Episode 84: Women’s Soccer Despite Men, & interviews w/ WNBA’s Monique Billings & hockey host Amrit Gill

On this week’s show Shireen starts the episode with a heartfelt message and clarification to all the Kiwi listeners. [3:43] Then Jessica, Shireen, Brenda and Lindsay have a discussion about the NCAA women’s hoops drama that unfolded between UConn and Notre Dame. [8:20] The women chat/vent about Ada Hegerberg and the Ballon d’Or plus the unfortunate existence of Martin Solveig on the stage, the FIFA 2019 Women’s World Cup Draw. [24:55] Jessica interviews WNBA Atlanta Dream player Monique Billings about her rookie season, her YouTube content, and her experience playing in China. [37:38] Shireen chats with Amrit Gill of Punjabi Hockey Night in Canada about Wickfest, and diversity in hockey and in hockey media, and changing the face of what hockey looks like in Canada. [49:04]

Of course, you’ll hear the Burn Pile, [59:18] our Bad Ass Woman of the Week – Ada Hegerberg, [1:01:14] and what is good in our worlds. [1:03:35]

For links and a transcript…


“Why are New Zealanders Called Kiwis?” https://theculturetrip.com/pacific/new-zealand/articles/why-are-new-zealanders-called-kiwis/

“UConn-Notre Dame: I’m here for all the pettiness” http://www.espn.com/espnw/voices/article/25460222/uconn-notre-dame-here-all-pettiness

“By being a footballing pioneer Ada Hegerberg is facing a life sentence of sexism” https://metro.co.uk/2018/12/04/by-being-a-footballing-pioneer-ada-hegerberg-is-facing-a-life-sentence-of-sexism-8207335/

“‘He could have asked something different’: Ada Hegerberg on twerking question at Ballon d’Or – video” https://www.theguardian.com/football/video/2018/dec/05/he-could-have-asked-something-different-ada-hegerberg-on-twerking-question-at-ballon-dor-video

“Ada Hegerberg stepped forward for women’s football, but sexism kicked her back” https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/dec/04/ada-hegerberg-womens-football-sexism-martin-solveig-twerking-ballon-dor

“Ada Hegerberg’s Ballon d’Or reactions echoed class she shows on pitch” https://www.theguardian.com/football/blog/2018/dec/06/ada-hegerberg-ballon-dor-martin-solveig-sexism

““Los USD 55 mil que nos ganamos van para los hombres del Atlético Huila” [Video]” https://www.las2orillas.co/los-usd-55-mil-que-nos-ganamos-van-para-los-hombres-del-atletico-huila/

“Huila femenino arregla premio y Dimayor se pronuncia” https://colombia.as.com/colombia/2018/12/05/futbol/1544019810_791860.html

Monique Billings’ YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCkTUO8KqKc0OVfy9D3Gs3Cw

“U.S. Soccer Foundation Sues U.S. Soccer Federation Over Naming, Logo Dispute” https://amp.si.com/soccer/2018/12/06/us-soccer-foundation-federation-lawsuit-ussf

“Raheem Sterling says newspapers are helping to ‘fuel racism’ in football after alleged Chelsea fan abuse” https://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football/premier-league/raheem-sterling-chelsea-racist-racial-abuse-instagram-chelsea-vs-manchester-city-stamford-bridge-fan-a8674636.html

“Mike Locksley’s candidacy for Maryland football coach raises questions about his past” https://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/2018/12/01/mike-locksleys-candidacy-maryland-football-coach-raises-questions-about-his-past/


Shireen: Hello, Flame Throwers. Shireen here. We just wanted to let you know that while recording this week’s episode, we had some technical difficulties with our audio. For this reason, one of the segments initially led by Lindsay needed to be omitted. Instead, we are inserting an amazing interview with Amrit Gill of Punjabi Hockey Night in Canada. This is in addition to Jessica’s interview with Monique Billings of the WNBA. So, this week you’ll be treated to two fabulous interviews in addition to our usual discussion segment. Please don’t be alarmed if you feel like Lindsey has dropped off from the episode. She will be back with her usual fervor burning what needs to be burned with excellent audio. Thank you so much for your understanding.

[Intro music]

Shireen: Welcome to this week’s episode of Burn it All down. It’s the feminist sports podcast you need. On this week’s panel, we have the fiery and brilliant Jessica Luther, independent writer, general slayer, and author of Unsportsmanlike Conduct: College Football and the Politics of Rape in Austin, Texas, Brenda Elsey, Associate Professor of History and undeniable genius at Hofstra University in New York, and the indomitable and brilliant Lindsay Gibbs, sports writer at ThinkProgress in D.C. And I’m Shireen Ahmed, freelance sports writer and cat lover in Toronto, Canada.

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

Before I start, the team at Burn it All Down needs to issue an apology to our friends in New Zealand. There was a bit of a misunderstanding on our part of why New Zealanders are called Kiwis. New Zealanders are named after the kiwi bird, not the kiwi fruit, as we ascertained. Now, according to a Flame Thrower who sent us a wonderful email, he says the fruit used to be called Chinese gooseberry, but farmers in the 1960’s started calling them kiwi fruit for marketing reasons and to associate them with New Zealand.

Now, the actual names devices from kiwi, a native flightless bird, which is the national symbol of New Zealand. Until the First World War, the kiwi represented the county and not the people, but by 1917, New Zealanders were also being called Kiwis, supplanting other nicknames.

Now, this is important to know: They’re named after the flightless bird, not the fruit. We take this very seriously because we love our listeners and we hope we didn’t offend anyone. Sincere apologies for that.

Today’s top of the show, we will be talking about some high-stakes drama between the UConn Huskies and Notre Dame. Jess. Drama.

Lindsay: I can’t believe you just said Notre Dame!

Jessica: Yeah! Lots of drama! It’s Notre Dame! We same Notre Dame here. Yeah. Last weekend, number two, UConn, went to number one, Notre Dame. That is no longer the rankings as UConn handily defeated Notre Dame, really picking up in the second half, sort of doing old-school UConn win there.

Yeah. It was full of drama. Fan favorite, Arike Ogunbowale, had words with Geno Auriemma. I’m always gonna side on anyone’s part that’s against Geno Auriemma, so I assume she had-

Lindsay: Same!

Jessica: I assume she had a really good reason for all of that. Then it devolved into really fun pettiness, like Muffet McGraw, the head coach at Notre Dame, ended up blocking Breanna Stewart on Twitter. Notre Dame’s announcer called UConn the University of Kentucky over the loudspeaker. The UConn official account Tweeted, “Thank u, next,” once the game ended, which is a reference to the amazing Ariana Grande song.

Everything about that’s spectacular! I love pettiness in sport, and I feel like women don’t get to do it as much. I just embrace it whole-heartedly.

Lindsay: It’s so good. The background here is back when Arike was in high school and she was visiting schools, she Tweeted her final five list. This was back in 2014. She Tweeted her final five colleges that she was considering and UConn was not included on the list. About 15 minutes after she Tweeted this, Geno Auriemma Tweeted … Hold on. I can’t even do this. Okay.

Geno Auriemma Tweeted: “Stay tuned for my list of the five players I saw the past seven days that I have zero interest in recruiting. #whatajoke.”

