Episode 88: Fixing amateurism, continued corruption and abuse in WoSo, and tennis with Caitlin Thompson

For our first episode of 2019, Lindsay, Shireen, Jessica, and Brenda talk about a rare moment of joy in U.S. politics (3:22); celebrate the national championship game by talking about how to fix amateurism (9:20); Lindsay interviews Caitlin Thompson about Racquet Magazine and the Australian Open (26:50) ; and the group discusses the ongoing corruption in global soccer, particularly in the wake of the sexual abuse scandal with the Afghanistan national team. (42:50)

As always, there’s the Burn Pile (58:00), BAWOTW (1:06:35), and What’s Good (1:08:07).

For links and a transcript… 


“Cheers, tears, and history: The new Democratic House is sworn in” https://thinkprogress.org/house-democrats-nancy-pelosi-speaker-116th-congress-rashida-tlaib-deb-haaland-sharice-davids-2018-midterms-f6d4d7fd3ce9/

“How to take the scandal out of big-time college football and basketball” https://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-jackson-ncaa-lifetime-scholarships-20190104-story.html

“This Is How To Pay College Athletes” https://deadspin.com/this-is-how-to-pay-college-athletes-1823353456

“The Competitive-Balance Argument Against Paying Athletes Is Bullshit” https://deadspin.com/the-competitive-balance-argument-against-paying-athlete-1576638830

“The college football national championship game busts one of amateurism’s greatest myths” https://thinkprogress.org/college-football-parity-myth/

“Excuses, Not Reasons: 13 Myths about (not) Paying College Athletes” http://sportsgeekonomics.tumblr.com/myths

“Alabama’s latest suspension of high school basketball player proves that amateurism is a sham” https://thinkprogress.org/alabama-suspends-top-high-school-basketball-player-because-usa-basketball-errantly-sent-her-a-check-5c34db24bccb/

Racquet Magazine https://racquetmag.com/

PETITION: “FIFA & AFC Must Hold Afghanistan Football Federation Accountable for Abuse of Players” https://www.change.org/p/fifa-afc-must-hold-afghanistan-football-federation-accountable-for-abuse-of-players

“‘There was blood everywhere’: the abuse case against the Afghan FA president” https://www.theguardian.com/football/2018/dec/27/sexual-abuse-allegations-afghan-fa-president-keramuudin-karim

“‘No idea where money goes’: Fifa urged to help Somalia’s women footballers” https://amp.theguardian.com/football/2019/jan/03/fifa-somalia-women-footballers-money-fear-extremists

“Lauletta: My 2019 NWSL wish list” https://equalizersoccer.com/2019/01/04/lauletta-my-2019-nwsl-wish-list/

“Kristi Toliver, an N.B.A. Assistant Who’s Paid Like an Intern” https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/31/sports/kristi-toliver-wizards-salary.html

“Serie A defends ‘men only’ sections for Juventus vs. Milan Supercoppa final in Saudi Arabia” http://www.espn.com/soccer/italian-serie-a/story/3742057/serie-a-defends-men-only-sections-for-juventus-vs-milan-supercoppa-final-in-saudi-arabia

“‘Next Chapter’: Urban Meyer to teach character & leadership course at Ohio State” https://www.10tv.com/article/next-chapter-urban-meyer-teach-character-leadership-course-ohio-state

“No. 1 UConn women’s basketball upset by Baylor for first regular-season loss since 2014” https://www.ncaa.com/news/basketball-women/article/2019-01-04/uconn-womens-basketball-baylor-upset-score

“The Guardian footballer of the year 2018: Khadija ‘Bunny’ Shaw” https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2018/dec/28/guardian-footballer-of-the-year-2018-khadija-bunny-shaw

“Rebekkah Brunson To Make Broadcast Debut” https://lynx.wnba.com/news/rebekkah-brunson-to-make-broadcast-debut/

The episode of Strong Opinions Loosely Held that Jessica is on: https://art19.com/shows/strong-opinions-loosely-held/episodes/95d0c08c-ddde-4ba8-be7d-20950e911b4c


Lindsay: Hello, hello, hello and welcome to the very first 2019 episode of Burn It All Down, the feminist sports podcast you need. I am Lindsay Gibbs, sports reporter at ThinkProgress. Joining me on the morning win, technology is not our friend, is three of my fabulous cohost, Jessica Luther, freelance writer and author in Austin, Texas. Brenda Elsey, associate professor of history at Hofstra University, that is still a tongue twister for me in New York. Then, of course, Shireen Ahmed, the freelance sports writer and a person we’re very proud did not throw her microphone this morning over there in Toronto, Canada. Hi, friends. how are you?

Jessica: Here, I’m here.

Shireen: Good morning, happy new year, happy new year.

Lindsay: Friends just work with this, we’re having one of those days, but we’re excited to get this episode to you today. I think it’s going to be a good one, not that I’m biased. In honor of the college football playoff national championship game, which will have been played by the time you here this, we’re going to discuss how to fix amateurism. Done, so glad we’re going to take care of that. Then we’re going to get you caught up on the latest regarding an ever green topic here, how FIFA and the powers that be are still enabling corruption and causing corruption in women’s soccer across the globe. Then I’m going to talk with Caitlin Thomson of Racquet Magazine and the Racquet Magazine podcast, to talk all things tennis and get everyone ready for the Australian open, which is the best thing about January in my incredibly biased opinion.

First things first, I want to thank our Patreon supporters. They got us through a full year of Patreon support in 2018. We could not be more grateful. If you are a Patreon supporter, that means for as little as $2 a month or $5 a month, you got access to our best of newsletter last year. Where we all went through some of our best, the best tweets of the year, the best score lines of the year, the best of the badasses of the year. Just kind of shared some of the good that came from 2019, so that was a really fun read.

We also broke down on our Patreon-only episode in December, the women’s world cup draw. Obviously that’s a thing we’re all looking forward to this year and you can get our take as well as Brenda’s really hot take on how draws should be done. You don’t want to miss that, and we need to keep growing our base. We need to keep growing this podcast, because we want to do really big things this year. If you are listening and you haven’t joined our Patreon or you haven’t written us a review on iTunes, or you haven’t told every single person you know about this podcast, then you know what, maybe think about doing that. All right, that’s enough shelling for today.

I want to take a minute to talk about something that’s not completely sports related, but it really, really made me happy this week. It really just reminded me of the power of inner sectional feminism and taking over. That was the joyous inspirational scenes during the swearing in of the new US congressional members. Did anyone see this? Where there any favorite moments? There were just some really heartwarming scenes I thought. Jess?

Jessica: Yeah, I mean there was so much good. It was really fun I think us women here at Burn It All Down always love to see lots of women in any male dominated space taking over. Yeah, there is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez had quite a week with her dancing video.

Lindsay: Yes.

Jessica: Everything that came out of that, but also, I loved that she wore white and she had her gold hoops and her red lipstick. She had this great tweet about how she wore white, “To honor the women who paved the path before me and for all the women yet to come from suffragettes to Shirley Chisholm, I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the mothers of the movement.” Just that feeling of like history being made, but also like all the work that’s gone into this moment of history being made. There were moments with kids which I was like, yeah, of course.

Lindsay: Yes.

