Is the NBA’s Orlando Bubble Bursting?

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S1: The following podcast contains naughty language.

S2: Hi, I’m Josh Levine, Slate’s national editor and the host of Slow Burn Season four. This is Hang Up and Listen for the week of June 15 to 2020. On this week’s show, we’re going to talk about the NBA players who, for social justice reasons and or pandemic reasons, are pushing back against the idea of restarting the pro basketball season. We’ll also discuss how football players at the University of Texas are banding together to demand changes at their school and what that means for athlete empowerment at the NCAA level. Finally, Clinton Yates of the Undefeated will join us for a conversation about the meaning and the impact of NASCAR banning the Confederate flag.

S3: Hello from Washington, D.C., where a mere 20 minutes away from me by car, 90 minutes on foot resides. Stefan Fatsis, author of the book Word Freak in a few seconds of Panic. If I started walking now. Stefan, I would certainly hope we’re finished taping by the time that I got here asked and we could wave at each other 20 minutes include like parking.

S4: It doesn’t take that long to get from me to you. I don’t think I don’t trust Waze or whatever you’re using.

S3: I can get there in 50 with us from Palo Alto, California, a mere forty three hours by car and nine hundred and twenty three hours by foot. Slate staff writer and the host of Slow Burn Season three. Joel Anderson, how come you haven’t made the nine hundred and twenty three hour track to come see us, Joel and feel a little deprived?

S1: I mean, when I left D.C., this is where I came. I already did that drive once. I’m not doing it again. Forty three hours or. Well, actually took two weeks. We stopped. We went, we went to Boston, Buffalo, Syracuse. We don’t I’m not going to retrace the road trip for you, but we went up, down, back up again and then crossed into the border going for speed. No. No. I wanted to see. I wanted to see the University of Wyoming’s football stadium, which I did. And I ran on it and I took a picture with their cheerleaders. Believe it or not.

S5: There you go, Stefan. It’s not always the fastest way. Sometimes you gotta stop and take a picture with the Wyoming cheerleaders.

S6: I’m going to stop at the University of the District of Columbia the next time I come to see you. Josh, run around the track on Friday night.

S7: More than 80 NBA players joined a call to discuss the plan brokered by the league and the players union to resume this season in Orlando at the end of July. The Nets Kyrie Irving, who’s vice president of the Players Association, was reportedly the most vocal player on that call, according to Sham’s Cerrone of the athletic, Irving said. I don’t support going into Orlando and not with the systematic racism and the bullshit. Something smells a little fishy whether we want to admit it or not. We are targeted as black men. Every day we wake up. The Lakers Dwight Howard also released a statement saying that basketball isn’t needed at this moment and will only be a distraction. Joel, ESPN reported on Monday that there’s no indication that the NBA has returned is in jeopardy or that there’s even a significant group of players ready to sit out. But there is at least a conversation happening. What do you make of that conversation? Where do you think it’s headed?

S1: Well, I mean, I think it’s funny that, you know, after a week after we described the NBA as a model for labor peace, that we’re here, right? Yeah. And I get where Kyrie and Dwight are coming from. I truly do. I don’t want to malign their motives or their ideas, and I’ll grant them that they seem sincere in their desire to devote this moment to social activism. And like even during this time, we’ve seen players become citizens in their own right. Like joining protests, speaking out against police abuse and systemic anti black racism. Like that’s what happened in the NFL the other week. And all the stuff that’s happening right now seemed unfathomable even two years ago. Right. But a couple of things. OK, let’s do it. Let’s cancel the NBA season. What do Kyrie and Dwight plan to do specifically? What have they been doing? It most importantly, how long do they think they’ll put the games on pause until it’s OK to play again? Like, where’s the finish line in the fight for justice? And it just seems to me like this is an ongoing battle, just like we had Mike Brown, just like we had Sandra Bland, just like we had George Floyd, just like we had Rashad Brooks, like there’s no one law, no one foundation, no one organization that will solve these entrenched issues. And so it’s great they play basketball, which is system, and having the platforms of money to contribute to these causes, something they can do while playing basketball. And I think the point that you made there that you know or the reporting that shows there is no real movement to stop playing basketball. I think that’s where we’re at. We’re going to be playing basketball within a few weeks. And, you know, this will just sort of be noise in the end.

S4: Yeah. I think what is making this more potent in the moment are the optics of how the basketball season is resuming. You’re talking about taking all of these players on the twenty two teams that are going to participate and there’s a year end tournament, basically, and isolating them in one place, basically in an encampment. And the optics of that are not great. I think for some players and I can understand why it restricts their freedom of movement, it’s going to restrict their ability to do certain things publicly. There will be no fans in the stands when they start playing to give them a more visible and emotional platform during these games. So I completely understand why Cauvin is complicating the response to this. I think if there was no cover and we weren’t talking about taking all these players and and putting them inside a hotel and a gym at Disney World, there wouldn’t be this pushback. So I think that isolation is compounding the concerns among some of the players.

S7: Patrick Beverley, the perennial past, tweeted out the other day, Hoopers, say what you’ll want if King James said hooping. We all hooping, not personal, only business hashtag stay woke. There’s something to that. LeBron James. Based on what he said and of the reporting we’ve heard, is not onboard with any plan to sit out. He just launched this group called More than a Vote. Trey Young of the Hawks is also involved. That’s a voting rights group. LeBron, and rightly so, believes that playing basketball will not at all impair his ability to do the kind of social justice work that he wants to do. He also wants to win a championship. Joel, I mean, how much do you think that, you know, what Patrick Beverley is saying is right. Where LeBron leads the rest of the league is going to follow?

S1: I think that’s mostly right. But I think it’s because LeBron has enough allies within the players union and amongst the players that that gives his voice some heft that somebody like Patrick Beverley does not have. I think it’s having Chris Paul, the president of the Players Association, on his side. Is this sort of indicative of where this is going to go? I don’t think that the players association did this without considering lots of differing viewpoints and hearing, you know, dissenting voices or whatever. And I’m just kind of surprised that this is coming out now. It it does make me wonder to some extent, even though I said that I wasn’t, you know, doubting Kyrie’s motives here, that, you know, Kyrie LeBron broke up and sort of a weird situation a few years ago, and maybe they’re not all the way back on the same page. And this is sort of a way to needle LeBron. I mean, the thing is like maybe I would feel differently if Kyrie was. Better able to articulate a coherent argument for not being able to play an advocate for social justice at the same time. Right.

S6: Kerry has had some unusual beliefs in his career. So I think there is also a let’s consider the source here, like 80 players join the call reportedly, which is 20 percent of the league. That’s not a big number. So I think that there are prevailing ideas here that are embodied more by LeBron. No one is players have generally have a larger platform when they are playing. Even I think if it’s in front of no fans, there are going to be media there. There’s going to be tremendous attention on these games. They’re going to have a virtual monopoly on ESPN and Turner and other outlets that broadcast the NBA. And that’s a platform. You mentioned platform and your and your in your first comments, Joel. Once you get the TV cameras turned on, yeah, there’s going to be focus on the wins and the losses. And those are going to seem slightly less significant in the broader scheme of what’s going on in America right now. But fans are fans and they’re gonna want to still see the outcomes of the games. And, you know, then people can can balance these two ideas in their head. They can march in the streets and continue to support social justice while also deciding whether they want the Lakers or the Clippers to win the NBA title.

S1: And here’s the argument that Kyrie and or Dwight could make that would be compelling. Like, you know, a lot of things have changed since we saw NBA on March 11th. You know, when the NBA suspended this season on March 11th, it signaled that we were on the precipice of something really bad in not even a hint at the disaster it’s been since then. We just knew, wow, this is serious. And that’s why I like, as I’ve mentioned a lot here, I think a return to games. This return to normalcy is ultimately a bad thing. We’re still in the middle of a pandemic. We’re still going through this like we’re not even through the first wave. Like there’s no second wave yet. We’re still through the first wave. And so just how the NBA signal that this was something to be reckoned with back in March when it suspended the league, returning to the court signals something else that we’re pushing past. Is like a national tragedy. And that’s what Kyrie and Dwight could say. Covered is disproportionately affecting black people, black and brown people in this country. We don’t want to play in the middle of a panic. We don’t want to give people the idea that it’s OK to continue in the middle of this. We want to do something else. That is a great argument with Kairys in the White arguing is that, well, people need to focus on social justice. I mean, that’s just not quite as compelling, nor is it like sensical. You know, I mean.

