S1: The following podcast includes explicit language not restricted to words, beginning with F. S, B and Q.
S2: Hi, I’m Josh Levine, Slate’s national editor, and this is Hang Up and listen to the week of April 5th, 6th. Twenty twenty one. On this week’s show, we’re going to talk about Baylor and Stanford’s men’s and women’s national basketball titles and Jalen Sykes’s Final Four Buzzer Beater. We’ll also look at Major League Baseball’s decision to move this year’s All-Star Game in response to Georgia’s new voting law. An Arizona state professor, Victoria Jackson, will be here to help us assess Alston, the NCAA, the Supreme Court case that could determine how college athletes get paid or whether they get paid at all. In Washington, D.C., I’m the author of The Queen and the host of Slow Burn Season four on David Duke, also in D.C., Stefan Fatsis.
S1: I’m not in D.C., though,
S2: also kind of sometimes in D.C.. Stefan Fatsis is the author of the book Word Freak and A Few Seconds of Panic. Hello, Stefan. I just feel close to you, I guess, is the spiritual.
S1: I am always in D.C. I’m not really, but I’m in western Massachusetts right now.
S2: Welcome wherever you are with us. Surrounded by the resounding noise from the Stanford Victory Parade, it is a Slate staff writer, host of Slow Burn Season three and the upcoming Season six. Joel Anderson, congratulations. We can have you claim Palo Alto Suns. Things didn’t necessarily go as we had hoped for Houston over the weekend.
S3: Well, same as you know, but how things went in the tournament slide maybe a little bit further than yours, but it didn’t quite work all the way out. So, yeah, I’m glad to call Paul out. A little championship city for if it
S2: makes you feel better by bringing other people down than it
S3: does. In fact, it actually very much does. Yeah, that’s that’s pretty much my ethos.
S2: I’m happy to provide that service for you and your time of need.
S3: Can I ask a quick question? By the way? I worked my whole life, my whole life. And this is kind of stuff in my whole life. I’d never heard anything about western Massachusetts. I didn’t even know that Massachusetts was big enough to be separated into parts like western or southern eastern. And I feel like in the last year I’ve heard more about the existence of western Massachusetts than I have in the previous forty some odd years of my life.
S1: There you go. You know, some excellent college basketball out here, Williams Amherst.
S3: OK, what league is that, like Nesquik or something like that? You know, it might be
S1: nice because I’m afraid I can’t be sure I wouldn’t look it up, but that sounds right.
S3: Seems like a league that those schools being. Yeah. Before we get into the first segment, it’s important to note that, yes, Williams is in the Nesquik, but the NCAA men’s basketball championship on Monday was exactly the game college basketball fans wanted all year. Gonzaga against Baylor, a matchup of the two best teams, all pandemic shortened season long. And within a few minutes of the opening tap, it was clear the zags weren’t going to be up to the challenge. Baylor jumped out to a nine oh lead and never looked back at in eighty six to seventy victory spoiling Gonzaga s bid to be the first men’s undefeated champion in forty five years. Josh, it was hard for me to really appreciate the championship game without thinking about the semifinal that preceded it, not the one where Baylor beat Houston. That game never happened, as far as I’m concerned. I’m talking more about Gonzaga as Jalen Suggs making a buzzer beating three in overtime against UCLA. And we’ll play a clip here. Gonzaga trying to do something
S4: for the way.
S3: This season remains on go. So, Josh, what do you think will be more likely to remember in the future Suggs is shot or Baylor taking him and Gonzaga completely apart in the final?
S2: So I’ve been thinking about this and I did a little piece after Suggs is shot off the backboard in that semi, some some late night exuberance. They’re trying to assess where it placed in history and the fact that Kazhagam got the crap beaten out of them in the final. Maybe it takes it down a notch, but still, like I remember, random buzzer beaters like James Forrest against USC, or whether it’s like Bryce Drew or Tyas any way more than I remember, just like any national champion. Like I was just thinking this morning, like, remember, it wasn’t that long ago and Dante Devant just like totally went off the national title game for Villanova. I didn’t remember who they were playing. I had to look it up. There was Michigan. And so I think just based on my own memory and life experience, I think I will remember that. Jalen Suggs, Buzzer Beater. I’ll I’ll remember kind of what I shouted when it went in. I’ll remember where I was and what it felt like. Maybe because these just individual small moments are more indelible and easier for us to remember. But the Baylor victory was so comprehensive and so impressive. And yet, Stefan, maybe it was the fact that it was so thorough and comprehensive and impressive that like no kind of individual moment stood out. And I guess in some ways that’s to balance credit in other ways. I’m just like being honest that I don’t know if I’ll be able to, like, recall like I can today, like Miss Teague and Gerard Butler and Davion Mitchell, unless they become NBA stars.
S1: Yeah, I think that’s right. I mean, the game was felt over after five minutes. I mean, it wasn’t that that Gonzaga couldn’t come back from a double digit deficit. And but I think that they had only trailed by double digits twice over the course of their first thirty one games. One was in the regular season and one was against UCLA. It just felt like such a complete annihilation that it was one of those games where you kept saying, wow, I really hope they come back. And then you checked yourself and said, man, there’s no way they’re coming back. They cut it to nine in the second half. And then Baylor said, not in our house and pumped it back up to fifteen or not in their house in Indianapolis, Indianapolis to
S3: Lucas Oil Stadium. That’s right, because it
S1: was their house in the end.
S2: So Baylor said, not in our house. Come on.
S1: Baylor basically said, fuck you, we’re not. I mean, it was such a total you know, it was a it was a train wreck of a game for Gonzaga. They couldn’t do anything offensively. Baylor was hitting threes left and right and playing stifling defense. I mean, it was clear who was the better team on this night, whether they were the better team over the course of the season. But Gonzaga wins. Thirty one at Ken Pomeroy’s metrics had them as the best team of the last twenty years. So it did feel surprising that this was not the exciting game that I think we all were hoping for. Yeah, and I
S3: do think we’d be more inclined to remember champions if there were more correlation between winning a championship and being the best team, you know, and that’s you know, I always complain about this really. And it does make me a fuddy duddy. We’re just the tournament is great for drama. It’s great for ratings. It’s great, you know, if for competition. But in terms of determining who’s the best team in any given season, it’s just not that. And I’m not saying that Baylor isn’t, because watching that game, it was hard to think. It was hard to figure out a way in which Gonzaga was better than Baylor. Right. But, you know, they had been over the course of the season, they have probably of the two teams, the one, I guess, the best NBA talent, and Jalen Suggs. And, you know, they kind of proven that that that the entire season. But I mean, again, a one game sample, anything can happen in Gonzaga is coming out of the game. Tremendously emotional draining game where they had to go deep into overtime just to win that game. This is no way to know, like two nights needed to summon that same kind of energy and intensity against the team, even better than the one you just beat. I mean, it’s not necessarily going to go in your favor if those two teams that played on a neutral site in January. Like, I don’t. Presume that Baylor would be Gonzaga about
S1: 16 points like they were supposed to. Josh, I wonder whether Baylor’s blemished record. They lost two games during the season, maybe obscured their greatness, especially when everybody was kind of distracted by Gonzaga running the table. Baylor didn’t play, though, between February 2nd and February. Twenty third because of a covid shutdown. When they came back, they barely beat an Iowa state team. That was two and 16 at the time.
S2: They were losing. They were losing in that game by 17 points. I mean that to me, even more than the two losses is an indication that Baylor was severely compromised when it came back from that covid pause. I mean, there’s no way that this Baylor team or any other Baylor team, there would be anything approximating full strength would struggle with an Iowa State team that finished two and twenty two.
S1: And then and then four days later, they lost to Kansas by 13, and then they lost in the Big 12 semifinal to Oklahoma State by nine. Yeah.
S2: So I like personally sign on to everything that Joel said. You know, I think we’ve seen, especially in the last decade or so, with the rise of the three point shot, that if you’re making your threes, then things can go like sideways really quickly. And, you know, I don’t want to I pains me deeply to to do this. But like, if you watch, like, the Rockets and the Warriors and that. Oh, and in the playoffs, it’s just like making or missing threes can make a team look like a world beater or like they just are absolute trash. Just like depending on the night. And so I think, you know, looking at the stats, I wasn’t following Baylor super closely in the beginning of the tournament. But like, they put this graphic on the screen and it’s like Gerard Butler had some pretty horrible shooting numbers early in the tournament. And you, like, watch the final four and you’re like, how could this guy have ever missed a shot? I mean, like, it doesn’t seem even even possible. And so Baylor did have the best three point shooting team in the country. So it’s not like this was like random. And they pulled it out of their butts, like arguing all possible sides here. But the other thing is they were offensive, rebounding all of their misses. And so the reason that this game was so dominant is like Baylor could have won this game. I think even if they didn’t make it three, yes, they were grabbing everything
S3: or if they
S2: weren’t getting any offensive rebounds, they still would have won anyway because they were making so many shots. So, again, if you watch that game, it did not feel like the outcome was in any way undeserved. And yet I still think there’s a universe because we have seen, especially in the NBA, when you do these like best of five or best seven series, how things can flip between games so dramatically, like it’s totally possible that Gonzaga could have won on a different night. Right.
