Episode 78: Prize Money for Women’s WWC, Toxic Cultures in Maryland Football, and Nicole McClure
Lindsay, Brenda, and Shireen start this week’s show with a chat about Rihanna not giving any f*cks about the NFL Super Bowl Halftime Show, (5:02) then talk about FIFA increasing their commitment to the women’s game (*laugh*) by increasing prize money for the Women’s World Cup (16:45). Then Brenda interviews Nicole McClure, veteran Goalkeeper for the Jamaican National Team and their journey to their first World Cup berth (30:54). After that, the gang talks about the toxic culture in the Maryland Football program (49:19).
Of course, you’ll hear the Burn Pile (57:46), our Bad Ass Woman of the Week, spotlight on Simone Biles (1:00:05), and what is good in our worlds (1:03:11).
For links and a transcript…
“Rihanna Rejected Super Bowl Halftime Show in Support of Colin Kaepernick” https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-news/rihanna-super-bowl-halftime-show-colin-kaepernick-744650/
“FIFA Approves Women’s World Cup Prize Money, Unions Not Satisfied” https://www.si.com/soccer/2018/10/26/fifa-womens-world-cup-prize-money-approved
“USWNT Players Take Issue With Changes in World Cup Prize Money” https://www.si.com/soccer/2018/10/13/uswnt-rapinoe-sauerbrunn-world-cup-prize-money
“FIFA “Forward” Development Programme Regulations” https://resources.fifa.com/image/upload/fifa-forward-development-programme-regulations-2790869.pdf?cloudid=vnar7zbscpvdncc47h27
“Devastating report about Maryland’s toxic football culture reaches the wrong conclusion” https://thinkprogress.org/maryland-football-toxic-jordan-mcnair-18950f06e87d/
“A student accused 2 football players of sexual assault. Maryland paid the legal fees of the accused.” https://thinkprogress.org/maryland-football-sexual-assault-scandal-5bdcb58dd585/
“Investigation Finds Toxic Culture At Maryland Football, Concludes Program’s Culture Isn’t Toxic” https://deadspin.com/investigation-finds-toxic-culture-at-maryland-football-1830002866
“Report: Derek Carr Has Lost The Confidence Of His Teammates, Possibly Because He Cried” https://deadspin.com/report-derek-carr-has-lost-the-confidence-of-his-teamm-1829932430
“As Football Scandal Unfolds at Maryland, Professors Fear Lack of Athletics Oversight” https://www.chronicle.com/article/As-Football-Scandal-Unfolds-at/244338
“Inside James Dolan’s all-out revenge on Maggie Gray, WFAN” https://nypost.com/2018/10/22/inside-james-dolans-all-out-revenge-on-maggie-gray-wfan/?fbclid=IwAR0_gJFny6DXM-XiDtmaerJgcQlEkXIghB2QfZ-bPVcKXcqwp-2Hx0HhK5w
“Sana Mir rises to top of ODI bowling rankings” https://www.icc-cricket.com/news/885660
“Gelareh Nazemi, Iran’s refereeing pioneer” https://www.fifa.com/womensyoutholympic/news/y=2018/m=10/news=gelareh-nazemi-irans-refereeing-pioneer-2997493.html?_branch_match_id=468396685941251600
“Somali boxer Ramla Ali: My mum said no Muslim girl would box” https://www.bbc.com/news/av/world-45829832/somali-boxer-ramla-ali-my-mum-said-no-muslim-girl-would-box
Lindsay: Before this episode begins, we just want to send our thoughts and prayers to the Leicester City Football Club and their fans who just lost their owner and four others in a tragic helicopter crash. Our hearts are with you.
Hello, hello, hello, and welcome to Burn It All Down. The feminist sports podcast you need. We’re so excited you’re here with us today. My name is Lindsay Gibbs. I am the sports reporter at Think Progress, and I will be your host today. Especially before we start I want to give a shout out and a thanks to all of our patrons. If you do not know if you go to patron.com/burnitalldown you can support us. Give us a little monthly amount, $2, $5, $10 and you can help keep the show going. We are an independent feminist podcast, and that means we really need your help to keep things going every week.
But this is our 78th episode and it’s going to be a great one. Joining me today are two of my favorite footy experts, Shireen Ahmed, freelance sports reporter in Toronto, Canada, and Brenda Elsey the associate professor of history at Hofstra. On today’s show we are very excitedly going to talk, and appropriately given our footy experts, going to talk about FIFA support or lack thereof for women’s soccer. We’re going to dive into toxic cultures in football based upon the report that we got coming out of Maryland this week.
And then Brenda is going to interview veteran goalkeeper Nicole McClure of Jamaica women’s national team on their qualification for the Women’s World Cup. We’re so excited for that interview. But before we get going we’re a little late to this news but that’s OK. We want to take a moment to appreciate patron saint Rihanna who declined to perform in the Super Bowl this year reportedly out of respect for Colin Kaepernick in solidarity with Colin Kaepernick that’s a pretty big deal. Brenda?
Brenda: Yeah., I think that’s so awesome. I already love Rihanna. I’ve mentioned her like every other show in some capacity. I don’t know if anyone’s ever noticed that. But now I feel so sort of like I have unproblematic faves too.
Lindsay: You’re a little smug. You’re a little smug.
Brenda: I’m super excited. And of course Adam Levine jumped at the opportunity. So what I read was when she turned it down he was like, “Yay!” And it’s like, “Of course he did.”
Lindsay: That sounds about right.
Shireen: I love her, and I’ve loved her forever. She’s also an amazing football fan. And every time the men’s World Cup rolls around she’s just like up in there. She also briefly dated Karim Benzema which I’m totally fine with. But as Brenda said this is very typically Rihanna. This is no surprise that she’s done this and just been like, “I don’t need you. NFL I don’t want you. You’re trash.” This is so beautifully her, and I’m so here for it.
Lindsay: It is pretty incredible. But the good news is that we all have Maroon 5 to look forward to. Because when you think Atlanta and you think football you I think Maroon 5.