S8: Well, yeah, I mean, I think the question then is like, what’s the end point and what’s that end game? I mean, we’re going to talk in our next segment about the players at the University of Texas. And I don’t want to, like, step on our conversation there, but there is a specific list of things that’s being asked for there. And the question would be, what are the markers to hit to get basketball back again? If you’re not going to play now, if things are not OK now, like what is this set of demands or what is the set of requests? And that is something that’s not clear here. And I think it would be really hard to make clear. I think, you know, not to be too depressing, but like, you know, systemic racism isn’t going to end, like, you know, next month or next year or two years from now. Like, if you if that’s the goal here, we’re never going to play basketball again. So you also have players like Donovan Mitchell, who is on this call, who expressed, I think, reasonable concern but self-interested concern about are we going to, you know, are players going to be at a higher injury risk after this long layoff and then coming back and playing really intensive playoff style basketball? Mitchell is up for a max contract extension. And then you have, you know, players who are going to be concerned about their health, you know, because of Cauvin or because of family members who are at risk. And Joe Ingles. That’s that’s been an issue for him because of it. A child of his with a compromised immune system. So you have a lot of different players with a lot of potential reasons to be skeptical of this plan or to not want to play. And I think, you know, as you alluded to, Joel, when we were discussing this last week, all we saw was the like twenty eight to nothing player rep vote, which very clearly. Alighted a lot of kind of difference of opinion that there was papered over. And so it’s it’s good at least now to see that there is a little bit more complexity and there are a lot of different constituencies and arguments here that were raised in an initial round of coverage.

S6: Yeah, I think that is an important point to make because what if what this does, if anything, as it pushes the players to be more aware if they are going to play and to come up with some sort of plan? Garrett Temple Note noted that, look, we are we are wealthy black Americans.

S9: And the difference in the economic gap between white America and black America is astronomical. That’s a direct quote. I can’t in good conscience tell my brother and to throw away millions of dollars in order to create change that I don’t see the direct impact of. If there was a direct impact of laws changing, that would be a different story. And I think what, you know, what players can do is use their economic power and use their ability to unite and come up with specific plans, proposals, foundations, efforts that they want to support and use that as they use the megaphone of Orlando as a way to do that. I mean, no matter what the NBA came up with and there were going to be complications here because of the disease and the pandemic and because of the differences in opinion among players. But there is a shitload of money at stake here, and that is not to be dismissed lightly either.

S8: Yeah, I mean, if players don’t play, then owners could cancel the collective bargaining agreement, which would then force the renegotiation at a time when it would be extremely unfriendly to players. Nobody in the universe wants to be renegotiating a contract right now during a pandemic when revenues are down for everything. So that I think, you know, more than anything else, is reason why this is not going to happen. It would just be financially catastrophic for everyone involved not to sidetrack the conversation. But the Dwight Howard aspect of this is so interesting to me. Like Kyrie, I think we’ve gone through the Chirinos of this. And we should also note Kyrie isn’t playing this right season no matter what, like he’s out injured. And so he’s an odd spokesman for this because you know what. Why would he be giving up personally. But Dwight Howard thing like his career was in a total shambles. He comes back and the Lakers, everybody thinks it’s going to be a bad idea and he’s going to ruin the chemistry on the team. He won’t be any good. It’s gone way better than anyone could have possibly expected. He’s been good for the team. Everybody’s liked the contribution that he’s made. It’s a chance for him to win a championship and change the narrative about his career. And yet he comes out now is like, I don’t want to play. I’d find that very interesting. He’s not in the like top 300 people. I would have guessed would have come out with that kind of statement.

S1: Yeah, I mean, I think that you mentioned it changing the narrative. I mean, you know, nothing.

S8: I was like, Ben, really known for social justice.

S1: Well, you know, I mean, you know, he kind of has a reputation for being duplicitous and insincere. And there’s some other things that I probably should not allude to here. But, you know, things in Dwight Howard’s Wikipedia page that would make you question, you know, sort of his commitment to it to be some sort of like, you know, social activist or whatever. So, you know, I could see him thinking this is just a really low risk stance to make right here. We’re going to play anyway. And I can come off and, you know. Oh, man. You know what? I don’t want to do this. I started out this segment. I said I wasn’t going to malign their interests. And I said that I thought they were sincere. And here we are. By the end of it, I’ve already changed my mind. But, I mean, it’s just not yet. You’re right, though. I mean, it’s it’s kind of hard to overstate my journey, Joel. Yeah, right. I mean, I’m opening my mind to new ideas here. Right. Marketplace of ideas. Yeah. I mean, to think. Yeah, it’s just, you know, Dwight Howard, man, he’s a different dude. And I haven’t heard him talk about anything like this. You know, maybe maybe I’ve missed it. I’m sure that he’s given voice to something. Oh, you know what? He did tweet once in support of Palestine. I remember that now. Now that not I think he had to delete that tweet. So maybe this is him, you know, tentatively putting his, you know, his voice out there and seeing what people say. I mean, this is like a low risk, you know, a stance to make knowing that his teammate is going to make him play like he’s on LeBron team. They’re gonna be playing so well.

S6: Almost direct statements about whether NBA players should do this was from Stephen Jackson, the former player and friend of George Floyd, who’s been leading protests and taking a big role here. Let’s play a little bit of what he said the other day.

S10: None of these white owners have spoken up. No, no, no, no. I’m not taking the stand. They might post the video when the seasons start saying what we should do. But they doing that playing basketball angle did not make them money and take the attention of what we find for what we march on for is bigger than all of us in this big. It is as big as bigger than a game. And I’m sad that we still got explain that to people.

S6: But say, I mean, the interesting point he makes there, Joel, is that where are the owners and can the players use playing to go against what’s even Jacksons and a little bit to get their owners to be more aware and outspoken and do something right?

S1: No, I mean, they are in a position to where they can get the NBA to make the sort of statements that the NFL has made and that their owners have not made. Right. Like, they have a much better relationship with their management class or their ownership class. So, yeah, they could make some demands and ask them to do some things and donate some more money or whatever it is to sort of interesting that in the middle of all of this conversation about it. Like, I haven’t heard that. I don’t. Maybe I missed the reporting where they made demands of the owners or whatever. But I have not heard that.

S11: So I think it’s kind of interesting that it’s sitting around, hey, man, we don’t want to take anybody’s attention off of it, but they haven’t made any demands, something the college students have done and something we’ll talk about in the next segment, obviously.

S1: Echoing the national mood of protests and social activism, college football players all over the country have made headlines for challenging their programs and universities in ways not seen since the civil rights era. There was big news heading into the weekend. A group of players at the University of Texas demanded that the school remain buildings named after racist figures and donate money to Black Lives Matter. The players have said if their demands are met, they will refuse to help with recruiting and donor related events. It really seemed as if we were on the cusp of some unprecedented change in the relationship between college football players and their programs. But then I read a story over the weekend about how Ohio State football players are being forced to sign a Corona virus risk waiver to resume their training with the program. Monday morning, attorney Tom Mar’s told ESPN, quote, The form isn’t a waiver in any sense of the word. It most is an acknowledgement of the intuitively obvious risk. From my perspective, I wouldn’t consider the form to have any legal significance. I’m sure we’ll be hearing more about that going forward. But, Stefan, do you think college football players have a chance to finally realize their power in this moment?

S9: College athletes, I mean, I’ve been looking at a bunch of stories about athletes speaking out about various kinds of incidents. And the list includes kids from Texas, Missouri, Iowa, Georgia Tech, Clemson, Alabama, kids, Florida State, Auburn, Utah. At the very least, it is a moment when students are realizing that they have a voice and that they have that.

