The I Just Binged Cheer Edition
S1: The following podcast contains explicit language.
S2: Hi, 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 18th, 2020. This week’s show, we’re going to talk about the fallout and the recriminations from the Houston Astros science dealing scandal. Everybody’s mad as hell, too. They that’s a collarbone tattoo. We’ll also discuss the huge changes that are reshaping the WNBA and assess the best player in college basketball. Bergens Sabrina Yanofsky. You finally will review the Netflix docu series Cheer.
S3: A look at the triumphs and the rigors of competitive cheerleading. Joining me, as always, from Palo Alto. Fresh off his triumphant live tour, Slate staff writer and the host of Slow Burn Season 3, Joel Anderson Hijau.
S4: Good morning. Yeah, I’m in trials and triumphs and I survived.
S3: You did. You not only survived, you triumphed, which I guess is implied by triumphant herberger. I’m gonna get into my thesaurus later in the show, but I’m just working one word at a time. Stefan is off this week filling in for him in our D.C. studio. It’s Lindsey Gabs. Wednesday is one of the co-hosts of the Burn It All Down podcast. The proprietor of the Power Players newsletter on sexism in sports.
S5: Lindsey, hi. Thanks for having me back.
S3: We’re always happy to have you. And big news for the power players, a cinematic universe. This week you are bringing the newsletter to the next level.
S6: It’s time. It’s time to flip the switch and pull out that subscription model. So announcing it in Tuesdays newsletter, which should be out shortly. And then next week, starting the subscriptions. And then we’ll go to some subscriber only post starting in the first week of March. I am very excited and equally terrified.
S3: So we love power players and we love your work. Lindsay And people should support this work. It’s nobody else is doing the kind of journalism you’re doing about women and sports. So we’re excited to support it and support you. And for people that hear this that our hang up listeners should email Lindsey. Lindsey, you can give out your email address in a second. Put hang up and listen or something of that nature and the subject line. And Lindsey is gonna give away a free subscription to one of you guys.
S6: Nice. Yeah. So email me. Lindsey at L.A. M.D.s a y at power plays dark news. Power plays dot news.
S5: So if you put Hang-Up in the subject line, you will be entered, but only if you’ve already signed up on the free list. You have to be on the free list to get the get the paid subscriptions.
S7: So make sure if you go to power plays dot news. Once again, power play is not news. That’s where you can sign up for the free subscription. And even after we go pay, there will still be one newsletter per week that will be for everyone.
S8: So it won’t be a waste of your signups, I promise. It’s it’s fun. It’s been great.
S3: Last week, the Houston Astros launched spring training with a string of apologies. Owner Jim Crane and players Hosey Al Two and Alex Bregman said they were sorry for the team’s science stealing scheme, an operation that led to the suspensions and firings of GM Jeff Luhnow and manager AJ Hinch. But quite importantly, resulted in no penalty is being imposed on Astros players, past or present. Let’s listen to Bregman performance of contrition.
S9: I am really sorry about the choices that were made by my team, by the organization and by me. I’ve learned from this and I hope to regain the trust of baseball fans.
S3: I hope choices were made enters the pantheon with mistakes were made. It’s even more passive construction. I love it. So the Astros pitchers and Major League Baseball’s were now won over by that apology. Cody Bellinger kind of came out first and came out hottest bellinger’s L.A. Dodgers lost the World Series, the Astros in twenty seventeen. He told reporters that Houston stole the Dodgers World Series ring, that everyone in the big leagues lost respect for them. He also talked about the video going around of Al to a telling his teammates not to rip off his jersey when he had a walk off Homer in the twenty seventeen playoffs. That footage has led some to believe that Houston players were wearing buzzers under their shirts. Let’s listen to Bellinger.
S10: I don’t know what human hits a walk-off home run against or all this Chapman to send your team to the World Series. And one has the thought to say, don’t get my jersey off, but to go in the tunnel. Change your shirt and then come out and do your interview like that. That makes no sense to me. It makes zero sense to me because I know me, Jerry Sanders said yesterday. You can rip my shirt off, my pants off. I said my team, the World Series are for all Chapman and the ninth inning at home. You can do. You know I’m going crazy, right?
S11: So if we do Nazieh pantless Bellinger, then we’ll know that he is a hypocrite.
S3: Carlos Koray of the Astros defended Altuve, a saying he didn’t want to take his shirt off because he had a bad tattoo. I mean, this is this is where we’re at. Jol And we must give credit to Stefan here because he predicted that this is how this is gonna play out. Giving the players immunity to discuss this science stealing scheme openly was going to backfire on the commissioner. The explanation for why no players got suspended. This is what Rob Manfred says and I think it’s true is that a memo was sent out explaining that if any team was caught stealing signs, then the manager and general manager would be held responsible as they were. Luhnow and Hinche got suspended and then fired. And reporting by Jeff Passan suggests that Astros management did not pass along the message in that memo to the players. And so the thinking as if any Astros players got suspended, then there’s no way I would hold up in a grievance. And so in that case, you would just be suspending players with the knowledge that it wouldn’t hold up. But to send a signal. And so the question then is, is it worth it to do that justice send a signal, even if in actual fact, nobody would miss any playing time? I’m actually not sure what else the commissioner could have done just because of the players union and the suspensions probably wouldn’t have held up.
S12: But Joel, you thoughts?
S4: I just find this really hard to take seriously, to be honest. And a lot of that is because obviously I’m not out there playing, you know, my contract, my career, you know, my legacy wasn’t on the line. So I probably take a much, much less serious view about this.
S11: Further, you’re away from winning the 2017 World Series.
S4: I’d just like you guys to, like, really emotional about this, which is great. But, you know, I read in The New York Times, one of the writers wrote, we’re supposed to be 100 percent sure that the games are played fairly. That is the very underpinning of sports. And that’s a good line. But it also seems sort of absurd to me, because sports, especially that level first and foremost, are about entertainment like we do them and pay attention to them because they’re supposed to be fun and they’re good programming. And like all this moralizing about something, that’s not very important. So I guess for me, the issue is, do you really want to stamp out all cheating in sports? Seriously like that? Is that what we’re supposed to go from here? So how weird is gamesmanship in cheating began in baseball? Do they really want to go that far? Do we really want to go down that far down the wormhole and figure out like all the different ways on which players and teams are trying to get advantages that are not legal, that are outside of the rules and investigate every team in that way? Do they really want to be subject to that kind of scrutiny? Because that seems to be what they’re asking for you.
S3: Well, the thing that’s so fascinating here is that players compete against each other on the field and they compete. Hard and whatever sport it as, but off the field, there’s usually more solidarity than that’s there, usually on the same team against management, but they are on the same team, right.
S13: Because this is all a union like they’re also hiding the Astros are hiding behind the union. Correct.
S3: Yeah. I mean, the union is kind of behind the fact that the Astros got immunity here. And yet the other players in the union don’t seem very happy about this, Lindsay.
S6: No, because they feel like something was taken directly from them, which, of course, you can never know exactly where this went. I do want to say, though, while you all are talking about the very serious implications of this, I really only want to talk about Altuve, a shirt and like what really happened. I think this is the funniest sports scandal in the world. And as somebody who’s not a huge baseball fan and isn’t tied to it, I’m enjoying devouring every single second of this drama. Korea recently said that, you know, he gave both excuses. He said first he didn’t want me to take a shirt off because his wife didn’t want him to take his shirt off anymore. When if you look at all today’s Instagram, it is full of shirtless. Somebody said it was that and the tattoo thing. It was both. So there were a lot of reasons here for him to keep his shirt on. But I think what’s been fascinating to me is find out what an open secret this was within baseball, which once again is someone who’s not as clean it could end the day to day. That was surprising for me. There is a big piece in The Washington Post about how when the Nats were playing them in the World Series, everyone kind of reached out to them. They got help from everywhere to talk to them about the ways that the.
