Episode 82: Bad redemption narratives, insulting WoSo contracts, and college football w/ Nicole Auerbach
In this episode, the crew talks about Thanksgiving food, [6:35] bad redemption narratives, based on the recent profiles of Kobe Bryant and Adrian Peterson; [27:19] Lindsay interviews Nicole Auerbach of The Athletic about the NCAA college football season, and the latest developments at Ohio State and Maryland; [44:26] and they dive into atrocious women’s soccer contracts. [58:22]
As always, there’s Burn Pile, [1:04:12] Bad Ass Women of the Week, [1:05:16] and What’s Good. [1:07:49]
For links and a transcript…
“The Revisionist” (WaPo) https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2018/sports/kobe-bryant-hollywood-revisionist/
Lindsay’s piece, “What do we do with Kobe Bryant now?” https://thinkprogress.org/what-to-do-with-kobe-bryant-a9a77dc039ec/
“Adrian Peterson is Still the Same AP” https://bleacherreport.com/articles/2807182-adrian-peterson-is-still-the-same-ap
“Bleacher Report takes flak for handling of Adrian Peterson story that reveals he still hits his kids with belts and switches” https://awfulannouncing.com/br/bleacher-report-takes-flak-for-handling-of-adrian-peterson-story-that-reveals-he-still-hits-his-kids-with-belts-and-switches.html
“Afsløring: Hvis en mandlig spiller i Premier League får en skade og er ude i et års tid, beholder han job og løn. En kvindelig spiller kan fyres efter tre måneder” https://politiken.dk/sport/fodbold/art6860692/Afsl%C3%B8ring-Hvis-en-mandlig-spiller-i-Premier-League-f%C3%A5r-en-skade-og-er-ude-i-et-%C3%A5rs-tid-beholder-han-job-og-l%C3%B8n.-En-kvindelig-spiller-kan-fyres-efter-tre-m%C3%A5neder
“Women’s Super League – injured players could be sacked after three months” https://www.bbc.com/sport/football/46318375
“Justin Gimelstob charged with assault in Los Angeles” https://www.bbc.com/sport/tennis/46300344
“Women’s team fed sandwiches at gala while men enjoy three-course meal” https://edition.cnn.com/2018/11/22/football/fc-basel-anniversary-gala-womens-team-tombola-tickets-spt-intl/index.html
“Women’s World T20: Dane van Niekerk and Marizanne Kapp become first married couple to bat in international cricket” https://circleofcricket.com/category/Latest_news/29427/womens-world-t20-dane-van-niekerk-and-marizanne-kapp-become-first-married-couple-to-bat-in-international-cricket
“It’s a Mexican wave of success at the Homeless World Cup” https://www.bigissue.com/latest/its-a-mexican-wave-of-success-at-homeless-world-cup/
Lindsay: Hello, hello, hello! And welcome to Burn It All Down, the feminist sports podcast you need. I am Lindsay Gibbs, sports reporter at Think Progress. And I’m gonna be your host today. We are recording this on an American holiday weekend, so I am only joined by one of my esteemed co-hosts today, our token Canadian, Shireen Ahmed, sports writer and cat lover, as she likes to call herself, from Toronto. Shireen, just me and you today. Are you excited?
Shireen: Good morning. I am turkey-less, but I am happy to be here.
Lindsay: Okay. Well, okay. So I’m a really dumb American. When is Canadian Thanksgiving and do you have any special Canadian Thanksgiving traditions that you love?
Shireen: Okay. So Canadian Thanksgiving is in October. And I know, because we had it last month, and my family gets together, not to necessarily recognize a genocidal event in history-
Lindsay: Of course.
Shireen: Colonialist past.
Lindsay: But important to note, yes.
Shireen: But everybody’s off work. So you know, my most beloved people all gathered at my parents’ place in Windsor, and we had a great time. And it happened to be like 25 degrees Celsius that day so it was like beautiful outside. Now in terms of tradition, I make my cranberry sauce. Like from scratch. I’m very proud of my cranberry sauce. And my mom and dad go to Costco and overbuy everything that we don’t need. And then they … Like my mother does the turkey. That’s her thing. We do the stuffing outside. And a lot of my like Pakistani family thinks turkeys gross and dry, so we offer an option of tandoori chicken on the side because they’re like, “It’s so dry.” And honestly, turkey is meant to be … It’s not the most flavorful bird. And if you can just get it moist, I call it a win.The brine, my mother pats like a lot of butter into it. So I’m there for that. And the sides are what make it up. So in terms of tradition, it’s not like we sit down.
And I think y’all watch football on Thanksgiving in America, like that’s a big part of the tradition, I guess, is to watch an NFL game. So we just sat around drank chai, talked politics, and then the kids played board games. So we had a lot of discussions about that kind of stuff, but every family’s different. But we do get together. I know a lot of families that get together and here just because it’s a four day weekend for us.
Lindsay: Totally, exactly. It’s so nice. Yeah, so I did go back to North Carolina. I always have a very busy but full love Thanksgiving because my parents are divorced. And my mom’s family and dad’s family both do Thanksgiving around the same time. And they both have big, extended families. So usually start with my dad’s family and get a big plate there. And then right about the time that things are starting to die down there. Right after dessert is done. And I usually skip dessert there. And then I go to my mom’s family’s where I talk a little bit, then have a little bit of leftovers and dessert there. And then I usually end up circling back to one or two of those places. You know, you’ve got to keep going, so I drove … This year Thanksgivings were about 20 miles apart. So there was a lot of driving back and forth for me. But you know what, I’m just so lucky that I have all of these families to kind of drop in on. So that’s the fun of it.
And I agree with you with turkey. You know what people discount when they talk about turkey is how good of a base it is. Basically just treat it like rice, and just plop your sides on top of it. And it’s-
Shireen: I’m so there for that
Shireen: 100 percent right, yeah. 100 percent.
Lindsay: It’s perfect because it’s a little bit more bland. Like you know, if you do that with other things that they’re too flavorful and they take away from the flavor of the sides. Not Turkey. It adds a perfect amount of protein to your sides. So I’m really there for that.
Shireen: No, I agree with you. And that’s what I do. I am like turkey on the bottom. Everything else piled on top. That’s the way I eat. Like my brother is the type that was always sectional in his food. Like the peas, he doesn’t like peas. But the mashed potatoes couldn’t touch the gravy. I’m not like that. I’m like put everything on and roll it up. My mother’s from the north of Pakistan, and they’re called … She’s not Pathan, but she’s from a region of people that are called the Pathans. They mix everything together. And that’s what I’ve always done. The flavors suit each other. Like I’m so hungry right now, I want to drive down to and get some leftovers. I’m gonna show up … Well let’s just show up at Jessica’s house.
Lindsay: Oh yeah, she’s been cooking, and she’s been baking a lot, and I’m really here for that. Because I am not a good baker. Well anyways, I guess before we stop and go eat turkey. because I’m definitely going to go do that now, we might as well actually have a Burn It All Down episode. On today’s show, Shireen and I are gonna talk about some bad redemption narratives focused on some recent writing about Kobe Bryant and Adrian Peterson. Then we’re gonna discuss equally bad women’s soccer contracts. Finally, Nicole Auerbach from the Athletic will join me to talk about an absolutely bonkers weekend in college football. As well as her reporting on some of the off the field issues we’ve discussed on this show at Maryland and Ohio State.
