Episode 94: Kaepernick settles but effects of his protest continue; American Ninja Warrior Meagan Martin
On this week’s show, we kick it off with BIG Burn It All Down news (don’t miss this!). [6:04] Then Lindsay, Brenda, Shireen, and Jessica have a two-parter about Kaepernick. First up, we discuss his and Eric Reid’s settlement of their collusion case against the NFL and who, if anyone, is the winner here. [18:46] Then we talk about the still ongoing effects of the protest Kaepernick started back in the fall of 2016. [32:44] Finally, Shireen interviews professional rock climber and American Ninja Warrior Meagan Martin. [50:38]
Of course, you’ll hear the Burn Pile, [1:00:53] our Bad Ass Woman of the Week, starring the cheerleaders from NC A&T, [1:04:12] and what is good in our worlds. [1:08:04]
For links and a transcript…
“Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid settle collusion case with NFL” https://thinkprogress.org/kaepernick-settlement-nfl-a20690df9ad1/
“Colin Kaepernick won. Period.” https://theundefeated.com/features/colin-kaepernick-won-period/
“Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid Settle Collusion Grievance With the NFL: What’s the Significance?” https://www.si.com/nfl/2019/02/15/colin-kaepernick-nfl-collusion-grievance-settlement-eric-reid
“The NFL’s collusion settlement suggests Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid had a case all along” https://www.sbnation.com/2019/2/15/18226674/colin-kaepernick-eric-reid-nfl-settlement-protest
“Wisconsin basketball star has no plans to stop protesting racism during the national anthem” https://thinkprogress.org/marsha-howard-protest-racism-anthem-8b882ba0c7db/
“Conservative store owner loses business, blames Nike boycott” https://thinkprogress.org/conservative-boycott-nike-kaepernick-4a61dec14c98/
“The Players Coalition continues its social justice work as the NFL season ends” https://www.nbcnews.com/news/nbcblk/players-coalition-continues-its-social-justice-work-nfl-season-ends-n966006
“Caster Semenya: South African government calls on world to fight against IAAF rule” https://www.bbc.com/sport/athletics/47251568
“College Softball Coach: The Only Reason I Constantly Walked In On Players Changing Was To Use Microwave” https://deadspin.com/college-softball-coach-the-only-reason-i-constantly-wa-1832628281
“US soccer club defends decision to offer contract to player who served jail time for sex with minor” https://edition.cnn.com/2019/02/14/football/ricardo-velazco-fc-arizona-real-salt-lake-spt-intl/index.html
ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open http://www.lpga.com/tournaments/isps-handa-womens-australian-open/results
“Journalist, Freelance Writer Smith-McDonald Receives 2019 WBCA Mel Greenberg Media Award” https://wbca.org/about/press-releases/journalist-freelance-writer-smith-mcdonald-receives-2019-wbca-mel-greenberg
Fed Cup https://www.fedcup.com/
“Women’s hockey clinches Ivy League Championship title, looking for ECAC championship” http://www.dailyprincetonian.com/article/2019/02/womens-hockey-clinches-ivy-league-championship-title-looking-for-ecac-championship
“Sydney FC beats Perth Glory 4-2 in W-League grand final for third championship” https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-02-16/w-league-grand-final-sydney-fc-defeats-perth-glory/10819260
“Women’s D-I: BU gets monkey off back, looks to build momentum of historic win” https://www.uscho.com/2019/02/14/womens-d-i-bu-gets-monkey-off-back-looks-to-build-momentum-of-historic-win/
“Elana Meyers Taylor And Rookie Brakewoman Lake Kwaza Win Lake Placid Bobsled World Cup” https://www.teamusa.org/News/2019/February/15/Elana-Meyers-Taylor-And-Rookie-Brakeman-Lake-Kwaza-Win-Lake-Placid-Bobsled-World-Cup
“Historic first for Nunavut at Scotties Tournament of Hearts” https://www.thestar.com/sports/curling/2019/02/16/historic-first-for-nunavut-at-scotties-tournament-of-hearts.html
“Students hold silent protest during NC A&T’s basketball game after sexual assault allegation” https://myfox8.com/2019/02/11/students-hold-silent-protest-during-nc-ats-basketball-game-after-sexual-assault-allegation/
Jessica: Welcome to Burn It All Down, the feminist sports podcast you need. I’m Jessica Luther, freelance Journalist and Author in Austin, Texas, and on today’s show I’m joined by Brenda Elsey, an Associate Professor of History at Hofstra on Long Island, Shireen Ahmed, a Writer, Public Speaker, and Sports Activist in Toronto, and Lindsay Gibbs, a Reporter at ThinkProgress in Washington, D.C.
Amira Rose Davis has been out with the flu or bronchitis, or something equally terrible for the last couple of weeks, so once again, she can’t join us today. We hope that she feels better soon. We love you, Amira.
First things first. As always, thank you, thank you, thank you to our patrons who supported this podcast through our ongoing Patreon campaign make Burn It All Down possible. Thank you. If you would like to become a patron, it’s easy. Go to patreon.com/burnitalldown, for as little as two dollars per month, you can access exclusives like an extra Patreon-only segment, or a monthly newsletter.
On today’s show we’re going to talk about Colin Kaepernick, and Eric Reid’s settlement with the NFL. And then have a larger discussion about the effect Kaepernick’s protest continues to have. Then, Shireen interviews American Ninja Warrior … That’s so fun to say, Shireen interviews American Ninja Warrior and climbing badass Meagan Martin. And of course, we’ll cap off today’s show by burning things that deserve to be burned, doing shout-outs to women who deserve shout-outs and telling you what is good in our worlds.
But, first, before we get into all of that, I have news.
Shireen: I’m so excited.
Jessica: Y’all, I have news. So I drew the lucky straw this week because I am leading this episode when it is finally time for us to make this announcement, so I get to do it. Here it goes. We are so excited to announce that Burn It All Down, your favorite feminist sports podcast, will be recording a live episode in front of an audience as part of the critical sports communities New Directions and Sports Scholarship Journalism and Activism Symposium, being jointly hosted by Hofstra and Columbia on March 7th and 8th.
Our specific recording will take place on Friday March 8th from 2 to 4PM at Columbia in New York City, at the Stabile Student Center. We are coming to you live, baby. All right.
Shireen: New York City.
Jessica: New York City. All right, Brenda, will you please tell us more about this Symposium that we’re going to be a part of?
Brenda: Right. Okay. So, it starts on Thursday and it’s at Hofstra for Thursday March 7th and everyone’s welcome. It’s very open to the public and the day is divided into one panel that’s going to talk about gender, sexualities, sexism in sport. And then there’s another one about … later in the day on sport in black liberation movements, and I should say that …
So, very apropos of this conversation today, I should say that I’m organizing it with Professor Frank Guridy, who, if you don’t know his work, he’s amazing and I’m … On Twitter and he works on racing sport in the US but also the Caribbean. So we organized this for Thursday at Hofstra, and then we’re going to take the trip into Manhattan to visit Columbia. Yay.
Brenda: We’ve never all been together-
Brenda: Ever! Ever, so it’s really thrilling, and there’s going to be Burn It All Down, and it’s a two-hour block because we’re going to do the show, and then also we’re going to take comments from the audience so we can say more about the structure of it. But it’s a little bit longer because we do hope to have interaction and an audience, so come and meet us in person-
Jessica: Come, come, come, come!
Brenda: We might have a look-under-your-seat moment.
Lindsay: Brenda, stop promising things!