S3: And I wish there was some sort of way for me to prove this, since I’m not tweeting about anything other than the Isley Brothers and Earth, Wind and Fire. But, you know, Saturday afternoon, like 12 minutes into the Baylor you a semifinal, it was like I realized like, oh, I’ve not seen Baylor’s guards this year. Like, they’re unbelievable like that.
S2: Like, I love Davion Mitchell. The guy is like, so good.
S3: I kept I kept texting people. I was like, Davion Mitchell is a bad motherfucker like the Jets to consider him the number two pick with the number two pick in the draft. Like I would follow that dude anywhere. And he reminded me so much as a guy who covered about
S2: the best draft, No. One in the
S3: outfield. I mean, I think he’d be great. Maybe pitch, too. But you reminded me so much because I covered this team many years ago in the comp I have for him is like Tony Allen with like a competent, offensive game, because I just not seen anybody defend anybody like that, like in college. Like I mean, he was the national defensive player of the year. And that doesn’t mean anything like when you read it. But when you see it on the floor and you see how he’s getting up into people’s chest and moving his feet and totally cutting off drives you like, oh, like that special like I don’t know anybody else who can do that and stuff like that. That convinced me. I was like, oh man, baby Bailey is so much better than I even thought. I just didn’t know. But like Steph and sent those two losses made me sort of be like that. How could they be as good as Gonzaga? But that’s that’s clearly not the case.
S2: What do you guys remember about Jalen Suggs, his Buzzer Beater, before we move on to Stanford? It was I know it was like three days ago at this point, so distant and foggy memory. But as I wrote, the thing that for me was so special about it and kind of put it in a different I would taxonomies that a little bit differently is that it happened in the flow of the game as opposed to out of a timeout. And you sort of didn’t realize what was happening until it happened. And for me, that’s just like what basketball is and should be, Stephon. What was your
S1: memory of it? My memory of it was me just staring with my mouth open. I mean, it was astoundingly it was incredible. It was exciting. It was exactly that. The game didn’t stop to set this up. And Gonzaga said Coach Mark few said afterward that that was intentional. He had a time out. There were three point three seconds left in the game. He had a timeout and he said, I don’t like to call timeout in that situation because I think you can make an open court play better before they set up their defense. From Few’s perspective, it was smart coaching, but it was also great for us that the possibility of something like this happening in real time without a long delay and either a commercial break or Jim Nance talking some more. This made the moment more indelible, as you wrote, Josh. I mean, it was you know, you add up the elements, the opponent, the situation and the the the way it happens, the way it transpires. And it really is like near the top or at the top with some of the other two or three that you cited.
S3: I wish I could sportingly argue with Josh about whether or not it’s the greatest, but as a beta of all time. But, like, I just I don’t think that I can summon it like I do. I do think that in shot against Kentucky in ninety two is like just like from the past to the shot, like it may have been the more impressive shot. But in terms of like the stakes and I mean to have the presence of mind as a freshman to know to beat the defense back down the floor like that, it’s just it’s just it was just incredible. Like just to watch it, to watch that happen. It was kind of the perfect ending to like. What was it like? The NCAA tournament had not had a game like that. The NCAA should be very fortunate if, like, that’s the game that people remember from this season because like it was one of the best that any of us have ever seen.
S1: The other thing about it, Josh, was that there were people on Twitter, one notable idiot who gets paid a million dollars a year saying that he he’s not know what you’re talking about. It was lucky. It wasn’t lucky at all. I mean, he crosses half court squares up at the logo and takes a shot, the kind of shot that we have become accustomed to seeing people like Steph Curry and Dame Lillard Take and you know, and others take, as a matter of course, in basketball games. That’s the kind of shot this was. But, you know, best player, possible number one or two draft pick in this situation as a freshman. Clearly, it was something that he had practiced. Right. And I think Gonzaga said afterward that they do practice that they did practice that well.
S2: Well, Paul Pierce was busy over the weekend as he as he once said, I called game.
S1: You know what else was great about it was Suggs this reaction that he didn’t stop after releasing the ball, that he just kept moving across the court. It was beautiful. It was so balletic. And then he ends up by the scorers table and jumps up and celebrates. It was great.
S3: I don’t know why stuff and won’t bring up Skip Bayless, his name, but that’s fine. We can bring that up in a little later segment. Now, let’s move on to the women. So on Sunday in the women’s title game number one, overall seed, Stanford barely completed an unprecedented title run with its third win of the year over PAC 12 rival Arizona. It was by far the closest of the three games this season, with the cardinal forcing Arizona star Arie McDonnell in to a miss and what would have been the game winning shot. But nothing came easy for Stanford this season. covid protocols in its home county, Santa Clara County, my home county, to force the women’s team into twenty seven road games in eighty six nights in a hotel in route to Stanford’s first national championship in twenty nine years. Here’s a clip of Stanford senior point guard Kiana Williams talking about how Stanford wasn’t going to let any old deadly virus get in their way.
S5: In September, when we first got back to campus, we all got in trouble for breaking quarantine. We were supposed to be in isolation for five days. And on the fourth day, we went to a gym off campus to play pickup. And when she found out, she was just so heartbroken and disappointed. And I felt like the only way to make up for that is to win a national championship for her, for me. And unless, you know, we said from now on, we’re going to be better leaders, no follow the rules, follow protocol, and to win this Nattie and, you know, to look back on that experience and having that feeling to know, I’m extremely proud of this team. And I also want to and I feel like there was worth going to play pickup games.
S3: So, Stefon, a heartwarming story about overcoming adversity or another reminder in all the many ways in which college basketball tried to minimize the impact of a deadly pandemic this year?
S1: Obviously, it’s both right. It’s a heartwarming story about breaking quarantine and potentially exposing yourselves to to covid. But Stanford and Baylor and every other college. Basketball team had to deal with this. These are, you know, 18 to 23 year old, they didn’t have a lot of choice here, as in no choice. I mean, some schools chose to keep things as normal as much as they could. Around 20 percent of games were canceled or postponed along the way. You know, after Baylor won its title, Gerard Butler talked about how it’s harder to win this year than ever before with the stoppages and testing and the sacrificing your social life just so you can play basketball games. I mean, the players couldn’t see their families. They were locked inside of hotels. This was absurd. And Stanford’s absurdity was probably the worst of all. They were barred from campus. They were barred from their hometown. According to a rundown in the athletic, they went from Menlo Park to Santa Cruz to a week in Arizona, back to Menlo, five nights in Santa Cruz, back to Mennella, two nights in Salt Lake City, three in Boulder, Colorado, Menlo, Santa Cruz, Menlo, et cetera, et cetera, capped off by three weeks in Texas for the women’s tournament.
S2: Yeah, there’s a kind of correlation causation issue here because both Baylor and Stanford said after they won, it’s like, oh, we wouldn’t have been able to do this if we weren’t so close or if this experience bonded us and it allowed us to overcome adversity on the court because we overcame it off the court. Well. I think when you win the championship, you’re probably going to say that and the other teams that didn’t win, maybe they were just as close and every team had to overcome adversity this year. And so I think it’s not to minimize or kind of pooh pooh what Stanford and Baylor said, but just that it’s a commonality that everyone had in the sport this year, that everyone was forced into these kind of terrible situations and doing it at a time where I’m going to talk about shortly when there’s a lot of conversation about the unfairness of this sport and the lack of compensation. And that was never as stark as it was this year. But, you know, like in this in this title game, Joel, there was also the kind of quote unquote, normal kind of overcoming of adversity that we saw, like Kaylie Jones, who is the number one recruit for Stanford in her recruiting class and had a knee injury her freshman year and then came back this year and was the most outstanding player in the final four and was the key to her team winning in the semis and was the key to her team money in the final leg. That’s the that’s the type of sports adversity that we usually like to talk about.
