Episode 91: Women ace hockey, Australian Open re-cap, Mina Kimes on NFL, and warming up to Superbowl LIII

The gang’s all here! In episode 91, Amira, Brenda, Jessica, Lindsay, and Shireen marvel at women acing ice hockey and that it still shocks people [2:24]. Then they recap the exciting tennis at the Australian Open [10:16]. Jessica interviews ESPN’s Mina Kimes on the upcoming Super Bowl LIII between the Pats and the Rams, what surprised Kimes about the season and her thoughts on the league and gendered violence [20:37]. Then, the crew thinks through the politics of the spectacle, stadium, and unsung heroes of the Super Bowl [36:02].

Of course, you’ll hear the Burn Pile [56:43], our Bad Ass Woman of the Week, starring Naomi Osaka [1:08:50] and what’s good in our world [1:12:03].

For links and a transcript…


“The NHL All-Star Skills Competition and Settling For Less” https://victorypress.org/2019/01/26/the-nhl-all-star-skills-competition-and-settling-for-less/

“Why Activists Protested the Super Bowl 2018 in Minneapolis” https://www.teenvogue.com/story/activist-protest-super-bowl-2018-minneapolis

“City: Plan to crack down on homeless camps not related to Super Bowl” https://www.ajc.com/news/crime–law/city-plan-crack-down-homeless-camps-not-related-super-bowl/4kjPyVbXkL8Tt9Dc9SMMSN/

“Gladys Knight Comments on Colin Kaepernick and Super Bowl: ‘I Am Here to Give the Anthem Back Its Voice’” https://variety.com/2019/music/news/gladys-knight-comments-on-colin-kaepernick-and-super-bowl-i-am-here-to-give-the-anthem-back-its-voice-1203111528/

“The Artistic Picket Line Surrounding the Super Bowl Halftime Show” https://www.thenation.com/article/travis-scott-colin-kaepernick-super-bowl-halftime-show/

“Black Athletes, Anthem Protests, and the Spectacle of Patriotism” https://www.aaihs.org/black-athletes-anthem-protests-and-the-spectacle-of-patriotism/

“Memorable comeback or great collapse? A closer look at Serena Williams’ loss Down Under” http://www.espn.com/tennis/story/_/id/25829520/australian-open-memorable-comeback-great-collapse-happened-serena-williams

“Belief, joy and female coaches: Similarities behind Pliskova and Pouille’s dream Australian Open run” https://scroll.in/field/910579/belief-joy-and-female-coaches-similarities-behind-pliskova-and-pouilles-dream-australian-open-run

“Naomi Osaka, the Next Queen of Tennis, Secures Her Superstardom With Aussie Open Title” https://www.si.com/tennis/2019/01/26/naomi-osaka-queen-tennis-kvitova-australian-open-final

“Useless Senator From Louisiana Takes To The Floor To Moan About The Saints Game” https://deadspin.com/useless-senator-from-louisiana-takes-to-the-floor-to-mo-1832059518

“Kendall Coyne Schofield Makes History As First Woman To Compete In NHL Skills Competition” https://www.npr.org/2019/01/27/689121194/kendall-coyne-schofield-makes-history-as-first-woman-to-compete-in-nhl-skills-co

“Road to the 2019 CCOA: Kuwait prepares to make IIHF women’s debut” https://womenshockeylife.com/blogs_view_dsp.cfm?BlogId=2529&CatId=9

“2018 Hall of Fame Inductees Announced — Rugby Canada” https://rugby.ca/en/news/2019/01/2018-hall-of-fame-inductees-announced

“Canada’s Mirela Rahneva wins skeleton gold at World Cup” https://www.cbc.ca/sports/olympics/skeleton/mirela-rahneva-wins-gold-1.4992587

“Tuta emerges best: Female navigator crowned 2018 personality of the year” https://www.the-star.co.ke/news/2019/01/21/tuta-emerges-best-female-navigator-crowned-2018-personality-of-the_c1880939 


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

As it seems to always happen, I am once again guiding the ship today with the whole crew.

Jessica: We show up for you.

Amira: Exactly. I’m so excited to have them all here with me. The marvelous and meticulous Lindsay Gibbs with a sharp pen and a big laugh, she’s the sports writer for Think Progress in Washington, D.C. Hey, Lindsay!

Lindsay: Hi! You are right, Amira, you are on today.

Amira: I’m telling you, listen, the brilliant, Jessica Luther, who will deadlift 200 plus pounds while baking you delicious cupcakes. I mean, what can’t she do? She’s a freelance journalist in Austin, Texas. Hey, Jess.

Jessica: Hi, Amira!

Amira: The tenacious Shireen Ahmed, sports writer, activist, our resident Canadian and pajama queen, fresh off of her birthday and checking in from Toronto. Hey, Shireen.

Shireen: Hello!

Amira: And my fellow historian, my professor pal but you won’t catch her in a tweed jacket and elbow pads, she’s probably rocking chucks and hilarious wit. That’s right, it’s Brenda Elsey, associate professor, Hofstra University. What’s up, doc?

Brenda: Hello, what’s up you, doc?

Amira: You know, I’m chilling. It’s great, I’m happy. First, we’re gonna talk tennis. It’s back. We are here to reflect on the Australian Open and bring you some news from the tennis world. Then, we’re gonna turn our attention to the Super Bowl. Jess interviews ESPN’s Mina Kimes on the upcoming game, plus a few other storylines around the NFL.

Then, the five of us will dive into the mayhem that is Super Bowl 53 and yes, I had to google what the roman numerals meant. But I will try to stay calm and collected as we talk about all things Patriots, Rams, the match up, the halftime show, the cost and consequences of this mega sporting event, and the storylines we have our eye on heading into next Sunday.

But first, we must talk briefly about hockey. Specifically, the NHL All Stars weekend which for the second year invited some women hockey players to hang out at the skills competition, specifically this year, promote the women’s hockey upcoming matchup between the USA and Canada in February.

Brianna Decker from the US Women’s National team along with Canadians Renata Fast and Rebecca Johnston previewed events at the skills competition and the United States’ speedy Kendall Coyne Schofield became the first woman to compete in the skills competition.

There was, let’s just say, happenings and reactions this weekend. Shireen, I know you have thoughts.

Shireen: I have a lot of thoughts. First of all, shout out to CCM who paid Brianna Decker for actually winning the competition in the passing and accuracy. I think I also wanna say this because it’s important to me that Victory Press put out a note, as much as we’re so excited about Kendall Coyne, Schofield, it must be said and it must be said by us, there was an editor’s note from Zoe of Victory Press and we love NWFL, we love the C-dub and we’re very, very happy and annoyed and simultaneously irritated that men were like, oh wow, women can play hockey and they can skate fast.

because that was so much of the reaction and it does need to be said that Kendall Coyne Schofield, and I’m quoting from Victory Press, is notably friends with and has defended accused rapist Patrick Crane and has also in the past tweeted and liked tweets about how NFL anthem protests are disrespectful to the U.S. military which does not align with the Victory Press values.

I didn’t know this and I missed that post and Dr. Courtney Szto sent it to me, presumably because she knows we’re gonna talk about it this morning but also, I think that’s important to keep in light. When we raise up, there needs to be a place in the conversation to talk about the importance of women in hockey and particularly being included because Coyne Schofield was the first woman to ever officially participate in the All Star weekend.

There needs to be a place to talk about this because it’s not something that we can overlook. I have thoughts. I loved that the U.S. and Canadian women took photos together. I have to say that, thought that was really important. I loved Gritty, I loved all of Gritty and I was really happy with his- I think he’s my Patronus, honestly, even though I’m not a fan of the Flyers but that’s okay.