Brenda: I said “may,” I said “may, may.” But I didn’t say what would be under there, might just be old gum. But anyway, and then after there’s an evening event, which everyone is also is very welcome to, at the Presidential Ballroom at Columbia University, where myself and Professor Guridy will interview and talk with Philadelphia Eagles’ Michael Bennet.
Brenda: Yes. About protests in the NFL, and also what makes white people uncomfortable, which is the amazing title of his amazing book that he wrote with Dave Zirin. So Dave will also be there to sort of answer questions and talk about the book and things like that. So, yeah-
Jessica: So, it’s a Burn It All Down shot with a Michael Bennet chaser-
Jessica: For everyone on Friday, March 8th. That’s amazing.
Brenda: You get the…
Lindsay: We’re essentially, really the opening act for Michael Bennet, is what is happening here-
Brenda: There you go. Yeah.
Lindsay: So, you know.
Shireen: And in case anybody was wondering, this is the exciting news that I’ve had for a month and keep saving what’s good that I couldn’t share. This is that news.
Jessica: So, there it is. Now everyone knows. I just want to say again, Friday, March 8th, from 2 to 4PM at Columbia’s Stabile Student Center in New York City, live, Burn It All Down. We hope anyone who’s in New York City can make it.
Lindsay: Yeah. We know it’s during work hours, but like-
Jessica: I know. We’ll write you a note.
Lindsay: Get out early, this is an excused absence and-
Jessica: Exactly. Exactly.
Lindsay: No, but seriously. We can’t wait. And we will spend time with you, like we want to hang out a little bit. I think there’s a little bit of time between this and the Symposium, but anyways, we cannot wait to see you all.
Shireen: It’s International Women’s Day, that day, as well-
Jessica: There you go-
Shireen: So, what a wonderful, absolutely wonderful way to get out of work early and come and hang out with us, your favorite feminist sports podcast.
Jessica: Perfect. And now, on to the show.
Lindsay, can you tell us about Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid’s settlement with the NFL?
Lindsay: I will tell you what I know, Jess. Yes, absolutely.
Jessica: Yeah. Right. Exactly.
Lindsay: So, on Friday afternoon the NFL and the lawyer for Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid released a brief joint statement announcing that the two parties had reached a settlement in Kaepernick and Reid’s collision lawsuit against the league.
Here is the full statement, which is the extent of the official word we know. Says, “In the past several months counsel for Mister Kaepernick and Mister Reid have engaged in an ongoing dialogue with representatives of the NFL. As a result of those discussions, the parties have decided to resolve the pending grievances. The resolution of this matter is subject to confidentiality agreement, so there will be no further comment by any party.”
Let’s take this back a little bit-
Jessica: Yes, please.
Lindsay: To where this all started. So, this all began in the Fall of 2016, during the NFL pre-season when Colin Kaepernick was a San Francisco 49ers quarterback. He was still coming off of injury and he remained seated during the National Anthem, during a pre-season game.
His protest wasn’t even noticed for a week. It was noticed the following week, and after he talked to the media, he said that it was very clearly a protest against police brutality and systemic racism. He has never ever wavered from what the protest is about, what the movement is about.
Very quickly, his teammate Eric Reid began kneeling next to him. They changed their protest from sitting during the Anthem to kneeling during the Anthem after discussing with some members of the US military current and former and trying to make it slightly more respectful to the people who were fighting in the military to kind of show that this wasn’t against them, but this was more against the systemic racism that sometimes our flags represents.And that has been drenched in the history of The United States, and that is continuing to this day.
Of course, the movement grew steam, players across the league, players across the world began to take a knee during the anthem. It sparked discussions in local communities, and on a national level where it became an issue in the Presidential Race and, of course, once Trump became President, he started using this as a way to attack people who were not being respectful, which is something that Trump wants to do.
We’re going to have the “big-picture” conversation in a little bit, so I will pause myself.
Where the lawsuit came in is after Kaepernick parted ways with the San Francisco 49ers at the end of the 2016-2017 season. Nobody signed him. He remained unsigned for the past two years. He is a Super Bowl quarterback, he’s been in the Super Bowl, he’s in great shape by all accounts, incredibly healthy.
He’s just 31 years old, which means he was 29 when all of this started, in the prime of his career. And yet, team after team who desperately needed quarterbacks to be able to help them, refused to sign him. So, in 2017, Kaepernick decided to sue the NFL for collusion.
He said that team owners and the league itself were conspiring to keep him out of the league because of the protest. Now, Eric Reid joined this lawsuit the following year. Reid’s contract with the San Francisco 49ers lasted through the 2017 season, so he remained employed there and he continued to take a knee.
But, once he got into free agency, even though he was a top safety in the league, no team signed him until a month into the 2018 NFL season, when the Carolina Panthers signed him. He has since signed a contract, a three-year contract with the Carolina Panthers. He’s continued to take a knee. But, the fact that he was unemployed for that long of a time made him join this lawsuit.
So this is what we know. We know that they deposed Roger Goodell, we know that they deposed a lot of NFL owners, and it seems that the NFL itself was scared of what was about to come out. Mark Geragos, the lawyer for Kaepernick and Reid, had said as early as the beginning of February that he believed this … It was definitely going to trial and the trial was going to be probably late March or early April, so the trial was getting close.
That being said, the settlement, it’s complicated. I think a lot of us were excited to see this go to trial, to actually see these depositions. So I want to ask you all. What do you think? What are your feelings? Is this a win for Kaepernick? Is this a win for the NFL? Or is talking about it in “win-loss” words, binaries, problematic?
Jessica: I do think … It’s hard to escape the win-loss, because it’s a court case, as a suit the entire premise of it is that someone’s going to win or lose, so I see why that is where the discussion went. And I will say … I think this is super complicated to talk about because … I mean, I have a lot of feelings, like I was disappointed, I will say, when I heard that they had settled, because I too, like so many people, wanted it to go to trial.
I did want the airing of the NFL’s laundry in some public way, and I do feel like that has been lost here. I don’t know. I … And this is all so complicated because the idea that this is a loss at all for like Kaepernick or Reid is wrong.
We live in a capitalistic society and money is how we punish people or how we win things, and so certainly, in that way, people are speculating huge numbers for Kaepernick and Reid with money. I also find that difficult. The NFL has so much money that the idea … I think … Okay, I’m rambling.
What I want to say is that I’m sad at all that the NFL wins, I think is where … They did win. The NFL didn’t want this to go to trial. They’ve hated this case from the beginning, they’ve been fearful of it. Them settling is a win, even if it’s also a win on the other side for Kaepernick and Reid, and I think the NFL winning at all is the pill that’s really hard for me to swallow, and I keep thinking …
I saw a Tweet from Jamil Smith and I can’t … I don’t have the quote here, but he talked about deterrence and I thought that was really good. Like, “Will this deter the NFL from encroaching on the rights of their players? Will this deter the NFL from collusion in the future?” It’s really hard for me to say “Yes” to either of those questions.
As far as the league goes and its relationship with its players, what has changed here? I honestly don’t really know. Shireen.
Shireen: Thanks, Jess. I like what you said about the NFL having to pay because this is very much this capitalist system, and the way that people are … they atone is through money. But I do like what LeBron said. I really hope Kap gets a lot of money here. A lot of money either to put towards causes that help support things to break down systemic racism, which he’s done.