S4: I think the Texas case is the most reflective of this. They have the ability to make demands, demands about what they want, their campuses to look like and demands about what they want, their sports programs to look like. So, yeah, I think this is a reflection of change. They are not as afraid, at least in some of these incidents of the typical blowback and power grab power control that they would face from the university administrations and their coaches and athletic directors.

S12: University of Texas is a unique case because Austin is a liberal city in an extremely conservative and traditionally segregationist racist state. And there’s also a coach there, Tom Herman, who’s been one of the most outspoken as far as supporting Black Lives Matter movement. He was not somebody who was a follower in putting out a statement about George Floyd. He was one of the first to do it. He also said, you know, something that was thoughtful and didn’t seem like it was written by a PR staff. And talking about how, you know, fans that Darrell K. Royal Stadium support our players during games but maybe would not want our black players to be dating their white daughters. I mean, this is a guy who has signaled to his players that he supports them. He didn’t have to be cajoled to get there. It seems genuine.

S3: I mean, Herman is not a perfect figure. He’s like done things around suppressing that. The media there that I don’t support. I I’m not saying that this is a guy who’s like a hero, but he is someone who if I was a player there, I’d be like, OK, if I speak out, I don’t think I’m going to lose my scholarship. Whereas I think if I was a player at any number of other programs, I might have that fear. And so, Joel, the question here is how much is what’s going on in Texas? Just an indication that there are particular circumstances at this particular school vs. how much is it a sign that things are changing across the entire college sports landscape?

S1: Yeah, I think it really differs by school and by culture surrounding each program. Right. And it’s a lot of that comes from the top, like what the coach says is going to work and what he’s willing to do and the voices that he’s willing to allow inside of his program, which is why I think that it’s great that these players are speaking up for themselves and sort of understanding that they have the attention of people in this moment and they can speak out in ways that, you know, maybe they haven’t been able to before. But I’ve always been adamant about this because you cannot depend on coaches and institutions to reform themselves. Players need to find a way to collectively bargain with their programs. It’s the only way to ensure that there’s some balance in this power dynamic or at least to rectify the power imbalance with their coaches. And so the abuse of power that happens in college football, the things that we talked about at Iowa and Clemson and, you know, some of these other programs. It happens outside of the prying eyes of administrators and regulators, and it is wielded against these young men and women who have really very little recourse in these situations. So, like, I just came off of covering college football the past two years before I came. Sleep. The media has so little access to players like so much less than I can even remember even, you know, 15 years earlier. So it’s even more difficult to hear about these stories, to hear about the allegations of abuse, to make the sort of demands that would create a campus environment where you would feel comfortable. Right. So, like, that’s why I find it like particularly insidious that, you know, in Iowa, you know, they even took social media away from their players. Like, I didn’t realize this is not that I’ve been following, but it I wish they had taken away social media from their players. And so we even have a clip of Kurt Ferrand, the head coach, the 4.5 million dollar year head coach at Iowa, talking about that particular policy.

S13: Several days ago, several players reached out to me to ask for permission to go on social media to participate in the discussion, a national discussion about social injustice, racism and inequality. As a team, we agreed last Thursday to lift the longstanding ban on social media. So you will be seeing them enter the now broader conversation.

S1: See, this is what I’m talking about. Great. These students now have programs sanctioned permission to speak their minds about social issues.

S4: Progress, you know, progress that they can go on Twitter and Instagram. I mean, you’re right. It’s a reflection of how how insane the power dynamic is in college sports. And, yeah, if players can muster now the courage to do this and we’re seeing examples of that, that’s a great thing. I mean, look at Florida State. I know we talked about this, but the head coach, Mike Norvelt, basically lied in public about whether he had spoken individually to players about what was going on. You know, look at the transformation. And he was called out by the best player on the team. I mean, look at a place like Maryland where six years ago the university wouldn’t let players wear T-shirts that said I can’t breathe. After Eric Garner was killed and now the head coach is saying we can’t stifle voices. And I think what what players are going to realize is that they’ve had a lot of this power all along and they’re going to look down further and realize that they have economic power, too. I mean, where does this lead? What kind of protests will college athletes now feel more empowered to undertake? You know, demanding things economically, sitting out games, boycotting March Madness? I don’t know. But this is certainly a step toward that, I think.

S12: But, Joel, the point you’re making is that they have this power collectively. They don’t have this power. Individually, coaches have a huge amount of power individually over any player except maybe a very few star players that are very few programs. But, you know, no matter what program, if every player on the team refuses to play or refuses to go along, that totally changes the dynamic. And, you know, it’s funny when players have the most power football players is actually when they’re in high school. You have all of these coaches coming to your house. If you’re a top recruit and make you all these promises and begging you to come to their programs, and as soon as you sign the letter of intent, that dynamic shifts. But like a guy like David Sweeney, who has like inched very slowly over the past few weeks to being like slightly more enlightened on racial issues. He hasn’t suffered any kind of consequence recruiting wise. And that’s why, you know, it’s so telling, Joel, that the Texas players didn’t say they’re going to refuse to play. They said they’re going to refuse to help out in recruiting. Like that is really the way. Just like if these coaches in these programs will have to suffer for the institutional behavior or the coaches, the way they run their programs or what they say if they have to suffer in recruiting, then that is when things will change.

S14: Yeah. Let me ask Joel this. You were recruited. You know, the power that universities in the coaches have is in going to a kid’s home and saying, I will do this. But not only that, it’s that you really want to go play with this guy, Dabo Swinney. Listen to what he’s saying. I’m giving you the right to exercise your voice, exercise some power, make decisions about the way this program is run. You can see it. Look what we did at Texas. Right.

S1: I also think, though, that the players power in that instance is slightly overstated a little bit, because you have really elite recruits, you know, for, you know, upper tier four star and five star guys who can pretty much name, you know, their price or what, you know, make their demands within a limited purview. But for guys like me, you know, two, three stars, you’re just kind of get trying to get in where you can fit in. Right. And so you’re depending on these coaches to recruit you. There’s not really so much you can. So it’s still kind of weighted against, you know, the larger labor force of college football.

S9: I don’t want to come there. They still want to persuade you to go to their school.

S1: Sure, sure. Sure. But like, if if I had not gone to T.C., you maybe I could’ve gone to SMU or maybe I could have gone to southwest Texas State. What was known that as southwest Texas State. But like beyond that, I mean, you know, I didn’t have, like, a lot of leverage in the way that a lot of other people did. And so that’s kind of that’s what I think of what I think of this. I’m like, what? You don’t you have to have the top line guys in there with you. They have to. All that. That’s the collective part of this. Right.

S12: How fascinating would it be? And this is just occurring to me now. What if the entire Texas recruiting class starts making demands? Yeah. And like, before they even really. Yeah. We won’t sign our letters of intent. Like you have the number, whatever class in the country, and we’d be happy to go there and not good at A&M or, you know, LSU.

S1: If, you know, you just do a few little things that we ask you ask of you right now. That would be great. That would be awesome. And again, it depends so much on the top line guys being part of a broader, broader coalition. Right. But, you know, it doesn’t like it is we just saw in the NBA, you know, a lot of times the bigger guys, the you know, the stars control a lot of this. And so it really depends on them being on board. And they need to have some sort of incentive to see their teammates or their their fellow recruits is all in this together. And like, it’s it’s difficult because, I mean, everybody has a different different demand, different interests. Not all of these recruits care about this kind of shit, you know? I mean, there’s that there are players on that team, black players. I’m certain they could give a damn about the Black Lives Matter movement and speaking up in the name of social activism and may have even, you know, maligned George Floyd, you know, and of course, all of this. Right. So it’s just tougher than you think. But I’m glad to see that at least they’re making some moves in that direction.

S14: Is it interesting to you that I mean, Joshua, you’ve said that, you know, these are these are demands that have nothing to do with playing football at Texas. But there are interesting demands renaming buildings on campus, not singing a song that was linked to minstrel shows during and was written during segregation in the eyes of Texas, requiring a module on the history of racism at the university. The outreach efforts to schools in big cities in Texas. I mean, these are these are social justice demands. And, you know, that in itself, I think is fascinating that this is in some regards considered by these players to be more important than saying, hey, we want name, image and likeness rights or, you know, we want you to push the NCAA to increase stipends or to give us the ability to be paid fully for our services.