Jessica: As soon as you get a lot of women in a lot space their kids are coming along. Rashida Tlaib who I would like to support her cursing from this week, but beyond that she was one of the first two Muslim women elected to congress. It was her kids right that dabbed when she voted to Pelosi to be speaker of the house? Do I have that right?

Lindsay: Yes.

Jessica: It’s the best, you guys should look at the video of her voting and her two sons were there and they both dab after she votes for Nancy Pelosi. Then I think Pelosi’s granddaughter was there and was freaking out every time someone voted for her grandmother, she was like clapping in the chamber. It was just like spectacular.

Lindsay: That’s awesome. Brenda?

Brenda: Yeah, I loved everybody coming out on social media and posting pictures as themselves, like Nydia Velazquez from New York who tweeted out photos from the scenes during the day of her and her fellow women as they entered Congress. I just generally sat back and watched, and it was super enjoyable. The two the native American women being sworn in, that was just super moving. I know Shireen tweeted out about it and it was just lovely.

Jessica: Former badass women of the week.

Lindsay: Yes, Sharice Davids. Shireen, I know you’re not American, but did you pay attention to this at all? Was there anything that you enjoyed?

Shireen: Well it’s really hard not to be inundated by American news, so yes.

Lindsay: That’s true. We’re a lot.

Shireen: Totally, but I have to say, out of all the news that I’ve watched in the recent I don’t know two years, this has been the most uplifting. When Deb Haaland wiped her tears with Sharice Davids’ scarf, I was like crying, because I use my hijab to wipe tears of my girlfriends and vice versa. I know that and someone was like, “Don’t make it about you.” I’m like, “I’m not making it about me, I’m just saying that, that act of comradery and love was very sincere.” I am also completely here for Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s dance video and our friend of the show Katelyn Burns actually tweeted out a new Twitter account that has that video clip to every song imaginable.

Lindsay: Oh my God, it’s so good.

Shireen: Her dancing works with every song. I suggested a Bollywood tune it hasn’t been done yet, but just because I’m so excited by it. The kids dabbing, Rashida Tlaib’s tweet your thobe that came out, I mean I never in my life thought I would see a Palestinian thobe in Congress and she wore one to her swearing in. It was magnificent, congrats to all of you because you deserve hope. I understand why there’s too often times people don’t feel like there is any, this was well deserved for Americans, well most Americans weren’t racist assholes. Yes.

Lindsay: The few of us.

Shireen: The few of you out there. No, I’m really happy for you because you all deserve this joy.

Lindsay: It was very emotional, the Muslim women in my office both were saying that they never thought they’d see the day where they saw Muslim women in Congress. That just really was really emotional. In Ilhan Omar’s tweet from Minnesota she had this tweet that said, “23 years ago from a refugee camp in Kenya, my father and I arrived at an airport in Washington DC. Today we return to that same airport on the eve of my swearing in as the first Somali American in Congress.” That’s just so amazing. Jess?

Jessica: Yeah, I want everyone to check out her photo when she’s hugging her son after she’s sworn in, that is an amazing photo. I wanted to mention one thing from the senate side of this. Kyrsten Sinema, I hope I’m saying that correctly, Kyrsten Sinema, she’s the first openly bisexual senator in history. She was sworn in with the law book instead of a Bible by known homophobe, First Homophobe even, you could say, Mike Pence himself. She wore this amazing sleeveless top and so you can see her guns, like she’s got guns on those arms. The symbolism of that photo and what that means in the Senate, that Mike Pence will have to see her a lot. Like all of those things, it’s lovely.

Lindsay: It was just, her entire wardrobe I know it’s not about the wardrobe, but oh my God.

Jessica: It was very good.

Lindsay: It was fantastic. All right, look, we’re going to go back to the sports world now, but every once in a while we’ve got to take our wins so we can get them in and celebrate them. Okay, so here we are at the end of another college football season. Jess, amateurism, is it good? If not, what do we do about it?

Jessica: Yeah, so as Lindsay said at the top of the show, by the time you all hear this, the college football national championship game will be over. Either Alabama or Clemson will once again be at the top of sport, this will be their fourth meeting in four years in the playoffs. The third of those meetings being in the final. They’ve each beaten the other to win the crown and together these powerhouses show us that not paying the players, doing the actual labor on the field does not ensure parity in the game. That’s always one of the arguments that if we start paying these guys, then all of a sudden there won’t be parity in the game, which is laughable.

The whole point of this and we talked about this before, the myth of amateurism is just that, that it’s a myth. There’s no reason that it has to exist despite what people say about how complicated it will be to fix it. On some level you can just answer all of these claims with just pay people. In March, Patrick Hruby who writes on this a lot, he wrote a piece on Deadspin and argued we should pay the players and that’s really it. We managed to pay people all the time for their labor, but I really loved this bit at the end that I wanted to quote.

Quote, “Allowing college athletes to be paid really can seem like an enormous earth-shaking shift, but that’s only if you think about it the way that NCAA wants you to think about it. If you think of college athletes as a special and peculiar class for whom work is play, rights or privileges and making money is at best deeply suspicious and at worst downright evil. That is bizarre on its face, but also that’s the underlying moral calculus of amateurism, the insidious upside-down reasoning that labels a labor exploiting, self-admitted cartel clean. The mirror active earning what you’re worth dirty.” Like that has to be the frame for this.

This week Professor Victoria Jackson had an op-ed in the LA Times. She suggested if not paying the players, at least giving them lifetime scholarships so they can always come back at any point in time and finish their education. Doing so would finally like pull off the mask, this isn’t really about education right? If it was we could give them lifetime scholarships. Joe Nocera and Ben Strauss suggested multiple things in their book “Indenture” which came out a couple of years ago, including giving these players lifetime health insurance coverage. That whenever they have trouble in future with their bodies or their brains, they’re covered for that.

Nocera’s talked about putting salary caps if people are concerned about how much money these players could get. A federal judge at one point tried to implement a $5000 stipend, the athletes would receive upon leaving school. That was overturned. There are a ton of ideas here, including just let there be a market and just pay these people. I just think it’s important to say like, forget all the logistics of this, it’s just ethical to pay these guys. To pay players for their actual labor for these institutions. What do you all think is the way forward here?

Lindsay: Yeah, I think it’s important to note that like you said in the intro Jess, there are few different models here. There’s a lot of fear on green that goes on when you talk about changing a system such as amateurism. Fear comes from first of all people being comfortable with what they know and with what they’ve kind of grown up with. It also comes from the people in power who as we’ve discussed before, are afraid that any change in the system is going to cause them to lose this power that they have hoarded throughout the years.

I think one of the things that is worth pointing out is the fact that, one of the myths I constantly hear about why amateurism, why ending amateurism would ruin college sports, it is this myth of parody. This fact that we have to keep a level playing field for everyone. Alabama and Clemson have met in three of the past four national championship games. I did some digging, a piece on Think Progress that will go up on Monday. Literally at the end of the national championship game, once again we were recording this before the game, they’ve all been 12 college football playoff games within the last four years. Clemson or Alabama will have won 11 of the 12.

Jessica: Oh my gosh.

