the conditions of the Karolyi Ranch saying that everything, that she was there and her gymnasts were fine and everything was fine.
After that just astonishing stuff, she lasted, Mary Lee Tracy was her name, that elite development coordinator lasted for three to four days on the job before resigning, at which point after that Kerry Perry who had been the USA gymnastics president for nine months was basically forced to resign after a just disastrous nine months at the helm. At the end of last week, we had USA gymnastics, so I guess two weeks ago by the time you guys are listening to this, USA gymnastics announced that it had a new interim president and CEO, Mary Bono, who her name should sound familiar. She’s a former Republican congresswoman from California, and I believe was married to Sonny Bono, so you know.
What a world. But this immediately drew ire because just a month ago Mary Bono had tweeted something against Colin Kaepernick and it was basically a tweet where she blacked out her own Nikes. This was right after Nike had sponsored Colin Kaepernick, so Simone Biles called her out for that. Then there was a lot of talk about the fact that she had worked for the same law firm that had defended USA gymnastics and helped them cover up Larry Nassar’s sexual abuse. She wasn’t directly involved with the case, but she did work with the law firm. So she then, after just four days on the job, was forced to resign. We’ll get into her “apology resignation letter” in a bit. It’s just a treat, everyone. Three days after all this, maybe two days, honestly I don’t have a great sense of time right now.
Lindsay: We found that former USA gymnastics president, Steve Penny, so he was the president during most of the sexual abuse, the biggest sexual abuse scandals. He was forced to resign in I believe April of 2017, though he did get more than a $1 million severance. And so he-
Jessica: And they said it was because he was ill, right?
Lindsay: No, no, no. You’re thinking of the USOC president.
Jessica: Oh okay. All right.
Lindsay: USOC boss. Yeah, it’s very confusing.
Jessica: Sorry, go ahead.
Lindsay: No Steve Penny was just because of Nassar stuff.
Jessica: Okay that makes me feel a little better, I guess. Okay, keep going.
Lindsay: No, you should not feel any better. So he was forced to resign in September of 2017, so then after that they didn’t have, they had Kerry Perry from December 2017 through August of this year, and then they had Mary Bono for four days, so just making sure everyone’s up to date because I know this is hard to follow.
We found out that Steve Penny had been arrested and detained after a manhunt because he, the Texas grand jury had indicted him for ordering documents removed from the Karolyi Ranch about Larry Nassar and having them delivered to the Indianapolis headquarters of USA gymnastics. Those documents still have not been found, so this was obstructing an investigation into Larry Nassar.
So he’s facing two to ten years in prison and that’s where we are. There’s a lot more to get into, but I’d like to throw it to you guys. How does this make you feel?
Jessica: Lindsay, can I ask a question about the Penny stuff? Why did he do this? Because is pretty … The point when he does this, it’s pretty late in the game right? So there’s no question at that point that Nassar was a very bad guy and harmed a lot of people. Is this about him protecting the brand of USA gymnastics? Like there’s something in those documents that makes USAG look bad?
Lindsay: That’s what I am assuming, that there’s something in there that has to … That deals with what USA gymnastics knew and when they-
Jessica: And these are medical documents?
Lindsay: Yeah. I think it’s his personnel file type thing from the Karolyi Ranch. It seems, it’s not jumping to rash conclusions to believe that there is something in those documents that would be damning to USA gymnastics, to Steve Penny, to the Karolyi’s, to someone who he is trying to protect.
Jessica: And he also cozied up to the FBI, right? He was like the investigator-
Lindsay: Oh yeah, that’s another thing.
Jessica: Yeah, he was promising him that he could have a top level job at the USOC or USAG or. I mean he was making a lot of questionable choices in defense of the brand. I think you have said this repeatedly on this show, Lindsay, and I think about it a lot with this issue, that these people who are in charge of, we should be very clear, mainly a lot of girls … I mean we talk about young women and women a lot, but a lot of these people that were harmed were girls, that they’re just choosing brand over everything else, literally. They are choosing, they’re trying to save themselves, but also just the fucking brand of this sport. When I read the Steve Penny stuff, I was really angry for a couple hours.