Jessica: He’s such a jerk! Whatever she said to him, he deserved it.

Lindsay: Yeah! So then, they get into it. Both Arike and Muffet ended up issuing apologies, which, fine, whatever, for their-

Jessica: But to the fans! Not to UConn.

Lindsay: Behavior. To the fans.

Jessica: It was to the fans.

Lindsay: Yeah, for losing their composure. But I love this all so much and, look, I’m excited for this season in NCAA, but I can’t wait until Arike gets in the WNBA, too.

Shireen: Oh! Okay, so I love UConn. I’m a huge Husky fan. Katie Lou Samuelson, I love her so much. I think she’s amazing.

Lindsay: Yeah, she’s real legit.

Shireen: My friend, Batouly Camara plays there. The whole team is really incredible. I’ve also been on campus and met with them. The conversations they in the locker room are really amazing. That being said, I’ve never been to Notre Dame. I don’t know what kind of conversations … Notre Dame, I’m sorry.

Jessica: That’s gonna kill me, Shireen.

Shireen: Actually, I’m sorry. I’m trying to not say it like that.

Brenda: It’s Indiana, Shireen. It’s in Indiana, so.

Lindsay: Indiana, they don’t say Notre Dame, okay?

Brenda: And there so kind of like not Notre Dame.

Jessica: It’s very sweet. It’s very sweet.

Brenda: I just don’t think they deserve your beautiful pronunciation.

Shireen: I feel like Madame Arsenault, my second-grade teacher, if she heard me say, “Notre Dame,” would roll over in her grave because … I just can’t. I’ve never been there, but my point is, I love the Huskies. I’m one of the fangirls of Geno Auriemma. I’ve gotta say it. I saw him run a practice and I was just in awe. I was in awe. The whole system is meticulous. It’s like a fine-tuned machine.

But I agree with both of. I love this drama. I love that this is happening. I love that there’s players that are getting upset and doing this. It’s more life in this entire being. I’m so here for it. I love it.

I found out because Gabby Williams quote Tweeted Breanna’s story and was like, “Ha ha ha ha ha,” and these are WNBA players. I can’t wait to see this go forward.

Lindsay: I agree, but we also just have to say, I know you love Geno, but has Geno been on Burn it All Down? No! Has Muffet McGraw? Yes!

Shireen: Oh, yeah. For sure. Absolutely. Yay for Muffet. Absolutely. Azura Stevens has. Kia Nurse has. So, I’m just gonna say that.

Lindsay: We’re just talking about coaches. We’re just talking about coaches right now.

Shireen: Okay, absolutely. But, yeah. We love them.

Brenda! Talk to us about soccer and how it’s spoiled because of men.

Brenda: Oh, dear. Dear, listeners. This week, in women soccer, has been a roller coaster of events culminating in Saturday’s draw for the matches of the Women’s World Cup, which we’ll do a special Patreon on, as well, just so you can hear my extensive complaints, if that’s what you so choose.

In the lead up to all of this, we’ve been reminded of how little women really matter to the patriarchs of the global game. Like, how very little they matter. There were some great threads this week and articles by people who recognize this, including Unusual Efforts and the Equalizer, but I just want to throw out a few things to start with.

Obviously, we have to talk about our first female Ballon d’Or, and you can pronounce that one in French, Shireen. Winner, Ada Hegerberg, who is a football genius wonder, beautiful to watch. But, we also have to remember she won’t be playing with the Norwegian FA in the Women’s World Cup, at least as far as right now because of continuing sexism in one of the most progressive federations in the entire world. That’s pretty amazing.

Jessica: Wait!

Brenda: Yeah.

Jessica: Wait. Explain that. Why isn’t she playing?

Brenda: Ada Hegerberg has withdrawn since 2017 from playing for the national team and it has to do with her claims that the FA, despite some of the progress that they’ve made towards pay equity, still treats its players as second-class citizens, compared with the men’s team. This has come up for the last two years with her. First, when they had a terrible, terrible Euros and the players were really dejected, she withdrew at that point. Then, when they qualified for the World Cup, people thought she might come around again. So far, she hasn’t. She reiterated after winning the Ballon d’Or that she would stay in France, that she’ll keep playing for Lyon, but she’s not interested in participating in an FA that won’t hear her or the other player’s suggestions.

This has caused a lot of older players to actually criticize her. There’s been some public de-friending on Facebook and un-Instagram following, but this is a two year thing so far and it doesn’t seem as though she’s budging. I think she’s awesome, anyway, for doing that and for sticking to her druthers. I’m sorry that older players or other players may look at resentment with that, but I also think we have to be pretty appreciative of women like that that are willing to go out on a limb for so long for this.

We could talk about the Ballon d’Or ceremony? There’s a ton there. Also, just want to throw out a few other things, in light of the draw. Once again, just remember that FIFA’s prize money has actually been proportionally worse, this coming year, for men and women’s. They have significantly increased women’s prize money to $30,000,000 from $15,000,000 but men, of course, moved from $358,000,00 to $400,000,000, thus increasing substantially.

And, this week, we cannot, I think, not mention the debacle in the Copa Libertadores Feminina. So, tons of press about men and how the men’s cup will now have to be played out of South America. It’s the club championship named after the independence leaders of Latin America versus Spain, and they’re sending it to Madrid. So, Copa Conquistadores is what people are calling it. It’s tremendously upsetting.

So, in all that crap, in all of men mis-administrating football, we missed the terrible, terrible things that happened with the women’s Copa Libertadores, which happened at the same time, including insane … Like, Andressinha doesn’t seem like she was ever registered in time then came and scored a goal for a team she’s never played with before. Seems very weird. Terrible ref calls, including adding strange six minutes on the end of a match for the other team to score that, oh, my God.

But, Colombia ended up huge underdogs winning. Atletico Huila, from Colombia. It’s their second season, and we just have to say, the prize money is $55,000. Winning the men’s Copa Libertadores is $6,000,000.

Jessica: Like, how much money is it costing them to move the tournament to Spain?

Brenda: Oh, God!

Jessica: Like, that’s gotta be way more.

Brenda: Yeah! No. Whoa! Oh!

Jessica: These women…

Shireen: But to make matters even worse, the money that the women’s side win is going to pay off the debts for the men’s side.

Brenda: Well, it’s not anymore. You’re right. What happened was they said it was all going to the men’s team, which had never even qualified for the Libertadores! Like, they’re terrible. They’re terrible! But this is part of FIFA’s rule to CONMEBAL, and CONMEBAL saying, “Everybody participating has to have a women’s side,” but not following up on what that means for anybody. So, they basically give them shirts, right?

And yeah. They said, “$55,000 is all you get.” These awesome Colombian women took to social media, and now what they’ve decided … And Shireen, I feel like you’re not gonna be satisfied with this answer.

Shireen: I’m never satisfied. I’m never satisfied.

Brenda: The exciting thing is that they’re now getting $1,000 each, so only the majority will be going to pay off the men’s debt, but $20,000 will be going to paying the women.

Shireen: You know, what? We should-

Brenda: After they slept on the floor of an airport for seven hours, but the way.

