The Roe and Women Athletes Edition

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Stefan Fatsis: The following podcast includes explicit language, including, well, you’ll just have to wait and see.

Josh Levin: Hi, I’m Josh Levin, Slate’s national editor. And this is Hang Up and Listen. For the week of June 27th, 2002, on this week’s show. Olympic gold medal swimmer Crissy Perham will join us to explain why she went public about having an abortion and what Roe v Wade getting overturned means for women. Athletes will also discuss America’s favorite legacy athlete, Arch Manning, and his decision to play football at the University of Texas. And finally, we’ll talk about Ohio State getting a trademark on the word the. I’m in Washington, D.C. and I’m the author of The Queen and the host of the podcast One Year. Those intonations mean those words belong to me in perpetuity. No back seats. Also in D.C. is Stefan FATSIS. He’s the author of the books Word Freak A Few Seconds of Panic and Wild and Inside and a graduate of the place he went to college. Hey, Stefan.

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Stefan Fatsis: I’m going to claim, but filing my trademark application today.

Josh Levin: Extremely, extremely valuable one here, too.

Stefan Fatsis: Just one.

Host 2: All right.

Josh Levin: It’s interesting.

Host 2: Interesting opportunity for the rest of us to get that second to you. Yeah.

Josh Levin: So joining from California at Slate, staff writer, host of Seasons three and six of Slow Burn and the fastest ten year old in America. Joel Anderson. Hey, Joe.

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Host 2: Hey. Good morning. I see. I mean, I don’t know. Since the Patent and Trademark Office has just given it out, I should probably go ahead and get the petition in. But with two.

Stefan Fatsis: Or fastest ten year old in America. Yeah.

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Host 2: Although, I mean, it would be almost as bad a claim as Ohio State’s, but we’ll see.

Josh Levin: I’ve never heard you with this much lack of self-confidence at Stern before we get into our first interview because it’s relevant. The final episode of Slow Burn Roe v Wade was last week. You can listen to the whole season now and it is extremely appropriate and relevant and I would suggest that you do so. On Friday, the Supreme Court released a ruling that was both expected and shocking. After 50 years, a block of conservative justices voted to overturn Roe v Wade, which guaranteed generations of American women the constitutional right to an abortion. But now, trigger laws have made abortion illegal or heavily restricted in 11 states, while another 11 are likely to do the same very soon.

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Josh Levin: Last year, before the court heard arguments in Dobbs v women’s health, more than 500 women athletes filed an amicus brief at the court in support of the constitutional right to abortion. Among them were soccer players Megan Rapinoe and Becky Sauerbrey, and WNBA stars Sue Bird, Diana Taurasi and Lisa Clarendon. The lead story in that brief was that of Olympic gold medal swimmer Crissy Perham. She joins us now. Crissy, thanks so much for being here.

Speaker 4: Thanks for having me. I appreciate it.

Josh Levin: We’ll get to the court’s decision last week shortly. But first, I wanted to talk about your story. In 1990, you were an 18 year old swimmer at the University of Arizona. You were on birth control but got pregnant anyway. What did you think when you found out you were pregnant and how did you decide how you wanted to proceed from there?

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Speaker 4: Well, first it was a surprise because I had been working to not get pregnant as a college athlete. That was definitely the last thing that I was hoping for. But I come from a family of very pragmatic people. There are teachers there. My mom was a science teacher. Very open family when it came to talking about our bodies. So I was aware that abortion was an option for me, and I felt like that was the best choice for me. At the time. I wasn’t planning on being a mom and I was in the middle of being a college athlete. So it was the best choice for me.

Stefan Fatsis: In an interview with ESPN. Crissy you defined yourself in terms of before and after the abortion. There was old Crissy and then there was new Crissy you said. How did having the ability to choose to have the abortion affect your athletic career? And was that what was sort of central, central part of your decision?

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Speaker 4: Yeah, the the thing about growing up, you know, we all have to make those growth steps. And some of it includes, you know, moving away from home, getting jobs, going to college. Some of it is circumstance. And for me, having myself, you know, in that position that I absolutely was not prepared to be a mom was a defining moment. You know, if I’m going to do this, I’m going to do it right. And I you know, I did feel like it was an epiphany of sorts. And the fact that I could choose to control my reproductive parts and have this surgery that is legal to make sure that I could get back on the right path and and really, you know, reorganize my life. It made a huge difference in my life.

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Host 2: Crissy You know, as I mentioned earlier in just his introduction, you know, athletes like Megan Rapinoe, Sue Bird, Diana Taurasi and hundreds of other collegians in high school to sign this America’s brief linking the progress of women’s sports over the last 50 years to legalized abortion. And you’ve even mentioned that yourself. You know, you said as an elite athlete, I know I have a finite length of time to pursue my dreams in my sport. All the decisions I’ve made, the sacrifices I’ve made, and the time I spent mastering my craft have been in pursuit of excellence. So can you talk a little bit about why the right to choose is especially important for female athletes?

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Speaker 4: So just to kind of reiterate those points, and it’s not just female athletes, but all of us, for the most part, doing a sport, there is a small window of time where we are at our greatest. And if you want to be an Olympian and you want to be an Olympic swimmer, especially in 1992, that window was very small. And so the opportunity to make sure that I wasn’t going to have to pause my life, that I wasn’t going to have to maybe take a year off of college, have my body recover for a year.

Speaker 4: For women, it stops everything. And it doesn’t stop everything for nine months. It stops everything, maybe even for up to two years. It takes you nine months to create a human in your body, and it really should take you about nine months to, you know, get back to, quote, normal, which that is a lifetime. Two years of being an elite athlete and not being at that level would be a lifetime.

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Speaker 4: And the reason I think it’s you know, it is different for men because they’re not carrying the baby in their body. It’s not that they don’t care. It’s not that they’re not involved. But their lives don’t change as physically as a female’s does. And so for those of us that get a college scholarship, want to play professional soccer, want to play professional basketball, go overseas and do those kinds of things, that window is so small and it just happens to align really, really well with, you know, the time that your body is ready to make babies to.

Speaker 4: You know, so so if we we have the opportunity for the health care that can ensure that that’s not something that is going to inhibit us from, you know, getting a good job, getting to be this elite athlete and getting those experiences. And then when you’re done, you have the opportunity to choose if you want to be a mom or not.

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Josh Levin: How much was this talked about among your fellow athletes, either in college or when you were training for the Olympics? Sanya Richards-Ross who had an abortion to it before the 2008 Olympics. She revealed that in an autobiography in 2017. She said, On the one hand, it’s an issue that’s not really talked about. On the other hand, she said, I literally don’t know another female track athlete who hasn’t had an abortion.

Speaker 4: Yeah, it’s something that girls, young women, women are, you know, not, you know, not just teenagers, but, you know, 20, 30 year old, four year old people that are in the maternal age. This is absolutely something that we’ve discussed with our friends. Is it, you know, do we go to Starbucks and hang out and like we all discussed, abortion like that?

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Speaker 4: No. Although overturning Roe v Wade definitely would make it more of a a table discussion or, you know, dinner table discussion. But, I mean, I don’t want to throw anybody under the bus because, you know, but I did talk to my coach when this was coming out last summer. And, you know, he said he was sorry that he wasn’t there for me. And I said, listen, I wasn’t going to tell you because I you know, it was my my own health care decision to make, but I wasn’t the only one. You know, and I think it’s shocking. It’s not that he’s disappointed in us or, oh, I’m so sad for you or Oh, I wish you would have would have told me, like, this is just something that happens to women, even when we are trying very actively to be super smart with birth control.

Speaker 4: I was I was engaged. I was in a monogamous relationship, you know. So this was definitely something that was a health care decision. And just like I didn’t go clear, you know, when I was getting an appendectomy, I didn’t clear with anyone else. You know, I don’t know if anybody I mean, I know plenty of girls that have had breast augmentation. I don’t know if anybody’s going around going, Hey, do you guys think I should do this? Like, maybe we talk to our girlfriends about it and it and it’s a discussion every now and then, but no one’s asking for permission to make these legal health care choices for ourselves.

Speaker 4: So on one hand, I think it’s a discussion that people have and we shouldn’t be ashamed about having this discussion because it is just reproductive health care. On the other hand, people have made it be like it’s it’s something dirty and it’s, you know, oh, it’s God’s will. And why are we you know, we have to excuse ourselves to make exceptions for incest or abortion.