We want to continue our thankfulness theme here in the intro but thanking our Patreons once again. And reminding you all that you can go to patreon.com/burnitalldown. For as little as two dollars a month, you get access to Patreon only podcast segments. And you know that you’re supporting one of the best independent, intersectional sports podcast in town. In fact, I think we’re the best because we’re the only one. So. You know, that’s pretty special. And look, it is the holiday season, so we do want to encourage you this holiday season to give the gift of Burn It All Down. You can do so through our Patreon or through our T Spring account, where you can get Burn It All Down merchandise. So, what better than a flamethrower pillow underneath your Christmas tree or whatever you use to commemorate your holiday season.
Okay. Let’s talk about it. Bad redemption narratives. So I was incredibly intrigued last week when I was alerted by PR, public relations email, to a feature published in the Washington Post entitled the Revisionist, which was promoted as a piece that was containing exclusive interviews with Kobe Bryant. And as a piece that openly reckoned with the role the 2003 rape case has played in Bryant’s narrative. Because of this framing, I was very hopefully that this 6,000 word profile signaled that Bryant was finally willing to directly address the rape allegations and the case that filed. And that maybe we would finally hear from Kobe himself. But more than 3,000 words into the article, which I must say is a pretty bizarre article. And Bryant is a bizarre subject. It goes into incredible, great detail describing Bryant’s creative genius. I’ll let you guess if I’m using air quotes or not. His work ethic, and his high profile entertainment projects for children.
So about 3,000 words into this article, there’s a disclaimer that says, Bryant and the woman settled a civil case for an undisclosed sum in March 2005. Citing their client’s agreement with Bryant, attorneys for the accuser told the Washington Post that she is not permitted to comment for this article. In multiple interviews with the Post over several months, Bryant also refused to discuss the woman or the specific incident. So, not only does Bryant not directly address the rape accusation in the case, it seems that he is still enforcing the nondisclosure agreement in the settlement, so his alleged victim isn’t allowed to speak up either. But that doesn’t stop a journalist who is one I typically really admire, Kent Babb with the Washington Post, from going into great detail about Bryant’s attempts to establish himself in the creative field, one that we know has been ultimately successful because he won a damn Oscar for not that good of a project.
So look. I wrote all about this at Think Progress, and that was going to be that, until Bleacher Report followed that up by this week publishing a piece on Adrian Peterson, who you might remember as a running back who was with the Minnesota Vikings when this incident happened. And is now with the Washington NFL team. Who a few years ago beat his two year old son so thoroughly that he sent his son to the hospital. This Bleacher Report profile, which was framed directly as a redemption narrative and attempts to describe the ways that Peterson has learned and grown from the 2014 corporal punishment case. However, the end of this profile, buried at the end of this profile, are quotes where it shows that Adrian Peterson has not learned anything. Or Adrian Peterson admits to still sometimes using the switch to beat his kids. And talks about how tough his kids are because they have his blood. So they can take things like this.
You would think quotes like that would be at the top of the piece. But no, no. We had to hear about the football stuff first. And we had to hear about Adrian Peterson’s long, emotional journey. And then we got to the fact that he admits that he still abuses his children. So, Shireen, starting with these two stories, I want to ask you a question. How do you write redemption arcs? Should you write redemption arcs? What constitutes a good redemption arc? And why do you think that these redemption arcs that I have mentioned are problematic?
Shireen: Okay. So first of all, I need, and I thank you for asking me specifically because I want to appreciate and recognize what you’ve done on this. And specifically writing about Kobe. And for those that don’t know, Lindsay wrote an amazing piece in 2016 about how Kobe’s case changed the shape. And this was back in early 2000’s about how media looks at sexual assault. And that was piece, it was incredible. And it’s always stuck with me. And in fact, encouraged me to think differently. She basically articulated what I wanted to say. In terms of the redemption narrative, I’m not a person who doesn’t think that people can change if they want to. But they have to do the work. Kobe has done less than work. Zero amounts of work on this. Specifically citing the idea of not talking about it. The nondisclosure clause. Like refusing to answer questions about it or acknowledging it even happened.
Settling something civilly, I’m sorry, is a huge indicator of something did … You don’t just pay out a whole bunch of money for grievance for someone for no reason. And particularly someone like that, with that type of power and resource. Now in terms of the actual writing of the narrative, if you’re gonna do something in a typical misogynistic way, which is what sports media usually does. Remember sports media is almost 90 percent cys-het, white, able bodied men. You would do it this way, which is pretty pathetic. In the sense of write the stats, write this. I mean, the Adrian Peterson story. I had someone tweet at me, because it was just … It was actually, I think Nicole Auerbach who did tweet that she couldn’t get the story of him out of his children. And she watched him on the field the other night. When he was playing. It wasn’t Nicole, I think, who tweeted that. And I was so upset when I went back. because I still remember.
And someone tweeted at me because I had shared that. Said they would never get the photos of his child out of their head. That they’re forever. And I made the mistake of looking for them, and I did. I have children. I get frustrated as a parent. Because, come on, kids can be assholes sometimes. But it’s unacceptable. I mean, I don’t think that my children are any less tough than Adrian Peterson’s because I didn’t beat them with a switch. That’s unacceptable. Children are by nature resilient and beautiful and wondrous. And that’s a whole lot of damage. And I’m not being like, oh, you know, back in the day. I mean, come on. I grew up in the … I was born in the ’70s. Grew up in the early ’80s. You know, there was a … My mother never, ever laid a hand on us. But you know, once in a while dad would grab my ear. And be like frustrated. Or he’d threaten. And this is back in the day when kids were still afraid of their parents in that way.
Lindsay: I’m sure your kids are afraid of you, Shireen.
Shireen: Oh, god. They’re all taller than me. they’re all like six feet and up, and they kind of look down on me as I yell at them. But the reality is is that this whole thing is sickening. And with Kobe specifically, what he’s done is this mastermind reinvention of self by immersing himself in women’s sport to make himself look like an ally when at the same time he’s done the most egregious thing. I get physically ill. I love the LA Sparks. But I get physically ill when I see him sitting there at the sideline being lauded. Like I respect those players so much. We’ve had Essence Carson on this show before. You know, all like … I love those players.
But I see him there, and it makes me recoil. And I have two choices. I can refuse to watch the Sparks. But I just choose option b and continue to tweet about it. Now getting back to, again, redemption story. I don’t like them. I think somebody with experience in writing about sexual assault should be assisting or be a reader or something. Because I know you respect this journal … What was his name? The Washington Post guy?
Lindsay: Kent Babb. Yeah.