S15: Yeah, it’s very cool. It’s like recognition of their power and their position on campus. I’m curious what you guys think about these demands and whether the school is gonna meet them. I mean, I think that some of them will be easier for the school to go along with a permanent black athletic history exhibit in the school’s athletics hall of honor. Don, you know, more diverse statues on campus by people of color. That seems easy enough. I love Texas. You know, that’s it. That’s an interesting one. You know, renaming campus buildings that are named after Confederate or racist figures. That’s happened at at LSU recently. They’re renaming Middleton Library, the school president, Troy Middleton, who is a, you know, didn’t want the school to integrate and that in the 60s that library is getting renamed, or at least that it seems like it’s going to right now. It’ll be very interesting to see what the what the process is here. And, you know, if half of these get mad and half don’t. Then what the reaction is by the players.

S1: Yeah. I mean, I think this is opens the dialogue. Right. And maybe they have no idea what they’ll be open to. I would love to know a lot more about the process of coming up with this list of demands, because it’s like, you know, I wouldn’t think of college football players, account students of any kind really giving a shit about so much of this stuff. Right. In terms of like, you know, just a few of the things that would just seem beyond the realm of interest. When I was on campus, I didn’t spend a lot of time thinking about what the Bill Huta buildings were named after, anything which says a lot about like this generation of students and athletes.

S15: Right. I bet if you were on campus in 2020, you would care about that.

S1: Yeah. Right. Like, I mean, yeah, it just shows you how much further along they are. And you just wonder. Think again. The thing is, how far are the coach, the athletic director and regents and school administration willing to go on this? There’s a lot of layers to this. It’s not they’re not just negotiating with, you know, Tom Herman. They’re negotiating with Christo. You know, the new school president, University of Texas. All these regents who have been totally fine with the way. Things are going at the University of Texas, it’s a money making machine. So now you’re going to ask them, hey, can you spend a half percent of your revenues on Black Lives Matter? That’s a lot of money in the whole scheme of things. Right. So I yeah, I’ll be curious to see how far they can push this. But again, it’s only a demand if you’re really prepared to sit out and if you’re going to get collective buy in from enough players to make this matter. And I’ll be you know, we’ll see. Are they willing to sit out a game like. That’s what I think it’s going be.

S11: Not just like we won’t help you recruit. We won’t go to donor related events. It’s really comes down to playing. That’s where their power comes in. If they’re not willing to do that, it’s gonna be really tough to hold them to the fire on anything else.

S16: Stock car racing was born during Prohibition, went legit after World War two and then mainstream in the 1980s. Three quarters of a century of people driving in circles for money. But I can recite the names of all of the black people who have driven in a race in NASCAR’s top tier in just a few seconds. Elias Bowie, Charlie Scott, Wendell Scott, George Wiltshire, Randy Buffet, Willie T. Ribs, Bill Lester and Bubba Wallace. If you’re not a NASCAR fan until the protests after the killing of George Floyd, you probably hadn’t heard of Bubba Wallace. He hasn’t won a race yet. In fact, only one of those other black drivers did. But last week, he did something far more monumental in the history of the sport. Wallace persuaded NASCAR to ban the Confederate flag from its events and properties in ESPN. The undefeated Clinton Yates wrote that for sports fans of a certain age. It feels like a civil rights achievement because it is Clinton. Yates is with us now. Hey, man, thanks for coming on the show.

S17: How are y’all today? Thank you for having me.

S6: Clinton, in that undefeated piece, you say that you’ve been a NASCAR fan for 20 years but refused to go to a race because of the Confederate flag, was such an entrenched presence among fans. And really it was a symbol of the sport. We’ll get into the specifics of how this went down with Bubba Wallace. But even given what’s been going on in the country, this was a big deal.

S17: I think refused is a word that sometimes gets used in ways that people don’t necessarily understand. And particularly for black folks like I refuse to go, doesn’t mean like I have some political stance against this upon which I am using as a basis to avoid this and say I refuse to go because I refuse to put myself in a situation like that in which I think I could end up being at risk. So that that’s what that means. It wasn’t a stance, a safety protocol. I just didn’t feel that good about the idea of going to races. Now I love. I mean, I love what NASCAR is. It’s a fun league. It’s got you know, there’s a lot of reasons to like NASCAR. But I just accepted the fact that as a fan. Going and sitting among the hoi polloi just wasn’t going to be a way that I consumed it. And that was always something that I accepted. So that was almost a foregone conclusion. So when this actually happened, I was kind of like, wow, you know, like the last thing that’s considered an acceptable thing to do in mainstream, polite society. That was basically supporting what was the presentation of the Confederate flag. We can’t do that there. Like that is a barrier come down in my life, you know, and I know that might not be that big a deal for a lot of different people, but so far as I’m concerned, a simple message that takes down that you’re not welcome sign from one of the most popular sports and sports cultures in America. That’s huge. No way around it.

S18: So Black Lives Matter car at a NASCAR race and no Confederate flag was not on my 20 20 bingo card. That would be like up there with Goodell wearing a Kapre neck jersey at the Super Bowl or something like Bubba Wallace was not a guy who considered himself to be a big social activist. Right. Clinton like, how did he get to this, the spot where he brought this about?

S17: I mean, the other thing about Bubba Wallace, who is like, let’s not get past the obvious. His name is Bubble Wallace. I’ve seen him like this dude is from the south. He is a driver. Like, this is not some hoax. I mean, the point is, is that for a guy who grew up driving and what his background is, he’s not any less Bubba than he is black. And I mean that in the context of this, for him, it was a business in a life decision to not be getting mixed up in what anybody is doing with the Confederate flag. You can’t race if you’re too worried about that by race. I mean, race cars. You know what I’m saying? And so I think just as a human and as a grown man, that’s probably something that just people come of age. People start to think about what it is that they’re representing. And then the world changes. We just saw what happened today in Skoda’s. I mean, people do things because they see what’s right and what’s wrong. And so, look, there’s a lot of different things that kind of put this together. And let’s not forget the Kyle Larson situation earlier this year. I don’t know how familiar you guys are with that, but basically a guy who a driver who’s actually in the D for D program, the NASCAR program for diversity, was caught on a live eye racing event dropping an F bomb on somebody. Joel like dog. The tonality mattered a little bit.

S1: Yeah, just the word. It came out right. He said that thing off fingers. To me, it was just the existence.

S17: It was like, oh, okay. Like we really got a problem here, you know? So that happens. And then the revolution happens. I’ll just refer to it as that for talking purposes of this point. And then he says, you know what? Matter of fact, how about this huge thing? And then it happens. And you’re like. That’s called riding the wave. Kids, you know? And I’m not saying that it’s disingenuous or I’m not saying that he wouldn’t otherwise have been motivated. I’m saying it’s a smart decision for both people involved. For Bubba to use that moment is take that swing and to get it. And then for NASCAR, who clearly, clearly just needed one good reason. You know what I’m saying? Just did it like that to me is just, you know, sometimes that’s just our history happened.

S1: Real quick, let’s just talk about the fact that the only Bubbas I’ve ever known were black. Frinks Paris McDow. Wallace. I don’t know of a white bubba.

S17: This is you name is Bubba.

S1: Your first term is out. Yeah, I just got it. Yeah, right. I know above it means so. I’ve only known black. But anyway, Bill Clinton and I’m, I don’t want to pump your head up too much. But you must feel like an oracle of sorts because I remember when the car larssen thing happened and you said NASCAR needed to make a reckoning with its past. This is back in April before any of this other stuff ever happens. Right. So we have Kyle Larson, member of the Draft Diversity Program, a man called the face of the new NASCAR boyfriend friend, Ryan McGee. How serious? I mean, given all of that, how serious do you think NASCAR is about this outreach and these gestures? Like, it’s one thing to say it, but it’s another thing to, like, have something behind it, right?