Shireen: You know what? I’m going to probably get totally harassed for this but even Justin Bieber would have been better and has a stronger connection to Atlanta. I would rather-
Lindsay: That’s the most Canadian thing you ever said, Shireen. And that is a really high bar.
Brenda: And yet I agree with you, Shireen. I agree with you. I’m like I could kind of see. But that has to do with my sort of blaming of all problems in pop music right now on Maroon 5. Yeah. And Imagine Dragons, who I also hate. So, I don’t know.
Lindsay: Look, I want to do a little shilling, before we move on. I forgot to say in the intro that if you have somehow missed it we have merchandise now. My favorite part of every week is getting the tweets from the flamethrowers who are drinking mug out of a Burn It All Down coffee mug or wearing a Burn It All Down hoodie or sleeping on a Burn It All Down pillow. It is incredible. So we have a Teespring account. There are links everywhere. I don’t really know how to tell you to get to it but it’s pretty easy. I think so. Go to our website and Burnitalldownpod.com and we will make our weeks. That will be awesome too. All right. We haven’t really talked FIFA in a little bit here. So, Shireen, do you want to get us started?
Shireen: I always love getting us started on FIFA. So, for those that do not know, FIFA has come out with big praise for themselves and big announcements that its part of this program, they’re always so interested in self-praise, a “FIFA forward”, development program regulations to expand and grow the women’s game. Now it’s almost like every time this happens they decide to make a committee.
So, they’ve made a committee. So congratulations FIFA on making a committee based on things that players, coaches, participants, supporters, and women have said for I don’t know how many years. Okay. So there is that issue. Now let’s get specifically to the prize money. So FIFA announced that they would be raising the World Cup prize money from $15 million of what it was previously to $30 million.
So, before you get all, “Oh, that sounds great,” let’s just step back for a second. Now, the men their prize money has been raised from $358 million to $4 million. So what this does is before we start clapping, spoiler none of us were going to clap, that the gender pay gap is actually up now to 370 million. So in addition to not using VAR, the video assisted technology in the upcoming Women’s World Cup 2019 in France this is just sort of like an attempt to smoke out the real issues here, like I said which are not actually addressing the lack of support from national federations that FIFA directly could be involved in, the issues of not just paying equity but lack of support for those federations. We’re talking about basic things.
And on this show, we’ve been lucky enough to have interviews with Brazilian national players, with Jamaican players. We have an interview with Nicole McClure coming up. You’ll see. We’ve talked to Trinidad and Tobago. It’s pretty appalling that this could be spinned as something positive.
Now that being said a couple of national teams including the USA, and mad props to Megan Rapinoe and Becky Sauerbrunn for actually saying this. They came out against it and so did Sweden. So Australia, Sweden, and the USA weren’t going to take this and just say like, “This is great.” So this is what Megan Rapinoe said, “I think they’re probably looking for pats on the back for the increase and they’re not getting any from here until they’re going to take meaningful steps to truly show they’re caring about the women’s game in sort of a deeper way. It’s like I don’t know. 50 million is nothing to them. It could mean something to us.”
Now I found that really, really important what she was saying because every dollar counts for women’s football, every single penny. Now, also in addition to Sweden, as I mentioned Australia, and USA coming out what ends up happening is Fatma Samoura who is the secretary general of FIFA is often asked to make these announcements, which is what the secretary general does. And then you see Karina LeBlanc and her exchanging positive tweets. I think these are fronts. Respect to these women because they’re black women in positions that have traditionally been held by white men. But I don’t like the fact and I’m not going to ignore the fact of the organization they’re representing. It’s just not good enough. And I know Brenda you probably have a lot of thoughts. So I would love to hear them.
Brenda: Yeah. First of all the issue of the prize money I think you’re just 100% right on. 400 million for the men and then FIFA announcing how great they are for doing it is just so FIFA. I don’t even know. It’s like, “Look at this amazing awesome thing that we’ve done,” but actually on the same day we make it really obvious that we’re going to make the gender pay gap even worse. So I don’t know. That’s all covered for me. But FIFA Forward is something to really think about and pick apart. I don’t know if anybody’s looked at it. Have either of you looked at it? I put the link in the show notes.
So, if you look at it see FIFA Forward and you actually control F for women every time they appear with and youth programs. So if I read a FIFA document to see how I can rip women off which is the way I always read FIFA documents which is, “Where in here can we actually steal from women.” You can do it. You can do it really, really well. And here’s how you do it. You do these programs which look in theory like they’re going to benefit women. And you give it to youth.
So, basically I’ll just read to you. This is the new development program. It was launched earlier this year for much self-fanfare, auto fanfare, as Shireen has pointed out by FIFA. And it says, this is page one, “We will dedicate more financial resources to investing in development.” And then it says up to 500,000 per year for associations for running costs based on incentives that encourage best practice. That’s meaningless. I don’t know what it means. Best practice in what? Best practices. Like, “Good job guys. Training was awesome.” Each confederation will receive US $10 million per year for football projects.” Okay. Read graft. There is absolutely nothing there. Zonal and regional associations will receive one million dollar per year for youth and women’s tournaments.
Shireen: They thought.
Brenda: It’s infuriating because we’re not it’s infantilism and on top of it means you can just give it to boys, which is what they want to do. $750000 per year for each association for specific football projects such as new facilities and women’s and youth football. I know that’s really boring but the devil is in the details and we see it all the time in the case of FIFA.
Shireen: FIFA has basically out-FIFAd itself I think.
Brenda: I mean it’s all very nebulous. I mean, they keep saying how much they’re doing but as far as I can tell and I put a link to the whole FIFA Forward program because we’re going to be living with this nebulous cloud of crap for the next years. It doesn’t anywhere force federations to spend more on women.
Shireen: Yeah. And that’s what’s needed.
Brenda: Yeah. It’s actually worse. I mean, before in the prior program there was … The only thing I can say is there’s more accounting. There are some more like you do need to send in things to show how you spent the money supposedly.
Lindsay: Yeah. Shireen?