S3: Yeah, right. And I mean, even Carol Williams, who we heard there in the clip, you know, she played the championship game in her hometown of San Antonio. And folks talked about that and, you know, sort of the nerves around that and, you know, which should have been a triumphant homecoming. Like she didn’t play very well. Like I mean, she played Arizona star guard Arthur McDonald. I mean, she’s just she’s amazing. So she made the night really difficult for them. And yet and still they overcame all that. And that actually was sort of my thing, because I guess I’m just going to be the person that complains about tournaments over and over again. But like my sense of fairness was that Stanford should have even had to play that game because, I mean, they’d already beat Arizona twice. You got to be like if they beating them a third time proved nothing to be like. I mean, they get to win a championship. But if Arizona beat them for the championship, does that mean that they were a better team in Stanford? No. But, you know, they had the benefit of getting to play them with their time. But thankfully, Stanford held on and won. But it just it just goes to speak to, you know, I mean, how random this all is. The only other thing that I thought about this is that unlike the men’s championship game, which got exactly the game it wanted, it got Baylor versus Gonzaga. I kind of felt like and I don’t hate to be the sort of person that, like the women’s game, got denied UConn. You know what I mean? Like, I know Arizona was like kind of a school that everybody, you know, they kind of with a little underdog and they didn’t even get included in, like the promo for the final four. And they kind of use that to motivate them. But I kept thinking about how much better it would have been if Stanford had gotten a chance to play UConn and everybody got a chance to see Paige Beckers sort of in the showcase game of the season. But, you know, I mean, if you’re a fan of the game, you’ll go see your next year. But I just that was one thing that kept kind of going through my mind. I’m like, Arizona shouldn’t even be here and they should be able to play UConn, you know, make this a sort of a little bit more of a fun, more high profile matchup.
S2: This is an innovation and bulletin board material. You don’t. Yeah, you don’t even it’s not just limiting it, saying the team doesn’t belong. Yeah. Before the game, but saying after they win and be at the team that they still don’t belong. That’s good.
S3: That’s Oh. Arizona. Oh yeah. Yeah, yeah. I mean, I mean, I mean you don’t think that’s fair to have to beat a team three times in a year like I just a championship game to prove anything. No, I
S2: mean that LSU is the retroactive national champion the year they beat Alabama.
S3: Oh man. Get out of here.
S1: All So this is like this is our conference. Playworks in college basketball. You play each other twice during the season and they happen to be good enough to make it to the finals. This game, this is what mattered. And look, Arizona whomped UConn. I mean, maybe it was an off night for the Huskies, but they got blown out. They didn’t they never wlad they didn’t get closer than five points over the last like thirty minutes or so of the game
S2: was an inspired performance. And it was it was an example of, OK, we’re going to sit here and say probably accurately, that game proved that Baylor was better than Gonzaga, like this was a blowout where maybe it didn’t prove the same thing. But on that night there was no question about it. And it was like an inspirational
S1: performance from from Arizona. Donald lighting it up and scoring twenty six points to the post game huddle in which a deal Barnes, the head coach of Arizona, flipped a double bird in the huddle that was caught on camera. It was you know, this was a great team and, you know, and and taking the narrative. Great, great,
S3: great team, great team, a little strong. I mean, they lost five, six games this year, but OK, that’s fine.
S1: Well, great team. I was going to say in all of the and all of the ways that a tournament like this coronets. Great. Teams, I mean, Arizona was just a great story on and off the court, you had Aaron McDonald leading this team, charismatic, great little player. I mean, then you had the head coach, Andy Barnes, African-American woman, making the finals while nursing a baby a few weeks after the NCAA basically said that children will be counted against the total number of people that that the women’s teams could bring to the tournament for covid reasons. This sort of had it all this storyline. And then for them to go out and crush the great UConn Huskies made them a really endearing and memorable team.
S3: Yeah, we didn’t even get a chance to talk about Stanford and South Carolina, which Stanford basically went through their Gonzaga game against UCLA, but they had enough gas to hold off Arizona in the final. So anyway, yeah, well, I guess we’ll we’ll revisit this again. Congratulations to Baylor. You know, I hate that school, but they they earned it. So congratulations to terrible Baylor University and of course, Stanford, my home team. So coming up after the break, Major League Baseball’s decision to move the All-Star Game out of Georgia. Is a heads up to our listeners. Yesterday, we recorded our upcoming segment about Major League Baseball moving the All-Star Game from Georgia. Well, since then, the league has announced that it will move this year’s game to Horsfield and Denver. Got that All-Star game is now going from Georgia to Colorado. More in this segment to come. And thanks for listening on Friday.
S2: Major League Baseball announced that it’s moving the twenty twenty one All-Star Game and the twenty twenty one MLB draft out of Georgia in response to the state’s new voting law, SB 202. In a statement, Commissioner Rob Manfred said Major League Baseball fundamentally supports voting rights for all Americans and opposes restrictions to the ballot box. Fair access to voting continues to have our games unwavering support. The Atlanta Braves, who would have hosted the All-Star Game, responded with a snippy statement of their own, saying that while the organization will continue to stress the importance of equal voting opportunities, unfortunately, businesses, employees and fans in Georgia are the victims of this decision. Donald Trump predictably said his followers should boycott baseball. But it wasn’t just the Braves and the trumpets and Fox News who cast doubt on MLB decision. Voting rights activist Stacey Abrams said she was happy the league and its players spoke out, but that she didn’t support moving the game, a move she said would hurt the state economically. We’ll get into the law itself in a minute, what it says and what it does. But let’s start with Major League Baseball. In 2016, when the NBA announced it was pulling its all star game from Charlotte because of North Carolina’s bigoted trans bathroom bill, we could say, oh, that’s basketball. That has a younger, more liberal fan base. It’s got a progressive commissioner, Adam Silver, yadda, yadda. But baseball has a young or a liberal fan base. Rob Manfred, not known for being progressive. And yeah, we can talk about corporate and sponsor pressure having a lot to do with this decision. But it is worth noting that golf’s PGA Tour announced last week that it’s not moving its season ending tour championship out of Georgia. So what do you think baseball is doing here?
S3: So I think like any other large corporation, Major League Baseball was reluctantly dragged into a political fight that it wanted no part of but simply could not avoid. And I just a lot of that is because they’re a victim of bad timing. Their all star game just happens to fall this year at this time in the midst of this large political fight. So they couldn’t really run from it. And I think the title of that is this. Anyone who has remotely followed politics in the last year, like even the last 50 years, knew that Georgia Republicans and Republicans in statehouses all around the country were going to rush through a series of so-called voter reform laws. Right. Like they telegraphed this the whole damn time, including when people were running up into the Capitol complaining about a stolen election like this was all a telegraph. We knew this was coming and nobody said anything. Right? Like there wasn’t there wasn’t any of this talk about a boycott or anything before that. Like that. Like they acting like this is something new. So like when Georgia legislators were meeting and drafting this bill, there was plenty of time for everyone to speak up and say, hey, this is wrong, we don’t support it. And if it passes, we’re prepared to take action. The MLB, Coca-Cola, Delta, Chick fil A, but not Chick fil A, because I’m sure they side with the bill as it is. But they all could have said this in February. They could have applied pressure before the law passed. Let everyone know what the political economic stakes were there, but they didn’t. And now everyone is scrambling here at the 13th hour. So, you know, I guess, like the league is clearly headed in this direction. Last summer, they delivered a statement about a Aubrey and Joyce Floyd and Brianna Taylor. They talked about how the game has zero tolerance for racism and racial injustice. The featuring black and brown players as the faces of the game. They know what the predictions about the country’s demographics are. They can’t afford to be dragged into the future. But to be honest, it doesn’t matter like what the Major League Baseball believes. Like the important thing is that they’re putting their money where their mouths are. I don’t want to belittle or like diminish this decision because I think it actually is meaningful. But I just do wish that they had been ahead of this. There was an opportunity to get ahead of it and now they’re behind it and now they’re dealing with the political fallout.
S1: So I think that Major League Baseball acted the way a big, entrenched, politically divided sport in America that isn’t the NBA is going to act. I mean, they were reading tea leaves in February, right. They were probably hoping that this bill would not pass, that this wouldn’t happen and they wouldn’t be put in a difficult position. But once they were put in this difficult position, they kind of did the right thing here. And I think that does deserve. Some credit, I think this is better than baseball saying we don’t want to get involved in politics or we support everyone’s right to vote, but we feel like we’ve made a commitment to Atlanta and the Braves to stage the All-Star Game there this year. I think baseball looked at this and said these people aren’t worth it. Why get on the wrong side of of everybody else here? This was a position that is supportable. It is palatable. It does not make baseball look like reactionaries. And the downside is pretty small.
S2: Well, the downside, I think, is one that, for instance, the NFL and NFL team owners didn’t want back when Donald Trump was president and they were deciding what to do about the racial justice protests, that downside being becoming a kind of pariah in conservative media and in conservative circles. I mean, it’s not just Donald Trump. It’s Tucker Carlson. It’s Fox News. It’s Georgia Governor Brian Kemp. And for an organization like Major League Baseball, which does have as a major part of its ownership and constituency, people that align with conservatism and who do skew older, this isn’t something that Major League Baseball has any interest in being involved in. And there is a different way forward here that the PGA Tour, I think, is trying to tell a very different line and putting out a statement. It’s like we believe in voting rights, but also we’re not going to move our championship. And they could have chosen a different path and align themselves with Stacey Abrams and said, we don’t believe that this is right. We think it’s wrong. We stand strongly against it. But we also don’t believe in punishing the good people of Georgia. And we’re not going to run from this fight. We’re going to be there and be involved in this and speak out against it from this place where we have a team and where we have this huge potential event in July where we can make that a centerpiece. And so they chose it’s not like they had no options here at all, you know.