S7: Whether you want to call it gamesmanship, whether you want to call it cheating, the ways that the Astros were, you know, stealing signals and figuring out things. So the Nats actually went into this last World Series with kind of a plan to combat that, which I thought was just absolutely fascinating.
S3: Yeah. And players knew about it seems like teams knew about it. And yet, how do you square that with the fact that this is going on for years? And only now are we hearing the rage from it’s not just guys like, you know, Bellinger who was specifically harmed by it. Mike Trout, the face of baseball, to the extent there is one saying that the punishment was weak. Yu Darvish, who I guess was actually particularly. That’s right. So you’re saying the Astros should be stripped of their title. Does that actually not make sense? Joel, if everybody knew about it, why is everybody just mad all of a sudden?
S4: Well, we’ve previously discussed this on this broadcast. I mean, that was the thing that sort of struck with me because, you know, Dusty Baker came out this weekend and said he wanted to get the MLB involved. So this is low premeditated retaliation. You know, basically the pitcher’s on, you know, throwing fastballs at his players heads all year.
S3: Yeah. I mean, Dusty Baker, new manager, had nothing to do with any of this. And he’s been called on to kind of steer the ship now, you know?
S4: Right. And my thing is, like, we know that about baseball, like they are have a way of handling these sort of issues within the field of play like that is, you know, throwing the ball in somebody’s head is given a little chin music, right? Yeah. So we’re to believe that he’s highly competitive. Do knew or suspected that cheating was going on and they just let it happen. You know, they never threw at anybody. They never. I mean, I guess it is criminal understanding. Why now? If you if you suspected it, you were mad about it before. Everything that was at stake then is going gonna be at stake in the future. But, you know, you had an opportunity with a divisional series, a championship series, the World Series on the line. And you were just hoping that the refs were gonna step in as a gesture. He was going to justify that. Somebody was gonna say, hey, man, you guys got cheated out of a World Series. I don’t understand why. Why now? They’re upset when they had an opportunity to, you know, show their discontent in that moment, throw fastballs at people, complain about that sort of stuff. I don’t know what was the holdup then? Why would why are they so mad? They are supposed to win an opportunity to actually do something about it. There were stakes involved.
S6: Yeah. I mean, I think that’s a really great question. I have heard that there was some reportings that MLB and MLB investigations kind of didn’t go anywhere throughout the years.
S5: But it also it’s one of those things that the skeptic in me makes me wonder, is this because there’s so much more of this going on behind the scenes than anyone knows, right? They know better.
S3: There was so much more of this going on behind the scenes than you would think that players would have an incentive to shut up about it. The thing that’s been so interesting is that the Astros are being treated by their peers as miscreants and outliers. And like if there are unwritten rules and we know baseball has its unwritten rules about how. You can and should go with science dealing. It just seems to be universal at this point, at least in these kind of spring training press conferences that the Astros with, you know, looking at the video signals during the game using the trash can to signal, you know, whether an off speed pitches coming, maybe wearing buzzers under their shirts. Like everybody seems to think that if it’s if it’s everywhere, then at least this version of it isn’t everywhere.
S7: Yeah. It seems like because of how big this has gotten so quickly and how now we know how intricate it was that it’s just given everyone permission to kind of just continue to throw these players under the bus. But you do wonder how much of this is going to come back and how much of this is systemic, not just within the Astros, but within baseball at large.
S4: Can I also just say that maybe I’m wrong? Stefan was right. I’ll admit Stefan was right at first. But don’t you just think this is too much? Nobody is going to care about this. I fail to believe that this is going to be a continually lose story. The MLB has no interest in dragging this story out in any retaliation that is done. You would think would be done by spring. You know, the first few games of the season and then the games have to get started. There’s a whole new pennant chase going on. Why do we think we like all this complaining is happening now because the news is come out now. But I just don’t believe that we have the aptitude or the ability to pay attention. You know, the attention span to this carry on the story for our writers. Think players blow off their steam now and the MLB will just, you know. All right. Well, you’re mad about it. And just keep our mood warm.
S14: And Joel’s future world, the XFL does not exist.
S1: We talked about it this week. Are we? We don’t talk about. We do it. All right. We’re not talking. We’re not talking about we know the XFL.
S3: But I think the analogy with the Patriots is always instructive. And people are still talking about Spygate 15 years later. And you also never heard this kind of concentrated anger directed toward the Patriots from other players. I don’t feel like ever from players on every team. And it’s also just the fact that this has coincided with the start of spring training. It’s like, well, reporters are all like fanning out to these sites in Florida and Arizona and they’re kicking off the season by like reacquainting themselves with players. And it’s all anybody wants to talk about.
S14: I think that that there will be other things to talk about in the next couple of months. Joel, I agree with that, that this will fade a little bit. But I have a hard time thinking that the Astros role in this. The fact that the 2017 World Series is tainted, I don’t think that that’s going to be forgotten by anyone.
S5: I don’t either. But I think the reason this keeps coming up is because their PR, they keep having PR disaster after PR disaster after PR disaster, like if they’re handling this with any sort of like contrition and adult behavior. I think this would be different. But just, you know, this week we had Jim Krane say, oh, this didn’t really impact the games itself. Nobody should be held responsible. Oh, wait. It did impact the game zone.
S3: I mean, just like within 60 seconds of each other, you had the Bregman sounded robotic, like he was rehaan.
S1: You know, they’re not contrite.
S5: They’re not. That’s a thing.
S15: So there was the play of the players that have left the using my same construction about the further you’re away from Houston, if you’re an Astros player, like the former players are extremely contrite and honest about what took place, which actually makes the current Astros players look worse, because these guys who are their teammates are performing, I think, in the way that their peers and that fans want to hear.
S4: Yeah, I agree. What do you think they’re gonna do about it? So we’ve got George Springer. I don’t believe I don’t believe MLB players when they said that they’re really upset about this. I think they’re they’re performing well. Well, I’m I’m becoming a performative Outridge person. I’m a guy. I really reassess where I am. But I really do think that, yes, the people that feel like they were denied a World Series or penis or upset and they’re lashing out right now because. Yes, you probably would be upset if you thought that that team got the best of you.
S16: And did it work the angles on you to win the championship, even though we know that some of them suspected it was happening at the time? Right. And for some reason, they didn’t protest or vocalize these concerns at that time. Right. But I just I feel like we saw what happened in the steroid scandal that too many guys that emerged from that scandal clean at this point. Now are people that have gone to the Hall of Fame, but there are people that are firmly ensconced within baseball, culturally gone, even up to working on MLB teams. People guys that were, you know, very much at the center of the steroid scandal. So I just I think that right now they’re hot about it. Maybe they should be, but I just don’t see that anger sustains itself.
S11: The Astros did just have a pitcher banned for a whole season for. Oh, yeah, Francis Martez. Oh, yeah, that’s right. That this happened during the midst of the science dealing scandal, like nobody cares about doping right now. So people don’t even know that you got suspended for a year.
S5: And hey, there is nobody is mad at them for all their domestic violence mess ups now. So this has, you know, taken away. This is taking away the focus there.
S17: This is a great point. That’s what people first started getting mad at them, right? Like this way. All that first got started. Correct. It just kind of metastasized. And the other thing. Right.
S3: Yeah. So you mentioned whether people are going to stay mad at them. So one instance in which peers do stay mad is the players that cross the picket line during the player strike.