Shireen: Okay. So we know how FIFA feels about women with the women’s game. We know that the final of the Women’s World Cup is going to be held the same day as Copa America and the Gold Cup. We know this. We know how frustrating this is. So to just come and say, “Hey, we’re going to give you $15 million.” But actually like Brenda said the devil is in the details and the devil is actually all over any program incentivizing for women coming from FIFA quite frankly. It’s just not good enough. And just to clarify it’s from 358 million to 400 million is what the men’s prize money is going to. So the way that this entire thing was announced was that, “Oh, look what we’re doing for the women but we’ll just on the down low up the men’s prize and maybe nobody will notice.” Burn It All Down noticed. Thanks. We noticed. We read-
Brenda: Yeah, it’s not like Alex Stone came out and said, “We want you all to know we’ve increased men’s prize money by $40 million.”
Shireen: And you know I saw Moya Dodd kind of gently pushing back on Twitter. Moya Dodd is also our patron saint. I love her. She was very gently pushing back on Twitter and kind of asking a whole bunch of questions and the answers she was given top from Alex Stone was, “We’re just working on that.” And guess what happens? Committee is born. Yay committee. Yay! God, I want to be on that committee.
Lindsay: I don’t see that happening Shireen, but I do wish I lived in that world. Speaking Moya Dodd she was talking she as quoted was saying, “The very least they could do is increase it by the same $40 million that they increased the. men’s by. That’s just such an easy thing to do and that would actually be … But that would be probably way too much of an increase for them for the women. Like Megan Rapinoe and Becky Sauerbrunn were saying like, “This is pennies to them.” Do you know what I mean? It’s so infuriating.
What’s pennies to them, what’s the back change pocket could be a huge a significant boost for women’s soccer or football and it’s just it’s infuriating that they don’t care. One of my favorite things about this proposal was the travel part. So they upgraded the flights to business class but only for some of the women’s team. So the flights are only upgraded if it’s a flight that’s more than four hours. Otherwise you’re still in coach. Yeah. It’s just so ridiculously petty to see this happening. Why? Why not just give them all? It’s just a simple thing to do. Give them all business class flights. Done. The travel is equal to the men. But no they have to be really complicated about it. And since it’s in Europe that’s going to be a lot of teams that don’t have a four hour flight. Anyways, I’m just mad. All right. Shireen.
Shireen: Yeah. The last thing I was going to say was in addition to all the criticisms from the national teams FIFPro, the Association of Professional Footballers actually has been pushing back very, very heavily and I think that’s really important. They’ve been very vocal with their criticisms publicly, and I think this is actually important because they’ve been stated to say it’s an increase in the gap between men’s and women’s prize money, “This regressive trend appears to contravene FIFA’s statutory commitment to gender equality.” Full stop.
And I think this is something we need to look at in our analysis is that FIFA actually has a charter, a charter that talks about they will not discriminate against people according to gender. And they’re doing it themselves in their actual rollout of programs and funding. And it’s so contradictory to what they’re supposed to advocate for. But it’s very typically FIFA.
Brenda: I just wanted to add on the FIFPro subject, and I’m so glad you brought it up Shireen. Just this past year they added for the first time two women to the board of FIFPro. One is the former Swedish goalkeeper, Christine Johansson. And the other one is Camilla Garcia from Chile. And they went to Chile to start to organize those women in August. We held with the support of Fair, that was the forum that I went to, and they created a quota for these women that you have to have a certain number of women on the board. And I don’t think it’s a coincidence that once they did that they’ve been really on top of any sort of gender discrimination going on. And just hats off to them. And I think we’re seeing that … I’m sorry. I wish we didn’t have to force women getting representation. Okay? But it works when it happens sometimes. And I think in this case it is.
Lindsay: All right. Next is Brenda’s interview with Nicole McClure.
Brenda: We are thrilled to have with us today Nicole McClure, a wonderful player from the Jamaican national team who just had the most impressive run to their first berth at the Women’s World Cup. And she also plays for Sundsvall in Sweden. Nicole, how are you?
Nicole: I am doing great.
Brenda: You must be. Could you tell us a little bit about the experience of qualifying for the World Cup in France?
Nicole: It was a pretty long 18 days to say the least, very eventful. It was great. We trained every day out we stayed focused and also very, very patient because we lost our first game against Canada and then we bounced back against Costa Rica and Cuba. But it was a great experience, staying in those two cities in Texas. So I’m just glad it all panned out the way it did.
Brenda: Yeah. In the lead up we had interviewed a Jamaican player and specifically about the lack of a camp going into it. Were you surprised that given the kind of challenges that you faced as a team that you were able to pull it together and make this run?
Nicole: Honestly, personally I had no doubt that we would qualify. We were so focused and so driven by all the adversities against us. So I’m not surprised that we did not have a camp and I’m not surprised about the backlash that Lauren got about it but I’m glad she spoke up on our behalf. But yeah, I had all the confidence in the world that we would just defy all odds. So I’m not that surprised but also I’m very humble at the same time if that makes sense.
Brenda: Yeah. It does. And why the name … I mean, your team, the national team, just like the men’s side has the nickname of the Reggae Girls. Why is that the nickname of the team? Do you know?
Nicole: I’m not really sure but I’m assuming it’s because reggae originated from Jamaica. So in Jamaica everybody has an alias, everyone has some kind of nickname whether we at a national team or even just a person off the street. So it’s just a Jamaican thing. Everybody has a ting. So I really can’t really describe it. It’s just a cultural thing.
Brenda: Do you feel like you’re very together, pulled together as a team right now?
Nicole: Definitely. We’ve grown really, really close over these past 18 days in Texas. Of course, you’re going to hang out with certain people more than others but in general we’re definitely very, very close.
Brenda: What were the crowds like in Texas?
Nicole: In McAllen in the group stages there weren’t that many people at our games. The stadium was huge. It was a professional stadium but not that many people showed up. But in the tunnel where the players walk out there were tons of little girls and their parents wanting to take pictures with us. But in the actual stands you can actually probably count how many were there. But that’s just women’s football. So I’m not really too concerned about that. But hopefully with this historic win we’ll generate more fans.
Brenda: And what about in the other city? You said there was McAllen and then what was the second city played in?