S3: And I’m sort of curious, maybe you guys can help answer this for me. Are people sort of overstating the economic argument here? Because do people really come into town from all over the country in the middle of a pandemic for an all star game? Like we know that when municipalities and towns and cities host these events, it ends up costing those those areas more money than they end up getting in terms of economic benefit, like we’re just taking them at face value, that this is going to hurt them economically, too. I think I think maybe it’s a great showcase for the city on TV. But like, who in the hell isn’t aware of Atlanta? You know what I mean? Like, nobody is going to watch the all star game and be like, well, I wasn’t thinking about Atlanta before, but now I see it on TV. This must be great. So I just I think to me at least, people are overstating also the economic implications. But maybe I’m wrong about that. Oh, no, no,
S1: no, you’re absolutely right. I mean, the economic implications of one game over a weekend with some ancillary fan zone and hotel sales are totally overblown. This is a zero sum stuff, right? The if there were no All-Star Game, the way there is going to be no All-Star game in every other major league city this summer, there is no lost economic benefit here to the city, frankly.
S2: And I think it would bring attention and maybe that’s part of Major League Baseball calculus. Sure. OK, it might it might sound good in the moment to be like we’re not going to cancel this because we’re going to stay and fight for what we believe in. But do they really want their kind of showcase game, an event of the summer where, like all that stars that they’re highlighting in these commercials, they’re going to be do they want that whole thing to turn into some sort of public service announcement about voting rights where like Fernando Tatis Jr. and Ronald Akuna and Mike Trout, instead of being asked about their feats on the field or asked like, what do you think about what Republicans are doing to voting in America?
S1: Or even more than that? Josh, what if the players, you know, led by this coalition of African-American players, the players alliance, decided to take a stand? I mean, the reporting so far was that, no, the players weren’t going to boycott the All-Star Game because of this, but it sure as hell would have given them a terrific platform to make a statement about this. And that would have made both Atlanta and Georgia and Major League Baseball, their employers look pretty bad.
S3: Yeah. Also, imagine trying to do this, though, holding the All-Star Game that’s going to be tied, so. Illicitly to the memory of Hank Aaron, right, like a guy who did not want to go to Atlanta in the first place because it wasn’t an integrated city at that point. So imagine them having to play that game against the backdrop of all of that. Like, it just seems like. Again, I’m not saying that the MLB and Rob Manfred are for voting rights so that they’re not politically engaged in some of this stuff. But like the timing of it is, I think, more salient here, that political ideology.
S2: And this hasn’t been brought up that much. But there’s also the symbolism of playing the game in a stadium in suburban Cobb County. It’s not actually in the city of Atlanta. And when the Braves moved there, there’s all this talk about Turner Field. The old stadium isn’t like a crime ridden neighborhood and all of this kind of not particularly coded racial talk. And it’s like moved to this place that’s not accessible by rail because people in Cobb County, a predominantly white suburban county, voted not to extend the rail system, you know, to their their community. And so symbolism there is not particular.
S1: No, no. I would take it a step further, Josh, that this is this game would have been hosted by a team at a time when the Washington football team is changing its name. The Cleveland baseball team has agreed to change its name. And here’s another team with a Native American name and racist imagery in its logos and and other stuff over over time, where fans very likely would have been performing a racist chant when one of the Atlanta Braves players came to the plate during the game and as you said, left the majority black city. This looks bad on this. Could have looked bad on that score, too.
S3: Yeah, I mean, just to sort of double down on that point, I mean, they move to Cobb County where there’s a Lester Maddox Bridge. And for people that are not familiar with Atlanta or Georgia, Lester Maddox was an explicitly segregationist governor who got elected. And like in the early 1970s. Right. Like like this is even almost within the span of our lifetimes that Georgia has got that bridge still exists today. That’s on the way to the stadium there right now. So it’s like I mean, all the imagery is working against Georgia and Atlanta, the Atlanta area in particular right here. Like it’s like you guys are in no position to hold any judgment against anybody else. Like, clearly, you all have your own issues that you’re dealing with. And it’s OK if people from outside of Georgia or Atlanta step in and say, you know what, I don’t think we want to be here, don’t want to be involved in that, don’t want any of that imagery involved with our showcase game.
S1: Yeah, you mentioned Henry Aaron. I mean, as Howard Bryant pointed out on Twitter over the weekend, the only reason that Atlanta has a baseball team is because the city agreed to integrate seating at Fulton County Stadium as a condition for Aaron and the Milwaukee Braves to move south.
S2: I think it’s worth circling back to SB Toyota itself. And there have been a bunch of useful pieces. Georgia Public Broadcasting had won. The New York Times had one just about the various kind of things that are in the bill and that aren’t in the bill. And it’s not as like simple and explicit as some of the early drafts are, like no voting on Sundays and like things that seem like kind of obvious to target this increased voting power of black communities and people of color in Georgia that led to Democrats winning Senate seats and led to Joe Biden winning the state in twenty twenty. But the stuff that’s actually in the bill, it’s like a little bit more kind of confusing what the effect is going to be, or like maybe some things might actually be good, but like the increased voter ID requirements are going to likely disenfranchise black voters disproportionately. And I think it’s important to look at that stuff and read that stuff. But the most important thing is to look at who’s behind this. And just back to what you were saying, Joel, this was a movement and it’s going on across the entire country. That’s entirely based on the fact that Donald Trump lost. And if you look at the architects of this, both in the state and in the groups that are kind of writing this model legislation, it’s all like this. Stop this deal, people. And this guy, Hans von Spakovsky, who’s been pushing like voter fraud, lies for decades. And so it feels to me like, again, while it’s important to look at what the law actually says, this is fruit from a poisoned tree. Yeah. The thing that I think is complicated for Major League Baseball and other corporations is that this is basically an argument about whether we can just. Forget what happened with the election and with the stop this deal thing and with the capital riot and just kind of quote unquote, go back to normal and allow the people that did this to just be kind of assimilated until like polite society and politics or whether these people and these ideas need to be just drummed out of everything. It is, I think, important to lay a marker down like maybe Major League Baseball is doing. I don’t know if they’re intending to do this, but maybe like practically they are and say this is like not what we are as America. This is not what we should be doing. But I do feel like. There is going to be this kind of cultural and political forgetting, and these people are going to be kind of assimilated. And so this is a really important moment right now where the kind of early lines are being drawn about what’s going to be OK and what is it?
S1: Yeah, I think that’s that’s an important point to make because the marker that’s being laid down is just saying no, saying no to this nonsense. Mitch McConnell on Monday morning said corporations will invite serious consequences if they become a vehicle for far left mobs to hijack our country from outside the constitutional order. And Major League Baseball saying this is nonsense and it should be ignored. And this is
S2: like Republicans against like Delta and Koch. I mean, can you imagine that Delta and Coke being, you know, considered part of the like well, quote the
S1: resisting the word
S2: liberal mob.
S3: Yeah. If you’re going to take the fight to anybody, you might as well do it against Brian Kemp, a guy who ascended politically in large part through his own efforts at attacking, quote, voter fraud and pushing through regressive voter suppression efforts like that. That guy is one of the if that there was a Mount Rushmore of people who were behind voter suppression efforts in this country, it would be Brian Kemp, a guy who is notorious for, you know, basically running his own gubernatorial election against Stacey Abrams and then basically empowering Stacey Abrams a couple of years later when she’s led, you know, the Raphael Warnock and John USCIRF Senate victories a few years later. So, yeah, I mean, if you’re going to take the fight to anybody, it might as well be Brian Kemp. And I actually, you know, I’m glad you brought that up just because I had one quick thing to point out, and it’s sort of a little bit of field, but I’ve been pointing this out on Twitter for the last couple of years, and I think the last few days have pretty much validated everything I’ve ever thought about, the sort of people who unironically deploy the words WOAK and council culture in these sort of debates, like from Donald Trump to Brian Kemp and so on. They’ve co-opted what was once a really cool term woak like meaning the moment that a black person becomes aware of the impact that racism has in every facet of their life. Like that’s something that I grew up with, that that was the term that we use for it, ironically, or whatever. And now they’re using it to bolster antiblack argument, to debate point. So like to me personally, WOAK is the new N-word or the new N-word lover. And there’s no way that you can look at the gradual bastardization of the word and tell me otherwise, though, of course, Stefan is our resident word expert here. But there’s actually a really good article in The Washington Post last week about the Journey Council culture and WOAK have taken in the last few years. And and even Dr. Meredith Clark at Florida A&M has been doing lots of good work and research on those terms the past few years. So all that to say, if you weren’t using WOAK prior to twenty eighteen, you’re suspect. And I for one can hear that dog whistle, you asshole.