But also, for me, at the end of the day, and I … I really miss Amira in this discussion. I really wish she wasn’t feeling so terrible. But just the idea of what his goals are. Like, my personal thing, and I do have a lot of feelings are … I would love to know how he feels-
Shireen: I can’t wait for the day that he sits down with somebody. God, wouldn’t it be so great if one of us had that interview?
Jessica: Come on, Colin! Come on to Burn It All Down.
Shireen: Come on to Burn It All Down, and tell us how he feels. He wants to play in the NFL so I’m actually … I love this money. I think it’s great. It’s good for him, but I want him to play again because that’s what he’s said so many times, that’s what he wants to do.
So my thing is that. I want him … He’s got this … he and Eric Reid have this money, but I also want them to play again. For me, that would be an ultimate win. Not only did he make the NFL pay, but they hired him again. So for me, that would be the ultimate, so I’m still looking forward to that.
Jessica: That’s a really good point, Shireen. Brenda?
Brenda: I think we need to be really attentive to how in the next couple of weeks the language around this swirls. You know? And who … To decide if the NFL really wins anything or not, that’s the long game.
Brenda: It’s going to be the way that this gets cast. Of course, as a scholar, I’m so disappointed about all that research … And probably reporters. I mean, reporters much more so even, than me. But I’m so bummed out that we won’t get-
Brenda: Like a window into their shady-ass financial dealings, because you know how gross they are, and you know how gross those texts must have been.
Jessica: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Brenda: I’m in awe. Anyway, but one thing that interests me that Shireen was saying, that she liked LeBron’s reaction, and I did, too. I watched that press conference where they asked him about Kaepernick and the interesting thing is he said, “I’m so happy for him that he won his case.”
So he actually didn’t even say “settle,” and I think there’s something really interesting about how it’s going to be phrased in the future. You know what I mean? Like who … words that surround the case and things.
Jessica: That’s a great point.
Jessica: Yeah. Yeah, that’s a really good point, too. You all are so smart. Okay, Lindsay.
Lindsay: Yeah, I think my first reaction was this disappointment, that it wasn’t going to trial because … Okay, so little backstory. Mark Geragos … I know I keep saying that differently every time. I apologize. He has a podcast with Adam Carolla?
Jessica: Wow, okay. That’s a lot.
Lindsay: And I have forced myself to listen to this podcast multiple times in order to get updates on the Kaepernick situation, so I had just listened to his latest podcast at the beginning of last week where he said that it was important … that he felt that it was going to trial in 45 days.
He said, “We have a winning hand.” I mean, he was so confident about the amount of evidence that they had against the NFL. And so when I first heard that they settled I was … was disappointed, but the more I think about it the more I realize to get the case to this point, to get these people in depositions, they reacted in this settlement from a place of fear and not from a place of power, and that in itself is a win. You know?
Lindsay: For Kaepernick, for Eric Reid, and now they can’t move on because while it does seem that they had a ridiculous amount of evidence to prove their case, the law wasn’t necessarily on their side in this one. The burden of proof to prove collusion is incredibly high.
From every legal person I’ve talked to, it is a very, very high bar to cross, so it is possible that they had enough evidence to do that, they certainly seemed confident, but it wasn’t a guarantee. It would’ve still been a hold-your-breath-type of situation.
If they’re happy, and from all accounts it seems like the amount of money that the NFL was willing to offer here was enough to be a deterrent in the future to make things upset. The NFL doesn’t settle these cases. If you’ve seen anything with Ezekiel Elliott, with Tom Brady, with these court cases, fought till the bitter end. Right?
They do not settle.
Lindsay: So I think that’s another good example that this could be a win for Kaepernick and for Reid, and like Shireen said, hopefully the next step is getting Colin Kaepernick back on the field. His lawyer was on CNN last night saying that he thinks the Carolina Panthers or the New England Patriots would be good destinations for him.
As a Panthers fan, I might have started crying when I heard that. Happy tears. And of course, that would reunite him with Eric Reid. I still think it’s a long shot. His lawyer has said many times throughout this case that he thinks Colin is like 10 days away from getting a contract.
So I do hold my breath a little bit there, but let’s hope, because like Shireen said that does seem to be the outcome that he wants.
Jessica: Shireen, now that we’ve covered the case and the settlement, will you get us started on the larger impact that Kaepernick’s protests continue to have?
Shireen: Absolutely. Thanks, Jess. As already mentioned, it was September 2016 when Eric Reid and Colin Kaepernick were seen in a pre-season game choosing to kneel. Now, we were going to talk about the impact aside the case itself. The activism, its ripple, and what does this settlement or win mean for this type of work? And we’re going to look at “The Kap Effect,” essentially.
And I’m going to take us back to September 2017 and in a very detail and interactive piece. Lindsay, our Lindsay Gibbs, and the ThinkProgress team put together a lot of information that actually compiled, and we’ll link it to the show notes, that over 3500 people had joined in this movement, protest against police brutality and systemic racism.
Now, I think that I want at this point quote Sociologist Doctor Harry Edwards, and that he said in a USA Today piece. “People wanted to make it about a flag or support for our soldiers, but it’s about the systemic murders under the cover of the badge where nobody is charged or even prosecuted.”
And I think that’s really important because we have to establish that a lot of what ended up coming out of this were vacuous debates about patriotism, about support for troops, et cetera, et cetera. Really wasn’t like that. This was a way for the MAGA supporters and whatnot to conflate what was really happening here.
And never mind that Colin Kaepernick had specified that the actual, physical gesture and act of kneeling was something he got while speaking to object. And that was considered one of the most respectful gestures. So … I mean … I think that’s something we have to keep in mind, something that also haters of Kap won’t ever adhere to.
This is really important. One of the things that we’re going to talk about particularly, and I’d like to get everyone’s opinion was what were the … literally the effects of what Kap did. And one of the things that I wanted to jump into because I think this is one of the fun stories that gave me life was there was …
And I was on … in tears, it’s only a game and we touched on this topic because it’s the one that I was really happy about. A store owner in Colorado Springs named Steven Martin actually shut down his story because he had decided that after Nike had presented Colin Kaepernick as the face of their new ad campaign, he pulled every single Nike item off the shelves of the stores-
Brenda: Maybe pants?
Shireen: And so, you’re sitting there … It’s so bizarre. And then he’s even quoted as saying, you know, “A sports store without Nike is like a gas station without gas.” Well, a gas station without gas, Mr. Martin, doesn’t actually happen-
Jessica: It’s just a station.
Shireen: It doesn’t work.
Jessica: It’s just a station.
Shireen: Just … And so you’re kind of sitting there going, “Why did you think this was a great idea?” And there was a couple pieces … Shalise Manza Young who’s a friend of mine had written a piece for Yahoo! about it. And her piece is very different. Surprise, surprise, and the Washington Post piece came out of it, because the Washington Post piece profiled how he was a huge military supporter and was sort of like …
You know, I was okay with … And it details how he was … understood the killings of innocent … on our black men that were caught on film, but he doesn’t understand Kap. And, what Mr. Martin chose to realize is that the two were absolutely correlated, but he doesn’t see that, he took it as an affront to the military that he is very proud of and took all these photos and asked that people in his community send photos of people in the military and glued them to a wall.
So my suggestion to Mr. Martin is that first of all I’m very sad that you took steps to make your business fail, but maybe you should think about curating art exhibits or I don’t know, like maybe sports goods, if you’re not … Like what did he have in there anyway? Like I don’t even know.
I’m an Adidas fan, so I’m like … part of me is like, “Okay, yay,” but then I’m like, “No.” Anyways.