Nicole: Frisco. The US game generated about 7000 people. So it was a pretty healthy crowd. It felt like they were on the field. And then the second game against Panama there were not that many people because it was raining. It was raining pretty hard. But towards the end of the game I guess the US and Canada fans came in and then at least maybe 2000 people were there I’m assuming. So it was a pretty healthy crowd there at the end. So during the penalty shootouts a lot of people were there and they were cheering and jeering. So that was pretty cool.
Brenda: So, how do you go forward? Congratulations by the way. It was amazing. It’s Jamaica’s first berth at a World Cup. Really exciting. I think it’s the first for any Caribbean nation. Is that right?
Nicole: Yes. At the senior level, yes.
Brenda: So, that’s incredible. And now what do you all do?
Nicole: We all basically went our separate ways. On Thursday I went to Sweden. A lot of my teammates went back to school or home. Yeah. We’re right now we’re just kind of waiting to see what’s next in terms of Jamaican football.
Brenda: And so, you’re a player that’s putatively on this team getting ready and you’re playing in Sweden. That’s right?
Nicole: Correct. Yes.
Brenda: Sundsvalls. And how do you kind of translate that experience into getting ready for the national team?
Nicole: I’ve learned a lot here in Sweden. The training here is a little bit different. The style is very, very technical. So I use what I learned here and resonate it on the field for Jamaica. But yeah, here it’s very, very independent because I have a lot of downtime. So do a lot of training on my own as well as with the groups of teammates here. I mean, I’m very, very driven so it’s not hard to prepare for anything really.
Brenda: And can you tell us … I know you’re from New York and I teach on Long Island and I think you played soccer out there. You’re kind of a legendary player. Can you tell us a little bit about … So what are the conditions like between university team, club soccer in the US, national team in Jamaica, and now club soccer in Sweden? How do those things compare that experience?
Nicole: Growing up in New York playing for East Meadow as well as Auburndale in Queens is a little bit different because sometimes our training fields were at different venues because you have to wait to see the time schedule, etc. But that intensity was always the same. You train maybe two or three times a week. When I was in New York and in college it was different of course because it’s even more intense. Sometimes you’d train two or three times a day before the season started. And it’s always at the same venue, and each training had a different theme so to speak. So sometimes you work and defending, sometimes you work on attacking, etc.
Now at the national level as well as the professional level is almost the same as college but the trainings are not as frequent. We just train here, in Sweden for example, we practice maybe three or four times a week to prepare for our one game on the weekend maybe on a Saturday or a Sunday. But it’s basically the same thing everywhere I go.
Brenda: What are the crowds like in Sweden?
Nicole: It just depends on the town as well as the team, how they’re doing in the standings. Here in Sundsvall we don’t really generate that many fans unfortunately. However, our stadium is huge. So you can also count how many people are in the stands. Yesterday we had an away game and there were quite a few people there because it was a smaller town and the stadium was a little bit smaller. But yeah, it just depends really. We don’t generate thousands like the men do, not even close.
Brenda: Okay. Just because you think of women’s football and Sweden has been such a legendary place, I mean, Marta has played there. So many players like yourself have ended up with careers in Sweden. So it’s like this sort of image. What must it be like? A haven of women’s football just because there are so many great players that play there. Anyway, it’s just a thing that you think of if you’ve never been there, and I have never been to a Swedish women’s game. So life goals. How did you end up playing for Jamaica? I read that you grew up in New York and I think your mom is from the US and your dad is from Jamaica.
Nicole: No, that’s wrong.
Brenda: Sorry. How is it?
Nicole: I really hope someone changes that. Both of my parents are from Jamaica, born and raised, went to high school there, everything. And they’re very proud of that. So I really hope whoever made that mistake will change that. And I told my mom and she was like, “What? Why would they say that?” But it’s okay. Yeah, both my parents are from Jamaica. Full disclosure. My entire family is from Jamaica except for me and my brother and some of my cousins.
But how I got on the team is my parents basically know everyone and everyone knows my parents. And one of my old coaches went to high school with them and he knew some of the coaches on the national team at the time. This was in 2008. And so he actually called my mother and asked her if it was okay for me to join the team. So she was like, “Why are you asking me? Ask her.” So she handed me the phone and I spoke with them and I said, “Yes, absolutely. It sounds like a dream to represent my family on the soccer field. That would be amazing. Absolutely.”
So, this was for the World Cup qualifiers in 2008 at the under 20 level and we went to Puebla, Mexico a couple of weeks later because I had to fly down to Jamaica and my passport, and in three day I got it. And then I went to Mexico, played against Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Canada and unfortunately we lost. We didn’t advance out of that stage. But from then on I’ve always been on the national team.
Brenda: Okay. Well, good. Good that you’ve let us know precisely how it came to pass. And when you look forward to the Women’s World Cup in 2019, I mean, the groups aren’t set yet, but who would you hope to not get as your first rival and maybe who are you thinking you might be able to beat?
Nicole: Well, I mean, as our mother always says the ball is round. So anything can happen. I would love to play against the top five teams in the world whether it be Germany or France or even US again. So, I’m ready for anybody. They’re [??] us even though they’re ranked much higher. I would love to play against anybody. So bring it on. That’s what I say.
Brenda: Fantastic. What was it like … You opened the scoring in the game against Panama if I remember correctly.
Brenda: You had the first goal. Right. Okay. How did that feel?
Nicole: For me I was just like, “Okay. We’ve got it. We have tons of time. Don’t celebrate yet.” I’m very, very patient and I like to wait and see how the game pans out before I actually react. That’s actually how I approach life really. But yeah, a lot of my teammates were and also the coaches were carrying on like, “Yeah, we got this, blah blah,” but I’m just like, “Okay. The game is still young.”
Brenda: Because it was early. Your goal was pretty early. I’m trying to remember what minute it would have come.
Nicole: Yeah. I think it was like the seventeenth minute, something super early. So there’s no reason to celebrate yet because we have tons of time left. I was genuinely happy for Khadija when she scored because I love her and I think she’s an awesome player. But yeah, I was just like, “You know what? It’s not time to celebrate yet.” Didn’t even smile. I just nodded my head and said, “Yep. Okay. Next one.”