S2: Thank you for that Joel. And I want to end with some uncertainty because what happened with the NBA and the All-Star Game in North Carolina is that HB two, the trans bathroom bill, was repealed. They didn’t have the All-Star game there in twenty seventeen, but they did if and they rescheduled that and it was there in twenty nineteen. I don’t know what’s going to happen here. It seems unlikely that Brian Kemp and his allies in Georgia are going to be like, you know, what are bad. And so what does Major League Baseball do? You know, they’re trying to thread this needle here. You can look at it from one perspective and say in a sea of like bad corporate choices, they’re actually trying to avoid conflict as much as they can. But this is not going to go away. And Stefan, I don’t think there’s necessarily going to be a moment like the NBA had where it says like, all right, our side won. We can go back to normal now and start giving Georgia the things that we took away.
S1: Or maybe baseball just looks at Atlanta and Georgia and says, we’ll leave the team there, but we’re not going to participate. Maybe they actually take an actual stand where the
S2: Braves aren’t a bad team
S1: like they could be in the World Series. They’re. I know. I know. Well, this is the inherent you know, this is the inherent risk with having teams in lots of different cities and in states with lots of different, you know, political leanings. I think the main thing baseball did hear was that it looked at the potential risk, oh, we’re going to alienate conservative fans. And it’s sad. Unlike the NFL, it said, OK, we’re going to call everybody’s bluff here.
S2: And we should also say I mentioned that to our championship, but like, obviously, nobody is talking about the Masters, which is this week in Georgia, because just like nobody expects the Masters to do anything of it.
S3: Absolutely. Also, just real quick, like the NBA just had its all star game there and in February and in Georgia, all these same debates. Happening then, I mean, for all the you know, the talk about the progressive bona fides that the NBA has. I mean, you know, LeBron is the face of the more than a vote organization. They were right there. They knew it was all happening and they still had the All-Star Game there. So, I mean, we we don’t have to let the NBA off the hook on this either. By the way,
S1: coming up next, our interview with Victoria Jackson about the NCAA Supreme Court case and the landscape for paying college athletes. It’s been quite a few weeks for the NCAA, publicly shamed for its inequitable, sexist and shabby treatment of the women’s basketball tournament targeted by players for refusing to let athletes earn money off of their popularity. And finally, while arguing literally against giving athletes a few extra bucks to be used for education, rebuked by justices of the Supreme Court of the United States. Writing in the Chronicle of Higher Education, sports historian Victoria Jackson noted the irony of last week’s SCOTUS hearing taking place during a men’s tournament that generates upwards of a billion dollars a year in television revenue alone for the NCAA and its member schools. Collegiate basketball players, Jackson wrote, are laboring to fund the legal argument that they should not be entitled to more educational benefits. Victoria Jackson is an assistant professor of history at Arizona State University and a former NCAA champion distance runner. She joins us now. Welcome to the show.
S6: Hi. Thank you for having me.
S1: It’s great to have you with us. Let’s start with the Supreme Court case, Alston versus NCAA. The case started as a broader assault on amateurism, but it ended on this pretty narrow point about athletes being entitled to educational benefits, like buying a laptop or studying abroad, which practically and monetarily seems like not such a big deal. Why is this case so important and why is the NCAA fighting it so aggressively?
S6: Seth Waxman, who was the lawyer representing the NCAA, said that any sort of payment beyond scholarships and the full cost of attendance would amount to pay for a play. So this kind of reveals that they anticipate future litigation, that if athletes are in fact, permitted to receive more money for education benefits from their schools, then there would be further litigation challenging kind of this whole idea of amateurism. And I think the fear is that ultimately, at the end of the day, the house of cards will tumble and fall
S2: down the way that the oral arguments went last week. I think it wasn’t what I anticipated. And based on what I had read, it wasn’t what most people had anticipated. The New York Times headline coming out of it was Supreme Court seems ready to back payments to student athletes. And just looking through some of the quotes here, Brett Kavanaugh, the antitrust laws should not be a cover for exploitation of the student athletes. Amy CONI Barrett, are you saying consumers love watching unpaid people playing sports? The sort of withering commentary from the conservatives on the court was pretty remarkable. And I will also say that the most surprising thing for me was Clarence Thomas knowing what the transfer portal is. But that’s more of a side point. Were you surprised to hear the likes of Kevin Barrett and others being so critical of the NCAA here?
S6: Yeah, I mean, we heard near uniformity and skepticism and criticism and awareness of what this collegiate model really is. It’s pretending all athletes are the same. It’s higher education, writing a professional sports entertainment industry. This ruling is narrow and that it’s about education benefits. It’s also narrow and that the athletes are only football and men’s and women’s basketball players. And I think this is really a testament to people like Ramogi Huma, Andy Schwartz, you know, Taylor Branch writing that powerful piece, The Shame of College Sports in the Atlantic in 2011. You know, but but also an acknowledgement to the groundwork laid by people like Kerry Edwards. Bill Rhoden looking at what this is from kind of a bird’s eye view. But I think not only was I surprised that the conservative justices have an awareness of what this enterprise really is, it was also surprising that those who we might think would be more critical of the NCAA. These arguments were not Justice Sotomayor in particular. So it was almost like we saw like Alito setting up Cavnar, setting up Amy CONI Barrett to like slam dunk this and then Sotomayor pressing pause. That was what I saw as kind of fascinating
S3: and hearing these arguments from the justices. And it’s sort of at least to me, speaking for myself, it sort of revealed to me how antiquated and how stupid all of this sounds like, just the whole amateur athletic system. So in that way, you did it feel like just hearing the NCAA argue for itself on behalf of itself before Supreme Court sort of revealed, like how corrupt the enterprise is, like having the arguments before people who are theoretically not that knowledgeable about the intricacies of amateurism and professionalism. But, you know, that that kind of strike you, too.
S6: Yeah. You know, this is an antitrust case. And so the NCAA is in a position where they’re trying to. To defend, you know, an artificial restraint on the compensation that athletes get, so I think it’s pretty hard from the start, but then, you know, drawing a line at grants aid up to the full cost of attendance, but then saying, well, anything more than that, even if it’s tethered to education, is clearly paid for. I mean, that’s a really hard argument to make. I think Waxman tried. But, you know, ultimately, it’s I think we’re going to see a ruling in favor of the athletes. I mean, I think that’s pretty clear. Seven of the justices seem to be very skeptical of what the NCAA was arguing, but the language will really matter and what that decision is because of, you know, these kind of anticipated future challenges.
S1: You know, I think what we’ve seen over the last five to 10 years is the chipping away at the historic arguments that the NCAA has made. And yet what we still saw in the arguments before the Supreme Court is the the durability of this bullshit argument, of this bullshit idea of amateurism in college sports. And it reflected the way that the NCAA is long calm about amateurism has been really successful in as much as you had two of the most liberal justices on the Supreme Court buying into the notion that there is something different about college sports because athletes don’t get paid, Sotomayor said. How do we know that we’re not just destroying the game as it exists? Breyer said, I wonder a lot about judges getting into the business of deciding how amateur sports should be run. That may be a little less optimistic because this more than the 70 year old argument and longer centuries plus old argument about amateurism still has this power in certain quarters. Do you think it’s being chipped away enough? And how quickly can we get to the point where, you know, athletes get what they deserve?
S6: Yeah, I mean, the artificiality of amateurism, like the rules around what athletes can receive to be on the clean side of this line has changed over time. And sometimes it flips like grants and aid untethered from academic merit used to be on the dirty side. And now that’s on the clean side. And the booster subsidization used to be on the clean side. So, yeah, these ideas around the artificiality of amateurism are pretty clear. The big business growing around this enterprise has accelerated in the last 20 years. And I think that’s why it’s so clear and so much easier for justices to call out the entertainment business that this is operating in. Higher ed, the business accelerated from about four billion dollars a year to 14 billion dollars a year and a period of less than 20 years. And because the compensation is restrained for the athletes, that money has to go somewhere because you also can’t have big kind of surpluses at the end of each fiscal year, you have to spend that money. So it’s why we see the accelerated spending and coaching compensation. It’s why we see, you know, schools just in this unbelievable competitive facilities, arms race building bigger and grander and more ludicrous football facilities, in particular with indoor slides and airline design, sleep pods and locker rooms. So I think that more than anything has exposed the artificiality of this. But, you know, if we’re thinking about amateurism and we’re thinking about sports in schools, this is also all predicated on the idea that it’s in service of the students who play sports. The fact that we’re talking about consumer interest really reveals that this is an entertainment enterprise. It’s not sports in schools serving students. And what frustrated me is that we’re we’re taking that consumer interest and the necessity to protect that as our baseline kind of fact and argument. And it’s not acknowledging the reality that sports and schools developed in this way is unique in the world. And that’s not necessarily something we should be celebrating, especially when the students it’s purported to serve are not being served and are not graduating on par with the athletes in other sports or other students at the university as well.