I was really happy to see so many women journalists there interviewing Coyne Schofield afterwards because that was the first my reaction was, there’s that many women covering hockey? Of course there is. We just never see them. Brianna Decker, mad props to her. Renata Fast is incredible.

It was a happy weekend but it was a weekend where many women I know were groaning and going, yes, they play hockey, yes, they’re amazing, for fuck’s sake, can we please elevate these women in their own right, in their own leagues, in their own realms without having the NHL included? because the Chel is gross.

Amira: Right, it was kind of this- Go ahead.

Lindsay: Yeah, I agree, and I understand the frustration but also, we’re just not there yet and steps like this have to be taken in order to get there and it’s frustrating for the people on the ground doing the work to elevate women’s hockey day in and day out. When something like this happens, it gets much more attention than any of their work and it’s also a necessary step, unfortunately, to get where we need to go.

But yeah, it’s thrilling and there were tons of shots on social media of girls sitting at home watching the performances of Kendall and of Brianna and seeing what they were doing. There was a lot of talk this weekend about the famous quote, “You can’t be what you can’t see.” And how just a weekend like this will have impact for the next generation that we might not be able to measure for a while.

Now, it’s just up to everyone to keep it going so that they can get now the attention on their own accord and not just for being with the men.

Amira: Anybody else have thoughts? Reactions? For those who didn’t watch, what happened was that Coyne Schofield was included in the official competition. They did a kind of bit where somebody had to scratch and who could possibly fill their place and she ran over to the ice really fast. It was also a spectacle leading up to her participation in it.

But the other thing that happened was that Brianna Decker who was not officially in it, she was just demonstrating the passing portion of the skills competition which is not the funnest or most notable part of it because random and kind of frustrating for a lot of players and it’s a weird competition.

But when she was demonstrating it, there was a video that clocked her at a time under the time of the winner. What started trending was #paydecker saying she should get the prize money, she should get the $25,000 because she obviously was competing and actually posted, according to that first video, a time that was lower than the eventual winner of the competition.

That also generated a conversation after that. Did anybody see that happening?

Shireen: Yep, and to be fair, CCM stepped up her sponsor and said that they would pay her. There was a lot of lauding for that while, again, the NHL remained quiet.

Lindsay: On top of everything, the NHL went back and said oh, wait, actually we did her official time and she didn’t really win but if she had won, maybe we would’ve paid her.

Shireen: Typically shady.

Lindsay: Or something like that.

Shireen: And unnecessary of the NHL.

Lindsay: Yeah, it’s just like … It was so unnecessary, NHL, here’s a big win for you. Just pay her! You will get so much good publicity. Just pay her and yet they have to overcomplicate things which is just par for the course.

Amira: Jess?

Jessica: Yeah, I don’t watch hockey, that’s not a secret. But, when I was on Twitter when all this was happening, Lindsay is totally right that we need these moments and that’s hard to admit and deal with but that’s true but I’m also with Shireen on this.

I don’t normally think about hockey but I think I maybe saw the NHL tweet where they’re like, “She’s so fast!” When they were showing the video and I was like, yeah, no shit. I don’t know, at some point, can we just, this idea that women athletes aren’t good, that every time, we have to be shocked.

I said in the Slack yesterday that it reminded me of when Doris Burke once dribbled a ball and people lost their minds. They’re like, oh my god, Doris Burke can dribble a basketball! It was like … Yeah.

Amira: It’s Doris frickin’ Burke!

Lindsay: It was in high heels, so you know.

Jessica: That reaction is like, I’m so tired of it even as I understand that the stage on which it was happening is important. But I don’t know man, good. I’m very happy about the girls who saw it.

Amira: I also become tired because it becomes this metric like okay, they can compete with the boys and therefore, they have value or they have worth. Inevitably, you get a lot of comments like they’re taking over this sport too or this is PC run amok or oh, so and so wasn’t even trying and she still barely beat him.

None of it’s in good faith. It can be ridiculously irritating and then like Lindsay said, like you pointed out, Jess, then you see the faces of girls and you’re like, this is also why representation matters. Again, big rivalry coming up, February, Team USA, Team Canada and that’s one of the things they were there to promote. Resources, eyes, eyeballs, all on the women’s game. There’s a lot of big stuff coming our way in the next few weeks.

Now, on to the show. Tennis, Grand Slams are back. Lindsay, for all the folks who didn’t get up this last week at 3:30 in the morning to continue to watch the Australian Open, can you just give us a little recap of what went down, what did we miss if we slept?

Lindsay: You missed everything, so you should feel really bad about yourself if you slept through. Australian Open is so, so hard for us in the States or on this continent in general. Essentially, Naomi Osaka won the Australian Open. This is her second grand slam in a row.

She’s only 21 years old. She’s now the number one player in the world, the first Asian player to ever be number one which is remarkable considering how many people there are in Asia and of course, she is the first Haitian to be number one as well although she officially represents Japan in competition, so that’s why a lot of the records go there.

But we don’t wanna overlook her Haitian descent here on Burn It All Down. But, it’s incredible. It was just incredible. She beat Petra Kvitova in a marvelous final. I’ll admit I was fading in and out during it while I was trying to stay awake but it was so good that I just kept sitting up in bed and trying to hold my eyes open to watch.

Petra Kvitova’s story of course, she’s a two time Wimbledon champion, one of the nicest players on tour. Everyone will tell you that. She’s still on the comeback from being randomly attacked by a burglar and having her left hand, her tennis hand, completely severed with a knife.

There was a lot of fear two years ago that we’d never see her back on the tennis court and all of the sudden, here she is in her first non-Wimbledon Grand Slam final and the hope is that we’re gonna get to see her fighting for these moments for years to come because the tour is so much better with Petra Kvitova at the top.

In the quarter finals, the big match that I think we’ll probably wanna talk about was Karolina Pliskova who Osaka beat in the semi-finals. She took out Serena Williams after being down. Serena was up five-one in the third set before there was a foot fault called which was she did actually foot fault.

Then she twisted her ankle in the next point and was never the same but Pliskova played incredibly well and handled herself really well, was able to come back from a five-one deficit to win that set and to make it to the semi-finals.

Those are kinda my big takeaways from the event as well as Danielle Collins, an American, 25 year old American who went to college all four years at UVA who made it to the semi finals in a miraculous run really, kind of a Cinderella story here.

What about for you guys? What are your biggest takeaways from this tournament?

Jessica: I obviously had a great time. I do wanna point out that it was 2:30 in the morning where I live, where I got up to watch. I watched Simona Halep and Serena play and then I, like Lindsay, went in and out with the final between Osaka and Kvitova. I actually fell asleep deep in to the second set at the point where I thought Osaka was gonna win and then I woke up and they were in the third set. I had missed that.

One of the things that I take away from this, Naomi Osaka almost lost multiple times throughout this tournament. She played multiple three setters where she had to come back where she lost the first set and she had to battle. That was even true in the final itself. She actually gave up three championship points on serve and Kvitova came back to break her in the second set, I later found out because I had slept through it. Then she just pulled her shit together.

Is she 21? Is that right? 21. I mean, the mental fortitude to do what she did over the last two weeks is so impressive and I think my other big takeaway from this tournament, it was a fun tournament. I really enjoyed it.

I feel and I don’t know Lindsay how you feel about this but the women’s game, a lot of the discussion right now is what happens when the old guard retires on both sides, both for men and women. Djokovic won earlier this morning. He beat Nadal handedly.

Number one and number two though are still Djokovic and Nadal. Federer’s still up there, we talked about Murray before, that he’s gonna be leaving the game. But of course, on the women’s side, Venus, Serena. The women’s side seems so much more secure to me.

