Episode 79: The WNBA players opt out of their CBA, the NFL Players Coalition, and fight doctor Linda Dahl

On this week’s show, all 5 co-hosts are back together again. After celebrating the reception Red Sox manager Alex Cora received in Puerto Rico (5:31), Amira, Brenda, Shireen, Lindsay, and Jessica talk about the WNBA players deciding to opt out of their collective bargaining agreement with the league (19:32). Then the gang discusses the NFL Players Coalition, Eric Reid, Malcolm Jenkins, and the messiness of organizing (31:22). And Shireen interviews Dr. Linda Dahl, one of the few women to serve as a ringside doctor for the New York Athletic Commission, about her punchy new book Tooth and Nail: The Making of a Female Fight Doctor (45:23).

Of course, you’ll hear the Burn Pile (59:05), our Bad Ass Woman of the Week, starring Alexa Moreno (1:02:07), and what is good in our worlds (1:07:55).

For links and a transcript…


“Cora visits Puerto Rico after Red Sox championship” http://www.espn.com/video/clip?id=25182273

“Bet on Women” https://www.theplayerstribune.com/en-us/articles/nneka-ogwumike-wnba-cba-bet-on-women

“Forbes cuts ties with sports business columnist, deletes piece about WNBA player salaries” https://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/2018/11/02/forbes-cuts-ties-with-sports-business-columnist-deletes-piece-about-wnba-player-salaries/

“A Protest Divided” http://www.espn.com/espn/feature/story/_/page/enterpriseCoalition180126/colin-kaepernick-movement-endures-supporters-more-fragmented-ever

“Simone Biles makes history as first woman to win four all-around world titles” https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/columnist/nancy-armour/2018/11/01/simone-biles-makes-history-all-around-gold-world-championships/1844650002/

“Panthers’ Eric Reid Expounds on Issues With Malcolm Jenkins, NFL Players Coalition” http://amp.si.com/nfl/2018/10/28/eric-reid-malcolm-jenkins-comments-players-coalition-owners

Tooth and Nail: The Making of a Female Fight Doctor https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781335017475

“Penguins Include Blue Lives Matter Flag In Ceremony Honoring Tree Of Life Victims, For Some Reason” https://deadspin.com/penguins-include-blue-lives-matter-flag-in-ceremony-hon-1830114354

“Report: High School Soccer Coach Calls Police After Parents Yell ‘Speak English’ at Players”  https://www.si.com/more-sports/2018/10/26/high-school-soccer-coach-calls-police-parents-yell-speak-english-players


Amira: Welcome to Burn It All Down. It may not be the feminist sports podcast you want, but it’s definitely the feminist podcast you need. I’m Amira Rose Davis, assistant professor of history and women, gender, and sexuality studies at Penn State University and I’m super excited to be back on the podcast today and with the whole crew.

Sports writers Jessica Luther, Shireen Ahmed, and Lindsay Gibbs and my fellow historian Brenda Elsey. Thanks for joining us today. Today, we’re gonna talk about the WNBA and they’re opting out of their CBA. We’re also gonna dive into the Players Coalition beef as kind of exemplified between recent exchanges of words between Eric Reid and Malcolm Jenkins and kind of parse out what’s going on here.

Shireen also had a great interview with Dr. Linda Dahl, the first and only fight doctor for the New York State Athletic Commission. She talks about her new book “Tooth and Nail: The Making of a Female Fight Doctor”.

Before we jump into that, I wasn’t around on the pod the last few weeks to gloat and be super excited about my Red Sox world championship and I know that you guys suffer through my fandom, but I think I might have a had a moment that at least makes you stay a little positive things about the Red Sox.

This weekend, the Red Sox flew a plane with Alex Cora back to Caguas, Puerto Rico to celebrate the championships and I have just been watching clips from this. If you remember, Alex Cora, first Puerto Rican manager to win a World Series in history. He comes from a baseball family. Joey Cora played for 11 years in the MLB and also was a coach.

But it’s really significant. Alex Cora’s somebody who when he took over managing the Red Sox in the wake of Maria, as he was negotiating his contract, the only thing he asked for was a plane with supplies to fly to the island. He is somebody who exemplifies the pride and the tenacity of the island I hold so dear and it was just so great to watch the celebration in Caguas.

Everybody came out into the streets. He was dancing bailarín de plena and it was just amazing. I don’t know if you saw any pictures or clips, but I just wanna take a minute to gush about Alex Cora and the Red Sox and Puerto Rico.

Brenda: He’s amazing! Those were amazing pictures, Amira. For people who don’t know, Caguas is about 20 miles south of San Juan. Is that right? I mean, it’s not a huge booming metropolis, but people came from all over the island. There were all these great stories of people waking up at 5 am and getting chairs and lunch ready.

They just look so happy and Alex Cora’s a dream. He’s just amazing. Could he be sweeter? Can I say one thing in my gush though? I’m ready for him to get a little political because right now, he’s super Roberto Clemente style, you know, and I love it. I feel like he’s just on the brink of going in hard on Puerto Rican politics because he’s obviously really smart and dedicated.

Amira: Yeah, and you could see a few times over the year where he did lend a sentence here or there. I’m watching in almost terror because I’ve been telling you all year how much I love this squad particularly.

I love the black and Latino players on the squad and John Henry, the owner, was like, “Oh yeah, maybe we’ll visit the White House. We’ll see about that.” It will break my heart and so, I’m just waiting and hoping that they don’t do that.

But this was a great site to see and I was really appreciative of how Cora put the ownership on the spot. In his first interview right after winning, he said, “I’m gonna ask ownership to give me a plane to send me to Caguas” on national TV. I think that that was amazing.

Right now, I’m just basking in the kind of pride of the island I’m getting my aunt to send me a shirt. They made shirts that they were selling on the corner during the celebration of the Boston Red Sox logo but mashed up with the Puerto Rican flag and it’s in Spanish. I was like, “Hello, somebody send me that shirt! Thanks.” I’m just so happy by that.

Shireen: I wanna congratulate you, Amira, and all Red Sox fans on this win.

Amira: Oh, my goodness. Sorry, what?

Shireen: I’m not heartless and soulless. I also really wanna congratulate Puerto Ricans out there and to love this joy and after such an incredible tragedy, to have something like this and be able to own it and claim it.

I remember when the Japanese women’s national team won after the massive earthquake and what that win meant for them, so especially after such an incredibly devastating tragedy. Congratulations. I love this hope. I love this joy and those pictures are wonderful. I’m really … Hearty congratulations to you, Amira.

Amira: Can somebody just mark this moment in time?

Jessica: I was gonna say, if only you could frame audio. Cora, does miracles.

Lindsay: I am very uncomfortable right now. I would like us to move on immediately.

Amira: This week, it was announced that the WNBA players have decided to opt out of their CBA. For more on this and what it means and where we go from here, Lindsay, take us away.

Lindsay: Phew. Lots of big questions there, Amira, and I don’t have many answers. So yeah, as Amira said, WNBA players, this was a much anticipated and expected decision. What they have done is they have opted out of their current collective bargaining agreement, which means that they will start trying to negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement.