S14: There were guys that got called scabs for the rest of their careers. And so I think you’re right that this is not get to that level, Joel. Like, I think if a guy from the Astros switches to another team now, he’ll like say all the right things and the teammates will, you know, get over it. I don’t think somebody is going to get ostracized. So I think that is a good indicator of where this scandal sets in terms of how it’s perceived by players in the game.
S8: I do think it will be a punchline of infinity.
S18: Like, you know, you say Spygate, like this is going to be a punch line.
S19: And this is going to be dragged into conversations, whether it’s out of pure anger.
S3: I don’t know. And, you know, if we’re talking about how this is going to end or how is going to fade, remember that Major League Baseball hasn’t announced its punishments for the Red Sox, who are caught up in a similar, if not as pervasive and all encompassing science dealing scandals. There’s going to be back in the news and people are going to be comparing their penalties and there’s going to be a whole other round of conversation about that and from using temperature caps.
S16: I’m sorry.
S12: A month ago, the WNBA and its players association signed a new collective bargaining agreement that, among other things, allows the biggest stars in women’s basketball to make more money.
S14: This month, the stars started inking new deals and changing teams. Angel McCarty, Kristi Tolliver, Tawana Bonner, Skyler, Dick and Smith all all stars are going to be wearing new uniforms Wednesday. Let’s start with the why. What is the deal? What’s the explanation for all of this player movement?
S19: Well, for one, you have an increase in salary cap. It went from, I think, 1 million to about 1.3 million.
S7: So that’s a pretty significant increase. It gives teams a little bit more to go with. Second, you have these bigger contracts available before the max players could get was around one hundred and seventeen thousand dollars. Now the max is two hundred fifteen thousand dollars. That’s a big difference in money that I think are making the elite players trying to seek out teams that can give them that max contract because of course, not everyone’s gonna be able to get that. Another important thing is that as part of this negotiation of this new CBA, the core designation that teams are allowed to give out, which is basically the WNBA is version of the franchise tag in the NFL. That gives the team where the player is under contract with has you know, gets to hold on to them. So that has decreased. They took away a year for that. I think it went from four to three. And going forward, it’s going to go down even less to two. So it gives players more availability for movement. The big elite stars, whereas they used to be tied to their teams for upwards of 10 years, if they were in a really elite player, you know, played their entire rookie contract and then were caught four times. You know, you’re talking about upwards of a decade. So those things really combine to make what has been the most exciting free agency period in WNBA history and one that I think will change the future of the league.
S20: So it’s somebody that admittedly probably doesn’t watch the WB as much as I should. One thing that NBA fans media complain about is the idea that free agency, while it has increased off-season interest in the league and you know, there’s like this long running drama, like this constant shuffling of stars and teams is in some ways not good because it diminishes the hopes for other teams and so on and so forth. It makes other teams instantly competitive and others not so much. Do you worry at all about that or no?
S7: I mean, one benefit the WNBA has right now is there are only 12 teams, right? So there’s such a concentration of talent. It really needs to expand. So there are so many good players that’s different when you have your elite players spread out over 30 teams. If a couple of them congregate, you’re going to have some teams without any superstars at all, whereas that’s harder, more difficult to happen, the WNBA, because they’re such elite talent. And yeah, I mean, I think there’s always a give or take with these things, right? I think there’s of course, there’s some teams who love, you know, Phoenix’s Devastator, the Dwan, a Bonnar isn’t there anymore. Dallas fans would have loved to see another season. Skyler Diggins Smith. You know, Washington Mystics fans are sad that Kristi Tolga is gone. That’s a part of it. But when you look at the new configurations of these teams, you have what is essentially a super team now with the Phoenix Mercury, with Brittney Griner, Diana DROPSY, Skylar Diggins Smith. That could be your starting three on the Olympic team. I’m not saying it will be, but it very well could be. You have to want to Bonnar joining John qual- Jones in Connecticut for which is an instant improvement for a team that made it to Game 5 of the WNBA finals last year. So I think seeing this player movement is by far a net positive for the league, especially when you consider the WNBA season is only five, six months long, depending on how it goes. There’s been a big need to get more talk about the league during the off season. And this is a huge way to do it.
S3: Yeah, and you didn’t have mentioned like the sparks of Candace Parker. NICK GRIMM Okay. Chelsea Gray and Tolliver. Now the Las Vegas Aces have Liz Cambage Asia will send Andrew MCCORRY the storm have superb. Breanna Stewart drew wide. I mean that there aren’t that many teams and there are a lot of very good players. And so kind of super teams are going to happen organically. And now with all this movement, it’s just going to lead to hyper concentration of talent but prey on more teams that are in the NBA. And it’s also, I think as a consequence, as just like in the NBA, when they raised the cap by a huge amount in a single year and decided not to smooth it out like this was probably the year where all of the movement that’s gonna happen and then and years to follow that there’s probably gonna be less flexibility for teams to make deals.
S18: And it’s so interesting because it’s so. The market as we go, because the WNBA has never had this right, where a bunch of players can earn over $100000. You know, it used to be just for the select few. So we’re already seeing kind of some head scratching contracts where you’re going. The Phoenix Mercury, I thought they were trying to get Tina Charles to their rumors of their training. Tina Charles. And then they get Bria Hartley, a guard from the New York Liberty, who’s, you know, a talented I think of her as kind of a six woman type player, but she’s now got a contract for like one hundred eighty seven thousand dollars. And I thought to myself, gosh, it feels refreshing to feel that there’s like a bad contract. There’s no money going around that leg. You feel like some teams are making some mistakes with their cap money like that. Look, this is nothing. It’s free. Hartley But, you know, she’s not one of the elite players in the league. So I think you’re going to see some gems make some mistakes, which is something we’ve definitely seen in the NBA whenever there’s a cap spike.
S17: Yeah, I mean, that’s one thing about orders. Like there’s going to be bad organizations no matter what. Come more into focus. Now, what do you read? You said diets are also. And I was shocked to find out that Diana Ross is only going to be 30 this year. Linda, Diana Ross is like 45 years old. There’s no point in the mercury stop counting on her because it really, you know, again, in basketball, at some point you say, oh, well, you got to acquiesce to age.
S20: Right. But with data sources, I hope she’s still going to be a star in her late 20th year as well.
S7: Although she is she’s she’s missed pretty much all but a couple games of last season with a back surgery that ended up kind of moving into a hamstring thing because that’s how these things work. You are overcompensating. She hasn’t played for USA Basketball yet. She’s been with a team but hasn’t been on the core. She’s very motivated to get herself healthy. She wants to be on this Olympic team and she wants to play another season with the mercury, but her body is definitely breaking down.
S20: The real outlier here is Sue Byrd, who is two years older than Stanford to Rothesay and looking as good as ever, which doesn’t make any sense because I I guess this is you know, you get as you get older, you lose a sense of like how old people are. Here’s me. I had no idea this was two years old and dinosaurs.
S21: I thought she helped recruit Diana Ross of Yukon. Isn’t that wild?
S17: I remember watching Schuberg in the final four and I just assumed that she like this is the way the Yukon lineage goes.
S20: Rebecca Lobo. Jimmy Aly’s. Rebecca Lobo. So where there Dian Fossey had been superb like it didn’t. There was no way in which I could not have told me in any way the super shot of the round or maybe some birdies. Really?
S7: I’ve seen her up close, and you would never, ever think that she was close to four. It was ridiculous.