There are so many potential great tennis players. We have so much fun women’s tennis coming up in our future from very young players. I just don’t feel that on the men’s side as much. I do worry what will happen when the now big three actually leave the game for the men.

I felt really good, it was really fun to watch the women and to think about what we’re gonna see in the future.

Lindsay: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I think that’s a pretty well respected opinion because it’s true. We saw Stefanos Tsitsipas, I think is how you say his name, he’s a Greek player, take down Federer and that was really fun but then he got completely crushed by Nadal in the semifinals and there’s still not a man in pro tennis who is younger than 30 who has won a major title-

Jessica: That is amazing!

Lindsay: Which is just absolutely absurd whereas the women’s game is in such solid shape. But the women’s game did need a player like Osaka to come in and really consolidate her greatness in back to back tournaments like this, right?

Because what the women’s game has had is a lot of individual great performances but not as much consistency and I think, for me, that’s what was really exciting at the Australian Open.

Petra Kvitova had a phenomenal season last year. I believe she won five titles, but she didn’t win at any of the slams so now having her playing well at the slams, that helps establish her at the top. Now we’ve got Naomi Osaka getting her second slam, now being a number one.

You’ve still got players like Serena and Halep, who played Williams…

Jessica: That was an amazing match.

Lindsay: Incredibly well in the quarterfinals, she was the number one.

Amira: I know.

Lindsay: What a tough draw for her, she was really a draw loser but you can’t look at this and say she choked as the number one. She got beat by Serena Williams. Serena’s coming back. Yeah, women’s tennis is in a great place. It’s gonna be such a fun year.

Amira: Then of course, Serena is still looking for that elusive, oh jeez, I’ve lost it.

Lindsay: 24.

Amira: 24, thank you, and we all kind of were collectively watching when she was up 5-1-

Lindsay: That was hard.

Amira: Battling back in the second set to force a third set and up five one, kind of looking like she was going to take it and then maybe tweaked her ankle, maybe felt like there’s … Do you think that Pliskova stole the match? Was it a win on her part? Was it a meltdown? What was your reading of it besides collective anguish of watching it happen in real time?

Jessica: I felt like both to me. Pliskova was really, really good and she was really, really good at the moments that she needed to be. Chris Evert said it afterwards that it can be really hard to compete against someone who’s injured. What do you do?

I mean, they’re competitors, yes, but that’s a weird mental space to have to compete against someone you know is hurt. That just feels weird. But then she was just excellent at the end of that match and she was excellent in the- Did she win the first set? In that match, yeah.

Amira: Yeah.

Jessica: That was spectacular tennis. Serena didn’t look great. The Halep match was phenomenal. Serena looked like vintage Serena against Halep a lot of the time and credit to Halep because she was wonderful in that match too. I don’t know, I think it was a combination of both.

I know that Serena downplayed her ankle but tennis players, athletes in general tend to downplay extensively their injuries unless they absolutely have to tell us something. I don’t really trust her assessment afterwards of her own injury, but I do think it was a combo of the two things and credit to Pliskova.

Amira: Yeah, Lindsay?

Lindsay: I talked about it with Caitlin Thompson when we were talking about the Australian Open before on this podcast about how I don’t think Serena … Serena is still the same legend but I think because of her time away, because the talent on the tour, she doesn’t go on to the court with the same amount …

Players know they can beat her right now. The top players feel that they can beat her. A player like Karolina Pliskova, when she’s playing her best tennis, she can still get beaten by peak Serena, absolutely, but she also has the game to take down Serena.

This wasn’t a case of a low ranked player playing an out of their mind match or getting lucky. Karolina Pliskova is one of the best players in the world and right now where Serena’s talent is, that can be challenged. She can be challenged by her peers right now in a way that she hasn’t always been able to be.

To me, that’s very exciting. It’s gonna make this number 24 that much harder and one thing I wanna note is Serena always, before Serena hit 17 which was what she needed to tie Martine Navratilova and Chrissy Everett. She had a trouble getting that one.

There were a few slams where she fell in earlier rounds, where she was incredibly tense. Before she got to 22 with Steffi, she got really tense. There were a few majors where she lost. These big milestones mean something to her and this is the last one she has, this number 24 and I think it’s in her head a little bit too.

I don’t wanna say she choked but she’s human. It’s getting to her. She feels the pressure.

Amira: This is a good reminder of how hard it is to actually- Sometimes we take for granted how easy for her it is to win a grand slam because she has so many but it’s hard.

Lindsay: It’s real hard.

Amira: It’s really hard! Next, Jess interviews Mina Kimes.

Jessica: I’m honored today to join ESPN’s Mina Kimes. Mina wears a lot of hats at ESPN. She does wonderful long form work for ESPN Magazine. You can catch her on TV on programs like Around the Horn and Highly Questionable and she has an NFL themed podcast titled, appropriately, The Mina Kimes Show Featuring Lenny. Lenny is her dog and that fact alone tells you that the show is great.

I’ve asked Mina here to Burn It All Down to talk about the upcoming Super Bowl which will air on CBS on Sunday, February 3rd and to talk about the NFL season that was. I wanna start with the Super Bowl. It’s gonna be the New England Patriots, surprise, and the Los Angeles Rams.

Which leads me to my first question for you, Mina. The Rams? Really? Is this a surprise how well the Rams did this year or did NFL experts expect this?

Mina: I picked the Pats and the Saints.

Jessica: Okay, well. You’re technically right.

Mina: It should’ve been the Saints. It’s interesting thinking of the Rams because actually, I think before the season, they did seem to be the favorites. They had this extremely active free agency, they spent a ton of money on players, they have some contracts, they really went all in on this season.

After last year, their success and what McVey did, I think actually a lot of people were pretty high on them and then at the beginning of the season, starting out undefeated, that continued and then about two thirds of the way through, they had a rough patch and that’s when people stopped believing in them and the Saints, I think, kinda overtook them as the most popular pick to come out of the NFC.

To answer your question, I think they were underdogs by the end of the season, not at the beginning.

Jessica: Hmm, that’s interesting. When you look at this matchup between the Patriots and the Rams, who’s the underdog going into the Super Bowl?

Mina: Haven’t you heard? It’s the Patriots.

Jessica: Who do you think?

Mina: Yeah, I think the line slightly favors the Patriots which I think is accurate and correct and I’ve picked the Patriots to win largely just because of how they’ve been so dominant, not really dominant, obviously the game against the Chiefs was really close, but it looked really good in the post-season and they’ve looked good in ways that suggest they’ve overcome some of their issues from the regular season.

The reason the Patriots are saying everyone thinks they suck, which again is not true, is because people were accurately pointing out they did have some deficiencies during the regular season.

Tom Brady, he was good, but this was not his best year. They didn’t have much of a pass rush. Those things have been sort of rectified as often happen with the Patriots.

I think it’s right that they’re favored, but when you actually look at the talent matchups at each position, they don’t have a significant edge.

Jessica: Hmm, okay, that should make for a good game then. Other than Tom Brady, I know there’s gonna be a lot of talk about him but are there specific players that we should watch from each team during the Super Bowl? The people who could make or break it for their teams.

Mina: On the side of the Rams, you’re going to hear endless talk about Todd Gurley because he was a viable, I didn’t think so, but a lot of people seem to think he was an MVP candidate halfway during the season and then in the last game, he was basically MIA.

Jessica: Right.