Brenda: Keep it coming.
Brenda: Yeah. But that’s wonderful. So when do you actually go to France in a World Cup like this? I mean, I think most people just don’t know how the process works.
Nicole: Honestly, I’m one of those people. I really don’t know. I haven’t heard anything yet. Some distinct tunes like everybody else. I’m just focused on finishing the season here in Sweden and then going from there. The last I heard was there might be a parade for us in Jamaica but I’m just not sure about France yet.
Brenda: That would be amazing. Oh, my gosh. You all so deserve that. That would be excellent. That would be super cool. My last question that is about that, in the press there’s been a lot made of the fact that one of Bob Marley’s daughters has supported the team. Is that true? Is there a relationship there?
Nicole: Without her there would be no team. Cedella is awesome.
Brenda: Can you tell us a little bit about her? Our listeners might not know.
Nicole: Well, Cedella Marley is one of Bob Marley’s daughters. She is the ambassador of women’s football in Jamaica. And as you know Bob was a huge soccer fan. That was one of his pastimes back in the ’70s. I guess she just wanted to carry on his legacy not only through music but through sports.
So, she came on board and I believe it was in 2014 when we tried to do what we did last week four years ago. She funds the team. She’s one of the financial spines of the team. Like I said without her there would be no team. She’s the money, she’s the face, she is the heart and soul of the Reggae Girls. She’s a great person. You would never think that you’re sitting beside a multimillionaire. She is so down to earth. She’s awesome. She actually sent me a personal message after the games. It was like, “Good job,” and everything. So that was awesome. I didn’t even know what else to say. Like I said she’s the best.
Brenda: That’s great. That’s really good to know because you read it in the media and it’s hard to know what that relationship might be like. So it’s great to hear that you feel really supported by her and she’s been a spark plug in the organization. Well, Nicole, I would just like to say hearty congratulations from Burn It All Down. We’ll be watching the Reggae Girls and rooting for you and really excited to see you all in the Women’s World Cup.
Nicole: Thank you so much. I appreciate it.
Lindsay: Okay. This week we had the University of Maryland late in the week, because these drops always come late in the week, release a 198 page report that was commissioned in the wake of the death of Jordan McNair and it was about the culture of Maryland football. Brenda, I’m going to try not to spoil this. Do you want to get started here? How is the culture in Maryland football?
Brenda: It’s technically not toxic but it’s technically horrific. So I didn’t read the whole 198 page report and I know that Lindsay did. So I won’t even try to pretend that I am the expert here. But within the report there’s a couple important things. One is the intentional mishandling of a Title IX case which involved a student affiliated with the athletics department who accused two football players of sexual assault in 2017. And the athletic director at the time was Kevin Anderson and the coach DJ Durkin paid for the football players legal fees as it turns out. And they did it again under the guise of speaking fees, a $15000 fee for a law firm, which if you are in university administration you know what an incredible amount of bullshit that is.
We have to detail … I am so pissed. We have to in Latin American and Caribbean studies detail every $100 spent. There is no way we would just start $15000 here and there. So it is not only a horrific culture in terms of the way that they’ve treated players and students, but we should just say this is dirty. This is shady ass dirty shit. If you can just hide 15 grand in a public university and that’s not a big deal, wow!
Anyway, on top of all of that what’s disgusting is that they … Of course, they didn’t offer to pay for the victims legal fees, just the football players’. They’re both students and they’re both in the athletic department in some form or fashion. So anyway, they’re Title IX officers, if people don’t know, available on every campus who should have been consulted immediately and they should not have been handled by these bozos who have no credentials to make decisions about the university.
Then there’s also this other issue of really importantly about abusive behavior of as Lindsay mentioned the report is coming because of the fallout from the death of 19 year old offensive lineman Jordan McNair, which we’ve talked a lot about in the show and Lindsay’s written extensively about. But anyway this abusive behavior by strength and training coach Rick Court is pretty shocking if you just look through. Like I said I didn’t read the whole thing. You don’t have to you to read things that are really disturbing about verbal abuse of players and making them eat until they throw up, throwing trash cans at them.
Rick Court then who was already leaving supposedly got a settlement of over $300000 on his way out. That’s $300000 of public money, so just let that sink in, for actually leaving in this disgrace. So those I think are some of the issues. I want to ask you Linds because I know you’ve read it in detail who was on the commission?
Lindsay: So it was a lot of people affiliated with Maryland, like former athletes who’ve been there and things like that. Bonnie Bernstein was on the commission, the sports journalist and former gymnast. It was kind of bizarre to me. I mean, it was definitely … they say “independent” but these are all people with stark ties to Maryland. I mean, if you read this report which unfortunately as Brenda mentioned I did it goes through 198 pages detailing a toxic culture and its conclusion is that the culture is not toxic.
And we saw a very similar thing with Ohio State earlier this year. It was not thank God a 198 page report, but when they did the search into what happened with Urban Meyer and Zach Smith the coach who had been accused and convicted of domestic violence to see if Urban Meyer had been enabling Zach Smith I think it was about a 29 page report that a commission had. It started detailing all the ways that which Urban Meyer had not helped out Courtney Smith, Zach Smith’s now ex-wife, and the ways that he had lied to the public and to the commission itself.
But its conclusion was that Urban Meyer respects women and Urban Meyer is not a liar. So these two examples so close to one another are just really stark for me, how you have … it feels to me like a way to feign accountability without really making anyone responsible. It’s this, “Oh, yes, everyone made mistakes but at the end of the day nobody is actually responsible.”
And it’s so horrific in Maryland. I mean, a player literally died. I don’t want this to get lost in here. Jordan McNair died because during practice he was pushed beyond the realm he should have been pushed for someone at his weight and in amount of shape he was in. He was showing signs of heat stroke, and those signs were ignored by the training staff. He was pretty much tortured in front of his friends on the football team, just pushed to unreasonable beliefs to the point where he had a seizure. Because of this tough act culture he didn’t feel comfortable speaking out it’s very clear. And then he wasn’t taken seriously when he was sick.