S3: There are only 144 roster spots in the WNBA and you have these players kind of hanging around and you have women’s college basketball is only getting better. So every year there’s so much of a squeeze and these rosters just keep getting more talented. But the really interesting thing about this CBA, Lindsay, is that it really puts the squeeze. From what I’ve read on these middle tier of players, that it’s better for the stars, but for the players that are filling out these rosters, it’s not necessarily the greatest deal.
S7: Yeah. And I think that what we’re going to see, unfortunately, is so there’s yeah, there’s only 144 roster spots. And unfortunately, I think with this cap, there’s going to be a lot of teams just carrying 11 players this year because that’s the minimum.
S19: So there’s going to be even fewer.
S3: But for a salary cap reasons, that’s the kind of thing that a players union is gonna be pissed about. I mean, maybe they anticipated it yet. I can just imagine. In any sport, this idea that teams wouldn’t be carrying the max number of players is not going to make the union happy. It’s not ideal.
S7: And it’s a for me, that was the one weak spot in their CBA. I had hoped that they would at least expand the roster to 13 or 14 if there wasn’t going to be expansion because there had been a time when roster sizes were 14. And so I thought that we might be getting back to that, to getting even more players in the mix. And now it seems that there’s going to be a backward step, but also there’s given takes in other way. And hopefully over the next couple years, as this particular business model gets sustained, there can be actual expansion in the league, which then will take care of losing some of these spots. But I agree, it’s going to be very interesting to see how this impacts the middle of the road players. So far, everyone is benefiting and all these free agent signings because a lot of them are bigger names. Right. Are getting deals even for the lower tier ones that are up north of 100000, which is, you know what only the Diana Ross were getting before by. Yeah. It’s a whole new world. And there are going to be some losers. There’s some losers in every single negotiation like this. I mean, there are some rosters that they already have 11:49 players. And I’m just like. How are they even going to sign their first round draft pick this year? Like there’s just no space.
S16: I think about Sabrina Yasushi. She is probably clearly the best player in college, women’s basketball, point guard for University Oregon would have been the first pick in the WNBA draft. Is that fair to say, Lindsay would have been if she come out right this year but pass on the draft or went back to play college at Oregon and not Oregon is one of the best teams in the country. They beat the U.S. women’s national team in an exhibition earlier this year, in large part because of her. And I just wonder. Let’s say that that CBA is done. You know, at this time last year. That doesn’t affect Sabrina’s decision to go back to school. You’re saying?
S19: I don’t think as much because I think rookie contracts are still pretty low. You know, I mean, the rookie contracts have definitely increased. But you’re not making the $200000 if you’re a rookie. Breanna Stewart actually still isn’t eligible for the maximum in her fifth year.
S7: Like she signed right now, she has resigned her contract for like one hundred eighty five. Which is, of course, way better. But she doesn’t have the years under her belt. I don’t know what exactly it is yet to be eligible for the max. So I don’t think that would necessarily change Sabrina’s calculation. And of course, the big thing for her was that they did win the national championship and she knew that if she came back, that Oregon had a good chance to win the national championship, although South Carolina’s actually been the best team this year. So, you know, Dawn Staley might have something to say about that, but that was the big reason. So I don’t think that would have changed her calculation overall. But I think in general, it might impact some players down the line. And we’re already starting to see more players come out early because remember, it’s not just the money that they can earn in the WNBA, it’s the money they can earn overseas as well. That adds up to be a good amount.
S18: And let’s face it, what Sabrina CANmake will make, I’m sure from Nike will far surpass her WNBA contract.
S3: Yeah, she’s a fascinating figure. Rachel Bachman at a good piece about her in The Wall Street Journal that noted that Oregon tickets for a game against Oregon State were selling secondary market for almost five hundred dollars. That best seats that shares increased attendance there by a huge amount. But I’m curious for your thoughts, Benzi, about the fact that a major reason for her mainstream fame is that she’s been getting a lot of attention from male players and male commentators. She has this very well known and had this very well known affiliation with Kobe Bryant. She has been praised on social media by a huge number of NBA stars, whether you know, LeBron James, Steph Curry, John Morand. What do you think it is about her that resonates so much with NBA players? And how do you feel about the fact that a lot. Large part of her fame is because of getting this kind of affirmation from men?
S19: I do actually think that that’s I think she had the stats before that came right.
S21: Said that might be a reason that some people on the sides are paying more attention. But she passed the triple double mark. So she has more triple doubles than any player, male or female, in college basketball after her junior year.
S7: So she I mean, she is just shattering records in a way that we haven’t seen any college basketball player do. And I think that the way she’s been able to take over the game has a lot to do with that.
S3: She plays with a style and attitude that kind of transcends the sport and transcends her, even her amazing numbers.
S7: She does. And I think a lot of it look, she’s in Oregon. And I think the closeness to Nike has also made her kind of more accessible to these all these superstars coming in and out of Nike headquarters and the relationship organ has with Nike.
S21: But yeah, I mean, I’m not going to say she’s been in the past year on the cover of The Washington Post sports section, on the cover of The New York Times sports section, on the cover of The Wall Street Journal sports section and the cover of the L.A. Times sports section. You don’t see like that is huge exposure, right?
S13: We didn’t think about what it took for that to happen. Right. All right. Because it would like Zion. It was great when he didn’t have the career resumé with Sabrina. Got to go back to just record. You know what else? I do think that NBA players see something in her attitude, but it’s like, is she visibly torch? Oh, she’s not something. Yeah. Right. I know that that happens at all levels of basketball at any point. But like with her, it’s like visceral. It’s like she’s. You’re kidding. You can she’s like she’s spitting anger the whole time she’s playing.
S22: And I think that’s something people really relate to.
S3: There is a video of her playing. I think it was against Justin Herbert, the Oregon quarterback, and like his brothers and she, like, stuffs a guy and shoves him, went went viral. It’s great. It’s great. And there is a small thing that really stood out to me and that Rachel Bachman Pierson. The Journal and mentioned that you ask who might play in the Olympics. And three on three basketball. And for whatever reason, the Olympics has not given women’s basketball the kind of bump historically that athletes in other sports have gotten. I don’t think it’s given the WNBA much of a bump. I don’t think it’s made the best players bigger stars. But for some reason, I feel like Sabrina and ask you in three on three basketball for the first time ever in the Olympics, I feel like that could be really huge for her and for the sport.
S7: Yeah, I think it could be really great. I mean, I think seeing her. I can’t wait to see her compete with the national team and try and make that roster. And I think she’s got already has a really great case for it. But I actually am curious to see what this Olympics overall does for the WNBA, because there’s a lot more synergy right now between the USA Basketball and the WNBA. Diana Rossi and Sue Bird basically singlehandedly or double handedly, I guess between themselves, created this year year long national team program that has brought the national team to around all of these colleges. And I’m actually really excited to see what the Olympics can do now that it seems that Cathy Ingleburn, the commissioner of the WNBA and Team USA Basketball, seem like they actually want to capitalize on some of that momentum that could be created. And I hope that that’s the case no matter who is making the roster.
S20: And it’s really interesting because and you guys catch me if you disagree here, but the U.S. Olympic team has never had a better a more dominant program than its women’s basketball team. Yeah, right. I mean, I can’t think of another team or program like that. Even recall the men’s team, the dream team. But they lost. Yeah. You know, I mean, I’ll be able to see you like. Yes. If Sabrina does play a role in creating this better synergy with the WNBA women’s basketball. Right. We need to ask the question, why hasn’t that already happened last week? We rally around the women’s soccer team in a way that, you know, is great. We should do that. We rally around all these other soccer teams that the women’s basketball team, for whatever reason, as good as it’s been, is dominant as it’s been, has never gotten that sort of support. It’s never translated into anything else beyond that.