Mina: He didn’t get many snaps. TJ Anderson played a lot more than him. He said he wasn’t hurt. There’s I think questions about what his usage is gonna look like. Was he actually hurt? Is he struggling? That sort of thing is going to be a huge issue. I also think on the Rams, obviously Aaron Donald is not only the best defender, he’s the best player on that team.

But I would look out for Ndamukong Suh. Talking about how they went on a hiring spree in free agency, he was sort of a big pickup for them. Was pretty quiet during the regular season but in the playoffs, he’s really emerged as a huge, not only a great run defender but also an interior pass rusher alongside Aaron Donald. I think he could have a huge game because that’s always been the key to stopping Brady is getting a rush up the middle.

On the Pats side, I’m fascinated by Gronk because he really was not good this year. The Patriots thing, they were fine, Brady was fine, some of the team was great, but Gronk was not Gronk and then all of the sudden in this championship game, he looks better than he has in months. I’m curious to see if that continues in the Super Bowl.

Jessica: Hmm, that’s also interesting. Correct me if I’m wrong but Gronk had that huge catch at the end of the game itself, right?

Mina: Yes.

Jessica: Yeah.

Mina: Brady went to him. Third down, man coverage Eric Berry, him and Edelman, they’re just his guys and he proved to be reliable.

Jessica: Let’s talk about the refereeing because it was a huge deal this past weekend for the NFC and AFC championships. I don’t watch a ton of NFL. I don’t watch nearly as much football as I used to.

The reffing was very bad and also very important in both games. Both games came down to a lot of calls that the refs had to make them very close. Can you tell me, for people like me that don’t watch nearly as much, is this normal that the reffing is not great? Or that it plays such a big role in these games?

Mina: I think it was exacerbated this past Sunday by a couple things. One, that the games were extremely close. If the Patriots had blown up the Chiefs or whatever, we wouldn’t really care if there were some bad calls.

Jessica: That’s true.

Mina: What we’re talking about is the first time ever that both games have gone into overtime, both championship games. That puts a heightened focus on everything. Personally, I think the calls in the Pats Chiefs game, there were a couple bad ones. The reffing the pass on Brady was pretty bad, but they were run of the mill bad calls.

It was the no call in the Saints game that was not only incredibly egregious but also cost them the game that I think has sort of made the refereeing such a big subject this week and actually created the possibility that we’re gonna see some changes in the rules.

Jessica: One of my questions for you is if the Rams win, are we gonna have to asterisk this win for them because they shouldn’t have even made it in? Do you think that’s gonna affect if they actually do pull this off, that people will sort of wonder about that part of it?

Mina: You know, people have a pretty short-term memory about a lot of things in the NFL. I think this would be one. Especially if they beat the Patriots as underdogs. I think then, if anything actually, people will care less about the bad call because they’ll feel like they earned it.

Jessica: That’s a good point.

Mina: I also think it would be kind of hilarious if the Patriots lose to Nick Foals and then Jared Goff at the Super Bowl. It’s amazing being in the hot taking cottage industry or whatever, the amount of rage that we can work up on a day that ultimately subsides within three or four days is pretty amazing.

Jessica: Yeah, well, I think I saw today that there’s Saints ticket holders, season ticket holders are suing the league over the refereeing, so sports fans also have a real dedication to blowing things up.

Mina: Yeah. People get mad at me sometimes on the internet when I say all fans are bad. I don’t mean all fans are bad. Some fans are great but what I mean is every sport and every team has crazy, bad fans. It’s not unique to any team. I don’t know, sports make people nuts, man. Including myself.

Jessica: Yeah, I mean, me too. I got up in the middle of the night the other night to watch Serena Williams play tennis. I can’t say anything about it. Looking back on the season that is now almost over, what were some of the things, people, teams or whatever that most surprised you this year?

Mina: I did not expect Pat Mahomes to be as good as he was. I was very high on him after he had that one game and I liked him as a prospect and I love Andy Reed and that offense and I thought they would be good. I didn’t think he would be amazing. He should be MVP.

Just the level of skill and pose he’s shown at so many points facing so many challenges this year has been remarkable and to me, that’s the story of the season even though they’re out. That would be the number one thing I think that surprised me, perhaps.

Jessica: Yeah.

Mina: I’d go with Mahomes. My own Seattle team did better than I thought they would making it to the post season, I think that would be good. All the rookie quarterbacks, I liked Baker Mayfield a lot but I think him during it around with the Browns and the way that all unfolded was probably the other most interesting and compelling storyline to me this year.

Jessica: Mahomes is interesting because he was so good and I sort of wonder what will happen if he’s … He can’t repeat this kind of level of performance next year and I do sort of wonder what the reaction will be if and when he can’t quite live up to that level next year.

Mina: Often when quarterbacks have this great season that comes out of nowhere, it’s not the first season, right?

Jessica: Right.

Mina: It can be seen as what factors possibly contributed to this being an outlier? Was it the perfect scenario? Did he have this amazing offensive line? Dak Prescott was his first season is a good example I think where some regressions should have been inevitable given some of the conditions that he was in.

Just watching Mahomes though, he’s not the product of anything other than his own incredible talent. I know I said he had a great, incredible coach, incredible scheme, very good offensive line, great weapons but he does so many amazing things outside of the scheme and outside of those variables that I’m inclined to think he’s gonna be really good next year too.

Jessica: Yeah, I mean I hope so. It’s exciting to watch him and it’s always just fun when you have exciting players like that.

Mina: Really fun!

Jessica: I do wanna turn this before we end, this is such a Burn It All Down kind of thing to do too. But I did wanna talk to you, we talk so much on this program about sport and the role it plays in society. The NFL, you know this as well as anyone, we have a lot of cultural conversations around gendered violence when it comes to the NFL especially domestic violence.

You wrote a really great piece two years ago, I looked it up, I was prepared, about Tyreek Hill who is a Kansas City Receiver but who also pleaded guilty to domestic assault and battery by strangulation a few years back. I wanted to ask you where you think we are with this issue within the sport at this point?

I don’t think the NFL’s ever gonna get this right, whatever that means. But I personally do think this is something they have to take very seriously and try to figure out what to do about it. What are your thoughts on this now that we’re two years out from the piece you wrote about Hill?

Mina: I thought about that piece, Jessica, watching the Chiefs this year and thinking about when teams go to the Super Bowl, there’s such a magnified focus on stars. Tyreek has not done extensive interviews or re-invited any discussion about his past.

But he’s also … In that piece, it was after his rookie year, I talked about obviously the complexity of thinking about how the NFL should handle it and how we should view him and talk about him which, that’s a three hour conversation.

He’s been quiet, he’s obviously not been in the limelight and stayed out of any trouble off the field, publicly anyways. I kinda was thinking to myself, I wonder how people are gonna talk about this. What’s the conversation gonna be? Chiefs didn’t make it, so that didn’t happen.

I just don’t know if I can say that anything has changed since then in talking about not only the NFL’s treatment of the issue but the broader conversation about it which obviously came up again when the Kareem Hunt incident happened even though that wasn’t domestic violence.

Jessica: Right.

Mina: It was assault. He assaulted a women. It felt like, to me, that if anything’s changed, it’s simply that the NFL, which is extremely reactive and makes all of its decisions based on how the public will respond. I don’t think there’s a moral core there. I’m speaking of the NFL. There’s no morality that’s motivating any of these decisions. It’s simply how can we mitigate the public relations issue.

I believe that more than ever now and I think perhaps they have a more, I don’t wanna say sophisticated, but more aggressive interpretation of that than they did say circa Ray Rice, right?

Jessica: Sure.

Mina: But that doesn’t mean anything other than they’re just being reactive in a different way.