Jessica: Lindsay, I wanted to ask you specifically about a Wisconsin basketball player. Her name is Marsha Howard. You wrote an amazing piece about her. Will you tell us about her and how she symbolizes sort of what this ongoing ripple effect from Kaepernick?
Lindsay: Yeah. Thanks, Jess. So Marsha Howard is a senior basketball player for Wisconsin and I honestly did not know that she was protesting police brutality and racism during the National Anthem until last year, when Senator Chuck Grassley sent out a Tweet. He’s a senator from Iowa-
Jessica: Oh, that’s right.
Lindsay: And he sent out a Tweet … His Twitter is just … Speaking of things that should be in museums and studied. Good Lord! But his Tweet attacked her for sitting during the National Anthem during a basketball game against Iowa. Wisconsin and Iowa were both in The Big 10. And so he said that everyone should express outrage, so he didn’t spell the word “express” properly. He left out vowels, which is really hard to do in the word “express.”
That’s just how Chuck Grassley tweets. I’m sorry. Aside, but it’s really important. He gets really mad at the History Channel sometimes. Anyways, okay. Focus, focus.
So I talked with her last year, just through email about that, and got to know a little bit about her protest and why she was doing it, and it was very much something that was inspired by the work Colin Kaepernick had done. It was very much …
She grew up in Chicago and she said she had lost a lot of family members, a lot of friends to the system, which you know, usually means a combination of gun violence and incarceration, and racism that people have to deal with, eespecially in cities like Chicago.
And that’s why she was sitting, like that’s why she wanted to continue to protest and that’s why she wasn’t going to stop. And lo and behold, this year she continued. She sat alone during the National Anthem, on the bench at every single basketball game this year. And she just-
Lindsay: She knelt her head and she said that she said a prayer during that time, when I asked her what she was doing. So she was at Marilyn, in College Park and so I got to speak with her a couple weeks ago for this piece. And one of the things that I’d like to first highlight is that the debate around these … the protests has …
It’s gotten so big and so out of control, and so distorted, and there’s so much gaslighting involved, and so many talking heads on TV yelling at each other, and politicians sending angry Tweets, and it’s been so loud. Right? It’s just been very loud and very … Not about this at all.
And so to see her just with her team, and then her team all quietly lines up and she just bows her head casually. Everyone around her stands up and faces the flag, and then at the end of the Anthem, her coach gives her a fist bump and everyone moves on with their lives.
It was very quiet. You know? It was just so quiet and such a … Like a small moment it sounds like I’m diminishing it, and that’s not what I mean. It’s a huge thing that she’s doing. But the fact that within all this debate, within all this chaos … Like this is the reality of it.
This is her making a statement, it’s actually very quiet, a very peaceful and a very moving thing that she’s doing. And one of the things that really struck me about her conversation is she kept bringing up … Wisconsin, as a school, is 2% black. And she said, “I’m doing this because I have a platform to show everyone else in my school who’s black who feels like they’re facing racism. I have their back, that I have this platform and I’m going to use it.”
So I think what’s really impressive about what Kaepernick did and what his protests meant to different people is the way … it’s more of the way people have individualized it for their situations while still touching on this universal truth.
I think it’s so important not just to pay attention to Kaepernick and Reid, but to others like Marsha Howard. Like Kelsey Bone, the WNBA player who continued to take a knee during the National Anthem all last WNBA season. And we’ve had her on the show twice talking about her protest.
Lindsay: But these other ways that these protests are continuing.
Jessica: Yeah. Thank you, Lindsay, thank you for that work. That’s amazing. Brenda, what are you thinking about all this?
Brenda: Well, I usually think about young people during these types of things because that’s who I teach and get to talk to about these types of things in a calm setting, like not a Facebook argument or a Twitter fight, but an-
Shireen: But Facebook is so effective for these kinds of discussions.
Brenda: Oh, yeah, for sure. So one of the things that’s interesting I’m teaching … I hardly ever teach about sports, just Latin America, usually, and I’m teaching a class called “Taking a Knee,” on international protests. And I think it’s really-
Brenda: Important to learn-
Jessica: Oh, wow.
Brenda: Yeah. And I almost never do that, and it’s in the Fall, and I’m doing it because of a couple things. First, US Football is a way that the world sees a very violent and imperialist nation. And outside of the US, people, I have to tell you, are simply stunned. People in the US has anger towards Colin Kaepernick. They’re just like “What is controversial? This is the most violent country.”
I mean, they read about mass shootings every day and violence against African-Americans and it seems so obvious, right? And so his protest, also, I think, became a lightning rod for a lot of different things for young people to watch. Different forces at work.
And for young people outside of the US, to kind of think and hear from the African-American athletes themselves that they know are symbols of the US but don’t often get the mic. You know? Besides like maybe LeBron.
So, anyway, that’s just been really interesting, and I would just say that it takes a certain setting and forum to really have a conversation about it, and that’s just … That’s rate. It’s rare to get those kinds of spaces where you can actually see people changing one another’s minds, because people come at it. It’s been so politicized, thank you, Donald Trump, that it’s almost impossible to walk into it with an open mind.
But the classroom is one place, and I really think … I know high school teachers have been teaching about it in Civic Studies and government classes. I know I’m teaching about it. So I think Colin Kaepernick and all of these people, like Marsha Howard, for opening that conversation for us.
Jessica: Thank you, Brenda. Shireen?
Shireen: Yeah, just another quick think about everything around Colin Kaepernick and what that looked like, and one of the things that emerged out of this was that a lot of people seem to forget that the first non-Football athlete to kneel was Megan Rapinoe, and I … This is something that came up as I followed this story.
Was just that, like who is also supporting as an ally, and who also thought … And I think a lot about that as a person of color. As an identifiable muslim woman from a marginalized community, I think a lot about what Allyship means and what support means, and that was something that came up in the discussion a lot, like throughout the story, for me, and still does.
What that means, of course, we need to center … black folks, 100%, but what does that mean around everyone else and what are they doing with their privilege? And, you know, we saw people like Chris Long, we saw Megan Rapinoe, Steve Kerr, Gregg Popovich, who was my President.
I think that, this is something that I wanted to bring up, as well, and I just wanted to put in a request to audit Brenda’s class.
Jessica: I feel like that’ll be granted.
Jessica: I just wanted to wrap up this discussion about the ripples of the protests and the future of the work around what Kaepernick has started here by mentioning the Players Coalition, and you know, there’s tension here. These are NFL players Anquan Boldin and Malcolm Jenkins. We know that there’s been tension between and Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid.
They’ve chosen different paths in which to do this work, but I still think the Players Coalition, they’ve teamed up at the NFL, they’re still doing important work and we can trace this back to the fact that Colin Kaepernick decided to sit and eventually kneel on the sideline of NFL games.
And so the Players Coalition, since it launched in 2017, there was a recent news article at NBC News that we’ll link to in the show notes. They’ve talked about how the players have visited Capitol Hill to talk about changed to legislation in different states in Atlanta on January 30th.
The article says the Coalition announced that it was going to distribute two million dollars in grants to six non-profits in the fight against racial and social inequality, which was made possible because the NFL gave a financial commitment of 89 million dollars to the organization.
And they also have like directly inserted themselves into important legislative issues. Two that you can point to directly, they’ve lobbied to raise the age of those entering the juvenile justice system in Massachusetts from seven to 12. That was successful.