S7: And I think you can’t discount the role the racism and homophobia have played in that. And also just I think there’s been a lot of taking it for granted. You know, there’s there’s taking that greatness for granted. There’s been years where soccer team hasn’t won. Right. But you really do assume that every time the women’s team takes the court that they’re going to win. And there will be overwhelming favorites at the Olympics this year. They’re probably their third team would be favorites of the Olympics this year. But international basketball is improving at a very, very fast rate. There are WNBA players all throughout the teams in Tokyo, and they just almost got beat by Nigeria in a warm up tournament a couple of weeks ago, barely eked out a win over Nigeria. So it’s going to be fun. And I hope that this is a changing of the guard, because you’re totally right, Jill. It has gotten completely lost in the shadows.
S8: And while the soccer team has been hailed as these heroes, we’ve really taken the greatness of the basketball team. And hopefully this will be, you know, we’ll get one final Olympics was superb. And Diana Rossi and like, let’s not take this for granted.
S3: I wanted to let you know that in our bonus segment for Slate Plus members, we’re going to catch up on the U.S. women’s national soccer teams equal pay suit and look at why the men’s team express solidarity with their female counterparts. If you want to hear that and you’re not a slate plus member, you can sign up for Slate. Plus, it’s just $35 for the first year and you can sign up at slate.com. Such hang up. Plus.
S13: All right, so first of all, please appreciate that Josh is in the middle of putting together the forces, another slow burn podcast. He’s also working on his podcast, if you listen to it right now. And yet he found time to binge on the six part Cheers series for new episodes. But that alone doesn’t tell you, Rogic, that the show is. But he gets a pretty good idea. The series takes place at Novarro Junior College in Texas, a little south of Dallas, where longtime coach Monica Aldana has built this unlikely cheerleading powerhouse. Navarro has won 14 of the last 19 national junior college championships. In five of the last eight grand national championships was awarded to the overall top sports. Why? So if you remember the last chance you Syrians, then you’ll get the appeal of sheer last chance. You cover these junior college programs and towns in Mississippi and Kansas where these challenges but troubled athletes come in search of another way to pick some football cheer doesn’t work quite like that. And it’s not exactly clear where the post Novarro destination is or even if the future is brighter for the kids and company coach out bottles program. While they’re there in Texas, of all places, there’s much heroes as the football players, if not more. So you get to watch them perfect their craft. In all six episodes, sometimes excruciatingly so. I mean that literally and figuratively, there’s a seemingly endless tally of broken bones, cracked ribs and concussed. And in fact, we’ve got a clip from Morgan. She’s a member of the Novarro cheer team who’s sort of a newbie as far as competitive cheerleading goes, and can do it up right here.
S23: It’s crazy what we do. If you think about it, like whoever thought of taking two people and a back spot and chucking someone and see how many times they can spend, heavy times they can flip, that person is psychotic. Yep.
S13: I’m the crazy person because I’m the one that doesn’t it it does seem crazy how you can really hear the bones cracking and ankles breaking and all this stuff. Throughout the series, we sit in practice probably about a third of the time that the documentary goes, and it’s all in service of this one perfect moment that doesn’t quite come together. And I don’t want to spoil it for people who haven’t seen it, but it’s not even pretty at the end. So anyway, Josh, you finally watched over the weekend. What was your big takeaway cheer?
S3: Well, congratulations, first of all, on getting me to watch it. You’ve been on us to talk about cheer for a while. And I was kind of, you know, putting it off like y’all get to this eventually. And then I watched the first episode and then I watched all sex and very rapid after.
S14: It’s just before we get to all of the like, really fascinating conversations we can have about the show. It’s just an unbelievably well made piece of television docu series. You know, you heard in that clip the sound of that hundred pound cheerleader Morgan getting tossed in there and caught like and the way that they have that, Mike, you can really kind of hear and feel viscerally the pain every time one of those moves gets mad. And so it’s just incredibly well shot. The sound is great. And the way that they integrate the competition with the backstories of the athletes and going back to their hometowns and hearing about their stories. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a work of kind of reality television or a docu series like this that is so transfixing. I haven’t actually seen Last Chance here that is also on my list. So I don’t know if last chance here is this good. But Lindsey, I just cannot stop watching the series.
S6: I too just binged it basically over the weekend after my podcast co-host have been back.
S24: He’s making a lot about it.
S21: Very similar. Yeah, it was all of the getting to know these people within the context of doing this.
S18: I’ve never been a big athlete. Shocker. You know, I’ve been just a sports fan, one of the sideline people.
S5: Most sports, though, while they amaze me.
S21: They don’t feel like they’re in another universe watching movies and watching the things that these these athletes are doing just feels like they are completely different human beings than than I am.
S7: But I think what I really appreciated about this docu series is you think of cheerleading and you think of kind of the glitz and the glamour or maybe the cattiness, maybe the, you know, the Polish and the shine or is this really was all about kind of the humanity of it, the athleticism of it. And I mean, this is this powerhouse program that practices in this bare bones gymnasium in the middle of nowhere.
S3: Well, Novarro is both a juggernaut and an underdog. Yeah, I think makes it a. Joel, the perfect subject for a series like this. And they have this one rival, Trinity Valley, which has kind of glimpsed very occasionally. And they have this coach, Vontae Johnson, who’s like the opposite. Kind of Coach Monaca kind of made me wonder, like, what would the docu series about Trinity Valley have have been because Novarro is portrayed and I think correct, like these kids come from really difficult backgrounds. They do have to struggle. And yet Novarro wins all the time. And Trinity Valley does it. I wonder if you could have made such a compelling series about the rival school or if it had to be Novarro?
S22: I think it helps a lot because that way you get to Daytona at the end with the final championship is the final championship competition is and you get this payoff. You get to see this team defending or not defending its title. And that feels a little bit different because that’s the that’s the spine of this story. How’s Navarro going to maintain this excellence? You know, and you see how they’re how they get to be great and you get to see, well, will it all pay off at the end? I don’t know that we would have gotten that at Trinity Valley, but the one thing that I thought about was, my God, they don’t have a lot of resources. And I thought about that most when the cheerleaders got hurt over and over again. And they’re like, oh, well, you know, maybe you should ice that up or, you know, you should go see the doctor or whatever. But in any other major program, in any other major sport, there’d be so much more attention paid to the injuries that were compiled in the course of this competition. And that just didn’t happen there. MAYHEW Actually, I mean, in some ways I was it was inspiring as well. They’re soldiering on in spite of all of these limitations. But I also wondered what it would have looked like if it had happened, the University of Texas, if they had all these sort of resources. And I wondered, I wonder why does a University of Texas it was not until the end that you realize that they’re dominating amongst all these other programs that are similarly limited. It’s not like community colleges and junior colleges are well funded in any way. And sometimes they score higher above with a B and often they score high enough on these other programs right now competing at that level. But fundamentally, their primary competitions are these other poorly funded schools in far off places. And it does make me wonder what would that look like at Texas A&M and what would that look like at SMU?
S6: One for me, a lot that brought up the fact that this is cheerleading is not like an NCAA sanctions sport, you know.
S21: And I think so much sexism goes into that and like the way we viewed cheerleading throughout the year. But also one of the things I did not see coming. And what I’ve honestly love to hear a lot more about was the final episode you hear about this conglomerate of corporation varsity that kind of has their stranglehold over the sport. And I’ve done a little bit of research about how Varsity has kind of fought to keep it from being an NCW sport. Right. So that varsity gets to keep hold of the sport and keep making the profits and keep like running this world of competitive cheerleading. And now that I’m ever, ever in favor of, you know, I can see the valet guy and taking control. But there are sort of some regulations and some level of minimal oversight when you are in NCW Double-A sport that it made me wish kind of wonder if this would be they would be better off to have.