Shireen: Kent Babb, it’s fine. But just a little disclaimer when your header or your lead is talking about, you know, addressing it. And then you don’t address it. That’s irresponsible. And that’s not … It’s not good. Just like 6,000 words is a damn long piece. And I think the whole story should have been on why. I would love someone to interview Kobe as to why. Talk about why. Talk to his lawyers. Press further. Interview other journalists that have asked him and have said no. Why is he doing this? Talk about their frustration. You can’t re-immerse and be reborn out of the ashes if you don’t admit the ashes were there in the first place and something burnt down. It doesn’t work like that.
Lindsay: It’s so true! And that’s … I wrote, I was like what are we doing here? If he won’t address it, why are we giving him 6,000 words that go into detail about his entertainment projects. You know? And I understand what this journalist, and what this writer was going for in showing kind of the bizarre details of Kobe’s world. And I do believe that this profile isn’t very flattering of Kobe Bryant because the world that he lives in is just so bizarre. But at the same time, I don’t think that that’s an excuse. And look, I’ve told this to writers before. I will … You know, I’m not saying anything on this podcast that I haven’t written publicly or would say to journalists. But a lot of times we’re trained in journalism to do this both sides thing. To let details show them … You know, to put little details down. And let that paint a picture. To allow there to be this nuance in every single thing.
Look, I’m a person who loves nuance. I mean, I probably get in trouble more in my career because my bosses will be like, you know, “Can you take a strong opinion on this?” And I’m like, “Well, no because there’s all this gray area.” You know, I don’t think anyone could read my work and not think that I really do believe that there is nuance. But when you’re talking about something like sexual assault, that society still does not understand. When you leave … Leaving room for that much nuance is dangerous, and in my mind, a journalism malpractice. You have to put in your story how rare it is that there are false reports. You don’t have to make a decision about whether or not Kobe was actually guilty of this, but you need to weigh the gravity of the impact that his case had. You need to talk about the victim blaming and the slut shaming that went on in the defense.
You need to talk … Once again, about how rare these false accusations are. You need to counter this narrative that Bryant is trying to spin through silence with some facts. And I think that that’s what’s missing. And so, yeah, there are ways where you can … Nuance has its place, for sure, especially in these long form profiles. But when you’re dealing with a subject like this, nuance is giving the power back to Kobe Bryant.
Shireen: Absolutely. I mean, there’s someone else that I wanted to talk about. And not so necessarily redemption narrative. But the topic that has struck me as most harrowing, one of the most harrowing cases, was Patrick Kane, a hockey player with the Chicago Blackhawks. And his story, and he was accused of sexual assault. He was accused of rape. And the case was essentially dropped because for lack of evidence. But I mean, the way that he was asked in pressers or in media scrums that he was asked. He ended up having like an MVP season, which was the start of every article written about him pretty much. And after the case was dropped, even John McDonough, who was the president at the time of the organization, was like, “Oh, I wouldn’t call it vindication.” And I’m gonna read this quote.
But he says, “I’m just very happy for him. I’m glad he got off to such a great start. As he continued to do that and has focused on staying on hockey. It tells you how committed he is. But no, I don’t think there’s any sense of vindication at all. He’s just reached another level of his career.” You were asked about a rape. I don’t care about his career. Like, you can be a good hockey player and still rape people. Like the conflation of this is so frustrating. The way that it comes out. And then, media picks up on this and quotes right away. But the way that … You would never know. Unless someone told you that Patrick Kane was involved in this. And I mean, Deadspin was one of the only places, and props to them. That wrote so specifically about the Patrick Kane case in progress. And hats off to them. Because very few places … This is the other problem, Lindsay. Very few places do it.
I mean, we saw that with Ronaldo, right? We saw how very few places wanted to write the story. Only when Der Spiegel came out again and absolutely named Mayorga did people start picking it up. It was … People were uninterested. Even the fact that those rape allegations were circulating and they were happening and it was a really legitimate thing, it was ignored. And this tells us, we talk about the power of media. Those editors, those people in charge, those executive producers or whatnot in board rooms, behind closed doors in corner offices, have the ability to make the decisions of how things are shared. That’s a whole lot of responsibility.
Lindsay: Yeah. It’s so true. And I mean, we see this in so many cases. And I’ll talk about this a little bit more with Nicole later in the show because she’s done so much great reporting on this. But just yesterday, you saw Ohio State, you know, have a really big win over Michigan, and Gus Johnson, the announcer, really playing this up as Urban Meyer overcoming a challenging season, filled with turmoil. You know? Talking about how there aren’t many men like him. All the things he’s been through. I mean, it’s mind boggling. Urban Meyer enabled a domestic abuser. And then lied about it openly. Nothing he does on the football field will ever atone for that.
Shireen: I love that you said that. Yeah.
Lindsay: So infuriating. And it goes back to what you said earlier, Shireen, about having to do the work. You know, I know there are a lot of people who will never forgive Mike Vick for what he’d done. Michael Vick, you know, who had the dog fighting rings. And served prison time for it. But he directly addressed that. And he gives to a lot of great causes. And he’s talked about it. He literally served time in prison. And I will never forget what he did, but I all for him having a life and having a career. And you know, moving on with his life. I’m all for that. Like I think that’s wonderful that he’s done that work. You know?
You even look at a guy like Ray Rice, who of course is the face of domestic violence. As he should be for the horrific video that we saw. He has at least come out. And you might say it’s because he’s had to, but he’s come out. He’s given interviews where he just talks about this. He goes to speak to high schoolers about how to treat women. He’s doing the work. And a lot of reason is because the media wouldn’t allow him to talk to them, to do anything unless he did the work. You know? He wasn’t gonna … Because we saw it. Because we saw it with our own eyes, because there was video, he wasn’t gonna get the redemption narrative unless he … I mean, he’s not even gonna get any redemption narrative, period, obviously. But he had to address that. And that’s what I’m saying. What if you tell Kobe Bryant, I’m not gonna write 6,000 words on you unless you sit down and directly address this.
Shireen: Yeah. I remember when the Jane McManus, formerly at ESPN, wrote a piece on Ray Rice. And I remember like how it came out, and a lot of people were like, oh you were too nice on him. But what she did do. She centered that whole situation. Jane centered this whole case. She didn’t skirt around it. She talked about it. In fact, the lede says if not the player, Ray Rice asks you forgive the man. So he’s not only acknowledging that he did something wrong, he’s asking for forgiveness in moving on. And his wife’s choice to stay with him is up to her. That’s her business. That’s not our business to judge. Because of course everybody came out in droves and are judging. But the reality is the weight of the piece was written was not irresponsible. It was acknowledging and addressing the issue immediately.
And that’s what responsible journalism is. To get at the crux, not to skirt around it. Not to make it flowery. To get at it. To have those uncomfortable conversations because we know this. Those uncomfortable conversations need to happen to reconcile, rectify, and move on. Kobe has never entered into an uncomfortable conversation about that. because his lawyers made sure he didn’t.