Shireen: Yeah, they did. We should probably just thank men for allowing us to breathe. I think that’s what we should do. We should change course here and just be so thankful-

Brenda: Who else would they have to beat up on all the time?

Shireen: I don’t know.

Brenda: I mean, who else would they have to shit upon? Anyway. Okay.

Shireen: Like, okay. So-

Brenda: And that ends my sloppy intro to this.

Shireen: No, it’s not sloppy. I just wanted to remind our listeners that this particular segment is also a corollary segment of the Burn Pile, essentially. This could be considered or construed, like, a longer Burn Pile because we’re just sitting here wanting to torch everything.

Speaking of torching and really bad DJing music. So, Ballon d’Or. We’re so excited. We love Ada Hegerberg so much. She’s 23 years old. She plays for Olympique Lyonnais. She’s gifted. I remember we had some discussions on Burn it All Down when Marta won Player of the Year. For me, Ada was, I think you’ll recall, she, for me, with Sam Kerr, who wasn’t even on the top, and Pernille Harder were my faves who ought to have won. Brenda, I know how you feel about, but that leads to discussion.

Brenda: No, but I agree!

Shireen: You agreed.

Brenda: I agreed on Hegerberg.

Shireen: You did.

Brenda: Actually, it was a Burn it All Down nomination!

Shireen: It was a nominee. That’s right.

That being said, she’s so poised and dignified and so happy and her speech was beautiful. We were all reveling in this moment of happiness and women’s football and the world and the community and this fabulous person and her teammates for Olympique Lyonnaise were there supporting her. It was a gorgeous photo. And then, comes a man.

Martin Sloveig is some random little DJ, and he says to her, in French, “Peux tu twerker?” which means, “Can you twerk?” Her face is a mix of side eye, disbelief, irritation, but she just said, “Non.” And she turned around, collected her Ballon d’Or, and she left the stage.

We’re sitting there, in real time, kind of in disbelief, going, “Did he just ask her if she can twerk?” Now, the point is is that then, of course, people turn to Twitter and were like, “Is that really that bad of a question?” Hence, the Spanish-

Lindsay: Yes! Yes

Jessica: Yeah. It’s fucking terrible!

Brenda: Are you asking on Twitter? Who are you? Ugh!

Shireen: So, there’s a couple takeaways we get from this. And this actually prompted the Spanish Bud Lite company to actually issue this horrible commercial and this little .gif of people twerking saying, “Oh, it’s a celebration. A goal celebration, twerking is fine!” Yeah, no. Just sit down, Bud Lite in Spain. Just please sit down and get ready for the Copa Conquistadores or whatever.

The thing is is that, in any level of journalism or presentation it’s a terrible question, but secondly, we also have to look at France football. Why is that man on the stage? Can’t he just be like David Guetta and just play tunes in the background? Why does he have to talk? Like, I’m okay with men maybe being there if they just don’t talk. So, maybe moving forward, that could be a strategy? Like, I’m just trying to think half glass full.

All Ada’s teammates came out. She had an interview with Suzie Wrack in The Guardian talking about it. She’s a formidable person. She has so much integrity. That was just the biggest, most annoying thing.

The thing is, I saw on Twitter, as well, people saying, “Well, we’re not actually going to talk about that level of sexism because we just want to focus on her win.” I’m like, “No, there’s a place to talk about her win and salute her and admire her, and there’s also a place to talk about how shitty this is.” Men don’t get to come and say, “We’re not gonna talk about it because it’ll overshadow her.” No, nothing’s gonna overshadow her. There is a place to do that. So, men, stop doing that. Stop saying we’re not gonna talk about it and take away from her win because that’s you not doing your work.

Jessica: Yeah. Can I just say that I think the thing about the video, I mean, it’s so quick the whole thing of him asking her this and her saying no, but the look on her face was one of those moments where I just felt it. I knew that moment of being really high, feeling good about what you’ve accomplished, and then having a man say something to diminish that. You just read it all over her face in a way that was so visceral. I don’t know. It’s just so normal and that’s so much of what’s upsetting about it and then people using the normality to say that it’s not worth talking about. That sucks. That’s a shitty dynamic.

Shireen: Yeah, totally. Lindsay?

Lindsay: Yeah. That moment. Jess, you’re totally right. That moment. We’ve all had it. The way her face fell? Woo! It really got me. Like, I got emotional watching it, even though I know she’s fine and she’s great and she’s celebrating and she should be. I understand why she doesn’t want to make that big of a deal out of this, but, just, men. Men. Once again, we’re just gonna talk to the men. Just let women have their moment! You don’t have to say anything. You can just let the moment happen. You can just say, “Congratulations.” That’s it. That’s all you need to say. Just makes me so mad.

I do want to just kind of end this big conversation about men in soccer ruining things for women. The U.S. Soccer announced the schedule for the lead-up to the World Cup this week. I don’t know if anyone saw this, but it’s essentially going to complete obliterate the NWSL season for take out the star players. It’s a 10 city tour. It’s a 10 game tour and it’s basically gonna take out the players from the beginning of May through July. That’s just such a big chunk of the season. There are a lot of people who know a lot more about this who said, “There was a way to do this where it didn’t obliterate the NWSL season quite as extensively as it is.”

Of course, the players in the World Cup need to be playing together. Of course, they need some warm up. But 10? Do they need 10 games? Do they need to be out for this extended period of time? Probably not. It’s just kind of another way with U.S. Soccer, which remember, still has not named an NWSL commissioner, it’s been about two years and there hasn’t been a commissioner, is kind of hurting the game.

Shireen: Brenda?

Brenda: Yeah, and I think one of the things about that, though, to recognize, and I really don’t know what to do about it, is I actually do think they need to be convened pretty early. I do. If it were me, if I was the coach. But it doesn’t seem like there was any effort to negotiate, because it’s not only the U.S. players that are gonna be gone. It’s gonna be the Brazilians. It’s gonna be Sam Kerr. It’s gonna be the Canadians. It’s gonna be Marta in Orlando. It’s gonna be a lot of people and it just seems like there wasn’t an effort to think through the NWSL season, which is a real drag, in general. I actually don’t think that they shouldn’t convene in May. I think May is a super reasonable time. But I think it’s a problem that they didn’t try to work this out. Totally. And that they didn’t care or seem to care.

Shireen: I mean, that points to the levels of communication going back between … I mean, we know how much FIFA generally cares. They’ve literally scheduled the final of the Women’s World Cup on two other final days, which is just mind-bogglingly irritating. Linds?

Lindsay: Yeah, I was just gonna say in response to Brenda, but to me, it just goes back to the fact that U.S. Soccer is supposed to be invested in growing the NWSL, right? So, the NWSL doesn’t really have anyone on its behalf that’s able to help in these negotiations because U.S. Soccer just comes in and it’s just shown time and time again that it’s willing to throw NWSL under the bus. Of course, I understand and of course, ideally, you would want them to convene as early as possible, but it’s just frustrating, I think, that there is no representative arguing for the NWSL and that U.S. Soccer just continues to show that it’s not a priority for them.

Brenda: Yeah. No, I totally agree with that.