S17: I don’t know what you think you’ll notice because I always wonder how many times per day, how many hours per day, per week do they practice? It seems like that’s something they do. Yeah, all the time.
S25: Right. Stations. Yeah.
S21: Like no limitations and they don’t like there’s one trainer for their whole school. So basically the way it worked out like in one of the early scenes, the one is you know, one athletic trainer was all the way working with another team all the way across.
S7: And then there’s a serious injury and they had to like drop everything and come all the way over. Whereas you know, you’re getting much more over, say, and they’re certain. I mean, we know they’re not always follow, but there are concussions. You know, semblances of precaution protocols and things like that. And the only way I felt like it not being in C Double-A S’pore really benefited was the fact that I feel like these players were able to create these social media followings and long off of them, which I thought was a really interesting thing. There was one of the cheerleaders. Gabby, I think her name was you had like you, she has almost a million followers on Instagram and was really building a brand and of course, a one and a half million.
S3: No. Cheers.
S6: Oh, bad. And of course, if she was I kept thinking, if she wasn’t NCW athlete, of course, that wouldn’t be allowed. But I found that to be interesting.
S3: That’s the first thing I wrote in my notes as chair shows what could happen if the NCAA allowed athletes to market themselves. Yeah, right. And that is a benefit that these athletes have with us not being an NCAA sport. They can do sponsored content on their social media and they can make money from, you know, if cheer was about football team of the people that are in charge now are incredibly famous. Even if you get on to YouTube and like look at all the stuff that these guys have, John, like Jerry is on the red carpet for. Generous, like they’re all doing like every conceivable marketing opportunity. And it’s yeah, and it’s great for them. And I’m sure that they’re being able to profit off of their names and likenesses, which they would not be able to do as NCAA athletes. But the varsity brands thing is so insane. Matt Stoller had a good post about it in his newsletter about monopolies. It’s like not only does Varsity do these competitions, they also sell all of the apparel stolen pointed out that they had one competition where they actually gave teams more points if they did stunts with varsity brands like Price.
S14: And these these competitions are marketing essentially vehicles for varsity cheerleading outfits, cheerleading products. It’s like this totally like vertically, vertically integrated monopoly. And it’s it’s nuts. It’s truly not.
S5: You couldn’t watch it on ESPN or anything. You have to right. By their streaming platform to even be able to watch this.
S7: And that was just that was really stunning. And so part of this was that the camera crew, the Netflix camera crew couldn’t bring their crew completely into Daytona to film. They kind of were relying on like iPhone footage because of this varsity monopoly. Yeah.
S26: Another thing that I thought about with cheer in regards to the people that make up the team is how easy it would be for these kids to be exploited.
S20: I didn’t get the sense that many of them went to school or had much of an academic record before they got to school, which in some ways gives them an advantage in junior colleges because they have a much more liberal insurance policies. And then another bigger fancy Double-A affiliated school. Right. So they can bring in people that it wasn’t clear that they did. Gaby said that she had not been to school. Basically, she was homeschooled. She was also a long. It wasn’t clear that there was a lot of academic grounding in a lot of this for a lot of these players and that they spent a lot of time in class. It was only at the end when you hear that Jerry gets this scholarship to the university, academic scholarship to the University of Louisville. Oh, wow. I wonder how you found time to go to class and what kind of classes you took. There was never any sense that academics played any role in sort of decs education, which maybe is fine, but that was such a huge part of last chance.
S7: You know, I didn’t watch the most recent season, last chance you, but I mean, in the first season, like one of the main characters was the academic advisor, like with these boys, like she was like almost the star of the series and says was weird, like not having that part of it into it. But of course, all of those players are trying to go on to academically be able to qualify for these bigger schools, whereas I was brought up time and time again. They are these, you know, 19, 20 year olds at the pinnacle of their. Like there’s nowhere to go for heat from here as far as like competitive cheerleading.
S16: Right. That’s it for them, which is weird. You just get in the chemistry back to the sex of the mother because what does the LSU have a cheerleading program where you can go into and get that scholarship and, you know, you can go there as you go rather than do that.
S3: Let’s talk about Monica Aldama, the coach. She’s compared in share to Nick Saban and Bill Belichick. She’s struck me as kind of more like Coach Taylor from the Friday Night Lights universe. She clearly cares a lot about the men and women on her team. They all talk about her as the queen. And in admiring terms, she’s the greatest cheerleading coach that there is in terms of resumé. And yet it seems like she’s putting her athletes in danger. A lot of the time. Gia Tolentino in a piece for The New Yorker wrote Throughout the season, Aldama uses Morgan’s attachment to her in a way that pushes Morgan into physical danger. Her ribs come to the brink of fracturing, though she tries to conceal it and also provides Morgan with a new confidence and a novel sense that she is needed and seen yet at times.
S21: It’s a very toxic relationship, and at other times it seems like a very rewarding relationship for these athletes. But I think ultimately that’s kind of an uncomfortable truth. At the root of a lot of toxic relationships is that it’s not all bad. Right. That the manipulation is part of that.
S8: And I do think seeing her flippant nature towards injuries for these kids was jarring.
S21: And I can’t overlook it, nor do I think it should be overlooked. The same time, she was definitely giving a lot of these kids, young adults, like a support and a love and an attention that they had never received before.
S3: Joel, how much of what you saw from Monica? Do you feel like is just endemic to high level competitive college athletics versus being unique to this particular environment?
S16: It just reminded me of every pretty much every coach that. Might come across at that level or any level, right? Because there is this pretense that the coaches care about you and they want the best for you and that there’s always a sense that they’re going to be parental figures in your life for the rest of your life. And they just want the best for you and that teaching you sacrifice and commitment, determination and all these other values that we supposedly think you are sports with. But in the end, especially if you go to the end of this documentary, what was it all for?
S20: Because we get to the end of the documentary and we see that a lot of for a lot of these cheerleaders, there doesn’t appear to be like some sort of defined path, like there’s not necessarily a way forward. We get Morgan, who’s just kind of hanging out on campus when it’s all over. Jerry was able to, you know, use his academics to get it somewhere else. But little areas. I mean, he found a gym that he’s working at.
S3: But I mean, I think the argument is that she at least claims I’ve won enough. I don’t need more trophies. I just do this for the kids and I want to give them discipline and put them on the right path.
S20: Yeah. I mean, I guess we’d need to know a little bit more about what that path looks like after this.
S19: And a big thing is I think it’s coming back for a second season and a lot of these people are coming by what I think. Cheers. Coming back for for another season.
S1: Yeah, but who are your sources on that? Lindsey Graham making an announcement? Yeah. That’s amazing. Wow. I’ve seen that. I haven’t seen that anywhere. You know.
S21: Rumor has it. I will say it’s coming back for a second season. Rumor has it Jerry is going to still be involved.
S6: And Irish back at Novarro. Yeah. Jerry is definitely back in Novarro. He did not end up taking that scholarship.
S25: Job today. Something amazing right now. Oh, my God. But then he left yet.
S24: And I just want to make sure that these contracts for this second season are fair to the kids. Cheerleader. Oh, my God. Jerry didn’t go to Louisville, Ky.
S25: When he went. He just didn’t stay. He thought Navarro is the best place for him, probably because of. Said second season of the show. I think it probably had something to do. I don’t know that if there’s not a second season, God, I’m going to Corsicana, Texas before.
S20: And I can’t imagine that you need to spend more than a year and a half there if you don’t have to.