Lindsay: Yeah, and there’s this really great quote in a Monica Lewinsky piece for Vanity Fair recently, where she was talking about how Bill Clinton for so many years wasn’t even asked about what happened with them. He wasn’t even asked about their affair. He got to completely paint his own picture. And you know, her quote was, if you want to know what power looks like, watch a man safely, even smugly, do interviews for decades without ever worrying whether he will be asked the questions he doesn’t want to answer. And that really rang true to me, and I tie that back to the Kobe Bryant thing. And it’s not even that. It’s if he doesn’t answer, it’s okay. The profile goes on anyways. You know? And that’s what I think was really missing in this Washington Post piece. I do have to, you know, going back to the Bleacher Report piece on Adrian Peterson, he did. The journalist there did ask the questions. He did address that. Adrian Peterson’s answers were incredibly alarming. And terrifying.
So that part of it was good journalism. He had to ask. He did ask. And he got answers. It was, for me the problem was the way that piece was framed. And that really to me is an editing and less so than a straight journalism problem. Because there was the quotes in there. That piece did somewhat address the issue at least. And it got really alarming quotes from Peterson. But the way it was framed was incredibly irresponsible.
Shireen: Well also, getting back to the whole thing about Monica Lewinsky and her comment about Clinton. It’s also really interesting when you think about, to walk around so smugly. That Kobe knows no one’s gonna ask him. because he can just be like, oh, there’s an NDA. Can’t say anything. Like, to walk around with that amount of arrogance. That you can’t be asked, right? You can ask and say I can’t talk about it. Well, that’s a shield. That’s a shield to protect you. And also I don’t know people remember, but the day that the story about Monica Lewinsky broke out, Clinton actually bombed a factory in Somalia, just coincidentally. So I remember my father remarking this. He’s like, “Oh. He said it was suspected.” And this is pre 9/11. This is pre all this hyped up machismo…
Lindsay: So not this Vanity Fair story, of course. But you were talking about when the story came out in the 90s.
Shireen: Yeah. In the 90s, when he was president. To avoid … He actually bombed a country that nothing … There was no proof of anything happening there. So to have that power. I mean, and Kobe can just walk around. I mean, and I feel very much with what Lewinsky says, that you look at this person, and there’s this sense of grief and anger and sadness because they don’t have to account for it. Ever. And I don’t think Kobe ever will.
Lindsay: But I think, look, just to wrap up I will say, if you’re writing about this. If you’re trying to do this, it’s not easy. It’s not fun. And you might do it responsibly like Jane McManus did and still have people say that you’re doing a softball job, right? And that it’s not … You’re not doing your job. Like it’s tough. And not everyone’s gonna be happy. But you have to center the thing that they’re trying to redeem themselves from. First and foremost. That needs to be your beginning, your middle, and your end. If you want to pepper in some stuff in between, you can pepper in some stats and some career information and biographical information. But you cannot pepper in the crime in between all that other stuff, in between the football stuff. You see what I’m saying? You have to center it beginning, middle, and end. And you have to either make sure that your subject is willing to address it or be willing to do the reporting work and the analysis work around your subject if they refuse to address it. So two little golden rules to live by.
Hello, joining me now is Nicole Auerbach, from the Athletic. A dear friend of mine. Nicole, thanks so much for being here.
Nicole: Yeah, thanks for having me, Lindsay.
Lindsay: So, college football has been kind of a thing lately. I believe there was a seven overtime game, which is incredible. So-
Nicole: I was rooting for eight. I was really … I was actually quite disappointed when it ended.
Lindsay: I mean, at that point let’s get to double digits. Let’s get to 10, you know?
Nicole: Yeah, see what happens. Like, we’ve never seen that before.
Lindsay: No. Certainly have not. So for people like me. I’m gonna be honest here. I mean, you know this about me. I tune in to this part of the college football season. But I don’t tune in much earlier. Where are we? What are the big story lines this year? And who’s gonna make this playoff? I know Notre Dame. My grandfather played football for Notre Dame, so I always keep an eye on them. And they’re undefeated, so that’s good. My Catholic family’s happy about that. Other than that, what’s going on?
Nicole: Well, basically we all just seem to be moving towards the inevitability of another Alabama national championship. That’s kind of been the overarching theme of the whole season. It was actually really weird because even in the years where Alabama’s been really dominant recently, there’s … You haven’t had it quite like this where like midway through the season you would have teams … Like I feel like it was West Virginia. Some of these teams that were in contention to get to the playoff. And you would have like players and coaches kind of say stuff like, “You know, it’s college football. Anybody can be anybody on any given Saturday.” Well, except Alabama. Like, you don’t normally hear other players and coaches talk about it that way. The reason that it feels so inevitable, and they seem like just this mountain that no one can reach the top of this year is because of Tua Tagovailoa and it’s totally worth …
In this next week or two, because probably going to win the Heisman in a couple weeks. It’s worth watching some highlights of him because Nick Saban’s never had a passer like him, and it actually kind of terrifying because they still have a really good defense. They still have a couple great receivers, great running backs, an amazing offensive line, but now they have a quarterback who can just toss the ball 50 yards, makes it look really easy. And so that’s why everyone thinks that it’s just a foregone conclusion that they’re going to win national championship because they’ve done it with quarterbacks who are not like Tua and are way more like a traditional Nick Saban type quarterback, which is kind of just more of a game manager. And you’re establishing the run, and things like that. And now you have this insane vertical passing game. And I think that’s what’s pretty terrifying.
I think, you know, throughout the season we’ve had different teams. Like Mississippi State has a really good defensive front, where we’ve kind of like convinced ourselves, oh this is gonna be the test for him. It really hasn’t. He’s only played twice in the fourth quarter. Like, that they needed him to be playing in the fourth quarter. And it’s just … They’re just running through the sport right now. The only team that looks like they can challenge them, just from like the pieces and personnel standpoint seems to be Clemson again. So again, it seems like we’re likely headed towards another Alabama Clemson in the national championship, which is a little boring or everybody who’s not fans of those two teams. So basically barring some craziness in conference championships, you’re gonna see Alabama number one, Clemson number two, Notre Dame number three, and then the fourth spot in the playoff is the one that’s up for grabs because Ohio State, kind of out of nowhere, just like trounced Michigan. Which was really shocking, kind of a result that we had not seen this season. Like something just completely unexpected, that really shifts the entire landscape here.
So now Ohio State is in the mix to make the playoff, even though they’ve had … They had really bad loss to Purdue, and they’ve just looked really inconsistent. They looked fantastic against Michigan, and that’s top five win for them. So that fourth spot right now is probably going to come down to Oklahoma or Ohio State. And Oklahoma is gonna play Texas again in the big 12 championship game. And Texas is the only team they’ve lost to. So you know, there’s a belief with me and with a lot of our peers in the sports writing world, that you know, if you avenge the only loss on your schedule, that’s pretty good. And it’s better than having a blow up loss to Purdue on your resume. So I would give the edge to Oklahoma. They both went out in their conference championship games, and then you’ve got UCF kind of like sitting just on the outside looking in. You know, it’s crushing for them. Their star quarterback, Mackenzie Milton, had a gruesome leg injury.
Lindsay: Oh, I saw that.