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Speaker 4: Our topic, pregnancy. And we shouldn’t have to I shouldn’t have to say, hey, I got my appendix taken out because it burst. Like, is this okay with everybody? I’m going to die. It’s the same situation for an ectopic pregnancy. It will kill you, you know. And so if people. I think the thing about talking to my coach or talking to the other people around me, if we talk about it as a health care choice and body autonomy, it takes away a little bit of the the way that some people have spun it into being this dirty, shameful secret. You know.

Stefan Fatsis: I want to ask you a little bit about the effect that this is going to have on current college athletes. You went to Arizona. Arizona is a state that is banning abortions. Now, students have to make decisions and the NCAA will have to make decisions about where it hosts events, where it hosts championships. And elite athletes will have to make decisions about where they choose to go to school. If you were talking to an elite swimmer who’s a junior in high school and trying to decide where to compete, do you think this should be an issue in terms of that decision?

Speaker 4: I do think it should be an issue. When I was choosing college, I knew I wanted to go to a school that had a really great basketball program. I grew up in Iowa and Little Strong as a coach at Iowa, went to Arizona and I was like getting recruited by them. Heck yeah. And I’m hanging out in my bikini in February solid. So you make choices on college sometimes based on stuff like that.

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Speaker 4: I also knew I wanted to be in a big conference. I needed scholarship money. You know, the way you narrow things down. Is this school going to check all the boxes? Do the programs work together? And in the case of swimming, Arizona, swimming men and women train together. This is absolutely going to be considered for for some people in their future choices. Why would you want to go to a state that doesn’t let you have body autonomy, especially being an athlete? We already talked about that small window. So I think that is it a deal breaker? I don’t know. For some people, it’s going to be a deal breaker. For some people and maybe they’ll be like, great. That’s absolutely where I want to go. And that’s great for them too.

Speaker 4: As far as the repercussions for having a championship there, I do think it’s. Kind of ridiculous that we continued to have the College World Series, which I love to go. I’ve gone several times. I’m a huge Arizona softball fan. It’s literally a sport for women. The whole week is surrounded about by supporting women in athletics. It’s amazing. It is. It is a massive high for a week to be around so many amazing female athletes.

Speaker 4: And yet you’re going to a state where I believe Oklahoma is a zero exception state, which that means in their state, conceivably a ten, 11, 12 year old girl. And this is very graphic and I apologize. Could be a victim of incest and be made to carry this baby as a ten, 11, 12, 13 year old girl in their state. It’s very twisted.

Speaker 4: The consequences of these choices of making women have fewer opportunities in the United States isn’t going to be just for athletes. But I do think that there should be some discussion. Are we going to reward a state like Oklahoma who basically marginalizes half of their population and we’re going to reward them by bringing thousands and thousands of female fans? To to show off a bunch of female athletes. Yeah, I don’t I don’t see how that’s going to work out in the long run.

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Stefan Fatsis: Yeah, it’s interesting. The New York Times did a piece from the College World Series. Billy Witz was the reporter, and he tried to ask all of the coaches about the state’s anti abortion laws, and almost all of them refused to talk about it. Oklahoma’s coach basically sort of shied away completely from it. I don’t feel equipped to answer that because it’s never come across. I don’t even know how I’d go about it. But you said this is huge for Oklahoma, and it is. It’s like the NCAA division one tournament generates about $20 million for the city’s economy, according to some estimates. You know, the NCAA has moved other events out of North Carolina after they after the bathroom bills, the NBA took away the all star game. The NCAA pressured Mississippi lawmakers to try to get rid of the Confederate imagery from its flag. So I think this is going to be another inflection point for the NCAA in terms of its ability to lead and make these kinds of decisions on important social issues.

Speaker 4: I don’t fault the coaches for not wanting to speak about it in that moment. I know that there are plenty of people that would embrace that and be able to compartmentalize a discussion about reproductive health care and still be an athlete or still be a coach and coach. Those girls up to, you know, reached the pinnacle of their sport. That’s maybe hard timing for some of the coaches when they do have something else on their mind.

Speaker 4: And I don’t fault people that are pro-choice and don’t want to speak up because it is very polarizing and. You know, it is their livelihood and their priority is, you know, not only, you know, their job and taking care of themselves, but coaching up those girls as well. And you’re going to have people on your team who just, you know, like any slice of life that are going to be, you know, pro birth and there’s going to be some that are pro-choice and you don’t want to alienate anybody. So.

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Speaker 4: So I understand how there is going to be this weird tension for some of it, maybe a little bit removed. Maybe they go back and talk to the coaches, maybe a little bit removed from the tournament. Coaches will speak up and understand that this is something that will help all of their athletes. Body autonomy is something that we should be choosing for every human. It’s a human right.

Host 2: Chris, you mentioned that, you know, you understand why people don’t want to talk about this because there’s got to be you know, you’re going to have to deal with whatever the response is as a result. And obviously, it’s taking you a while to get to this point. So now that, you know, you’re being so outspoken and you’re out front on this, what has the response been like for you? What what sort of feedback have you been getting over the last few months?

Speaker 4: So when I first did the interview with Curt Streeter last year for The Times. I mean, I didn’t sleep for like days before I was coming out. And, you know, I talked to I have two sons. I had talked to them. I talked to my brother. I told a handful of my close friends, which, you know, some of them already knew about this. And I said, hey, I’m I’m putting myself front and center on this. And if this is something you’re not comfortable with, I 100% understand. And not only did I get 100% support from my family members and my close friends, I had people coming out of the woodwork.

Speaker 4: I, I was at a swim meet. I was at I. An invitational watching my son, who’s also University of Arizona Summer. And my phone rings. And this goes back to 1993. I was an intern at the television station in Tucson, a person that used to work there who I know to be a very religious person, pops up on my phone and I was like, This got to be a battle. Like, why is, you know, so and so and so and so calling me right now, I was like, hey, you know, this is Christine. They’re like, hey, this is so and so. And we had a really fantastic conversation. He was in support of my body autonomy, and I know that he absolutely would never want that for his own child to have to even make that decision. Maybe their lifestyle would be different.

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Speaker 4: I I’ve had you know, I’ve stopped turning my social media off because I’m afraid of the pushback. I don’t care. Like I’m 52 years old. I made the right decision for myself, and I’ve spent the last 30 years being a really good human being. And that one choice that I made helped me graduate from college, helped me, you know, stay on the path to being an Olympian, which changed my life.

Speaker 4: So I was waiting for this massive amount of pushback, and I didn’t get it. And on the flip. My phone didn’t stop. I mean, that article came out in the summer and I was still getting phone calls in the summer. So. So I feel like I’m not pro-abortion, I’m pro-health care. And I think that there are a lot of people that feel the same way. They’re pro health care. They would not want an abortion for themselves, but they’re glad that I had that opportunity for that health care choice because it made a positive impact in my life.

Josh Levin: Crissy Perham won two gold medals and a silver at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. She’s also one of more than 500 women who signed an amicus brief in support of the constitutional right to abortion. Crissy, thank you so much.

Speaker 4: Thank you for having me, guys. I appreciate you spreading the word in support of health care.

Josh Levin: Next Arch Manning to the University of Texas.

Host 2: On Thursday afternoon, Arch Manning grandson of Archie, nephew of Peyton and Eli in the top high school football recruit in the 2023 class ended years of speculation about his college choice with his very first tweet committed to the University of Texas. Hashtag hook em, Arch tweeted. And that was that. No follow up statement, no elaborate announcement video, no so-called recruiting hat dance. Arch hasn’t talked about it because he doesn’t give interviews, but it’s believed the horns won out over Georgia and Alabama, among others.

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Host 2: The recruitment of Arch Manning has followed closely since his ninth grade year at one of Louisiana’s elite secondary education institutions. Isidore Newman School. That year, he led the New Orleans area with 34 passing touchdowns in the regular season, and the hype is only built since then and will likely only get more intense as Arch readies to join one of the biggest brands in college football, Texas. So, Josh, as a New Orleanian and, you know, a former Newman student, are you surprised Arch passed up the schools with family ties. Ole Miss and Tennessee in last year’s championship finalists for a notoriously underperforming program.

Josh Levin: Love it. I love that setup. Now that well, Tennessee obviously didn’t have any family ties until Peyton went there. So I look forward to having this discussion with you guys in about 25 years about whether what what’s like where does it go from, Archie? Taj Ah Arch Manning why? Why did Arch Manning.

