The College Football Players Want to Play Edition

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S1: The following podcast contains explicit language. Hide your children.

S2: Hi, I’m Josh Levine, Slate’s national editor, and this is Hang Up and listen for the week of August 10th, 2020. On this week’s show, we’ll discuss the likely to be non-existent 2020 college football season and why it’s not going to happen. Maybe it will. Probably won’t. We’ll also talk about the latest from inside the NBA bubble where Damian Lillard is beefing with the Clippers and Luke Idont, which is very good at basketball. And finally, we’ll discuss the ouster of Texas Tech women’s basketball coach Marlene Stallings and the state of the sideline tyrant.

S3: I’m the author of The Queen, the host of Slow Burn Season four. I’m coming to you from Washington, DC. My cronie Stefan Fatsis is off this week with me, as always, from the West Coast. Another cronie Slate staff writer, host of Slow Burn Season three, Mr. Joel Anderson. Hello, Joel.

S4: Thanks for having me this weekend. I’m glad to be a crony with you.

S3: Thank you for having me. I don’t have you. We have each other.

S4: That’s true. That’s true. We’re in this together. Not Stefan, of course.

S1: Joining us this week, Slate’s chief news blogger, Charles, former boss, America’s favorite Michigan fan, Spen Matthew Lily. Hello, Ben. Hey, guys. Wow. That’s all we’re going to get from you today.

S5: No chatter, I’m ready to get right to the issues. I’m just you know, I’m so focused on sports news and commentary that that I don’t have time for small talk.

S3: Joel, you want to get right to it? Yeah, let’s do it.

S6: So by the time you hear this segment, we might not have any college football to look forward to this fall. The news was moving very fast over the weekend. Friday night, we learned there would be no FCS championship after the Big Sky conference said it would move its season to the spring. Then the Mid-American Conference, the Mac for you laypeople announced that it would postpone Fox Sports. The Big Ten followed with an announcement that it would stop its progression to full pads football practices by Sunday night. Sports Illustrated reported that high level conference meetings were being planned this week, with the expected outcome being the cancellation of all sports. A source told Essi in the next 72 hours, college football is going to come to a complete stop. But not everyone is willing to let the season go on Sunday night. A group of star players, including Ohio State quarterback Justin Fildes, my man crush Alabama running back Najee Harris and Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence tweeted out the hashtag We want to play. Josh, what do you make of this new college football alliance?

S3: No fear, more let down by like Danny Connell tweeting this out by Najee Harris tweeting, It’s a very difficult time for you. It’s really interesting. So they all tweeted out the hashtag and also this graphic that says we want to play at the top, but also we are united, which is that hashtag, you know, the Eucla guys that we had on the show last week and the focus that we had in that conversation was, I think, more around. These are people who are logical and sensible and understand that it probably doesn’t make sense to play this fall. And the twist that Trevor Lawrence and his group is putting on this is like kind of coopting and maybe not just coopting, but kind of seeing themselves as in alliance with this other group, but like, you know, moving maybe like 90 degrees in the direction towards we need to have covered protections. We need to give players the opportunity to sit out and respect their decision, but also hashtag we want to play. And Ben, there’s a note also in this lovely social media graphic that they’re all putting out that they ultimately want to create a college football players association. So have the specter of like this group that’s kind of like being supported by the likes of Marco Rubio and other like more troglodytic right wing sports pundits who are saying, you know, we need covid protections and also we want a players union. It’s it’s a very strange moment in the history of America and sports.

S7: Yeah. I mean, it was a genuine twist. I mean, even before just before this happened, a couple of people had noted that there is there’s there were two hashtags where, you know, we are united and we want to play. And it was presumed that the players tweeting one were in opposition to the players tweeting the other. And then in a genuinely surprising twist, like around midnight last night, they they send out this image with the hashtags together that says we want to play, but we also want to form a players association. So it was actually surprising. Not a lot of things are surprising these days. Like that was genuinely surprising seeing these two groups kind of intersect like that and with the speed that they did. And so I think, you know, no one knows what’s going to happen. I think what’s going to be especially interesting is to just see how much solidarity is maintained in the next few weeks up to this point. Justin Fields had been saying things that were a lot different than what then what UCLA players were saying than what the the Big Ten United Group was saying. Trevor Lawrence had been kind of seen as the spokesman for this. Let’s let’s just play cause and as you said, was getting it was getting his message amplified by by people with, you know, with an interest in suppressing the voice of athletes. Basically, like there’s a segment of the media and political world that is interested in suppressing that voice. They had picked up Trevor Lawrence as their guy. Now he’s gone around and said, yeah, I want a players association. So something’s going to happen. I don’t think anyone knows what it is. And so it’ll be interesting to see how how much unity the player is able to maintain as it is all going going down.

S4: Do you think maybe there’s a chance that they roped people in here, that this was like an okie doke and some sort of way? Because that sort of occurred to me last night when I saw the evolution of the Trevor Lawrence, you know, hey, everybody wants to get out here to play. And then this alliance with the We Are United Group, because I just wonder if he was counting on the Danny Connell’s of the world, the Clay Traviss, to sort of glom onto the hey, see, these guys, they really want to play. We we should listen to them and then hit them with their union demands. This is a part of me that just wonders if maybe that messaging was somehow used to draw people in, that you would not expect them to be on their side and then to sort of get them to a logical not right. Part of this is because it was hard to miss that they borrowed that we want to play language used by NFL stars a few weeks earlier, like Drew Brees, JJ White, all these guys were tweeting about wanting to play, but under certain safe conditions. And it’s just interesting because it helps sort of undercut these arguments that have emerged in the last few weeks that, hey, these guys don’t necessarily want to play. They’re being scary for no reason. The people who don’t want college football this season. And so when you say we want to play and you make that the centerpiece of your argument, then you have to deal with that. And they say, hey, look, we want to play, but we want to play under certain circumstances, safe circumstances. And we also want to have a broader conversation about being involved in these conversations in the first place. And so I think it was really smart messaging when the NFL players did it about a month ago. I thought it was really smart and I thought it was really, really smart and very present of these kids to sort of trap these people into being on their side. And now they have to sort of argue away from that.

S8: Now, I’m actually not sure about that because aren’t they kind of tying us into ideological knots as well? Hmm. So, OK, we’ve been saying for years, I think all of us, that players, college football players, college athletes should have more rights, that they should be listened to, that they should unionize, that they should be paid all of this stuff. And so I think where that leaves us now is you have guys like Trevor Lawrence who are coopting that argument and that language and are driving maybe towards an outcome that we wouldn’t support. Right. Like I think, Joel, you’ve been saying and you’ve been a great voice on this for months, like there’s no way to do this safely, that players are going to die if there’s football in the fall. And so, you know, you have a guy like Najee Harris who you love as a football player saying, I love Nigeria so much. You’re saying, you know, things that you like to hear like that we should have a union that players should be given the chance to opt out, but is also pushing the sport to have games and practices and all this stuff in the fall that are not it doesn’t seem like it’s a good idea.