And if he had been taken seriously he would be alive today. Heat stroke is treatable. You just have to take it seriously and actually treat it. And so to me it’s just so bizarre that you go through this whole … I mean, bizarre is not even close to a good enough word for it. But you go through this whole report detailing other abuse that players have received on the team, other ways that players are pushed past the limits where they’re comfortable and playing through injuries. And there was one quote where under Durkin’s team you don’t get injured. Unless you can’t walk, you’re not injured. It’s a sign of weakness, especially all the ways that the strength coach Court would bully these kids and young adults because of whether they were eating too much or not eating properly, just bullying them about food in their weight.
And when you think of Jordan McNair who was an overweight lineman and it just … I don’t know how you don’t say that this isn’t part of the culture. It’s very clearly part of the culture and yet you want to just pretend that it’s not. I don’t know. It was really, really, really hard for me to stomach. And to me it felt like this excuse, like, “Well, football culture is toxic. Therefore no individual program has a toxic culture because this is just the way football programs are.” Shireen?
Shireen: I just have a question. So in all this I absolutely love that you’re using the word bully, Lindsay, because I think that’s exactly what it is. When you look at the power dynamics in this and how a lot of these students rely on the football programs for scholarships or whatnot there’s no option in some cases to really resist or respond. So there was an actual report that did say that they found no trace of toxic culture. So I’m just trying to get this straight. Deadspin reported that this investigation found that there is no toxic culture. But, I mean, who is doing the investigating here?
Lindsay: Well, that’s the thing. It’s the exact same thing as the Meyer thing where the exact same report lays out all the incidents of Meyer lying and then says Urban Meyer is not a liar. You know what I mean? It’s the same people doing the report and making the conclusion. And they’re all tied to the university. So that’s what’s just really appalling. This report clearly shows a toxic culture. But because they also found people within the program who were not upset with it, do you know what I mean, who felt that the players were treated properly then it becomes this case where, “Okay. Well, it wasn’t every single person we talked to. Some people felt that they were running things properly, that this is how a football program should be run. So it’s not a toxic culture.”
And that’s just what really stuck out to me was this circular logic, and it just seems like it’s in this place where nothing is going to change as long as your reason why football culture isn’t toxic is that, well, other football programs are toxic too. Just some quotes from a survey that are included in this report, so when asked if a player witnessed unduly harsh language or verbal abuse at Maryland one of the players, a current player, this anonymously, said quote, “I don’t know how to tell what’s wrong and right. That’s normal all over the country. Cuss words and words like the P word everyone uses. I don’t see it as demeaning. I don’t know honestly if it’s demeaning or just regular.” I mean, think about that. That’s heartbreaking. Brenda?
Brenda: Yeah. I would just like to say I feel like they’re students. That aspect is totally lost as soon as we say the word football, and it drives me nuts because when you ask how is it going to change it has to be faculty. There’s nobody else who’s going to do it. There’s nobody else who’s going to do it. And they do everything they can to marginalize shared governance. So there was an article that came out in the Chronicle of Higher Education that interviewed faculty about their feelings going back to school after the death of Jordan McNair and so many were upset and talked about shared governance and how they were being shut out from discussion. And the chair of the faculty senate went to the president’s office and had a long meeting.
And it’s really it has to be … A university is there to educate students. The main people at a university that should be actors in a university are students and teachers. And this is like people who have grafted on like parasites to a university and built this brand and this nostalgia, and it has to stop. And faculty are the only ones with power inside to do it. But it takes so much work because administrators know how to shut them down. But we saw it at Rutgers where they achieved getting the athletic director fired. We’ve seen it across the country that that is the internal way to do it.
Like you said, Linds, these people have ties to Maryland. They have nostalgia for these programs and of course there’s a million great people within these programs, but it just doesn’t matter at a certain point. They can’t be trusted to run them and they can’t be trusted to care about our students.
Lindsay: And I’m so glad you brought that up, Brenda, the report starts by talking about the institutional chaos that was atop this university. So it really did start from the top with the athletics department being a complete shit show basically. The strength and conditioning coach, the one who ran the practice where McNair died, the one who … there’re all these abusive examples of his behavior. He wasn’t given a performance review in his entire time at Maryland and he didn’t even know who his direct supervisor was whether it was Durkin, the man who hired him, the head coach of the team, or someone else at the athletics department.
And the report does say that is mind boggling. That is an institutional failure. And it goes back to these simple things like flow charts and reporting responsibilities and training and just basic managerial tasks that are so important. And you just forget how important these things are. And it really did just set a tone within this program of chaos. I mean, I hadn’t realized that Durkin was just 37 when he was given this job as the head coach at Maryland, and he didn’t have head coaching experience of a top program. And this is not to excuse Durkin in any way who I do not in any way think should keep his job. It’s ridiculous.
But the report I did think it was interesting, says that he was hired under high pressure circumstances and was tasked with turning a struggling football program into a Big Ten contender. And there was zero administrative oversight to help him get there. And it just shows how much all of this is institutional. I mean, if you go back to the day that Jordan McNair died basic protocols had not been taught or drilled into the heads of the people leading this program. And therefore Jordan McNair died.
So, you think about football as being just completely separate from the rest of the administration staff at the university, but in fact it’s all tied together. You need institutional support. You need some chain of command. You need oversight. And the NCAA isn’t providing any of that. So it’s up to the schools at this point. I don’t know. I’m so glad Brenda that you did bring up what I thought was almost the most damning thing I read in the report, which was about that Title IX. Just such a clear example of how institutions work to protect football players at all cost while throwing everyone else under the bus. I’ve really never seen such a clear example of it, and it was horrifying to read and I just feel so bad for the victim in this case who is a part of this program and was completely railroaded by the program that she or he was a part of.
So, one of the things though that I keep going back to is this use of demeaning language, homophobic or misogynistic language, to clearly abuse the players. And I keep going back to this week there is this big report from the Oakland Raiders that quarterback Derek Carr had lost the respect of his team because it looked like he had cried while he was injured on a play. And that was just so disturbing to me because it’s hard not to just relate. This is this toxic masculinity.