S2: Yeah, those are great points. And I think in thinking about what the outcome here is going to be, I just found Cavnar to be really interesting because he said on the one hand to Waxman, who is arguing on behalf of the NCAA, if players are receiving six thousand dollars a year, how are you arguing that that’s an exorbitant amount when the TV contracts are in the billions? On the flip side, Cavenagh also said to Jeffrey Kessler, arguing for Alston, what’s your endgame here? And I think there was a sort of concern across a lot of different justices about this idea of a slippery slope that we’re in this moment where. There’s name, image and likeness legislation in the States, there’s it’s being talked about in Congress in this kind of bipartisan way, and all of this stuff is going to be and some scandal in some part or multiple parts of our federal government and the legislative branch and maybe in the executive branch, but also in the judicial branch. And it does not seem like the justices were particularly excited about Alston in the future, being used as a vehicle to have them repeatedly kind of assess this and make more potentially radical decisions. And so maybe does that maybe point to them trying to, you know, whether it’s like romance or have some limited ruling with like, very careful language? Because while they’re maybe not sympathetic to the NCAA, they also just don’t seem particularly excited about blowing up the whole thing.
S6: I think that’s why we haven’t seen kind of radical change in this space, because nobody wants to be blamed for ruining college sports. I think the timing of everyone coming off a pandemic also might suggest that we could see some hedging as far as kind of a radical intervention that we’ve heard the college athletes bill of Rights, that a whole slew of senators led by Cory Booker and Richard Blumenthal, Senator Chris Murphy from Connecticut as well. Their strategy is to wait and see what happens with these state bills, these state name, image and likeness bills. There’s a fear that the whole enterprise is going to collapse. And I’m very, very optimistic. The one thing that I do know is that we are still going to have elite sports and schools in the United States. If that means that football and basketball break off, that might happen. And I don’t think that the identity of the players on the field or on the court matters to consumers, to fans. They’re not thinking about the student identity of those athletes. They’re thinking about their own relationships and attachments and ideas of what it means to go to college. And so if a football player is making some money and a scholarship to the school that he’s playing for includes, you know, a scholarship in that compensation package and a lifetime scholarship at that. So they could come back and, you know, go to school at any time or get multiple degrees like the fans and the people who have attachments to that university. Well, not change because it’s their idea of college which draws them to this sport, you know, singing the songs and all those shared traditions that we have. And these attachments that are local and also generational won’t change the idea that that athletes being unpaid is what makes them attractive or that athletes, even our students, is what makes them attractive. I would challenge those ideas because, again, it’s not about the players on the field. It’s about the fans connections to the schools that those players are playing for.
S1: And that’s an argument that the NCAA made that that people like to watch college sports because they’re not paid. Rachel.
S3: Right. Right. Right. That they that they really, really enjoy somehow. I mean, the other thing is to if you’re a college sports fan and you watch the revenue producing sports, I think everybody sort of understands that some people are getting paid. And it doesn’t really seem to bother people in like Georgia or Alabama. Right. Like I mean, do you think they would be shocked and appalled if they’d heard that David Smith had gotten some inducement to stick around Tuscaloosa, but neither here nor there? I actually had a question for you of sort of related to your piece in the Chronicle of Higher Education. And so I’m actually a little bit concerned of what happens next if there is radical change, because it’s not like institutions of higher learning are known for extending educational opportunities to people of color. Right. Like, I’m just like, all right, if these opportunities that these scholarships are pooled, what happens in that absence? And you also mentioned in your piece that you know, that perhaps Austin, the Austin case, could provide a corrective to the ways in which black athletes have failed in the pursuit of education. So could you explain that a little bit more like what black athletes could stand to gain if there is a major change to the current system?
S6: I I spent some time in that piece talking about returning to athletes, a feeling of of having their own power and being in charge of their educational opportunities while they’re in college. So much of that has been taken away from a position of thinking it’s helping athletes, right? Oh, we’re going to help you sign up for classes and we’re going to make sure you have scheduled structured tutoring time. And, you know, we’re helping you on this project so you don’t have to make so many decisions. And I think what that does is it it really harms athletes and. There’s a lot of doors for potential to see and get excited about educational opportunities. I mean, this is what’s so great about college sports, is that it’s a pathway to earn a degree and to go on to do things you might never do. I was not planning to become a historian when I went to college. I wanted to do something related to math. And I took a history class and I fell in love with history and that launched me on an entirely new trajectory. So when when those of us who’ve benefited from this system are being critical of it, it’s it’s from a place of frustration, knowing that we can do better. And now that I’m an educator, I certainly know that we could be doing better. I think a lot of these predominantly white institutions are also failing in serving black students in general. I mean, statistically, we know that black students are underrepresented at the state flagship universities and their systems. And so sports have also kind of served as a Band-Aid in that way, especially because these athletes are so high profile and we see them so much. It gives the perception that these schools have done more since Brown to desegregate and they haven’t. And so we should be placing blame here with the schools, not the NCAA. It’s university leaders who’ve made the decisions that have accelerated this business as well with conference realignment, with the conference TV deals, with the college football playoff, with the autonomy move. I mean, this is on universities to be doing better by both black athletes and black students.
S2: One recurrent pattern that I’ve seen is that when you tell people who aren’t sports fans about what the NCAA rules are, they can’t believe them. Like when I’ve written pieces for Slate, for instance, about the fact that and some of this has changed since I wrote this piece. But the fact that a coach could block a player from transferring to a specific school, people are like, what the hell like that is insane. Like the Taylor branch piece in the Atlantic that laid all of this stuff out was, I think, a super effective and important in exposing the realities of the NCAA to people who don’t follow this. Because I feel like and I’ll put myself in this category that like as a sports fan, you kind of get lulled into thinking that this stuff is normal and like, oh, that’s just like the way that it is and the way that it has been and will be. But I think this Supreme Court case and those oral arguments are just like another example of that trend, like the Supreme Court justice in this case are kind of like the enemies. And they’re like, wait, you’re telling me you’re telling me that, like, this is the way that you operate and that, like, you think paying giving players a couple of thousand dollars will like irreparably damaged things. And it was just like stark to me. It just seemed like another example. And maybe this is the case with the name image and likeness stuff to Victoria that the more people know about this stuff, the less kind of study the NCAA is ground seems to be.
S1: Right, right. Because the NCAA has always been sort of a Wizard of Oz right behind a curtain doing these things, making us believe that this is normal. And what we’re seeing here is that, you know, state legislatures and Congress now are are awake to what name, image and likeness means. And in the Supreme Court case, you had the solicitor general of the United States arguing on behalf of the plaintiffs, saying that, quote, amateurism is not its own free-floating ideal under the antitrust laws. So that’s two of the three branches of government sort of starting to get it. And the Supreme Court maybe will look at it and decide that they should be on the right side of this as well.
S6: The schools have managed to get away with having it both ways, not really for the last hundred years, like Waxman was arguing, but probably for the last 50 years. They pretend it’s educational. They call it educational all any time there’s any sort of challenge, they point to the educational benefits. And that’s absolutely true for some of the athletes. But in the meantime, they’ve been just very aggressively growing this business. And I think, yeah, we’re going to see, I think, all the branches of government seeing that clearly and recognizing that because the schools have failed to take ownership of this themselves and chart a new path, that it’s time for some sort of government intervention.
S1: Victoria Jackson is an assistant professor of history at Arizona State University. What did you win your NCAA championship in the five to
S6: ten thousand meters, twisted
S3: and simple stuff that you called her a former champion in the intro. I mean, you’re always a champion usually. See, that’s true. Get stripped of a
S1: championship just because I apologize to that victory. But thank you so much for coming on the show.
S6: Thanks so much for having me. I love hang up and listen. So this is awesome.