I really had to work through it because I just, what’s even the point at that point in the process, of doing this? Just take the L. You just take the L at that point. You have done bad things and you, I just have so many feelings but I don’t even know how to process it. I mean on some level I end up laughing and I feel bad that that’s my reaction, but it just, how is this real life? How is this another wrinkle in this? I mean I have a hard time keeping track of all the different things coming off of, from around Larry Nassar, all of the people who tried to protect him and themselves and the sport over and above all of these girls. I just chafe so much.
Brenda: It is absolutely shocking what people will do for their own personal interest. I mean I think you’re right Jess. At the end, it’s just about greed. There’s no other way to explain it. I mean there’s no possible, because even the brand, what is the brand?
Jessica: I don’t know that’s the thing. What is the brand that they’re protecting?
Brenda: Can we talk for a minute about the players’ reactions to this? I mean I saw Simone Biles tweet-
Lindsay: Yeah, and Aly Raisman has been-
Brenda: About Bono, but Simone Biles is still very active, right? Aly’s-
Lindsay: Right, right.
Brenda: That seemed brave to me.
Jessica: Yeah. It feels like Simone Biles is over it.
Lindsay: Well Simone Biles at this point finally, Dvora Meyers who does great work on all of this. She knows more about USA gymnastics than anyone. On Deadspin she wrote about how Simone Biles is really finding her voice and finding her power. I mean remember in January when all of the victim impact statements were being read in court and all this was coming out about the Karolyi Ranch, the USA gymnastics still had a relationship with the Karolyi Ranch. It was Simone Biles tweeting that she did not want to come back and have to train for this Olympics at the same location where she was sexually abused. That tweet is what got the Karolyi Ranch shut down, not Kerry Perry or USA gymnastics. They did that only because of what Simone Biles tweeted, and Kerry Perry later, in many of these committee hearings that I attended, tried to take credit for that as something that USA gymnastics was proactively doing when the only reason they did this was Simone Biles.
Simone Biles is just being incredible. Aly Raisman really went after the relationship with the law firm, and I wrote … This week, pretty much it’s just time to de-certify USA gymnastics. It’s tough when you’re looking at the US Olympic Committee, who is incredibly flawed organization themselves, and trying to get them to be the arbitrator of any morality. But they have the power to say enough is enough and to de-certify USA gymnastics and to figure out a way for this organization to start from scratch. There are ways you can do this without completely ruining the careers of athletes. There can be some makeshift situations, but at this point the people in charge of USA gymnastics do not need to be in charge and they don’t know how to make decisions that are proper. We’ve seen that just the past six weeks.
Jessica: Yeah, I just wanted to say one more thing because I think we should just keep saying this over and over again, especially as members of the media. This should be the number one sports story. When this stuff keeps happening, I am like how is this not running as the number one thing on the top of every fucking sports page everywhere, on Sports Center, and part of it is that I don’t trust that the anchors at Sports Center are the people who know how to handle this. They’re not, you just mentioned Dvora, and Lindsay, you have done amazing work. We have Nancy Armour and Rachel Axon at USA Today, but I can basically name for you the people who can report this stuff out.
Sports media is not prepared to handle this and to put it at the level that it deserves to be at. Of course I think that this in part has to do with the fact that these are young girls who are victimized in a sport that most people only care about every four years, so this is on the edge of what they’re paying attention to. Which is why all the stuff at Michigan State around issues with football and basketball disappeared very quickly and aren’t part of this conversation when we talk about all this stuff because people don’t really want to acknowledge the stuff when they care about it.
It’s just so frustrating that this is not always a major story by sheer number alone of victims, but then again, all of the implications here. Michigan State, USOC, USA gymnastics. These are major, major organizations who have failed. Even Lindsay writing, you wrote that great piece about how Nike has done little at all to force a hand here when they have so much power. There’s so many major places where this intersects with sports and the fact that the sports media in general overall has really let us down on how seriously they have taken this, again, shout out to the people … Of course the local reporters, I want to say, in Michigan, who have really carried this water. The people at the Indianapolis Star, but overall I’m really just constantly disappointed in how sports media has not taken this up.
Brenda: I absolutely agree. I couldn’t agree more. Linds?
Lindsay: Yeah, I want to, Jess you were talking about how you can’t keep any of this straight because it’s so much. When I was writing about Steve Penny earlier this week, I realized how much I had forgotten about things that I had reported on about things that he did. I think it’s just worth a little bit of a review before we move on.