Jessica: That’s interesting because when the Washington NFL team took Foster, Reuben Foster and Doug Williams went out and said all those problematic things that he said about it, he did say we just have to weather the PR, he said the beat up or whatever. He used the worst terminology.

But on some level, it was like well, that’s probably right. That’s probably how they go into these when they make these decisions, how they actually approach getting through it, that it’s really about the PR. Even if it was hard to hear it, it did feel very honest.

Mina: You’re totally right. It was a weirdly transparent moment. I think what struck me most about the Kareem Hunt thing was the Chiefs cut him. We learned that actually, he’s had three incidents. There were two other accusations of assault over the course of the last year or so.

Then he does this interview with Lisa Salters, Jessica, I don’t know if you saw that and he mentions that he is thinking about getting therapy and I watched that and I was like holy shit. How is that something that … Even if team didn’t have access to the video or whatever, which is a whole other thing, having a player who has these sorts of accusations and this confluence of incidents, how do you not …

If you truly care about what they claim to care about in terms of rehabilitation and helping these guys or whatever, how does that not happen until now?

Jessica: Right.

Mina: We’re focused so much on these actions after things get out and whether they get cut and who signs them, but I think these teams obviously have such a long way to go in terms of thinking if we’re going to grant second chances, or if we’re going to be in front of this, what does this look like on the inside?

Jessica: Yeah. I feel like I could probably talk to you, Mina, about this for a really long time. Thank you so much for being on Burn It All Down. We are really excited to have you on and it’s always wonderful to have another female podcaster. Good luck with everything.

Mina: Appreciate it.

Amira: Okay, it’s that time of the year. Super Bowl is here. Super Bowl 53 will be played this Sunday, February 3rd between the Patriots and the Rams in Atlanta, Georgia. But before we get to the game itself, I wanna talk about the event, the spectacle, the cost of mega sporting events.

Because regardless who’s playing, though it’s usually the Patriots, I’m joking kind of, not really, the event itself turns every year and brings in some familiar problems regardless of who is playing.

Sometimes they get lost behind the glittery, confetti flying, media frenzied commercialized exterior. Let’s dive in. Jess, what should we consider? Keep in mind.

Jessica: There’s so much, right? This is part of the mega event thing. One of the first things that people have been talking about is the crackdown on homeless people. The city did a similar thing in 1996 during the Olympics and both times, they said that they weren’t trying to shuffle homeless people away because of the mega event that was coming.

But there’s a pattern. They did this in 2016 in San Francisco, very famously in 2018 in Minneapolis where I think there were freezing temperatures and there was really concern over people’s health and wellbeing and safety and all of that.

But these cities spend so much money to get the Super Bowl and this is one thing that I really wanted to address. The Super Bowl on Sunday is going to be played in the brand-new Mercedes Benz Stadium. They just built it, it opened in 2017.

The stadium cost the public at least $700 million and at the time was more than any other building in NFL history. But there’s a rash of these. NFL stadiums have been built, seven new ones have been built in the last 12 years and they all end up hosting the Super Bowl.

It’s clear that there’s a connection for the league. If you put all this money and often I think it’s something like tax payers contribute an average of about $250 million to build an NFL stadium and then they host these events and the events will generate somewhere between $30 and $130 million.

It is just wild that the Atlanta Journal Constitution back in 2016 had a whole breakdown of the bid that Atlanta did with the league in order to get the Super Bowl and it’s insane. I mean, it’s too much.

The NFL expects public and private money in Atlanta to pay for hotel rooms for eight nights for each participating team, rent free use of the stadium, assignment of security officers, approximately 10,000 parking spaces for game day use that the NFL retains the parking revenue for. Then there’s a whole range of lesser items. Banners.

The host committee has to buy its own tickets, up to 750 of them because the league gets all the ticket sales. The host committee doesn’t even get that. Atlanta added all these enhancements to theirs. $2 million contribution towards certain NFL expenses, a possible $1 million contribution to compliment state and city efforts. Party money.

A lot of that comes because they actually exempt sales tax, so they’re not even taxing all the stuff that they normally would that would go back into the economy. And then the host committee promised to reimburse the league and it’s teams for any other state or local taxes they had to pay, which they think is gonna be another $2 million that they lose.

On top of all of this, as part of their bid when the committee was up in front of the NFL people talking about it, they literally mentioned that the public has funded three Falcons stadiums over the past half century as a look, we’ll put a lot of money into this.

And then on top of that, I’m sorry, I know this is a lot but on top of that, both the city and state had to make substantial investments in emergency preparedness, winter response coordination, and road treatment capabilities. This is part of what the NFL expects.

This is all to host a single event one time. Just to think of who do they really care about? They’re displacing homeless people, the taxpayers are paying all this money, it’s not gonna even generate back the amount that it takes to do it. I don’t know. It’s really hard to think through what all is going into this.

Amira: Yeah, precisely. Not to mention that it’s a level one security event meaning federal workers are provided for the security clearances at the same level as the State of the Union. Up until two days ago, the government was shutdown, it was also a huge security issue as well. Brenda?

Brenda: Yeah, the issue of stadium public private money and taxes is super intense. There’s a weird, I don’t know if y’all ever read Field of Schemes? Yeah, which is a journal and a blog now, chronicles all of the stadium local sort of things.

The issues you really have to get into the weeds to understand how these things work like Jess just did in Atlanta, to follow and track the way in which these owners basically bankrupt the places in which they work.

Jessica: Yes.

Brenda: This week, it came out that the San Francisco 49ers will receive a $36 million refund from Santa Clara County after fighting taxes that they pay for levy stadiums. The San Francisco Chronicle reported, for example, that what this will mean is that essentially the team will get a refund and its taxes will drop from $12 to $6 million a year.

This is because they argued that- And just so we know, this comes out of public school money.

Jessica: Oh my gosh.

Brenda: This is all public school, this is how you fund the public schools, this is the same as when L.A. Rams and there’s a beautiful article called “The Silence of the Rams” about this, bankrupted St. Louis schools and then left. This is what they do and the way that they do it is they never want to own the stadium outright because that will mean they pay those taxes so they all work out a deal where the local government either holds the deed to the stadium or half does it.

Jessica: Wow.

Brenda: This isn’t just the US. This is a scheme that FIFA has perfected and outlined for every World Cup. What it means is that then, the 49ers argue we should only pay half of what we would pay because we only use it during football season.

Jessica: Oh my gosh.

Brenda: That’s what they argued to the point where the county assessor looked so dismayed and called the decision quote “shocking and unexpected” because it means now, basically, it’s $90 million they were planning on having for the public school district that they won’t have anymore.

The thing that’s tough about this is that’s hard to make a big narrative and just 49ers, Kaepernick, screw yourselves anyway. But just to say, it’s so hard to get a narrative about this because everything is so in the weeds and local and local reporting is good on it and it’s just hard to collect it all and say we know that they’re scamming but they’re scamming differently in every place.

Amira: Right. In addition to the Super Bowl and the displacement of homeless people, the rise in sex trafficking, the rise in militarization which is just what happens when the game comes to town, there’s a lot around the spectacle of the game itself. Not only the commercials, but the halftime show, the anthem performer.

Lindsay, you have thoughts on the halftime show?

Lindsay: No, I mean, look, I think the first thing that caught my eye was there was a big dust up, I guess you could say, a week or so ago when Travis Scott, who was gonna be one of the guest performers at the halftime show, came out and said …

There was a quote from one of the sources in his team to Variety, I believe, saying, “He and Kaepernick talked it out. They don’t agree, but they mutually respect each other.” Kaepernick’s team came out and was like, “Nah.” Every single person on his team was retweeting things and was like, “Absolutely not.”