Shireen: I think that, one last thing as we wrap up this segment, I just want to sort of mention that I didn’t mention in the discussion about Ballon d’Or, and I’m not over it, I won’t be over it for about five years. I think the thing is is that Martin Solveig’s apology was a non-apology. It wasn’t an apology, it was just a statement. And using the fact that he has had friends for 20 years who know him, I have no idea what that has to do with Ada Hegerberg, but that was just another indication of how these things are approached, when you tell someone they’re sexist and they get defensive and they get horrible and instead of looking at the problem where they could fix it, they start fixating on the label itself. It’s not a label, it’s a fact. You’re sexist. Your comment was really inappropriate and offensive, so deal with that and fix that before you start lashing out at everybody else.


Brenda: Yeah. I just wanted to mention because I’m really negative, maybe some people saw my Patreon newsletter which was, literally, like a Grinch, so I wanted to be just mentioning this thing. That we do have to say there’s something really positive going on. As the Colombian league collapses and as there’s all this stuff going on in Europe, one really great thing is that we’re looking at the second finals of the Liga Mexicana Femenil. So, the Mexican women are going into a great finals. It’s down to Tigres and America. They’re playing December 5th and December 11th. One of them is in Estadio Azteca, which is really important for worldwide women’s soccer. It’s the biggest women’s soccer match, probably, ever played in 1971 with over 100,000 people. I’m sorry, U.S. people that love to cling to your Rose Bowl stuff. I get it! It’s a great game! You’re just wrong. The second leg will be in Estadio Universitario, which is again, awesome venue.

So, really excited. Of course, it’s like you can probably from the U.S. and Canada just get it on Facebook Live, but it’s still gonna be awesome and worth seeing. I just wanted to put in my one happy plug for what’s going on!

Shireen: I like happy plugs. Thank you, Brenda.

Brenda: I’m trying!

Shireen: Next, Jessica talked to Monique Billings, forward for the WNBA’s Atlanta Dream, about her rookie season in the league, playing in China during the off-season, being the only black person in the town she lives in in China, getting in trouble with the NCAA for her YouTube video content, and living in the stadium, literally.

Jessica: I’m here today with Monique Billings, a forward for the WNBA’s Atlanta Dream, who just finished her rookie season. But, you are nowhere near Atlanta right now, are you, Monique?

Monique Billings: I am nowhere near Atlanta! I’m actually-

Jessica: Where are you?

Monique: On the opposite side of the world! I’m in Daqing, China.

Jessica: Wow! Yeah. Just to be clear, I’m in Austin, Texas right now. It’s a little after nine P.M. and you’re in China. What time is it?

Monique: It is 11:02 A.M.

Jessica: Alright! And here we are. The magic of the internet! I definitely want to get to China ’cause I think that’s fascinating and we don’t talk enough about that with WNBA players, but I wanted to just go back to transitioning into the WNBA, because you just finished your rookie season. You came off a really successful career at UCLA. What was that transition like from college to the professional level?

Monique: Honestly, I had, probably, one of the best transitions out of anyone who I’ve talked to. I’ve heard a lot of different stories and a lot of different takes on how people have adjusted and transitioned from going to college into the WNBA, and I was really blessed just to flow into it. I came in knowing that I have a lot to learn. It’s so different coming from being a superstar at UCLA and then going to the WNBA, you’re at the bottom of the barrel. And I knew that was going to happen and I was ready for it. I was ready to embrace it and ready to just to work my way up.

I mean, that’s kind of what happened. I just worked and got my coach’s trust and she started playing me towards the end of the season and I became like a, I would say … Actually, she would say, too! She told me in my exit interview, that I was a key player for the team and that I helped them in many situations. She said I was a crowd favorite and I brought a lot of good energy and a lot of good attributes to the team.

Jessica: That’s awesome, and you guys had a hell of a season! What are you thinking going into your second year? What are your goals?

Monique: Just to keep that same momentum that we had as a team. Honestly, this is probably one of my favorite years ever of playing basketball. I’ve been playing basketball 17 years, and this is probably-

Jessica: Wow!

Monique: Some of the most fun I’ve ever had. That’s also something that I wasn’t expecting coming into the WNBA. It’s a business. This is your job now. You’re getting paid for this, so it’s very competitive and there’s a lot of interesting people and a lot of interesting opinions and just different things that go on in the WNBA. I didn’t know what to expect, but I wasn’t expecting this, at all. I was really just blessed and thankful to be around such amazing women, my teammates, who took me in as their little sister and just showed me the ropes and really encouraged me. That just gave me so much confidence throughout the season.

I think I just want to keep going with that confidence that we had. Kind of like a mantra that we had for our team was, “Keep that same energy,” so just to keep that same energy and hopefully, next year, make it to the championship. We were so close this past year!

Jessica: So close! I was fortunate. I actually got to see you guys play at one point in the season because I was in Atlanta. It was thrilling. I had a great time.

I want to talk about China. Let’s start with, I guess, the logistics of it. How do you find a team in China? Like, do they find you? What is the process like?

Monique: I have an agent and she is the one who sets everything up. She will send film to different teams. She sent film to teams in different countries. I know Turkey, Korea, and China. I wanted to go to China, so this is where I definitely wanted to go so I’m actually really blessed and fortunate to be here just because it’s almost rare for a rookie to get a Chinese contract. Especially-

Jessica: Oh, okay.

Monique: Yeah, for a rookie. It’s rare. It’s just a blessing to be here. I knew that it was gonna be tough. Like, when I signed up for it, I was like, “There’s a language barrier,” just the amount of hours, the time difference, as we talked about earlier, just not being able to talk to my family as much, and I’m the only American on my team.

Jessica: Oh, wow.

Monique: Yeah. Other countries overseas, more so like Europe, there are two Americans, sometimes three, sometimes four Americans per team, so you have people to speak to and it’s just a little bit easier. I’m the only one. I have a translator and he communicates everything between my teammates, between my coach. It’s definitely been an interesting transition, but this, too, has gone a lot smoother than I thought.

I actually like China a lot better than I expected. I didn’t think I would like it as much. From the WNBA players told me about their Chinese experience, I haven’t heard the best things, so I was a little nervous coming in and a little hesitant, but it’s been really smooth. It’s been cool. I get taken really good care of. I like the food. I’m not really a picky eater. I eat the same thing, pretty much, every day. I eat chicken, broccoli, and rice, but it’s yummy and it’s healthy. It’s good. It’s been a lot smoother than I expected.

Jessica: With the translator, what’s happening during the game?

Monique: Oof. That’s-

Jessica: Is he there?

Monique: Yeah! He’s on the bench with me. Well, if I’m on the court, he’s on the bench. If my coach will say something, he’ll just yell it out or she’ll call me over. Side note, my coach also plays on the team and she’s a legend-

Jessica: Oh, interesting!

Monique: Out here in China. Yeah. They call her the “female Kobe.” She’s legit. Yeah. It’s a really interesting dynamic, but I think it’s been going really smooth, like I said.

Jessica: Why did you make the decision to play overseas in the off-season?

Monique: A lot of women who play in the WNBA go over overseas and play overseas for the financial opportunity. It’s just a lot greater than it is in the WNBA. It’s just another platform, kind of. The WNBA’s a short season. There’s only five months in the summer. This is our off-season, technically, so during our off-season, that’s where we make a good chunk of our money.