In 2015 is when USA gymnastics was first notified of allegations against Nassar by Aly Raisman’s coach, Aly Raisman and Maggie Nichols were the first two. They then did a five-week internal investigation. This was when Steve Penny was the head. They did a five-week internal investigation. They didn’t believe Raisman and Nichols until a third victim, who I believe was McKayla Maroney came forward. Only after then did they report him to the FBI. The FBI then waited about a year to really start its investigation in earnest.
When you look at things, like right now it’s the Texas law enforcement who are really actually doing the most work in this case because the Karolyi Ranch is in Texas. We don’t give the Texas law enforcement credit for much, but the fact that they’re issuing a warrant or getting a search warrant, that’s the word I’m using for the Karolyi Ranch. The FBI should’ve done that in 2015. What’s happening here? Why are we waiting? On top of that, so Steve Penny-
Brenda: They’re busy investigating the NCAA, Linds.
Lindsay: Yeah, exactly.
Jessica: And FIFA.
Lindsay: I mean I could talk for a while about how much the FBI has dropped the ball on this case. I think that doesn’t get nearly enough attention, but just talking about Steve Penny itself. We have the fact that Aly Raisman and other survivors have specifically said that Penny lied to them and told them not to speak publicly about Nassar’s abuse in 2015 and 2016 because the ongoing FBI investigation, even though for much of that time the FBI investigation had never begun and the FBI had not ever requested such silence. That was all Penny trying to protect the brand.
Raisman told ESPN Penny was trying to control every part of the investigation. The biggest priority was to make sure I kept quiet so that they had a good Olympics. Penny also was directly responsible for signing a $1.25 million non-disclosure agreement with McKayla Maroney in order to keep her silent about Nassar’s abuse. And we must remember, this goes well beyond Nassar. 2016, the Indy Star investigation revealed that at least 368 gymnasts in the past 20 years had been allegedly abused at the hands of coaches and USA and Penny would often hide reports of abuse in his desk because they had these stupid rules that only the victim of their parent could directly report it to USA gymnastics. It couldn’t be a hearsay.
So when it was someone else, he would just hide the report and not take it any further. I mean burn pile Steve Penny forever, and I’m so glad he’s finally seeing some justice. Every once in a while, we just have to go back and review all the awfulness.
Brenda: Now it’s time for everybody’s favorite segment, the Burn Pile where we throw all the things that we’ve hated this week in sports on a giant incinerator and catharticly burn them. Jessica, do you want to start?
Jessica: Yeah, so my burn pile is from the category of, “This isn’t surprising at all, but glad we have statistics to prove it.” This week Sydney Bergman at Hardball Times analyzed 860 umpire ejections of 482 unique players from 2008-2017 and found that, “Even when controlling for other factors, umpires eject non-white players disproportionately compared to those players’ representation in Major League baseball.”
Okay, so Bergman’s work is really thorough. I didn’t understand all of it. It’s explained in detail, excluding a discussion of method looking into a series of additional factors outside of racism that could’ve led to umpires ejecting proportionately more non-white players than white players, and then lots of beautiful bar graphs. If you’re interested in this, I highly recommend you actually check out the piece for yourself.
We’ve talked about it multiple times on this program, but baseball like all parts of American society, has racism baked right into it. It’s really no surprise that it would play a role in who is considered disruptive or rule breaker worthy of ejection from baseball games. As Bergman writes in the conclusion of the piece, “How a game steeped in traditions largely dictated by white players and officials responds to its increasingly non-white player population will likely determine its future relevance, especially with what MLB hopes will be an increasingly diverse audience.”
Bergman continues, “As long as the rules of the game require umpires’ judgment for both interpretation of player action and enforcement of the rules of play, we should interrogate the role of biases that underpin those judgments to ensure a fair game for everyone.” Hear, hear. Burn this reality about ejections in baseball and advocate for change. Burn.
Brenda: Lindsay. Throw it on.
Lindsay: Yeah, so mine builds off of Jess’. This comes from my colleague Josh Israel at ThinkProgress. He began to look into who funded a shockingly racist radio ad from a super pack that called itself Black Americans for the President’s Agenda. This ad went viral on Thursday evening. The spots which run on radio stations that are popular with black voters in Arkansas and Mississippi say that black women must back Republican French Hill and Republican Josh Hawley, who are Congressional candidates in Arkansas and Missouri. Because they say that if Democrats accuse Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault now, then basically Democrats will, the word is lynch, black men and boys and black men and boys will be subjected to race verdicts, life sentences, and lynchings.