S14: All right. Quick lightning round for me. I mentioned earlier the kind of backstories that you hear about of the cheerleaders and just the different kinds of brokenness that the show depicts. Like Gabby’s relationship with her parents, who are just simply overbearing and I think are seen as villains by a lot of people who watch the show. I’m Jerry and what he over overcomes in and his life with his mom and getting cancer, Morgan being abandoned by her family. Ladera is getting bullied and abused. Just the amount of pain and kind of different types of emotional pain that all of these people went through as harrowing. And I think also one of the things that I really admired is that the right word. But you see the kind of depictions of of people that you don’t necessarily see in popular media. And one, I’m transitioning a little bit here. But like gay black male athletes, it’s like not a category. Like we’ve obviously Michael Sam, Jason Collins, but just like the men on this, this team are just really fascinating figures and not ones that you necessarily see in that kind of reality television docu series environment all that often.
S16: There were a lot of things in to enjoy about this series. Amidst all of this brokenness and amidst all this possible exploitation. But the one thing that I kept coming back to was how much they all supported each other, how much they made community for each other. And maybe this, you know, the cameras are there. In some ways they’re putting on a good show.
S20: But it really did seem that those guys, those girls really did care about each other and took care of each other even as they were competing amongst themselves for spots on the cheerleading team. But it just seems, you know, there was all these moments where Jerry and Ladera in their room and they’re talking to each other and it’s like very brotherly or or even Lexie. Like Lexie’s just hanging out there. Lexie, somebody that we didn’t break up who you know, if you get to the end of the documentary, there’s not a lot of reason to feel excited about, you know, her immediate future.
S15: She’s back at Navarro studio, by the way.
S17: She’s back in Nevada. So while you’re breaking news. What do you do? Did you follow all the Instagram accounts?
S1: I guess I could answer that question. There are some there are some Googling. Ah, yeah. Yeah. Oh, that’s great. But yes, you have something to look forward to after we finish recording. Delgado Yeah. I mean, I get into that.
S7: I think like it seems like what you’re getting at is there is this intense athletic environment with. A lot of toxic masculinity, which it’s so rare and especially like coming from the last chance you kind of see like type series, like it was just not that there weren’t components of that. As far as the ruthless competitiveness, the, you know, manipulation. I mean, there were some unhealthy aspects to this. But seeing it be predominantly women and gay men as the stars of this league, brutal, intense, athletic competition made it feel different and was putting Ben in a different light and showing us different sides to people than we’re used to seeing represented in our media.
S3: All right. Let us end it there. And it is now time for after balls and after just ending it there. I’m going to restart it again because I want to keep talking about here for just another fifteen seconds.
S15: So did you guys notice on apparel? Just kind of around in the background of the show. There’s this acronym F I O F M, you know, it’s just kind of around their little Easter egg if you look for it. Ex-urban. They never talk about it. And I found this article on the website Decider, which found a tweet from a Novarro cheerleader named Kayla Culver that says F i o f m u is a coded message motto that you learn and earn throughout the year while on the team. Learning the meaning is entirely special and is only known by Novarro cheerleaders and Novarro chair alumni. So if we want to know what f ilf him.You means, then we need to go to Novarro. I’m I’m up for it. Actually, they did highlight a deleted urban dictionary entry that suggests what it is. So this may or may not be true, but it perhaps stands for. Fight it out.
S1: Fuck em up, huh? That sounds fine like that. That’s great. Yeah.
S3: All right. So f i o f m you, Joel. What do you got for us.
S20: So yeah, my fi o f m you is the knuckleheads podcast. And so if you’re an NBA fan, you probably settled in this weekend to watch one of the best All-Star weekends in recent memory. The three point and dunk contest where each decided by a single point Aaron Gordon jumped over 7 foot 5 choco fall and lost the game on Sunday night was one of the most competitive in the game’s history, with guys Kyle Lowry taking charges in the final minutes and it’d be easy to get lost in the second half of the NBA season to come. There’s a lot to look forward to. LeBron and the Lakers win one for Kobe, Kawhi and Paul. George keep them from even winning Los Angeles. Is this Janis’s year in Milwaukee and so on and so forth. But the knuckleheads is for those of us who want to look backward a little bit. And it’s co-hosted by the Los Angeles Clippers first round picks and 2000. So sorry, Michael, you’re in Mexico. I just maybe he comes in sometimes, but it’s going to be starting its third season today with an interview with Shaquille O’Neal. So the timing here is perfect. Right in the park isn’t so much about these star studded guest shacks that Kobe’s Dwayne Wade, Kevin Durant’s is. It is about the working class of the NBA. It starts at the top where the co-host well, as acquitting Richardson each began an episode with the question and it’s who is the first person in the NBA to bust your ass? And the responses open this portal back to a time when guys like Nick Van Exel, var. Davis and Carlos Boozer were important parts of the NBA landscape that time. And the NBA, by the way, is so much more delightful in my memory. So it wasn’t real time, but you’ll hear about how much the players respected Isaiah Thomas as a coach and how they first made it. These various AAUP tournaments around the country and how Bishan Leonard was apparently the most unstoppable players that we don’t remember for whatever reason. But nobody can stop Foshan Live Living according to at least four players that have appeared on the knuckleheaded Bobcats. So anyway, Derrius and Quintan have this knack for getting players open up in ways they usually don’t see in the mainstream media, and that’s probably because they have these relationships with everyone. In fact, it leads to this great quote because Derrius and Quittin were famous for time for putting both their face on their forehead after they done to made a big play. And that’s how they ended up becoming knuckleheads. And that sort of gave them a modicum of fame, so much so that they appeared in the van while the movie series. And so it leads to this great scene is great, this great clip in the podcast where Dario says that Van Wilder loved his different and so so it’s just great. So in a time of renewed interest in our working class on Super Tuesday, knuckleheads in the window we need into the heartland of the NBA. I couldn’t recomended more.
S3: That sounds amazing. And thank you for your appreciation of the working man. That’s a sentiment that we could all. We can all use more. Lindsey, what is your FII CFMEU, you okay?
S24: I already forgotten that acronym. So let’s get right into it.
S27: We were talking about women’s basketball and I thought I would dig back. So one of my favorite power players archival finds I like to go back in the archives for my newsletters. Talk a little bit a bit about the first dominant force in women’s basketball history in college women’s baseball history Immaculata, a small school in Pennsylvania that had about 500 people attending all women.
S21: They won the first three national championships. This was when it was the A I a W women’s basketball tournament, the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women. But they were part of some big moments in women’s basketball history, the first being when they defeated Maryland. Eighty to forty eight on January 26, 1975 in College Park. That was a very first televised women’s basketball game. And then of just about a month later, they became the first women’s basketball team to play in Madison Square Garden, and they played against Queens College. And I thought I would read some excerpts from the Daily News article setting up this game, because as you if you’re familiar with daily news articles, then this won’t be a surprise. It says at 1:30 this afternoon, a bunch of long haired basketball players will step onto the garden court and into history for the first time in a major sports arena. The players will be wearing mascara.
S6: Well, it goes on to describe that there are two major differences between the UCLA program. You’ll run by John Wooden at the time. And, you know, the Immaculata, which whose coach was Cathy Rush, who’s making, I think, $450 a year at the time. So the first major difference that they harp on is the fact that she will allow both genders into locker room five minutes after the game.
S7: So it was really funny reading back on this coverage because there’s been all this stuff about can women be in the men’s locker room? But at the time they were there was all this pearl clutching while the men go into the women’s locker room because all us are male. So she did laugh, let them in. And she said it would be sexist if I didn’t.