Lindsay: Furthermore, if you look, Dabo Swinney is I believe the number sixth highest paid coach in the country. Of course Nick Saban is the top paid coach in the country. If you look at the top 10 of the highest paid coaches in the country, most of these schools have been to national title games in the past 10 years. Money and whoever has the biggest pocket books, these things are already tipping the scales in college football, in college athletics. These things are already making a difference. The only problem is that none of that is going to the players. The only playing field that ending amateurism would upend is this completely uneven playing field between the coaches and the administrators and the players. It would just help even that out a little bit. Honestly that’s what people are so terrified about.

I’ve got to shout out Andy Schwarz, an economist who does such great work on this. He actually has a piece about the 13 myths of ending amateurism. He goes through and he counters each and every one of them. When you really look at it, it’s so simple. You do and you figure it out, and you go from there. Brenda?

Brenda: Yeah, I mean we’ve talked about this a lot and I think about it all the time. I think that the answer is unionization. I think that seems to be the right way to go forward. There’s a ton of precedent for paying students for labor, for subsidizing their research, for subsidizing their education. You could do for example if you wanted to do something like work study, there are quite a lot of programs that are available to look at as models for paying students in different ways. I just think you have to get rid of it all together. No other, honestly as a university professor, it has nothing to do with education. It can’t, it just can’t.

Those players are not students at Clemson. I’m sorry, they can’t be. Look at the attention on them right now, look at the demands on their time, there’s no way they’re buying their books. Come on, I mean it’s a charade that is insulting to me as a professor. I think it’s gross, and honestly, I mean the fact that they don’t pay them is just painful. I love Victoria Jackson’s piece, it’s great, I mean it would be a big step forward to protect players futures to at least give them the opportunity after eligibility to have their scholarships. I’m also just so done with it. No other country in the world does this. No other country, and we can find some good things, we can find some women soccer stuff that I love, but I’m talking about this big money stuff, it’s absurd.

Lindsay: Shireen?

Shireen: Hi, yeah, thanks. I think that, I mean I’m listening very intently because I mean, I live in Canada and America is the center of college athletics similarly in the world. It’s where everybody aspires to go. I have a kid that’s, I don’t know what you call her, she’s in grade 11. She’s like a sophomore, junior, I can’t remember how it goes, junior. She’s prepping to go and her dream is to go to the United States for college sports because that’s the best in the world. I find it really problematic when still kids aspire to this system that is so inherently problematic. Where their bodies aren’t valued, their time isn’t valued and their education is considered second rate.

Lindsay, you’re just listing off the salaries of the coaches and Nick Saban, how much does he make? Like seven million? It’s mind boggling when there’s so many kids that are struggling in those systems and the supports they need. I’m coming from a kind of personal angle here, but it worries me when the top system in the world and the one that the kids aspire to is this one. This needs to come down and it needs to be re-fixed and re-structured, because it scares me.

Jessica: Yeah, I mean there’s something about this where, like I know we’ve talked about this before and I feel like I’m going to say the same thing I said before. I feel like anytime we talk about this, we have to always bring race into it, because it’s clearly going on. I mean the people Lindsay you’re talking about that’s making all the money, the vast majority of those people are white men. As we know, the money-generating sports on college campuses are often men’s football and men’s basketball, and the majority of those players are black. A lot of the time, especially at historically white universities, they make up a huge percentage of a team whereas there’s only 2% of the entire school population are black men, something like that. They’re way over represented on the teams themselves.

Then we know on top of all of that, that there’s been really great, I can’t remember, he used to be at the University of Pennsylvania, and he’s I want to say USC, somewhere out in California. There’s a professor who every so many years, four years, three years, he does stats on the rates of actual degrees of these players on men’s basketball football teams, the Power 5 conferences. It breaks down by race, the people who get degrees that are athletes are more likely to be white. If you’re a black student athlete, sexually a black male student athlete, you’re less likely to actually get a degree in the end. That matters, this is not setup to get these guys degrees and that shows when we look at especially when we break it down by race. Then on top of that, if you haven’t looked into what happened at UNC as far as paper classes, a lot of these guys aren’t even getting real degrees. If they actually get them, these are fake classes that they’re creating in order to get them out the door with a degree in their hand.

They’ve been sued, like UNC was sued by former athletes who were like, “We didn’t even get an education in the end, even though I have a degree.” On top of all of this stuff, if you look at who supports paying players, that breaks down by race. White people are less likely to support playing players. All of this stuff is so messed up, and it can all just be fixed by paying them. We know how to pay people, we live in such a capitalistic society, like it’s not that hard to pay people. The idea that like this is the one place where it’s super complicated it’s just bullshit. All of these factors that go into it especially racism, we just have to always talk about that.

Lindsay: Absolutely. Brenda?

Brenda: Yeah, race is really important. I remember when Hofstra was dismantling its football program when I first got there for a medical school, which I just like to say for the thousandth time makes me super proud of Hofstra. Yes, I’m really glad that we’re fixing brains instead of damaging them. When that happened, there was actually someone pointed out what that would do to the diversity number. Exactly what you’re saying Jess, and it was like, really? Really? That’s an argument for keeping the football program? You don’t think …?

Jessica: Find another way…

Brenda: Right, you don’t think there’s enough?

Jessica: …to fix your diversity numbers.

Brenda: People were just livid with that statement saying, “Are you serious? You don’t think you can find a number of diverse students that deserve to get in for their brains?” I would just like to say one last thing, which is that, coming out of a division one school, we should remember that the hundreds of division one schools don’t make money. These aren’t money making programs. You’re talking about very few, very few. The whole idea that somehow schools need to keep their athletic programs because they’re beneficial and they need to sort of make these contracts and take the sponsors and do these things because they’re beneficial to the university, there’s no statistics that they’re beneficial for enrollment. It’s not clear how alumni spending works in that sense beyond the top 10 programs. People within universities that argue that we need it in the university, I just don’t see the evidence for that.

Jessica: Then they’ll say, you’re totally right Brenda, and then these programs that aren’t even making money will still somehow find a way to pay their coaches millions of dollars.

Brenda: Oh yeah. And ADs million of dollars.

Jessica: Yeah, the idea that there’s no money, it’s just like …

Lindsay: There’s too much money so they have to find a way to spend it on basically building spa retreats and paying assistant string coaches a million dollars, so that they can say there’s no money, so that they cannot pay the players.

Shireen: Wait a minute. Spa retreats?

Jessica: Oh yeah.

Lindsay: I mean just the facilities that they create for these programs are like …

Jessica: Like look up Northwestern’s facilities, talk about a program not known for football, you should look up North Western’s football facilities, it is wild.

Lindsay: It’s absolutely mind blogging, and it just goes back to this, amateurism is a sham, it doesn’t make any sense. It’s stupid. This doesn’t actually directly have to do with the NCAA. The NCAA is somehow the commonsense person in this story, but I really want to talk a little bit about before we end, Maori Davenport, the high school basketball player in Alabama who was accidentally … She was a team USA basketball player, she was the MVP of the under 18 tournament, FIBA’s under 18 tournament in Mexico city this past August, led team USA. She got paid in $850 stipend from USA basketball for this tournament. She cashed the check because it was from USA basketball, so she assumed it was okay. USA basketball then decides it’s made a huge mistake. It’s not supposed to send this checks to players who have remaining high school eligibility left, because the amateurism rules differ so much from state to state.