However, this current agreement is valid still until the end of the 2019 season, so any new collective bargaining agreement would begin for the 2020 season. This isn’t an immediate terrifying moment for fans of the league. There is time to kind of figure out what the next steps are.

I can get into a lot of thoughts and feelings I have about this. I’m very glad they did decide to opt out. I think that there is a lot to be … I’m a little bit disappointed in their media strategy. I feel like the president of the players union, the vice president of the players union, Terry Jackson, who I love and who is wonderful and I think is doing wonderful things.

But she does not talk to the media often at all and I think I’ve seen how much Michelle Roberts in the NBA has done a great job of controlling the narrative by utilizing the media. I do have concerns there, I don’t think … There’s nothing given, there’s nothing guaranteed that they’re gonna get a better deal.

I think that’s really important for us to remember. However, I do wanna start this conversation on a positive note by reading the words of Nneka Ogwumike who is the president of the committee for the players. She’s the players’ president for the union.

She did … Their big media thing was she wrote a piece for the players tribune called “Bet on Women”. Let’s just read that to set the tone and we can go from there. I’m not gonna read the whole thing. That would be crazy.

Nneka says, “I’m sure there will be people out there who judge us harshly for opting out, who say that we should be grateful for what we have. They’ll tell us that the league is losing money. They’ll say that it’s just economics. They’ll say it’s just fair and then they’ll definitely, definitely tell me they can beat me one on one.

“To me, opting out means not just believe in ourselves, but going one step further. Betting on ourselves. It means being a group of empowered women in the year 2018, not just feeling fed up with the status quo but going one step further. Rejecting the status quo. It means taking a stand, not just for the greatest women’s’ basketball players of today but going one step further. Taking a stand for the greatest women’s’ basketball players of tomorrow.”

Jessica: Yeah, it’s a beautiful piece. It made me cry when I was reading it. One of my favorite lines from it, Nneka says, “I don’t want the best and the brightest female athletes in the world dreaming about playing in the NBA.” I was like, ugh. Yes! I echo Linz this here. I was really glad to see that they formally and officially opted out.

I think everyone expected that. Especially after this season, we’ve talked about this repeatedly, the issues with travel. We’ve talked a lot about what they should be paid, what they deserve to be paid. But it’s so much more than that, right?

I think maybe Nneka wrote about this. The overall experience of being a WNBA player that needs to be better. The league is interesting. We’re about to go into labor negotiations here and I think everyone really needs to remember that, whatever messaging is coming out of the WNBA.

We need to be careful about taking it on its face because they will be doing negotiations with these women and they want to win. There was this interesting dust up, what’s the right word? Forbes ended up parting ways with a professor of economics named David Barry who is famous in our circles for writing a lot about the WNBA and the economics around the league.

One of his big points over and over again is that the league loves to tell us how they are losing money all the time without ever actually releasing information to back that up and how they talk about these women as costs rather than incentives.

He wrote a piece last week that WNBA apparently didn’t like very much, put a lot of pressure on Forbes and they pulled the whole thing and then eventually parted ways with Dave, with David. I think that part of it is something to pay attention to and be careful about when we’re consuming media around this.

Amira: Shireen?

Shireen: Yeah, I just wanted to reiterate, we all really appreciated the players tribune piece. My favorite quote from that was, “We don’t want any handouts. If you believe that we do, then you must have never watched a minute of our league. We just want what we’re worth. We just want what’s right. We just want to leave this game a little better than we found it for the next generation.”

That really hit me because so often on Burn It All Down, we have incredible WNBA players and they very much talk about elevating the game and sort of cementing it for future generations. These players aren’t in the now. They’re so unselfish in the way that they really, really wanna better this for stability, to make it better for future players and that really, really affected me.

Also, I just wanted to note that the solidarity for this. I saw Hillary Knight retweet it, Megan Rapinoe tweeted out in support of this decision because there’s tremendous amounts of solidarity from the US Women’s National Team, the soccer team because they went through the same thing.

I think this is really, really important and I love that and I hope that people still continue to support this decision. #ThePowerOfTheW.

Amira: Yeah. Brenda?

Brenda: I only come at this from sort of knowing from women’s’ soccer some of these same issues and union organizing. A lot of the tactics that management are gonna use, they use against workers everywhere. Whether it’s in a shoe factory or a car company or teachers’ unions and things like that.

I take Jessica’s point about being mindful of this as a labor negotiation. I would just like to say a couple things. First, all of these discussions tend to totally ignore the fact that men’s sports get a ton of investment. They did not emerge, they did not emerge without funding from the state. Public investment, whether it’s stadiums, whether it’s security, Madison Square Garden, I see public cops all over that place.

Who’s paying for it? We are. So, one, men’s sports did not just like arrive in this universe popular. They were supported, they had investment. The whole idea that somehow women’s aren’t marketable and men’s are is … It has no context to it.

Then the second thing is just the quote that you read, Lindsay, about feeling like someone’s just gonna go from talking economics and making a rational argument to telling them that they can beat them one on one is exactly how these conversations go.

Last week, Burn It All Down, we had a discussion about FIFA Play. What is the reaction? It goes from okay, let’s talk about prize money and how women’s prize money is not proportionately the same as men’s prize money and then it goes straight to women’s soccer sucks. It’s slow, it’ll never be good. It goes right to bully bus trolling.

At a certain point, you feel like the people who are doing this just wanna say that from the beginning. They just wanna go right in on “you’re slow, you’re weak, you’re never going to be president.” All that, like what little boys say to little girls on the back of the bus in the 1980s at least when I was there.

You’ll never be any good and that seems like at the end of the day, what they really wanna talk about.

Amira: Yeah, I think you’re exactly spot on there and the other thing that it brings up … I’m really glad that you and Jess talked about, framed this as labor and talked about union busting tactics and the fact that it’s a union.

I think it’s hard in general to get people widely to accept and understand athletics as a form of labor which is why you get when players, even male players, are opting out or in negotiations with ownership, you have people siding with owners.

I think Shakeia actually tweeted this this week, like “I don’t understand who sides with owners.” There’s a huge power imbalance there, except that we put a bunch of zeroes on the end of paychecks and suddenly people are like, “Oh, this isn’t really labor. They’re playing a game. This is a hobby.”

I think that gets even kind of ratcheted up when we talk about women and girls in sports. In particular, the idea that they are laborers and they need to control their labor, have leverage is something that’s so hard to get around which is why I really like that the hashtag this year was “watch me work”.

I was talking about this the other day in a talk I was giving about how significant it is to frame the entire thing as “watch me work”, yeah, watch me do this work, be good on the court but also I’m in your face telling you, “I am working. This is my job. I need to be treated equitably.”


Lindsay: Yeah, I think if we’re gonna have a theme around our conversations today between this and then upcoming Players Coalition, it’s gonna be organizing is hard and getting a bunch of people on the same page is really, really difficult.