We don’t want to discount the fact there has been a very very racial component of white women crying rape and black men being abused for it, but to make this a partisan issue, to play off of partisan politics in this way. To use an ad that is directly targeted to black women and using the word lynching, and if you listen to it, it’s very explicitly racist. So anyways. They dug into who led this super pack and found out that one of the contributors was GOP mega donor and billionaire Charles B. Johnson, who is also the principal owner of the San Francisco Giants baseball team. So we would just like to burn that. I’m so sick of owners telling players they have to stick to sports, and then going and donating to crap like this. Baseball, you cannot continue to say that you want to be a diverse audience when this is what’s going on among the people at the helm of your sport. This is disgusting. Burn.
Brenda: My burn for this week takes a dark turn, but sometimes on this show we have to. Marbella Ibarra, the beloved coach and promoter of women’s football in Northern Mexico was found dead this week wrapped up in a blanket, and probably beaten to death, after three weeks of being kidnapped. She was also an attorney in las oficinas del Ministerio Público de Tijuana. It is devastating for the women’s soccer community. She is founder and was head coach of the women’s club Xolos de Tijuana.
In that particular part of Mexico, it’s so important, these initiatives that people like Ibarra, but we’re talking about her, did with girls and young women because we know what it means for them to take public space in a healthy way to feel confident in their bodies and to feel strong. Because this is a part of Mexico that for the last 25 years has had sharp increases in violence against women and girls. And so, this week it feels, I don’t know where to put this.
I didn’t know whether to put Ibarra in the badass women of the week or the burn pile. It all feels small in comparison to the tragedy, but I want to mention her on this show because she’s one of the thousands of grassroots activists that dedicated her life to making the world a better place for women through sport. And the impunity, less than two out of every 100 femicides being investigated in Mexico results in sentencing.
Less than two out of every hundred, so that’s 1.6%, so it’s one of the least punitive states if you’re one of her women. It’s a great tragedy. So I want to throw the impunity on the burn pile and just have a moment of remembrance for Marbella Ibarra. Burn everything that has to do with hurting her. Burn.
Brenda: Sad burn.
Now onto a happier story, badass women this week. We are going to celebrate some of the accomplishments of women in sport around the world. Honorable mention goes to Team Canada and Team USA, who qualified for the women’s World Cup this week. They’ll be playing in France. We have to mention, I’m sorry Shireen you’re not here, that Team USA did beat Canada.
Other honorable mention goes to Olympic champion snowboarder Chloe Kim, who tweeted the video showing her landing a front side double cork 1080 on a half-pipe in Switzerland. That even sounds badass just to say. A trick no female snowboarder is believed to have landed before.
Also, Ons Jabeur, who became the first Tunisian to ever make a WTA final at the Kremlin Cup last week. She had an impressive run, beating US Open champion Sloane Stephens along the way, and is now ranked 63 in the world making her the highest ranked woman ever from an Arabic country.
Also, congratulations to Daria Kasatkina who defeated Ons in the final to win the tournament in Moscow. Speaking of tennis, another honorable mention goes to all the women in singles and doubles competing in the WTA Championships in Singapore this week featuring the top eight singles players and doubles teams in the world. And now can I get a drum roll?
Guppy guppy. Bad ass women of the week goes to Team Jamaica, the Reggae Girlz, who beat Panama in a penalty shootout to become the first Caribbean nation to qualify for a FIFA women’s World Cup. We have interviewed players and just to put it out there, we’re gonna also have an interview with Nicole McClure from the Reggae Girlz. Much congratulations, we will be watching you at Burn It All Down.
In dark times, we like to talk about what is keeping us afloat. Jessica, what’s good in your world this week?
Jessica: Yeah so anyone who knows me even a little bit knows that I love romance novels, and so if anyone’s listening who is looking for a good one right now, I’ve read two recently which is like bless romance authors seriously. If you like historicals, The Duke I Tempted by Scarlett Peckham was spectacular. Then if you like contemporaries, Rafe by Rebekah Weatherspoon was so good, so good. Then I also wanted to mention, I won’t be on the show next week, so I’m very excited because every year for the last few years my family has dressed up for Halloween in a group costume. All of our costumes came this week and my son is going to be David S. Pumpkins from the SNL skit with Tom Hanks. Aaron and I will be the skeleton b-boys who dance next to David S. Pumpkins, so I’m really really excited about this.