S4: I think that that’s a strategic maneuver for one. Like I mean, I do you would like to think that it’s a strategic maneuver. I would like to think that. But I do understand and I also have said this all the way through, that football players, athletes, they want to play like they spend ninety nine point nine percent of their lives training, working out, you know, going through this like torture, essentially to get their bodies in shape for game day. Game day is the only thing that matters. You only get so many of them in your lives. I totally understand why they want to do everything they can to make that possible. And I think that that’s the smart thing to do, that they didn’t have any since that conference executives, their own athletic directors, school presidents, would do anything to ensure that, you know, that the protocols and everything else were completely safe for them, like they wanted some assurances were not involved in these conversations. And so they’re like, well, hey, if we’re going to have to play, we need these sort of conditions to be met. And so I think that’s where this is all leading. So they’re like, hey, look, we’ll play if you put all these things in place for us. And so I don’t I think that at least for me, it feels sort of sort of consistent. What I’ve been saying all along that, yeah, I mean, they probably shouldn’t play. They want to play. If they could find a way to play, I bet they would. And so maybe this is them trying to navigate that argument.

S9: Yeah. So one way I’ve been thinking about this and having written that, you know, I think I wrote this piece for Josh. The headline was We don’t deserve sports. Something like that. Like a definitely in the United States, we have not met the conditions as a society to bring to bring most sports back. I think kind of the flip side of it and the way I look at it and I can kind of see the players perspective is should it be possible to play a college football season at this time, six months after the pandemic started? Yes, we should be able to do it. Other countries are playing sports, are playing contact. Sports to soccer is a sport where there’s a lot of chance to transmit the virus. Other countries have the virus under control in their entire society in a way that we don’t hear. So I do see from their perspective when they’re saying, hey, wait a minute, why should we be the fall guys, as you say, Jol, like they only get a certain number of chances to play the games. You know, there are guys that probably want to play because they want to, you know, to have put on a shelf NFL scouts, you know, like their guys, that the market aren’t on the radar right now. They probably want to play the season because they think they can prove something. So I can see their perspective saying, wait a minute, you know, this is obviously possible to get this together. The NBA got it together. Soccer, soccer leagues around the world are getting together. Why should I miss my season? Because my administrators and my local government are screwing it up. And so that’s where I see that’s how I see these things kind of being and, you know, in harmony. Like I think they did, they are correct in saying right now it’s too dangerous, but I also think that they’re correct in saying, like, you know, there is a version of the world where it’s safe or as safe as as as it’s ever going to be to play to play college football this season. And so I see their perspective, you know, and I see what they’re trying to do to to make that happen. It seems like it’s too late. I just can’t imagine with camps already having started in in the Big Ten, as you mentioned, they’re already in practices right now. It just seems too difficult to set up an entire logistical apparatus of the kind that they’re laying out. And I think that, you know, the Big Ten United statement and the PAC 12 United statement, like, laid out exactly what you would need for this. But can can one hundred twenty school, one hundred twenty eight hundred thirty schools get that together in two or three weeks in order to start the season on September 5th. It just seems impossible to me.

S10: Yeah. I mean that’s the thing. I think it’s too late and that’s why I’m looking at this a little bit differently than you are, Joel. It’s like so it seems like administrators, school presidents, whoever have come to the realization over the weekend that this isn’t going to happen, that there’s not going to be any possibility to put the measures in place to make this work. And I think they’re also scared about the potential liability issues around health and safety. I mean, with everything we’ve been saying about heart issues with athletes, I mean, the it’s just not a risk. I think that at least everyone is going to be willing to take. And it’s the other thing that’s really interesting here is that the group of five schools, the ones that are outside the power five conferences, are always just getting bossed around and led around by the big schools. And in this case, it seems like the Mid-American Conference is maybe for the first time ever kind of pushing the big schools around when a conference, even if it’s a smaller conference like the Mac, cancels the season that shows everyone shows the other schools and shows the country like, OK, we can cancel like this, this can happen. And if the power of five schools decided to go on anyway, they would really be putting themselves out there. And and whether it’s in a potential lawsuit or whether it’s just in terms of public opinion, they would have to answer for the fact that another parallel institution decided it wasn’t safe and was going to cancel and they just proceeded and went ahead. And so all that being said, when Trevor Lawrence and Najee Harris and Justin Fields and all these guys put out the statement, I’m not looking at it as like, yeah, if we can do all this like X, Y and Z things and go through all these, like thread this needle, then maybe we can play safely. I mean, I think we’re already past that, like, I think it’s not possible. And so it just reads to me as even though it’s not safe, we want to play anyway. I mean, I think to get some degree of public sentiment behind you, athletes understand that they’re very rarely going to get the support of the public when they advocate for themselves and advocate for their rights, for their labor rights, that this is a rare case when the kind of super conservative college football fan is going to be on the side of the like, quote unquote, mouthy college athlete who’s like saying, I want my I want my rights. Right.

S4: Yeah, right. And so that’s why I think that this is sort of a way to bind them up and just say, all right, well, you guys like we like football, you like football. This is how it has to happen. And so you might get a guy, you know, that you normally wouldn’t see supporting college athletes say, you know, you’re right, man, they do deserve health care coverage and all, you know, all these sort of other sorts of things they wouldn’t normally care about ordinarily care.

S10: But I did see on tiger droppings. Do you like insane LSU message board? Someone literally like someone literally wrote this wouldn’t be happening if there was a union. And I was like, oh, that is like the least likely sentence to be written on tiger droppings. I think you are right about that job.

S9: I do see, like I’m seeing this morning, it’s it’s all happening so fast it’s hard to keep track of it. I’ve seen some kind of like the pessimists take on this is like, OK, kind of like what Josh is saying, like the players said this. So now that they’ve shown that they want to play, maybe the commissioners are going to go back. OK, but then. Oh, we don’t all by the way, we didn’t have time to do all that stuff you asked for, so. Oh, wait, now you’re playing and and you didn’t get your union, you didn’t get your health protection. You know, I could kind of see that happening. But I also think and I thought of this when Joel when you when you when you asked if maybe this was a kind of bait and switch on the part of the players, I mean, it does seem like it also is possible that it happened organically because these guys who do want to play and the guys who are more cautious about it realize that, like, the one thing that they do have in common is they want to be involved in the discussions, you know, and so, like, even if Trevor Lawrence and Justin Fields do have like a relatively more, let’s call it conservative position on labor rights, I sent this to Josh earlier, but. I asked him about this at a press conference. He said, well, I’m not one of those guys who’s, you know, really, you know, really needs to go get my money in the NFL. So I’m not worrying about this stuff too much. I’m just going to go out here and play for my teammates, you know, like he was not a radical on this. But he has the same interests as as a player from the PAC 12 is concerned about their health. You know, they all want to do it safely. And so maybe what’s happening is just these players did realize that they do have a lot in common. And even if they don’t agree on every single thing, the best way for them to all get that they want is to just have a voice. And that’s one thing I think you see all of them keep saying, we want a voice. We want a voice like Trevor wants. Once that, you know, the Washington State guys want that, you know, they all have an interest in being in the room, regardless of what their ultimate goal is.

