The Will the NFL Move to a 17-Game Season? Edition

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S1: The following podcast includes explicit language not restricted to words, beginning with F, S, B and Q.

S2: Hello, I’m Josh Levine, Slate’s national editor and the author of The Queen, this is Hang Up and listen for the week of February 24th, 2020. On this week’s show, we’re going to discuss the big upcoming conflict between the NFL owners and players over whether the league will expand to a 17 game regular season. We’ll also talk about the ouster of Cleveland Cavaliers coach John B line and whether there’s something to the idea. The task master ish college coaches do not work in the pros.


S3: Finally, Joseph Being Khan will join us to tell the story of Jim Walmsley, the ultra marathoning legend who’s now trying to qualify for the U.S. Olympic team as a regular old marathoner. Joining me in our D.C. studio, Stefan FATSIS, author of the books Word Freak and a few seconds of Panic ticks off marathons on a daily basis, not just one.

S4: I mean, I’m more of an alter guy. I like to go 50, 75 miles hundred on Saturdays.

S3: That’s your long day. Joining us from Palo Alto. Slate staff writer and host of Slow Burn Season 3, Joel Anderson. Your one hundred mile guy on Saturdays.

S5: One hundred miles. Guy twenty nineteen. That just sounds ridiculous. But a hundred hundred meters. That’s more my thing.


S6: You know what I’m talking about. We do know what you’re talking about. As a matter of fact. That’s right. I mean, I think it’s pretty well known what I mean by that. We don’t have to say anymore. About 100 meters. My thing.


S3: All right. Hundred centimeters from a. Last week, the NFL 32 owners voted to approve a proposal for a new collective bargaining agreement. According to the NFL Players Association, with is not owners span. This is from the players. The proposed deal would put $5 billion more dollars in players pockets over 10 years would also increase minimum salaries, decrease the amount of requisite offseason and training camp work, expand pension and eligibility, eliminate games. Suspensions for positive marijuana tests would also diminish the commissioner’s authority to preside over discipline cases. And yet the Players Association Executive Council has recommended by 6 to 5 vote that union members not ratify the deal. And that’s because of the biggest change that owners want to push through expanding the regular season from 16 games to 17 games in a pre-Super Bowl press conference. Richard Sherman explained what a lot of players are thinking about the owners offer.


S7: It’s up to me and it’s always hard when you when you hear player safety is their biggest concern. And they’re they’re really standing on, you know, standing up for player safety, safety, player safety. But it seems like player safety has a price tag priced player safety up to the point of, hey, 17 games makes this this much money. So we really don’t care how safe they are.

S3: Pretty well said and concisely said by Richard Sherman. Joel, I really don’t know how this is gonna be resolved because it does seem like there’s a lot for the players to like. To the extent that there’s anything they like in a collective bargaining agreement that owners are in favor of. But the 17 game thing just seems like a real existential issue for the league’s players.


S5: Yeah, I don’t think there’s really a way around that. And I guess it depends on how serious you believe the NFL is about pushing for the 17th game.

S8: There’s a theory that they don’t want to give on all these other labor issues in terms of the share of revenue, higher minimum salaries since they dropped him.

S9: But they like things fine and they’re attaching it to the 17th game knowing that the players will not do that and then they don’t have to give on everything else. But I can’t imagine the NFL going to a 17th game anytime soon, if only because players seem to be pretty universally against the idea of it. And would Richard Sherman just said, I mean, the NFL talks all the time about player safety and all these improvements in the game to health care and in managing players health. And then you add another game. Man, it just doesn’t seem it doesn’t seem like those two things can coexist together.


S10: Oh, but in the minds of NFL owners, they certainly coexist. Michael Bidwill, the owner of the Arizona Cardinals, just a couple of weeks ago said on in a radio interview, quote, The health safety data plays out that we can do 17 games and it’s not going to impact the safety and the health of the players.

S4: Easy for you to say did I am really proud of the work the league is doing in terms of the health and safety. A lot of big strides have been made. This is how the propaganda machine works. Man, it’s like, hey, we’re making helmets safer and we’re changing the rules. The game is safer. Therefore we can add more game and the net effect won’t be any worse for the players. The owners approach health and safety, brain injuries and other injuries, kind of like carbon offsets. They’ve figured out that we can spend more money because we are you know, if we’re going to have more games and more potential incidents for injury and more actual injury, we can pay our way out of it. I mean, that’s the approach to collective bargaining here.


S3: And Joel, I would push back on two things that you said. Number one, I think this is totally sincere by the owners. Like the game theory thing doesn’t really make sense to me. Obviously, they want an extra game. They’re going into negotiations for a new TV deal and more inventory means more money. And that’s also why we’ve seen this push for an increase in the number of playoff teams to 7 per conference rather than six more playoff games means more money.

S5: I think that is an either or thing that the playoff expansion is fundamentally different from adding a 17th game where you get to see an extra week, an extra team in the playoffs, a better chance for more TV revenue. But without having an extra game of watching the Jets, you know, I mean, yeah.


S10: But you know what? The Jets owners want to have the extra game because they can put people in the stadium. I mean, that’s another 75000 people that’ll go to a shitty Jets game. I mean, the thing that we’re forgetting here is that this is the product of more than a year of talks between the players association and the league. This isn’t the owners management committee pulling this proposal out of their asses.

S3: Well, the other thing just quickly that I wanted to push back on is saying that it’s not true that this is universally condemned by players. I don’t think because the executive council recommended that they not vote for 6 to 5. So even among the most. Higher ups of the players, five people said you should vote for that.

S10: Do you think that because it got this far, I don’t think it is just the owner saying we want another game and more revenue. There were some buy in somewhere from some players who were part of the negotiating process.

S5: Like, I don’t have any sources on this. I don’t think the players want a 17th game. I think they like the idea of everything else that’s attached to what they might get if they ever 17 it. That makes sense, but doesn’t give on the drug policy. I mean, what do they say, 50 percent of the league or more? A little bit more than 50 percent of the league is on minimum salaries. So like that benefits a huge chunk of their workforce. But I think they’d like well, they’d be willing to play another game in exchange for all that other stuff, which is not insignificant stuff.


S3: Well, the voices that you’ve heard that are the loudest about being opposed to a 17th game. JJ Watt, Leonard Fournette, Richard Sherman are the most well-compensated and most famous players. I mean, we haven’t really heard. And and maybe it’s because they don’t have the platform or maybe it’s because they are just playing a little quieter about it because it’s the famous players or they don’t get retweeted or mammy they don’t get retweeted. Exactly. But maybe there’s a lot of guys on minimum salaries who are willing to put their body through a 17th game to get all the extra perks. And you’re Rachel. I mean. This negotiation is how much stuff do we have to give the players in terms of more revenue, you know, better, better weed and showers a anything so we can get this 17th game?


S10: That’s what this is. Absolutely. From the players perspective, though, I think that 17 is a really dangerous number. I mean, assuming this is a 10 year deal, I’m sure they’re gonna be opt outs at some point during the duration of this contract. If it were to be approved, 17, a hundred percent in my mind will lead to a demand in the next round of negotiations for 18, 17 is an odd number of teams are going to like giving up an extra home game every other year. They’re going to feel there’s some sort of competitive imbalance there.


S3: Or maybe it’ll be something like eight home-made away in one game in like London, Mexico. I mean, it’s it doesn’t matter. 17 does not make sense as a long term. No.

S4: As a Long-Term Proposition, it doesn’t. And you ain’t going back.

S11: I go back a couple weeks ago, remember a couple weeks ago when we were talking about the XFL. It was all the rage of sports media and now we just talk about it.

S6: I was to say I was out on that every week until then. I did have to throw that in there. I’m sorry.

S12: Well, I think the of those battle hawks look really good. I know that P.J. Walker’s doing well. I do know that. But I think we talked about the thing that we talked about leading into that was that people think they want more football, but a lot of football is actually really bad.