S17: Right. I think that there’s a lot to be said for just what’s already happened. I mean, the symbolism of not letting people carry a Confederate flag is something to me. But to your point about what goes forward happening. I know how to explain this. Like there’s a lot about NASCAR that people don’t know that black folks are involved with because drivers are such obvious faces. And while they’re not buying a ton of drivers. You mentioned this at the top of the show. NASCAR isn’t working for a while to get people basically in the business. That means, you know, the crews, the engineers as best they can. You know, the business side, the headquarters in Charlotte. You’d be surprised how many black folks there are. There are who work in and around NASCAR just in general. Now, the drivers are a different situation. So I’m not going to say that NASCAR is leading anything on the diversity front. Obviously not the case since they were, you know, since, you know, Confederate flags were a part of their situation. But I’m also not going to say that there isn’t a reason why we got to this as to know why that it was wrong. I’m saying there were enough people around to tell you, like, yo, maybe the idea here should not be to be continuously affiliating ourselves with racist rednecks. What I’m saying, as they are understood to be by, you know, by the country. That’s not an insult. That’s just what that sort of looks like to a lot.

S9: Yeah, this is a long time coming. I mean, NASCAR has slow walked this. I mean, they stopped drivers from putting Confederate flags on directly on cars back in the early 2000s. I think they asked fans not to display the Confederate flag at tracks after the slaughter in Charleston in 2015.

S4: There was an incident in 2012 where another Bubba Joel, a white Bubba, Bubba Watson, the golfer, was asked to take a pre race lap in the Dukes of Hazzard car at at a race in Phoenix. And NASCAR didn’t didn’t let that happen. So now it’s clear that NASCAR, as a business, has understood for a long time that this is toxic. It’s not like NASCAR is standing up there saying, you know, we support the lost cause. They know this, but they’ve been afraid of alienating their fan base. But as you write, this is the fan base that they should be saying, fuck no, we’re tired of this no more.

S19: It’s also there’s also a call and I don’t want to sound. This is gonna sound weirdly sympathetic, but I think you’re going to show what I’m saying. There’s a large part that I think people don’t understand about what NASCAR culture is, is that NASCAR was created by southern white folks. And it was not that long ago that like the people who ran NASCAR, the people where they came from, that’s who they were. When NASCAR hit a certain level of big business, people tried to start one in that specific demographic out of the sport. And there’s sort of an understanding of like not exactly racist or not, but like there was more than just these were the people who happened to create this. It was like, yo, NASCAR doesn’t look what it looks like unless this particular demographic is here. And now that the world sort of advanced past that frame of mind and there’s so much money involved, these people started getting kicked out. That’s where you still had the folks who couldn’t just say, well, we got to get rid of the Confederate flag. It was a. I mean, I think there was a legitimate understanding that people were like, wow, we’re cutting off something that is the Genesis story of what this league is. And people had reservations about that. I think people have reservations about that kind of not aside from the flag, but like that’s wrapped up there just as much as like the long history of that images. There’s the very specific history of NASCAR that was a factor here. And so that’s why I think that when you look at what all these things combined happened, it really took kind of one of those turns where it was like, okay, we all have to make the decision not. We can’t sit here and sort of shortcut our way through. Well, there’s this, there’s that, there’s this is that. It’s like dog, there’s a time to do this. This happens now. Everybody pays off. I’m sorry. Everybody can’t come. You know what I mean? And that’s kind of how this went down. And I don’t I don’t I don’t think when we look back in history and we say the day that NASCAR did this or the day to NASCAR announced, this is gonna be like, I can’t believe we were living like this for so long. If we’re gonna look at a celebration like a dog on time. You know what I’m saying? Like, thank you so we can get home with it because it’s 20, 20. And if y’all had been left behind the ball, would all this other stuff was happening like, come on.

S8: Well, you can try it in the other Southern sport. That’s also a kind of cultural happening as college football. And the reason that you don’t see Confederate flags at college football games, so maybe Ole Miss is that they’re black athletes that were you know, that the modernisation of the sport happens in the 70s, which is still extremely late, but a lot earlier than than 2020.

S18: And that’s just because, you know, it’s not like there’s just like one black guy in college and Southern College football. I mean, it’s like NASCAR would have been forced to do this a long time ago if the composite. And you’re right, Clinton, great point about how it’s not just the front line guys and the stars who allowed the sport to happen, but if there had been front more front line guys and stars than just by laws, this would have happened a long time ago.

S17: Yeah, I guess there’s a couple of different things there is that NASCAR has a lot to grow from. On that point, like there’s plenty there that they can already sell. You know, Showalter, your point about what what’s gonna happen next? What they can do is to start telling people about the folks that are already there saying that’s that’s half the battle sometimes in a lot of these equality causes. She was all we’ve got to diversify the newsrooms. All we got to do this. We gotta do that. How about the members that are right there, funny face and tell us about them, because they obviously know the struggle. You know, I mean, and there’s a large part into that that I think NASCAR is willing and capable of doing. You know, college football is always a tough comparison because as Joel knows, Joel knows college football is like the most exploitative, with the most reach, with the most influence. You know, I’m saying it’s like it’s like The Simpsons or Shaquille O’Neal of examples when it comes to, like, disenfranchised athlete groups. And it’s hard to really get others, you know. But I do think, though, that what NASCAR is doing in terms of recognizing more than just the driver experience, like, again, the fan experience is huge. If people don’t feel safe, go into the race track, people aren’t going to want to support your sport on any level, you know, and like just the basics of what this means for them. From an inclusive business standpoint, it’s huge. What reasonable, reasonable Fortune 500 company is going to want to associate themselves with a place where their brand literally might end up in the same shop with a Confederate flag? It’s that simple.

S5: The major broadcasters and corporations have not divested themselves from NASCAR. You know, with the Confederate flag, flying attracts. Right. Like there wasn’t any corporate pressure to make this happen externally, was there?

S17: Well, I mean, there are people that believe that NBC is taking over the broadcast rights has something to do with this on an influence level. And just look at the companies that are involved with NASCAR like it looks shiny. Yeah, they got big name companies for, like, where they are. But it’s it’s always the biggest companies in the world are sponsoring NASCAR teams. You know what I’m saying? Like, that’s that’s not really how that works. You know, in in in terms of like the F1 is global open wheel racing, race cars, people like watching people drive race cars. There’s a reason why NASCAR is still pretty regional. And it’s not just because of the competition of stock cars versus whatever, you know, it’s because, like, ultimately they were stuck in the sort of caveman attitude that just couldn’t reasonably be embraced globally or in terms of at least companies with some modicum of. I don’t know, social justice motivation. And I don’t even mean that in terms of like some hardcore left wing thing. I mean, just in terms of why would you want to be affiliated with Angel? Like, if you do you if you if you got a company and you’ve got a choice to either be in that or not. Well, I mean, now, you know, I’m saying like, that’s not really what anybody is trying to represent. I think that there’s a fair amount of that that people in NASCAR just got tired of, you know, I mean, it’s hard to do business. I you’ve got one hand tied behind your back.

S1: I mean, it just really is kind of jarring not only to hear you say that as a longtime fan that you didn’t want to go to a race riot. But to hear Bubba Wallace say that, I’m I’m concerned for my own safety now. You know, I mean, like, that is jarring to me because, I mean, what what other sport would you hear a top line athlete say that about that? You know, maybe the only time I can think of something similar is maybe when LeBron went back to Cleveland, when he was with Miami, it it felt like really dangerous. But for Bubba Wallace to say that, I mean, that’s just something about the fans they have. Right. And that was sort of great.