USA basketball usually checks with these state administrations before administering this once again stipend, but they had just completely failed and not done that. When Maori found out, she returned the money and yet the Alabama High School Athletics Association has still decided that the mere fact that she cashed this $850 check, directly given to her from USA basketball in an official manner, made her ineligible to play her senior year of high school. She is a number 15 on the list of top recruits. She’s already said she’s going to play at records next year, but this is her senior year, getting to play for her hometown team, public high school in her hometown. Try and lead them back to a defending championship, it makes absolutely no sense. There’s right now a big public campaign to try and convince the Alabama High School Athletic Association to overturn this decision. It’s actually been upheld through appeals already twice.

What you’re left with is just to me the ultimate example of how this is all a sham. This is all so ridiculous. Maori getting this check doesn’t impact anybody, and the fact that she even returned the check and it’s still being called, just shows that this isn’t about the actual money. This is all about control, and it’s all about keeping people mostly black athletes in their place.

Shireen: I want to add about this that C. Vivian Stringer actually supported her publicly and like her coach.

Lindsay: Yeah, I mean Stringer’s going to be her coach next year.

Shireen: Yeah, exactly and I’m saying that publicly coaches are not talking about how horrible this is. This story made me so mad, I think it’s like the seventh thing that made me mad in 2019, I have a very long list already. This was infuriating because her parents are the ones that came forward and tried, like as they are as a family, tried to make right or wrong and it was still slapped in their faces. I mean I hear Alabama and the athletics, they’re a black family, I can’t help wonder if Alabama is just being racist. I know like it’s farfetched theory for me, but I’m so frustrated at the injustice of it. There’s no advocacy for the players. Who is advocating? Aren’t these federations supposed to support the players? Yeah, no.

Lindsay: All right, next I sit down with the fabulous Caitlin Thompson.

All right, hi all, Lindsay here with the fabulous Caitlin Thompson who Caitlin, I’m going to let you really introduce yourself because you have so many titles. Racquet Magazine, creator and editor in chief is that your title?

Caitlin: I’m the publisher.

Lindsay: Publisher.

Caitlin: Close, I am along with my very good friend David Shaftel the co-creator of this tennis print magazine. I host a couple of tennis podcasts, so I’m sort of like a media lady about town. I’m really delighted to be talking to you. I’m a huge Burn It All Down fan. I’ve been listening to the show for I think since you guys started it. I’m super jazzed to talk to you Lindsay. It’s nice to hear your voice.

Lindsay: Awesome, well we are equally as excited on our end. I want you to tell us a little bit about Racquet Magazine, it’s this quarterly print magazine. It’s the completely different direction that media has been going over these past few years. I talked with you when you were starting it, and you just had this radical notion that this was going to work. I mean I think when we talked about it, it was almost two and half years ago?

Caitlin: That’s it.

Lindsay: You’re still here, so that’s got to be a good sign right?

Caitlin: Yeah, we’re thriving. From the jump, David and I knew that we wanted to make something that felt really essential and really lean in and very sort of immersive. A print magazine felt like that was such a beautiful sort of house for these ideas and this visual language that we felt like we had developed between the two of us over about a decade of friendship and playing tennis and traveling together and both being journalists obviously. I think because we’re both journalists, we both worked at other magazines. I had worked at Time Magazine. Dave had worked at sort of like famously the Source, the hip hop magazine and working a lot for newspapers and a lot of digital sites affiliated with huge media organizations.

We just started to feel like you could just throw anything up on the internet, but what were you really saying? We didn’t want to be part of that sort of metabolism where things just kind of churn through. If you can write the best headliner, optimize the best search, you have the chance of getting the audience today. We felt like what we had to say about this sport that we really loved was different than anything else that was really being discussed about it, which is the culture, the history, the visual sort of poetry to it. The elegance and some of the grit and some of the cool cultural stuff and it’s relation to hip hop. It’s relation to film, it’s relation to literature that you wouldn’t get by seeing anything on the internet. It was sort of the combination of things we naturally liked, and the idea that by creating something that was print, we were making something really valuable and maybe a billion people wouldn’t see it.

Even now two and a half years in, like we’re still reaching in the tens of thousands of people, but each of those people pays us to consume this thing. It actually works financially because it starts feeling really precious.

Lindsay: Of course everyone should also listen to the Racquet Magazine podcast which is Caitlin and Rennae Stubbs, the legendary Australian doubles’ player. The best thing about your podcast and your magazine is, the diverse array of voices that you bring to the front. Even in tennis which has more gender balance than most sports and in the media as well, it’s still overwhelmingly older male and white.

Caitlin: Yeah, it’s so boring and that defines what kind of stories that you see, which ends up defining the whole sport. Which is just with us, with David and I, we just kind of decided from the jump, like we were going to go for gender parity. We’re going to get as wide an array of voices in every category possible. A, because we felt like it was just mission centric and our goal with the magazine was to show and have a different kind of conversation about the game. B, we wanted people to feel that they were being spoken to and having tennis writers typically white, typically male, typically older. God, you and I know from being in the media centers in all these tournaments, it’s a bunch of like crusty old men who have the…

Lindsay: They’re super crusty, so crusty.

Caitlin: Super crusty. They don’t ever get out to the courts, they don’t actually watch the tennis. As far as I can tell they don’t even really like tennis, and for us like hiring people to write for our magazine, a lot of whom don’t write about tennis, sometimes don’t even know very much about tennis, but have an idea about how tennis relates to their world of fashion. I’m thinking of Thessaly La Force, who’s a woman, biracial, our age, writes mostly for teen magazine or former Vogue staffer. Not somebody who plays a lot of tennis, knows that much about tennis, but she really loves the tennis style. She brings so many different things to a conversation about tennis, she just wrote about Benoit Paire for our latest issue. Rather than somebody who’s like, “Oh yeah Benoit Paire he’s not ranked high, who cares about him?” It’s like there’s a lot to care about here. He’s interesting and weird and different and here’s why. Somebody like her is going to bring in a totally different perspective and make it interesting.

Sometimes even convince people in the tennis world already that the things that they have maybe dismissed, players or ideas are worth a second look. Somebody from outside of this very small, very echo chambery universe is saying something new.

Lindsay: God that is so important. Okay, so now that we’ve talked about big picture stuff and talked about Racquet, I want to get down into talking about the Australian open, more in particular about the women. Let’s face it, they’re more interesting than the guys right now. I just want to catch everyone up. Our top five right now looks like Simona Halep, Angelique Kerber, Caroline Wozniacki, Naomi Osaka and Sloane Stephens, which is just an incredible top five.

Caitlin: Amazing top five.

Lindsay: You’ve got also Elina Svitolina there at six, Pliskova at seven who just won a title to start off the year, and I’m so excited about how good she looks. Petra Kvitova sitting there at number eight, then Kiki Bertens and Daria Kasatkina rounding our top 10. Serena is there at number 17, Madison Keys is at number 18. Just some other names that our listeners will know, Sharapova still struggling, she’s at 30 and Venus after a rough year is at 37. Who you are you excited about having to this Australia? What are you expecting to happen here?