If you are playing for the NFL, if you are supporting these NFL causes, you are not on our side. There’s no … You can’t do this both ways. I just thought that was fascinating. There were so many high-profile artists who did say that they weren’t gonna perform at the Super Bowl because of what the NFL has done to Kaepernick.

It’s notable to see who actually felt comfortable doing it. You’re left with Maroon 5, you’re left with Travis Scott, and I know Amira, you probably have some feelings on Gladys Knight singing the National Anthem.

Amira: Brenda’s favorite.

Brenda: It is, it is.

Amira: Was one of many who was like actually, kick rocks. Yeah, Gladys Knight is singing the anthem and talked about how she wants to refrain the anthem and reinvest it with meanings and we’ve thought about it through the lens of Kaepernick’s protest and that she wants to give it back its dignity and yadda yadda. She’s doing the anthem.

That will be interesting. I think she’ll sing it very well, but you know. I personally, was looking forward to another Fergie debacle that resulted in a mash up with a beat behind it.

But I think it’s hard. I write about how the league has constantly out-spectacled itself around the Super Bowl. When commissioner Pete Rossell TK in the 80s was conceiving of what he wanted the Super Bowl to look like, he famously said he wants it to be like 4th of July in February.

Brenda: Wow.

Amira: I think one of the things that you have with the Super Bowl is all the kind of militarization that we see week to week in the NFL. It really gets its genesis through the Super Bowl. That was what really kind of kicked it off before DOD contracts and all of that.

One of the reasons why the DOD looked to the NFL is because they had this precedent of hyper militarizing the Super Bowl. You’ve had Super Bowls in the 80s and the early 90s where people were literally airlifted in, you obviously have the flyovers.

It’s always been infused with a really heightened sense of Americana at the game and I think obviously wearing the mantra of the biggest unofficial holiday in the United States, we really should have that Monday off. I think that goes a long with it.

That’s when the anthem gets televised, we’ll see what Gladys Knight does and she has- It’s been a discussion but I think most people kind of rolled their eyes because she’s somebody who you obviously respect so I think it’s one of those things where people have kind of groaned and rolled their eyes and been like ugh, but yeah, it’s I don’t know. I’m just like …

Jessica: It does matter that it’s this particular moment, right? I mean this is a country of white supremacy but we are having a specific moment of resurgent white nationalism that’s tied very deeply into ideas of patriotism and the flag and all this other stuff.

There’s nothing apolitical about that spectacle and especially not in a moment like this.

Amira: Exactly. Once we get past the terribleness and the spectacle and the singing and the halftime show, then there’s the actual game.

Jessica: How you doing, Amira?

Amira: Well, you know, I’m terrible. I don’t think that you can … I tried this thing this year where I didn’t watch anything leading up to the game. I didn’t watch a lot of this season. I’m trying to wean myself off of football.

I was like I don’t care, I’m not gonna care, whatever. I watched the AFC championship game and I was doing okay until the fourth quarter and if anybody’s ever seen me watch a game, they know that as much as I try not to be, it becomes a full body experience.

Jessica: I would like to watch that with you.

Amira: I was a wreck. I’m curled up in the corner because my stomach hurts, I can’t eat, it’s really inexplicable. I think it’s a real problem and it’s gotten a little better over the years but when I say it’s not enjoyable for me, it’s because I’m in physical pain until we’re comfortably ahead.

Brenda: Oh my god!

Amira: This year, I was like I’m not gonna care, I don’t care, I don’t care, I don’t care and then I casually put on the game and I was like I’m so not caring, look at me, I’m being really great and then the fourth quarter happened and I had to cut off the game because it was making me too anxious.

There’s a Patriots chatroom and they’re usually a play ahead of the TV, so I just was refreshing the chatroom and pacing.

Jessica: Oh, man.

Amira: Because they were playing away, I knew if I heard cheers in the other room, that was gonna be bad. I spent the entire fourth quarter doing that and literally immediately had this sense of adrenaline and relief when we pulled it off and I think that lasted for about two and a half hours and I was like I have to sit through another Super Bowl.

That’s how I’m doing which is not well, but I also am one for narrative, so I appreciate the narrative arc of playing the Rams. I honestly think everybody who hates us, if we win this one, I think they’ll just ride off into the sunset.

Jessica: We know. That’s not gonna happen.

Amira: We can just end. But I do … This team has brought me, since I was a kid, such remarkable joy and it’s actually astounding to be in a third straight Super Bowl and to have this run, so I am also appreciative of that.

But yeah, the game itself I’m not looking forward to. This team is confusing to me, I don’t understand why they’re good. They haven’t impressed me all year and I’m kind of shocked every time they win but I would say that they have internal thing with them.

If you listen to the mic’d up versions of the AFC game, you’ll hear Patriot players yelling at Tom the whole time like, “You’re too old!” And they’ll yell at each other, “You’re too slow!” They’ve really brought this underdog motivation thing-

Jessica: I know, it’s amazing.

Lindsay: Which is just, I’m sorry, ridiculous because nobody actually is … The only person I’ve heard all year say the Patriots are bad is Bill Simmons on his podcast and he’s the number one Patriots fan and it’s like it’s become a self-fulfilling prophecy where all the Patriots fans are like this isn’t a good team and then they’re like nobody believes in us! What is happening?

Jessica: And there’s an amazing stat about how many Super Bowls Tom Brady has been in-

Amira: Half his career.

Jessica: More than most NFL teams. I mean, he is … Whatever you think about him outside of his play, he is unbelievable. That we have lived through the Tom Brady era is something I think we’ll all look back on later and just marvel at.

Shireen: Can I ask you something, Amira? On that point and for me, I’m living through Messi so Tom Brady is almost meaningless to me. But I have a real point. I know it’s obnoxious and terrible, but it’s true. What Patriot should we be rooting for if we do happen to hate Tom Brady?

Amira: If you know me, you know Tom is there to me. I’ve always been obsessed with the defense and there’s a million really dope people on this time. My favorite Patriots right now are the McCourty twins. They are my favorite storyline.

Devon McCourty has played for the Patriots for nine seasons. His twin brother Jason McCourty who entered the league a year before him has played on the Tennessee Titans and then played on the Cleveland Browns when they never won a game.

Up until this year when he joined the Patriots, he had never even been to a playoff game. To have your identical twin brother play for the Patriots while you have never even played past December is remarkable.

This year, he’s on the Patriots. He was brought into the Patriots and he was on the bubble all through training camp, didn’t look like he was actually gonna make the team and now he’s a starter. He’s playing with his brother again and their joy, their mom is amazing. They have a joint Instagram, they have a joint Twitter handle.

He wrote a piece in the Players Tribune about this, what it felt like to be playing with his brother again and there’s this moment after the AFC championship game where they just jump into each other’s arms and are holding each other so tight and Devon’s saying “welcome to the Sup!”

For me, they are my absolute favorite right now because Jason, you can see the joy that he has. Those are my ones to watch. Matthew Slater is amazing. He’s a special teams guy who has made himself a captain on the team through his special teams play.

For those who aren’t as into football, it’s generally not a skilled position. It’s an important part of the game but often gets overlooked. To have a guy like Matthew Slater be such an integral part of the team and be a captain as a special teamer speaks to a) how much special teams is valued but how amazing Matt is in the locker room.

Those are my players and also the McCordy twins have been very involved in doing equal justice initiatives. They’ve partnered with Harvard looking at disparities in police brutality against black folks in the area and they are the ones that I’m watching right now.

Shireen: Awesome, that’s convincing. I’m kinda sold.