Also, just to keep in shape and to keep working on our game. That’s definitely important. China’s probably one of the best seasons because it’s only four months. A lot of the European seasons are eight months. So, women are playing eight months overseas, come right back, go to training camp for the WNBA, play that five month season, and then go right back overseas, so there’s almost no break and no stop. That’s why I was really really fortunate to be able to come to China because it’s only four months. So then I’ll have four months off just to kind of regroup, relax, and just do some things off the court.

Jessica: Recover!

Monique: Yes, exactly.

Jessica: Yeah! How much time did you have between the end of the WNBA season and when you actually went over to China?

Monique: I only had about three weeks. It wasn’t that long.

Jessica: Oh, wow. You said it’s been smooth, but what are some of the challenges that you’ve had since moving over there? I mean, did you experience culture shock? It sounds like maybe you didn’t?

Monique: Yeah. Yes and no. I would say I try to be unfazed by it just because I had to come in knowing I’m the only black person in this city! I say I live in Kansas, China.

Jessica: Oh, that is so interesting. I didn’t even think about that. Okay.

Monique: Yeah! I get stared at, 24/7. People will just try to ask questions. I’m learning Mandarin, but I’m not able to really communicate with them so my translator will try to translate. People will try to take pictures. A lot of people even sneak pictures and I kind of hate that. It’s really annoying. Like, I’ll like turn my head and see people taking pictures. I’m like, “You guys could just ask!”

I would say that’s probably the biggest culture shock. Just being the only American or even just person who looks like me in this whole area!

Jessica: Do they assume that you’re a basketball player?

Monique: That’s a really good question. I don’t think so. A lot of them don’t know.

Jessica: Okay.

Monique: I’ll say, “Wo da lanqiu.” That means, “I play basketball.” They’ll be like, “Oh, da lanqiu!” It’s like, it doesn’t seem like they really know?

Jessica: How interesting. ‘Cause how tall are you?

Monique: I’m 6’3″, so I mean, I stand out!

Jessica: Yeah. Man! Yeah. Yes. I mean, I’m six foot, so, yeah. I would imagine that you do.

Monique: Hey! Tall girls squad!

Jessica: I know. Yes. Unite!

Monique: Yes, exactly.

Jessica: So, one thing that you’ve been doing for a while now and that you’re going to be doing while you’re in China is that you have a YouTube series, and the name of it in China is The Ball Never Stops. I highly encourage everyone to go check this out on YouTube. I think the best way to find it, you can tell me if I’m wrong, but just to search your name on YouTube and your page pops up. The one that I watched today in preparation for this is about a five minute intro video into your time in China, and it’s great! You are great on camera. You’re great at the narration and everything. Tell me a little bit about getting into this. Like, what made you want to do this? Do you do it all yourself? Or, do you have people that help you? Because I imagine that’s a lot of time.

Monique: Well, first off, thank you so much. That just made my whole day. I pretty much do it all myself.

Jessica: Wow!

Monique: Why I started it, I was at UCLA and I was just like, “I want to show my journey.” Like, on my social media platforms like Instagram and Twitter, I’ll have a lot of my fans or just supporters reach out to me, young girls and women and just stuff like that. They’ll ask me questions. “How do you do this? How’d you navigate this?” I just try to be a positive light.

This was when I was in college. I was like, “How can I show my journey and show what I’m going through to help others out?” So, I started. It was called Confessions of a College Athlete.

Jessica: Oh, nice.

Monique: It was kind of just showing different parts of my journey, like how to do time management. I would ask other student athletes and interview them, because I want to do broadcasting one day. That’s something I’m interested in-

Jessica: Oh, okay!

Monique: So, I had the idea to incorporate both of those and just showing-

Jessica: I can see that with you.

Monique: Aw, thank you so much!

Jessica: I can see it.

Monique: But, yeah. Just trying to show the behind the scenes of a student athlete’s life. Like, me being more than an athlete. That was something that was really important for me. It was a little hard in college, trying to navigate YouTube because of the NCAA. There’s so many rules that, “Oh, you can’t wear this shirt. You can’t post this. You can’t say this.” You can’t-

Jessica: Interesting.

Monique: So, I got shut down a lot. It really discouraged me, but I was like-

Jessica: What do you mean you got shut down a lot? Tell me a little bit more about that.

Monique: So, I would have to-

Jessica: Like, you were told not to post things?

Monique: Yeah! I couldn’t wear certain shirts. I couldn’t say certain things. I couldn’t have certain captions. Just, if I was in a video, say, I was going to In-N-Out. I couldn’t say, “Hey, guys! I’m at In-N-Out.” That would be an NCAA violation.

Jessica: Oh, wow. Did you figure that out by doing it and then being told that you had to take it down?

Monique: Yes.

Jessica: How do you even learn those lessons? Okay.

Monique: That’s exactly how it happened. And it was just really frustrating and discouraging because I’m like, “I’m an athlete, but I have a voice, too, just like a regular person, so why can’t I share my life?”

Jessica: Yeah! And a life! Yeah. Wow. Okay. Nothing should surprise me.

Monique: So, I had to jump through hoops and hurdles and all that, but now that I’m no longer an NCAA student athlete, I’m able just to showcase what I want. I’m still going with it and, like I said, just trying to build my fan base, so make sure you all check me out on the YouTube!

Jessica: Yeah, definitely! And it’s such a neat video. You talk in the video about where you live. It looks like you live in a stadium?

Monique: Yes.

Jessica: Did I get that? Okay, please tell me more about this.

Monique: I’m looking out at the track field right now. It’s a government-owned stadium.

Jessica: Wow.

Monique: And my teammates and I are the only people that live here. It’s actually really nice! It’s pretty modern.

Jessica: That’s very cool.

Monique: Yeah!

Jessica: Yeah.

Monique: It’s dope. There’s maids that will clean my room. I have a chef, and he cooks the food and everything. He’ll make me fried chicken sometimes. I mean, it’s been pretty good! It’s a good situation. I didn’t know how it was gonna be at first. I’m like, “My back yard is a track field,” but it’s cool.

Jessica: Yeah. I mean, I actually rewound the video a little bit. I’m like an old lady. “I rewound the video.” I backed it up a little bit because I was like, “Am I getting this?”

Monique: Right!

Jessica: That’s really neat! Well, thank you so much, Monique, for joining us on Burn it All Down. It was a real pleasure talking to you.

Monique: Oh, absolutely! Thank you for having me. I’m just really excited. Thank you.

Shireen: I’m so happy to have Amrit Gill on Burn it All Down today. Amrit is a multimedia journalist based out of Vancouver, British Columbia. She broke through to become the first woman on Hockey Night in Canada’s Punjabi edition as a digital content coordinator and host. Her proven ability for curating original, relevant, and high-quality content with a push on digital has resulted in international coverage from the likes of HBO and ESPN. Now, she’s in her fourth season and she aims to tell stories that paint a picture of the changing face of hockey in North America.

In addition to loving a good margarita pizza, Amrit is also responsible for helping changing the face of what hockey looks like in Canada, and I’m so happy to talk to her today. Welcome, Amrit.