S4: Yeah. And you know, what really brought that into focus for me was a couple of weeks ago when The Washington Post or maybe was it actually a week ago at this point when The Washington Post got leaked audio of the conversation between the SEC players and, you know, S.E.C. conference executives or whatever? And, you know, they basically said, well, hey, man, you guys got to go out there, you might get sick, but whatever, you know, and the players like, I just don’t think that this is enough. You could just kind of imagine that other players in other conferences are looking at that conversation and seeing what’s going on there. They’re like, oh, wait, they are totally prepared to expose us to this deadly virus and just take whatever comes. And so you could see maybe a national organization, the sort of the outlines of it forming along those lines.

S9: Yeah, I mean, at Wisconsin, the news over the weekend was the Wisconsin players kind of on their own before the Big Ten announced that it was going to slow down the practice schedule. The Wisconsin players basically came to the coach and said, like, we’re not going to go take the next step until we get some more information. And, you know, Wisconsin, that’s that’s like an old school program. Like that’s only one of your real blue collar authoritarian kind of programs. And so if those guys are doing it, you have to think that it’s going to be happening everywhere. And I think a big part of it might be just the six months that we’ve all had to sit around and think right. Like like one of the players that Bomani Jones interviewed in his article about this for The Undefeated mentioned something that really struck me, which was just like, we’re so busy, we don’t have time to think about our rights. And, you know, I think that we you know, we’ve all seen like what a college athlete schedule looks like, you know, like five, 15 a.m. training, like seven fifteen tutoring, you know, and they’re like they’ve got their days filled until 10:00 at night and then they go back and do it again. And so, like, what part of that day is talk to my peers from around the country about my rights like it’s not in there, but now there’s time because there’s nothing else to do. And so maybe that’s why it’s happening.

S10: Yeah. So I think we all have more to say about this, but we should and the conversation here and we’ll come back and do a little bit more at the end of the show. And we’re done with after balls because I want to raise this specter for Joel. Donald Trump tweeting, I agree with Najee Harris.

S1: So I’m just going to leave that C I literally yelped.

S4: Saturday night after the Dallas Mavericks pulled off a four point win over the Milwaukee Bucks in overtime, something crazy happened. NBA fans started talking about basketball in the ways we used to before the pandemic, doctors pulled off a between the legs pass to Maxi Kleber right in front of presumptive and reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo. Do I get any credit for getting all that right by the way to close out the Mavs victory and it inspired the sort of conversations that we haven’t had in a while. This wasn’t about the bubble or about Black Lives Matter or about the National Anthem. This was all about who Don was trending on Twitter afterward with lots of praise for his youthful audacity to pull off that move. At that moment, there was some who pointed out, and rightfully so, the James Harden does the same kind of shit all the time. There were others who merely wanted to marvel over the quality of play from two transcendent international stars. It was exactly the sort of moment the NBA was hoping for when it made the decision to return to play after four months of the games, provided most of the headlines over the past week.

S11: And so being Mel Watt from League Play, most made an impression on you this weekend when I think has been great about this restart, whether it’s due to circumstances, random circumstances, the circumstances of the playing in the bubble. But this has been a great few weeks for like short guys getting buckets. You’ve seen Damian Lillard go off, you’ve seen TJ, Warren Goff, you’ve seen Devin Booker. I mean, probably the biggest story, most surprising story is that the Phoenix Suns are kind of running back into playoff contention. They say a lot about based around. Devin Booker is scoring hard. James Harden has obviously been his usual filthy self out there, I think. Yeah, I think what’s been what’s been fun about it is not just that we got back to the games, of course, and not just that the games have been close, but like there’s been like really high level performances by individual guys. And, you know, it’s not you could have easily seen it being kind of a slog like a lot of ninety point eighty nine games as as guys get back into the groove. But a lot of dudes came ready to play. And and for whatever reason, a lot of them are, you know, a lot of the best scorers in the league are scoring right now. And I think that’s I think that’s been great.

S12: The TJ Warren thing is so kind of perfect for this moment. And in that it seems both kind of real and unreal. The whole thing just it seems like it’s kind of can’t be happening. And yet it is. And like it’s it’s like when you change one small thing, it’s like one of these butterfly effect things, like with with time travel.

S13: And like you come back and it’s like, OK, this is NBA basketball, but they’re the fans are all like on this LCD screen on the wall. And TJ Warren is the best player. It’s like I guess this is the NBA looks kind of like the NBA. But the thing that just like you said in the intro, Joel, it just felt more normal this weekend than anything has felt in sports all year. Just the conversation about the Loukia Pass and the like, trash talking back and forth between Daim and the Clippers when Lillard misses those two free throws and Paul, George and Patrick Beverley are taunting him, that’s just like normal NBA shit that happens. And like Damian Lillard sister is going after Paul George’s girlfriend on Instagram. This is like, that’s like a before time NBA story, right. And it’s like, it just feels like and we’ve talked about this kind of repeatedly that the NBA in America at least, is the only sport that does feel normal. That’s like getting things close enough to right. That it feels like we can have a conversation on this. This might be like and I realize I’m getting into, like mediatory that meta territory by talking about the conversation that we’re having about the conversation that we’re having. But it’s like this is the only time on this podcast, like all year that we’ve talked about like a play in a game as a subject for, like, you know, batting around.

S4: Yeah. And I mean, I think it’s really a testament to what it looks like when there’s good leadership. There is a plan and there are good labor relations. Right. Which is that would be nice if that was the model for like everybody else and everywhere else throughout our country, if things worked as well as it has so far for the NBA. And I don’t want to again, I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself because they there’s still a long way to go. Any player could breach the bubble and that could have a breakout or whatever. Fine. Or an outbreak. Excuse me, but so far, the NBA has pulled it off in a way that other leagues and other organizations have not been able to because they have committed themselves to getting it right and getting it safe and doing it in concert with their players and their labor force. So that’s the piece of it. It is really cool to me. Also, though, it is kind of like the basketball has been great. I’ve tried to watch as much of it as I can. Like, do we really think of this as closure on the season that they discontinued early because that’s like that’s the thing of it. It is kind of weird to me. Like, I still don’t think that whoever wins this championship is the champion of that season that was suspended in March because I mean, the Sons of Five and TJ Warren, is the score like is this also weird that I really can’t make sense of what’s actually happening on the court? Like the context for it is, is like this is an entirely different context than anything that happened back in March.

S11: Well, I think that’s part of the reason why these guys are going off, actually. And I think it might start to feel a little more normal to you because as the season is wrapping up or the so-called season is wrapping up this week and then the playoffs are going to start, I think one of the reasons those guys have been the most prominent players is because they have the most to play for right now. Like you’ve got teams like Phoenix, Indiana, Dallas with Luka and Portland, obviously with them, you know, they’re playing for their seeding like LeBron and and Anthony Davis and Kawhi and Paul George and even Giannis to some extent, like, you know, Toronto with Pascal Essiac. Those guys don’t really need to be winning these games. And so I think that they’re probably going to be reasserting themselves in the next few weeks. And I feel like the playoff part of this is going to feel a little more, more normal as far as like the order of things, you know, like the hierarchy of the league is going to be reestablished and that might maybe go a little ways toward making you feel like there’s not an asterisk. I have to be honest myself, I kind of forgotten about the last thing I you know, it looks so normal. It looks so normal to me. And the conversation around it is so normal on online. You know, it feels to me it did feel like a season. And a funny thing about that is if you read anything the players are saying, like, it’s very strange to them, it doesn’t feel normal to them, like playing without a crowd is just very weird. So like the NBA has and has succeeded in making us feel the most normal by making their players feel like they’re basically playing a game in space.