S5: And I think about the idea that there’s a lot of times at the end of the season in the NFL when so many people are hurt. There’s so many people out and you’re watching games between backups and everything. And the quality of the games aren’t even that really that good. And I’m just like, do you? Do we really want more football? And to the extent that I agree with Mark Cuban on anything, I remember him saying about six years ago that the NFL was due for an implosion, that the idea that pigs get fed, hogs get slaughtered. And I just think that pushing for a 17th game, thinking that people want this much football is going to be a fatal flaw in their business plan.


S10: Ultimately, well, you said the game is near the end of the season. Start to look bad. Well, the game’s at the beginning of the season, look really bad because training camps have been abbreviated, preseason is being shortened. Starters don’t play much in the preseason cause they shouldn’t because these games are meaningless.

S13: You know, which games actually look the worst? Thursday night games Thursday night.

S3: So that’s what the inventory away Thursday night games is what we’re pushed through in the last CBA negotiation because the owners wanted more money and wanted more inventory. And the players said it would be detrimental to health and everything else. And it’s proved that that’s been the case and that product is shitty.

S10: Right. So the first two, three weeks of the season sock, the last couple seasons of the week can suck. Thursday night games suck. At some point people are going to catch on to this. Right.

S14: All other sports right now having this difficulty with reduced live audience numbers like college football, NBA, Major League Baseball. Gradually, there’s this idea that people are going to shift their attention to like TV.

S5: But even TV is changing. The ways in which American society consumes TV is even fundamentally changing. And not just the idea that they’re going to try to cram in more TV content of bad football. It just doesn’t seem like it’s going to line up. And I’ve always had been sort of dubious about projections because I just don’t think people really can tell what five years from now is going to look like in terms of media habits. All right.

S10: I think that’s exactly right, John. I think that the NFL wants to get this done now because there is concern that in a year we’re not sure what the the landscape is going to look like. I mean, whether the networks. This could be the last deal that the networks pay, you know, the billions or you see a really large increase or not or not.


S5: We still don’t quite know why CBS stepped away from SCC football, which is theoretically one of the most valuable TV properties in all of TV. They had that time slot on a major network all to themselves and they walked away from it. And ESPN scooped it up. Now, maybe there’s some other things going on there that we can’t possibly know about some TV network gaming or whatever going on there. But eventually, at some point, these TV contracts can’t keep going up. They can’t keep accommodating what people seem to think is a need for football that may not necessarily be there.

S10: I would push back a little on that because the history tells us that they can keep going up and have gone up. And and I was writing about this 20 years ago and there was concern that the leagues were paying too much and some of the leagues were. I mean, there was a period of retrenchment in the late 90s and early 2000s in terms of how the networks considered these contracts. They all came running back to it. NBC tried the XFL 20 years ago and they were back in the NFL in short order because they needed the numbers. I mean, there’s no evidence that people are watching, right. The NFL, as much as they have been, it’s still the hub. These are still the most highly rated programs on television. And the NFL is banking on the fact that Internet distribution of games is going to take off. If this is the contract where they’re going to get money from, whoever it is, Facebook, Twitter or whatever platform.

S3: All right. Let’s spin out the case for this deal for the players. I think we’ve already done it a little bit, which is that there might be a majority of players whose names we don’t know or who don’t immediately come to mind to this deal might be not a bad deal for if they’re you know, the value of their contract is going to go up if they’re going to get increased health benefits when their careers are done. If the league is going to be more sensible about marijuana policy here, Goodell’s discipline, his role there is going to get scaled back. There’s a lot to like here. And for a player whose career might be pretty short is the difference between having a 32 game career or a 34 game career. Right. Or a forty eight game career versus a 51 game career. Like, is that are you really going to say, I don’t I don’t want to do this deal if it will make me an extra five hundred? Dollars in your pocket when your time in NFL is over, when you’re 28?


S10: No, I don’t think that’s exactly right. And that’s why I wonder whether this isn’t partly an attempt by the players to talk this through. The owners have said the zet we’ve talked for a year. There’s the proposal we’ve come up with. Take it or leave it if you don’t take it. We’re going to apply retroactively the current rules and negotiate it next year. And everyone’s foreboding that it’ll be, you know, it’ll be a strike or a lockout like $64000, a pyramid.

S15: What an NFL owner would say.

S10: So that’s always the calculus. Josh Wright, the veteran players know they’re in it for the long term. Richard Sherman has to worry about every game, every hit, every practice. The average player who’s in the league for three years wants to get paid because they’re worried about running out of money by the time the 35.

S8: That’s probably fair, and in some ways, if you look even further down the road, it could theoretically expand the workforce because there’ll be more people injured and more people that cycle in and out of practice squads and at the bottom of the roster.

S10: Well, I think there’s a provision to add to a roster spots to the active roster. I think fifty five said fifty three. Yeah.

S13: So there’ll be two more players to get hurt. That’s that’s helpful. Yeah. Yeah.

S5: That’s a very bleak view. But I mean ultimately what we’re saying is that when they add an extra game, it’s not that you’re going to see say Dak Prescott a Deshaun Watson for seventeen games, you’re gonna see Matt mcgloin for two games.


S16: And I guess if the NFL thinks that that’s what the American public wants and if that’s ultimately good for the fifty third, fifty fourth and maybe fifty fifth player on the roster at the end of the CBA, then I mean that is something to consider. You guys are sort of convinced me even just within the course of this conversation, thinking more broadly about the workforce. But I don’t know man, football is much more boring and maybe this is just me talking as a fan. Football is much more boring than we’d think it is. And I just can’t imagine wanting more of it. It seems it’s a certain point there’s going to be a bubble burst. The bubble is going to burst on the NFL. And I feel like this is right where it’s going to be right here.

S3: The ultimate tension here for me from just the entertainment business perspective is that the NFL is kind of secret sauce compared to other leagues is scarcity. The fact that you have these 17 weekends with that bye week and then the playoffs where there it feel special, there is a limited supply of games both to watch on TV and to go to as a fan. I think going to 17 games doesn’t really meaningfully change that amount of scarcity. And the fact that an NBA game, our regular season game are at baseball regular season game just feels so much less important and special than an NFL game inside. I think the owners are probably right to think that we’re all just going to keep watching that this won’t meaningfully affect consumer habits. And I think the players are right and in particular the star players to be concerned about what this means for their long term health and welfare.


S10: And I think that the star players also face backlash from fans. I mean, you go to JJ, what’s Twitter account and look at his mentions after he said hard no on this deal. It’s like ninety five percent.

S1: Fuck your privacy really late. You I don’t support this. I want you to play something. Games.

S16: Yeah. Also, I mean, these are people that are most motivated. I mean, the people that are like us that have a little bit more circumspect about it are not going to speak up there. But I do think the players are going to end up the star players like JJ Watt, Richard Sherman and whoever else are going to end up being vilified by this CBA fight.

S12: The thing is, in my lifetime, for what I can tell, the owners always seem to win. You know, I wonder they ever lost? Yeah. In this sport, the owners always win.

S17: So last week, before the NBA started the post all star weekend portion of the season, there was this not so surprising coaching change. John Beeline announced that he was leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers after only 54 games, thus into billons, turbulent and mostly terrible 14 40 run with the Cavs, where he’d come after spending the previous 40 plus years in college basketball. He left the University of Michigan last spring, go blue or whatever, and signed a five year contract with Cleveland, a deal that reportedly paid him more than four million dollars per season. So what would make a 67 year old man walk away from that kind of a payday? Well, according to reports, bilan predictably struggled to make inroads in the NBA locker room. Never got much traction implementing his college offense. Players also reportedly tuned beeline out quickly, growing tired of the screaming and dictatorial approach to management. Also, there was this infamous Thugs vs. Slugs incident on January 8th in a Detroit hotel. That’s what Beeline called his players thugs during a film session. He later insisted he meant to say slugs, which actually seems sort of reasonable given the context. And he tried to apologize the next day. But a number of players never really embraced his explanation. After that, whenever bilan was within earshot, sources said players played songs like Thuggish Raucous Bone, Thugs, Mansion and I’m a Thug. Here’s a quick sample of would be line heard when you got on a team bus a few days later.