Stefan Fatsis: Archibald got to go?

Josh Levin: Archibald Why did Archibald pass up Ole Miss, Tennessee and Texas? It kind of seemed like it was leaning towards this direction for a while. We knew he wasn’t going to go elsewhere, so don’t even go there and act like this is a disappointment. So if you’re if you’re for should be disappointed.

Host 2: I mean, it’s disappointing that you all weren’t even really in the running, but that’s fine. That’s fine.

Josh Levin: Thank you. Thank you for saying that. It’s fine. You know, I watched Peyton when I was in eighth grade. He was a senior, and I probably mentioned this before, and I was like, I’m not sure this guy’s any good. That was my that was my scout.

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Stefan Fatsis: And oh, wow.

Josh Levin: That was my scouting prowess as I guys for a 14 year old. And that was proved wrong. I was not. Eli is my age, but I had moved on to Ben Franklin High School by then. That was not really involved in scouting or not scouting him. But I don’t know, man. Texas seems like a pretty good place to go to school, I guess. Like, I have a lot of friends who went there. They seem to have a good time. Sense of cool city. I would rather go there than go to Ole Miss and. And Tennessee and Alabama. I guess Georgia would be fine. But the thing that I find really interesting about this and we talked a little about this off the air, Joe, is that he is going to the school that had the number one high school recruit in the nation. Was that like last year, two years ago.

Host 2: You to I guess would have been two years ago because he would Ohio State sat out a year and then yeah now he’ll be eligible for the SEC season so yeah he was the number one or two years ago.

Josh Levin: Yes. That’s Quinn yours. He went to Ohio State. He supposedly had like a seven figure and I’ll deal with Ohio State, never played there and then transferred to Texas and and the like thing I’m pretty annoyed about with our age or maybe not pre annoyed, maybe I’m like post annoyed is all the stuff that Joel was alluding to here. It’s like, oh, he, he’s so old school. He didn’t do the, you know, the recruit thing and he’s just all business and all that. And so you have him just going to Texas no fast, no muss, whatever. And then you have this other guy, Quinn Ewers, who’s like playing the now game and like shopping around. And so, like, maybe I’m like secretly rooting for Quinn Ewers down.

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Host 2: To.

Josh Levin: Beat him out. Just to complicate the narrative, although I have nothing against Arch, I must say.

Stefan Fatsis: Well, it’s nice when your last name is Manning and you don’t have to play the Neil game because maybe you don’t really need the money and you don’t have to worry about declining offers in 10th grade or going public because you’re pretty good and you’re going to get them. And you don’t have to worry about waiting too long to accept an offer and being shut out, you know, in the musical chairs game of recruiting because your last name is Manning and because you’re that good. So it must be nice being, you know, being arch.

Stefan Fatsis: And the thing that I am still sort of I mean, we talk about this a little bit. I don’t know when it was last year or month ago, the the creation of the the narrative around a high school athlete with a prominent last name like Manning, the stories about how he babysits and he only eats peanut butter and he doesn’t do social media. And he’s a sweet young man. I mean, how much of that, Josh, knowing the family is and I don’t mean personally, but knowing the family as a New Orleanian, how much of that? Is you feel like necessary to sort of tamp down the craziness versus just trying to sort of perpetuate this image of the Mannings as super clean cut and wholesome.

Josh Levin: I don’t know. I mean, that’s kind of a fraught question, like a you can’t say that there’s been nothing bad ever said about any of the men. And because they’re the accusations against Peyton by a mysterious, which he vehemently denied and doesn’t seem to have stuck with him at all. So I think part of it is like brand and image maintenance, although I will say that like when I went to Newman, like not just external people, like internal people, I was like, Peyton is like the nicest guy. He’s like, gives time to everyone and everybody around that school and in that town, like a lot of that family. And I don’t think it’s just because they’re good at PR and brand management. I’m sure that’s part of it. But I’m sure like he’s a nice kid and Mike has not done anything to like wrong anyone at this stage. Like, I don’t have any reason to doubt that.

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Josh Levin: But there is still something Joel that’s like especially for you with them going to Texas, this sort of like confluence of the Texas meth and the Manning meth together, that’s going it’s going to be really difficult for you. And I just have to say that Stefan and I are going to be here for you when Texas is clearly back. Like, it’s not we can’t we can’t fight it. We can’t argue with it. You know, we should print the shirts at this point. You know three his and he’s going to get more Heisman and Ron Paul us to.

Host 2: Go to Ron Paul.

Josh Levin: So just like yeah we’re here to help you process it.

Host 2: Yeah, just this takes me back to 1999, which would have been my junior.

Josh Levin: Right. Let’s let’s go back to 1999.

Host 2: And Texas signed the highly touted sign of a former NFL quarterback of, you know, NFL great Phil Simms. And it’s and Chris Simms signs and it’s, you know. Oh, wow. Chris Simms Max Browne, Texas is going to clearly pull away from the rest of the field and they’re going to dominate. And look, Chris Simms was a very good college quarterback at that point. That was some of the most success the University of Texas had ever had with Chris Simms as quarterback. But it just sort of reminds me of the same thing that, you know, it’s it seems like it’s going to be this perfect marriage.

Host 2: But the thing that I think about is that so Arch is going to go to the University of Texas. Steve Sarkisian is going to be coaching for his job. It’ll probably be one of maybe the first second year in the SCC. That’s a lot of pressure. And I mean, look, Arch Manning has lived his life with that last name. So he’s learned to play and thrive with a lot of pressure on him. Like, obviously like that it hasn’t affected him to this point. But like that is another level of pressure.

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Host 2: And I don’t think that Chris Simms. I think Chris Simms would tell you that it was really difficult to go through that. And I’ve heard interviews with him over the years that, you know, it wasn’t the easiest. And for Arch Manning to sort of thrust himself into that crucible, man, that’s something. But another way of looking at it is that no matter where he went, great name was going to follow him, no matter where he played, if he played at Alabama, if he played in Georgia, if he played at LSU, which he never would, because he never considered them. But, you know, it it was going to be difficult. But Texas is a whole nother thing. And their fans have outsized expectations, especially relative to the success of the success that they’ve had since desegregation.

Host 2: So I don’t know, man, you know, I wish him well. I don’t I don’t hold any ill will. I always say that Peyton Manning is the best quarterback I’ve ever seen in my life. So it’s not like, you know, I’ve got anything against the Mannings in particular. But I just wonder, you know, how this is going to play out at the end of the day, because it’s it’s an awful lot of pressure for one guy. He’s got the the hopes of people that believe that the Mannings are always predestined to be dominant and people that expect the University of Texas to be dominant in spite of the evidence. So I wish him well, except when he plays against TCU.

Stefan Fatsis: Well, wait, they were five and seven last year. They’ve been terrible. What? They lost six games in a row last year. They lost to Kansas in Austin. The Bears got a couple of years ago before there is any quote unquote pressure on Arch Manning. I mean, it’s conceivable, right, that.

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Josh Levin: Seriously, Stefan, have you followed college football?

Stefan Fatsis: College football? Oh, he’s not playing. I mean, he’s not playing this fall. Could they redshirt him and play yours, though?

Josh Levin: I guess that’s true. He is still in high school.

Stefan Fatsis: In high school, he will not be responsible for whatever happens this next season.

Josh Levin: He is going into his senior year in high school. We should note that.

Host 2: Ewers will have the job for himself this year, assuming that he beats out Hudson Card or, you know, a couple other guys in their quarterback room. So, you know, he’ll have a year to make his claim before Arch gets there.

Josh Levin: So Joel is just like kind of running through the alternate universe scenarios here. It does seem like he’s maybe chosen one of the more difficult paths from an on field and off field perspective. You have this school that’s been hasn’t had a good on field product in kind of about a decade, 12 years, but has massive, massive expectations, massive money attached to the program, massive fan base. And so he’ll come in and be expected to immediately turn around the fortunes of that program. You have a school that is going into that as heck, so there’ll be more expectation of that, that and the most difficult possible schedule that you can play.

Josh Levin: Although with the new like CC kind of pod system that hasn’t even been created yet, they might not play Alabama. Who knows that they might not play Georgia. They certainly won’t play them every year. So we don’t know what the actual schedule is. But you’ve got this huge I mean, ESPN must be excited that they’ve got the SCC away from CBS, I think in time for for Arch to make his debut. So it’s going to be a massive spectacle, massively difficult schedule.