And then, if anyone remembers this from the last election, Florida, the voters, they voted an amendment to restore voting rights to some felons in Florida. And NFL players, through the Players Coalition, really worked towards that end.
So I think that … We’ve just seen the beginning of what is possible because of what Kaepernick started back in 2016 and I think that’s … Whatever we have to say about what happened this week with the settlement, that’s very exciting to think about.
Up next, Shireen’s interview with American Ninja Warrior and climbing badass, Meagan Martin.
Shireen: I’m so excited to have professional rock-climber, Fitness Model, American Ninja Warrior Contestant, Mentor, and aspiring Broadcaster Meagan Martin on the show today.
Meagan is a legend. This former gymnast started climbing in 2001, and in addition to pole vaulting throughout college, she continued to literally climb to athletic feats. As we know, National Girls and Women in Sports Day is on February 6th, and Meagan has partnered with the apparel company to show she serves as a role model and encourages young girls to stay active in sports through the Show Her What’s Possible campaign that was launched on National Girls and Women Sports Day.
I’m so grateful to Meagan for being on the show, taking time out of her busy schedule and talking to me a little bit about baking, as well, which she’s on her way to be an expert of. Thank you so much for being here, Meagan.
Meagan: Thanks for having me. I’m so excited.
Shireen: Is really climbing into trees with a book actually how you got into climbing?
Meagan: I guess it wasn’t exactly how I got into climbing, but I did grow up … When I was a gymnast, I grew up climbing trees. My mom actually home-schooled me and my sister through elementary school, so we were required to read an hour a day, and I always just thought it was more fun if I took my book into the tree. Because it just made it more exciting and a little more adventurous.
But, yes. I guess I always knew I liked climbing on things, but I still at that point hadn’t even … I didn’t even know rock climbing was a real thing. It wasn’t until I just randomly walked into a gym with one of my friends and kind of just fell in love with it.
Shireen: That’s so cool. And as you were a kid, what was your favorite book?
Meagan: When I was a kid I read all The Little House in the Prairie books. My mom was obsessed with The Little House on the Prairie, so I think … like we still have VHS recordings of the TV show.
Shireen: Oh, my gosh. Wow.
Meagan: My mom has them, and nobody even has a VHS player so that’s kind of funny.
Shireen: Yeah, I wonder how many of our listeners remember or know what a VHS cassette is.
Meagan: Or know what VHS is. Yeah. So I think that was definitely one of my favorite books, and Laura Ingalls Wilder was pretty adventurous, as well. I wonder if I actually kind of got the idea from that, because she was always outside, running around, like kind of playing with the boys a bit. So yeah, that was definitely one of my favorite books for me. Yup.
Shireen: That’s awesome. You have been a repeat … repeat appearances on American Ninja Warrior and that show is just … It’s amazing, and your videos are incredible and like … Wow. Is there a specific run that you were most proud of? And why?
Meagan: I really liked … Actually, I ran last year in Minneapolis, the City Final was really fun, and that was like the closest I got to completing a City Final, because I had made it to the ninth obstacle before in Indianapolis, but this time I made it further through that ninth obstacle. So I think that might actually be one of my favorite runs.
Although, I do have to say, the first year that I competed, when I did the Warped Wall in my qualifier in Denver, that was exciting. And then, that same year, I became the first woman to do the Jumping Spider in Vegas during Stage 1, so that was also like a big moment, too.
It’s probably those three. It’s a toss-up.
Shireen: So the Warped Wall, just because … While I have you. The Warped Wall, it looks … to some it looks easy, but for me, I know it’s like virtually impossible, but you’ve done it. Is it a mental thing, too? Or just … so much of that course, of that type of circuit, is that equally mentally arduous?
Meagan: Well, it’s definitely mental for sure, but … I mean, just coming down to facts, if you’re taller, the Warped Wall will be easier, so I always say, especially for a lot of the women … Not all of the women, because there are some women that are like 5’8 and above, so it’s just not as hard for them, either.
But I feel like under 5’6 or … Actually, if you’re under 5’5, I’d say it’s probably a little more difficult for you. So like for me I just have to make sure I remember to think about it more, and I think that a lot of the women or some of the shorter men have to do that. You just have to make sure your steps are right and you’re approaching the wall in the right manner, whereas when you’re a little taller there’s more leeway to like not have to think about it as much.
Still doable for shorter people. There’s just a little more thought-
Shireen: And you’re 5’4, right?
Meagan: Honestly, I’m just under 5’4, I’m like 5’3 and 3/4. But yeah, about 5’4.
Shireen: So when you’re doing that run and in between those circuits, you stop, like I watched the one of you in Denver on repeat, actually. Just when I want to get motivated to like go for grocery shopping or something. I’m like, “I’m getting motivated.”
And I mentioned this to you in our pre-chat, like my 14-year-old volleyball player watches that to pump up. Like I know he watched it before-
Meagan: That’s so awesome-
Shireen: His tournament at Rochester a couple weeks ago. So, before each circuit, you stop and you’re stretching a little. What are you thinking in that moment?
Meagan: So we get to look at the course beforehand. They take us like through a walkthrough and they explain each obstacle, and like the rules about the obstacles. So when I’m running, I’m definitely … Before I start … Once I finish an obstacle and before I start the next one, I’m trying to breathe and trying to like mentally prepare myself for the next obstacle, because I think because it’s such a long course, sometimes it’s easy to start thinking about things later and you really need to stay in the moment.
So I just kind of take that second to stay in the moment and really understand and pay attention to what I’m about to do so that my focus is always present, and that way, I think, I’m able to be more efficient, because the minute you start thinking about something else it’s just so easy to mess up.
Especially with everything that’s going on. I mean, usually it’s like five o’clock in the morning or something, so you’re exhausted already from not really sleeping in a normal sleep schedule, so you really have to stay present, and that’s what I try to do.
Shireen: Do you have pump-up music?
Meagan: I’m actually … It’s so weird. I don’t have pump-up music. I have tried that in the past. Like I tried this specifically with climbing a few times, where I would … because you’re allowed to have an iPod and you can listen to music if you want to, but I noticed that it doesn’t actually help me. I find it better for me to stay centered, to not listen to music. Especially before I run on Ninja Warrior, like say 10 people before I run …
I just continue my warmup, I chat a little bit. Talking, for some reason, calms me down a bit more than listening to music. I don’t know why, which is weird, because I love music and I feel like so much of my life does revolve around music because I just love listening to it and it’s like fun to sing in the car and like all the stuff.
But for athletic stuff, I actually don’t use music. It’s so weird. I find it weird that I don’t-
Shireen: I think everyone has their own sort of system. I’m now using you as warmup to get myself … So, I mean, everyone has their own system, but …
So a question about the physicality. How long do you stretch before you climb? Not just specifically on the show or anything, when you’re actually climbing. How long do you stretch before or after?
Meagan: This is something that in more recent years I’ve had to pay more attention to the older I get, because when I was younger I didn’t really … I could just like not even really do a proper warmup and be fine, but now I’m noticing that it’s very important as I approach 30.
I usually get to the gym, or if I’m like climbing outside, I probably spend about … Anywhere between 10 to 20 minutes kind of stretching and like I’ll roll out sometimes … Depends on what my specific ailment is at the time, too. And then, when I warm up on the wall, I actually kind of stretch on the wall a bit.
Like, I’ll start warming up on easier things that’ll kind of like hang from the top a little, because you can sink in. That sounds crazy, but yeah, you can kind of like sink into positions better, to warm up your shoulders and your hips and everything. And that’s a little bit more dynamic, because I don’t want to do too much static stretching before climbing because it is somewhat explosive at times.