Amrit Gill: Thanks so much for having me! I’m excited! A little bit nervous, too!

Shireen: No, there’s nothing to be nervous about! So, you’re a Canucks fan.

Amrit: Yes.

Shireen: And that is totally acceptable and totally fine. We don’t make any judgements unless you like Boston teams, and that’s okay. I’m just kidding. But, question for you. You were really instrumental in covering the Indian Women’s Hockey Team that recently came to Canada to play in Haley Wickenheiser’s WickFest. Can you tell me a little bit about what that experience was like for you, from also being from the subcontinent?

Amrit: It was something that I felt like I had to do. I watched a video of the team online about a year and a half ago and I do these little pieces just involving pictures of what the girls were doing and what they were taking on, despite the lack of resources. When I heard that Haley Wickenheiser would bring them over to Canada with all the volunteers helping out and really a collected effort, I asked my producer if I could go! He said yes, so oh, my goodness. It was really just a dream come true and it’s a passion project come to life.

I feel like there was a certain responsibility while I was there, as well, with the coverage that I was putting out through social media. What you might have seen on Hockey Night Punjabi and other things that I’ll be uploading, I’m really hoping that the message is pushed across that these girls, what they’re doing, is very important. Not only for the sport, but gender equality in India.

It was really just a dream come true and they’re such beautiful people, inside and out. I think you might have seen the images that came out of India. They don’t have much. The facilities just aren’t there for them, when it comes to playing ice hockey. Regardless of that, they still scrap for the equipment. They still make their own ice. If they can do that much just out of the love for the game, imagine what they can do if they have the right resources, the right support, good leadership, and, of course, the facility really needed to play ice hockey. I’m hoping, with the stories that we’re going to be putting in the near future that somebody will take note and really give these girls a helping hand and continue to establish them, back home.

Shireen: Were they at all surprised to hear about Hockey Night in Canada Punjabi and to see you as a woman of color also from India, originally, to see you doing the work you do? Did it surprise them at all?

Amrit: You know what? I don’t think it surprised them at all when we’re speaking about my position. I think they were happy. They were pleased, of course, in seeing another women doing a job in sports. That’s always nice, right? You’re always rooting for the other girl as well, because you’re like, “Yes! You’re pushing the same message forward and that just means it’s gonna get across faster.”

But I think everybody’s surprised when it comes to Hockey Night Punjabi. It’s like, if you’ve never heard of it, you’re like, “Oh. Hockey in Punjabi?” To this day, we still get Tweets saying, “Oh, I accidentally flipped my channel onto Omni and now I’m hearing Punjabi commentators.” I think there’s always a little bit of surprise there, but it always comes with positive comments, too.

Shireen: Yeah, of course. I mean, it’s wonderful to have that opportunity and to broaden the scope of who can have access to watching hockey commentary. I think it’s really important and it’s really, really fun. The crew that you work with is incredible. I get the sense that the team is professional and I really love how the line isn’t, “It’s not what we look like, it’s actually about how much we know,” and you all know hockey really well and are able to do it. And to do it in two languages is pretty impressive, in my opinion.

Another thing I was going to ask you about: Is there any one particular story … Like, I know you, on one of your interviews, you featured a hockey team out of Surrey. And to have the diversity in a sport that’s really not that diverse, particularly in the upper-echelons of women’s hockey. Does that give you a sense of hope and are you seeing more young women from different communities come out for the sport?

Amrit: I did a story on this peewee team called The Surrey Falcons about a season ago. These girls, they told me they weren’t having the best season from the start, but they really loved the game and they wanted to do better, not only for themselves but the entire organization. While I was there interviewing every single member of the team, they all sat down, I just wanted one or two girls to give me clips, but they all sat down with their chairs, I really got a sense of the importance of teamwork. Despite their ages, they’re very very young, each of them really preached the importance of teamwork and working cohesively.

I was looking at the team as I’m doing this interview and I was just amazed. It was a diverse collection of faces. That’s really heartwarming, not only as a person of color, but just a fan of the sport to see all of these girls come together just to play a game of hockey. They don’t have anything else in mind other than, “We’re gonna work together, we’re gonna try our best, and we’re gonna get a win.”

But what they don’t know is them doing that on the ice, that shows the audience and everybody else just looking at their pictures a different message that, “Hey, the game is growing. We’re seeing it. We’re seeing it happen every single day and we need to push that forward and support the people behind these teams, as well.”

Just this past weekend, I was at a rink in Burnaby and I was talking to a women, her name is Echo Lee, and she works with the Burnaby Wildcats. She was telling me that a lot of girls on that team, they’ve had to move cities just to join a female team ’cause there wasn’t space available or there wasn’t the right number of girls to form a team. It goes to show you that a lot of work needs to be done.

Shireen: For young girls and women to access the sport.

Amrit: Yeah.

Shireen: Yeah.

Amrit: And it’s always nice to highlight all of these positive stories. It’s great, but we need to discuss the nitty gritty, as well. Unfortunately, we have to bring a light to that. We’re only going to see change.

Shireen: Definitely. In the work that you’ve done, has there ever been any negative sort of reaction to you presenting on sports and particularly a super machismo sport like ice hockey? Have there ever been people that have questioned your knowledge or sort of questioned your existence in this field?

Amrit: I think some people will always question my Punjabi a little bit. Being a first generation Canadian, I didn’t really speak Punjabi growing up. It wasn’t until I turned 19 that I kind of got a grasp of the language and I’m still working on it. I’m still trying, ’cause it’s my mother tongue and I should, of course. That’s one thing that’s always come up. “Okay, she could have better Punjabi,” but I’m working on it! I’m trying!

Shireen: For sure. Yeah.

Amrit: But in the past, there have been comments made that, “Oh, she only got hired because of her looks.” That’s not the case. I never intended to be on camera! Like, I was supposed to work behind the scenes but I told my producer, “Hey, we need to start telling stories, ’cause there’s a void there and there’s potential there for social change to be pushed forward.” Yeah. So, we have gotten a couple of comments like that, but other than that, it’s been positive. Super, super positive.

Shireen: And that’s wonderful. And what about your own community, in the sense of they must be so proud of you to be out there doing this kind of work and creating spaces. Even in this ESPN article, which we’ll link to the show notes, in which you explain how there’s generations of hockey lovers in your own family, and if I’m not incorrect, it was even your grandmother that was really into hockey. Then, to have something like Hockey Night in Canada Punjabi and then have her have access to the commentary. It must have been really incredibly wonderful for your family and for the community.

Amrit: Yeah. My parents are super proud and I used to watch hockey with my grandma and my grandpa growing up. She’s not with us anymore, unfortunately, so they didn’t get to see me do this. They didn’t get to see me be on Hockey Night Punjabi, but every time I go into work, I think about them and I think about how much this sport has really given to me. At the end of the day, if we can produce a great, entertaining show for our audience and provide and experience where the family can get together, that’s just a way of giving back.

Shireen: That’s awesome! Do you have a favorite player?

Amrit: I think Sidney Crosby has always been a fan favorite. He’s provided so many great moments, as a hockey fan, so it’s kind of hard not to be a fan of him. But I shouldn’t talk too much about favorite players ’cause you’re supposed to stay neutral when you work in broadcasting!