I really admire the unity that the players have been showing. I actually have a piece coming out this week on Think Progress. God willing, it will be up by the time you guys hear this episode. If you ask why it wasn’t up last week, blame Maryland.

But I’ve been looking into the history of collective bargaining within the WNBA and I talked with Pam Wheeler last week, who was the head of the union from 1999 through 2014. She was the head negotiator for all the WNBA contracts up until this point.

Before she got involved, before the players came together in 1999 to form a union, there were no minimum salaries. There was no year-round healthcare. There was nothing. They had absolutely nothing. None of these things are just given to players by management.

Every single thing, they had to fight for through the union. We’re talking free agency. They didn’t get free agency until about ten years into the WNBA and the rules are still incredibly limiting.

But she said that last time, they were in such a bad place when they negotiated their last collective bargaining agreement in 2014 which is the one that they’re currently opting out of. Because in the middle of negotiations, the Los Angeles Sparks franchise almost completely collapsed.

The owner decided he was losing too much money, tried to sell it, put it up for bids, and Magic Johnson came in at the last moment to really swoop in and save the day. She said that she doesn’t know of any union in pro sports who’s had to go through a collective bargaining and negotiation while one of your marquee franchises is literally about to fold.

That takes away so much power, you know? That takes away so much leverage. Right now, I think, it’s so scary because a) there’s no president of the WNBA right now. Let’s not forget that. Lisa Borders is gone. There is no president, so they’re looking for a president right now.

And number two, you have what’s going on with the New York Liberty, with James Dolan just kind of being open that he wants to sell the team, shipping them out to Westchester. They’ve got to find some stability in the New York Liberty and that’s gonna be a really huge thing and I’m hoping that that happens before this next season, ’cause I think it’s gonna be really damaging for the players and for any leverage they have if a franchise like the New York Liberty is still being treated like it is.

On the other hand, what is good for them is the Las Vegas Aces and the stability that they have found and the success that they found from such an early age, I think has really rejuvenated the league and I’m excited to see how that helps.

Obviously, we all want to see these players earn more money, but there are some other things that they’re fighting for as well. I talked to a lot of retired players this week who reminded me that there’s no pensions. The WNBA players get no pensions. There’s a retirement fund, but there’s absolutely no security for players who retire and they’d certainly like to see the WNBA provide more to the players that have helped build its business.

I think a lot of this is gonna come down to marketing as well. They’re gonna need to put some money into marketing and figure out how are we going to do this. Marin Fader who’s a friend of the show wrote a great piece for Bleacher Report this week looking at what players want, what players are asking for.

One of the things she did was she got an interview with Adam Silver out of it. Adam Silver, of course, still has an insane amount of power when it comes to the WNBA. Even the WNBA president, I feel like he has more power than Lisa Borders does. He often is setting that narrative like Jess said.

He’s often pretty negative about the WNBA, talks in frustrating terms about how it hasn’t grown enough, about how they’re all surprised that it’s not more popular by now. She was asking him about what many people are calling for which is ESPN to be a better partner, get more games on ESPN.

He came right out and said, “Getting more games on ESPN is not a priority.” I’m just like, what are we doing here?! Those things, getting better TV contracts, getting better exposure for the league, these things are gonna be just as important for the players to find a way to fight through the contracts as getting bigger salaries.

Amira: As Lindsay noted, there’s some common themes between our segments this week, especially around organizing, coalition building, and how hard that can be. Over the last week and a half, you might have seen some news regarding Eric Reid of the Carolina Panthers. Malcolm Jenkins, Josh Norman.

A lot of the discussion has been around the Players Coalition between people who used to be in the Players Coalition and how a group of NFL players took varying avenues in the wake of Colin Kaepernick’s protest over the last year or two.

This really bubbled up on the surface two weeks ago when Eric Reid and Malcolm Jenkins, when the Panthers were playing the Eagles, and before the game even started, Eric and Malcolm were jawing at each other and had words and had to be separated before the coin toss.

There was some clear bad blood on display there. After the game, when pressed for comment, Eric Reid was very candid, calling Malcolm Jenkins a sellout, a neocolonialist, and saying that he used Kap’s protest to fund his organization. Malcolm Jenkins responded by saying, “I’m glad he’s back in league, I support Kap” and what many in the media detailed the high road, which as we might bring up later, demonstrates a sort of way that they’ve been set up as a dichotomy. A good person and a bad person, the high road to not engage in truth telling which is some of what Eric was doing.

That was two weeks ago. It has continued. This week, players like Josh Norman who were active in the Players Coalition spoke up saying he’s not only taking a shot at Malcolm, he’s taking a shot at everyone in the Players Coalition. “I’m a part of that, a lot of guys are a part of that and I feel because he was a part of it at one point, he went to the direction of, oh, if Kaepernick’s not the leader, then this is all for naught.

“Our take was, I’m sorry but if guys voted for Kap to be that, then okay, but that’s not what we did.” He went on to say, “You can say all you want, but the thing is you can’t tell another man what they’re doing if they’re not gonna come in here and be a man about themselves and tell us the direction that they want of what they want to do.”

This is alluding to the fact that Colin didn’t necessarily come into meetings and have these meetings with the ownership that the Players Coalition set up. Reid kind of responded to that by going into large detail about what happened at the players-owner meeting last October and detailing the way in which he, what he meant by Malcolm Jenkins selling out the cause or the protest for funding.

He detailed incentivized, almost like players contract, that would prioritize and give money to organizations coming out of the Players Coalition, community organizations in exchange for no more protest. Reid says, quote, “Malcolm called me on the phone and asked if the NFL made a donation to the Players Coalition, would that be enough for me to stop protesting? He said they were willing to do five million and I told him no.

“He then asked me how much would it take, so I ended that conversation. I reported back to the other players what he said to me and at that point, we removed ourselves from the Players Coalition. That weekend, he stopped protesting. He said it was time for everyone to stop protesting and he didn’t protest for the rest of the year.”

This is a conversation that I think requires a lot of delicacy and nuance and not falling into the tropes that I see all the time teaching history where you have a legitimized tactic or way of protest, say Martin Luther King and then say, okay, then Malcolm X is the other. I see a lot of takes that boil it down to that dichotomy instead of really saying, listen, there is a lot of complex issues here. There is a range of tactics. There is a range of personalities.

There’s a lot at stake that they’re kind of wading through. I want to attempt to have that kind of nuanced conversation about what’s going on and what these splits reveal and tell us about the workings of power in the NFL and also, the work that it takes to actually try to push the needle and enact change.


Lindsay: Yeah, I think as you said, there’s gotta be nuance here. This isn’t a case of good guys versus bad guys. This is all people trying to change a system. Often what a lot of social justice and a lot of progressive movements boil down to is people who think that the answer has to come from working within established systems versus people who think the only real and pure work can be done from outside of these systems and pushing them from the outside.

That’s an ongoing debate between that you will find going on in most circles on people who are trying to really change the status quo and I think the answer usually is yes, both. That’s kind of how I feel here.