S5: Shut out trade Betty Sadoway. A month later, it’s all over, Stefan. Couldn’t we have seen all this coming last year when bylined left Michigan?

S10: Rule number one for coaches coming into the NBA and the NFL from college is to throw the vast majority of the things that you did in college into the garbage. There is nothing that paid. Professional athletes hate more than being treated like unpaid professional athletes. They resent being yelled at. They resent being forced to follow. Silly rules are being made to practice in unreasonable ways. They resent being infantilized. It doesn’t work. According to some very good reporting by Shalom’s Sharana, Jason Lloyd and Joe Varden at the athletic beeline came in guns blazing. He couldn’t handle the pushback. He was unable to adjust on a lot of levels. Both player relations, an NBA game style management, and it seems like the most self-awareness that he showed was in cutting his losses and quitting his rule.

S13: Number two, don’t work for Dan Gilbert.

S10: The guy did have a stroke last year, but that does seem to be some correlation there and I think we should get to that.

S3: So Dan Gilbert, the Cavs owner famous for his comic sans letter calling LeBron a traitor or whatever it was when LeBron went to Miami, has been known to make coaching hires on his own against advice from people that actually know more about basketball. The whole David blad experiment did not work. There is reporting about Larry Drew, the coach after Tehran. Lou left, not wanting to be there and kind of bucking against while it was kind of dragooned into taking the temporary job he was dragooned. And the whole thing with two-run, Lou. They want a championship, but then that didn’t end up working out. He ended up like leaving off a few games into a season. And so the pattern here is college coaches had succeeded in the NBA. Sure. But no coaches succeeding with Cleveland under Dan Gilbert, without LeBron James especially.


S5: Wow. Yeah. I mean, they’ve had six coaches in seven years, which includes LeBron Air, which gives you sort of a look at the dysfunction that runs within that organization. But I think Beeline, you mentioned self-awareness, Stefan B line in college was known as a dude who wasn’t all that interested in recruiting or dealing with elite players. And like that seems like the least likely guy to get along with NBA players because, you know, the majority of NBA players are elite players. If you don’t even want to deal with them when they have no leverage in college, how could that possibly translate in the NBA where they have all the leverage? You’re basically just you’re setting an organizational structure, you’re shuffling minutes and everything else. You’re dealing with egos, but ultimately you’re not as important as the players. If you can’t handle that dynamic in college, I don’t understand what will make anybody think that he would have been good at it in the NBA.

S3: He’s 67 years old. I mean, it’s not like he’s going to change what he’s done for his whole career. And so you could blame Beeline. And clearly, he didn’t handle the job himself very well. But this is just a really bad hire. Right. And is not being put in a position to succeed. I mean, this roster also doesn’t make any sense. I mean, you have guys like Darius Scott Garland and Collin SEXTON in the backcourt and maybe they’ll be good and useful NBA players in the future. But this is not a roster that’s designed to win. Now, even under the best of circumstances, then you also have Kevin Love interest in Thompson, guys who’ve won a championship and are are veterans. You are not probably going to be happy about having the team be controlled by these like, you know, really young guards who are not going to lead them anywhere except into the high lottery. Right. So this is clearly like a rebuilding year beeline line is I guess the theory here is that at Michigan he got a bunch of like guys who weren’t necessarily the highest rank recruits.


S15: And he has, you know, guys like Duncan Robinson and Nicks Stouts, guests’ or Harris Slivered, Mo Wagner, Tim Hardaway Junior.

S3: You know, Mitch McGary, Trey Burke. Like there is just a ton of Michigan guys in the NBA who played under beeline line. And you wouldn’t have thought that based on their recruiting rankings. So these guys got better under a bee line. And so maybe the ideas will bring him in. He’ll make these players better, but it’s not like he’s going to be there for a long time. Again, the guy’s sixty seven years old. This is not a long term.

S10: Right. And so, I mean, my little speech there, I sort of blame D-line, but he’s not going to change. So that’s all understandable. And then as soon as there is like a tinder of a problem that exposes the generational fault line and we should talk about the thugs versus slugs incident that was you know, he lost them. Clearly, he lost them. And there’ve been players that have come out and sort of criticized the anonymous sources that the athletic quoted players in their original reporting about the the problems inside the Cavs locker room. And then Charles Barkley blamed the players for turning on beeline. But there was something also going on in that locker room, a dysfunction among the younger players and some of the older players. Tristan Thompson, after the first athletic piece in December, was published. Somebody shoved one of the reports on our reporter, showed it to him, and he said, at the end of the day, if you’re gonna build a culture and a family, you can’t have that chatty patty shit going on. That shit is whack to me. Everyone’s got to look in the mirror. There’s only so much coach can do and there’s only so much we can do. Do we have the best roster in the NBA? No. But we’re gonna go out there and compete every night. Guys gotta look in the mirror. So I hope whoever reported that was just bullshitting and blamed it on a player.


S5: I do think that there’s something to say that if Balen had approached this in a more collaborative manner, you know, the sort of players coach approach that a lot of NBA players are used to. They might have been more generous to him when he made that Doug’s first slugs mistake, because from what I understand from the context, they’re watching game film. And he said they’re moving like a bunch of blanks, which he said thugs. But it makes sense that he was trying to say slugs. Right. But if you don’t have any trust in this guy and if you don’t believe that he has your best interests at heart, that he values your input into forming a team, he’s not going to have any credibility when he says he made a mistake or you’re gonna be much less inclined to forgive it because you know that you can push him out. And I think that’s what happened.

S3: Yeah. I mean, all this seems like a classic example of people that wanted him gone looking for an example of something to use against him. And it worked. I mean, maybe the reason that they wanted him gone was maybe this was actually a microcosm. Maybe he didn’t respect the players. And this was just the most kind of incendiary example.

S10: And he also picked like the worst word to fuck off with. I mean, thug, as you recall, always had like five, five, five or six years ago when the mayor of Baltimore used the word. And there was a moment when thug got a lot of attention in the media for its racial connotations.

S4: There’s a 67 year old white guy who has coached African-American kids for, what, 40 years? Right. Who use the one word that was a war, a word, not the one word, but a word that was certain to set off players, especially if they were looking for a reason to be set off.


S3: Remember when Phil Jackson called LeBron James as friends a posse?

S5: Yeah. And I’m actually even thinking I’m trying to think of myself as a younger black man. And I’m for a sixty seven year a white man had accidentally called me a thug. What I would think then is that, you know, how in a phone line when you’re texting somebody and you accidentally text a word, did you didn’t mean to send, but it’s a word that you use a lot. You know, I mean, like it’s a word that you might use. So you might say park instead of park or whatever, but you actually use park a lot in your personal life. And I just like maybe, you know, the players may have said, you know, what would that even come from? That word is somewhere stuck in your memory banks. How did it come out? Now, that’s a very uncharitable reading of what happened with B line. But again, it’s not like he did anything to build up, you know, some sort of credibility with the players at 54 games is not a lot of time.

S3: Well, this is a season that they knew was not going to be successful from a wins and losses standpoint. So really all that B line’s job was this year is to develop the younger players who are gonna be on the next good Cleveland team. And to quote. Quote, establish a culture, and I think that phrase can be overused and can be used to like mean be authoritarian and like fine players and stuff, but I think there’s a way in which a culture can be established that’s more like collaborative and player friendly. And it’s just really clear that he did not do that. And it’s not clear to me whether he helped or tried to help develop great guys. And the other thing that I think about is that there is this culture and then B-A that we don’t see or hear about a lot of player development coaches like there, guys who are like the fifth or sixth assistant on the staff who’s their job is to just like work one on one with a guy like Derrius Garland, to work one on one with the rookies on the team and to make them better, sort of like not selflessly. They’re like getting something out of it in their career, but certainly not getting credit for it. And I just don’t even know if like a head coach, is that even really his job?