S1: And now it is time for after bawls, we mentioned in our interview with Victoria Jackson that the NCAA case is called Alston v. NCAA and the Alston is Sean Alston. He was a running back at West Virginia from two thousand nine to 12. He ran four thousand sixty eight yards in his career. Then Strauss profiled him in The New York Times in twenty seventeen when he became when he was a litigant here. And the background to his becoming involved was pretty simple. He saw a sports center piece about the lawsuit against EA Sports over name, image and likeness way back in twenty thirteen called the lawyers and eventually filed his own case. And then the next year, the lawyers asked if he’d be willing to join a new case on whether the NCAA set legal limits on what athletic scholarships could cover. And that appealed to him because often described his undergraduate experience as having and he told this to Ben Strauss that he often went to bed hungry. He struggled to pay for basic necessities like clothing and groceries. His scholarship didn’t cover his costs. And then when he graduated in three years, started taking master’s classes. He discovered that he was no longer eligible for a Pell Grant, had to take out a fifty five hundred dollar loan to cover living expenses for his last year at West Virginia. Important footnote here. Sean Austin signed as a free agent after graduating with the New Orleans Saints and was released. Josh and then went on to become more famous as a litigant in the 2014 case, which was settled. And then this was settled with a two hundred and thirty dollars million settlement for players who didn’t get for this grant and aid scholarship. But then this second case was filed, the one that went to the Supreme Court last week. So he gets credit for pressuring the NCAA. But as it turns out, Ben Strauss discovered that Sean Austin weirdly doesn’t think that athletes should straight get paid. He told him, how do you differentiate who gets what from player to player and school to school? It’s touchy. I don’t think it’s that touchy. Josh, what’s your Sean Alston?
S2: I’ve also got in Austin the NCAA related after ball. As noted earlier in the program, the biggest surprise of oral arguments for me was that Justice Clarence Thomas is aware of the existence of the NCAA transfer portal. Perhaps I shouldn’t have been so shocked. Transfers have been one of the big stories in college sports in the last few years. College football transfers like Joe Barrow. Remember him, Khoosat, Justin Fields, I think you know him, top NFL quarterback Jalen Hurts have led their teams to glory. Some have led their teams to greater glory than others. But transfer quarterbacks are a big thing in basketball. The Washington Post had a recent headline. The transfer portal has taken Houston, Baylor, Gonzaga and UCLA to the Final Four. The transfer portal. It’s everywhere these days. The New York Post college basketball coach is furious with Wild West transfer portal. The Bemidji Pioneer. Bemidji State goalie Zach Briscoe enters a transfer portal. All right. So you might be wondering, where is Bemidji State? It’s in Bemidji, Minnesota. Who is Zach Briscoe? He was the goalie for Bemidji State, but now he’s in the transfer transferal. What I meant to say is you might be wondering, what is the NCAA transfer portal? That is a better question. It has existed since twenty eighteen. According to the NCAA, it’s a compliance tool to systematically manage the transfer process from start to finish, add more transparency to the process among schools and empower student athletes to make known their desire to consider other programs. Hmm. Let me take another crack at that. So it sounds less like corporate garbage. When any college athlete in any sport wants to leave their school and go to a different one, they put their name in this portal thing to officially declare they want to transfer. That then opens the door for other schools to start contacting them and recruiting them. OK, but you might still be wondering, Josh, what is the NCAA transfer portal? A Google image search turns up a piece published in the NCAA Champion magazine in the fall of twenty nineteen, which includes a graphic of a football player and what appears to be some kind of Star Trek teleportation rig. This player is in full uniform, is in the midst of sort of thing, getting beamed up from Tuscaloosa because he looks like he’s wearing Alabama colors and going to God knows where. Now the story is headlined what the NCAA Transfer Portal Is and What It Isn’t. And when I clicked through the story that the image was connected to an Google image search, that image was not actually there. What is the NCAA trying to hide about the NCAA transfer portal? In twenty eighteen, the sports writer Brett McMurphy posted a screenshot of the portal. So we do actually know what the portal is and what it looks like. And what the NCAA is trying to hide is this is a god darn database. It’s just a stupid database, just a list of names. You can filter it by sport and conference and name and date. It sounds very useful, actually, but it’s also extremely boring. Another thing I learned that was very disappointing and you guys might not know this, the players themselves do not actually get to enter the transfer portal. And Syracuse Dotcom explains the steps for Division one. Athletes are the athlete tells his or her compliance office that he or she wants to transfer the compliance office has two business days to digitally register that athlete and the portal. So just some bureaucrat as an athlete, you don’t even get the, you know, the pleasure of putting your name in the transfer portal. You have to tell some functionary and then they do it for you. I did find a forty three page PowerPoint on how to use the transfer portal and it was honestly so boring that I almost regretted choosing this topic for an after ball. I will read you from page forty one of this forty three page PowerPoint. If an institution’s Esso administrator has granted a coach access to the transfer portal, a coach will have you only privileges. This provides a coach access to view other transfers, transfer a watch list and resources. There’s forty three more pages of this where that came from. If you’re interested in a piece in 2010, Jason Kirk then of SB Nation ran a bunch for Slate Love. Jason, he argued very persuasively. The NCAA must make transfer portal worthy of its awesome name. Jason’s argument, which I fully endorse and will now quote from the NCAA in the name of academics and being great must either, number one, change the name to transfer database number to create a transfer portal video game. But first, a college football video game the players can profit from, preferably one with transfer portals. Or number three, create an actual transfer portal, which would look something like this, but probably better because I don’t think anyone use this one. He then pasted in the poster from the movie The Time Machine, starring Guy Pearce. Although I prefer an idea from higher up in Jason’s piece, a screenshot from the original Super Mario Brothers showing Mario entering a war zone by squatting on top of a large pipe. So Vince has a bunch of different options and. This journey that I went on is frankly disturbing and disappointing. I mean, Joel, did you even did you know that you can’t even enter the stupid database, much less like squat on a pipe to walk up to LSU?
S3: How could I really have so much critique for something that gave us Johnny Juice and UCLA? You know, awesome,
S2: amazing, beautiful database that you can sort by name and then sent Johnny Gisaeng to the West Coast.
S3: Yeah. And Quentin Grimes to tell you to shut up, because I wish that that existed when I was in school, because I think that was one of the more daunting things. Like I thought about briefly transferring to play football somewhere else. But it seems so overwhelming at the time. And I’m kind of like lazy in terms of like paperwork like this is nothing I want to do. And I can only imagine how much more pronounced that was when I was 20 years old. You know, I wasn’t interested in figuring all that out, but, you know, maybe I could have been at what was then known as Southwest Texas State. But no, there was a
S2: thing not not to not to take this in a more serious direction, but I do feel like Dole and tell me if this is wrong, that actually there being more of like kind of a culture and a norm around transferring like there is now. I mean, coaches we’re talking about it is a wild west. But from a perspective of like a player like yourself, maybe if you just saw. Hundreds, maybe even thousands of other players doing this, it would have just felt like, OK, that’s like a thing that would be fine for me to do if I want to do that.
S3: Oh, yeah, absolutely. Like, if you just like. Yeah, if it if you knew so many other people and you knew that there was just like a fairly easy standardized process to get it done, I think a lot of
S2: institutions, Asao administrator could grant a college access like, OK, that’s cool.
S3: I’m actually going in my head going back for to see you in the late 90s, trying to figure out who I SSTO administrator would have been, Rick Villareal anyway. So yeah, I’ll work it out later.
S2: That is our show for today, our producer this week, because Margaret Kelly, closer to Pasha’s, subscribe or reach out to Slate dot com slash hang up. You can email us with your NCAA. All ideas hang up at Slate dot com. We’ll pass them on to the NCAA. I think we’ve got some good ideas and please subscribe to the show. That would be nice of you to do that and and move us on our full podcast for Joel Anderson, Stefan Fatsis and Josh Levine remembers our mobility. And thanks for listening. Now it is time for our bonus segment for Slate plus members, and we haven’t done anything trivia ish in a while seemed like it was about that time, just had a gut feeling, just felt like a trivia day. And so I’m going to do a little game here for John Stafford and also for you, the slight play members.
S1: I love games.
S2: John is silent about that.
S3: He’s fine with it. You’re going to see, you know, I’m not going to be a guy willing to participate.
S2: So we’ve done this before. Let me remind you guys of the rules. This is going to be one of those things where I give 10 clues about an athlete and you can and should guess the answer when you think you know it. But if you get it wrong, then that means you’re a loser only in this very specific context.
S1: But this is the this is the sports challenge of hang up and listen. Go back and look at videos of Sports Challenge, the great TV show from the 70s.
S2: And so, yeah, try to guess. And you guys, John Stefan can guess by damning me so you don’t reveal your gas to gather contestant. But if you’re listening at home, just like start yelling, I don’t know, do whatever you do, whatever you want to do, man.
S3: That means I got to create a whole slack channel to give you this answer. I’m looking to see if I think
S1: you still have. I know you do. You still have this channel because we did this a couple of months ago.
S3: Wait, you talked about just this. Why don’t you talk about the. I’m going to put it in the hang up and listen select channel right now.
S2: That way Stefan would see you’re not.
S1: I’m not going to look at that. I’ve only got my gosh, look,
S3: as you all can see, we didn’t work this out before we got this. We started recording.
S2: This is going to be totally fascinating for the listeners. All right. So and and I will say, like when we’ve done this in the past, I’ve revealed the answer the following week, but I’m actually just going to tell everybody at the end. So for whatever reason, I’ll give you ample time to pause the recording. But if for whatever.