And then, after, I will stretch a little bit more, for the cooldown, and a little more static stretching, probably. Still probably just between 10 to 20 minutes, but I’ll just do more static stretching stuff.
Shireen: And after a climb, how do you let yourself and your body decompress? Like how do you decompress after like a really intense workout?
Meagan: I usually drink a lot of water, and then … So I guess stretching my forearms is something I do a lot, because a lot of times your forearms get pumped because you’re … like if you’re on the wall for a long time, and then I just try to relax and drink water, eat some good food, so that I can recover for whatever I’m going to do the next day.
Shireen: Is the climbing scene diverse? And what might you tell young girls of color who are actually interested in this sport but may be a bit shy about going out?
Meagan: It is definitely … Over the last 10 years it has become a lot more diverse. I feel like, generally, if you were to walk into a climbing gym in any bigger city, that climbing gym will be pretty diverse, which is awesome. I don’t think that that was normal. It’s still not very diverse. Still getting better, but definitely very different from if you were to walk into just a gym.
I started noticing it especially when I was coaching, I noticed there was more diversity at the youth competitions, which means that … You know, in the next five to 10 years, you will, on the elite level, see it even more. The most diverse … ethnicity that you see the most of would be of Asian descent.
African-American is pretty slim, especially like in The United States, we only have like a couple that will be competing at the elite levels. Generally just me and Kai, which is fine. And then, also I feel like the Hispanic involvement has become more prevalent at World Cup competitions.
I’ve seen more people from like Ecuador, and Chile and like stuff like that, so that’s cool, too. And like Spain has always been pretty big in climbing. But yeah, it’s just … It’s growing, and it’s at a slower pace, but it’s definitely growing and … there are some ethnicities where climbing just seems to be more … like something that … not “natural,” but something that was more prevalent in their countries, and stuff.
So, yeah. I think it’s getting more and more diverse, but it’s definitely a long road to it, I think. For any young girl who’s feeling nervous about it, I would … For me, I just never paid attention to it. I just wanted to climb, so I didn’t care that there wasn’t anyone else that didn’t look like me, or that looked like me.
That didn’t bother me. I feel like I was used to that from gymnastics, anyway.
Shireen: Oh, okay.
Meagan: You know what I mean, though?
Meagan: Like, there were not … And that’s another sport where it’s becoming more diverse but generally, it’s mostly a white-dominated sport. So I just never paid so much attention to it, and I do think it’s cool now, though, that if that is something that you’re nervous about, there are more people to look up to that are doing that, and they might look more like you, which is cool.
But yeah, I think you should always just go for whatever you want to do and not worry about whether or not you think you’re going to fit in.
I also had a good experience. Nobody ever ostracized me in any way. Everyone was super welcoming, nobody like … Nobody else seemed to pay attention to it, either, so I think that’s why I feel that way.
Shireen: What’s really interesting, you talked about like … from Asian descent because … Oh, there was a woman, an Indonesian woman, who actually wears a headscarf, won a gold medal on the rock-climbing wall in-
Meagan: Speed, right?
Shireen: in China. Yeah. The speed … the split wall, and it was really amazing for me-
Meagan: That’s awesome.
Shireen: It was really awesome, because A) I didn’t know that it was … you know, until I sort of learned more about that, that it is very common in those parts of the world, but it was so nice to see that, because-
Shireen: When I think of sports that most women excel in, speed rock climbing doesn’t automatically come to mind.
Meagan: Yeah, totally.
Shireen: So it was super cool to see that, like it was just … And because it’s not a sport that has type of exclusionary policies on what you can wear, and like women can wear what they want and feel comfortable in, as long as it’s safe-
Shireen: And they choose, so that was really great for me to see, and I think her name is Aries Susanti Rahayu. So that was … it was really cool to see and I’m glad you clarified that whole thing about prevalence in different communities and what that looks like.
So National Girls and Women Sports Day is something that you really believe in and support. And why is this day so important?
Meagan: Well, I think this day is so important to me, especially, just because sports have fully dictated my path in life. I’ve done sports since I can remember, I feel like since I started walking I was basically doing gymnastics, and then from there I just continued to do that sport and then other sports.
I just feel so lucky that I had role models that made me feel like this made sense and I could do sport … There was never a moment where I thought, “Oh, I should be doing something else.” It always felt like it fit, and my parents always supported that.
I mean, they wanted us all to do sports, also. My dad went to college for gymnastics and he wanted us all to get college scholarships for athletics, so that was what his goal was for us, so I think it was nice to have that and …
Being involved in sports in my teens seemed so normal, but then the more you think about it, like with that rate of dropping out of sports starting at the age of like 14, and you do notice it. We just … Not “we,” but one of my friends just opened a brand-new gym, a brand-new climbing gym in Sacramento, and they’re trying to figure out how to get kids on the team.
But the thing is you can’t just walk into a high school and be like, “Hey, you want to try climbing?” High school girls probably won’t want to, and high school boys are already playing like football and soccer and baseball so they’re not going to want to.
That age group is so hard to get involved in sports if they haven’t been from a young age, and even if they have been from a young age, they still decide that they sometimes don’t want to do them anymore, when sports, I think, are so beneficial to development.
Especially for women, because I think you feel more empowered, because usually you end up being stronger, not just physically but mentally because you have to deal with so many different emotions with competing and training, and figuring out that balance, so I think it just helps you overall in life if you can be involved in sports throughout your time of growing up.
Shireen: Definitely. Is there one person you look to as an athletic inspiration in your life?
Meagan: I think my mom has always been really inspirational to me. She was a gymnast and then once she quit gymnastics she was coaching gymnastics, but she’s always been super active. To this day she still does her crossfit workouts-
Shireen: Oh, my God.
Meagan: Like that’s her thing. Yeah. And she’s in her mid 50s, like she’s super fit. It’s so funny because my dad is also athletic, but it’s funny to see how my mom has always kept up with her workout regimen, where my dad … Like he’ll go back and forth. He’s naturally in shape.
Like without working out he has like an eight-pack. It’s insane. Nobody gets it. He’s an alien.
Shireen: I don’t even know what that means, but okay.
Meagan: Yeah. No, it’s crazy. Like he eats candy at night and he doesn’t have to watch his diet at all, and he’s always just like ripped. It’s not fair, but it is what it is. But my mom has always been so regimented with her working out, she always … because it makes her feel good, and she likes to feel strong and she always …
I remember when I was in middle school, I started going to school in middle school, and my biceps were … they’ve always been pretty large, and I was always so embarrassed at first and I could do more pull-ups than the boys and that was something I was kind of embarrassed about.
I mean, I thought it was cool but at the same time I felt like I wanted to cover up my arms a lot, and she was the first person to say, “People would kill for your arms.” Like, “You should be thankful that you have them, you should love them. That’s how you do all the things you do.”
And she made me feel really comfortable about my body. So yeah, she’s always been really inspirational to me.
Shireen: That’s so important, and she’s so right, because I want your arms. I just want to thank you again on behalf of Burn It All Down, for being on our show. It was so awesome to talk to you, and best of luck with everything, with your aspiring commentating on rock climbing, and climbing, as well.
I think that’s so great. I can’t wait to see you.
Meagan: Thank you so much.
Shireen: Climbing in the sports media world where your voice is desperately needed, so I think that it’s so great and you are a total inspiration, so thank you so much for being on the show.