S17: Yeah. It says something about the environments. There’s a there’s a level of look and I don’t want to sound like I’m sort of knocking motor sports in general. Because it’s not at all like motor sports. There’s already a level of sort of barbaric that comes with liking motor sports, big engines, fast cars going fast crash possibilities. You know, I’ve seen a lot of excitement, loud noises. There’s a primal roar, too. What is the NASCAR environment? There’s a primal draw to what our motor sports. But that primal draw should not involve survival mechanisms with the other people watching the sport. You know what I’m saying? And that’s where I was never gonna be able to check in. I’m like, I’m all ready. I mean, there was a time when drivers were the only people dying at racetracks. You know, I’m saying know people were showing up and not leaving because the races were that dangerous. And I mean that in the context of there’s already a certain amount of risk that people are willing to take just to watch a race. That environment is hectic. And you’re Rigel. So, like the unsafety thing is more than just you know, that’s kind of the general idea. A lot of times like what the thrill is. And so I don’t I don’t think we can undersell how much this changes, like what the feel of it all is like if people if people can be that hostile and it’s sanctioned or at least frowned upon, but not like necessarily adjudicated. That’s a totally different environment than saying on the simple rules level, yo, you can get thrown out of here for acting like that. You know, I’m saying that completely changes the entire mindset, I think, of just how a lot of people operate. You know, I was talking to Ryan McGee about this on his show last week, and he said, I’ve got to tell you, man, there’s a lot of white folks that are coming to the sport because they now feel safer about this. It was actually Martin who said that. But, you know, it was like it’s not just black people who are like, oh, my God, I feel safe with these things. It’s a lot of other people who are like, OK, I can finally sort of like talk to you people because apparently you’re operating within reason. You know what I’m saying? And that’s a huge part of what all this is just a basic I don’t even know what to say, like sports world diplomacy level here. Now, people don’t have to look at this league as some sort of completely backwards situation. You can be like, all right, they are kind of doing business. And some of these people are actually pretty successful and pretty smart in some ways. Engineers are actually kind of the best we have in the country. How about they build spaceships or whatever? You know, I’m saying, like, you can sort of ingratiate yourself into the understanding what happens on all levels of the sport besides just the faces of the dudes behind.

S14: It shifts the power dynamic in the sport and neuters one of the worst aspects of the worst aspect of the sport that for 30 years has tried to penetrate northern markets and tried to penetrate corporate boardrooms and tried to make itself look like it is just like any other sport. And this has been hanging over NASCAR for decades.

S17: Yeah, I guess I think that there’s something there’s something about this, though, that doesn’t make me feel like spending a lot of time telling NASCAR what they used to do wrong. I just say that in. I’m not saying that that is not worth the discourse on any level. I’m just telling you that as somebody who for 20 years and Lycett, they’ll get it twisted. I’m not out here where it hats and shirts. I watch races. You know what I’m saying? That’s what I do. Like, I like some of the drivers. I follow a lot of my own Instagram. I like the car designs. They’re dope. I like the tracks. You know, they’re saying, like, I don’t need to act as if, like, this is something more than just another league that I like. I just liked it for a long time. And so, you know, for me, I mean, I really don’t know how much how much I need to spend time talking about, like, oh, well, they could’ve done this. I get it. And then I’m like, dog. This is about to be great food at these D’Aguilar races, about to get way better.

S1: The general programming around this is going to be more entertaining for everybody.

S17: Forget about race fans. You, him say no jewel like that thing where when you add people to the experience who know what they’re doing in general, live in life, everything is more fun for everybody.

S1: I was just about ask you, like as a disc, you know, you’re from decidedly urban Washington, D.C., obviously bypassing, you know, I’m saying like, do you think that that this move could tap into some sort of black constituency, though? There’s more Clinton. Yates is more Alvin Kamara is more Brad. Authorities are the red dot is where country as hell.

S17: But what is NASCAR the hardest call NASCAR brother, forget about being black. I don’t know. I think that there is you know what? I think it is dull. And it’s not that it’s about tapping into something that already exists. It’s like and I don’t want to get into this whole concept of like structural racism when you grow up as a kid. But it’s like one of the big differences between, I think, being white and being black is that for white people, what you see on the horizon as an option, like based on your initial look at life, is a much wider spectrum than anything for black folks and things that are entertainment or leisure or hobby options. It kind of works the same way. And Mike, the point here is that NASCAR moves into the realm of like just something you can like that you might actually enjoy because you’re like whatever it is about it that you like. And it doesn’t become one of these sort of out of reach or like hard to know until you get to a certain point. Aspirational things. You know, I’m saying like yarding. Or whatever, you know, it just becomes another thing that’s available for you to enjoy, and so that to me is what the value is. Yeah, you know what I’m saying? It’s not necessarily going to uncover some huge pocket of closet. It’s just that kids are going to grow up with it is something that’s an option to normalize to care about. And that’s cool. I’m talking to this kid later today. This kid named Raja, he’s a racing driver who went to high school public high school in D.C.. He’s 18 years old. Wow. It’s like driving because he does what he wants to make NASCAR.

S6: Clinton Yates writes for the Undefeated. Can watch him on around the horn and other ESPN properties. Clinton, thanks a lot, man.

S1: Thanks, Lynn. No problem, guys. Appreciate you, bro. Let’s go, Rason.

S14: And now it is time for after balls, I mentioned in the NASCAR segment that there had only been eight. There have only been eight black drivers in the history of NASCAR, which was founded in nineteen eight. And the first guy I mentioned was ALLIÉS Bowie. He was the very first black driver in NASCAR and the circumstances of his race are kind of hilarious.

S4: He was in 1955 because the only NASCAR race this guy ever entered, it was in California. And he shows up in his 1953 Cadillac wearing a fedora. Any races? He finished twenty eighth out of 31. He won ninety dollars. And he’s gone down in history. His only NASCAR race. ALLIÉS Bowie. Joel, what’s your alliance? Bowie.

S1: Big Elias Bowie fan. That’s why you wear a fedora. Yeah, I love a fedora.

S4: Yeah. He owned taxicabs and buses in San Mateo, California.

S1: Yeah, he’s right up the street. That’s not too far from. Yes. Go check in on.

S6: According to a story I read, he showed up at the biggest, biggest pit crew.

S1: Me. I like this guy. Shout out to utilize Bowie. So moralized Bowie is Julius Whittier, as we discussed a little earlier. The University of Texas football players have provided that school with a list of demands. Among those demand donating a half percent of the athletic departments earnings to Black Lives Matter. Renaming campus buildings named after segregationist and discontinuing the school song. The Eyes of Texas, which has ties to minstrel shows and was created during segregation. The requests that caught my attention, though, was renaming parts of the football stadium after Julius Whittier, the first black football Letterman at UTI Austin, and I was kind of surprised that hadn’t already happened. But maybe I shouldn’t have been. It’s someone who grew up in Texas. I knew all about the strained relationship between the state’s flagship school and its black residents way back in nineteen ninety seven. The success of Utah quarterback James Brown was seen as potentially crucial to black football recruits across the country. The school’s first black quarterback, Donnie Little, told Sports Illustrated at the time, James’s success has made Texas viable for a lot of black kids that would have never considered Texas before. Remember, this is 1997. This is the year after he had already entered college. So perhaps that’s surprising that you’d see would have that sort of reputation. Austin and Austin Knights fancy themselves as the progressive antidote to the conservative state around it. In spite of its status, says, quote, the most segregated city in Texas. But it is the university and the Longhorn storied football team that best represents this racial disconnect. There’s this great biography of Earl Campbell that was released last fall. Written by the journalist Asher Pryce in the chapter on Earl’s transition from Tyler, Texas, to Austin, Price covers the vigorous fight you put up against desegregation. How racist was UTI? In 1946, its law school denied admission to a Black’s Houston civil rights activists and forced the creation of an entirely new law school for black students in Houston. Today, that’s Thurgood Marshall Law School at Texas Southern University. How racist was UTI? In 1957? It became among the first public universities to require entrance exams, realizing that they would provide yet another barrier for black applicants. How racist was UTI in 1969? Texas filled at the very last. All white college football national champion for many black Texans. That’s the Austin. That’s the Longhorns. They know Price called the football team, quote, the very last bastion of whiteness, duty to integrate. So in the players list of demands, as we mentioned earlier, they’ve called for renaming parts of the stadium after Julius Whittier. And it’s really a shame that it didn’t happen before he died in 2018 at the age of 68. Whittier was a testament not to Texas, but himself. He played from 1970 to 72 when Texas won the 70 national championship and the Southwest conference for three straight years in a row. He went on to study dance while earning a bachelor’s degree in philosophy. He danced at the Austin Civic Ballet. He earned a master’s degree from the university’s LBJ School of Public Affairs in 1976. He later earned a law degree from USC in 1980. From there, Whittier was a longtime prosecutor in the Dallas County’s district attorney’s office. He was inducted into the Long-horned Hall of Honor in 2013. Whittier celebration may have taken longer than necessarily because he didn’t exactly bleed orange back in the early 70s. Whittier told the Associated Press that black students didn’t get, quote, chill bumps when they heard UTI fight songs, he said. Since when have you seen orange or red, white and Blue doing us a favor? He told the AP reporter. Sound familiar? It’s worth noting that Utah’s legendary coach, Darrell Royal, responded, quote, How can he say that the orange has done nothing for him? He’s been here on scholarship. He’s been exposed. He’s getting an education, preparing himself where he can do something to contribute to his race. What is this country done for him? I wonder if he knows what other countries have done for blacks. UTI Stadium, of course, is named after Coach Royal today, which is why it’s time to do right by Julius Whittier and the players who want to honor his legacy. Do it expeditiously. What’s taken so long? UTI see would have the eyes of Texas been looking at all of this time.