S13: Just to take one really small example, the markings on the court are added digitally. And so the players are seeing they’re seeing an empty court like a wooden floor with nothing on it. And at home, they’re like adding the kind of bells and whistles so it looks more normal to us. But when the players are in that jam, they’re not seeing the same things and they’re not hearing the same things.

S12: And so it makes sense that they would have this weird experience and not have the same experience that we’re having at home that it’s like added with digital wizardry and they’re able to trick us in the way that they’re not able to track the players. But the thing that hasn’t changed is that, you know, time doesn’t stop. And so if LeBron and the Lakers don’t win a championship this year, LeBron, it’s not like LeBron is going to stay the same age next season because the season wasn’t normal. You know, Giannis his free agency is still going to happen even though this was a weird season. And so all of the conversations around what is this year, what do these results mean for these major players and their teams, that it’s all still in play, which I think makes these playoffs have the same kind of stakes, even if they seem unusual and even if the results might have been different, if the season was just played through.

S4: I mean, look, I don’t want to be a spoilsport here because I’m glad to have some sport and have some basketball to talk about. But I mean, it just kind of stinks for you. You play all year for, like, home court advantage. Right. And like, all of a sudden, seeding doesn’t matter, you know, and the things that we notice as much as anything during the postseason, like home crowd, like the home crowd advantage, you know, the Lakers getting to have the benefit of playing at Staples or the Bucks having the advantage of playing it wherever the hell it is. I’m sure it’s call the Cole Center or something. I don’t know. But that’s where Wisconsin plays. Oh, OK. Well, I was close, but yeah. You know, so they’re going to be missing out on that sort of stuff. And so to me, there will be an asterisk, but we’ll be entertained along the way. But you even think about, like, how this weird restart has affected teams like the Lakers are terrible on offense and they’ve been terrible on offense so far. And it’s not like Avery Bradley is a superstar. Anything but not having him is a real problem for them. He provides outside shooting. He provides depth, all these other things. And like all of a sudden the Lakers don’t have him. Now, that maybe that happens in a regular season when you lose players all the time and the way people get hurt, sick, whatever. But it’s just something to keep in mind when I’m thinking about, OK, what does this actually mean in relationship to the twenty, nineteen, twenty, twenty regular season?

S10: Well, the thing that’s going to be the, the most sports thing of the pandemic so far is if there’s a Lakers Blazers first round series, like if the Blazers get into that plan with the Grizzlies, if the Blazers then when the two games in a row that they’ll need to win to qualify Portland as an eight could beat the Lakers like the. Portland team that exists now with Nurkic Back and with Zach Collins back is essentially the team that made the Western Conference finals last year. The Lakers offense, as you said, tall is bad. Avery Bradley is a guy that could defend Damian Lillard and or CJ McCollum like. That’s going to be a potential seven game series right off the bat. And Ben, that’s going to be something that we’re all going to be watching with, like Lillard putting up fifty and LeBron and eighty like fighting like hell to get out of the first round.

S11: Yeah that’s going to happen. That’s going to be great. I just you know, I thought when you were talking about, about how the storylines are going to continue regardless of whether we give official access to the season or not. I think that, you know, when you brought up Lillard, it made me think one thing that that we’re just not going to have from this this year is like those iconic. I mean you’re not going to really have iconic moments without a crowd. Like when Joel was talking about a crowd like, you know, game hitting that at that forty five foot shot or whatever it was over over Paul George like the thing that was the most memorable shot, that is him getting mobbed by the crowd right after, you know, I crouched in the corner with everyone and, you know, everyone in the arena, totally silent, still watching the ball bounce on the rim against against the Sixers. And so, like, yeah, we’ll have the outcomes and we’ll have the storylines. But like, I hadn’t thought this until now that we’re going to we’re not going to have that kind of you had to be there moment this year, probably just because, you know, just because the aesthetic is so is so strange.

S12: And Joel, I think since we started with them, maybe we should finish with Luca anions. It’ll be Luca Dangereuses first NBA playoffs. The Mavericks have had a kind of record setting offense all year. Loukas, twenty one years old. And that game that he ended with between the legs past, he had nineteen assists. This guy is unbelievably good. I really am excited to see what he does in the playoffs with with Ben’s favorite Formanek, Kristaps as his as his running mate and Giannis I think is going to be like really tested in the East against the Raptors, maybe against the Celtics and I don’t know if you agree but Kevin Arnovitz did a piece for ESPN like saying this is now the Giannis and Loka NBA, that it’s like a international kind of bird and magic.

S13: There’s even a white guy in a black guy. It’s exactly, exactly the same except they’re from Europe.

S4: I mean Dallas man. This is how they do it. I mean when they first built that last, that last little run they had with Steve Nash and Dirk Nowitzki, they just figured it out with taller, taller, taller guys. Man. So good luck to them. We’ll see. You know, there’s no such thing as you know, we’ve watched enough basketball to know that there’s no such thing as a sure thing. Right. And luchadores seems to be great. But whether or not it means that the Mavs will be good, we’ll see a Houston Rockets fan. So we’ll see if they’ve got to keep this up. Dallas isn’t great at that.

S1: That’s the perfect way to end. Thank you, Joe.

S10: On Thursday, Texas Tech announced it was firing its head women’s basketball coach Marlene Stallings, after USA Today published a damning report about Starling’s program. That report, based on open records request done by Daniel Libit of the Intercollegiate, revealed, among other things, that Stallings had forced her players to maintain heart rates and a minimum of 90 percent of capacity, a requirement that one track athlete likened to a torture mechanism. Mark Stallings also and I am not making this up, reportedly stole a player’s dog, saying it was a distraction from basketball. Marlene Stallings is a classic type or seems like one an authoritarian sideline bully, but also seems like based on the reporting in this USA Today piece, that the Texas Tech administration knew about how she treated players and only fired her because this report became public. So kudos to the 10 players who spoke to USA Today in the Intercollegiate about Stallings and who exposed her for who she is and forced the school to act. JOHAL If the behavior of coaches like Starling’s is a new, there is something novel in the public way in which college athletes are calling them out. For example, what’s going on in Iowa with Kirk Ferentz, the football coach, and also the strength coach there, Chris Doyle. And also just this past week, there is a story out of your alma mater, TCU.