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Josh Levin: And then you have our guy, Quinn Ewers, who’s going to be in there and staking claim to the to the job. And so he’ll come in and it’ll be considered disappointing if he doesn’t beat them out. But he’s kind of taking all this upon himself and making a choice that this is the environment that he wants to be in, although probably not any more pressure, just a different kind of pressure than there would be at Alabama and Georgia.

Stefan Fatsis: Rachel, is there any universe in which the Manning family would have allowed or Arch Manning would have chosen to go to, I don’t know, a school in the north or in the west? Or is that just not conceivable?

Josh Levin: I don’t know about allowed. I mean, there’s not any indication that they told.

Stefan Fatsis: Him, yeah, maybe wrong.

Josh Levin: Word what to do or where or what.

Host 2: He allegedly considered. Virginia, seriously, whatever you make of that, right? I don’t know how.

Stefan Fatsis: I’m thinking more like, you know, Penn State or Michigan or Ohio State or USC or Oregon. Come on, man. This is my question to you. Come on, then. I mean, you the same people, you know.

Josh Levin: Well, it seems like it seems like kind of concentration of preppies was like a huge factor for him if like Virginia and Texas were high up on the list.

Host 2: Yeah. I mean, there’s a certain kind of school that he clearly was aiming for, you know? A big state school that has this sort of, you know, the mythology of Southern gentility around it, right?

Josh Levin: Which if Wake Forest was on the list that I think we really would have known what was up. Right.

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Host 2: Right.

Josh Levin: Virginia definitely would have been a choice.

Host 2: Yeah, it would have been a choice. I mean, I just you know, I guess the thing that I think about is that he must know something about Texas and Quinn Ewers that a lot of other people don’t know. So I don’t know what the Texas coaches are saying to him about Quinn Ewers, about how good he is or what his hold on that starting job is. I don’t know what they’ve told him about, you know, what sort of supporting cast and obviously some of the some of the supporting cast is going to take care of itself because there will be presumably high school wide receivers all around the country that will want to catch passes from Arch Manning. But they’re not on campus yet. And so, you know, he’ll have to that.

Stefan Fatsis: Are in like the seventh grade or the ninth grade.

Host 2: They’re in 10th or ninth grade right now. Yeah, but my thing is is that so you know that already Texas goes into SEC, it’s sort of a competitive disadvantage. You know, they’re not going to there’s not going to be Kansas State or Kansas. And you lost to Kansas, by the way, but there’s not going to be Kansas State. Kansas Oklahoma State has its moments, but it’s still Oklahoma State. I mean, they’re fundamentally recruiting three star athletes. You’re going to have to go up against the old misses. You’re not going to lose Oklahoma. You lost I mean, Arkansas beat your ass last year. You got to play them almost every year and they’re a rivalry for you. So he’s going there. It possibly the least optimal time.

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Host 2: There’s a lot of obstacles in his way that would not be there if he was like three years younger. So, yeah, I’m I’m fascinated to see what he’s going to do. But I mean, clearly Steve Sarkisian would a sales job. Right. Like I mean, it does say something about what Steve Sarkisian has done in terms of elevating the Texas brand, among other recruits, because, I mean, there’s no reason for Texas to have been in this. Right.

Stefan Fatsis: But is isn’t isn’t the pitch of come and make us great again? You know, that challenge alluring to athletes at this caliber of this caliber?

Host 2: Is that true anymore in college football? Don’t most of them usually just squander it? Alabama and Georgia and.

Stefan Fatsis: In the mountains that they’re fighting? Georgia.

Host 2: Yeah.

Josh Levin: Well, you know, the Mannings are different because they didn’t win a national championship. I mean, I guess Peyton and Tennessee could have and they did win a national title the year after Peyton left. Hats off to tee Martin but you know Eli they did when the 2003 SCC West Coast championship there is a banner so congratulations to them for that.

Host 2: Not a small deal at Ole Miss, though. I mean, I think that’s one of the better seasons they’ve had, again, post desegregation. So but it.

Josh Levin: Does counsel desegregation.

Stefan Fatsis: And Peyton did in 95 Tennessee finished third in the country. They beat Ohio State in the Citrus Bowl in 97. They won the SCC and then lost in the Orange Bowl.

Host 2: Again, we’re talking about a different time there. Like Tennessee was a national a national program. And Peyton Manning, again, is one of the best quarterbacks anybody has ever seen. I mean, that’s that’s an awful lot for Arch Manning to live up to. Like he could be Chris Simms and it still feel like a disappointment. You know, he could still be an NFL caliber quarterback and it still feel like a disappointment if he doesn’t do what people expect him to do, which is I mean, he’s a number one quarterback recruit in this class. Like the expectations placed on those guys. As you know, the Matt Stafford’s in the Jameis Winston’s and the Vince Young’s among that group. You know, if he ends up just being Philip Simms or, you know.

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Josh Levin: Kyle, right.

Host 2: Red Bomber Kyle, right. You know, a bomber, then. Yeah, that’s not going to go so well. People are not going to feel quite the same way about him.

Josh Levin: I guess. So last thing for me, I remember kind of looking at Payton’s record at Tennessee and obviously the the.

Stefan Fatsis: Huge.

Josh Levin: Deal, the big story of his college career at the time was that he came back for his senior season when he would have been the top pick or one of the top picks on the NFL draft. And it was touted at the time as what a great young man like that. That was part of the Manning myth building where they’re kind of used as a cudgel against other athletes. And so just take away whatever however you feel about them.

Josh Levin: But that’s the thing that I’m kind of worried about, or if not worried then annoyed about, is that you have this guy who honestly maybe there’s less pressure on him than anyone because like his life is going to be fine no matter what. He doesn’t need the initial money. He can go wherever he wants and things. Is the best bet, or maybe just the best college town where he thinks I’ll have the most fun. I mean, he’s obviously somebody who cares about being successful as a football player and I’m sure will put a lot of pressure on himself.

Josh Levin: But we need to remember that the decisions he makes, the moves he makes, are in an entirely different universe and context than almost anyone else in college sports. Anyone who would make a decision to transfer, anyone who would make a decision based on, you know, all of the real life factors that they need to be considered. So let’s just try to remember that for the next however many years. Up next, the segment on Ohio State.

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Josh Levin: This week’s bonus segment for Slate Plus members. We’re going to talk about the U.S. track and field championships. A lot of really interesting stuff happened. And we have Armen Joel Anderson, track expert, America’s fastest ten year old. He’ll be there to help us sort through all of it, but only if you’re a Slate Plus member. If you are a member, you get these bonus segments, you get no ads on the Slate podcast, and you get the good feelings that come with knowing that you’re supporting our show. To sign up, go to Slate.com, fleshing out. Plus at Slate.com, slash hang up plus.

Stefan Fatsis: In a victory for snark and eye rolling. The US Patent and Trademark Office last week granted Ohio State University a trademark on the word VA. Or as obnoxious Buckeyes would pronounce it the as in the Ohio State University. That’s the school’s official name. And as anyone who watches NFL games is aware, it’s the way players from the school in Columbus introduce themselves in lineup announcements. Joel. The ruling gives OSU the right to use the on branded hats and t shirts and presumably to go after other schools that might attempt to co-opt the for branding purposes. If they can’t argue as OSU can, that the is central to its name. We can get into some of the legal and financial considerations. But first, as a matter of annoying slash obnoxious fan base conceits. Where does the V rank for you?

Host 2: Well, you know, it didn’t used to bother me. Right. And it’s not quite as annoying or self-aggrandizing. It’s like best fans in baseball or wear Texas. Anything that Duke has done that we’ll discuss later. But it’s up there. And like I said, at first I thought it was funny, right. Like, not charming, but it felt like Ohio State was in on the joke. Like, haha, I get it. The Ohio State.

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Host 2: But then over the years, you know, like everything else, it became sort of grating. And now that someone has figured out that they can make a few bucks off of this, it’s just time to do something else entirely. And you can kind of understand why a lot of Big Ten and Midwestern sports fans end up hating the Ohio State fans because this is just like I understand that you have to sort of protect, you know, your branding in the market, that there are reasons to do this, but it’s just really obnoxious. And I mean, I guess, you know, we’ll we’ll see how obnoxious it is when we’re walking through an airport, you know, three years from now and somebody has on the scarlet and the gray v shirt coming through and then we’ll see how then we’ll find out how annoying it really, really is. But it’s it’s not top three, but it’s, you know, it’s it’s a finalist, you know, it’s others receiving votes. Don’t you think so?