Nicole: Over the weekend. Yeah. And I would say, if you don’t … If you haven’t seen it, like don’t. Because it’s one of those. So I don’t know what that’s gonna mean. I mean, they haven’t lost a game in two years. And he has meant so much to that program. But the resume wasn’t gonna be enough to get them into the playoff. And I think losing your quarterback who’s meant so much, and accounted for so many touchdowns. It kind of cements that. But they’ll go to the near six bowl game for the best group of five team. But they won’t really snip the actual playoffs. So that’s kind of how I see it shaking out. But like you said, I mean, we had a seven overtime game. It was finally a crazy weekend to end the regular season. So we could have some craziness in the conference championship games. And you know, maybe this will all get upended. But you know, it seems pretty straightforward right now.
Lindsay: Well, let’s talk about Ohio State. Let’s just dive right into it. Because as you mentioned, they had a huge win. I mean, Jim Harbaugh’s a completely, could be another fascinating podcast just on them. And you’re being paid too much money to lose these games, I think would be what people would say. But you’re … Obviously the season started with Ohio State involved in controversy as their assistant coach, Zach Smith, was accused of domestic violence by his ex-wife, Courtney Smith. Came out that Urban Meyer has known some of this for quite some time, dating back to Florida. When he was a coach at Florida. And he has in a lot of ways, what people would consider enabled Zach Smith and enabled this abuse. He outright lied at media day to start off things, at big ten media day. And said he had never heard of this, when in fact he had. There was this bizarre report that came out of Ohio State that said Urban Meyer told things that weren’t true, but he is not a liar. He is an honest man. He was suspended for was it, three games?
Nicole: Three games, yep.
Lindsay: Three games. He’s back. We talked about this in our previous segment. We talked about bad redemption stories.
Nicole: There are way too many.
Lindsay: Boy, did the broadcast yesterday try and force Urban Meyer into redemption story. How do you see that, Nicole?
Nicole: Well, you know, I was watching it with my family. I wasn’t covering the game this year. And everyone noticed. Everyone in the whole room who is not covering … Hasn’t covered the entire saga and doesn’t know, you know, pages of … Hadn’t read the pages of that Ohio State report, understood how tone deaf and bizarre it was to just keep focusing and allowing Urban Meyer to center himself as the victim of the story. Like, they were allowing and enabling that by talking about how much he’s been through. And zooming in on his wife Shelly, and she’s emotional. Talking about what the family has been through. Like, I understand that it’s difficult. But it’s your own doing. It was your mishandling of domestic violence allegations, and not taking them seriously. And throughout the entire process, back in August into September, it still never seemed clear that Urban Meyer learned anything about it. Or about what he did wrong. I still think that he …
And you can tell based on, like, his family members’ social media behavior as well, that they still don’t even know why he got suspended at all. So that’s what’s really frustrating, because I’m with you. These redemption stories need to stop. Like, I don’t know why people continue to do them. And to paint this athletic figure or coach as the victim of something that they had to overcome, when it was their own doing, and they have not shown that they learned anything about the process or showed any remorse. Like, if you don’t do that, how can you have redemption? So it was very uncomfortable, and I’m just anticipating, especially if Ohio State makes the playoff, that you’re gonna keep hearing more and more of that type of narrative. And I just, I’m so frustrated because I want sports media to get away from this. Like, I don’t want this to be a default position.
You can just acknowledge that someone, you know, if they come back and they were out of the sport and the NFL for a couple years. They come back. You can just acknowledge that they’re having a great performance on the field season. Like you don’t have to make it something larger than that. And the same with Urban Meyer. Like we do not need to talk about what a difficult year it’s been for him. You can talk about his health issues, which are apparent. And you can see those during games on the sidelines, but you cannot group that in with his own mishandling of domestic violence allegations that cost him three games. Like that was his own action.
Lindsay: Nothing he does on the field in coaching can ever make up anything to Courtney Smith. Like that’s not how this works. But let’s talk a little bit about his health problems. Because this was kind of included in the report. That he’s having all these memory problems. And it was bizarre in the way the report framed it, because it was as in he’s having trouble with his memory. So he can’t really remember what he’s done to Courtney Smith and Zach Smith. But he’ll still be a great football coach. You know. And it won’t impact him there at all. Like I said, I haven’t been paying close attention. But I have seen some rumors that his health is on the decline. That he might not be coaching anymore. Where are we with that? And where does Urban Meyer go from here?
Nicole: Well, so, I mean, he definitely does have like legitimate health issues. And we know that health issues forced him to step away at Florida as well. So he is actually, I think partially because people have wondered how much of this is normal and how much is exaggerated. Or again, reading that report, like that seems weird. This is a coach who can literally like reference any game, any play, from like the 2006 championship game, but he has memory issues? Like I think there were so many questions that he felt like he needed to go to the media and open up about, you know, he’s been having these headaches because he has cyst in his brain. And so, like, there is an actual health issue that he is going through. And that’s part of why people have been wondering this season if he plans on stepping down.
Because … But especially during … Ohio State played Maryland a couple weeks ago. And the camera like kept panning to Urban because he kept kind of like dropping his head. And kind of putting his hands on his thighs. And leaning over. Like he really didn’t look good. And he looks a lot better in the Michigan Ohio State game. And wasn’t doing that. And I think was trying carefully. Like the broadcasters did mention that he’s trying not to yell. And trying to kind of manage some of that to make it not as painful for him probably. So you know, that’s part of why people do wonder if he’s going to step down sometime soon for health related issues. So he’s going through that. And that is difficult. And totally valid. And there is like very legitimate concerns about that. But you know, it is in being grouped in with his actions in the Zach Smith case. And what he didn’t do. And that’s a problem here.
Lindsay: Right, exactly. You mentioned Maryland, so thank you for helping me with that transition. I appreciate that. You’re a pro. You’ve done so much reporting on how the Maryland players have responded to the interim coach there. Let’s give people little recap of what’s going on at Maryland as we’ve covered extensively in the podcast. Jordan McNair passed away after suffering heat stroke in their May practice. It was a death that seems to have been preventable. Had he been properly treated for heat stroke. He was not though. Head Coach DJ Durkin was put on leave. Then they tried to bring them back. And then they eventually fired him because of pressure. How has that team responded? And how do you feel like their season has been, given let’s say … We’re not redeeming anyone as far as DJ Durkin and the athletic trainers and Maryland are concerned. But what about the players themselves?
Nicole: Well, you know, I can’t imagine what they’ve gone through. Like this is just such difficult situation. Especially because so many of them are still grieving the loss of their teammate and close friend. So they’re doing that all with this backdrop of multiple investigations into the training staff and the coaching staff and the culture. And so it’s been really difficult. They ended this season with five wins. They did not make a bowl game. They were kind of sitting at five wins for a few weeks. And I know that there were players that really wanted to become bowl eligible without DJ Durkin. And not allow him … You know, a lot of these coaches have bonuses related to making a bowl game. And they did not want him to get that bowl bonus. And so I think there’s probably a lot of people and parents, players who are relieved that the season is over. And that they can move on now.
Because again, you’re going through multiple investigations. Some players did feel comfortable enough to go talk to investigators. Many did not because the signup sheet was public. And you could see who was signing up. And plus, there’s many staffers around who still are in contact with DJ Durkin. And would know who’s going, talking. You know, it’s just … Again, it speaks to the culture, which is the problem here. That was being investigated.