S4: That’s right. That’s right. Well, first of all, we can sort of connect this back to the conversation we had previously and that the players are learning so much from each other just in not only the way that they’re being treated, but the expectations that other athletes have, like on these teams about, you know, the best practices and everything else. So I think that that’s been really valuable. Also, man, the ability to have Zoome and group text is just revelatory because I just think I was thinking back to when I was in a college athlete in nineteen ninety six, you might not even know who the other players were on the other side of town, you know what I mean? Like, it would be really difficult for you to establish relationships with people. And then once you got to college, you knew your team and maybe you might have a former high school teammates, guys you played against in high school that were on the programs. But there was just no way for you to have this sort of organization. And now players are able to through their phones, through their email addresses, through some accounts, they’re able to sort of trade notes and figure out, hey, look, we have an opportunity to speak out against something that is going on or to at least make some sort of public statement about the way that we’re being treated. And so they’re availing themselves of this technology and this sort of shift in the relationship between players and their programs. And so, yeah, that’s really inspiring. But I mean, at the end of the day, I mean, it all is about protecting themselves from abusive behavior, which sucks. But I would imagine that a lot of this abusive stuff, like from the Coach Stallings at Texas Tech to anywhere else, like Coach Patterson at TCU, so much of it is because so much coaching, abusive behavior is sort of baked into the job. Like talking to people in this sort of way, makes them to do whatever you want them to do, the ability to sort of control their future coaches have gotten sort of used to that. And they’ve done a lot of things and tried to players in sort of ways that we’ve just sort of become accustomed to. And now people are pointing out maybe you should consider another way to relate to your players.

S5: I think one interesting part of this is, is that the role that the transfer process has played in it, and it’s a way it’s kind of the NCAA kind of accidentally created this, you know, this player movement when they when they started saying, OK, you can transfer to another school and we’ll let you play right away, but you have to justify it. And so the players were like, OK, you know, and then they started writing down all the things that the coaches did that that were not appropriate and there were abusive. And the Texas Tech story quotes from some of those documents that the players submitted and a lot of these cases become high profile. And so players see players at other schools, even in other sports. You know, this is happening in women’s basketball. But we but we obviously also see it happening in football and they see other players taking their coaches to task through this process. And they realize, you know, maybe I don’t have to put up with it. And I guess the question is, are there enough coaches that don’t do this to allow the players to find a place where they can play without this happening? Because I think one lesson of the last few weeks to me as a as a as an outside observer is like this kind of abusive behavior is happening at places that I you know, I never would have imagined that the Texas Tech women’s basketball program that is finishing sixth in the Big 12 is so intense that that players are, you know, having mental health issues. We’ve seen it at Colorado State in the football program. There’s an allegation like this head coach. There is Steve Addazio, who is kind of like the definition of a mediocre retread college football coach like this is in the pressure cooker. Of Alabama and LSU, where this is happening, but OK, then maybe we’re getting the results on the field, you know, and people are going to put up with it, this is happening at that kind of mid tier programs all over the country. And that’s what’s been been kind of surprising and disappointing to me.

S12: Well, so I’d say a couple of things. First, on the Texas Tech thing, I mentioned a couple of the allegations in the introduction, but there’s also an allegation against a now former strength and conditioning coach where five players said that he sexually harassed players and did therapeutic techniques that could be construed as sexual abuse. And so that, I think is worth noting as well, in addition to the the bad behavior by the head coach. But I feel like there’s two categories of things that we shouldn’t necessarily conflate. There’s like what we’re talking about with Texas Tech, with the coach just being, you know, potentially putting the health of players at risk, being like extremely kind of psychologically abusive, allegedly. And then there are stuff like what is going on in Iowa at Colorado State. And I don’t know if you would agree to put TCU in this category, Joel, where it’s like kind of what had been normal practices and procedures around belittling players, white coaches, saying things to black players that I think we should construe as racist, but was but is probably sadly normal. I would put the Texas Tech stuff in a different category. And I think it’s worth talking about that the other stuff is like players realizing that they don’t need to need to be treated this way. Do you think that that’s a fair split?

S4: Yeah, I think there’s some elements of it. Right. I mean, obviously, the the the allegations of sexual harassment or possible sexual abuse sort of puts it and it obviously puts it in a different category, but sort of abusive treatment and training practices. I mean, that’s the sort of stuff that we heard about with the Iowa strength coach a few years ago when he gave all those guys Raboteau, which is, you know, from players basically overexerting themselves to death. Right. So that could fall under this sort of things that we’re talking about. Right. And, yeah, I do think that it is a little bit different in some other meaningful ways. But on the whole, I think the things that we’ve sort of accepted as a given necessary way of coaching aren’t so anymore and that we’re seeing a gradual shift because it’s just been within the scope of my professional career, for instance, that we valorize Bear Bryant treatment of the players. An injunction like the Junction Boys, people looked fondly back upon those days when he was denying players water and running them to death in West Texas. Heat, right. And so we’ve seen a shift from that, but we haven’t gotten all the way there. And that’s why I sort of tie it back to this player empowerment movement, because they’re saying, well, you know what? Maybe we can bargain for all sorts of better things. And I imagine some of that would be just simple a workers contract about workplace conditions. At the end of the day, we’re all discussing is an inhospitable work conditions. Right. Like we’re talking about workers going to a place and they’re being mistreated and they don’t have a lot of outlet to protest. And now we’re sort of getting that like now they found their avenue. And so the way I think of it is that we would not accept the way that these coaches treat these players in any workplace in the world. And now people are saying it’s about time that we take that on.

S11: I think one thing that that all the situations do have in common, I think the distinction you’re making, Josh, between this behavior that kind of would always have been seen as psychotic and unacceptable and the kind of more casual racist remarks of the kind that we’re talking about with the that the Iowa players have alleged. I think that there is a distinction between them. But what they do have in common is that these coaches have a sense that they’re untouchable and that they run the place. And that’s what just boggles my mind. When you’re talking about Steve Addazio at Colorado State, like who cares?

S12: Who cares about how the Deseo I mean, the idea don’t you think that some of it is that these schools that are mid tier, actually, that it’s part of wanting to make themselves kind of move into the upper tier and it’s like an inferiority complex. Like if you’re a great program and a great coach, then you don’t need to do this stuff.

S4: And also, I would just I would add like they would also possibly be even in even more of a position to mistreat kids, because you’re talking about kids that are probably a Colorado state for lack of better options. Right. So they’re there. This is their opportunity. The coaches know that, and then they’re vulnerable as a result.

S11: Yeah, that’s a good point. I mean, the the right part of the reason, since surprising is it goes the way I follow college football is all you know is all about recruiting. And, you know you know these guys names when they’re sophomores in high school and the big programs are doing anything they want, anything they can to get. I’m in the door, and so the idea for me to see the way that that power relationship gets turned around, as soon as they’re, you know, as soon as they are in the door is kind of remarkable. But I think that you are right that that it’s certainly going to be even more extreme at a place where, like, a guy thinks, you know, a guy at Colorado State can’t say, well, I’m transferring to Alabama, you know. Right. You know, but that guy in Texas could say that. But, you know, some players don’t have that leverage and they want to make you know, they want to make the league and they want a chance to play. And so I. And they do they you have to put up with it.

S4: Well, that’s what I found really disturbing about what happened at TCU. Right. And obviously, that’s my alma mater. And, you know, I briefly played for Coach Patterson. Don’t know him well. Don’t pretend like we have a relationship that I’ve spoken with him in many years. But in addition to the idea that he used a racial slur, which is a problem he probably should not have done, that would really bother.