Josh Levin: What are the ones that are not annoying? The U is the you know.

Host 2: Oh, I love the you see, the U is great. I don’t know what that is. Maybe they’re just a little more your.

Josh Levin: Why is the U. Great. We need to we need to come up with why we like what we like in order to explain why we don’t like what we don’t like.

Host 2: SharePoint, you know? You know.

Josh Levin: Is it just because the players saying it or do you.

Host 2: Think the players are cooler? You know, I don’t know. I mean, like, what’s the difference in Robert Smith and Clinton Portis? So you think you know.

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Stefan Fatsis: And that’s also when it when they emerged, I think I mean, both seem to have come around in the eighties and nineties, at least the the V seems to be 1994 ish in terms of when it broke through into something that alumni of the school would say. Robert Smith, the former Vikings running back, says that he was the creator of it, but the U. Was earlier. And, you know, that was a time when Miami was a pretty fucking good team, right? Like they were cool. So the U didn’t sound quite as contrived as the.

Josh Levin: Yeah, I mean, I think the distinction is that the U is, is kind of an air of defiance to it right now law program. And it was a program on the come up and so they’re like we’re gonna you like you’re going to have to deal with that and you’re gonna have to deal with us as the Ohio State University. There’s something kind of snooty about it.

Josh Levin: And also like, we know what Ohio State, we know what Ohio State is like. You’ve always been there. You don’t need it. It feels kind of like staking a claim that doesn’t need to be staked kind of for no purpose. Like, like the whole thing just feels superfluous and stupid. But for me, it, it’s harmless and funny. Whereas I think the gold standard of badness, of badness and being annoying in this larger category is we are the Penn State thing for for multiple reasons.

Josh Levin: Number one, which I didn’t realize until looking this up, there is this kind of claim and lore in the program that we are Penn State. And I’m reading from the true origin of We Are Penn State this article that the idea was that it emerged from the 1940 748 football team who admirably stood up to racial prejudice. The idea was that they had a black player. They weren’t going to be allowed to play with the full team. And a player stood up and said, We are Penn State in an act of racial solidarity. Apparently totally made up. That never happened. No record of anything to do with that ever happening.

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Josh Levin: That The Real Story is that like cheerleaders just started saying it in the seventies and eighties, and then it became this kind of catchphrase in the pro Paterno movement, where when Paterno was getting ousted in the early 20 tens, that fans were chanting it outside of his home, and Paterno was finishing the We Are a chant. And so that compared to like that, then who cares about the like there’s nothing sort of menacing.

Host 2: Or.

Josh Levin: It’s just kind of corny. And I can understand if you were a fan of that program, like thinking that it was a fun thing and sort of embracing that corniness and stupidity of it. Like it feels very kind of college sports to me in that way.

Stefan Fatsis: Stefan Yeah, and the way that the NFL players have embraced it also sort of falls into that category. It doesn’t feel super serious. It doesn’t feel like anyone’s going to like get into a fight over on the field because you said the and you said the you and it’s become almost a joke. And we can play some clips of NFL players announcing their schools during Monday Night Football lineup introductions to sort of bring that point home. I went through a long YouTube collection of every NFL player introduction from every team from I think a couple of years ago, maybe three or four years ago, put together by someone called Highlight Fame. Let’s just listen to a few iterations of NFL players saying both the Ohio State University and other university names and other ways to introduce themselves.

Speaker 5: Kelvin Benjamin, the Florida State Fair Game, or the Irish State University’s Greg Olsen for you.

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Stefan Fatsis: So there you go. That was pretty good right there. You know, we got a little sampling of everybody. Here’s one with some great variety.

Speaker 5: Brandon Graham Crockett. Fletcher Cox, Yazoo City High School. Timmy Jernigan, Columbia High School. Derek Barnett, Tennessee. Nathan Gary Black Shirt. Nice round the Florida State University. T.J. Edwards, Wisconsin. Jalen Mills, LSU. Malcolm Jenkins, the Ohio State University. Rodney McLeod, the University of Virginia football team.

Stefan Fatsis: And finally, this might be my favorite.

Speaker 5: Brandon Williams, Stanton Elementary. Michael Pierce, Sanford University. Matthew Judah.

Speaker 5: How do you feel about Taco Bell diet or what creativity?

Josh Levin: Creativity do we think that it’s like pathetic when people do the Florida State or the University of Virginia or do you categorize that as trolling, Stefan, or do you think it’s just like kind of pathetic imitation?

Stefan Fatsis: No, I think it’s trolling. Yeah. I think it’s making fun of the Ohio State.

Host 2: Such as? Yeah. I mean, everybody knows that this again, it started off as a joke, right? I don’t I don’t think anybody thought that this was like a really Ohio State really was making a really serious claim here. And it only sort of hardened into that over some years.

Stefan Fatsis: You don’t think they were saying that we are the best university in the state of Ohio and when the university’s name was changed in 1878 to indicate that we want to support that decision.

Josh Levin: There’s, I guess, a couple of ways in which there’s functions. There’s like the whole W thing where LSU claims that its DB, who has the best defensive backs and then like other schools, also claim that they’re W and so it becomes this like dumb sort of game within a game about who’s really W And then there’s stuff Joel that’s like a fan base kind of uses amongst itself as like a kind of secret word. Like if you pay, this would literally happen. But it’s like if you pass somebody on the street and you’re like, give them like a look or like a secret handshake or something, just like a a kind of fun thing that people share with each other.

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Josh Levin: And I think what’s happened with the Ohio State is that it’s gotten outside of the fan base. It’s gone from being this joke to something that like they’re trademarking and putting on t shirts and it’s starting to get to the point where it’s taking itself way more seriously than it ever should have been taken. And, you know, I did appreciate stuff.

Josh Levin: And the search that you shared about how the biggest trademark troll and trademark enforcer in all of college who has that job?

Host 2: It’s Duke University man, Josh, his favorite school. And apparently, in addition to being you know, I mean, I guess the cops, the trademark cops, the top trademark cops in college sports, they have a habit of making wildly outrageous claims, you know, relative to. Relative to that to the actual claim. So according to the some of the research here that Stefan provided for us, Duke found twice as many claims as the top ten athletic revenue schools combined and four times as many claims as the rest of the top ten basketball revenue schools. There are 193 registered marks that include the word duke that have nothing to do with Duke University. But somehow Duke seems to think of itself as the only Duke worth branding. I mean, I guess.

Josh Levin: It’s not even that they opposed they opposed Pretty Devil for electronic slot machines, blue ball Chiller for alcoholic beverages and get your blue on for charitable fundraising. So whenever you say that, you know, we live in blue America or blue states, you you’re stepping on Duke. How dare you?

Stefan Fatsis: All of this all of this research is from a paper titled Mark of the Devil the University as Brand Bully by James Boyle and Jennifer Jenkins, who, it should be noted, are professors at Duke Law School. They wrote that Duke’s level of aggression, both in number of claims and the extremity of its legal arguments, is remarkable.

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Josh Levin: Yet the there is something kind of duke about this, and I wonder if that gives Ohio State fans any pause, like the kind of pretension and like claim to some sort of moral higher ground that actually by staking the claim, you are like digging yourself into a lower moral higher ground. But I mean, in fairness, some of the other stuff that was on this paper, Stefan is like Boise State play on a blue field and trying to trademark a playing on any non-green field. That was a pretty amazing, amazing flex. You know, what is Texas having a registration on the Longhorn hand symbol, which also means I love you in American Sign Language.

Stefan Fatsis: Texas A&M trademark the 12th man in 2016. It feels.

Josh Levin: More legit.

Stefan Fatsis: Some somebody does that feel more more.

Host 2: Life I mean maybe it’s Texan and you know it was weird when the Seattle Seahawks started doing the 12th Man thing and they actually have had a legal battle over that. But I was just like I just thought that was totally a Texas A&M thing. So that makes a little bit more. Okay.

Stefan Fatsis: Then what about Texas A&M going after a guy who wanted to produce a beer called 12th Cam?

Host 2: I mean, they I mean, why are they.