Amira: There’s a lot of other really cool people too. Then on the other side of it, to talk about the Rams a little bit, you have a team that was moved, as we mentioned, out of St. Louis to L.A., one of two teams to get there and I don’t know if anybody saw that video circulating of LA fans in the bar after they won kind of just glancing up.

There’s also this discussion of people are framing this as another Boston L.A. championship right after the Red Sox and Dodgers obviously but in the tradition of the Celtics and the Lakers, but it doesn’t feel like an L.A. team for me.

Lindsay: No, I forget where they are. I actually forget they’re in Los Angeles sometimes and have to really think through it.

Jessica: It makes me sad because as much as I’m glad that St. Louis doesn’t have to deal with the money and the tax problems, all of that, it was still a big part of St. Louis, the St. Louis Rams and they had really grown and build there and then for them to leave and immediately have this success has gotta be really difficult.

I don’t know, we’re gonna see. You have both L.A. teams. The Chargers had a really good season too so I’m gonna be curious to see what happens.

Amira: We’ll be watching. Does anybody have any commercials they’re looking forward to?

Jessica: Cardi B, she’s got a Pepsi commercial. Cardi’s got a Pepsi commercial, apparently. There’s a teaser or something. That’s it. That’s all I know about it. The only commercial I’ve seen anything about. But I’m here for it.

Amira: Now it’s time for everyone’s favorite segment, the burn pile. Jess?

Jessica: Yeah, my burn pile today is lighter than normal but that’s in large part because the longest ever government shutdown in the United States is temporarily over at this point. It would be more outrageous if that was still currently going on.

But still, I cannot believe this happened on Friday before Trump announced that the government would open for three weeks. This was at a point in time where hundreds of thousands of government workers had missed multiple paychecks, many were turning to their communities for financial and food support and airports were shutting down because of issues over safety.

As all of that was still happening, Louisiana Republican senator Bill Cassidy took to the floor of the Senate. Behind him, on giant boards resting on easels were two images. The first was the cover of the Times Picayune with the headline “Reffing Unbelievable” and an image of a Los Angeles Rams quarterback’s helmet to helmet hit on a Saints white out at the end of the NFC championship game, which was not called on the field and had it been called, would have clinched the game for New Orleans and sent them to the Super Bowl.

In the end, as we all know, the Rams won. On Cassidy’s other giant board was a blown up image of the hit. On the Chiron on CSPAN below Cassidy were the words “government shutdown day 35”.

Here is how Deadspin explained what Cassidy did that day, quote, “This dork went on for over five minutes, stiffly making his way through an explanation of the play before coming to his point which is that referees should receive letter grades after each game. This is what sports radio rants would sound like if everyone who called into sports radio shows did so from outside the steam room at their country club.”

Sports fandom can be great but too often, it’s fucking ridiculous and on Friday afternoon, this was pure garbage sports fandom whether it’s because Cassidy himself cares deeply about the Saints or because he knows that his constituents do. Either way, what a gross display of bad priorities. Burn it.

Amira: Burn! Sticking on football, but college football this time. On this past Monday when the nation, except for the states who refused to, recognized Martin Luther King day, I buckled in for a day of appropriation and misquotes and what not and I was not disappointed.

Steve King, Mike Pence just completely- It was a mess. The NRA, the CIA, the FBI tweeting about his legacy like they didn’t actually kill him, I can’t. Usually, I buckle in because I feel like I know what this day looks like and I just prepare to roll my eyes at it.

Something this week caught me off guard. What I was not prepared for was the Florida State recruiting teams Twitter handle tweeting out that image of Martin Luther King with his hand extended speaking on the National Mall and putting it in and making it with a glove on it, making him do the Tomahawk Chop.

Jessica: Yeah.

Lindsay: It’s so bad!

Amira: It combines so many terrible things that it just … It actually surprised me. I actually had no words and I was just like, I didn’t think that there was a way to be shocked by appropriation but that one got me. It was like, let us find a way to completely misappropriate and use this legacy of a person who we don’t even understand who it is and combined it with racist, native imagery and movements and put it all together in a week where we’ve seen, as Jess so eloquently wrote about, that very signal being wielded against indigenous elders on this land, on the National Mall.

You have all of this happening and somebody somewhere thought it was a good idea to make Martin Luther King Jr do the tomahawk chop. Yes, because he died for your football team. What is this? This is madness. Absolutely madness and I wanna burn it down.

Group: Burn!

Amira: Brenda.

Brenda: Basically Macarena Sanchez who is one of my favorite players for Argentina, she plays for UAI Urquiza, the same as Gabriella Garton who we’ve interviewed on this podcast. It’s a really prominent women’s team in Argentina, launched a lawsuit, the first ever lawsuit against a club as far as I know in Argentina by a woman player.

Because they fired her after six years, so UAI Urquiza sat her down this week, fired her and they did it in the middle of the season, meaning she’s totally unemployed for the next six months by regulation.

In addition to that, it violated all kinds of labor codes and regulations that have to do with workers just in Argentina. Also, it has violated all labor condition contracts with FIF Pro or the International Men’s Union which has also started to incorporate women.

So, basically, she has made the equivalent of she’s a top professional in Argentina, they won the three championships, they went to the Confederation’s Cup and were third place, I think, at Copa Libertadores while she played there.

She’s made the equivalent of a couple hundred dollars a month and then they just fired her, and the firing is immediate and awful. I have to say, I’ve watched her come out as a pretty strong feminist voice for Argentine women’s football and I know it’s related. I don’t have proof and I don’t have evidence, but I just know it.

Basically, in all of this there’s a fight and the president of women’s football wouldn’t respond to all of this lawsuit stuff. He left being president of AFA, of the whole federation of all Argentine women’s football and guess where he went?

He is president of UAI Urquiza. It’s all awful and I wish Maca the best and I’d also just like to burn all of the terrible ways in which people would defend professionals in any other realm but this one in Argentina.

Group: Burn!

Amira: Shireen?

Shireen: My burn this week has to do with irritating men in media and women’s hockey. Tim McAuliffe has a show on Sports Net in Canada and he invited Natalie Spooner who’s on the Canadian national team, plays for the Toronto Furies and he had her. His show’s called the Tim & Sid Show.

Dan Harperage actually tweeted out a clip of this interview where he’s talking and sort of self-aggrandizing about how media, what they need to do but media isn’t really the problem in growing the game. He’s got Spooner on there and he’s basically like how do we grow the game when it’s really not the issue of media not showing?

He’s trying to circumvent a very basic point and the whole interview is cringeworthy and Spooner was so patient and very, very dignified. Even went so much as to say, “Why don’t you start by coming to our games on Sunday? Do you want a ticket?”

It was so obvious, which she brushed off. I think the base problem with this is that he actually thinks he was intelligent in this approach. I can’t even tell you the level of, again, groans and headbanging that was happening around by people who are actual media folks of women’s hockey that were like this is such a vacuous question. This is so embarrassing for media.

Actually, do you even understand what you’re saying? The entire approach, the way of questioning, to have her on there and like I said, she was incredibly poised with this question and incredibly patient and polite. I would’ve been like, you’re an asshole. You’re really, really, really subpar in terms of your concept of what …

And media is absolutely culpable. What is it, 4% of media is showing women’s sports in Canada. It’s really, really pathetic and to ask this. This woman’s on the Canadian national team and yeah, you set aside your sexism for nationalism every time they bring home a gold medal or world championship.

But to ask this is really, really ridiculous. I wanna burn that, burn that segment specifically and burn these types of questions from men in media who think that this approach or this concept is actually acceptable.

Group: Burn!

Amira: Lindsay, bring us home.