Caitlin: Okay, expecting anything to happen on the women’s side is sort of a losing proposition, because literally anything could happen. The 10 to 13 women you mentioned could all win this thing. Maybe not Venus, but maybe Venus. She made two grand slam finals two years ago at the age, my age of 38. Don’t count Venus out. The way I think about the top 10 and like slash the top really 15 who could probably win this thing, is you can actually firmly sort of divide it into two categories. You’ve got your Simona Haleps, your Angelique Kerbers, your Kiki Bertens, your Sloane Stephens’ these are the counter punchers. These are like the maybe don’t win a ton of tournaments, but win the ones that matter. Grind everybody down after two weeks and are really, really solid and make deep, deep, deep runs which is why they are ranking the top 10 sort of perennially.

If they have a good day, they’re in a grand slam quarter semi anytime. Then you have like the women who have weapons, huge weapons. They are all over the place. They have good streak, they can take a title. They have a bad streak, they are out in the first round. This is Naomi Osaka, this is Karolina Pliskova. This is …

Lindsay: Petra, Petra, Petra.

Caitlin: Certainly Petra Kvitova who lost in the first round last year. Then one you didn’t mention who my eyes are on, who just took a title home, who I love is Aryna Sabalenka from Belarus. I think she’s probably like what, 12, 13 in the world right now? Watching the US open in the last grand slam of 2018, she played Naomi Osaka a very tight, I think it was fourth round or quarter final match where they went three sets. This was future women’s tennis, they’re both like 20 years old. I think Naomi is a little bit older and Sabalenka is just coming into her own.

The feeling in that tournament sort of atmosphere was whoever of this youngins won that match was going to win the tournament. Then of course Naomi Osaka went on to win the tournament, but first strike tennis, huge shots, but like kind of going for broke. Have all the weapons, but can increasingly sort of hang in there. The weapon field women are typically more my favorites. I like people who take initiative. Watching Caroline Wozniacki and Simona Halep play like backboard tennis was a little bit rough after like hour 17 or at least that’s what it felt like to me last year.

I’m personally rooting for one of the women who have first strike win the point tennis. Sabalenka’s kind of a dark course here because she just won a title in Shenzhen, she won Wuhan towards the end of last year. She came on strong towards the back half of 2018, and to me watching her is just like mind-blowingly amazing. The way that Osaka can play when she hits her type. She’s awesome and she’s just like such a beast. I’m pretty jazzed about that and Sabalenka’s my sort of favorite to watch. Will she win? I don’t know, but she plays well and she’ll go deep for sure.

Lindsay: I really like that. I was going to ask you if there was anyone else outside the top 10, and look she’s there at number 11, so that is totally an answer to the question, so that works.

Caitlin: Technically. I’ll take it.

Lindsay: That is perfect. We have to ask what about Serena?

Caitlin: Serena’s so hard to have expectations for. I mean she expects the world of herself every day. It’s like the Serena fans are so interesting, because there are people like you and I who watch tennis who are I’m assuming sort of generalist Serena fans. Where it’s like we love her and there’s so much to say about her game, but we tend to be more realistic about how she does. Then there’s like the people who are blinded in their love for Serena, who expect her to win every single tournament and are freaking out if she can’t pull out of a third round. Whereas people like us are like, “Well, she’s not exactly up to the top of her game, so she did pretty well,” you know what I mean?

That always makes it tough to sort of predict how Serena’s doing. I will say she looked much fitter at the Hopman Cup and obviously the Australian is an event that she’s super comfortable with. I think it’s probably her favorite grand slam. I think a much better Serena is coming in to this tournament, a much more mentality focused Serena is coming to this tournament. The thing with Serena, there’s zero chance you can count her out. You can’t count her out until she has lost the last one of a match and I’ve seen it…

Lindsay: Even then I sometimes don’t count her out, yeah. I mean, but I do think that what is completely different right now after this past year is I think that the next generation, the top 10, the top 20, that these players have more confidence going against her than they ever have.

Caitlin: They lost their fear.

Lindsay: The fear that mystic, she’s been beaten in two grand slam finals in the last year. Not that they don’t respect her, they absolutely respect her, but I don’t think she’s winning many matches before she gets on the court and that’s good. I like that for tennis.

Caitlin: It’s good for tennis for sure. It’s great for sure.

Lindsay: It’s good for tennis for sure, and that’s not a knock on her, it’s just saying that it’s just the reality of the situation.

Caitlin: That’s a really good way to put it, that when you win matches before you get on the court because you’ve psyched your opponent out, because the inevitability of your victory is so strong, that they feel like they have no fighting chance, that’s gone. It makes tennis better. I mean look selfishly I as a gay lady want her to just walk away with two more grand slams, put Margaret Court where she belongs as a footnote of history because she’s a garbage person who …

Lindsay: Low, low footnote.

Caitlin: Yeah.

Lindsay: One of those footnotes nobody ever really looks.

Caitlin: Who’s record didn’t even mean anything until they moved the goal post on Serena. Then Serena can retire, which is what she actually wants to do. Look, I’m happy to have her in the hunt. I think she’s the best she’s looked since she’s come back from being a mother. The other one I want to see do well is Vika, I really want to see Vika doing well. I don’t know if she has it in her, but I always sort of personally root for Vika because I like her, I think she’s kind of bananas. Always have my vote.

Lindsay: I’ve got to wrap this up, but we’ll have to have you back, because I have a billion more questions. What do you think, briefly, could you briefly sum up this giant cultural conversation? Do you think we are going to see any advancements in the LGBTQ world in tennis this year? You mentioned that you yourself are gay and obviously a lot of tennis fans and a lot of tennis players are gay. A lot of the greatest in the game on the women’s side and yet it’s been a sport that has been really falling behind other sports when it comes to inclusivity lately. Do you think we’re going to see any steps forward in 2019?

Caitlin: I think we’re going to have really thoughtful and pointed journalists like Nick McCallum who comes to mind, who kind of keep raising the question. I think we have thankfully a larger culture and I don’t just mean a tennis culture, I mean a sports culture and just a larger culture in general that it stops looking the other way when people make homophobic jokes, which still happens among the men. I mean look, the fact that we were, tennis was ahead of the game in terms of gay rights, in terms of trans visibility in the 70s and 80s. Yeah, it’s fallen behind.

I think what’s interesting to me and this kind of tracks back a little bit with what we were talking about with Racquet, like there was a time when tennis was more of a cultural zeitgeisty sport and therefore it could accommodate more culture, which is part of what we’re talking about. It could accommodate a vast amount of viewpoints and ways, styles of play and personalities and fashion and amateurs hitting on public courts in jean shorts and cement. Now we have, it shrunk a little bit. It shrunk down again to this boys clubby, corporate eye banker kind of sport which it was never meant to be. It’s a global sport, it’s a young sport, it’s a diverse sport and that’s a great thing. I think there’s a bit of a disconnect between who’s playing it and who’s talking about it.

One of the things that I think is amazing and I hope continues and I hope Racquet in some small way is a part of, is that we’re trying to expand it back out again. When you make the larger culture like we’ve seen with the Olympics for example, more about the culture at large and the conversations with the culture at large is having as slowly and as frustratingly as they sometimes have it about people of color, about sexuality, about trans rights, about Me Too. When you start talking about this stuff, changes happen. It’s slow, but change can’t happen without that conversation.