S10: Well, but his job is to make sure that the the assistant coaches on the staff are assigned to do those kinds of things and to help build the culture that he wants to create. He’s responsible for whatever culture exists there. So if the young guys felt that they were getting drilled on the high school fundamentals, which was one of the complaints, and they were getting yelled at in film sessions and that the systems that the head coach was implementing were rudimentary to the NBA, then that’s where you didn’t get resentment. I mean, there was even one example given in one of the athletic pieces about how B lines, the names that B Line gave. I love this. Two players were all named after Wilder was a curl as a polar bear. You don’t go pro to do that kind of thing. One source time in the NBA.

S13: I don’t need to call a a polar bear like I love it.

S10: That’s the thing that really got his eye on that sword. Go to the NFL if you don’t like play calls with weird names.

S15: I guess the question is, and this is kind of what Tristan Thompson was getting at all. It’s like if you’re this bad as a team, do you really have a leg to stand on when you’re telling the coach like. That, you know, we shouldn’t be coached in this particular way or you shouldn’t yell at us. I mean, I I guess you probably do, but yeah, that’s why it just kind of looks bad. And maybe for a player like Tristan Thompson, he’s like, yeah, COLIN SEXTON you do kind of suck. And like, you just need to get better. That’s why we’re not doing that well.


S5: That’s probably true. And I mean, there’s obviously an element of the players do share some blame in that. Who’s to say that peak Phil Jackson was gonna get more than 14 wins out of this crew? Right. But I do think that there is some idea that elite players have a better sense of what they need for themselves and for team than a college kid by you know.

S16: So Derrius Garland was is a successful basketball player. Collin SEXTON was a successful basketball player. All these other guys that sort of fill out the spots on the roster.

S14: They’ve had success. They know what it looks like. It’s not like they came to Cleveland and that’s where their basketball education starts. Right. They’ve had a career elsewhere. And also going back a little bit, it makes me think about the kids that played for B line under Michigan, because he’s actually been given a lot of credit for developing all these players or whatever. And I just I’m just really dubious of the idea. And I know that a coach can create an environment and an atmosphere that is conducive to improvement, development and all this, all the sort of stuff. But it tends to overlook the amount of work that players themselves put into their own development. And a lot of these guys. Maybe billons best talent was that he could figure out, you know, who is undervalued recruit as opposed to developing them all himself and turning them into an NBA player. So I’ve always been sort of dubious of that. I’d like to hear them talk a little bit more about that.

S3: In fact, I think bylined success in college is unimpeachable. I mean, at Michigan, he leads them to two national title games at West Virginia. I don’t think there is any player that he coached that was drafted into the NBA and they still had good results getting to the tournament and and doing well in the tournament. It doesn’t necessarily mean he’s a good guy. It doesn’t necessarily mean that players liked playing for him. What it does mean is that in a college context, he had a system that worked consistently and got really good results and that shouldn’t take away, you know, the people that deserve credit for all the Michigan players that are in the NBA. If the people that deserve credit for them being in the bay are the players, right?


S13: Fisher Yeah.

S10: And we don’t know what kind of a coach John B line was in college behind the scenes because we really know you don’t have a lot of access, but there was like some survey that said that his fellow coaches thought he was the cleanest coach in hell.

S3: And then, yeah, he did that, this reputation for fighting the roles. But that’s again among NCAA coaches like I in this piece that I wrote about coaches being so mad about transfer rules in 2013. He’s like, oh, I’m not going to let a guy transfer to a rival school without, you know, sitting out or give them a release, because then they just take our playbook like that’s not a guy who particularly cares about the welfare of the players. He wants to protect the sanctity of the program. Right. And so I don’t know how much credence we should give to the fact that other coaches think he’s less like clean guy.

S10: Right. And we also put a lot of stock in how we see coaches on television. So we think Tom Izzo is an asshole because he looks like an asshole on the sidelines. And John Beale, I never did that in college.

S8: Yeah. And again, there’s no incentive there’s no way for us to really know what college players think of their coaches because they’re definitely going to say anything while they’re there. And there’s no incentive for them to say anything after, especially if they’ve gotten out of the program because people are going to do their own. A jump on you on Twitter. People are going to say you’ve got some sort of motive, impune, you know, your integrity or whatever if you try to speak out against a coach. So it really doesn’t do them a lot of good. But you’re right, Josh, his success at those schools is unimpeachable.


S11: But what we don’t know is how he went about getting that success and what he had to do to make players good. I mean, Bobby Knight was a successful college coach to.

S3: All right. I wanted to let you know that in our bonus segment for Slate Plus members, we’re going to talk about boxing with America’s boxing fan singular Joel Anderson, who watched the heavyweight fight between Tyson Fury and deontay Wilder. He’ll tell us what that fight was like. Tyson Faery won. That’s my understanding. If you want to hear more and you’re not a member of Slate Plus can sign up just $35 for the first year, you can do that. Signing up at slash hang up.

S10: Plus, next Saturday in Atlanta, almost 700 men and women are expected to compete for six spots on the United States Olympic team in the marathon. Two hundred and thirty eight of the entered runners are men, and one of them would be fine running the twenty six point two miles and then doing it again and again and again. But up and down a snow capped mountain and through a scorching desert, sometimes in the same race.

S4: He is 30 year old Jim Walmsley, and he’s arguably the best ultramarathon runner in the world. He has smashed records in races of 50 and 100 miles over unforgiving terrain, but he’s actually never run a regular marathon. Joseph being calm, profiled Jim Wamsley for The New York Times magazine. He’s with us now. Hey, Joseph. Thanks for having me, guys. Our pleasure. Really enjoyed the piece. In it, you write that the ultra marathon is home to the gutsy, eccentric. The marathon is home to the type a obsessive. These really are two different sports entirely. And there’s historically been very little high level crossover of the kind that Wamsley is attempting here. But this dude is different. How?


S18: Absolutely. I was drawn to the ultra marathon because it’s so outside of my skill set. I a three mile run feels amazing. It feels like I’ve done a day’s work.

S19: So seeing these guys and girls take on one hundred two hundred, sometimes five hundred mile races is just so mind bending and mind blowing to the average person. Jim is this guy who’s a little bit different for an ultra runner because he has a track background. He’s come from more of a traditional running history. And then he happened to find his way to this unconventional finish of hundred mile races.

S18: Jim is definitely the best American ultra runner in the world. But trying the marathon, it just, as you said, a totally different sport.

S3: So you put in your piece that when he was at the Air Force Academy and running, he finished 12th in the 3000 meter steeplechase and his senior year. And then in the eyes of the running world, he vanished. Well, in the eyes of the running world, finishing 12th in the 3000 steeplechase is not like the biggest accomplishment that you could you could have. So this guy is like not on the radar at all. As a track runner before he moved to Ultra’s right now, I think that’s true.

S19: I think if Jim had done had been an Olympic level, I don’t think he ever would’ve found his way too old to running. He was on the edge compared to the regular world. He is absolutely elite. 12TH and steeplechase is incredible. He’s put up some amazing 5000 meter times in college, but absolutely not the Olympic level. But, you know, runners come into their own at different ages. And what’s fascinating is Jim came to this kind of in a backwards way, an unconventional path. But he found his knees in these crazy, long, gutsy grind it runs.


S18: And now, I mean, he’s entering this race is a complete wildcard. There’s a lot of people are like he shouldn’t when he’s a long shot. But there’s also every race is entered. People have felt that way. And Jim just keeps winning these races. He wins 70 percent, 80 percent of the races he enters. So it’s kind of hard to ever doubt him.