I wanna say that I attended a Players Coalition event in Capitol Heights, Maryland a few months ago with Anquan Boldin, so this was in June and I was really impressed with the work that they were doing.

They were holding a small criminal justice reform forum for state attorney candidates in Prince George’s County, Maryland and they had gotten a bunch of people from the community in there and had the candidates for state attorney, which we all know is a much more important position than most voters give it credit for and they put these candidates on the spot, asking them about their opinion on all sorts of reforms within the criminal justice system.

I found it to be a very impressive feat and I thought that they were doing a great job. I think that the Players Coalition has done a lot of great work. That said, I feel like Eric Reid, all of his feelings and frustrations are incredibly, incredibly valid.

I can’t help but feel for him and both also admire the way he is using his opportunity back in the NFL. As we all know, he wasn’t signed for the first few weeks of the season. He was an unsigned free agent despite his talent.

The Carolina Panthers decided to sign him and he’s continued to take a knee. He has continued to pretty much every time a microphone is in his face, he seizes that opportunity to talk about the issues that he’s fighting for, to talk about his problems with the Players Coalition, and to really try and push the narrative forward.

There was a quote this week where somebody was asked how Ron Rivera, the coach of the Carolina Panthers, how the discussion about whether or not Eric Reid would take a knee went down and Eric Reid goes, “He didn’t have a choice. He had to get behind it. This is what I was gonna do.”

I thought that was very powerful as well. I really admire Eric Reid in how he has stuck to this opportunity. I do probably think that the Players Coalition and the founders there saw an opportunity to partner with the NFL and saw the opportunity to get a lot of money towards causes they felt passionate about and seized that opportunity.

Also, they’re doing some really good work with that opportunity. At the same time, I think it’s completely understandable why Reid and Kaepernick felt backstabbed by that.

Amira: Yeah, totally. Jess?

Jessica: Yeah, I think this is just one of those both/and situations and I just don’t feel like … We are never as a society primed for a both/and conversation, but I feel like particularly now and I don’t know, I totally agree. I can’t but watch, I don’t like to watch videos online but I will watch all the videos of Eric Reid talking about this ’cause it is really something to watch someone in their … His convictions and how well he speaks about all of this stuff and he cares very deeply.

But yeah, I do think this is normal in organizing. I just think we’re seeing it on a really public platform. Anyone who’s ever been around any kind of organizing, even as a spectator on the outside, has witnessed this exact argument internal to an organization and as both Amir and Lindsay were saying, this is kind of the nuts and bolts of how change gets done.

But it’s also incredibly personal to the people doing it and so everything is … What we’re talking about with racial justice and police brutality, these are life and death matters. These guys have probably the biggest platform of anyone talking about this and they’re up against an incredibly powerful and popular organization.

Of course, this is going to be messy and I just don’t know if we’re in a place as a society or news media in particular, NFL media that can really this. A really white media, like let’s remember this all the time. They’re talking about a lot of white men who are the ones trying to interpret and analyze this messaging. They’re often very, very bad at it.

But yeah, I don’t know if I have a smarter analysis than this is both/and and I can understand exactly where both sides are coming from and we just have to figure out how to hold that.

Amira: I think, just to come back to this point that you raised about the kind of whiteness of the media. We’ve talked about this. We talk about this all the time and we can see how that comes into play.

I mention the kind of framing of it. The headlines of that seemingly vault Malcolm Jenkins or Josh Norman which is funny, actually, thinking about the irony of vaulting Josh Norman as the good guy when most of the time, sports media is pillorying him, right?

But the way that Reid is the adjective used describe him and I think it points to one of the things about the Players Coalition is that it feels safer, right? It feels like something you can hold and that doesn’t make you feel as uncomfortable. These people are doing work in the community.

They’re having … Devin McCourty and folks are up at Harvard meeting with criminal justice folks talking about the criminal justice system. They’re in boardrooms, they’re in suit and ties, they’re kind of very respectable in their protest and I think that feels more comfortable.

I think it’s very uncomfortable when you have somebody like Eric Reid talking about subversive groups, talking about neocol- The fact that he’s using the words neocolonialism, I think is scary. I think it’s a lot less comfortable because Eric Reid is not concerned about your comfort and I think that there’s a power in that which is that there’s tactics that have been used in protest to make people feel comfortable and then there’s a lot of people who are …

Like you said, this is life or death and your comfort is not my responsibility. But I think that’s one of the reasons that we see that kind of backing of say, the Players Coalition, is ’cause it’s safer and it’s comfortable and you can escape some of the hard questions whereas what Eric says and does is indict everybody in the system and doesn’t let you off the hook for that.

He said, “When we started, Colin and I said nothing will change unless you talk about it. So, we’re gonna continue to talk about it. We’re gonna continue to hold America accountable to the standard it says on paper that we’re all created equal because it’s not that way and we’re gonna continue to push forward.”

I think that’s what you see him doing. Lindsay?

Lindsay: Yeah, I just wanna shout out if anyone wants to read more about this, there’s actually a great piece that Howard Bryant wrote for ESPN the magazine called “A Protest Divided”. He wrote it in January, so many, many months ago, so this has been simmering, but it gives a great kind of behind-the-scenes story about how this movement fragmented in very, as I said, understandable ways.

Amira: Next up, Shireen talks to Dr. Linda Dahl.

Shireen: I am so excited to have Dr. Linda Dahl on the show today. Dr. Dahl is an otolaryngologist in a private practice in Manhattan. She was one of only a few women to ever serve as ringside doctor for the New York Athletic Commission.

She’s a native Midwesterner and she received her MD from the University of Minnesota Medical School. She is the author of “A Clinician’s Guide to Breastfeeding: An Evidence Based Evaluation”. She’s also author of the book we’re gonna talk about today, “Tooth and Nail: The Making of a Female Fight Doctor”. Such a good read.

When she’s not dancing in the car to “Shake Your Ass” by Mystikal, she’s also a mom and woman extraordinaire. Thank you so much for being on Burn It All Down, Dr. Dahl.

Dr. Dahl: Thank you so much.

Shireen: Let’s jump right in. The description of your years in residency and your training are really far from the glamour that people see on shows like Grey’s Anatomy or what not and I really appreciated your honesty about your experience.

But if you could go back and talk to yourself at that time, what would you have done differently and what advice would you give to yourself during that time?

Dr. Dahl: I think I would’ve, yeah, it was completely different, and I even remember when I was finished with residency and Grey’s Anatomy came out, I watched the show and I got so angry cause it made me nostalgic for what never even happened to anybody really.

I think there’s so many parts I would have treasured more, even though it was a really hellish experience, I think I would’ve documented more and kept track of the experience more because it was such a singular experience and people don’t have those experiences anymore. Residency training, it’s not the same.

They go home, they have certain work hours. I think I really would’ve recorded more and been more aware of the small beauties in the big hell that the whole experience was.

Shireen: Being one of the only women in that male dominated program, it’s also something as sports writers and sports historians that we understand very much and can empathize with. Being in that space in the program was clearly not easy.