Stefan Fatsis: Hating on capital? Are the lawyers get involved in this is why lawyers got involved in the Ohio State trademarking V it was because another company a fashion and fashion designer Marc Jacobs had trademarked the first. They reached a settlement and then after redoing their trademark application, it was approved. So Ohio State and Marc Jacobs can both make T-shirts that say they on them those that one of those lawyers at Duke James Boyle was quoted by the Chronicle of Higher Education saying This is a very stupid decision, but the more concerning thing is that it is a trend. And, you know, so we’ll see more universities doing stupid shit like this to try to make money. I mean, the point here is that, you know, that Ohio State generates like 12 and a half million dollars a year from licensing and selling shit. And it this is just a way to make some more coin.

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Josh Levin: So Joel, you shared on Twitter recently that you got a lot of TCU t shirts from homefield apparel, which made me think.

Host 2: The TCU.

Josh Levin: That’s lame. Like don’t even you’re debasing yourself by saying that we’ve got to come up with something for the TCU football program that can be that kind of slogan and phrase like our hand sign.

Host 2: Nobody can see me doing this right now because I’m just doing it on Zoom.

Josh Levin: Yeah. Tell the people, tell tell the people what you’re doing. It looks like you’re making air quotes.

Host 2: Yeah. All right, well, here’s kind of look like a quote, but that is our hand sign. It’s like an air quote type thing, but that is the hand sign. And that I did not know until I actually graduated from college. I know that we do it at football games or whatever, but once I was driving on the highway and somebody saw my TCU bumper sticker and started doing the hand sign at me, and I was like, What the hell? I thought something was wrong.

Stefan Fatsis: This has to be like the horn.

Host 2: Like a horn frog. Yeah, you get it. Same. Yeah.

Josh Levin: Okay, so we should probably come up with something better than that. So what, what are some options for TCU? Stefan. You’re you’re the word guy here.

Stefan Fatsis: Some options for TCU. TCU How many, how many, how many?

Josh Levin: Two letter words are there in Scrabble.

Stefan Fatsis: 107 and North America.

Josh Levin: All right. So Ohio State’s laying claim to three letter words. We got to get we’ve got to get down to two, two letter words. What’s your what are your what are your top three two letter words?

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Stefan Fatsis: Hmm. My top. My favorites are Z A Q II and. Yeah, maybe. Q AA is good. So if I were at school in California, that is the mascot is the is the aardvark. Bakersfield. It’s one of those baseballs.

Host 2: Oh, I was thinking the banana slug. Are you think are you thinking of aardvark instead of the banana slug, which is, I believe the Santa.

Stefan Fatsis: Cruz School was an aardvark. Really? Yeah.

Josh Levin: All right, let’s look this up. Real time. Real time.

Stefan Fatsis: I mean, it means larva. It’s not an.

Host 2: Aardvark. I always assume that Alcoholics Anonymous, right?

Josh Levin: Looks like the aardvarks or the Ames Community College and Pikes Peak Community College.

Stefan Fatsis: Maybe I’m thinking of the banana sometimes.

Host 2: You’re thinking of the banana slug? Yeah. Yeah. Unfortunately, I don’t think TCU needs anything to distinguish this stuff. You know, once upon a time when I was in school, you know, the the horn frog was the it was the only mascot in the Trivial Pursuit game. I don’t know if kids still play Trivial Pursuit, but that was one of its.

Josh Levin: It has the TCU has only mascot in Trivial Pursuit a game that most people don’t even remember still exists. If you don’t think you need anything, then then we can’t help you draw.

Host 2: I’m sorry.

Josh Levin: When you.

Stefan Fatsis: Which one? Which horned frog is it? There’s the Asian horned frog. The Ruff Horned Frog and the South American Horned Frogs.

Host 2: Oh, I didn’t know that there were that many different kinds of horn I choose.

Josh Levin: Yeah, Foster. I see.

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Stefan Fatsis: Is it the Texas horn? Is it the Texas Horned Lizard?

Host 2: I think it’s a Texas horned lizard that’s not the one that shoots like a red. Liquid from its eyes, it appears to be blood, but it’s not actually blood. And it’s endangered. It’s an endangered species. It’s now no longer you.

Josh Levin: Know, we say it to you, Stefan, when you ask which horned frog it is, fuck around and find out.

Stefan Fatsis: And there we go. Maybe farm and find out if it’s a trademark.

Stefan Fatsis: I may have misspoken. In that last segment, I asked Joel which horned frog, Asian rough or South American the TCU Horned Frogs? It’s not a horn frog at all. Actually, the Horned Frog is the Texas Horned Lizard. It’s the state reptile of Texas. I’m just going to read a little bit and read some sentences from the wiki about the Texas Horned Lizard. The Horned Lizard is popularly called a horned toad or horned frog, but it is neither a toad nor a frog. Despite the fierce appearance, Texas Horned Lizards are extremely docile creatures. The Texas Horned Lizard is a sunbather and requires bright sunlight to produce vitamin D. Their daily movement is averaged at 50 meters. Huh? Movers. That’s a lot.

Host 2: For a lizard. I mean, you know.

Stefan Fatsis: You think?

Host 2: Well, actually, I don’t know if that.

Stefan Fatsis: Maybe they prefer to move very little, but horned lizards can move quite fast if they feel a predator is in the area.

Josh Levin: Love, Joel. Joel. Keeping for the lizard.

Host 2: Nothing alternative. Supportive. And he’s in danger.

Stefan Fatsis: Okay, go ahead. Yeah. Docility is an.

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Josh Levin: Important, important quality. It’s like when you talk about school mascots, it’s usually not selected for maximal docility.

Stefan Fatsis: 70% of the Texas Horned Lizards diet is made up of harvester ants, though they supplement these with termites, beetles and grasshoppers Wolf. That is quite a terrifying animal if it can really kill those harvester ants. They’re good for that.

Host 2: That’s good for the environment. I would I would argue. But the.

Stefan Fatsis: Term environment. Yeah.

Host 2: What do termites doing for you?

Stefan Fatsis: The Texas horned lizard has disappeared from almost half of its geographic range. Population declines are attributed to the loss of habitat, human eradication of the ant populations upon which the lizards prey, displacement of native ant populations by invading fire ants. Maybe this explains why TCU isn’t very good at sports.

Host 2: What are you talking about? I mean, the baseball team almost made the College World Series or something.

Josh Levin: It’s only it’s only going to get worse under Sonny Dykes.

Host 2: Well, I mean, that I mean, we can talk about that another time, but I’m not I’m not optimistic.

Stefan Fatsis: Josh, what’s your. Texas Horned Lizard?

Josh Levin: So after our interview with Crissy Perham at the top of the show, I wanted to look into the history of women athletes and abortion and came upon a really famous story that I was not aware of, which is that in 1972, Men’s magazine published its first ever standalone issue, and inside that magazine, running across the top of two full pages, were the words We have had abortions. The text below that reads in part, to save lives in despair, other women the pain of socially imposed guilt. 53 respected women residents in the United States who volunteered to begin the American Women’s Petition. Our purpose is not to alienate or to ask for sympathy, but to repeal archaic and inhuman laws. So this was the 1972 equivalent of the amicus brief signed by Crissy and more than 500 women athletes.

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Josh Levin: And so in this Ms.. Magazine, the first standalone issue, there’s three columns of names. The names included Susan Sontag, Gloria Steinem, the singer Judy Collins. And for people who’ve heard the first episode of the latest season of Slow Burn, Shirley and Wheeler. But the most prominent name on that list at the time was probably Billie Jean King at that point. Billie Jean was at the height of her powers on the court. She won almost 20 tournaments in 1971. She’d also worked with other women just around that time to form their own pro circuit. And she became the first woman athlete to make more than $100,000 in prize money.

Josh Levin: But as she explained in her autobiography, All in which came out last year, she also got pregnant in 1971. It was unexpected. She learned that she was pregnant when she nearly threw up on the court. She was in her later twenties. At that point, her marriage to her husband, Larry, was shaky. And as she wrote, she couldn’t imagine it, bringing up a child in such chaos. This was before Roe.

Josh Levin: But in California, where she lived, abortion was illegal so long as you could convince a medical committee that the procedure was necessary. So, she said, explaining to a panel of ten or 15 strangers why I qualified for an abortion was probably the most degrading thing I’ve ever experienced. She did get approved. The procedure cost at $580. That’s nearly 40 $200 today. And she could only go ahead with it after her husband signed a consent form. King supported the pro-choice movement wholeheartedly. But it was her husband who signed that petition on her behalf and mailed it back without telling her.

