The Waves

Brittney Griner and the Problem With Women’s Basketball

She’s a star of her game—and this is how she’s treated?


Episode Notes

On this week’s episode of The Waves, Slate senior producer Cheyna Roth is joined by Amira Rose Davis, professor, historian, and co-host of the feminist sports podcast Burn It All Down to talk about Brittney Griner. The WNBA superstar has been detained by the Russians for months. Cheyna and Amira talk about how Russia treats its women athletes like superstars (until they don’t), while in America it takes weeks for people to really notice when a star WNBA player is missing. Later in the show, they discuss the impact of having Brittney Griner out of the league and Amira recommends WNBA players to watch.

In Slate Plus, the fascinating (and feminist!) history of cheerleaders.


Amira: Formula 1 racing, including Netflix’s Formula 1: Drive to Survive and F1 romance novels like the Fast and Hard series.

Cheyna: Jana Schmieding for her roles on Hulu’s Reservation Dogs and Peacock’s Rutherford Falls.

Podcast production by Cheyna Roth with editorial oversight by Shannon Palus and Alicia Montgomery.

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About the Show

Each week a pair of writers and guests talk through one news story we can’t stop thinking about, and unpack what gender has to do with it.

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  • Cheyna Roth is a podcast producer at Slate.

  • Amira Rose Davis is an assistant professor of history and African American studies at Penn State and a 2021–22 Harrington Fellow at the University of Texas at Austin, where she is finishing her first book, “Can’t Eat a Medal”: The Lives and Labors of Black Women Athletes in the Age of Jim Crow. She also is the co-host of the feminist sports podcast Burn It All Down, now on the Blue Wire podcast network.