And both of you our parents and Brenda you’re an educator, and I just would love your take on how do we help support the men in these programs who are being taught this such a reductive tale of what masculinity is. I love that. Shireen?
Shireen: I think that the unlearning of these things for young men and young women, because we also know that women uphold talks like patriarchy is well and it’s part of the problem, that the allowances for these words to be used as slanderous … And I think that it’s in addition to the homophobia or transphobia and outright misogyny. I think that unlearning is possible. It is absolutely possible. But what upsets me more is the way that the coaches, and we talked about this a little bit briefly, the power dynamic and how the coaches … I don’t think it’s just the players that need to do this. I would love to see coaching staff and admin have to go through those women and gender studies programs as well because I would love to see an unlearning of all of that.
We can look to the youth we can look to the students and say, “Okay. There’s hope here.” But I also think it can be done. Because, I mean, if we essentially say that anyone over 30 can’t unlearn something then we have a huge problem. So I would love to see people that are in those coaching positions actually have to be accountable for their language. This is what I think. And I’m not giving any old white men any passes here. I’m sorry. Fix yourself because you know I’m known to give old white men passes.
Lindsay: You’ve given out maybe one in your life.
Shireen: I don’t even know. I don’t even know. For Santa Claus maybe. So I think that they would absolutely have to, and I want to hold these institutions accountable because they are complicit in this. And I’m finding that we’re having a really difficult time with these committees and these investigations that say there is no toxic masculinity. And, Lindsay, you stated it so beautifully of course it is. This is all part of it and it’s so troubling.
Lindsay: I love that thought of bringing the coaches into it and reminding me of this piece, and I’m just going to wrap up here by reading this excerpt from the report about Durkin. So a lot of the report couldn’t figure out what exactly Durkin who’s the head coach who is currently on paid administrative leave still and there’s still no word as to what’s going to be done with his job. And the report really wavered. It was much more damning about Court who has already stepped down than it was about Durkin.
But I just want to read this section. From the report it says, “Mr Durkin does admit that he heard Court using the PB and PF epitaphs but did not hear that language directed at specific individuals. Durkin further acknowledges that he heard about the incident where Court took a box of food out of the players hands and threw it against the wall. But Durkin still does not believe that Court quote, “crossed any line,” end quote. All right. Well, after that I am really ready for the burn pile. Brenda, can you get us started here?
Brenda: Sure. It’s revisiting one of the most inflaming ongoing cases which is Cristiano Ronaldo and media coverage of the rape case that should be plaguing him but doesn’t seem to be. And so what I would like to complain about is an article written by Mr Steve Douglas of the New York Daily News. I didn’t even go after the New York Post because that’s too easy. And so the title of the article is Cristiano Ronaldo Defends Himself Against Rape Accusation.
It’s actually not news. There’s no news in it. There’s nothing to report whatsoever. But let me give you … and I don’t know. I’m just going to pour the gasoline on right now. Let me give you a quote and just see how Lindsay and Shireen react. And hopefully they can stay in their seats. Quote, “Ronaldo joined Juventus in the offseason from Real Madrid. He has scored five goals in nine matches for the Italian champion and two in three matches since being accused of rape,” end of quote.
What the fuck, Mr Douglas, are you thinking by making those equivalent experiences and using it as a bar. Like since being accused of rape his play has really been stellar. What a joke. One thing should have nothing to do with another and you should in no way treat rape allegations and cases as if they’re somehow less important than his stupid scoring which it’s the Italian league and it’s dirty as hell anyway. So just to throw that out there, I mean, it’s not even important. A rape case is important.
Anyway, the article just goes on to repeat the same stupid garbage that is always repeated by Ronaldo’s media people, and I would just like to burn just the continuous … They’re not listening to Shireen. She wrote a great article in Time about … She wrote a great article with me and they need to change the way that they’re doing this. And so do Linds and so did Jessica. So I just want to burn the ongoing garbage that gets peddled as news. Burn.
Brenda: Burn, burn.
Lindsay: Okay. I’m going to go off of that real quick. I haven’t thrown James Dolan on the burn pile in a while, the owner of the New York Knicks. So I would like to … You know it’s been a while. So, James Dolan and the Madison Square Garden have taken out an all-out revenge campaign against the radio station WFAN and its parent company Entercom. And I do have to give credit to the New York Post for reporting this. I don’t ever really say that phrase, but yeah, they did get this story.
So, this summer Maggie Gray who we love here at Burn It All Down, she went on a rant about Dolan on WFAN, the radio show that she hosts or cohost. She pointed out some very important things among them she called Dolan a quote, “Vile piece of trash,” among other things. And this takedown was brought on because Dolan and with his band, his band is called JD & The Straightshot released a song called I Should Have Known which was about Harvey Weinstein, a longtime friend of Dolan’s.
Shireen: Oh, my god.
Brenda: They can perform at the Super Bowl.
Lindsay: Yeah. Right. So Gray thought that it was pretty hypocritical of Dolan to be performing this MeToo song when the Dolan and the Knicks and of course the Liberty employee Isaiah Thomas who was found liable for hostile work environment and for sexually harassing a woman in 2007. And he still works for the Knicks and he is in charge of the New York Liberty, the women’s basketball team.
So she went on a lengthy rant about this. Dolan has responded by now ordering all of Madison Square Garden’s business across the country to shut down working with Entercom and banned Knicks and Rangers players as well as Madison Square Garden broadcasters and personnel from appearing on the station. What? What petty man are you that you cannot take a woman calling you out on your shit without going after her entire business?
Gray is now caught in a really horrible position and she has apologized for the language she used during the rant this summer. But James Dolan and Madison Square Garden are not backing down. So we just want to send our support to Maggie Gray and we want to throw James on the burn pile. Burn.
Brenda: I read about this story and it actually was really upsetting because we understand. We talk about abuse of sexist misogynist verbal abuse of players and whatnot all the time. This particular story was about women a referee named Grainne Crabtree who was a rugby official in Ireland, and she had actually complained about the sexist abuse, verbal abuse, she received from four players at a match that she was officiating. And the response of the Coleraine RFC was to be fined 5000 pounds by the Irish Rugby Federation, the football union rather. And what happened was … It was just $5000 but took a very long time to respond, and some of the things that happened on the pitch and I’ll say them and just trigger a warning for some people because the language was rough, she sustained vile sexist abuse which she wrote a five page letter.