Shireen: What about on the women’s side?

Amrit: Oh, definitely Haley Wickenheiser. I got to sit down and interview her just last week. She is a great player, six time Olympian. She’s awesome on the ice, but off the ice, she really is superwoman. She is doing so much for the sport, at a grassroots level. She’s holding WickFest, not only in Calgary, this year, but next year, in January, actually, it’ll be in Surrey, as well. She’s really been a champion for the sport on and off the ice, and on top of it, she’s in medical school. Is that not so cool?

Shireen: Yeah. She’s in medical school in Calgary, right?

Amrit: Yeah. Yeah, yeah. I believe that’s true. Oh, my goodness. It just goes to show you that you are capable of so much, as long as you put your head down and get to work.

Shireen: Yeah. That’s incredible!

Amrit: Yeah, she’s great.

Shireen: Thank you so much for talking with me today, Amrit. It was a real pleasure and I love the work you do. It’s so great to see you on TV. I love you on camera, and the stories that you’re committed to telling. It’s like, I’m really happy. There’s not a whole lot of us. Particularly in Canadian sports media, there’s very ,very few. It’s a pretty small club of people, particularly from the South Asian Diaspora that are out there. I’m so excited that you do the work that you do. It’s really important.

Amrit: Yeah. Like I said, we’re all on the same team, we’re pushing the same message forward, so thank you for all that you do, as well. It will really, really make change happen, hopefully sooner than later.

Shireen: Now for everyone’s favorite segment: The Burn Pile! Brenda. What are you going to burn today?

Brenda: I feel such a broken record-y. It’s not my fault! It’s men’s fault. I am going to harp on a kind of same thing here, which is really bad governance from the patriarchs of global football. In this scenario, it’s the U.S. Soccer Federation. So, it’s a little different, right?

Lindsay: Mixing it up here!

Brenda: You have to admit it! I’m going after an Anglo soccer federation right now. I’m mixing it up! And I would like to say it’s not CONMEBOL, it’s CONCACAF. And I would also like to say that I paid dues to said federation for my girls playing soccer, so I also feel I have a personal investment in this horribly managed governing body.

U.S. Soccer Federation is being sued by the U.S. Soccer Foundation, which was formed from some of the profits from the 1994 World Cup. It has distributed over $100,000,000 to projects to try to open access to soccer for underprivileged communities, particularly communities of color.

Evidently, the U.S. Soccer Federation feels as though the U.S. Soccer Foundation has limited its opportunities to take advantage for commercial opportunities coming, given the 2026 World Cup and they want the U.S. Soccer Foundation to stop using the logo that they’ve always used. Then the foundation has to sue them because like, what else do they have but the brand they’ve been using for 14 years? It’s an NGO! What?

On top of what makes this such a shit show is that, like, half of the board members of U.S. Soccer Federation are also on U.S. Soccer Foundation. So, what? Are you, like, suing yourself? It’s confusing. It’s crazy. But basically, I’m gonna burn anything that the U.S. Soccer Federation is doing to limit kids’ access to soccer from underprivileged and minority communities because pay-to-play sucks and we all know it. Even Pep Guardiola, love you, has come out and said, “Pay-to-play is ruining U.S. soccer.”

So, I want to burn any attempt to limit those efforts and that lawsuit just seems like a bunch of crap to me.

Everyone: Burn!

Shireen: Jess?

Jessica: Yeah, so I’m back on my bullshit, too. The University of Maryland football program has had many problems over the last nine months or so, the biggest one, of course, being that a 19 year old player, Jordan McNair, died a preventable death of heat stroke after collapsing in spring training. It took a whole lot of outside pressure for the school to actually punish the people responsible, the ones paid millions of dollars, in theory, to care for the lives of young men. But they did, finally, fire the head football coach, DJ Durkin, which seems like the nicest thing they could have done for the man who oversaw the employees who failed to save a kid’s life that they could have saved.

Earlier this week, Maryland introduced Mike Locksley as their new head coach. He is currently the offensive coordinator at Alabama, that juggernaut of a team, and has won national awards this season for his work there. This is his third stint at Maryland. He helped recruit McNair, before he headed to Alabama, in fact. So, he knows the McNair family and Jordan’s father has said of Locksley, “We support Mike 1,000%.”

But Locksley’s one head coaching job before this one was at New Mexico about a decade ago. Earlier this month, the Washington Post reported that his time there should, perhaps, give people pause, especially because he’s taking over a program that, while not technically toxic per the external review Maryland paid for, has a toxic culture.

In 2009, an administrative assistant filed an age and sex discrimination complaint against Locksley with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, saying he told her he wanted younger women in the role to help with recruiting. The claim was later withdrawn.

Later that year, during a coach’s meeting following New Mexico’s loss to Air Force, Locksley was accused of punching assistant coach, J.B. Gerald, in the face. Gerald filed a lawsuit that said it was a hostile work environment under Locksley, the punches to the face being the best example of that. According to the Washington Post, the lawsuit said, “Locksley became upset about Gerald’s response to questions concerning a play in the game and began shouting at him and other coaches.” Locksley then attacked Gerald, “Pinning him to his chair and choking him.” Other coaches in the room pulled Locksley and Gerald apart, but while Gerald was restrained, Locksley broke free and struck him the face several times. This suit was settled out of court.

In his introduction as Maryland’s new head football coach, Locksley said he has grown since his time at New Mexico. Damon Evans, the athletic director at Maryland who many thought would lose his job in the fallout around McNair’s death, said he talked to Locksley about his time at New Mexico and said, “Locksley has learned from his mistakes.”

Maybe he has. I sincerely hope he has. Jordan McNair’s father believes in him, and that is not nothing, but I’m so tired of the system of college football and how it seems to reward bad, even violent behavior or, to be more generous, condones it. I mean, for God’s sake, Liberty University just hired Hugh Freeze as their head football coach. Everything is truly upside down and exactly how it’s supposed to be.

How are we to ever know or understand if a program is toxic? I mean, what really does that even mean within this system of college football? So, today, I’d like to burn how unsurprising it was to learn that Locksley had a past that would make us concerned for his future at a program whose present is still under scrutiny. It shouldn’t be this way, and yet, here we are. Burn.

Everyone: Burn!

Shireen: I’m next, and I’m going to burn the incessant racial abuse of Raheem Sterling of the Man City Football Club. Man City played Chelsea yesterday, to which Chelsea won, two-nothing. It’s the first time Man City lost this year. They’re the champs. We all love N’Golo Kanté and I actually really do love David Luiz. I know that’s not a popular opinion, but I want to say it anyway.

This doesn’t mean I love Chelsea. It does mean that I absolutely hate the racial abuse Raheem Sterling has always had to endure. He is hated by British media. He is vilified because he’s a young, black man who worked his way up through the ranks and bought his mom a house. He is, like, one of the most devoted sons in football. Like, just absolutely great guy. Does his thing. It almost feels like he has to tiptoe around to exist.

The thing is is that yesterday, the media caught fans yelling racial abuse at him, but that was actually, before that, even, there was a chant by Chelsea fans, and they were yelling, “Raheem Sterling runs like a girl.” So, this entire thing of racial abuse is actually predated by the fact that there’s this joke that he runs like a girl.