Brenda: That is so cute. Linds?
Lindsay: I’m having a hard time this week. You know what I’m excited about? Women’s NCAA basketball is coming, college basketball starting soon. I’m excited about that. I’m excited that the NBA is back. I just love basketball. I’ve missed it since the WNBA season ended. I’m also excited because Kobe Bryant got kicked off of a panel in animation film conference because he’s a rapist, so that was really cool. These women started a petition, women in the animation community and were like, “This isn’t okay that he’s on this panel.” He actually got kicked off of it. You just never see that happen.
Brenda: Right, right. Accountability.
Lindsay: Nobody seems to care, so I got so excited that this small community … I mean their petition was small. It only got a few hundred signatures but it was enough to make people listen, so that was really exciting.
Brenda: It is good to see accountability for rapists. I’m saying that in full seriousness. The small victories. Well my what’s good in this week is not altogether surprising because it’s kind of what’s good in my whole month, and that’s Halloween. I went to my first Halloween party last night of this season. I was a vampire, which I’ve never been. It was really exciting. I actually glued the teeth on so my teeth looked right.
Jessica: So, you’re still wearing them is what you’re saying?
Lindsay: They’re still there?
Brenda: I went with my brother and I made a really corny joke all night that we were blood relatives, because he was a vampire too.
Lindsay: That’s incredible Brenda.
Brenda: Thank you for laughing.
Jessica: That’s wonderful.
Brenda: Yeah, thank you. He’s much cooler than I am, and so I got to shop around and just bask in his coolness and I can be middle-aged mom vampire. And I took pictures in a cemetery locally. I made my kids go to the graveyard and-
Lindsay: This is so extra.
Jessica: Oh my God.
Brenda: I am so extra for Halloween. I’m so extra. So I made them go to a cemetery and pose next to, it’s an early 19th century graveyard so the people, it’s not like mean … Like no family members are alive anymore, I swear. These are like, everybody died in like 1809, okay? So, no disrespect for the dead. I made them pose in front of tombstones. So that’s what’s good in my world is a whole lot of Halloween.
Lindsay: Brenda, my jaw is literally on the table right now.
Brenda: Because you feel sorry for me that this is my life or what?
Lindsay: I just
Jessica: You’ve just learned something.
Lindsay: I’ve never gotten that into Halloween and I am amazed. I don’t understand this. It’s different.
Brenda: For Atheists it’s our only holiday really.
Lindsay: That’s fair, that’s fair.
Brenda: Think about it. I don’t want to compare it to something like Christmas or Passover because that means a lot to a lot of people, but in a serious and meaningful way, we don’t have many Holy holidays as Atheists, so this is it. It’s Halloween. It’s all we got.
Lindsay: But you’re not gonna make me feel bad for mocking you with all that.
Brenda: Absolutely not, no. Absolutely not. It’s all ironic. It’s tongue and cheek, right?
Brenda: Before we end, I would like to thank our patrons for their generous support and to remind our new flamethrowers about our Patreon campaign. You can 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, you’ll get access to special rewards, segments, things like that. So far we’ve been able to solidify funding for proper editing and transcripts, but we’re hoping to do more and to reach more people and to do what we do better.
That’s it for this week in Burn It All Down. On behalf of Jessica Luther and Lindsay Gibbs, we hope you have a wonderful week, and we’d like to remind you that Burn It All Down lives on SoundCloud, but can also be found on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play, and TuneIn. We do appreciate your reviews and feedback. Please subscribe and rate, and let us know what we did well and how we can improve. You will find us at Facebook at Burn It All Down, on Twitter at BurnItAllDownPod, or on Instagram at BurnItAllDownPod.
You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out our website www.burnitalldownpod.com, where you can find previous episodes, transcripts, which are carefully and lovingly done by Jessica Luther, and a link to that Patreon that I was talking about. We would appreciate any sort of feedback that you have and ratings for our show. It helps us do the work that we love to do and keep burning what needs to be burned. See you next week.