Lindsay: Remember, Nicole, it’s not a toxic culture, though. Remember.
Nicole: Right, but let’s just give you 200 pages describing the word toxic, but not using the word toxic. That was the entire thing. I mean, and so you see this stuff, but you understand why people did not feel comfortable coming forward because of the toxic culture around them. So you know, they’re going through that. That was all during the season. And it was also during the point where you’re having the meetings of the Board of Regents to determine DJ Durkin’s fate. We’re stretching over weeks after they had their report. And it stretched into multiple game weekends. I don’t know how they like, got your mind right to play a football game. And as you mentioned, they initially reinstated DJ Durkin on a Tuesday. There was so much uproar. There were campus protests planned. You had local politicians getting involved, because it was right before the midterms. And by Wednesday, 6 p.m., DJ Durkin was gone.
But that was a game week. Like I don’t know how these kids are going to class and dealing with everything that they’re supposed to be doing, as well as preparing for football. As well as, again, still grieving the loss of their teammate. And dealing with this coaching upheaval. It was a lot. And so, it’s remarkable that they got through this season. I thought it was remarkable that there were a couple players who really became the face of the players. And Ellis McKinney is the one who I’ll point out. He was the one who was not afraid to tweet about how, basically how justice was not served when DJ Durkin was reinstated. And how they were gonna keep fighting for justice for Jordan McNair. He was also one of the players who walked out of the team meeting when DJ Durkin was reinstated.
This kid is a hero. He’s the hero of the story. And the fact that he was willing to speak out publicly. When he tweeted about getting justice for Jordan. And how it wasn’t there yet. Like, a number. I want to say at least eight to 10 players also then tweeted. Also then spoke up. And I think they saw that they weren’t getting attacked. They were getting support from the public, from the media. And that changed things. Because obviously political pressure and you had donors who were mixed on what was happening. And you had all of that, you know, as a backdrop too. But the players. You know, we haven’t seen players have that kind of power. And who knows how much it influenced the decision. But I was really impressed by Ellis and the players who weren’t afraid to speak out. And to reframe the issue. And to focus about their teammate who had passed away. And not about DJ Durkin and again, like you said, a redemption of DJ Durkin. Like it was about Jordan McNair and justice for him. And to them, that meant DJ Durkin was no longer their head coach.
Because at that point, only the strength coach, Rick Court, had lost his job tied to it. And that is not justice for a preventable death of their teammate. So I think that really spurred some of their action. But I just thought it was remarkable what these kids went through, and then that a handful of them felt comfortable enough to push back when it mattered the most.
Lindsay: I completely agree. And it’s tough because you … It’s hard to want to support the program right now. But you want to support these kids too. And it’s been interesting. I’ve had a lot of conversations with people across the Maryland campus. About how do we do that? You know? And there’s no easy answers. Listen, Nicole, thank you so much. I have many more questions for you, but that just means we’re going to have to have you back. So-
Nicole: I’m happy to come whenever you guys need me. I love the pod.
Lindsay: Thank you so much. And continue to follow Nicole on Twitter. Your Twitter handle, I should have it up. That would be professional of me. Okay, just your name.
Nicole: Just my name. Nicole Auerbach.
Lindsay: Nicole Auerbach. Thank you for saving me there. And follow her work at the Athletic. Thanks Nicole.
Nicole: All right, thanks Lindsay.
Lindsay: Okay. Shireen. So usually women sports is our happy place. But we have some not so happy things to talk about today. Can you get us started?
Shireen: Yeah. For sure. Thank you Lindsay. So we also happen to call out certain things. And we talk about things that make us unhappy. And then so this segment is going to be this informal extension of a massive burn pile. We’re gonna talk women’s professional football in the UK. In England specifically. And we’ll also talk about how subpar contracts affect the sport in general. So Susie Rack, who is the woman’s football writer in the UK. Is probably one of my favorite writers. She’s diligent, she’s smart. She actually tweeted out something that the Polish newspaper Politik actually released a copy of a contract by the Women’s Super League and what that looks like. And, sorry, it’s the Danish magazine, Politiken. And it was a football league, hash tag, football league story. And a standard contract for women’s super league and what that looks like.
So basically, this is really, really … And this is really sad and frustrating because keep in mind, most women’s contracts aren’t beyond 12 months anyway. They go season to season. And, you know, for a reason that they might not have funding. They might not have this. because it’s so unstable. And it’s not supported. There’s many reasons why. But this particular contract, a standard one, has a clause that you could literally be fired if you get a long term injury. Or one close to the end of your season. And long term injury is anything that could put you out three months. Now in soccer, and particularly women’s soccer, ligament tears and reconstruction surgeries are one of the most common injuries. No ligament injury or reconstruction takes less than six to nine months. So basically, you could be fired for getting injured. You could basically in layman’s terms, get fired for working for somebody. On the job.
And it’s staggering because there’s lack of support then. If you’re fired, you don’t get physiotherapy, you don’t get rehab. You don’t get medical attention. And it’s not like these women are paid tremendous amounts of money. And it’s really, really staggering because it literally doesn’t support the players. So not only are they out there for top notch performance, they’re out there being preventative in terms of injury. The best they can because they can be fired. And the reason this is absolutely so important is again, like I mentioned, the lack of support post injury. We know that after injury, clubs play a really big part in the rehabilitation of those players to get back. It’s motivating. If you’re fired, what the hell are you gonna do? If being a soccer player is your job, but you’re fired, like where … Is another team going to pick you up? No. Like it’s just … It’s horrible. So this was … This sort of became a Twitter conversation. And the account @Barcawomen replied and said that this is also an issue being discussed in Spain at the same time.
And I asked if pregnancy was considered an illness. What about pregnancy? Is that a long term injury? Like you can’t be pregnant for less than nine months. That’s not possible. I mean, how is that gonna work? And that’s not something that women can control and talk to a doctor, and say, “Well I need the baby to come out in four months.” It doesn’t work like that. So where exactly does that play a part? And they’re talking about it. And actually there’s no provision. And there was a rumor as well that some clubs had anti-pregnancy clauses. This is a thing. An anti-pregnancy clause. And if you remember, a couple years ago, Celia Sasic, the famous German player. And even France’s Louisa Cadamuro, and Louisa Nécib-Cadamuro, both quit professional soccer in order to have family. Because they wanted to have families. And that was really sad that year. It was after the Women’s World Cup that both of them retired. And I remember being really sad because they were two of my favorite players. But the reason was very simple and unapologetic. We want to have families.
And they cannot do that in the sphere of where they were. Which is so upsetting. Because you know, when you look at the players on the U.S. National team. Like Sydney Leroux, like she has her baby Cassius, and she brings him. And there’s so much joy there. You see that in other places. I just wish that that would be open to everyone else. But it’s a contractual thing. And a lot of Spanish clubs aren’t playing their pros full time. Only Barcelona, Athleta, Madrid, Athletic Club de Bilbao. And maybe Valencia. So this has to be done within EUFA rules and FIFPro has to get involved in this because it’s protecting the players. Where are they? They haven’t said anything about this. Anti-pregnancy clauses and stuff like this is really, really, really problematic. In terms of the way it is. And just this whole idea of long-term versus short term injuries. Like, it’s just … It’s so frustrating. Because it shows how much the women’s game is really valued. In my opinion. What are your thoughts?