There’s a line you had in the book that really hit with me. It said, “I’d worked so hard in school and used self-awareness as a front for self-deprecation.” But now that you’re this amazingly well-known author, have a thriving practice, do you still struggle with that type of imposter syndrome at any time or any of those type of insecurities?

Dr. Dahl: I mean, sure. We all have insecurities. That makes us human. But what I have learned though is that instead of considering those, the weaknesses as my downfall or my vulnerability, I should say the vulnerability as a weakness. I now can realize that that’s how I can connect to people better.

I feel like, as humans, we connect to each other more through our vulnerabilities than we do through our strengths. Even though and even especially in a place like New York where everything is about power and who you know and what you become and what your label is, those things kind of repel us from each other.

We can admire someone from afar if they represent these amazing things, whatever they are, but the way we really connect to them and feel human and feel like we’re part of something is through our vulnerabilities.

If anything, I’ve learned to embrace those parts of myself.

Shireen: Can you give us a little bit of a background on how you actually got interested in boxing before your journey began as a fight doctor? How did you get interested in boxing? How did you even know about boxing of all sports?

Dr. Dahl: I didn’t know about any sports when I was growing up ’cause I always joke that my family’s sport was eating ’cause my parents are from the Middle East and we literally spent my whole childhood just cooking and watching TV and whatever.

When I was in residency, I was with my new husband. We’d been dating for a while and he’s an artist and he would sit at home mostly drawing pictures of politicians on C-SPAN and I would go off to the residency program, the internship and just deal with a lot of situations that I had never seen or experienced before.

Really violent, bloody, graphic awful. One day, I came home and instead of C-SPAN, boxing was on and I’m just like, what is this? What is happening? He’s like, “This is amazing!” You know, they’re live models and they’re moving and he was just rapt with the movement and the bodies and the muscularity, ’cause he didn’t have any access to model drawing labs.

He started drawing these boxers and also, the Bronx, when we moved there 20 years ago, was almost 98-99% Caribbean and it was a mixture of all kinds of different ethnicities and he was this very white man. He felt it and he felt totally out of place and couldn’t connect to people.

But he learned, I guess, from the guys at the bodega where he got his coffee and where he’d get his papers or whatever that they were talking about boxing all the time, so he just kind of became interested and he found that as a way to connect with the local community and he brought it home and then it was just there all the time. Every time I’d come home, I’m like, this again?

Then, he finally one day, he not only wanted me to watch it but he wanted me to pay extra for it. We were so broke. We were living on nothing. For me to shell out whatever it was, fifty bucks for this pay-per-view fight that he wanted to see was really, was a huge sacrifice. I mean, it was like food for a week.

I eventually caved and watched this fight. It was the first fight between Mosley and De La Hoya and I was an instant fan. I was blown away by it.

Shireen: Wow. That’s incredible. As you started to become the fight doctor, was it difficult for you to reconcile the violence in the ring with your training as a physician? Because I really liked where you said in the book as well, you had written about another colleague of yours who had to explain to you that the boxers will do everything in their power so you don’t call them unable to continue.

How did you sort of reconcile all of that happening?

Dr. Dahl: I guess I didn’t judge the fact that the fights existed or not accept, in the sense, that the boys and men fighting had only became fighters if they had no other options in life. It was either live on the street, live in this sort of crime filled life full of violence and loss, or be a fighter.

If you were a fighter, it was a way out of that life. I saw it as that for them and whether or not, you know, condoning the violence and is it right, is it wrong? It’s horrifying, but it was also really not that different than what these guys were living on the street and what I saw when I was in the Bronx because they would come in with bullets in their skull and these slashes across the back of their head, and motor vehicle accidents.

I was so used to kind of cleaning them up from these horrifying injuries that boxing just seemed safer and more likely to give them something back. Really, very similar populations of young men.

Shireen: Wow. In terms of the boxers you’ve met, some of them are actually known domestic abusers, namely Mike Tyson, with whom you actually detailed a really interesting encounter when you were at a conference in Las Vegas. Floyd Mayweather’s another example, but did the topic of their violence against women in their personal lives ever come up in the professional circuit or was it just something that wasn’t at all addressed?

Dr. Dahl: Well, boxing, when I was part of it, the world of boxing was really just men and it wasn’t like here’s a bunch of sexist men. It was just men. It was men being men around men without really thinking about women.

In terms of how do women fit in or what are women’s roles in this place, it was just, there were just none. Very similar to the surgical world. What’s also really interesting and I’m really just thinking about this right now is that part of the training for boxing is suppression of the male sexuality.

They’re not allowed to have sex for six weeks or even masturbate, nothing, for six weeks until their fight, which is interesting, right? They have to hold in all of their urges and turn it into everything, to go out there and fight.

It’s not … It kinda makes sense that somehow that sex and rage and violence is all kinda mixed together in that mindset. But in terms of a discussion, absolutely not. It was never discussed, it was never thought about. I mean, I thought about it and I considered the situations that I was in.

But I was the fight doctor and as the fight doctor, ironically, I was this little woman in this world of huge, violent, powerful men but I got to be more powerful than they were.

Shireen: Yeah, wow. I had no idea about the boxers or the fighters not being able to engage in any type of sex acts. I had no idea about this. I’m learning so much right now from you.

Dr. Dahl: It’s an interesting sport.

Shireen: Yeah, it’s really interesting. Would you actually recommend being a fight doctor to other women?

Dr. Dahl: No. Absolutely not. I mean, in fact, the biggest question I was asked, the question I was asked the most as a female fight doctor was why do you wanna do this? By the men. The boxers were always questioning me, like why are you here? Why are you doing this? Why are you surrounding yourself with this? Why are you around all these dirty old smelly men and blood? What do you get from this?

Yeah, I just don’t think it’s something that most women would really wanna be around. I had my own reasons for wanting to be around it and I think a lot of it for me had to do with feeling like I’d had so much experience and witnessed so much trauma in my life that I wanted to feel like here’s trauma. Look trauma, I can face you. I can take you on.

I wanted to face my fear of trauma and my fear of what could happen by choosing to go into those places.

Shireen: Wow, that’s so interesting. Do you still enjoy boxing? Do you watch it? Do you watch MMA? Do you have a favorite boxer?

Dr. Dahl: I have a favorite boxer, but … I love Deontay Wilder, not because I love him but because the most recent fight against Ortiz was the single greatest fight I’ve ever seen in my life. But it was also, because he was losing and he just pulled something out of his being and ended up winning that fight.

Just for the sheer kind of primalcy of it. But I’ve never really been a fight fan. I only ever watched fights when I was working ringside. Even now when I’ll go back, for the last year or so I’ve been going back just to sew up the fighters and it’s not like they sit there and enjoy it. I’ve never enjoyed it. This is fun, let’s go to fight.

But I can tell, when they walk into the ring, I’m like this guy’s gonna win, it’s gonna be this round that he wins in, and this is how it’s gonna go down. It’s funny, I can almost tell by their body language and how they’re moving.