S5: How does somebody find out that they have the capacity to be an ultra marathoner? Because if you see, you know, they find out that you yourself can run 50 miles and one day or more.

S8: Well, how does that even get started?

S19: Yeah, for me, I would have no idea how.

S18: Because three miles hurts like hell. But I’ve talked to probably a dozen ultra runners now over the course of a few stories, something a lot of them have said is they’ve tried a marathon and finished and never felt like they hit that wall, which is mind-blowing. But I think these are people kind of they’re seekers, maybe a little masochistic, but they’re looking for these barriers and to push themselves to find empty and what that feels like. What’s fascinating, Jim, is that he never tried the marathon. Usually the conventional path is you run a shorter race. You try the marathon, then, oh, the marathon didn’t create scratch that itch. Let me try something longer. And for Jim, it was just. You knew he was a great runner, but then he kind of fell into this depressive hole, which I cover the story about at during his airforce time, and then he kind of needed something needed to find some unscratched Bowditch and found it at 50 miles or hundred miles or longer.


S10: One of the points you make in the pieces that ultra runners come from some dark places and I think like to run up mountains at doing eight minute miles. You’ve got to be crazy. And you also have to be seeking out the sort of the extremes of the human condition, psychological and physical. And that’s what characterizes ultra running. And you also explore in the piece how mainstream runners, you know, people that run on pavement or tracks tend to look down on this because Ultron isn’t just a physical pursuit. It’s about something much more the sort of the ability to tolerate extremes. And therefore, it’s not a pure sport in that sense.

S18: I think that’s definitely true. There is this piece of it that’s about extremes, about tolerating truly awful conditions. Some of these races are two hundred and seventy miles with a six day time limit and you’re stealing two hours of sleep when you can. There’s these crazy just like pushing the human. So limit. But there’s also a bit which I think is fair, where trail runners there is a much less deep field. It is a much less professional sport. And I think for marathoners, part of it is we don’t know what an elite trail runner would look like. Exactly. I think Jim is a window into that. We’re seeing what it would look like if someone got into ultramarathons in their 20s, trained in a professional sense, took it really seriously. And Jim explains himself as like type-A foreign, a trail runner, which is absolutely type B for a marathon marathoner, but he’s like slightly closer to a professional level. And we’ve seen that that’s completely changed the sport. He takes course records at all of these trials. But for the to speak broadly about marathoners, I’ve had a few marathoners reach out and be like, don’t let me in with this. But there are some marathoners who think of trail runners as less professional, less extreme. And there’s some who would think if we put the best marathoners into any of these races, they would dominate. And there’s just no way to know into which is why this marathon is so exciting without venturing too much into stereotype.


S8: What is the demo of your average ultra marathoner then? What is their background? Who are they? Where do they come from?

S18: It’s so wide. Ultramarathons are huge in Europe. So there’s a lot that run through the Alps. It’s French, Italian of the American runners. I think it’s kind of outdoorsy. Scott Jurek, who is featured and born to run and it’s kind of the famous American ultra runner before Jan. He was famous for sleeping at the trail side and rolling in the dirt when he finish. And it’s kind of just like a very granola crunchy athlete. So there’s more of that feel, I think, in trail running, whereas marathoners, again, these are usually elite college, 5000 or 10000 meter cross-country athletes who then are studied. There you see the mask. They have their V02 Max study. They have all of this stuff. They have billions of Nike dollars spent on them. And then they get these races. So it’s much less crunchy and outdoorsy.

S3: Well, Stefan, you said that there is something crazy about wanting to run up a mountain for however many Miles says. And, you know, I think an ultra runner would say that it’s crazy to be as regimented as you need to be to run a marathon or that any elite athlete with the amount that you have to train in is just hyper focused way. And not only on skill development, but also on diet and everything that you need to devote your life, you know, 24/7 to maximize your ability. There is a certain level of insanity over there. And so it’s totally understandable, Joseph, that these different groups would not understand each other, would be skeptical of each other, would see each other as different species, almost. And so it’s interesting to hear about that. And then when you talk later, again, it makes sense.


S4: Well, let me jump in there and just say that what I find really interesting here is how Wamsley is trying to make this transition. Is he training as a trail runner? Is he training as a conventional marathoner? Is there some pushback in his mind as to whether he should even do it that way, do it the way that the regular marathoners do? Or does he believe? Look, I’m as fit as these dudes and I’m going to continue to train the way I train. Or is there some in between that he’s found here to get ready for the Olympic trials?

S18: That’s a really interesting question. I think he’s definitely found an in-between to give some context to Warmsley and kind of how he is trained. Usually he runs about 700 miles, around 700 miles in December.

S19: So he still shakes his head.

S18: He is putting out these freakish, freakish numbers of byles.

S4: Well, let’s put that into context. What would a top level marathoner run in a month?

S19: Probably 450, maybe maybe 400. It’s kind of varies. I’ve heard as low as 70 miles per week and some of them high. Far end of the spectrum are 150. So that’s about a six hundred mile month. He’s running seven hundred miles.

S18: And his theory kind of is during the American marathon boom in the 70s, these guys were much more of a Wild West sport. There wasn’t Nike involved yet. There wasn’t this scientific backing. And a lot of these guys are putting out these crazy long runs. Their theory was, if I could run 30 miles quickly. Twenty six miles is going to feel easy. And Jim is stuck way more with that. He’s added some interval training and he’s done some of that. But he’s still logging every Saturday, a 30 mile trail run even through his training. I think for him, his goal is like he had to get his legs faster. He had to get some of that professionalization. But he also wants to stick with what’s worked for him, which is this base like off the charts endurance.


S5: It seems like a lot of this happens out west like this, not as much. I mean, there are a couple of trails like one in Tennessee, one in Georgia. Right. But this ultra marathoning seems to all take place out here in the West Coast. Is that fair? I got in the Great West.

S18: That’s definitely the feel I have is that it’s this perfect race for, you know, Montana, the Sierra Nevadas, things like that, where you kind of have this. You need lots of open space. You need mountains of that. I know trail runners, the lead trail runners kind of clump in Flagstaff, Arizona, where Jim and a few of his friends live in Bend, Oregon. These places where it’s high altitude, both them are over 6000 feet high, which helps build lung capacity, but also are just kind of a sprawling, hilly places. I know Jim said a lot of East Coast runners will look at his strava where he posts solitaries his runs and be like where even finding the elevation to be able to run these mountains. And he’s like, there’s literally a mountain in my backyard in Flagstaff that I could run that on the East Coast would be off the charts. I think that’s part of it, is he has the he runs in the Grand Canyon once a week. He has access to these big sprawling places. And that’s helpful.

S3: All right. So the reason that this is so interesting, these trials on this coming weekend is that the range of outcomes here is so wide. So walk us through what is the the best possible outcome for Wamsley and how would that happen? And then what’s the worst case scenario?


S19: Well, me and my editor headlined it The Long Shot for a reason. I think Wamsley has no business finishing in the top three.

S20: And that’s what you need to get in the Olympics.

S19: Yeah. And that’s we need to make the Olympics is finished top three in this race. There are four American men who’ve run under a to 10 marathon coming into the trials. Those were all on less hilly courses and things. So I think the general idea is a round to 10 is going to be what it takes to make the team to run it to 10 years time in your first ever marathon would be mind blowing. But it’s also Jim Wamsley. So I talked with Dr. Andrew Jones, who’s the most famous running physiologist. And he by the end of the call, I couldn’t help but figure out a long shot way for Jim to make it. Talk to marathoners, ultra runners, running bloggers and everyone. Kind of it’s like catnip for the running world. They can’t help but find the long shot path for him.