S4: That was great job. Josh, what’s your allies, Bowie?

S18: Last Wednesday, I got an e-mail from a guy named Scott referred to it began, Dear Mr. Levine, thank you for taking the time to write and for being such a great longstanding fan of the White Sox. We truly appreciate every one of our fans, but especially those like you who have remained with us for such a long time. I apologize for the delay in responding as your email was cut and my firewall. All right. Let’s take a break for this e-mail to note that while I was totally willing to believe that my email had gotten caught in someone’s firewall, the rest of us did not make sense. I am not a great longstanding fan of the Chicago White Sox baseball team. I’m not even a not great, not longstanding fan of the White Sox. I also had not taken the time to write, and that’s when I remembered that someone who I know is a White Sox fan. And here’s how he suggested that I introduce this after ball.

S1: So my Baldor, more Midwestern doppelganger, Josh Levin, wrote to his favorite team, the White Sox.

S18: So what happened here is that the White Sox vice president of communications, very high up guy, sent me, the journalist, Josh Levine, an email intended for the White Sox season ticket holder, Josh Levine. I know Josh Levine because as you might have guessed, we occasionally get each other’s emails. The other Josh had written the White Sox because he was disappointed in the team’s lack of response to the killing of Jorge Floyd and its failure to embrace the Black Lives Matter movement. At the time that other Josh wrote his initial email, the only thing the Sox had sent out was a true masterpiece in the art of saying nothing. Just get ready to not be blown away. It was a tweet that read, We all must come together to work toward positive change in our neighborhoods, our city and our nation. We must fight against racism, violence and hatred in all its forms. All forms matter. It then included an MLK quote, Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. Just a remarkable work of something. So. Back to the email that the Sox PR guy sent me by mistake. And I should say why he didn’t just hit the reply to other Dodgers e-mail. I think we’ll never know the answer. All right. In the second paragraph of the email that I sent by mistake, it begins. The short answer to your note is that we strongly believe that actions speak far louder than any performative statement on social media. He then says later, We believe that the best route to systemic change is for each and every American to exercise his or her right to vote in November. And you have and will continue to see our organization encourage all of our citizens to exercise this important rate to help create the world in which we collectively want to live. Music soars. It is a really, truly terrible note and I am just honored to be able to share it to you. This private communication that was not intended to me. So I forwarded this as I do whenever other Joshes e-mail comes to me. I forwarded it at that time. He gave me permission to share with you on this program today and he shares my belief. That is a truly terrible note. So a couple hours after that email was sent, the White Sox did share a new tweet that says the White Sox are united with our MLB colleagues in the commitment to social change and in support of the recent protests against racial violence. Hashtag Black Lives Matter. Other Joshua have outsourced some research on this after ball. Thank you. Josh Levin noted that their tweet used photos from a photo opportunity that was given to every team at the start of the Major League Baseball draft. And so they basically just like went through the line of, like having dude stand with a sign that says Black Lives Matter. So they took advantage of that and then tweeted it out. So what’s going on with our beloved Chicago White Sox here?

S5: Why have they been so hesitant to embrace this message? Other Josh points out that Jerry Reinsdorf owns the White Sox, also owns the Chicago Bulls. The Bulls did put out a statement. The Bulls have supported black players on that team that have made statements. Whereas, you know, Tim Anderson, very prominent, well-known black player on the White Sox, has been outspoken. The White Sox have not backed him up. And so the theory put forward by other Josh, which I agree with, is that the White Sox believe that their fan base does not want to hear this. This method was Black Lives Matter message. The White Sox. Playing the south side of Chicago, one of perhaps America’s foremost best-known black neighborhoods. But the fan base there, you know, a lot of black people do support the White Sox. But the fan base is historically predominantly white and they play in the neighborhood of Bridgeport. That’s where the Daley family lived. It was a neighborhood that was extremely opposed to integration for a very long time.

S7: Josh Levine points out that very recently there were white vigilantes photographed patrolling the neighborhood with baseball bats and table eggs with nails driven through them.

S1: How do you think the nail came in first? So, I mean, did they put the nail there? Was the nail already with it?

S18: I think, you know, I don’t want to paint with a broad brush about all table legs and where the nails come from.

S5: But the history of the White Sox and the South Side and race is a fascinating one. It seems like this organization and this ownership group does not have any sort of ironclad beliefs about social justice and taking a stand that it’s situational and that the stance that they take for one franchise is different from another franchise, which doesn’t seem like it’s the kind of strength in one’s views and one’s, you know, morals and an ethical system, the wanting to have this moment. But I just like to thank White Sox PR for getting this issue on my radar screen. I wouldn’t have talked about it otherwise. So good outreach. I will continue that when we continue talking about this issue on this podcast. And I encourage everyone just if you get sent e-mails accidentally by White Sox PR, just let us know where.

S4: And I have a question. Why do you sometimes get Josh Levin’s emails? Does he work at SpaceX dot com?

S5: We have similar email addresses.

S2: He works at sleep dot com. Exactly. Fact. That is our show for today. Our producer is Melissa Kaplan. Posner Pashas. And subscribe or just reach out. Go to sleep. Dot com slash hang up. You can e-mail us at hang sleep dot com for Joel Anderson. Stefan Fatsis and Josh Levine remembers Elmo Baity. And thanks for listening.

S5: Now it is time for our bonus segment where our Slate plus members here. So it’s not as much a bonus segment as it is, just an extra segment. It’s our fourth segment where we get a little personal sometimes on the hang up and listen podcast.

S18: We give you a little bit of insight to what we do, who we are, where we live. And on this segment, I thought, Joel, you alluded to it. You cracked the door open a little bit to talk about your recruitment as a high school football player. We we all know you ended up going at TSA, you. But there are some references in there to SMU, southwest Texas state. I hadn’t heard about any of those before, but like so we can get into the bigger picture here. But I’m just curious, like, if I tell you, like Joel Anderson, high school football recruitment story. What’s the thing that pops into your head first?

S1: Who? Recruitment story. Wow. Well, I. Are you laughing? Because there’s some stories that you cannot. This is a story I can’t tell from out of you, Mike. My cousin went to SMU and he helped show me around. We gave Ed that we had probably more fun than a 17 year old probably should have on a college campus. So what can I say?

S4: I don’t know. Why do we do this? Joel is struggling to get to the meat of this. I think, Josh, your interrogatives skills here are a little lacking. Joe, why don’t you set us up? Tell us about your high school football career. Yeah. So what led you to be recruited?