What’s so nice and comforting is the larger culture is grappling with this stuff. The more we can make that happen in each of our individual sports, obviously tennis being my main focus, the better off the sports world’s is going to be. They’ll have to talk through a larger culture. I think the more we make that happen, the more likely it is to happen. You hear me not committing to any big dreams of it to happen, but Nick McCallum our friend is hosting another, his second LGBT event in Australia in Melbourne next week. I’m really hoping that the more players are asked, the more it just becomes a conversation about creating a safe environment for male players who we all know are gay to come out. That’s just going to get it to the place it needs to be, which is, this is not a big thing. This is just another facet of people’s humanity. It’s not going to be a safe space or really a truly wonderful space that it should be where people are living as themselves until we get rid of that sort of old boys network. I’m optimistic, but we’ll see.

Lindsay: Everyone download or subscribe to the Racquet Magazine podcast. Go pay to get the Racquet Magazine quarterly. All right Caitlin, thank you so, so much.

Caitlin: Thanks, Lindsay.

Lindsay: Okay, so it’s been a few weeks since we recorded a new episode. Which means there is a ton of things to talk about in the world of women’s soccer and particularly in the world of those with power within women’s soccer. I’m utilizing it poorly shall I say. Brenda you want to get us started here?

Brenda: Yeah, Lindsay, we’ve rung in the new year, but if the patriarchs of global soccer resolve to improve women’s lot, they are already failing miserably. It’s 2019 and you know we’re hoping for more this year, this world cup year. It feels like the momentum is on, the pressure on these organizations is greater than ever. The scrutiny that’s happening, so it’s frustrating, but exciting too. Dominating the scene has been the appalling revelations of what’s happened in Afghanistan and I’m going to usher in about that in just a second. I’ll leave that for her expertise.

There’s a few other things firstly in Somalia, there was a piece in the Guardian this week by Susan Wrack who reported that the Somali Federation isn’t active. That the head of women’s football Shaima Mohammed has no idea quote, “Where the money goes.” This is just really familiar, that sounds like every women’s federation almost. That’s not surprising, but every time you hear it, it’s more infuriating. In that piece, she writes that every national federation is entitled to money from FIFA with $100000 of the 500000 available for operational costs ring fence for women’s football.

Now, I’ve read FIFA forward, backwards and forward about a million times and we’ve talked about this on the show. I don’t think that’s right. Actually there’s no necessary money to go to women’s football and FIFA forward. There is incentive money, and there’s money that goes to women and used programs. If you control F in the FIFA forward document and search for women, I’ve said this before on the show, I’ll say it again, do it. It’s a fun little thing when you have time on your hands. Go and actually read FIFA’s development program, control F for women and it will only come up three times with youth. It never comes up alone. If you’re saying development money can go to women and youth, you will never know where it goes. You will never have to be accountable as a federation.

It wasn’t surprising, it was more on the same, but it’s still awesome to see big outlets like the Guardian feature people like Shaima Mohammed and women who are just doing the work on the ground. It’s worth kind of discussing and just to say that there’s a lot of home, closer to home in North America where we are issues with the NWSL draft now, just a few days away. Still wait, who is it? I should ask you guys. Orlando doesn’t have a coach going into the draft. Does Washington? I don’t think so. The Dash just got a coach, so there’s a lot of no commissioner, what third year running?

Jessica: No commissioner.

Brenda: No commissioner that’s a long job search. There are plenty of issues in professional club soccer too. Just one last thing that I want to complain about before I usher in about the most dominate and troubling story is, there’s changes coming to with end of USL contracts, some of whom are paid by US Soccer, because they’re national players. They actually pick up their contracts at the professional level. Now that it’s the world cup and they’re calling different people up, we’re going to see some really confusing changes as far as that goes and ones that probably need some attention. I do want to go to Shireen on this. The Afghanistan story Shireen could you give us sort of an update on what’s happening right now?

Shireen: Well we had Haley Carter and Mina Ahmadi. I spoke to them for a hot take in December and this was just before Suzanne’s piece came out. If you don’t follow Suzanne Wrack at her writing, she’s the leading woman sports writer in my opinion in Europe. She writes with Cara, the story was huge, the one about detailing the allegations against Keramuudin Karim who was the president of the Afghan Football Federation against whom these allegations are. He has abused many players.

Like the details in the piece, it’s very hard to write about this stuff, and I physically got ill when I read it. Just to trigger warning for everybody out there, it’s difficult to read, but it needs to be written because to disclose and the players coming forward. They told their manager, the coaches were and went forward. This is how the story unravels. I mean you might have heard in November that the Afghan Women’s National team some of the players didn’t sign it, because the contracts that they were given were terrible. Shabnam Mobarez who actually was the captain, is the captain rather she made a public post about how, and we talked about this in the hot take, so have a list in there, it’s a good start. Now that ended up going forward in Susie talking with a bunch of players and talking to Khalida Popal who we’ve had on the show last year with Kelly Carter just as an interview. I mean at Burn It All Down we’ve been following this team and their progress, and we’re good friends. We’re proud friends of this team.

I think that the allegations coming forward and what it is, is Brenda said it, the patriarchs in football. The so called untouchables that have all this power. When the president of your federation is the one committing the crimes against the players, you really feel like there might not be a place to go, particularly when the AFC, which is the Asian Football Confederation, under who’s umbrella AFF is isn’t doing anything. FIFA and AFC knew about this abuse a year ago. I saw Khalida in Warsaw and they’re slow moving where I’m sorry inaction becomes part of their action. They didn’t even set out as we know FIFA’s excellent at setting out committees, they didn’t even do that yet. Is it really that fucking hard to say abuse of players is wrong? They cannot even do it because of their red tape, their bureaucratic politics and their bullshit.

Honestly, the Afghan women’s team is not looking for them for a solution. These women know they have to create their own. All women know this, we don’t rely on men for solutions, because they create problems. We create solutions to those problems that always affect us. This is no different. I ended up in my conversations with this group of incredible people Kelly Lindsey and Haley Carter are their coaches, and Khalida is essentially their team manager. She’s a former captain, and Khalida must be said brought this team out of nothing. No football existed in Afghanistan as a structure. In between segments maybe there’d be a match here and there, but there was no legitimate structure in representation. She brought that out of nowhere and she worked her butt off, and she continues to give her life and her for this. It’s just really frustrating when you see.

Now one of the advantages is that Haley Carter and Lindsey, Kelly Lindsey are not based in Afghanistan. They’re American women and they’re not based there. Haley is in Houston ,Texas and Kelly is abroad right now, but they’re American women and feel that they can at least talk aloud openly. There’s no immediate danger against them. There’s always threats, they always get abuse and harassment online, but they can speak, because for a lot of the survivors of this abuse, they’re still in Kabul and they can’t speak publicly for fear of appraisal.

I mean there’s many layers to the story, but just lastly when I spoke with the women, I ended up starting the change.org petition to implore FIFA and AFC to get off their sorry lazy asses and do something. When I say do something, I was very clear after speaking with Haley as well and Nina not to abolish the federation, because there are good people there who are not complacent. There are people working and wanting to play football. Don’t penalize them, figure it out. Remove the ones in power, get rid of them, cut off ties with them, but also speak out and advocate for the players and find out what they need. Don’t swoop in and just do what you think to FIFA, to the AFC. Get in there and help them fix this.