S18: But there’s a very real chance that he tries to front runner at the beginning. Burns out and finishes in two twenty or twenty five or something like that. And that’s incredible for a regular human being. But that sets Jim up for absolutely getting dragged on the run in message boards, kind of proving the point of all these trail running skeptics, all of that.

S19: So the range is either fiasco or it’s absolutely legitimizing trail running and kind of placing himself in a Disney movie if he makes the team.

S4: He qualified for. The Olympic trials by running a 64 minute half marathon, which was the exact cutoff point, right? Yeah. What do you think after hanging around this guy? Do you think he has a shot to break to turned and come closer or make this team?


S19: I think he has a shot, which I would. I went into it not believing at all. I was kind of expected him to be cocky because he gives a great quote in pre-race interviews. Things like that. And I think as he explained to me in the story, he kind of understood the business sense of being a little bit cocky, putting a target on your back, doing all of that. But in real life, is this incredibly kind of quiet. The mirror guy. But every once in awhile, he would kind of break into a grin. Usually he would be like, yeah, it’s a long shot. I don’t know. I don’t know. But he’d break into a grand and talk about maybe one of the front runners will get disqualified with this whole Nike issue. Maybe the hills, they won’t be ready for it. Maybe the weather will be too hot or too cold. And you can see the kind of the wheels in his head turning. And I just heard him interviewed on a podcast last week, and he said he thinks you’d get these like closing in on a to ten pace, which is insane that he’s gotten to that in training. Because when I was out there, he was still training for his trail running. He still thought it was a total longshot and he could see himself kind of talking himself into it, which is incredible.

S8: Does he risk the reputation of trail runners and ultra marathoners if he goes out there and embarrasses himself? And I guess lack of a better analogy runs off the trail and gets lost in the lose, which is a reference to what he did in his first ultramarathon competition.


S18: I don’t know if there’s like a reputation to blow. Unfortunately, I think in the marathon world, there’s a few guys who’ve interacted with the best trail runners and they have respect for them. There’s kind of like a romanticism to it. So there’s respect in that way. But I don’t think anyone in that world views trail runners is having a shot. And how in this race I’ve heard a few people explain why he’s giving it a shot. Who cares? You know, he has nothing to lose. He could go out there. I talked to Max King, who’s a totally elite. He probably placed 12th in the trials last time. He almost made the Olympic team. He now runs ultras. And he’s like, if Jim finishes top three, the marathoning world will say, oh, well, that’s just more proof. Jim was always a marathoner and trail running and still trash. He’s like, you’re never going to convince commenter’s that suddenly this legitimizes the sport. But I think that if Jim could do it, it kind of proves the point.

S10: Joseph profile Jim Wamsley for The New York Times magazine will post a link to the piece. Can the king of ultra running conquer a race as short as the marathon? On our show page justto thank you so much for coming on the show.

S20: Thank you, guys. And we’ll update everybody about how Walmsley does on next week’s show.

S4: And now it is time for After Balls Slate ran a piece by Joe Holmes last week about world chess champion Magnus Carlsen, who’s been logging on to chess sites, playing speed chess, sometimes while drinking and sometimes livestreaming his games and doing play by play, which is crazy. Holmes wrote There’s something hypnotising about watching a guy known as the Mozart of chess, a player who is quantifiably better than Bobby Fischer, taking a big gulp of beer, announcing his position as completely winning, and then singing along to Dr. Dre, saying, Motherfuck the police while coasting into another quick checkmate. The piece is really great, but what’s really fun about it are the aliases that Carlsson uses to play in these tournaments online. They include Doctor Drunken Steyne, Danny the Donkey, Damn Salty, that sport. And then when he gave up or moderated his drinking, which he said was becoming problematic. Dr. NICTA Steen NICTA is Norwegian for sober and finally magsie bugs MAIG ze y bogues.


S13: I’m kind of fascinated by your presentation try’s. They’re like like the famed Dr. Frankenstein now. Oh, that’s a good thing to be Dr. Frankenstein that I said Frankenstein. You said drunken STI’s. That drunken Stan Frankenstein of the New York drunken Stancil.

S3: All right, Stefan, what is your magsie Bogues Magdeburg magsie Bugs.

S4: The fallout from the Astros sign stealing scandal has taken an excellent turn. Little leagues are banning teams from using the Astros name. Josh, when you sent around a link to a story about leagues in Pennsylvania, New York and California banning Astro as you wrote. It’s so dumb. I love it. Yes, I would say it is perfect. Low hanging outrage, fruit. And I predict it will spread like crazy, but it’s also kind of awesome. I mean, if Major League Baseball is going to take away the Astros 2017 title. Isn’t this a great way to shame the franchise, to let every impressionable, pre-pubescent player and potential fan know that the Astros name stands for a remorseless cheating and at the same time protect 12 and 13 year olds from certain taunting? Two, four, six. Eight. Who do we appreciate?

S21: Trash drugs or leagues could leave it all that now I know would just be a brutal death. A-League’s could leave the name and our littlest Astros can embrace their outlaw status. Bang on garbage cans in the dugout, grab their jerseys tight, rounding third after a homerun. Or they could go totally throwback change. Every Little League Astros to called 45’s emblazon their jerseys with a gun. Our Slate colleague Nick Green interviewed Bob Bertoni, the head of Pennsylvania District 16 slash thirty one little league, about his decision to recommend that his leagues not use Astros. Bertone said that the Astros have been like the scarlet letter now, which conveniently also wasn’t a Danning. Astros would prevent ridicule, he said, and also send a message about character and fair play. But Bertoni also noted that this isn’t a lifetime ban. Next year, we could use the example that you made a mistake, you paid your punishment. Now let’s move on. Tell that to Pete Rose and Joe Jackson. Great interview, Nick. But the one question that Nick didn’t ask was why use big league team names at all? There are compelling reasons not to. One is cost little leagues that named their teams. Cubs and royals have to outfit kids in officially licensed Major League Baseball apparel, which jacks up the price of uniforms. The additional costs are passed on to families in the form of higher registration fees, and the youth sports industrial complex grows fatter. MLB started strictly enforcing its trademark rules on Little League teams in the 1990s. A decade or so ago, it threatened to take away a hundred thousand dollar annual grant to the Cape Cod League, the Summer College League. If teams with MLB nicknames didn’t start buying licensed merchandise, three teams with MLB nicknames changed their names and three didn’t. But the bigger reason to dump MLB names is that using MLB names is dumb. I read about how kids love to play on teams with big league names. Really? Some kid in Oklahoma is gonna be psyched to find out that they’re on the Giants or the Marlins. Let’s say you’re a kid who actually likes Major League Baseball, say you’re a Yankees fan, so you get stuck on the Red Sox. That would suck. Here in Washington, the Nationals have found a way around this problem by paying for the uniforms for all six little leagues in the city. This is very smart marketing and also brainwashing of little kids. And it cuts costs for the leagues. But it’s also kind of ridiculous. They mix up jersey and hat colors and styles and common. Nations, but literally every kid wears a Nationals uniform. D.C. teams do also differentiate by putting sponsor and or team names on the back of jerseys or just by what the teams decide to call themselves in the predominantly black Mamie Johnson Little League here. The teams are named for great black players, the Jackie Robinson Nationals, the Josh Gibson Nationals, the Rickey Henderson Nationals, Reggie Jackson, Eddie Murray, Ozzie Smith, Tony Gwynn. Also get team names. That’s pretty cool. A friend of mine coaches in a different D.C Little League, which last year included teams called the cabbie’s Blue Sox retrievers and Dirt Dogs. No nationals and their names. Cabbie’s is for my friends composting business compost cab, which is emblazoned on the back of the kid’s jerseys, which is awesome. Dirt Dogs. Those names are a million times better than borrowers or Rockies. That’s how youth sports teams should be named for fun or for absurd sounding sponsors. Growing up in the pre MLB licensing 1970s, My Little League and Pelham, New York had a sprinkling of Cubs and Cardinals and Yankees. But I’m very happy that I played for the Bisons, the Cherokee’s and the Jets. Maybe not so much the Cherokee’s. In retrospect, my last organized baseball team was American Legion and the Babe Ruth League, where all the teams were named for sponsors. M. Brandt Insurance, Bankers Trust and of course, Cornell Carpet Cleaner. Sadly, sometime in the last 40 plus years, the Bisons went the way of the actual bison. Today, almost all of the teams in Palam Little League Baseball are named for big league teams. However, the girls softball divisions, to their credit, have not succumbed to big baseball inferno racers, vipers, fire sticks with an axe.