MMA, I just never, I tried to be a fan. I’m just not into it. It’s a different kind of sport because it’s blood lust and it’s much more dynamic and there’s all this sort of, they can get bloody which people like and it can look more violent but because there’s no head trauma, it’s just a very different kind of sport.

I think you saw that if you saw the Conor McGregor, Mayweather fight. I mean, boxing is about trying to kill your opponent and MMA is a very different type of experience. But yeah, I just can’t.

I think now too, I’m not in the same emotional place. I don’t enjoy watching violence, even in movies. I don’t like it.

Shireen: Was it the same thing for women’s boxing as well? Would you consider getting into a space where it was a women’s boxing scene? Is that something that might appeal to you?

Dr. Dahl: I love that you ask me that because I have such mixed emotions about women’s boxing and I always have. I think about it like this. I think about three of the most deadly sports that exist today. They’re boxing, race driving, and hockey.

Shireen: Hockey?

Dr. Dahl: Yeah. Isn’t that amazing? Those sports are predominantly men. I mean, there are a few women here and there but those are men’s sports. The people that do those sports, more boxing, but I could say maybe not race car driving as much, but they’re …

As a society, it’s like we’re more accepting of watching men maim and kill themselves of watching that happen to women. It’s even harder for me to watch women do it to each other. Then it gets mixed in to all sort of violence against women and women aren’t naturally drawn towards hitting like men are.

It churns a lot of stuff inside of me and I think, too, along the lines of men boxing. The men that box do it because they have no really other options in life. Is that true of women? Is it saying that women going into boxing, do you have any other options in life? Or what is your motivation for wanting to do this kind of sport where you can go in and die?

It’s hard for me. Personally, it’s hard for me to watch women punch each other.

Shireen: Wow, that’s really intense. The three that you named, the boxing, the hockey, and the race driving. Those are from medical perspectives that you’re sharing that, that they are that dangerous? As a physician, you’re saying.

Dr. Dahl: Yeah. I mean, there have been studies that have shown that those are three of the most deadly sports.

Shireen: Wow. I feel like I’ve learned so much and I could probably talk to you forever, not just about how our daughters are controlling our behavior when we listen to music but just about everything. It’s so fascinating. I do recommend everybody listening to get a copy of “Tooth and Tail: The Making of a Female Fight Doctor”.

It’s a fascinating look into a world that I even as a sports writer know very little about in that world that I think that we don’t think about, where we just think about maybe athlete or coaches. We don’t think about people that are in the scene as well and how much they do and what their experiences are.

I thank you so much a) for writing the book and b) for being on Burn It All Down today.

Dr. Dahl: Thank you so much for having me.

Amira: Now it’s time for everyone’s favorite segment. The Burn Pile. I think we have a lot of things burning today and all of us usually come together, it’s more like a bonfire so I’m ready to get into this. Brenda, can you kick us off?

Brenda: Sure. This week, I am burning the birthday celebration of Diego Maradona and I think that’s probably a really unpopular take in global soccer, but for those of you who don’t know Diego Maradona, he’s probably seen as the best or one of the best soccer players of all time.

He’s usually up there with Pele, neither of which I think holds a candle to Messi but that’s off topic. I don’t wanna get in the weeds, but Messi’s compatriot Diego Maradona led the Argentine national team to the 1986 World Cup victory with his famous hand of god which was a cheating hand ball that somehow is seen as anti-imperialist and then he went on to win several titles for Napoli and become a really beloved, anti-imperialist icon.

He was friends with Fidel Castro. He supported resistance to the dictatorship in Argentina and all of that is really important, but on his birthday week, I just am befuddled by all of my progressive, seemingly feminist ally friends who pour out these nostalgic, romantic commemorances of Diego Maradona without mentioning the fact that he is a raging sexist.

When I mean raging, he has been videotaped assaulting his girlfriends. He absolutely says the most demeaning and sexist things towards women. His behavior with female journalists is reprehensible and to sort of put him as the icon of rebellion against the Argentine dictatorship which is so, so often done is such a slap in the face from people who came …

People like Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo who did so, so, so much more and don’t forget, he never missed a game. He never missed a contract. He was never put in jail, so yeah, great and all but you know, let’s not forget he’s a raging sexist and he risked very little to do that.

I wanna burn, not the people who are like, “Hey, he was a great footballer. He meant something to overcome England from the perspective of Argentina.” That’s totally fine. But the people who just will not include the fact that he is a raging sexist in their consideration of him, I would like to burn your erasure of all the women who have suffered him that are in his life or around the football community. Burn?

Group: Burn!

Brenda: You thought I’d never end that tirade.

Amira: No, it’s a great tirade. Shireen?

Shireen: Okay so, there was a bit of a spoiler about this. Y’all know I was gonna burn this ’cause I tweeted it out saying I was gonna burn it. We’re still reeling from the after effects and devastation of the Tree of Life Synagogue massacre and we’ve seen really incredible efforts of solidarity and beauty, which is really important.

I know that in certain cities including Toronto, Muslims and Christians came and held hands, like peace rings around synagogues while people worshiped because of the absolute fear for worshipers lives as they’re in these beautiful places of worship.

Gritty’s been out there. Props to Gritty, but the Pittsburgh Penguins. Yes, the same Pittsburgh Penguins who went and celebrated their Stanley Cup win at The White House with 45. They decided to do something meaningful.

What they did was they actually had a Star of David on their jerseys, which was really beautiful and very necessary. They actually had moments of silence and this ceremony was really, really good and I’m reading this off the Deadspin article.

The ceremony was a proper amount of restraint, which is really important, and it was appropriate for the situation. Now, what was completely inappropriate was just before the ceremonial puck drop, they had a Blue Lives Matter flag come out, so we’re all sitting there going, wait, what? Wait a minute.

Yeah, Blue Lives Matter? Yes. The same movement that came out in response to the very necessary Black Lives Matter which is absolutely talking about systematic, systemic, dangerous, violent discrimination against black people in America who are absolutely being targeted by police.

So, wait a minute. Blue Lives Matter, yes. The shooting in Tree of Life absolutely there was two officers who were killed as well. Now, I understand that but I don’t like conflating the Blue Lives Matter is appropriate or necessary and I think that it actually offended a lot of people who absolutely, marginalized communities relate to the terror that the Jewish community experienced.

Marginalized communities who are also targeted by police groups. So, I’m sorry. I’m not here for this. I am so close to permanently canceling the Pittsburgh Penguins. Like if it wasn’t for my memories of Mario Lemieux, I absolutely would and Gritty. However, Gritty’s not enough to make me tolerate this absolute foolishness and I’m not here for it and I want to burn it.

Group: Burn!

Amira: Definitely burn. I’ll jump in here with my burn. It comes from New Jersey this week. It’s a group of parents.

Lindsay: Where all good burns originate from. New Jersey.

Amira: I’ve resisted making a New Jersey- But a group of parents at a high school soccer game in Hopewell, New Jersey reportedly spent a considerable amount of time on the sideline yelling at the JV soccer players saying, “Speak English. This is America.” And other racist indications to the players.