The petition has over 1300 signatures now, which is excellent, but I’m looking for like 18,000 plus more. If you all could share that and I know thank you to my cohosts and Burn It All Down has been doing that. This is just a very small thing that we can do.

Lindsay: Absolutely. Shireen when you were talking about how the Americans on the team within the organization are able to speak out without fear just gave me chills, because that’s like what allyship should be, right, when you have that power, then that’s when you use it for good to speak up for those who can’t. I think it’s a good lesson for all of us. Jess?

Jessica: Yeah, thank you for all that Shireen and for the work that you’re doing on this. It’s so important. One of the things when I’m listening to you talk about this and Brenda’s intro that went through like a laundry list of issues. We talk all the time about women’s sports and resources and Shireen has remind us all the time that there are women who don’t even have like access to water that are trying to play sport. You think about just the distance and the work that women have to go through in order to be able to play. I think the Afghanistan women’s team really shows us that this goes beyond. We should always be talking about pay equity and access to resources, access to water, things like that. At the same time, having to deal with abuse, just in order to play sport, that’s a real thing that a lot of female athletes have to deal with just to play. I think that gets lost a lot in the conversation, even as we’re talking about feeling athletes as victims of abuse. It just makes you really sad when I think about that, they like just to play, that this is the kind of stuff that they have to deal with.

I echo Brenda’s statement about the fact that, there is hope this year, like the women’s world cup is coming up. I think it’s going to be bigger than ever, and we just have such an opportunity as members of the media and I know that we’re going to do this here on Burn It All Down. For the other media that are listening to us talk about this, we have the opportunity to draw attention to not just the sport and it sucks that women don’t just get to be athletes and play the sport that they love to play and that be it. They don’t, and we have a moment this year to really draw attention to these particular kinds of stories and to the fucked up system around these women. The things they have to go through just to be able to play, and I hope that that is part of the discussion that we’re telling this whole story as we’re talking about FIFA’s women’s world cup.

Lindsay: Absolutely and I echo the things for Shireen for all she’s done, taking on this story. I read through the abuse allegations and like she said, it’s absolutely nauseating. To think that this is what they had to put up with just in order to have that opportunity to play, to recognize that this man had so much power, and that this was such an open secret in so many ways. That they were kind of held captive. We see things to a much lesser extent. It’s not always the graphic sexual abuse, but we see this notion of women should be grateful for any opportunity to play sports. Then they should submit to kind of whatever they have to put up with in order to get through that.

Like Jess said, it just kind of puts into perspective how important it is for collective voices to speak up and to demand no, women should not just be able to play sports. They should be able to play sports in a safe environment. They should be treated with respect. They should get an equitable share of the finances, and they should be protected by those in charge. These are the bare minimums and it’s not happening. Obviously it’s a different scale, I don’t want to act like I’m comparing it on scale to what’s happening to Afghanistan team. We’ve talked a lot about what’s happening at Sky Blue in New Jersey, the WSL team where they’ve had potter parties and been doing ice baths in trash cans. This is a facility owned by, this is a team that’s led by US soccer.

Just as off season, I think it’s up to four players on that team who have now decided they’re not playing, they’re going to Europe. To me it’s just an example of these women taking back ownership of what they can control. It’s unfortunate that it’s come to this, but it’s great to see them stepping up. Shireen?

Shireen: Yeah, I just wanted to say that, for those that don’t know, the attorney general to the president of Afghanistan actually has set out investigation on this. Khalida Popal has like publicly thanked them for that, because something she said she hasn’t had hope in the process in a very long time. There is now, but the way it’s been handled and the president issued a statement because it’s a big deal. In as we all know, sports are very political and being the president of the AFF is a political position. It makes sense to say that.

I just wanted to remind people that the processes are not fast, and as Lindsay was saying like here we know that. We’ve witnessed the most horrific abuse in the history of sport in the United States. We’ve seen it with the master survivors and we know that it doesn’t move and there’s complacent-ness in this. Throughout this there’s something again I want to highlight, the indomitable spirit of the players, the athletes. They do this because they love it. They do this, it’s highlighting a problem in society and they’re bringing it to attention. Lindsay also talked about allyship really quickly, Alex Morgan actually tweeted her support. I think this is really important, and there is a go fund me for this team. They’ve paired up with soccer without boarders to continue their training and keep going. Although football is a vehicle to which there was abuse, football is also their release and their respite. Let’s keep it about that as well and their healing and give them the support where we can.

Lindsay: All right, it’s time for our favorite segment, the burn pile. I know we’ve all been storing up burns for a few weeks. I hope that we can get through this unscathed. Jess, go.

Jessica: Urban Meyer, the now former coach of the Ohio State Buckeyes took his team to the Rose Bowl this past season where they beat the Washington Huskies. What Meyer says is his last game coaching ever, and he has said such things before. Whether or not he coaches again, he does have plans in store for his post OSU life, namely to stick around Ohio State and teach. Last month and I’ve been holding this in kind of, last month Meyer told a local Columbus Ohio TV station that he will be co-teaching a character and leadership course at Fisher College of Business at Ohio State, LOL. He said he also has plans to work with athletic director Jean Smith in some capacity and still be a part of the football program, though he’s not exactly sure what his role will be.

This is a stunning and not at all stunning development given that at the beginning of what he says will be his last season ever coaching college football, Meyer was suspended for three games after it came out that he not only knowingly kept the reported domestic abuser on staff for many, many years. A reported abuser who had all kinds of other disciplinary issues under Meyer, but that Meyer lied to a lot of people about keeping that reported abuser on staff. Including the media, the athletic director, he’ll continue to work for and the investigators hired by Ohio State to look into all of this. He also won the Rose Bowl, so he’s off to teach about character and leadership. Lucky, lucky students.

The hypocrisy of what he does versus what he says is so blatant that it’s laughable, that so many people at Ohio State don’t give a shit at all about that thought it’s disgusting. The system around college football and the people who populate it are an ongoing disappointment. I’m just throwing this onto the burn pile where it deserves to live.

Group: Burn.

Lindsay: We’ve been waiting for that. All right Brenda.

Brenda: This has also been something that has been simmering in the back of my head. Gabriel Camargo, who is the president of Deportes Tolima. It is a club, a top league club in Colombia, came out two weeks ago, responding to a lot that had happened with Copa Libertadores which is the professional competition in South America and how the Colombian women who won that were not getting paid. His response, he is president of this club, Deportes Tolima said, “That’s because women’s football is a Petri dish of lesbianism and that women players are usually drunk.” I would like to say that Gabriel Camargo is also a former senator, like of the country.

When I tweeted out about it, the first joyful responses of a bunch of machista assholes was to tell me, “Of course they’re not going to kick him off of the club. He’s the owner,” like men tell me things. Wow, that’s amazing that you know that. Huh, you got me. It’s like I would have burned the responses to that tweet, because obviously the league and obviously the federation can suction owners dumb asses. Like yeah, I know he owns the club, that makes it worse. I’m burning everything, Camargo’s role and their response to it.

Group: Burn.