Meagan: Thanks for having me.
Jessica: Now it’s time for everyone’s favorite segment. We like to call it “The Burn Pile,” where we all pile up the things we’ve hated this week in sports, and set them aflame. Brenda, what is on your burn pile this week?
Brenda: What is on my burn pile this week is the IAAF, the World Track and Field Government Body.
Brenda: Feel like you know where this is going.
Brenda: So, a South African runner, Caster Semenya, has now … It’s been over 10 years that she’s been targeted by the IAAF, which has questioned her gender. This is a fight over their insistence that Caster Semenya naturally-produced testosterone levels are too high for her to qualify, in their eyes, as a woman.
They are currently demanding that for six months she take medication to force her testosterone down. People should know, if they don’t already, that doing that can cause a number of health problems. Testosterone, actually, that we associated with libido, is responsible for so much organ functioning.
It’s very important. Women have it. She will have to run against men, they’re saying, if she can’t do this. The case is going to be heard from the 18th to the 22nd of February, and that decision is expected March 29th.
This is absolutely outrageous, and for those of you who haven’t been following this story for very long, Doctor Katrina Karkazis, who’s a friend of the show, we’ve interviewed her, she’s a great person to check out on social media. She’s an expert on the case and the relationship between gender and testosterone.
And it’s infuriating just for two quick reasons. One, because the advantage of extra testosterone has never been scientifically proven. There are journal articles out there by people even beyond Doctor Karkazis who show that the data that the IAAF is using is faulty, that they haven’t done it right.
And that secondly, the five events that these regulations apply to are not even clearly the ones where testosterone creates the most advantage.
Brenda: No. And this is racist. This is so racist. This is so racist. I just don’t even need to explain that. It’s so very racist. It’s about policing women of color, it’s about targeting her, oh my God … And just to say, “Yay” to the Sports Association in South Africa who’ve got her back, including the Women’s National Soccer Team, the Cricket Teams, and most importantly, the ASA, Athletic South Africa, which is her own governing body, who have come unequivocally to her defense.
So, I want to burn the IAAF.
Brenda: That’s it.
Jessica: Thank you, Brenda. Shireen, what do you want to torch?
Shireen: Thank you, Lindsay for pointing out this horrible situation that I’m about to burn. I wasn’t aware of it. I read this article and I was literally astounded, and just … I think in our Slack Chat there was a series of, “Oh, my God, I can’t, gah!” It was like pretty much that.
So I’m burning not only the University of Missouri Kansas City Women’s Softball Program and those in charge of it, but also the entire situation revolving around coach Greg Bachkora.
Now, “Bach,” as he is known to a lot of players and people, actually felt that he needed to use a microwave to warm up his food, which was the brilliant reason he provided when stating why he walked into the change room of naked female athletes.
Shireen: He needed to microwave his food, friends. Apparently there was no other microwave anywhere situated but close to the showers where the women shower. One particular player had actually even said that … Like jokingly, but was really horrific, “He’s seen me naked more than my boyfriend has.”
And a couple of players had transferred away, but-
Jessica: Oh, my God.
Shireen: Yeah. This is-
Jessica: Move the microwave. Okay.
Shireen: Well, exactly, which is the brilliant solution to all of this, but that doesn’t solve the problem of this creepy, disgusting man. What ending up happening is … And the university, in response to this, actually, when contacted for a comment, actually what they did was provided a document from March 2018, stating there was a “alcohol-related incident,” and there was … involving six players.
But three of those who had actually spoken out and made accusations against Bach, so all the six were suspended indefinitely, and then-
Jessica: Of course.
Shireen: What happened was one was one was transferred, and the other two were told that their scholarships would not be renewed. So they were basically like isolated and expunged from the situation. The other players who didn’t talk about or … they were reinstated. So this is how the university dealt with that. And that is specifically what I want to burn in the program, because I think that’s disgusting.
And then, in the meantime, there’s other players who were tweeting publicly and it was relayed that … The article also alleges that they were told what to say and to say positive things, and I believe that they were gaslit.
It’s just … it’s difficult because they’re kids and they might not make the wisest decisions, but this whole thing is crappy and like at the time it seemed like, “Right now I want to like punch it, because I’m so angry.” So just want to burn all of that.
Jessica: Thank you, Shireen. So I missed this when it first happened, but I’m still here to burn it. On February 7th, FC Arizona, which is a team in the National Premiere Soccer League, tweeted the following.
“FC Arizona signs former MLS midfielder Ricardo Velazco to the 2019 season. Team management believes in clean slates, and sincere second chances. Welcome to the club, Ricardo.” Okay, so Velazco needed a second chance because in May 2017, when Velazco was 23 years old, he was charged with unlawful sexual activity-
Jessica: With a minor, because he unlawfully had sex with a 15-year-old girl.
Jessica: And just to be clear, I’m going to do the math for you. She was eight years younger than him. He pleaded down to a reduced charge of sexual battery, and was sentenced to 45 days in jail and put on probation. He was kicked out of Major League Soccer.
In a statement sent to CNN, FC Arizona Club owner Scott Taylor, described Velazco having sex with a 15-year-old as a “Unfortunate incident. We just feel like at some point we need to let people get their lives back together and learn from their mistakes, not dwelling on them forever,” which you know … we can all debate what “forever” is. It’s only … the beginning of 2019. Okay. Seeing as Velazco continues to argue that the victim was a liar who tricked him about her age, again, she was eight years younger than him, it’s a wonder what he’s learned exactly.
That original February 7th Tweet is now gone, and on Saturday, FC Arizona posted this one instead. “After careful consideration, FC … ” After careful consideration. “FC Arizona has made the decision to release Ricardo Velazco. FC Arizona wishes him the best of luck in his future endeavors.”
Still FC Arizona tried it. Couching signing an MLS-caliber player as some kind of goodwill second chance and I want to burn that. Burn.
Shireen: Did they get him a microwave?
Jessica: Stop. Okay.
Lindsay: Can’t have a cold burrito. You know? Nothing worse than …
Jessica: All right. Lindsay, what are you burning? Bring us home.
Lindsay: All right. Hi Sky Blue FC, we’ve missed you the past couple of weeks. So, for those of you who haven’t followed the saga, Sky Blue FC is a National Women’s Soccer League team that had just abysmal facilities, no running water in their training facilities. Carli Lloyd taking ice baths in trash cans, like you know, a high school team would.
Once again, no running water, hot water in their training facilities. People were staying in apartments with holes in the wall, comforters stuffed in the wall. Anyway, it’s just really abysmal stuff. So this was all reported last year by the great Equalizer Soccer, who everyone should support.
Come this training camp, there was still … Or come this NWSL draft, there was still no update from Sky Blue ownership on what would change this year. There was a generic “We will tell you good news in 30 days.” Well, 30 days came and went, but finally, this week we got an update from Sky Blue FC via an announcement on their Twitter page.
This came on February 12th. It is from Tammy Murphy. Tammy Murphy is the wife of New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, who is one of the owners of the team. Nobody’s heard from Tammy Murphy basically ever about this team, and all of a sudden, less than 20 days before the pre-season starts, controversy swirling, you trout out the woman to try and be the face of everything to make things better.
Jessica: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Lindsay: In this letter, she says, “I’ve now chosen to take an active role in club activities moving forward.” Of course, now, they need a woman. Once again, that’s going to make everyone not be mad anymore. She does give some vague updates, including a 40% increase in the size of their staff. But the staff was very small to begin with, so don’t get too excited.