This is really annoying and it’s sadly not an anomaly. One of the things that I want to burn and highlight is the way players, youth players have to bear the brunt of things yelled at them, slurs, that are only continuing to be motivated by a climate that almost incentivizes but certainly permits white nationalist rhetoric, hate, racism, homophobia, permits it to be screamed from the sideline at junior varsity soccer players on a random day in New Jersey.

You shouldn’t have to play under those conditions. You shouldn’t have to play under those conditions at a professional level, but you certainly shouldn’t have to play under those conditions as a 15 year old kid who’s just trying to play soccer.

It brought back really harmful memories for me and I think that’s important to think about the long history of this. I have very vivid memories of slurs coming from the opposing sidelines of being called the animal and no adults speaking up about it and what that means when you’re 15 and 16 and 17 and trying to navigate playing a game you love.

People wanna win so much that they find it acceptable to berate and yell racist comments at youth. I think it’s only emboldened now and that is disgusting and I wanna burn it. I wanna burn it now, I wanna burn it in the past, and I wanna burn all the future episodes that we will surely see but I wish we didn’t have to.

So, burn it down.

Group: Burn!

Amira: Lindsay, what are you burning this week?

Lindsay: Well, someone who I haven’t talked about in a while. But Derrick Rose this week had a 50 point game and after all of the on court struggles the former MVP has been through, this outpouring of points received a, I believe deification is the proper word from sports media, fans, and many of his favorite fellow players.

You know, Lebron James called him a superhero. Basically, every NBA player who’s anyone was tweeting congratulations. Derrick Rose was crying after the game. It was quite a scene.

The problem, of course, is that two years ago, Derrick Rose was on trial for gang rape and a jury decided there wasn’t enough evidence to go forward to convict him. However, the woman who accused him has appealed that decision and the case will be heard again in court in a couple of weeks.

Among other things that came out in that trial were Derrick Rose saying he didn’t understand really what consent was, talking about how we men, quote, we can assume what happens, what a woman would want at a late time at night, and there were just some incredibly problematic things, whether or not you ultimately believe he was guilty or not.

Of course, all of this was looped into the challenges part of Derrick Rose’s story that was alluded to from the announcers who said immediately after Derrick Rose’s 50-point performance, “I’m neither judge nor jury”, so clearing alluding to those, towards everyone who talked about how much Derrick Rose had overcome.

It’s very, very, very problematic to loop in accusations of gang rape into something that can be overcome with a 50-point performance on the field. I realize it’s complicated, I realize it’s seeing a player who used to be great but who has struggled and seeing them have a breakthrough game.

I understand the emotions that that can bring, and I love the tale of on court perseverance but you can’t act like this other stuff doesn’t matter. You can’t trivialize it by looping it in to I am a quote about, “I am neither judge nor jury”.

Someone still feels that Derrick Rose raped them. They are still battling in court for justice and that deserves to be considered right alongside anything, in fact, in front of anything he’s doing on the court.

I’d just like to burn the, “I am neither judge nor jury” comments and the deification of Derrick Rose when reality is of course much more complicated. Burn!

Amira: Alright, Jess, take us home. What are you burning this week?

Jessica: Yeah, so, I called this. For the burn pile days ago, I was like this one’s mine. If you haven’t listened to last week’s episode, episode 78, Lindsay, Brenda, and Shireen talked about the hell that has been Maryland football since early in the summer when 19-year-old offensive lineman Jordan McNair collapsed during practice, eventually dying in the hospital from heatstroke.

It was a completely preventable death. The discussion last week on Burn It All Down was, per the standard, very, very good. But a lot has happened in the last week and much of it is worth burning.

Despite finding that Maryland football program was a place quote, “where problems festered because too many players feared speaking out” and most importantly, where a player, a 19-year-old young man died a totally preventable death, the board of regents voted to keep DJ Durkin as head coach.

On Tuesday, the president of Maryland, Wallace Lowe, announced this, said he disagreed, and then announced his own impending retirement. In fact, the Washington Post reported that the board of regents, which only has the power to fire Lowe, essentially threatened to do that if he fired Durkin.

WaPo reported quote, “In his meeting with the regents last Friday, Lowe explained to the board why he felt the school needed to move on from Durkin. It was made clear that if he wanted to remain in his position, he had no option,” said one person close to the situation.

I’ll just note here that Lowe has taken responsibility on behalf of Maryland for McNair’s death, telling McNair’s parents quote, “The university owes you an apology. You entrusted Jordan to our care and he is never returning home again.”

Jordan McNair’s father said of Durkin’s reinstatement, quote, “I feel like I’ve been punched in the stomach and somebody spit in my face.”

Then on Wednesday this week, following a lot of anger and disbelief around Durkin’s return from a range of people including the governor of Maryland, other politicians, stakeholders, media members, students, and even some football players who walked out of a team meeting, Maryland decided to fire Durkin. He’s gone. Good.

On Thursday, WaPo reported though and I cannot fucking believe this but here it is, that quote, “The university system of Maryland board of regents recommended this week that the College Park campus retain the athletic trainers who have drawn the bulk of the blame for failing to properly treat Jordan McNair during a May workout.”

They recommended keeping the people who did not prevent the totally preventable death of a Maryland student. Holy hell! On Friday, the president of the board of regents resigned. So, he’s also now gone and that’s also good.

It’s a wonder why that was a hard decision. Football wise, as Bomani Jones pointed out on Twitter, quote, “Durkin is 10 and 15 at Maryland. That’s it.” Referring to the head coach’s overall losing record.

Morals wise, Jordan McNair died, and the report found a program run by Durkin to be a mess in multiple dangerous ways. What the fuck? Seriously. Shame on the Maryland board of regents. I want to burn the system of college football that puts coaches and trainers above everything else including literally the lives of young players and you know, ethics, morals, doing the right thing.


Group: Burn!

Amira: Now I wanna take some time to highlight some badass women of the week. Unfortunately, we start this section by honoring and remembering Zambia referee Leah Namukonde, who unfortunately died, succumbed to injuries sustained in a road accident in Zambia this past week. Leah was up and coming referee for FIFA. She joined the elite board of referees in 2016 and as many are reporting in saying out of Zambia, Leah had a bright future with a refereeing career which has unfortunately just been cut short. So we wanted to send thoughts to friends and family of a life unfortunately lost too soon.

We have some honorable mentions this week. Our badass woman of the week last week Simone Biles is back on our honorable mentions board because she is that amazing. She won an all-around championship for a record setting fourth time. My favorite thing if you wanna go look on the internet for this image. Somebody tweeted at her saying, “Can we get an update?” After this worlds of her with all the medals that she’s won around her neck. She retweeted it and said, “If you want me to break my neck” which I adored. Shout out to Simone, still kicking ass.

Also, wanna shout out Sara Cox who will become the first woman in history to referee two top flight English men’s team at the premiership cup clash happening today at the time of recording. Shout out to you, Sarah.