Lindsay: Yeah, this isn’t directly sports-related but it’s all that’s on my mind this week so this is where I’m going. Over a thousand people across the media industry and journalism lost their jobs this week. There were mass layoffs at Gannett which is a company that owns a lot of newspapers across the country, USA Today, IndyStar, tons of local papers.

Gannett laid off a bunch of people, as did Huffington Post and Buzzfeed News. These cuts impacted some of the most talented people in this industry. We are talking Pulitzer Prize winners, nominees, people whose stories and reporting have changed people’s lives.

These cuts disproportionately, as these cuts usually do, impacted people of color, people reporting on reproductive health and poverty, and people reporting on queer communities. It is absolutely devastating to see these conglomerates, Buzzfeed and Verizon which owns Huffington Post and Gannett Media, these companies have money.

But because they’re owned by investors, because they’re so deep in capitalism, they have to keep increasing their profit margins so that their investors can get more and more money back which means that they are laying off people who are bringing in traffic, who are winning awards, who are doing their jobs well.

But the most devastating thing about all of this is the way a certain fraction of society has reacted. I know among those impacted was Jess who’s had a great column at Huffington Post. I know she would be the first to say that we should be first worried about the people who lost their full time jobs and their health insurance.

But it just shows the wide impact this has on freelancers. I’ve been a freelancer whose company has laid off my editors and its devastating but you also have all of these right wing trolls who are gleefully going about this on social media, who are going to the people who have been laid off, who have lost their jobs, lost their livelihood, and who are gloating in their faces.

That includes the president of the United States who just today tweeted out praise for Buzzfeed and Huffington Post for laying off people, calling them fake news, and saying that this is just what happens. Once again, this is the president of the United States joyfully celebrating the loss of 1,000 jobs that are really crucial to the fabric of our democracy.

I wanna throw all of this on the burn pile, I wanna send all my love to anyone who lost their job this past week in media. There’s gotta be a better way forward than this because we need more journalists today, not fewer.

Group: Burn!

Amira: It’s time to shout out some badass women.

I wanna start by sending our condolences to the family of Geri Ann Glasco who is a standout Oregon Duck softball player and a high-profile member of USA Softball who sadly and tragically lost her life this past week in a car accident. She will be sorely missed by her team, by the team she was set to coach in Louisiana, and by the entire USA Softball community. We are sending our condolences to your family and friends.

Shout out to all four Olympians of Canada and the United States who showed out and showed up to the NHL skills competition this past weekend. As we mentioned, Kendall Coyne Schofield became the first woman to compete in the NHL skills competition. Also shout out to Renata Fast in the accuracy shooting contest, Brianna Decker in the premiere passer contest and Rebecca Johnston in the puck control contest. Thank you all for being tremendous ambassadors for the game.

Staying on the ice, I wanna shout out Kuwait women’s hockey team who’ll be making their international ice hockey federation debut at the 2019 Challenge Cup of Asia in April. Can’t wait to see you guys in action.

Switching over to soccer, let’s shout out Aussie Sam Kerr for being the top scoring player in not one but two leagues, the NWSL as well as Australia’s W League. The 2-5year-old is a phenom. She currently plays with the Chicago Red Stars. Keep on killing it out there, Sam. We see you!

And a few more shout outs to some more Canadians. Cougar rugby head coach and the University of Regina’s women’s hockey assistant coach Julie Foster will be inducted into Rugby Canada’s hall of fame on March 7th. Congratulations, Julie.

Mirela Rahneva won gold in the skeleton at the World Cup in St. Moritz. The 30-year-old Ottawa racer gave Canada its first win in any World Cup sliding event, bobsled, skeleton or luge. Congratulations.

I wanna shout out Petra Kvitova for a marvelous showing at the Australian Open. We recognize your journey back to the court and are thrilled to see you swing that racket again so well.

To Chloe Kim for her fifth X Games golds in the snowboarding half pipe. Fifth. That’s wild. Congrats, Chloe.

Lastly, to Tuta Mionki who made history after being announced the Kenyan Motorsport Personality of the Year in 2018 at the annual awards ceremony held in Nairobi. This celebrated rally co-driver is the first woman to ever win this coveted post in Kenya.

And now, drum roll please.

The badass woman of the week is Naomi Osaka who won her second straight grand slam title, becoming the first Asian woman to be the world number one and also, this week called out her sponsor Nissan for lighting her up in promotional material and for constantly giving the best post-game speeches.

Naomi, congratulations. We are so thrilled for you and look forward to many more grand slams to come.

All right, y’all, I wanna know what’s good in your weeks. Shireen?

Shireen: Thanks, Amira. I am really excited about something that I can’t yet disclose so I’m just gonna leave it there and my baby girl Jihad turns 17 on the 30th which is also another BIAD baby day. That’s pretty fantastic and I’m excited about that and it’s snowing and I went skating yesterday and it was excellent.

I was trying to be Surya Bonaly but that really didn’t happen. But that’s okay. The best I did was sway to Selena Gomez’s song that was playing but that’s all right, that’s fine. That was lovely.

Amira: Lindsay?

Lindsay: Yeah, I’ve been trying some new things out so I’m proud of myself. I went to a pilates class last week and I’m going to another one in a little bit. I’m trying to step out of my comfort zone with a few things and that was my New Year’s resolution and I am happy that it’s continuing.

Amira: That sounds awesome. I am really excited because my little cousin who I’ve talked about a lot on the show transferred to Rutgers which means that she’s in the Big 10, so she’ll be playing at Penn State multiple times a year and I get to see her.

To exclamate that point, I drove this weekend to New Jersey for other things but also to see her. We picked her up and it was just so great. I’m already so hype to have family closer to me. It’s really hard when all your family lives far away and I’m just so excited to have her on the East Coast.

Today that we record this on the 27th is my big brother’s birthday as well as my little sister’s birthday and a good childhood friend’s. This is a big day for me. It was also the day Samari was supposed to be born but we know that she’s a diva and needs her own spotlight, so of course, she was not born on today which is now funny because of course, she shares a birthday with Shireen’s daughter.

On the 30th, Samari will be 11. Happy birthday to you, baby girl. Jess?

Jessica: Yeah, I won’t be here next weekend because Aaron and I are going to Northern California for about six days. We are celebrating being together for 20 years. We got together when we were just little babies and we’re gonna go walk through some giant redwood trees and we’re gonna drink some wine and we’re gonna chill out. I’m super excited about that.

Amira: Yay! Bren?

Brenda: Hardest part of show for me, always, and I’m so grateful for keeping positive on it. Golden State Warriors, did y’all see them have their meeting with Obama? It’s not personal except that I try to keep away from news because usually I get all upset and anxious and it can lead me to cry or break things or any number of things.

For some odd reason, I don’t know, just looking at sports, I was like hey, something good! Golden State Warriors snub President Trump and get a little personal meeting with Barack Obama. I don’t know, the pictures made me really happy.

Amira: That’s it for this week on Burn It All Down. Burn It All Down lives on Soundcloud but you can also find it on Google Play, Apple Podcast, Stitcher, wherever you get your podcasts. You can find us on Facebook at Burn It All Down or on Twitter @burnitalldownpod, as well as on Instagram.

Please check out our website, burnitalldownpod.com. There, you’ll find links to the show, show notes, transcripts, as well as links to our Patreon campaign which for a reminder for as little as $2 a month, you get access to exclusive content, our monthly newsletter as well as Hot Take and additional interviews and giveaways.

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Again, from me, Amira Rose Davis, along with Jessica Luther, Lindsay Gibbs, Shireen Ahmed, and Brenda Elsey, we’ll see you next week, flamethrowers.

Shelby Weldon