S12: Can we can we stop it? And let me just explain to folks have been following the story. So what happened was that Patterson allegedly said the N-word in telling players that they themselves shouldn’t use the N-word and a bunch of players got upset about it and reportedly didn’t go to practice that they decided not to attend and protest. Is that accurate?

S4: Yeah, that’s it. That’s absolutely right. Yeah. All right. So yeah. Yeah. So it wasn’t like, yeah. Coach Patterson was just randomly dropping a bomb on his players. Right. But it was inappropriate and I can totally understand why he felt that way. He has a statue on campus. This is probably the best TCU football. This is probably the best time to be a football fan since the 1930s when they won two national championships. So Gary Patterson has like a tremendous amount of power and influence on this campus, probably even more so than the campus president. But to get back to what we’re talking about, what bothered me the most was not the racial slur. It was that he allegedly told the linebacker kid named Dillon Jordan, you’re an F and Brett, I’ll send you back to Pitt. And so that’s when we talk about, you know, the guys at Colorado State, you know, they’re sort of vulnerable. These kids don’t have many other options. That’s what essentially we Coach Patterson is telling this kid at TCU, you’re vulnerable. I can I can make you a break. You and I’m inclined to break you. And to me, that’s just not a healthy work relationship. But I know that that is what coaches have done over and over again. We heard the same thing from players in Oklahoma State. We heard the same thing from players in Iowa. They both said the same thing, that these guys have used this sort of like loaded language, like holding their scholarships over the head that I can send you home and, you know, which is also sort of racially loaded as well, because they basically, without saying it, they’re saying, I’ll send you back to the ghetto or wherever the hell. Right. Like, that’s sort of the subtext to these sort of comments. But yeah, man, I mean, coaches think they have the right to do this sort of stuff and they’ve been doing it for years. Nobody I can totally believe Coach Patterson, if he didn’t know that this was wrong, you know, and now somebody is pointing it out.

S11: Do you think that there are coaches who don’t do this? I mean, is there a younger generation that that is not is not behaving like this or is this just like the norm because there is no option like it type? You know, I’m not going to allege that Nick Saban is casually racist in the way that Steve Addazio is. But like, he’s he’s a mean looking guy. I mean, I don’t think he’s probably like a friendly atmosphere out on the playing field at Alabama. Like, is there anywhere that’s doing this? Right.

S4: I would imagine, you know, to kind of flip the conversation on its said from little earlier, I would imagine at the top programs that maybe the relationship is a little bit different. Right. Because they are playing in a pool of players that have many more options and have a lot more influence and can, you know, sort of damage their reputations in a way that, you know, a two star recruit at Colorado State can’t. So I don’t I’m not saying that it doesn’t happen at a place like Georgia or LSU, Alabama, but it just seems to me that it might be less likely there because the players have a little bit more cash than they would have these other smaller schools. But I would be you know, Josh, do you think that you think Kocho is, you know, very progressive mind in this one?

S12: I think he’s not at all progressive minded, but I do think that there is this type that we’ve all heard of the players coach. Right. And so I think there are different ways to approach relating to players like head coaches. Sometimes I feel like we’ll outsource discipline to an assistant and they’ll be like a good cop, bad cop kind of dynamic. But I think what it all comes down to is not to be to like self-help jargony here, but it’s people that were abused themselves perpetrating the abuse on the next generation, not Barka. And they don’t pass it as abuse. They pass it as I was toughened up using this technique and I became successful and I’m now a head coach. And so thus in order for other, you know, you might you might mean well by it, like in order for this next generation to do well, like I did, I’m going to need to treat them like shit, just like I was treated like shit.

S11: And I wonder whether the. The kind of different route that some of the younger coaches have taken, if you look at guys like Lincoln, Riley and Ryan Day, you know, they didn’t come up because they were hard nosed, tough guys. They came up because they were smart and because they were doing better. You know, they were they had better ideas than than a lot of their peers. You know, maybe this will bite me in the ass and we’re going to get a scandal like this about Lincoln Riley tomorrow. But it does seem like possible that like the younger and when we’re going back to to Black Lives Matter, it seems like this younger generation of coaches has been a little smarter and a little more relatable in the way that they’ve reacted to that because they know their players a little bit better and they’re they’re from that generation. So, you know, maybe when you’re not going to see it as much from from these guys, but that’s just that’s just speculation.

S4: And I would note that it was Lincoln Riley who decided on his own, you know, last week to slow down some of these practices as a means of protecting his players. So to the extent that there is a players coach in college football, maybe Luke and Riley’s that dude.

S10: Now it is time for after bawls on Sunday, 23 year old Colin Morikawa won the PGA Championship, golf’s first major of the year, Morikawa, his first ever major title when he lifted the Wannamaker trophy, which is a very large cup. The lid flew off the thing. And if you have seen it, Morikawa stricken with the look of absolute horror to see the trophy falling apart.

S13: Everything was OK, though. Nothing was damaged. But there have been some other incidents with other trophies where everything didn’t end well. In particular, the BBC’s Coaches’ trophy has been destroyed a whole bunch of times. There was one incident in Alabama where the father of a player got his foot caught in a rug under the trophy display. That trophy went tumbling and broke. But my favorite example was that a Florida recruit literally fumbled the ball in 2008 and broke it. And that recruit was awesome.

S6: Charles, who went on to go to Georgia, Tampa plants owned, by the way, Tampa High School Ocean Charles.

S12: So I don’t know if that was like an intentional operation by our son Charles to destroy the trophy. If it was or if it wasn’t, it was still highly effective. So let’s honor Orson Charles with this week’s After Ball. Joel, what’s your son? Charles.