S1: Thank you, Stefan. Sure. OK. Thank you. No, it’s fine. So we got to soften them up my junior year. I ran for over a thousand yards, had a really good season and got recruiting letters from, you know, most of everybody. You know, UCLA was like probably the one that I was most excited about. Do you have the letter still, man? I don’t know where any of those letters are today. I, I’m so frustrated about it. The Joel Anderson Hall of Fame and Museum. Maybe you should check. Well, I’m trying to raise money for that now. So this is a good time to you know, it’s only one thirty five thousand people here. Have you ever slept with him? That’s right. Lot a lot of trophies from 1988, I promise. But, yeah. So, you know, I had a pretty good year. You know, I had a really good track season that year. And so I’m getting letters from pretty much everybody except like the real top line program. So, like, I didn’t get University of Texas. I didn’t get like Alabama or anything like that because I played at a private school in Houston and in Texas forever. Private schools did not compete for state championships with public schools like it was. You know, it’s one of the few states in the country where there was this division because public school, high school coaches have like a lot of power in Texas and they don’t want to compete against private schools. So the theory was that I played against inferior competition. You know, being the meat of my schedule anyway. Junior, pretty good senior year. First scrimmage of the year. I sprained my ankle really badly. And boobie my situation. Yeah. Right now. No, serious. Was it just like I. I sprained my ankle really bad during our team’s scrimmage. Had to sit out. The rest of the pre-season and then in my first game back, I come back against the first game of the year and spray my other ankle. So I was just hobbled that whole year. And so it really like took a lot of, you know, some of the schools off of my my radar. So by that time, you know, by the end of the year, I’m hearing from, like, you know, Navy, Army, Southwest Texas state, which is now called Texas State. A little TVU, a little SMU. I’m trying to think of a couple. A lot of Division three schools, like every Division three school in the country, recruited me like a on the East Coast schools. You’re hearing from Little East Coast D3 schools or an army of Occidental Williams. You know all those little places. Right. And I’m just like, man, if I have to go to a school like that, I’m not going to play football. I just said I’m only going to play at a Division One school. And so I kind of held off. I didn’t, you know. You know, it’s not like that like today where people, you know, committed, you know. But well, before their senior year, you just kind of went with the flow. And I’ll never forget. I got like a huge recruiting packet from West Point on Christmas Day. And I was like, damn. I was like, man, they’re really serious about this. But I did not want to go to a military academy. But anyway, I took my recruiting visits. I went to T.C., you, SMU, Southwest Texas State, Sam Houston State, which is in Huntsville, just a little bit north of Houston. And I think those are the only four. So, Ed, I just I really like SMU, but they took a running back from another school instead of me, so I couldn’t go there. And so I went ahead and, you know, committed to CCU you and that’s I ended up there. It wasn’t like it’s not like I dreamed of playing at T.C. you. It’s not like I’d been following that program my entire life. But my parents like it. Believe it or not, I was a student that cared about, you know, my academics. And so they had a journalism program. One of the few accredited ones in Texas. And I was aware they had that. And it was only four hours away from Houston and they didn’t have it. A good decision. Yeah. Right. Good. There weren’t any running backs coming back, like there would know. Like they had lost a guy who, you know, was kind of like a top a top running back nationally. He, you know, was NFL free agent the next year. So it seemed pretty wide open when I signed. I did know about Ladin’s and signed in the next year.

S18: But many of these coaches do in homes with you.

S1: Yeah. So, Bob, fellow from T.C., you came. I can’t remember the name of the other assistance, but not feared to have a coach just like go to your house. Yeah, kind of like, you know, I always thought that that’s what was going to happen in my life. You know what I mean? Like, by the time I got to my senior year, I was really disappointed in how everything it turned out because I always assumed, you know, especially like I’d always been the best athlete at most places I’d gone. And I just kind of assumed I was going to play in the NFL. Like, no matter what. So would you only get, like, the TCR, you assistant coach to come? It’s more. It’s it’s more depressing than anything else. But I always expected that a coach. But yeah, my my mom, you know, made dinner for the dude. We had that Friday. I don’t know, spaghetti or some shit. I don’t know. And he said and told us about CCU and he met me up at the school and we talked there and, you know, he was making his rounds around the Houston area. And thank God, you know, I got I didn’t get my offer until after signing. I didn’t get my offer until after signing day. Believe it or not, I didn’t even sign on signing day.

S18: So this whole process for you was kind of you were disappointed? Yeah.

S1: I was really like on signing day. I was like, I probably I mean, I’ve had I’m an adult now, so I can’t rank my depressed. My days of that were depressing, but that was really sad. I was like, man, damn, you know, I just kind of I knew that I was good. I knew that I could play it a lot of places. I just was like I just had really bad luck. And so, you know, I was just kind of hoping that maybe I could find, you know, a place to get into and I’d start thinking about some Division two options and Daewon double life options. But really, my my dream was to play Division one football. And I was like, if I don’t play Division one football, then doesn’t need me playing football. I don’t care enough to do it like that. So.

S5: This is sad. I’m sad that I didn’t.

S1: I thought this was gonna be a more fun bonus. You thought it was gonna be triumphant, like my 10 year. Actually, I remember when we did the fast fifteen year old thing that was kind of sad, too. That had a back that wasn’t ready. But, you know, it kind of stunk because I kind of always look forward to it. And, you know, all my peers, you know, I worked out and played with guys in Houston in my class that, you know, played in the NFL. I don’t know if anybody’s heard of Jason Webster. He played at Texas A&M and went on to play for the Falcons and the Forty Niners and, you know, made pretty good money playing a cornerback. And I worked out with those dudes and thought I was just as good as they were, but he just kind of didn’t work out like that. But yeah, I mean, I was just a guy like even when I went in, I’d never forget my running backs. Coach was the head actually coach Bo Jackson at Auburn. His name was Bud Casey Head. He you know, I just he I remember he said I had I had the highest S.A.T. score in my recruiting class, and I never forget what he said. He’s like, you know, Anderson, you could be governor ahead. That’s best, bud. Casey. Rest in peace. Coach Casey.

S14: So, yeah, man, knowing now what you knew then, would you make a different choice?

S1: It’s tough. My life has turned out pretty cool. My mother. Yeah. My mother.

S14: Let me rephrase it then. Knowing that you’re gonna end up in the same place and you’re not going to play in the NFL, would you have made a different choice about where to go try to play football in college?

S1: Yeah, I probably would have like gone to like southwest Texas state and tried to play their running back. That was ended up, you know, playing in the NFL for a little bit. I just thought, you know, I just didn’t see a path for it. You know, I mean, like, I it’s like if I only cared about playing in front of a crowd, which was ridiculous because, T.C., you didn’t have crowds anyway. I guess not. We were bad then. But yeah, I probably would have tried to transfer somewhere else, you know, but I just by the time I was in school, I just didn’t give a shit. You know, I was like, this football is hard. This sucks. You know, my mother always says that. I mean, this is a really crass way of putting it. She’s like, I’m happy that you didn’t go to the NFL because you’d be a vegetable today. So either she’d I guess. That’s not what she thinks of, you know, brain injuries or whatever. But, yeah, see, she she’s she’s happy that I wasn’t better at it. But yeah, probably I probably would have done something different. I probably would’ve transferred and tried to get somewhere in play because it’s not it, you know, to be honest, like I’m not trying to pump my shit up, but I was a really good athlete. And like I look at like Comp Cumba, this would be the old Bako it out. But I look at combat, I look at combat data and I look at all the stuff of is right there with a lot of these guys, like, I could have done this. There’s like it’s not there’s not that much difference between, like, you’re borderline almost an NFL guy and like college guys, like, you know, to me, like I ran four or five, I bench press two and a twenty five pound 17 times, like I could do all of that shit. It’s just, you know, kind of the situations here. So, yeah, I mean, I would have liked to have had the story that, you know, I was in camp with the Bucs and got cut, you know, for the first, you know, before the first game.

S12: Well, look, no matter where you get to, unless you’re like a superstar, there’s you’re always gonna have a story of how it could’ve gone better for you or how you know.

S18: So, you know, you accomplished more than ninety nine point ninety nine percent of people. And yet there’s price circumstances where you could have accomplished more. But I think we need to leave a little meat on this bone. Mm hmm. Like, maybe next week will soften up. We’ll get some more. The SMU story, though.

S1: Yeah. I wanted SMU so bad. I damn you, Rod. Nick Phillips. That’s the running back out of Galveston. They got they got signed instead of me. So damn you. I wanted us in you bad.

S15: Well, we’ll leave it there. And thank you, sleepless folks. We’ll be back with more for you next week.