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Josh Levin: In 1972, her abortion wasn’t public. She hadn’t even told her parents. And so it was this article, this, you know, two page thing in my magazine that revealed to the world that Billie Jean King had had an abortion. When the petition got published. A Washington Post report. I asked her about it. Her answer was quite simple, straightforward women should have a choice, that’s all, like having a career or being a housewife. The choice is there for you. I feel strongly about it.

Josh Levin: She also said if every woman who had an abortion would come out and say so, then it wouldn’t be such a social stigma. King got tons of hate mail. Her brother, who was a pitcher for the San Francisco Giants, even got letters himself. They called his sister Billie Jean, a baby killer. In her autobiography, she says the worst moment in all of this was a 60 Minutes profile where Morley Safer asked her about the abortion. That wasn’t the worst part. It was watching that segment with her mother, who Billie Jean hadn’t been able to talk to about her choice. With the TV on, her mother said that she had cried for three days when she’d found out about Billie Jean’s abortion. And she asked her, Don’t you love children?

Josh Levin: 50 years later, in an opinion piece for The Washington Post, this came out just at the tail end of last year. Billie Jean King wrote, If we lose the ability to control our bodies and our futures, so many of the gains women have made will be undone. In that piece, she also shared a memory from the day of her procedure when she tried to comfort a 15 year old girl she met in the waiting room. She wrote, I tried to comfort this terrified girl from Alabama where abortion was illegal. She was pretty far along. It had taken her months to get to California, where she was staying with a relative who made the appointment for her. I never saw her again, but I hope that she was able to finish school, earn a good living, and have children if she so chose.

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Josh Levin: All things that generations have been able to take for granted in the nearly 50 years since Roe became settled law. Since she published that piece, Roe got overturned and that scene that she describes in the waiting room that’s going to start happening all over the country to lots and lots of women in the days, weeks and months to come.

Host 2: It’s really grim, but I guess that’s where we are right now. First of all, Gaby Josh, that was great. Thanks for telling that. But have you all seen those list of companies that are like said that they will pay for their employees to go to a state that, you know, still permits abortions? And and you tell me. I haven’t seen it. Have there been any professional sports teams or professional sports organizations that have been any on any of those lists?

Josh Levin: I have not seen that. I’ve seen sports leagues and teams come out with statements saying that they oppose.

Host 2: You know.

Josh Levin: The decision. But no, not that specifically.

Host 2: Yeah.

Stefan Fatsis: And that’s a that’s a pretty incredible artifact that you dug up, Josh, the magazine issue and story about Billie Jean King. I was completely unaware of of of that story. So thank you for unearthing it and and sharing it.

Host 2: There’ll be a link on the show page, right.

Josh Levin: Yeah. We’ll put a link to all the stuff in the her opinion piece for the Washington Post. And she has shared this story a bunch in recent years. And like I said, it is in her autobiography, All In. That is our show for today. Our producer is Kevin Bendis. To listen to passions and subscribe or just reach out. Could a Slate.com site hang up? You can email us at Hang Up at Slate.com. And don’t forget to subscribe to the show and rate and review us on Apple Podcasts for Joel Anderson and Stefan Fatsis and Josh Levin remembers Elmo Baby and thanks for listening.

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Josh Levin: Now it is time for our bonus segment for Slate Plus members and the U.S. track and field championships were just held in Oregon and the world championships draw, I think for the first time, the world track and field championships are going to be in the US, in Oregon in a month. And so it’s your talk show man. Tell us what most stood out to you and the track and field championships. A lot of really interesting storylines, a lot of really interesting, really great performances.

Host 2: Yeah. I mean, first of all, I mean, I’m just I’m just so torn up because I wish that, you know, in another world I’d planned on going up to see that this year. And it just it’s not going to work out for good reasons. But I would have loved to have had an opportunity to be there in Oregon, especially with my father. That would have been great. But in terms of things that stood out well, I mean, obviously Sydney McLoughlin, you know, the 400 meter hurdler who broke the world record in Japan just once again smashed that record and barely was pushed in the final. Like she’s basically running against herself and lowered that time.

Host 2: She’s broken the record three times in the last two years, and that’s just amazing. Like, that’s I mean, in in fact, she’s done so well in this event. I mean, it’s almost a necessity that she runs the open for her. Like she has to run it now so we can see that what she can do and deliver.

Josh Levin: Mohamed, her big rival, wasn’t in that race. And so you’d imagine that when they’re pushing each other, that that record is going to drop.

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Host 2: You know, I don’t know if you guys remember the the men’s 400 meter hurdle. Karsten Warholm, I believe, is the guy that broke the men’s 400 meter hurdle record last year. And he was pushed all the way through. And it was just like it was a great you know, the second place runner also broke the world record. And so I just I would love to see Sydney get pushed like that one last time before she moves into the 400.

Host 2: And, you know, obviously, like I’m sort of backing into the Sha’carri Richardson thing because, you know, she was, you know, one of the emergent stars last year at this time, you know, she’d won the 100 meters at the US Olympic trials, was later disqualified for testing positive for marijuana and, you know, didn’t run in Tokyo. And you know, it was a huge disappointment. And she’s become something of a social media sensation since then for reasons good and bad. And so this past weekend, she didn’t make it in the 100 or the 200. So she’s not going to compete at the Worlds in Oregon. And she’s made a lot of headlines for that.

Host 2: And first of all, I think the important thing to me was I hope that whatever is going on with her, like she gets some help. I hope that she’s got a good support system around her because obviously she’s not running at her best. And, you know, if you watch some of the interviews in the wake of that, those performances, you can see that like, you know, she’s in pain. Like she’s not something. This is not what she expected.

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Josh Levin: But if we’re just strictly speaking of on track stuff, she had had some good performances in the run up to the the US championships. So like after the Olympics and she wasn’t in the field like she had fallen off pretty severely and her times weren’t very good. But this was actually disappointing, not just based on her performance from like a year, year and a half ago. Like in the run up to this, she would have expected and we would have thought that she would have qualified for worlds.

Stefan Fatsis: Yeah, she ran a race in New York just earlier this month and won the 200 and finish second in the 100.

Host 2: Right. She she performed well in spots. The thing that I would argue about, Sha’carri Richardson, is that her personality is more compelling than her actual talent. But what I mean is that she’s really, really good. I mean, obviously, she was an NCAA champion. She was the American leader going, you know, going into the Olympics last year. But I think what sort of stood out to me is that she’s basically had two really good months as a professional by two, like April and May of 20 of 2021 when she was in her prime. She’s poised for a big summer and then she gets dq’d and she’s never able to recapture that form.

Host 2: And so I don’t know if it’s that that she was just peaking at a particular time for the Olympics, because you train differently in an Olympic year and you’re peaking in hopes that you’re going to, you know, have your best performances at the Olympics. And that was sort of denied her. But since then, she’s struggled to recapture that form. And I just don’t know, like, maybe she’s not, you know, maybe there’s nothing to blame. Like, maybe, you know, maybe our expectations are out of whack for who she actually is as a sprinter. Right.

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Josh Levin: She’s only 22.

Host 2: She is. There’s nothing saying that she can’t recapture that that form from those couple of months. But I just wonder if like maybe we’re putting a lot. Pressure on her to be some sort of sprinter that she’s actually not like. She’s nine.

Stefan Fatsis: And she was one.

Host 2: Of those Jamaican those Jamaican champions. Right. Like she’s not run consistently like that over and over again.

Stefan Fatsis: Consistently. It seems to be the word there. Joel. I mean, she she ran a ten, eight five in the hundred earlier this month. And then in Oregon at the U.S. championships, she ran an 11.31 that’s almost a half second slower. And then and then the 100 a half second is gonna turn huge. That’s something that that says something’s wrong.

Host 2: It does say something is wrong, but it’s not like she’s been able to recapture. Like she’s not it’s not like she’s run ten, seven again, you know, which was the time that captured everybody’s imagination and really, you know, thrust her into the public spotlight. And she that’s she caught lightning in a bottle. And she’s been able to run really well, you know, maybe a couple of times since then. But the rule has been she’s not Elaine Thompson, her, you know, like she’s not, you know, one of those great Jamaican sprinters that is up there. She’s not flo-jo, you know, I mean, like, I mean flo-jo like had it all fairness. Flo-jo had one really great summer in her career that has made her a legend. So I don’t know. I don’t know what’s going on with Sha’carri Richardson, but I don’t know if it’s her training. I don’t know what else is going on. But she’s not been able to have the sort of consistency that would make you think that she’s going to be a world champion.