Lindsay: Yeah. I mean, I just listened to all this. And as everyone knows how pro-union I am. I assume most people listening are very pro-union. I am a remember of a Think Progress union, the Shop Steward there and bargaining our contract. And that process has taught me so much. But it’s … Labor rights in women’s sports is a fascinating topic. And I think it really shows … The lack of labor rights shows how vulnerable women’s sports are. And I think more what we’re seeing is women being afraid to do this collective action. And to do this collective bargaining. And rightly so. I’m not trying to say, like, they’re weak and they’re lame. And you know. They’re not doing it right. I mean, they’ve been taught that they’re lucky to have anything in pro sports. So it’s really hard to fight back against these bad labor conditions, right? So just last week the National Women Soccer League Players Association was officially recognized by the NWSL as the representative of the players in the NWSL. Which is a big deal. So now there’s like an official union.
But the quotes that were given around that were still so meek and so tame. And to me really showed that … So Yael Averbuch, who is kind of the leader of the NWSL Player’s Association. She emailed our friend of the show, Howard Megdal over at Forbes, and clarified that as of now, we do not plan to immediately pursue a collectively bargaining agreement. And don’t have a specific timeframe for this. Our aim is not to put any undue time or financial burdens on the league as we move forward. So that our main focus as we continue our … So that is our main focus as we continue our collaborative relationship. So that very much says, yes we’re collective now. Yes, you need a … We’re recognized. But we’re not moving to push for any contracts. This is not a threatening thing. They’re still working so hard to make themselves not threatening to the NWSL. And that’s depressing to me because it just shows that they don’t have faith the NWSL would support them in any way if they collectively bargained.
And as we’ve seen with Sky Blue, you know, the players need to be able to bargain. They need a CBA. They need more contracts. Of course, there is just for clarity, there is a player’s association for the national team. So there is a U.S. Women’s National Team Player’s Association. Which is important. And they do have fight for some NWSL things. But you need one for the NWSL as well. So sorry to kind of Americanize this conversation a little bit, but it just … To me there are just these parallels of just needing player unions to help push these leagues forward. But the fact that these players are so afraid of what collective action would do. They’re afraid that that would lead to demise of their leagues. Just shows you how little the people in power, like you said, value women sports. And show you what culture of kind of fear is still running things.
Shireen: Well, I mean, it’s okay to parallel this to the U.S. I think that’s important because we see that this isn’t just a trend in the UK or the United States. It’s also, this whole, the news coming out that the Women’s Super League players can be fired with three-months notice. But also something else emerged last week that was really troubling. The Afghan Women’s national team, and you’ve had Kelly Carter and Khalida Popal on our show. I interviewed them. And talking about how their training and their journey. And to get this team. It ended up happening that a huge amount of those players from that team. Like with the captain Shabnam Mobarez, she and a number of teammates have dropped from the squad after being asked to sign a contract that actually denies them pay. Denies them the right to seek sponsorship outside. And mediation in disciplinary rulings. This was the contract that they were expected to sign. And you’re just like, wait a minute. This makes no sense.
And then Shabnam on Facebook actually she posted the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Football Federation, they’re all cited on this. And she posted the women’s national players contract and it’s unbelievable how little opportunity it is. The power that’s being shoved down their throats. so your option, and they released statements on Facebook and publicly about how they supported the women that chose to still play. And in Uzbekistan, there’s a tournament. But they weren’t going. So, the coaches in solidarity, and Khalida herself, Shabnam and a couple of other players who were like key players in building this team. And let me just be really clear. The Afghan football federation had very little to do. And supported very minimally this team in terms of their growth.
It was Haley Carter and Kelly Lindsay that did so much out of this out of their own goodness. And you have them on the show to talk about this exact thing. So the idea that contracts are not good enough. And these players need to be supported and unionize is absolutely a thing. They need mediation. They absolutely need that. And we see in them, very sad. I was really sad to read that because the Afghan national team, the coaches are based in the U.S. and the women train wherever they can. They get together and they play. So it’s not the ideal situation, but it’s something. It’s about rebuilding and creating the space. A contract that denies players an opportunity to get sponsors. What does that even mean? It’s all about control from the men on the executive. And it’s frustrating when we see it. We see it all over the world.
And this is something that’s really important to keep in mind. Is that what is the value of the women’s game? How is it looked at? And poorly, unfortunately, from a financial perspective. because these players are basically being told, you should just be happy to play. Forget about remuneration. Forget about … They want to have a life. They want to make this their career so they can survive. And that’s being taken away from them.
Lindsay: Totally. And it’s a little bit different of a situation, I know. But I’m just reminded how much of everything the WNBA has right now. I feel like is because of the WNBA player’s association and the way they’ve fought. And they unionized and started collective bargaining just two years into their existence. Now they had a really big boost, which was they were able to build off the infrastructure of the NBA Players Association. But I was just doing a big kind of historical piece. And when they unionized in 1999, people thought they were bananas for asking for anything more than they wanted. They were just trying to get year round health care. You know? They were trying to get minimums above 15,000 dollars. They were trying to get the right to keep, have a guaranteed contract if you play more than half a season. These super basic things.
When the WNBA was created, they did not give those things to the players. The players had to fight for them. Players had to fight for free agency. They had to fight for all of these things that we now take for granted right now as part of the WNBA. But it’s important to remember that the only reason that they’ve got that. I mean, you know, maybe they would have come eventually. But you don’t know that. And there’s honestly no reason to believe that. So I just, I hope that we continue to see movements of players standing up for themselves. And finding power together in collective bargaining.
Shireen: Absolutely. I just wanted to add that in this movement, it was really important to note that there’s been movements and support in cause of solidarity. Like Shabnam Mobarez actually called this contract, signing away to slavery. Because you’re not being remunerated fairly. She used the word slavery. And it was really … On that topic of solidarity and support, Alex Morgan actually retweeted, Shabnam had tweeted at her and said, “We’re all in this together.” And you know, Alex Morgan didn’t have necessarily a reason to do this, but she did because she felt compelled to by their plight. Because it’s also underlying the fact that this is something that women all over the world face. Athletes in every situation. And I just wanted to point that out, that even though it was one tweet, Alex Morgan can draw attention to this and maybe that’s making the noise is how it’ll change.
Lindsay: All right. It’s time for our favorite part of the show. Burn pile. Shireen?
Shireen: Yes. I’m going to be burning … In the theme of soccer, I will be burning, metaphorically burning FC Basel. FC Basel is a soccer team, for those that don’t know them. And they have a women’s side. Now their women’s side was actually invited to participate on the periphery of a gala to celebrate their 125th anniversary. So the men were treated to a sit down gala dinner, and this is a Swiss team. The women were selling Tambola tickets to more than a thousand guests. And so they were working during the gala dinner. And let’s not forget that the women’s side is part of the club. But then they were given sandwiches to eat in another room. So, and this is a report on BBC. And we’ll have the link there. And the spokesman for the club said that the women quote, unquote, agreed to help. As some of the money from the gala was going to go to their team. But the fact that they weren’t actually included in the event.