S1: So you’re pre assuming that we’re not going to get the answer and you’re. No, I’m not going out at the end.
S2: No, I’m going to tell it to the listeners at the end. What is what is wrong with you guys today? All right. Well, let me
S3: just let me
S1: run this. Let me just run this show.
S2: And you guys just I guess when you think, you know. All right, clue number one, for crying out loud, this female athletes, brother,
S2: like the legendary singer and songwriter genuine was named after Elgin Baylor, this female athletes brother like legendary singer and songwriter, genuine. And as noted by Dave McKenna on last week’s show, was named after the all time basketball legend Elgin Baylor. Clue number two, she has four Olympic gold medals, two world championship gold medals and a World University Games gold medal. That last one, yeah,
S1: that’s the
S2: one is very important or maybe not important at all. Four Olympic gold medals, two world championship gold medals in a World University Games gold medal number three, huh? She was a contestant on The Apprentice, but it was the only season hosted by Arnold Schwarzenegger, not the Trump apprentice. She was a contestant on the only season of The Apprentice, but it was the Schwarzenegger apprentice, not the Trump apprentice,
S1: and wasn’t moving
S2: that number for entertaining figures. We know she is currently the head coach of a pro basketball team. In twenty nineteen, she led that team to a championship and was named the league’s coach of the year, currently the head coach of a pro basketball team
S3: and currently the head coach.
S2: I said currently I’ve said it three times. Now she’s
S3: making sure
S2: that was that was on. That was rude. I’m sorry. I’m just I’m just feeling a little bit like my authority is being challenged.
S3: She was confusing
S2: the head coach of a pro basketball team in twenty eighteen. She led that team to the championship and was named coach of the year. Ever wrong answer from Joel.
S3: Oh, man.
S2: I appreciate the alacrity of a response. All right. Number five, in high school, she came extremely close to breaking a very prominent national record. But she got stopped just short because the coach of the opposing team decided to stop playing and forfeit the game. Oh, my Steffen’s typing something. I got it wrong. Stefan got it wrong to me. All right. All right. Since you both got it wrong, you’re both back alive. I’m going to let you guys have one more Gossage again, that clue was in high school. She came extremely close to breaking a very prominent national record, but she got stopped just short because the coach of the opposing team decided to stop playing and forfeit. All right, clue number six, a piece written during her freshman college season described a home game in which just three hundred and thirty five fans watched her team win. That same piece said there’s no women’s NBA and said there was, quote, vague talk of a pro league in the States complete with nine foot baskets. Hmm. Hmm, period during your freshman college season home game, just three hundred thirty five fans watched your team win, Sampi said. There’s no women’s NBA and there was vague talk of a pro league in the States, complete with nine foot baskets. All right. Clue number seven in July, nineteen ninety six just before her first game of the Olympics, she said that for at least a year after those Olympic Games, quote, her modeling career will come first, what? In July 1996, just before her first game in the Olympics, she said that for at least a year after the game, her modeling career will come first.
S3: Oh, man.
S2: All right. Looks like Stephan is typing Stefan. Got it right. Congratulations, Stefan
S1: modelling. Thank you. Should have gotten it much, much earlier. You got it wrong, as with all of these things, right?
S2: All right.
S3: Well, failing here, so no job.
S2: Come on, keep
S3: keep what you just said. I was a loser earlier, so I have been. What is it? Which is it said
S1: you’re not a loser, Joel. You’re the loser.
S3: Yeah. Seriously.
S2: No, no, no. There are a lot of people out there listening that haven’t gotten that. Her biggest basketball rival pulled out one of her hair extensions in the 2000 Olympic final. Her response? I told her she can have it all. Just take the gold. Biggest basketball rival pulled out one of her hair extensions in the Olympic final in 2000. Her response? I told her she can have it. I’ll just take the gold. Joel got it all right. All right. All right, we’re going to go through the last two and then we’ll give the answer for our listeners. Number nine, when CBS’s Gayle King asked her after Kobe Bryant’s death about the sexual assault allegations against Bryant, she said controversially, I just never have ever seen him being that kind of person that would do something to violate a woman or be aggressive in that way. That’s just not the person that I know, man. When CBS Gayle King asked her after Kobe Bryant’s death about the sexual assault allegations against Bryant, she said controversially, I just never have ever seen him being the kind of person that would do something to violate a woman or be aggressive in that way. That’s just not the person that I know. Number 10, our last clue, she’s a three time WNBA MVP. They did actually have a women’s NBA eventually. And in 2002, she was the first player in WNBA history to dunk in a game six years before Candace Parker, three time WNBA MVP. And in 2002, she was the first player in WNBA history to dunk in a game six years before Candace Parker. All right. I will pause. We’ll pause for just a couple seconds. Can we get some music in here? Maybe for the final stretch here where people can watch
S1: the Jeopardy theme song?
S2: I think we’ll see.
S3: We’ll see what I think she said. I think as long as you say we don’t own the rights to this song.
S2: We’ll see what Margaret does. All right. We’re back. And I will reveal first that some of the wrong answers that we received were Becky Hammon and Sheryl Swoopes. Also, I did include the Candace Parker and the last clue to make it a little easier to eliminate Candace Parker.
S1: Are you sure she’s not a Belgian?
S3: Just I mean, you know, we’ve I’ve talked a lot about women. They play basketball and sort of the familiarity with black culture. If if Becky Hammon was familiar with Ginuwine, I wouldn’t have been surprised. But go ahead. It’s all right.
S2: As the person who did get it wrong but did ultimately get it right first. Why don’t you tell our listeners who we’re looking for here?
S1: We were looking for Lisa, Leslie,
S2: Lisa, Leslie. And you got in on the modeling question. I telling you, I believe and Joel got it on hair extensions. So here’s here’s a little bit of what came behind some of those clues that I found interesting. I didn’t not know this before I started researching the team that she coaches is the triplets in Big three Victorian three league. So she followed Nancy Lieberman as a female coach in that that league professional men’s team and her team won the league and she was coach of the year in twenty nineteen.
S1: That’s an excellent misdirection question.
S3: Totally. That’s what I see, that that kind of threw me off because I was like it just didn’t occur to me that Lisa Leslie was coaching anywhere. I mean, the thing really was and the modeling should have been a good clue as well.
S1: Yeah. Because then it was like, all right, who won the WNBA championship in twenty nineteen? And I was like, I know it was not, you know, a woman who was the coach of that team. It was the Washington Mystics.
S2: So good misdirection then. So with clue number five and this is maybe the most famous or the thing that I knew the most about Lisa Leslie, because there’s just such a crazy story. But I omitted some of the information which was in high school. She scored one hundred and one points and sixteen minutes in the first half of a game. And the record all time was one hundred and five by Cheryl Miller. And the coach of the opposing team just decided that they weren’t going to play the second half, so she didn’t get to break the record. I there’s a story in the L.A. Times that I read that filled in some details that I didn’t know at the time. The Reps allowed her to shoot for technical free throws and she made all of them to tie the record. But then they went back retroactively and decided that those didn’t count. And so she got knocked. She got knocked back and one hundred and one. But one reason why the coach is maybe not as much of a villain as you might think is that they only had six players and by the end of the first half, two had fouled out. And so they had four left.
S3: No oh oh oh oh no. I would love to interview the one the girls that played in that game. I mean, that must have just felt I mean,
S2: they were just like double teaming her apparently. But I guess by then they could only quadruple team her.
S3: Well, I’m just saying, like, how many points did her teammates score in that game that they score anything? I mean, obviously they didn’t need to.
S2: Yeah, the final score was one hundred and two to twenty four. So I guess they scored one.
S3: Oh, man. I mean, that’s just a little shout out shout
S1: out to the girl that got the one point
S3: she didn’t even get an assist from.
S2: You will maybe for next week, after all, we can figure out who that was and give give them proper credit.
S3: Another quick fact about Lisa Leslie, nobody covid here is that they got their ass busted by Cynthia Cooper and Sheryl Swoopes. But the Houston Comets in the first four years of the league’s existence. And so shout out Houston Comets, get them give give our fallen greats some some props, man. Nobody remembers the Houston Comets anymore.
S2: Well, I enjoyed that. I enjoyed being able to give you guys some crap. I don’t know. Stefan loves games. So we know that. We know that he enjoyed it. Joel, would you be willing to do this again someday?
S3: Yeah, we can. We can run it back again at some point. I don’t want to be called a loser again, though, just because I
S2: because I just said it’s very specific. Kind of next year, a winner and all other things in life.
S1: Gell-Mann, you don’t win Silver.
S3: You write the first loser.
S2: Thank you, Joel and Stefan for playing along and thank you. Slate plus members. Hope you enjoyed that. We’ll be back with more next week.