And all the New York Marathon runners who are out there right now on Sunday, November 4th as we’re recording. We’re thinking of you and all the training you’ve done to get there. Seize your day today!

And a drum roll please.

Our badass woman of the week is Alexa Moreno, the first Mexican gymnast to medal in the World Championship. She received a bronze this week on the vault and if you remember Alexa from the 2016 games, Alexa was a gymnast that had to deal with the worst type of fat shaming, body shaming, bullying on the internet. Hyper scrutiny about her body not just from Mexican media but all over the internet during the championship games.

It was so nice to see her win this medal and also, she spoke very candidly and openly about what it was like to have that kind of focus on her. I’m loosely translating here, she said, “This is not something I expected to happen, but the negative comments were irrelevant.”

She talked about how much support she got from various places and she went on to say, “Look, many people can do gymnastics. Everyone is different and everyone has their own specialty. I really like the fact that I’m a positive figure, especially for girls.”

So, Alexa, yes, you are a positive figure, especially for girls and not only that, you are our badass woman of the week.

Brenda: Yay!

Amira: All right, folks. What’s good in your world? Lindsay?

Lindsay: Ugh. Why’d you have to call on me first? No, I’m just kidding. You guys know I always have the hardest time with this one for some reason. I would say this week what is good is sleep. I’ve actually slept a little bit this weekend and I have not been able to do that in months and months.

We also got an extra hour of sleep thanks to daylight savings time. So, that was exciting as well. You know, it’s important. I’m feeling slightly more like myself today.

Amira: That’s wonderful to hear. Shireen?

Shireen: I love this segment because I get to share happiness. I’m gonna share some happiness with you. Happy Diwali to all of our flamethrowers and I wanna say that I saw this really cool tweet about a flash mob bhangra outside the Rogers Arena in Vancouver to celebrate Diwali. I was like, wow!

Normally when I don’t see people that are brown doing bhangra, I recoil but this was so well done and when I see Asians from any part of Asia, I’m like, okay this is good. I’m fine. It was beautiful and it brought me joy.

I would also like to congratulate Sania Mirza and Shoaib Malik, the professional tennis player from India and the Pakistani cricketer, they had a baby last week. What they did was they hyphenated the baby’s last name. So the baby is known as Baby Mirza-Malik.

I’m getting a lot of joy out of this because this is kind of unprecedented and in some continental cultures, it’s just assumed that the child will take the father’s name. So, despite all the brown misogynists coming out and freaking out about this, the two are wonderful. They’re happy. Mom is recovering. Baby is healthy. Excellent. I’m so happy and I hope this becomes a trend.

Amira: That’s awesome. Jess? What’s good in your life?

Jessica: I was not here last weekend ’cause I actually went home to Florida ’cause my dad retired from his civilian job. He retired 20 years ago from the Air Force and now he’s retired from his civilian job and I got to see my sister who had flown in from Hong Kong. That’s where she lives.

So, that was very fun and then Halloween! It was super fun. My family and I dressed up as David S. Pumpkins and his two skeletons and we actually had a little skit that we did. There’s a video of it on my Instagram.

It was just a joy and if you watch the video, my absolute favorite thing about it is that when Aaron starts dancing cause he’s the first dancing skeleton, my son’s face is just … He is so happy that we’re doing it and then he realizes he’s supposed to be in character and he snaps back. But I actually screenshot that part of his huge smile when Aaron is doing a stupid dance and sent it to Aaron earlier this week ’cause it’s just given me so much joy this week.

Amira: That’s awesome and your family is so adorable. I also got to see my family this week. I’ve missed the last few weeks ’cause I was traveling to many different states. I was on the road for a while, but I did get a little bit of a treat when I was in Memphis.

My mom and my grandmother and my sister all came into Memphis for a kind of 36-hour, whirlwind girls day and a half in Memphis. We did escape room with my grandmother. We escaped, it was epic. It was lovely, I’ll send pictures.

I got to party with my sister and we just had a really good time. I am part of the OrangeTheory cult now. I just finished Hell Week, so if you know anything about OrangeTheory, Hell Week, you have to complete five out of eight really intense workouts over a week to get a shirt.

It’s like why are we killing ourselves for a shirt? I don’t know, but I really wanted the shirt. I was traveling for a lot of hell week but luckily OrangeTheory is everywhere, so I was able to complete Hell Week doing four workouts in New Orleans, in Little Rock, in Oxford, Mississippi, and in Memphis, Tennessee before coming home and finishing up a few more workouts here and I earned my shirt and I’m really excited.

So, that’s my something good and then my last bonus something good is that I’m so, so happy to be back on with you guys. I have missed you dearly and to have all of us together is always good in my world.

And, Brenda.

Brenda: Now I’m feeling all fuzzy from all of you, but what am I doing? Okay, I’m gonna watch Panama versus Argentina, the women’s qualifier playoff from CONCACAF versus CONMEBOL on Thursday. I think I’m gonna write a little something for it for The Equalizer.

Just generally, I’ve written about this group of Argentine women and their politics and collective action for the past, I don’t know, couple years now and I’m so excited for them and also Panama.

Either one is going for their first women’s’ World Cup appearance and so, either way, it’s gonna be both sad and joyous at the same time. I mean, my only other sort of …

I didn’t wanna do, I was really extra for Halloween so I don’t wanna go back down that road but I do just wanna mention I love Day of the Dead. I celebrated it last week with my Mexican daughters and voting. Oh, voting.

Yeah, I’m really excited to vote. We have a really tight race in this election and Burn It All Down cannot, I think, support particular candidates at this point without me sharing it but let me just telling you, Judges County district, get out there. It is important.

Shireen: Yeah, this is just an extra what’s good. I just wanna shout out to Lindsay, Jess, Amira, and Brenda, I love you very much and the fact that all of us are here this week despite our pre-recording giggle fits, I love them.

I just wanted to say that, that I really appreciate you all and you are definitely always inherently always in my what’s good.

Amira: Well, that’s it for this week on Burn It All Down. Burn It All Down lives on Soundcloud but it can also be found on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play. We appreciate your reviews and feedback, so we love when you subscribe, rate, share with a friend, share with two friends.

You can find us on Facebook at Burn It All Down or on Twitter at Burn It All Down pod or on Instagram @burnitalldownpod. You can also email us as burnitalldownpod@gmail.com. Of course, check out our website burnitalldownpod.com.

There you’ll find previous episodes, transcripts, a link to our Patreon which just as a reminder, you can join for as little as $2 a month, get extra content, access to interviews, giveaways and oh, just a shout out to our Patreons as always and a quick update.

I know I told you that we’d be mailing you something. I just did wanna tell you there was a slight delay, but they are getting out so you’ll definitely have them shortly if you were checking your mailbox and wondering where it was, don’t worry. It is coming to you if it isn’t already there by the time you get this.

So, we appreciate you subscribing, sharing, and tuning in with us every week. Happy voting day. Vote and as Brenda said and we can’t wait to talk to you soon. That’s it for us. Have a good day, flamethrowers.

Shelby Weldon