S1: That’s how you name kids teams. Go Cabbie’s, go Bisons wherever you are, go fire sticks with an axe. Josh, what’s your magsie Bogues?

S3: A couple weeks ago I saw a tweet from ticket stub guy Russ Havens at Ticket Stub Guy. The text of the tweet reads, Sometimes ticket stub collecting takes you down a dark path. Check out the racist verbiage on the back of this 1953 Sugar Bowl ticket stub. And that verbiage reads, This ticket is issued for a person of the Caucasian race and if used by any other, is in violation of state law. Such a person may be ejected without penalty or refund. Association reserves the right to refuse admission to anyone upon refund of ticket price. And this ticket is issued subject to this condition. I found another copy of a ticket like this from the 1952 Sugar Bowl game on a auction site. Love of the game auctions dot com. The description says a testament to how far down we’ve been and yet how far forward we’ve travelled. A beautiful ticket with a sobering message like you work on that marketing copy a little bit, but minimum bid. Hundred dollars, final price, including buyer’s premium, one hundred thirty five dollars. So they got a little bit more the expecting. I had not ever seen this language on the back of a Sugar Bowl ticket stub before. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised, but just seeing it written out like that is a pretty stark reminder of a lot of things. But segregation in sports in the South and it persisted long past the 1950s. But there’s a chapter in the anthology, The Sporting World of the Modern South. It’s written by Charles H. Martin. And it’s called Integrating New Year’s Day. The Racial Politics of College, Bowl Games and the American South. It’s really interesting. I think, Joel, you in particular would be interested in this. It’s just long kind of rundown of the politics of race in these ballgames and stuff that I didn’t know. I mean, there are just a bunch of really bracing, remarkable, awful stories in here. And one that really stood out to me was about the Sugar Bowl. Those played on New Year’s Day in nineteen fifty six. And this was a game that Pitt was invited to and Pat was an integrated team and they had only one black player who was Bobby Greer, a fullback. And according to this chapter, I’ll quote from it, his solitary presence was sufficient to alarm rabid segregationists in both Georgia and Louisiana and Georgia because the opponent was George Attack before Georgia Tech administrators accepted the bid. They prudently verified that key university boosters and Governor Marvin Griffin had no objections. But on Friday, December 2nd, 1955, I’m continuing to quote from this chapter by Charles Martin after receiving complaints from influential segregationists. Governor Griffin unexpectedly reversed course and. Urged the Board of Regents of the university system to prohibit tax trip in apocalyptic language. The governor warned the South stands at Armageddon. The battle is joined. We cannot make the slightest concession to the enemy in this dark and lamentable hour of struggle. Keep in mind, that is about one black guy playing a football game in New Orleans. There is no more difference in compromising the integrity of race on the playing field than in doing so in the classroom. One break in the dike and the relentless seas will rush in and destroy us. This is a year after Brown v. Board. So that’s the reference to doing so in the classroom. All right. I’m going to pick up again with Charles H. Martin, who writes Griffin. The governor has dramatic shift, outraged Georgia Tech students that evening. Hundreds of young men gathered on the tech campus, eventually burning Griffin, burning the governor in effigy. As more students and sympathetic residents join their ranks, the crowd decided to march downtown to the state capital. Eventually, a mob of about 2000 people assembled at the Capitol building, where they hanged another effigy of the governor and damaged a few doors and trash trashcans. Still not satisfied. Part of the group then marched to the governor’s mansion, where two dozen law enforcement vehicles and a phalanx of policemen greeted them after voicing their complaints to reporters. The protesters peacefully dispersed and headed home in the early morning hours the following Monday. The State Board of Regents met and debated Georgia Tech’s Super Bowl invitation. And despite considerable pressure from the governor and militant segregationists, the Regents approved the trip. I had never heard of a mob of outraged people in the 50s and the South white people being pro integration, and that was because they wanted their football team to play in the Sugar Bowl. Certainly not because they were fighting for civil rights, but it just goes to show you how self-interest can manifest itself. And so Georgia Tech ends up playing they end up winning the Sugar Bowl against Pitt seven to nothing. According to this description in this chapter, it’s lone touchdown being setup by a questionable pass interference call against Bobby Greer, the black pit player. And then the little description in this chapter ends. That evening, Greer broke another racial barrier by attending the awards banquet at a downtown hotel, mingling easily with several Georgia Tech players. However, he skipped the formal dance afterwards and instead attended a special party at historically black Dillard University. And so integration had its limits. In New Orleans in 1956.

S12: Yeah, man. I mean, I’ve always said that passion for college football makes the South like crazy. Like just what?

S22: Who they’re willing to get close to and who they don’t want to be by without being very negative. The Jameis Winston cases, like always just sort of fascinated me or like Baylor. They I’m just like, well, man, the South cares about college football so much now in ways that you would’ve never imagined. And like like they’re my father’s generation and that people will like line up behind people that credibly accused of rape like black men. Q. Credibly accused of rape of white women on college campuses, all because of college football. But then it was only like a generation ago that they didn’t even want black people like stepping anywhere near what thin campus? And I like I wish I was some sort of way to distill like what the dynamic is there, like what happened there. But this is really weird to me and I made that a lot less fun than it was when you started.

S20: I mean, in fairness, the story I told was not particularly fun. Draw.

S5: Don’t you read it with some verve?

S10: No, I was. I thought that it was fun when you said, dude, that collects ticket stubs and then it’s fine after you read his Twitter handle. Yeah.

S3: Sorry about that. But now that’s incredibly billthat. I mean, that is like a whole dissertation there. What you just said about kind of the mental gymnastics that people undertake to support their teams and and how that has led to evolution or non evolution in terms of racial attitudes.

S2: It’s a lot to unpack there. As we say, time, that is our show for today. We unpack a little. Still some left to unpack our producers, most kaplin to listen to pashas and subscribe or just reach out to slate that complex hang up. You can email us at Hang-Up at if you’re still here. You might want even more. Hang up and listen. And our bonus segment this week, Joel Anderson gave us some of the hottest takes on Boxing Day, the greatest gift anyone has ever unleashed in the history of taking.

S23: Let me say, it just seems like there’s been this overcorrection where we just sort of putting in, you know, defensive ends and power forwards and boxing and letting them go at it. And I just don’t think that the smaller, almost cruiserweight sized guys of the past would have much chance standing in against a Tyson theory or deontay Wilder, who may have the heaviest hands in the history of boxing.

S2: Hear that conversation translate. Plastic’s is thirty five dollars for the first year can sign up and play.

S24: Icons like Hang Up Plus for Joe Anderson and Stefan FATSIS. I’m Josh Levine remembers. I’m Obeidy. And thanks for listening.

S3: Now it is time for our bonus segment for Slate Plus members. And this past weekend was one of the biggest boxing matches in the last few years. It was a rematch between Tyson Fury and deontay Wilder in the heavyweight division. Joel, you are a fan of the sport of boxing. Were you excited for this fight? Because I guess maybe because ESPN was doing the Pay-Per-View and I consume a lot of ESPN, maybe all of the hype that I was seeing was just ESPN promoting an in-house television event. But like, were you really excited for this? Was this legitimately a big fight? And do you think that it lived up to whatever hype there was for it?