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Stefan Fatsis: And she didn’t she didn’t talk about it either. She refused to do any or almost all mixed on interviews after the meet. And she walked by all the reporters and then came back to basically lecture the reporters and basically say that, you know, we all need to respect athletes more. It wasn’t clear where it came from. You know, you watch the video of her walking through the the past, the past, the reporters. And the only question I heard shouted was a terrible question. Just talk about the weekend as a whole, but it didn’t seem to, you know, reflect any disrespect.

Host 2: Didn’t it seem like I mean, as people that have been reporters and that sort of situation that you’re just trying to say something that will warm them up and not something direct that would piss the person. All right. You know, it was just like it was a bad question, but because you can’t really ask a good question. That’s right. That’s that’s right.

Host 2: I’ve got two other people I want to talk about, if that’s okay, if you guys are gonna let me pick out a track real quick. Oh, yeah. Josh is telling me to hurry up. You guys both.

Josh Levin: Know I’m not telling you to hurry up. I’m telling you to go ahead.

Host 2: And Allyson Felix, 36 years old, she clinched a spot in the world championships. She finished sixth in the 400 meters. And the one thing I want to just people to understand is that Allyson Felix, I think is the or is one of the or the most decorated track athlete in U.S. track history. And she was everything that everybody said she was going to be like. She ran in the Olympics as a teenager. Everybody saw her coming and she’s delivered. And it’s a balance that, again, Sha’carri Richardson is some people are built for that sort of pressure and that sort of like consistency. And, you know, Allyson Felix has done a lot for track and has been out front for a lot of years. And it seems her career is going to come to an end after this summer. I would love to see her win a medal at the world, but I mean it just to think of somebody being a professional athlete essentially for 18 years and track like, I mean, that’s it’s pretty incredible.

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Josh Levin: And the equivalent would be Sydney McLaughlin or I guess for Kerry Richardson running in the 2036 Olympics.

Host 2: Yeah, yeah. And that to me, I mean, I don’t know, have you all followed, you know, a little bit about Allyson Felix and you seem, you know, she’s sort of like the face. She should be the face of U.S. track and field. If she’s not, it’s.

Josh Levin: It’s so rare to have the opportunity to follow a career of a track athlete like we do with, you know, a great basketball player, baseball player, whatever. But we saw her as a high schooler and we saw it. We see her as a mother. Now, it’s it’s really cool.

Host 2: Yeah. I mean, you you you remember we talked about this in the first segment. We know how difficult it is for a woman to have a baby and to come back and be a topflight athlete. And that’s something that Allyson Felix actually did. And she has a daughter that was born in 2018. So that’s one. I think the other thing that I would want to bring up is Aryan Knight. And and I don’t know, like, are you guys, like, fascinated by this kid? He’s you know, he finished.

Josh Levin: I cannot believe that you’re mentioning him first. That is the ultimate the.

Host 2: Ultimate respect allows.

Josh Levin: That’s exactly what Noah Lyles has been talking about. He’s pointing at you as he’s running past the segment.

Host 2: He’s at 18 years old. You know, every night is supposed to be in high school. I mean, that’s so that’s why Noah Lyles is not getting mentioned.

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Josh Levin: Versus the Noah Lyles. Aryan Knighton rivalry is awesome. I love it. And that this is like kind of the the tension that happens in a lot of these rivalries. Right. Joel, you have a guy who in Lyles who thinks he’s the best and as. A claim to be the best. And then you have a guy who the media Joel Anderson is more fascinated with because he has a more compelling story in this case because this guy is 18 years old. It’s incredible. Natan is incredible. Incredible. And so obviously you’re going to have and they’re teammates, but there’s like some some animosity there. And it was just such a good race.

Josh Levin: But you back to your.

Stefan Fatsis: Job way back to me for a second, is there real animosity there? I mean, Noah Lyles, is, what, 24 about to turn 25? It feels to me like it’s Noah Lyles taunting this 18 year old, trying to create a rivalry I haven’t seen. And this could just be I mean, look, I’m making the right choice.

Josh Levin: And I look pissed. And the post-race I mean, they did the post-race interview with the two of them standing next to each other and Lyles talking about how, you know, he wasn’t worried when night was ahead of him because he knew he was the fast, the fastest guy and they didn’t like.

Stefan Fatsis: He seemed pissed. Yeah, he seemed pissed. But he’s not, like, taking the bait either. He’s like the 18 year old who is just learning to run and talks about how I’m only going to get better. I mean, he’s been braking. He’s been breaking Usain Bolt’s age records. I mean, he just finished high school.

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Host 2: He ran the fourth fastest 200 meter time in history. You know what I mean? Like at 18 years old, right? I think I think about Noah Lyles and a few people that followed track would know that, like Noah Lyles is very desirous of being famous. Like he really wants people to know who he is. He would love to be like the Carl Lewis or, you know, whoever. Like, you know, he would love for people to rally behind him and he seems like.

Josh Levin: Not a bad thing for track.

Stefan Fatsis: Yeah, right. Thing for track. And he’s super personable. He’s funny, you know, he’s he’s a great face for track.

Josh Levin: No. What were you going to say, Joe?

Host 2: We know. But I mean, it’s just like not worked out for him. He’s just, you know, that that’s just not you know, it doesn’t seem like that’s going to happen for him for whatever reasons. Like some people just don’t catch on. And no matter how much you got out, an 18 year old, like, it’s just not going to it’s not going to elevate. It’s not going to elevate. Noah Lyles Like he could still be a great track athlete, but I don’t think he’s going to be like an American hero or anything. And like Darian Knighton is well positioned to be that dude. And, you know, sometimes favoring unfair is what we say.

Josh Levin: Yeah. Like Fred Kerley is another example like he was. I actually I will confess I didn’t remember that he had won silver in the hundred and Tokyo he won finished first in the 100 at the US track Naomi Chips favorite at the World Championships. If you look at the guy, he is like towers over everybody. He’s an enormous dude, an imposing figure. He’s got a cool story, but like no non-famous will never be. It doesn’t seem like he’ll ever be famous.

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Josh Levin: Yeah and yeah. Nathan Like written up by Jerry Longman in the New York Times. Like he’s got like we’re we’re all kind of obsessed with phenoms no matter what the sport is and that Usain Bolt stuff, it’s really crazy that he’s like a half second faster than Bolt at that age. And Bolt was like known as the young prodigy, too. It’s not like Bolt was like old when you’re selling these records.

Josh Levin: But what happens with this stuff is like you can be on pace to be Babe Ruth or LeBron or whatever, but then like. A certain a switch flips for those dudes and it’s just like there’s no such thing as Joel. You can, I think, attest to this. There’s no such thing in this like rarefied all time great level of being on pace to like be better than somebody. It’s like he’ll, he’ll get there. He won’t. But like to say that because he’s run this faster, this age means like, oh, he’s on pace to be faster than Usain Bolt. Like that, I don’t think is the right way.

Stefan Fatsis: Well, what he’s on pace to be is to get a lot written about him. And four have a lot to have a lot of eyes on him as he progresses and gets older. But the one takeaway for me this weekend is that and this goes back to last summer and the Tokyo Olympics is that there are, you know, a thing Mo also really charismatic and fun and brilliant Abby Steiner in the 200 also like unbelievable. And it feels like if you want to pay attention to track there’s a lot of stuff to pay attention to. And the fact that the world will be in the United States next month has to be an opportunity for all these athletes to cash in and make their names and make some money. Yeah, you.

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Host 2: Hope that like Americans tune in because yeah, there are a lot of like young, you know, telegenic, you know, really bright, you know, young stars in these ranks. And it hasn’t been this way for a while. Like, you know, American sprinters and track athletes are taking the seat behind the Jamaicans and some other, you know, other countries in recent years. And so, man, like, if you want to get on like this is a great time to do it. And, you know, Eugene, Oregon ran looks nice little facility I mean, you know there’s a good case for going off and you know I would I wish I could be there so you know hey man, if you seize the opportunity that I will not be able to.

Stefan Fatsis: We didn’t even mention Devin Allen. He’s going to run in the Worlds and then go to training camp with the Philadelphia Eagles.

Host 2: Man, that guy’s got a lot of personality to.

Josh Levin: Thank you. Slay plus members. Thank you all for your track expertise. We’ll be back with more.