Lindsay: All right, I’ve got to take on the WNBA and the NBA here. Kristi Toliver, we have talked a lot about her. She is the WNBA champion, great point all-star point guard who is now an assistant coach for the Washington Wizards in the NBA. Just spending her WNBA all season doing nothing, lazy. Anyways, it’s obviously a great thing that she’s the first active player, active WNBA player to be an assistant coach in the NBA, which is such an exciting thing.

It comes out our friend of the show Howard Megdal reported in the New York Times, “She is only earning $10000 for the entire season as a coach.” Why, because there’s this WNBA rule that the WNBA teams can only, they have $50000 set aside to provide to players who don’t go overseas during the off season. They can pay these players this money in order to do promotional work, to stay behind and do promotional work. Well, the Mystics already pay $40000 of their $50000 allotment to Elena Delle Donne who has Lyme disease and doesn’t go overseas because she’s kind of worried about the wear and tear of her body and with her immune system. They pay her the $40000 for promotional work.

Now, here’s the thing, since the Washington Wizards and the Washington Mystics are owned by the same company, what we have is they’re considering it illegal against these rules for the monumental entertainment the company that owns it to pay Toliver a regular salary. They’re saying that this money has to come from this $50000 allotment, otherwise it’s a competitive advantage.

Jessica: Oh my God.

Lindsay: Anyways, this is absolutely ridiculous. Toliver should be making in the six figures easy for this job, and instead she’s getting paid like an intern when she is in fact a very qualified assistant. I just like to burn this rule and I hope that he WNBA fixes this in the next collective bargaining agreement. Burn.

Group: Burn.

Shireen: My burn involves Juventus, which can be of no surprise to anybody. We don’t talk a lot Italian football and that’s okay, because that’s fine, the men’s side is like bleak and annoying and irritating, much like Juventus itself that harbors a rapist. Let’s just say this, the AC Milan verses UV match with the Seria, one of their finals will be held the Supercoppa final will be held in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia in January 15th or 16th. Now, you’re like why is Supercoppa in Saudi Arabia that kind of makes no sense? Well, yeah money thanks.

There’s money, so along with that money are stringent and sexist rules. Apparently for the Supercoppa final in Saudi Arabia that will be held, there are men only sections, so women can’t go to stadiums. I know you all are like, “Wait a minute Shireen, I thought it was on Iran that women couldn’t go? I thought that you said that Saudi Arabia women could attend?” That’s right friends. That’s what I thought too, but apparently women aren’t capable of going to matches on their own in the stadium. They have to be in the family sections, so not only is this backward, it’s also where we see absolute like systemic misogyny and sexism in football that’s being supported by leagues and federations like Seria.

Basically, Italy is like, “Oh we don’t see any problem with this. Why are women needing to go anyway? We get this.” No you don’t get it. It’s bullshit and it’s not acceptable and you should not have your final in Jeddah, because this is not okay. To all the women city offense out there, I’m sorry that this keeps happening to you. I’m wondering why you support Seria in the first place, but that’s a different issue. We could talk about that later. I’m saying I’m sorry this happens, it’s bullshit and it needs to be burned.

Group: Burn.

Lindsay: All right, let’s talk about some badasses of this week. I’m sure we missed some because there’s been a long break.

But first of all, Khadija Bunny Shaw who was just named the guardian footballer of the year.

Shireen is making me shout out Canadian tennis player Bianca Andreescu from Canada for beating Venus Williams at the ASBC classic. I do love you Shireen, I do not love this.

Sarah Nurse of the Toronto Furies hockey team who currently leads all CWHR rookies with 18 points.

Have to give a shout out to the Baylor Bears for upsetting UConn and giving them their first regular season loss since 2014. It was a pretty phenomenal showcase of defense.

Amanda Nunes who won the UFC featherweight belt, so awesome.

Can I get a drum roll?

All right our badass woman of the week is Rebekkah Brunson, the WNBA superstar who has just joined the broadcast team for select Minnesota Timberwolves games. It is so exciting to see more and more women in the broadcast booth for men’s and women’s game. Keep killing it Rebekkah. All right, finally let’s finish things up, what is good? Jess?

Jessica: Yeah, so I’ll try to keep it short. Baylor beating UConn was on my list, that was a really fun game to watch.

I wanted to give a shout to Strong Opinions Loosely Held which is a podcast that I was actually on, their latest season dropped right around Christmas time. It’s all about women and sport, and I’m on the first episode, but the whole thing is great. Strong Opinions Loosely Held, if you’re looking for a podcast.

Everyone go get your flu shot. I got mine yesterday finally, finally. It’s not too late, don’t want to be embarrassed, I was a little bit.

Then I wanted to say I am reading a book by Sam Anderson called ‘Boom Town’. It is about Oklahoma City, it’s a history of the city. It’s brilliantly written, Sam Anderson is an amazing writer, but a lot of it is about basketball. It’s about the OK City Thunder. There’s this amazing chapter early on that connects the Seattle Supersonics with the Oklahoma City’s Thunder which is obviously, the Thunder stole them from Seattle. The noise, the sound, breaking the sound barriers is a similar phenomenon to Thunder. He connects all these things along with bowing and doing sonic, supersonic sound testing over Oklahoma City in the 60s. It is just this amazing narrative and I am enjoying it thoroughly, so ‘Boom Town’ by Sam Anderson.

Lindsay: Amazing. I’ll go quickly. For a super serious one, my new obsession is 90-day fiancée, and everyone should watch it because it is really high class entertainment. I want to talk about it with everyone I know, so please film thrillers get on this. All right, Bren?

Brenda: Winter break is awesome, it’s so awesome. The holidays are over, my kids are back in school and I have things that are like months lay that I’m doing. If I’ve owed you something, look out because it’s coming your way. Yeah, winter break it’s so great and I don’t go back to teaching until the 29th and I’m going to be all like refreshed and caught up. I’ve got this.

Lindsay: You have got this. All right Shireen?

Shireen: I just finished a book called ‘Seven Fallen Feathers’ by Tanya Talaga who is an Anishinaabe journalist and she writes about, it was a very heavy book and I read it during the break. Everybody needs to read this, it talks about the history of crimes against indigenous youth in Canada. It’s very heavy as a book, but it’s something that we really need to read. I’m so excited because I got to read again, like not articles and not research like a book, which was wonderful. I need to make more time for that.

I also I’m going to miss winter break because my kids have been sleeping at like 3 AM and waking up at like 2 PM, which is just fine you all. I’m caught up on season five with Law and Order, and I’m going through all the seasons again. I did that. I love Lennie Briscoe.

I’m also really, really happy to be back partying with my cohosts because I missed you all so much while we were gone and we had the burn pile ready in high and getting higher. I’m just really happy to be back, yay 2019.

Lindsay: All right we made it through, I am so proud of us. Thank you all so much for listening this week. We just love you all so dearly. If you want to know more about us, our website burnitalldownpod.com. On Facebook we’re at Burn It All Down. On Twitter, Burn It Down Pod. Please leave us a review on iTunes, Stitcher, SoundCloud, Google Play wherever you listen to your favorite podcast. That will be us your favorite podcast. Look, we’ll be here next week and every week for the next 50 weeks, because there’s a lot to burn down.

Shelby Weldon