S4: Wow, man, I can’t believe we get to do this in honor of Orson Charles. Big moment for me as somebody who lived in Tampa for four years anyway. And so in last week’s episode, we discussed the Liberty Football Program and its grand ambition to emulate the model of Notre Dame and BYU essentially becoming the home team for millions of believers. So if you’re a regular listener, you may or may not remember that I lightly dismissed BYU as a mid major has been. Meanwhile, Josh rightly pointed out that the Robby Bosco led Cougars won the national championship in nineteen eighty four. So if Liberty ever manages to successfully follow the example of BYU, yes, it would indeed be a smashing success. It’s also worth taking a look at how BYU got there is the only college football national champion to come from outside one of the power conferences. It obviously didn’t come easy and in many ways helped draw attention away from the schools fairly recent history of entrenched racism. So remember last week we were just talking about Liberty, home of the Jesse Helms School of government. So all this sounds familiar, right? So let’s lay the groundwork for what happened to BYU. Consider that for many years, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints held and promoted fundamentally racist beliefs. The church’s first president, Joseph Smith and Brigham Young believe that black skin was a curse and thus justified their enslavement. Young in particular, believe the curse made black people ineligible to vote, marry white people or hold the priesthood. So even at the tail end of Jim Crow in America, BYU stood out in nineteen sixty nine. Stanford announced that it would no longer compete with BYU because of alleged racial discrimination by the Mormon Church. A few months later, in Tucson, nine Black University of Arizona students walked on the court in protest of BYU racist policies. The protests continued throughout that year in Washington, Wyoming, Colorado State’s Devadasi Ozone, Colorado State, New Mexico and Cal Poly, which is in San Luis Obispo, Washington, eventually dropped BYU from all of its athletic schedules. Two years later, in nineteen seventy two, BYU finally welcomed its first black football player, Bennie Smith, a Yuma, Arizona native and cornerback from western Arizona Junior College. But he only lasted a few months on campus before complaining of racial prejudice and getting suspended from the team before completing his first semester. It wasn’t until nineteen seventy eight that the LDS church finally removed restrictions against black people holding leadership roles in the church. By nineteen seventy nine, Stanford formally reinstated athletic relations with BYU. That, of course, started a new era for BYU. Now, it’s not like BYU ended up looking like some sort of SEC team today. The nineteen eighty four national champion only had a handful of black players, including all-American linebacker Leon White. White came to BYU from San Diego Helix High School, which is also the alma mater of Reggie Bush. His freshman year was nineteen eighty two. On White’s website. He called it, quote, a tremendous challenge for a young man who had spent his entire life in a diverse urban metropolis like San Diego. At that time, BYU had fewer than 50 black students on a campus that numbered in the thousands. In White’s freshman year, BYU went eight and four and lost Ohio State by thirty points in the Holiday Bowl the next year, with eventual NFL number one pick Steve Young leading the way. BYU went eleven and one and that set the stage for nineteen eighty four. When Young was replaced by Robbie Bosko, BYU opened the season with a six point win over third ranked Pittsburgh. That victory catapulted the Cougars previously unranked into the national polls. At number 13. That was. Also, the last time the Cougars would face a ranked team the rest of the season, BYU moved into the top 10 the next week with the thirty four point win over Baylor and the wind that made them number one later that year was a 24 14 win over rival Utah on November 17th. It was their only other game that appeared on TV that season. So that sets the stage for the Holiday Bowl against BMW’s Michigan Wolverines, then only six and five. And a reminder that even back in the day, a six win team could advance to a bowl game. So it wasn’t the prettiest game. The Cougars committed six turnovers, but they managed to get it done.

S14: Here’s a clip, 44 percent of the. And I think every mother wants to see it at all.

S15: I believe they would take it away from a high court order. A lot of critics will say, I think this is going to have saved us a lot of forces, six six turnovers for the football game, because otherwise it wasn’t a success at all. All right. Final score, Brigham Young University 24 months ago.

S4: So, yes, they didn’t take it away from BYU. The Cougars finished No. One in the AP poll. Do you know who else finish in the top five that season? I’ll give you guys a couple of chances to name at least one team that finished in the top five that year. Penn State. No. Oklahoma, no. Nebraska. Yes. I’ll give you the top five. BYU, Washington, Nebraska, Boston College and Oklahoma State. SMU was number eight that year. UCLA was number ten. It was a very weird season. So you can see how BYU ended up as number one. So back to Liberty. You don’t need me to tell you this, but clearly anything is possible. If BYU can do it, maybe you can, too. Not soon, but eventually. And shout out Leon White, who finished the Holiday Bowl with nine tackles in two sex to earn the MVP of the Holiday Bowl.

S12: Six turnovers. What an embarrassment.

S4: Yeah, man, that’s this is this is before the Ty Detmer era. Well, they were a little bit more efficient.

S12: Ben, do you know anything about the nineteen eighty four Michigan team?

S16: I do think that that was, that was like Bochan because of his team and like he had like kind of an existential football crisis after that season and like considered throwing out his offensive stuff. I think that is actually part of the lore.

S4: You know, who was the starting quarterback for that team then? La Harbor. Yeah, man. Jim Harbaugh we were just talking about. Yep. Yep. So, Josh, who is your awesome Charles?

S13: Back in 2012, Allen Siegel wrote a piece for Deadspin called How the song Seven Nation Army Conquered the Sports World. I Love Banner headline is straightforward like that because you now understand the point of that article. The short version is that the White Stripes song caught on with fans of the Belgian soccer club Brugge KVI in 2003. It then spread to the Italian club as Roma and then became Italy’s unofficial anthem as the Italian national team won the 2006 Men’s World Cup. Meanwhile, in the U.S., it caught on at Penn State football games and after that it was pretty much everywhere. The peak of seven nation army sports mania was probably 2013. That’s when the Miami Heat played the song. And Heat fans chanted the song relentlessly during the NBA finals. In this pregame introduction, you can hear the crowd chanting along with Jack White’s classic Red.

S17: All right, we’re now we’re now all in the seven nation army mood right now, so that 2013 finals was Heat versus Spurs. It’s one of the most famous series in NBA history, and it turned on one of the most famous plays in NBA history. We talk about it all the time. Ray Allen’s tying three pointer in the closing seconds of regulation in Game six. I was watching that clip for The Bazilian time recently and I noticed something I have never noticed before. Let’s all listen to the Spurs fan. He goes the three right away, just attack the basket. James catches puts up a three.

S18: We’ll go back out to our history by the.

S17: With five seconds remaining, so I knew that the crowd in Miami chanted Seven Nation Army all throughout the playoffs during pregame when the Heat went on a run during the finals games. But I did not realize that they were chanting seven nation army with 10 seconds to go in an elimination game with the home team down by three points. I point this out because, well, it’s weird. And actually that’s really the only reason I’m pointing it out. It just seems kind of inappropriate. This is a moment of tension, not of celebration. And that’s why I said at the top this was the peak of seven nation army mania. It was getting blurted out at inappropriate times for nonsensical reasons. And yet it is hard to argue with the results. In the words of Jack White, that ain’t what you want to hear, but that’s what I’ll do.

S4: I’m a fan. I had no idea. I did not know. First of all, I mean, I’m so ignorant. I had no idea. What’s the name of this group again? White Stripes. White Stripes, the band. Famous bands in the world. Really? They like NWA or something.

S2: They’re like and that’s what they’re thought of as. Yeah, that is our show for today. Jol learns about music. Our producer Melissa Kaplan. Stelzner Pasha’s unsubscribed or just reach out, go to sleep, dot com slash hang up. You can email us and hang up at Slate dot com. Ben Mathis. Lily, thank you for being with us today. Thanks for having me, guys. For Joel Anderson and Ben, I’m Josh Levine. Remembers our mobility and thanks for listening.

S12: Now it is time for our special extra fourth segment on this Slate plus episode of Hang Up and Listen. And Joel, I’m just going to pick up right where you left off.

S13: Imagine, if you will, a universe in which Donald Trump tweets, I’m not going to try to I’m not going to imitate the Trump cadence, but something, you know, Sarah Cooper longing for something along the lines of man, I cannot believe that these radical left wingers in college sports are defying the will of brave young men like Najee Harris of Alabama who just want to play. All they want to do is play a. I guess I’m trying to get you to admit that you are the one being tied up and ideological, not by the fact that, like the likes of Najee Harris are like in agreement with Marco Rubio, Clay Travis, et cetera. And I guess it comes down to when they say we want to play, are they saying we want to play apprentice’s only if these extremely stringent conditions are met? Or are they saying we want to play no matter what?