They’re saying that there is better housing in place this year, and that they are working on better facilities. But there were no specifics in this. There was no accompanying press conference to answer specific questions. Nobody-
Jessica: Of course.
Lindsay: In Sky Blue ownership has got to … really get in front of the media to talk about this, and we know nothing about Tammy Murphy’s history with soccer or owning sports teams, or anything. We just know that she’s a woman. Training camp starts out two weeks, or excuse me, actually the Sky Blue pre-season will start in about two weeks from now.
So time is running out to see specifics here, and I just want to burn the fact that we still don’t have concrete answers, and the fact that they’re trotting out the woman to kind of be their shield in all this.
Jessica: After all that burning, it’s time to celebrate some remarkable women in sports this week with our Badass Woman of the Week segment. First up are honorable mentions.
Shout-outs to all the women playing in the LPGA’s Australian Open right now.
Congratulations to the tennis women from France, Romania, Australia, and Belarus, who all have made it to the semi-finals of the World Group at the Fed Cup.
To Michelle Smith McDonald, who the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association announced last week as the recipient of the 2019 WBCA Mel Greenberg Media Award for her nearly 25 years covering women’s basketball at the collegiate and professional levels for some of the nation’s largest media outlets. Congratulations, Michelle.
To Elana Meyers Taylor for being the most decorated women’s bobsledder in US history. Meyers Traylor and brakewoman Lake Kwaza won the IBSF World Cup Bobsled 2018-19 Lake Placid over the weekend. Amazing.
To Yale Women’s Hockey Team who clinched this year’s IV League title with a win over Brown 8-2.
To former Burn It All Down guest Kia Nurse of the New York Liberty who just wrapped up a season playing for the NWBL in Australia with the University of Canberra Capitals, and just won the league championship. Well done, Kia Nurse.
To Sydney FC who is the winner of Australia’s W League Championship after beating Perth Glory in the final for 2.
To North Carolina A&T athlete Kayla White, who just ran the fastest time in the world in the indoor 200-meter at 22.82 seconds at the Tyson Invitational. That is … How do humans move like that? Okay.
To Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s Lovisa Selander, who broke the Women’s Hockey NCAA Division 1 record for career saves. She now has 3811 for her collegiate career. What? How long has she been in college? Okay.
To Boston University Women’s Hockey Team who won the local Boston Beanpot Tournament, a big deal in Beantown.
To Nunavut’s Women’s Curling Team, who won its first game in the main draw of the National Women’s Curling Championship, the Scotties Tournament of Hearts. Shout-out to everyone who’s competing.
And can I get a drum roll, please?
Thank you. Our badass women of the week are the cheerleaders from North Carolina A&T, who are currently protesting the way one of the cheerleaders was treated after reporting to their coaches that she had been raped. In a letter, the young woman posted on social media.
She said, “My coaching staff failed to do what’s in the handbook, which is report what happened to me.” NC AN& reacted to the letter by temporarily suspending the team while they investigate, which meant that the cheerleaders were not officially part of last week’s home basketball game on Monday night.
So instead, the woman and her teammates, wearing all black, walked to the game and sat in the same section they normally would cheer in during basketball games. The woman also did local media, calling for the coaches to be fired. We want to honor this woman and her teammates for pressing their coaches and their schools to do better on sexual violence at North Carolina ANT. You all are truly badasses in our book.
Okay. What’s good, y’all? Lindsay, what is good with you?
Lindsay: It is President’s Day weekend and I’m not usually thankful for presidents these days, but goodness am I excited to have a day off tomorrow, and that’s about all I can do this week, but yeah. It’s been … February was always a rough month for me. I don’t know. I think it’s, you know, the cold and the hibernation and the darkness, so I can use this extra day off and I’m excited that March, and that seeing you all, is on the horizon.
Jessica: Yay! Yes, that’s always … That’s so good. Shireen.
Shireen: Okay, so it’s so hard for me to be quiet about things and keep secrets-
Jessica: You did a good job, Shireen.
Lindsay: Did she?
Shireen: Thank you. Thank you, thank you. I did. I did. I really did. I’m so excited about New York City. Obviously, seeing all of you all in person, like a pajama party is what I’m envisioning. So what’s keeping me really excited is the Rivalry Series. The Canadian Women’s Hockey Team is playing the US Women’s Hockey Team, which is, as you know, amazing as always.
So, the first game, which is held in London Ontario, Canada, lost to The United States. Goal by Hilary Knight. One-nothing US. Next game, on Valentine’s Day, Canada won 4-3, so it’s Sunday morning, we’re recording, and the next game is tonight in Detroit, so I’m very occupied by that.
And adding in this weekend is the NBA All-Star weekend. I was very happy to watch Hamidou Diallo win because I just think he’s great, and you know, he jumped over Shaq-
Jessica: The dunking?
Shireen: The dunking…
Jessica: He jumped over Shaq.
Shireen: He jumped over Shaq. I was like…
Jessica: That was amazing.
Shireen: As one does-
Lindsay: As one does.
Shireen: I was pretty excited by that. I was also really happy to see Candace Parker and A’ja Wilson as judges for that, and that was pretty great. So that’s what we’re going to watch. We’ll probably watch a game tonight. It’s a long weekend in Canada. Yay long weekend. So looking forward to New York City and pajamas.
Jessica: Yay! Brenda, you have something good for us this week?
Brenda: Well, it’s really good that Shireen doesn’t have to keep any more secrets because it was not difficult to reign her in. I need to say, the force of nature can now be unleashed on the world. So I am so excited to see everyone and that this is coming together, I’m so appreciative.
Besides that, we’re recording Sunday as Shireen said, and I’m going to the Battlefield of Saratoga, which is a very nerdy and fun-
Jessica: Oh, wow.
Brenda: Thing to do on a Sunday. It’s in upstate New York and there’s a bronze cast of Benedict Arnold’s boot.
Jessica: Oh, well okay.
Brenda: Sounds dry perhaps to some, but for me it’s a very exciting revolutionary history place.
Jessica: I love that.
Shireen: That’s so cool.
Jessica: Of course, I’m very excited … It’s about New York. It’s funny because we have known that this is happening for a while now so it’s like … We’re very excited. But, we have like a month to process this.
The thing that I wanted to mention this time, and he’ll probably kill me for doing this, but last Summer Aaron started to learn how to play the guitar, and he is now going to the School of Rock, and he’s in this Adults 101 Performance Program, and he’s actually going to perform next weekend with them-
Jessica: He’s the lead guitarist, and I just … I don’t know how to … exactly to express this, but it’s really something … I’ve known Aaron for 20 years, it’s half of his life, half of mine, and it’s just been something to watch him pick up something new at this point in our lives and just … He’s enjoying it, and he’s really learning it, and … It makes me want to go learn new things.
Like, it’s been very inspiring, and I have loved that so much and I can’t wait to … I keep joking I’m going to throw my bra on stage next weekend and he keeps begging me not to do that. So, we’ll see how I handle it. But that has definitely been what’s good in my world recently.
That’s it for this week’s episode. Thank you all for joining us. You can find Burn It All Down on Facebook and Twitter. If you want to subscribe to Burn It All Down, you can do so on Apple Podcasts, SoundCloud, Stitcher, Google Play and TuneIn. For information about the show, and links and transcripts for each episode, check out our website, burnitalldownpod.com.
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We hope to see you next month. That’s it for Burn It All Down. Until next week.