And she described a tirade of profanities and sexual remarks during a 80 minute game, and they were laughing at her. They said things like she was a fucking joke. They said, “Take your shirt off your shorts so we can get a better look at your arse.” They were saying, “Yo you slag, you’re a fucking disgrace. You slag,” like using very horrific language. She was the official on the pitch during the match. So this is completely unacceptable.
And when she went over to … it started when she wanted to book them with a yellow card. Then afterwards she went over to them to ask their names so she could put in an official complaint and they responded with another very graphic sexual swear word. And she was described as feeling shocked, confused, and in fear and physically sick. And I think that it was really upsetting, and initially the suspension … it wasn’t suspended. The charges were upheld finally.
Initially the initial fine was considered a non-sanction, which is really terrible because this should be a sanctionable offense. And she said it actually added insult to injury. So it was so upsetting. Now the other thing is the $5000 fine that they’ve gotten 2000 pounds of that will be returned if they don’t have any such offenses in the next two years, which I think is ridiculous because fining someone and then saying, “You know what It’s okay. You’re all good. Now let’s give it back,” the purpose of a fine is to actually put somebody in financial … sort of a way to penalize them. Giving the money back … So all of this, the fact that this occurs in the first place, the fact that the rugby union didn’t respond in a timely manner and the way that they responded was subpar. So in addition to expressing solidarity and our support of Grainne Crabtree and other referees out there that have to endure this I want to burn this.
Lindsay: Okay. It is time to celebrate some of the bad ass women of the week.
First of all, we want to give a shout out to two new female referees who just recently worked their first NBA games: Natalie Sago and Ashley Moyer-Gleich. They are non-staff currently but hopefully they’re on the track to working full time because we could use some more female referees out there.
Sana Mir became the first Pakistan player to top the rankings in cricket which is super exciting.
Gelareh Nazemi became the first Iranian woman to officiate a FIFA sanctioned futsal event. She refereed the final of the women’s Youth Olympic futsal tournament in Buenos Aires between Portugal and Japan.
We have Ramla Ali, the British Somali boxer who will be the first woman to represent Somalia at the 2020 Olympic games. Oh, my god. That’s super exciting.
Dina Asher Smith this year’s European Athlete Of The Year, Victoria Jepson who is Liverpool FC’s women’s sides first team manager.
As we record right now both Sloane Stephens and Elina Svitolina are playing in an incredibly tight final of the WTA Championships in Singapore for the last women’s tennis match in the WTA of the year. So we want to give a shout out to both of them and especially whoever wins because you know winning is great. And speaking of winning can I get a drum roll please. All right. Our bad ass Woman of the week had to be Simone Biles who is currently dominating the World Championships in Doha in gymnastics after dealing with kidney stones. Literally she was in the hospital with kidney stones in the emergency room until early in the morning and the very next day went out and performed a vault in competition that is now known as the Biles, the Simone vault.
So there’s just no stopping her. In addition to her wonderful gymnastics she is doing such a great job advocating for survivors within USA Gymnastics and calling out leadership there. So she’s just a hero for all of us all around. Okay friends. What’s good this week? Brenda?
Brenda: I actually need to look at my notes sometimes when you ask me about that. Something occurred to me once. What might it be? And I’m not going to do Halloween again but know that that’s ongoing. My book is alive with Josh Nadel. Yeah. It’s a real thing. And this week University of Texas Press put it out for the book fair crowd. It’s not actually going to be published until May 21st, right before the Women’s World Cup. And it’s called Football Data: A History of Women in Sports in Latin America. Like I said I wrote it with Josh Nadel and I love the cover. I absolutely love the cover. It’s red and cool and it has two pictures of women’s soccer players from the 1940s that we were really excited about. So that is good in my week.
Lindsay: Yeah. That’s amazing. Shireen?
Shireen: I just got back from the Middle East. I went to Jordan on a trip and it was amazing. I visited the Dead Sea, floated in there, put some mud on my face and went to Petra which was supercool, made friends with a camel that I’m really excited about because I really love camels. It was just a beautiful place and just sadly just a day after I left there was actually a flash flood in the Dead Sea and 17 people including school children were killed in that. So it’s just sort of like thinking about my trip and being really grateful that everything went safely etc, etc. Amman is a really beautiful city. Wish I spent more time there, but it was incredible. It was a fantastic trip of a lifetime.
The other thing that I just did last night with my kids and with my really good friend Courtney Szto, Dr. Courtney Szto, who is a professor and has been on Burn It All Down and my friend Amina Mohamed, I went to the Les Canadiennes versus Toronto Furies CWHL game, which was so much fun. I saw Hilary Knight who was captain of the American women’s team, Olympic team, and she’s as formidable, watching Natalie Spooner skate, Sarah Nurse, and then of course my beloved Les Canadiennes. Melanie Desrochers, she was a beast on the ice. I was on her podcast with Safia Ahmad last week. But seeing Marie-Philip Poulin is always going to get me. She is my co-prime minister with Christine Sinclair, the real leader of this country. Just to be in that space to watch these women and to watch my three boys be completely enamored in the third period and be like, “Oh, my god. This game is amazing,” is just really fulfilling. So yay for women’s hockey.
Lindsay: That’s incredible. For me, yeah, it’s another week where it’s kind of hard. I survived this week. It was a really rough week. I saw A Star Was Born on one of the nights this week, and that was incredible so it good to see a very good movie, quite some good performances there. And my friend is running a marathon today. So I’m about to leave this podcast to go cheer him on, and so I’m excited for that. Cool to see your friends accomplishing great things.
All right. Thank you all so much for listening to Burn It All Down today. We appreciate your love and support as always. You can go to our website Burnitalldownpod.com. Find us on Facebook, Burn It All Down. Find us on Twitter, Burn It Down Pod. And as we mentioned look for our patron page and our Teespring page where you can continue to support us and love us. We love you and we will see you next week.