S4: I tend to think it’s the former, but we’ll find out. But also, let’s go back and see how Marco Rubio and people like that feel about this cursory attempt of unionization. Right. Because I think that to me, what they’re saying to me is that we want to play. That’s always been the case. But there are circumstances which have not allowed us to play circumstances. You know, people that Marco Rubio and people that have not taken this virus seriously in the fall, like you’re sort of at fault for why we’re in this situation. We want to play. But so now here’s some conditions to make that happen. You know, now now the burden is back on you. That’s what I feel like they’re trying to say. So I will not admit that I’m tied up in a logic.

S12: But then I feel like Marco Rubio in the like will have no problem ignoring the unionization aspect of this and just entirely focusing on why are these like left wing radicals not allowing Najee Harris to play football?

S16: Well, yeah. I mean, the fact that it’s that now you can in some way say that they’re it’s the college presidents, you know, like the liberal college presidents are trying to shut it down and then the players want to play. I’m sure that that will be attended. But I mean, I think one of the great I think that the great thing about this is it ties everybody in knots a little bit. And so I don’t think it’s going to be easy. I don’t think that the like the kind of like what we might call like the conservative wing of college sports, I don’t think that they’re going to step out from it that easily. And I don’t know if I mean, if they don’t meet these conditions, I don’t know if the players are going to play. I mean, certainly a lot of them aren’t going to I mean, maybe there will be maybe we’ll get a season that’s just the Sesi or something like that.

S10: But like the SEC will be like the was it Sweden and Norway? Sweden. Yeah, Becky will be the Sweden in this scenario.

S16: Yeah. I mean, the south will be the south of this scenario basically. But yeah. I mean we’ve already seen, you know, added several schools players saying like, let’s back up here. And so I wouldn’t I don’t think it’s going to be as easy to kind of roll over the problems here as it as it was before, in part because what Joel was saying earlier, like the players are all talking, you know, they’re all you got got leaders on every team on a group chat, you know, doing zun calls. And I just thought, I’m not sure they’re going to be able to steamroll over it.

S13: Can we talk about the Big Ten? I mean, you’re always, you know, game to talk about the Big Ten dynamics best but only subject I care about. There’s a report on Monday that the Big Ten reported reportedly voted 12 to two to cancel the season. And who are the teams that voted to play Iowa, Iowa and Nebraska?

S16: And according according to. Yeah, according to the story.

S13: So we were talking, I think, while we were reporting about how Ohio State has kind of thrown in its lot with these, you know, with the SEC schools, basically. But based on this vote, it looks like Ohio State and Michigan and everybody else except Iowa and Nebraska didn’t want to play. So how do you kind of parse all of this?

S16: I mean, I’m surprised. I mean, every signal that had been coming out of Ohio State from the quotes that the players were giving in, you know, in their press availabilities to the the kind of counter statement almost that their their team put out after the Big Ten United statement. They tend to put out a statement like like know we’re not going to play without these conditions. Ohio State players put out like a or some of the players at least put out a statement purporting to be from the old team saying, like, hey, we’re fine. We like what the what the administrators are doing here. We feel safe, we’re OK. And so it kind of did seem like like Ohio State was going to be going into the direction of saying, like, look, we’re a you know, we’re basically we’re basically a professional football academy and we’re going to do this season. However, we have to do it, you know, and I would not have been entirely surprised to see them, you know, somehow end up playing like with the Big 12 or. But then we’ve got the twist of their president apparently having voted for canceling the season. Got the twist of Justin Fields’ joining in with the United Movement. And I honestly don’t know where the ground stands right now.

S4: Isn’t there a piece of this that we can be a little bit cynical to about the reasons why these conferences and administrators and athletic directors want to end the season now and why they’re talking about it? Right. As the players are, you know, talking about unionizing and organizing in a way that is unprecedented in college football history. And now they’re talking about, well, you know, we’re going to go do it this year, guys. Let’s fold and try it in the spring or something.

S16: Yeah, I mean, the thing that keeps coming to mind for me is that I don’t know if Josh can probably tell me, is this a Simpsons line? We tried nothing and we’re all out of ideas.

S12: Yeah, I think. I think. I think that’s right.

S16: Yeah. Like, that’s I mean, that’s basically I did well. Well, we didn’t put any protocols in place and and now it’s too late.

S13: I think maybe the the thing that we can all shake hands on is that the players are just pissed off that nobody, whether from you know, from the president to the school presidents to everybody else, like they they all got let down by everyone. And so they are going to have whether it’s their senior year, whether it’s, as Ben said, their chance to get tape for NFL scouts, whatever, or they just want to play whatever motivation they had a reason they had for wanting this football season to happen. It’s not going to happen. They’re disappointed. They’re pissed off. They’ve been training. They’ve been doing probably as a group. More than most groups to actually ensure that this thing comes off and they’re not the ones in control, just like how, you know, Ben, you’re not in control of whether your kids can go to school.

S10: Yeah, I mean, that’s I mean, you just have this feeling of powerlessness.

S19: That’s the sad thing. Like some of the like the PAC 12 and the Big Ten players documents like the list of of, you know, of testing protocols and safety protocols that they were calling for. Like that was the most complete and coherent thing that I’ve seen about covid from almost any institution, not even in sports. Like like why are we why should the like like some offensive tackles at UCLA be the ones who finally coming out with a sensible plan?

S16: Like, it’s just it’s absurd that they’re even in this position of having to put together these documents that say like, well, if someone tests positive, then they should they should sit out for a while. And then the people they’ve they’ve had contact with should sit out for a while. It just it it really is a a a pretty strong indictment of the entire society’s failures that, like one of the smartest and most complete and forward looking covid plans was was put out by some college football players just because they wanted to practice.

S13: And Joel, maybe we can end here, but I think if this is a cynical ploy to try to stave off a unionization push, I think that it could conceivably backfire because if there’s no college football in the fall, then what are the players? They’re going to have a lot of time on their hands to organize, to keep talking on them, to keep talking on these group chats about actually unionizing, about trying to take control of a situation that they didn’t control this fall.

S4: Right. Well, I definitely think that, you know, the people that sort of run college football, you know, to the extent that there is a group that runs it, they’re sort of counting on this inertia and ways that it has worked before but may not work this time. Right. Because normally the way you can keep college athletes from doing any collective action is that eventually they’re all going to go, you know what I mean? Like, they’re only there for so long. You’re not going to have a very long I mean, and so maybe they’re counting on that. Maybe the same. Trevor Lawrence is going to go into the NFL. Najee Harris is going to be in the NFL. A lot of the guys that at the front of this movement are going to have to worry about their own careers or their futures in a few months. Right. And so that they’ll start all over. But you’re right. I don’t I mean, Zoome isn’t going away. The pandemic isn’t going to go away. Like a lot of the concerns that they have now are still going to be there in a few months. And so, you know, if they’re if they’re planning on kicking the thing down the road, I don’t think that’s going to work out for them, too.

S12: Well, all right. Well, this is something that’s going to you know, when when we’re sitting here next Monday, it’s going to look a lot different than it is. So I’m sure we’ll talk about it again next week, not with Ben, because he’s not going to be here.

S19: So, unfortunately, Ben, for for gracing us, I’ll be listening.

S12: I appreciate that. And thank you. Slate plus members. We’ll be back with more next week.