S5: Yeah, I was very excited to see the fight. I mean, I you know, styles make fights. Those two guys have two wildly different approaches. And so you knew that there was going to be some explosions, almost literally and figuratively and haven’t come out of that fight. I mean, I just kept thinking, man, Tyson Fury might be the best heavyweight champion in my lifetime. And I mean, like like literally like I mean, maybe in fact, maybe the best, most unbeatable heavyweight fighter in the history of boxing. And the reason I say that is because nobody’s ever been bigger, dude. It’s like, what, six nine to seventy. Yeah, six nine to seventy. It’s like Kamal if Karl Malone learned how to box and and had boxing skill and it was great on his feet and had this real punching power, that’s a really big man to defeat. And right before the fight they brought in Evander Holyfield, Mike Tyson and Lennox Lewis.

S12: And what I could not help but think was, oh, wow, Mike Tyson in a Vander Holyfield would have never had a shot against Tyson.

S8: Fury like this is no way they wouldn’t really.

S3: Yeah, I’m kind of glad this is just in the bonus segment. I feel like the Slate Plus members are kind of mature enough to take it, take that hot. You can kind of sit back and let it melt your skin off, all of that kind of thing out at like. I don’t know if if the whole Internet.

S5: Muhammad Ali’s s serious because I mean. Well, we accept that there is an evolution of athletes in every other sport. We know that you’re typical at its 2010 football player would have just run roughshod over the 1970s NFL. So we’ve got bigger, stronger, better trained athletes today. And so it makes sense that a dude who I think Mike Tyson’s peak was 30 years ago. He’s not you know, that that isn’t a couple of generations of athleticism ago that we’re looking right now. This is this is what makes the heavyweight division so interesting and what made it unfair when the klitschko’s came through the Klitschko twins, cause they were big dudes. They were skillful and they had power and they were not a lot of people that size in the heavyweight division at that time. It just seems like there’s been this overcorrection where we just started putting in, you know, defensive ends and power forwards and boxing and letting them go at it. And I just don’t think that the smaller, almost cruiserweight size guys of the past would have much chance standing in against a Tyson Fury or deontay Wilder, who may have the heaviest hands in the history of boxing.

S13: Oh, my God. Great. relatives’. Just keep keep rolling in. Also, they have the heavy hands. Lingo is good. That was good. You like that? I’m a real boxing fan. You can tell. I also like the term cruiserweight. You don’t hear that well here.

S3: I’m going to ask this to Stefan first, then we’ll throw it back to you, Joel. But like, it’s a really good point about how we accept the evolution of athletes in all other sports on this idea to like nobody’s arguing that Rod Laver is better than than Federer and Nadal or that, you know, Tiger Woods isn’t better than whoever. Sure. But in boxing, especially heavyweight boxing, could we maybe carve out an exception? Because since Tyson, Holyfield, maybe Lewis, I guess it just seems like the amount of talent going through that division and just maybe in boxing more more generally. I mean, this is not a sport that is at its peak in terms of fandom or or talent acquisition to like maybe there’s an exception there. And then in the past, when boxing was getting like a more elite caliber of athlete, that we might have seen just a better version than what we’re seeing now.

S10: Well, the one thing about boxing is that training techniques obviously have advanced, but there’s no technology component that’s changed, right? There’s no there’s there’s no equipment that has made boxers better the way tennis players and golfers have gotten better or the way that even baseball players have gotten better. I mean that with use of technology to make athletes better doesn’t exist. Training has obviously gotten better. But we still I think that’s part of the mythology of boxing, is that because it is one against one, you can in your mind imagine Ali versus Sugar Ray or whatever, like put, you know, Ali versus Sugar Ray Robinson.

S13: Okay. Yeah.

S10: You can imagine boxers across eras and try to compare them. I mean. Looking at film and watching old fights and because of the decline in the sport’s popularity, I think the lack of attention makes us elevate the genius and skill of boxers from earlier eras and diminish the skill of current boxers because we just aren’t paying as much attention to them. That’s how Rachel.

S5: I think that’s fair.

S14: And I mean, to the point about the talent in the division, I mean, it’s not like boxing always had like some sort of monopoly on great athletes, because the problem is that boxing never has had like this defined talent pipeline like like other sports. And so I just kind of think that we’re sort of overstating the amount of talent that may have been available back then, which isn’t to take anything away from Muhammad Ali or Sugar Ray Leonard or Sugar Ray Robinson or Joe Lewis or whatever. I mean, they were clearly the great. They were clearly greats and they were the greats of their day. But I just think it’s hard to deny that. Look at a lumbering dude like Tyson Fury, 6 foot 9 to 70 the way that he was moving. It’s not just that he’s a big lumbering guy. Like he’s really quick on his feet. He’s got he’s good at defense and he’s got heavy hands in the same way that deontay Wilder had other deontay. Wilder has a lot less boxing talent like, you know, a lot less boxing skill than than even those greats. It’s probably easier to think of a guy taking advantage of somebody like deontay Wilder, who only has his punch as opposed to Tyson Fury. But I’m looking at Tyson Fury. I can’t if you slide him up next to Muhammad Ali, he was like six foot one, two, 10 versus a dude like Tyson Fury, who is eight inches taller and about 70 pounds heavier. And you’re telling me that Mike Muhammad Ali would be favorite against Tyson Fiori?

S6: I’m just like tire ‘em out and open. He wrote the heat rope-a-dope Tyson Fury because nobody could figure that out the day, of course.

S20: So here’s what I saw from that and the highlights of the fight for you. Not while you’re down at the body punch. OK. He also licked blood off of him, which isn’t really that deeply gross. I think we can think we can all agree on that. Did I catch the were those the two most notable moments in the fight? Did I miss anything?

S8: I mean, it was sort of I mean, it’s not it’s not the deontay Wilder hasn’t been, you know, lost the majority of a fight before, because you could argue that the only reason that he had a draw with Tyson Fury in a previous match was that, you know, he knocked him down that one time. But the Tyson fury at our boxing the whole time. But it was just sort of jarring to see deontay while to get beat up. I mean, this is you know, I call him Evil LeBron because he kind of looks like LeBron and his big dude. And he’s got this, you know, these devastating hands. And he just looked overwhelmed the entire fight. And that was sort of jarring. If you’ve watched fighting and you’ve seen this guy and you know who deontay Wilder is and like his persona, he’s just sort of a terrifying dude. And to see him holding on for like three to four rounds because it would if it was academic by the end of round two, the Tyson fury was going to win. It was just how he was going to win and how much punishment deontay Wilder was going to be able to take. So that in and of itself, you you miss that. But if you if you you know, if you’ve got the Howard Cosell, Randalls, Sex Cobb, you know, disgust of not wanting to see people battered in a ring and see, you know, somebody who’s eardrum get busted and it bleed out of their ear, then you probably didn’t miss that much. What changed from the previous fight? Tyson Fairy came forward. He attacked deontay Wilder, whereas most people are afraid of deontay Wilder, and rightfully so if you’ve looked at a highlight clip of his knockouts. It’s terrifying when he’s able to do people with his hands. But with Tyson, Fury figured out is that he had to get deontay Wilder fighting backwards. And so deontay Wilder never had a chance to control the ring. He couldn’t load up and throw hands at Tyson because Tspiras I was coming forward in Tyson Fury could hurt him. So that was the big difference this time that he did. Stylistically, he Tyson Fury was the aggressor and hurt him early on. And that tired out deontay Wilder in a way that he couldn’t get his hands up and protect himself or throw the kind of punch that would have changed the fight.

S20: All right. Well, Stefan, I think we know the now going forward, if we want some face melting takes from Joel saying, is that the venue? Thank you all.

S8: As always, I’m glad to talk about fighting at any time.

S20: And thank you, Slate Plus members. We appreciate your membership. We’re back with more next week.