First of all, what that basically just means is he runs around defenders and making them look ridiculous. That’s how I’m going to translate that, but I don’t think that’s what was intended. It was intended to embarrass to him. This is a problem. And also, a problem, even in the precursor to this show we were talking about this, the fact that the comment was made to him was overshadowed by the racialized abuse, which is very, very egregious. But the point is is that telling him that he runs like a girl is very, very problematic, to begin with. Like, what does that say to a country that’s trying to lift itself up, it’s women’s side, that has been a place where misogynoir has existed, where sexism has existed. It’s been like, this is not a good thing.

The FA should really stand up, in my opinion. The Premiere League can be like, “No, that’s not okay.” They should issue some type of statement, some, I don’t know, public campaign or ad that they’re really good at doing, and talk about this, as well, because you can be sexist in addition to being racist, as well. I know this is shocking. You don’t have to pick one or the other.

Now, as far as Raheem Sterling goes, I think he’s a great player. I’m a huge fan of him. Now, it’s like Brenda has just mentioned something, “Sexism is like a gateway drug to racism in the Premiere League,” and that’s exactly what we’ve seen in this. Thank you for that comment, I want it on a T-shirt.

Again, Kick It Out and these organizations that try to help, I mean, how effective are they, really? But, Kick It Out is good in that it’s been talking about it. Fair Net’s been Tweeting about it. But I want to see those fans that were literally mouthing those words at him …

And, I will link this to the show notes, but only because I want you to see how badly it was written. SPORTbible, actually 20 hours ago, and we’re recording this Sunday morning, wrote a piece about what Chelsea fans were singing. They tried to minimize the racialized abuse, and you know what they did? They actually used the example that when John Terry was at a hearing because he had actually racially abused Anton Ferdinand that, “Oh, it’s very difficult to read lips. It’s not always accurate when people read lips.” I’m sort of like, “No, SPORTbible. That’s a really, really, really bad example of what to do and we all know John Terry is racist as fuck.” So, that’s a really, really bad example. Actually, you know what? I’m not linking in the show notes ’cause I just hate this article and will probably Tweet at them.

So, I’m gonna burn that. Let’s burn all of that. The sexism is a gateway to racism. All of it. Done.

Everyone: Burn!

Shireen: After all that burning, we’re so happy to be amplifying and elevating some incredible people this week.

Honorable mentions for Baddest Woman of the Week all go to:

Beth Mead, the Arsenal women’s side player, for winning the Football Supporters Federation Player of the Year: Dina Asher-Smith. This English runner is the BT Action Woman of the Year.

The English Women’s Netball Team, which won the BT Action Award for Team of the Year in England.

Pernille Harder was chosen as Guardian’s Women Footballer of the Year.

Khalida Popal, Mina Ahmadi, Shabnam Mobarez, and Coach Kelly Lindsey of the Afghan Women’s National Football Team for continuing the courage to disclose sexual and emotional abuse of players at the hands of the Afghan Football Federation staff, including the president. They’re in an on-going battle with them and now finally, after all their toil, FIFA is starting to investigate this case.

Rebecca Lobo had her number 50 jersey retired at UConn. Yay, UConn! Along with Ray Allen’s number 34 in early March. Both are members of the Husky of Honor Inaugural Classes, which recognizes standout student athletes and coaches by retiring their jerseys.

Alex Morgan was named the USA 2018 Women’s Player of the Year.

Also, a special shout-out to Florida State Women’s Soccer Team who won the NCAA Women’s Soccer Championship with a one-zero victory over UNC in the final.

Can I get a drum? Can I get a drum roll please?

Jessica: Br-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la!

Shireen: Can’t wait for the transcript of that! Our Badass Woman of the Week is: Ada Hegerberg, the 23 Norwegian footballer and Olympique Lyonnais player and the first winner of the Ballon d’Or for Women.

What’s good? Brenda! What’s good?

Brenda: Meh! Almost nothing. It’s finals week.

Jessica: Oh, Bren!

Brenda: It’s finals week! Finals week. Ugh! And that makes me sad to say goodbye to my students and I always feel like I haven’t taught them enough. Also, simultaneously, exhausted from reading their work.

I guess the good thing is, though, there is a finite end to it. So, love you, students! Also, it’s not you, it’s me. It’s time to go our separate ways.

Shireen: Jess?

Jessica: Yeah. So, first of all, I’m wearing my Burn it All Down hoodie right now! That’s always good. You can get one on Teespring! They’re awesome.

My thing is my normal thing. I’ve been baking a lot. I made an amazing brown sugar shortbread last week. Like, it’s so good that I actually had to skip lunch one day because I ate so much of it. I’m trying to tell myself not to make it again, but it was excellent.

I’m making some Oreos for my friend’s wedding next weekend, because y’all, get this: She is doing the Great Wedding Bake Off for her wedding. It’s actually adorable. She put a friend in charge. There’s a spreadsheet. We had to pick categories, and everyone’s bringing desserts from home with them instead of there being one wedding cake. So, I’ll be making my Oreos. I bought a special heart-shaped cookie cut-out just for the wedding. I just think there’s nothing more good than cookies during the holidays. That’s where I am.

Shireen: It was my mom’s 70th birthday yesterday. Happy birthday to my mom, mama. I love her. She didn’t know. My brother and I drove down to Windsor just to surprise her. We had a really lovely lovely day with her. It was short but sweet. She was thrilled. She loves balloons. I got her balloons. One, like, a helium seven and a helium zero. She just was so excited. We did Boomerang videos. It was just really really cute. Happy birthday to my mom.

She loves her birthday. She’s, like, Amira levels of loving her birthday. I think that’s wonderful.

Jessica: Well, happy birthday, mom!

Shireen: Thank you! Linds?

Lindsay: Yeah! Christmas tree is up and decorated, so that is exciting. And, just ’cause I didn’t know where else to fit in our show, I want to give Atlanta a shout-out for winning the MLS Cup.

Jessica: Yes!

Lindsay: So, MLS champions. Congratulations, Atlanta.

Jessica: Amazing story. Yep.

Shireen: That’s it for this week in Burn it All Down. Although we are done for now, you can always burn all day and night with our fabulous array of merchandise, including mugs, pillow, tees, hoodies, bags. Holidays are coming up very soon, and what better way to tell someone you love them by giving them a pillowcase that crushes toxic patriarchy in sports and sports media?

Check out our Teespring store at teespring.com/store/burnitalldown. Burn it All Down lives on SoundCloud but can be found on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play, and Tune In. We appreciate your reviews and feedback, so please subscribe and rate to let us know what we did well and how we can improve. We love getting your emails and comments and really appreciate it. You can find us on Facebook at Burn it All Down, on Twitter @burnitalldownpod, or on Instagram @burnitalldownpod. You can email us at: burnitalldownpod@gmail.com. Check our website, www.burnitalldownpod.com, where you will find previous episodes, transcripts, and a link to our Patreon.

We would appreciate you subscribing, sharing, and rating our show, which helps us do the work we love to do and keep burning what needs to be burned. On behalf of Brenda, Jessica, and Lindsay, I’m Shireen. Thank you so much for being here.

Shelby Weldon