That they were there to sell tickets, and sell tickets for Tambola. And I don’t even know what Tambola is. But that they weren’t included in the respect of the club. It’s like an … Oh sorry. Tambola is apparently an online type of bingo. So they’re selling raffle tickets, I would imagine. But they’re not considered worthy enough to take part in the actual festivities themselves. And there is … We know there’s gender inequality and lack of equity. But this is ridiculous, to get a packed sandwich in a different room after you sell online bingo tickets. Or raffle tickets, is not okay. And it’s just … The quote from FC Basel said, “The women were not invited to be guests because they wanted to have as many anniversary party tickets available as possible for the public.” So that’s the excuse. But then why have the men sit there? Why not the men get up and leave their seats and walk around selling tickets also? Wouldn’t it be a greater sense to have men and women’s side selling these Tambola tickets? Like, it was just … It’s unacceptable.
And it was such a huge slap in the face. And obviously, none of the players of FC Basel’s women side have spoken up about this. But that also makes us think, why? Because they don’t want to put their own position in jeopardy. So they don’t speak up publicly about how offensive this was. And I can’t imagine the women were thrilled, watching the men sit down and eat a luxurious three course meal as they had boxed sandwiches. I don’t care how good that Swiss cheese is, I really don’t. I want to burn it.
Lindsay: Burn! All right. I am throwing Justin Gimelstob onto the burn pile. Justin Gimelstob is a former tennis doubles player. He also played singles. But he’s best known for winning a couple of grand slam mixed doubles titles. I believe with Venus Williams back in the late 90s, early 2000s. He is now a coach. He’s coached John Eisner, American player. And he’s also a commentator on the Tennis Channel. So he’s a very visible in the tennis world. Last week, Gimelstob has been arrested and charged on suspicion of felony battery in connection with a Halloween night attack on another man. The 41 year old surrendered to police, and he’s been released on a 50,000 dollar bail. He’s accused of attacking a venture capitalist who was walking in west Los Angeles with his wife and child. According to the police report summary, which was on a November 1st restraining order, there are pictures of a visibly bruised and scratched Kaplan, along with … And this is very serious. Try not to laugh. Along with a photograph of Gimelstob apparently dressed as a pilot from the movie Top Gun.
So Kaplan alleges that Gimelstob attacked him from behind at about 6:30 p.m. on October 31st. Striking him 50 times. An incident witnessed by his wife, two year old daughter, and another person. Gimelstob, through his lawyer, has said that there are two sides to every story. And he’s gonna be fighting against every claim. But the really disturbing part here is that Kaplan alleges that Gimelstob previously threatened him because he was friends with the tennis commentator’s estranged wife. Also in this story, it mentions something I had not realized. Which was the fact that Carrie Gimelstob, the estranged wife, sought a domestic violence restraining order against Gimelstob in 2016, alleging he physically assaulted, harassed, verbally attacked, and stole from her in front of their child. She alleged that Gimelstob stole her cell phone to look at and tried to strike her with it. He has denied the allegations.
Gimelstob is someone who has a history of incredibly sexist and awful behavior. Who has been regularly propped up and celebrated by the tennis community for unknown reasons. The tennis channel, everyone is kind of sticking by him. He’s taken a leave of absence. But there seems to be no big panic button being pressed in the tennis community. He is on the ATP … I believe he’s on an ATP board, player’s association board. You know, he’s very involved with the day to day happenings on the men’s tennis tour. And this needs to be addressed. And honestly, the tennis world needs to do some soul searching about whether or not Justin Gimelstob is someone who deserves who carry the torch for this sport. I’d like to throw all this on the burn pile. Burn!
Lindsay: Okay. It is time to celebrate some bad ass women.
First of all, we would like to congratulate Kansas soccer referee, Chantal Boudreau, on her assignment at the CONCACAF under 20 championship final as an assistant referee.
We would also like to congratulate, speaking of referees, we don’t have the names of this full crew. But we would like to celebrate the fact that at an NBA G League game was refereed by an all-female crew last week. So that’s incredibly exciting.
We want to congratulate Dane Van Niekirk, and Marizanne Kapp, for being the first married couple to bat together in cricket.
And can I get a drum roll please, Shireen? It’s all you.
All right. Team Mexico won the homeless women’s world cup. Which is just incredible event, and we will have links in our show notes so you can learn a little bit more about it. But congrats, Team Mexico.
Okay. Shireen, what’s good?
Shireen: I saw the movie Widows couple days ago. And I love Viola Davis, and she’s an incredible actress. And I love Liam Neeson. But as I was telling Lindsay earlier, I thought it would be like this Ocean 11 kind of situation. It wasn’t. I thought it would be like, sort of festival of incredible acting, which it was. But it was very intense. And it was one of those movies that you sit up in the middle and go, “What the …” And it was really, really good. It’s one of those movies that I’m still thinking about. So I do recommend. I don’t know how great it’s doing. It’s not like this blockbuster. Because everyone … No, what’s it called? That Ralph, Wreck-It Ralph is out as well. But this is a movie that I wanted to see. And I did go see it. And I’m really, really, really glad I did. Because I just can’t stop talking about it. It addresses so many things.
I think everyone should go see it. But just note, it’s not a feel good movie. It’s just one that’ll make you think. And I love some powerful women on screen. What else in my … Actually happy that I avoided Black Friday. Avoided in any sense. And I’m really grateful for online shopping so I don’t have to deal with anybody. Because I get anxiety when I go to malls sometimes. So I’m happy about that. And what else am I happy about? I got my snow tires. Lindsay, getting my snow tires was like an epic event. It took way too long, but there was this beautiful woman named Angie in the Canadian tire, and who helped me because there was a clerical error on my invoice. And so it gave me … Instead of 16 inch tires, mine was 17. But she was really great with me and I called the manager to say that she was an angel doing the Lord’s work. Because the snow tires finally got on. It took about … It took days. But I feel like a brand new person. Like snow tires are just such a great thing. Incredible. I love them. Like, I want to marry them. I love my tires.
Lindsay: Love it. Oh God, you are so Canadian. Well, I am grateful. We already talked about Thanksgiving. So look, I’m sorry. I’m super basic. And I’m excited about Christmas music. Christmas music and Christmas lights. You know, I used to be really jaded about this season and there are plenty of reasons to be, but I’m just … You know what? We all need some joy in our lives. So I’m gonna listen to some carols.
All right. Thank you all so much for listening, for supporting, for loving, for sharing, for rating, for reviewing. Hint, hint. All those things really help Burn It All Down continue to be the independent, intersectional, feminist sports podcast you need. And allows us to continue to bring episodes to you on a weekly basis. Even when turkey and holidays are involved. You can follow us on Twitter at burnitdownpod. At Facebook at Burn It All Down, and on our website, burnitalldownpod.com, where you can see transcripts to every episode, links to show notes, and everything. We are so, so grateful for all of you. Bye!