S21: To close out this daily news preview, he said The mighty Max, which was the name for immaculata players swarming eyelash to eyelash, smeared the lipstick, pressing defense and a run and shoot offense led by their slick playmaking guard Marijan Crawford. And Marion Crawford is the one and only Marion Stanley, women’s basketball legend who is the coach of the head coach of the Indiana fever this year old story. There is a gray comic, of course, to go with it. That’s in the locker rooms, of course. And it was actually a great game. And like the first televised game, which was a blowout. They beat Queen sixty five to sixty one. And what everybody said was one of the best basketball games ever played up until that time.
S20: Wow. That’s amazing. And 12000 people were there. So where exactly is Immaculata?
S15: Well, I think it’s about 30 miles west of Philly, not far from Valley Forge Historical Park. If you want to make like a a road trip. Yeah, see the sights.
S21: I mean, look, this is sports history.
S7: Before the big programs had started investing in women’s sports. It was a small women’s colleges that were really where women’s sports were being made. And the coach I love said that she’d have spending time recruiting. She did have to spend time on the phones reporting her results to newspapers after the game.
S14: So I did not have enough AOL Ammu. I was just spending too much time looking at the Instagram accounts from the cheerleaders. As one does after watching Cheer. But I do want to say that the archival stuff that you have in power players is amazing and infuriating, but also entertaining at times. The one that was the most recent was about a suggestion that women needed to stop playing soccer because of potential. Oh, she is by getting hit by the ball.
S7: Oh yeah. Like it’s going to ruin both your ovaries. The pelvis isn’t strong enough for women to play. And also, yeah, the ball could hit the breast which would damage any ability to be a woman. Really? I think it was overall. So this was what’s wild to me about this stuff is I consider myself fairly, you know, fairly young. And I was born in 86. And I think the article from that archive, which was. From a Russian news service, but it was just 10 years before I was born.
S5: People, you know, like we’re not talking about that, that, you know, the 19/20. It’s like this is all within the lifetimes.
S3: You know, that they were saying this these type of sports are too dangerous for women and it’s too threatening for men, which is what ultimately can be how to the women who who created the kind of soccer boom in the US like they were growing up while articles like that were being right.
S5: Yeah. Like it was. That was all part of it.
S17: There are women in our lifetime that grew up playing basketball when there was a full court. Right. Right.
S7: Yeah. Nothing. MacGraw. I mean, legendary coach, like when she learned basketball, it was six a you know, six on six. And she was she was the Rober.
S1: All right. All the more reason to subscribe to that is our show for today.
S2: Our producer producers, Melissa Kaplan, to listen to passphrase and subscribe or just reach out to slate.com. Splash, hang up and you can e-mail us at Hang-Up at slate.com. You’re still here. I’m guessing you might want even more. Hang up and listen. And our bonus segment this week, we talked about the U.S. women’s soccer team, equal pay suit and the men’s team’s recent expression of solidarity.
S28: There some dispute over what U.S. soccer is and what U.S. soccer should you know. There’s a lot of drama because the money making entities are essentially the two national teams. Right. But the mandate of U.S. soccer is not just to run these two national teams. It’s to grow the game of soccer at the grassroots level.
S29: To hear that conversation jointly. Plus, it’s just $35 for the first year. You can sign up at slate.com. Hang up. Plus for Joel Anderson and Linda Gibbs. Josh Levine remembers. I’m Obeidy. And thanks for listening.
S14: Now it is time for our bonus segment for Slate Plus members. Lindsey, hello. Hi.
S3: So there was if not news, then I guess new kind of opinion and commentary about the U.S. women’s national soccer teams equal pay suit last week, and that came from the men’s soccer team. There has been criticism of the players on the men’s team for not being particularly vocal about the women’s team’s efforts to get equal pay. And this was a huge difference. First, when you explain what happened and what they said, and then we can get into the why of it.
S6: Yeah, I mean, it was a nineteen hundred word statement, which is a long statement for any type of players association to put out. And essentially their argument was just that U.S. soccer, the U.S. Soccer Federation needed to pay the women a lot more money and that it was discriminating against them and treating them unfairly. And so that was kind of the gist of it. But very quickly, the kind of question was, well, why are you saying this now? And when you looked into it, a lot of the reason why they’re saying it now is because the U.S. men’s national team is currently negotiating with U.S. soccer for their collective bargaining agreement, which actually expired at the end of 2018. So they’ve been playing without one for a while now. And I don’t know how much you want me to get into it right off the bat here, but ultimately what it’s coming down to is the treatment of the women by the federation is now hurting the men.
S14: Well, it puts them in a in a bad and awkward position, Joel, because the better contract the men get, then the worse it exactly the worse they look compared to what the women have.
S15: Yeah, right.
S20: Exacerbates, you know, this fundamental payment in inequity. Right.
S11: All right. We can resolve this by just paying you less and then everybody gets.
S5: Yeah. I think that’s kind of what’s happening. They’re saying, you know, we don’t know because they’re spending all this money in court fighting the equal pay suit for the women, which is actually the women there. Gender discrimination suit is actually comparing their wages in the collective bargaining agreement they signed in 2017 to the men’s collective bargaining agreement. That was from 2011 through 2018. And now the men are trying to fight for a much better CBA than the one that lasted from 2011 to 2018, while the women are saying they’re discriminated against based on their prior CBA.
S21: So it ends up being U.S. soccer is now saying, well, we can’t give you more money while they’re saying that, you know, it would look really, really bad if we gave you more money.
S26: I guess I need to understand why. Why? Why shouldn’t they get more money? We know that they’re making money hand over fist, like they were one of the few institutions that emerged from the global economic crisis in a healthy financial position. And, you know, they were making more money at the end of it than they were going into it. And I don’t understand why they just don’t throw money at it like this for.
S19: That’s a great question. Essentially comes down to there are some disputes over what U.S. soccer is and what U.S. soccer should be. You know, there’s a lot of drama because the money making entities are essentially the two national teams. Right. By the mandate of U.S. soccer is not just to run these two national teams. It’s to grow the game of soccer at the grassroots level. So I think it comes down on profit. Yeah, it’s a nonprofit.
S6: And, you know, it’s supposed to be supporting, you know, all of the teams, you know, the Paralympic teams, the youth teams. So that’s that’s an interesting problem. It’s not like you’re negotiating with an NBA, you know, type of entity. But I think also the problem is that they’ve been using the national teams as their cash cows and getting all of this money off of it.
S7: And the people the top of U.S. soccer have been getting richer and richer and richer. And the cup, the question kind of remains like, are you using this money ethically or are you keeping it from us for no good reason? And given I know you to know more about this than I do. But given that the development system in the U.S. soccer isn’t quite one to brag home about all the time, like there’s a lot of questions as to how this money is being used.
S26: And I’m always sort of dubious about the development pipeline. Right. Because if the thing is, is we don’t live in a fair and equitable.
S20: And so there are going to be people that are always going to be at a disadvantage for competing at the grassroots level, at the youth levels of soccer, but the NBA doesn’t I mean, they do spend money in the NFL does spend money, but it’s mostly in marketing and marketing the game to people. It’s not in like some sort of default system. So, you know, that’s not we don’t have to do that in the sports.
S26: That is the most popular in our country. Right. The ones that, like have the big TV deals or whatever. And there’s a million dollar contract that’s out. There’s not this huge overarching concern for like funneling money into the development in you. And so I guess maybe it’s a sort of, you know, KPRC chicken or the egg or whatever. But, you know, I don’t understand why would they have to do that with these issues? And if they don’t do it because of these historical barriers to getting all the players in the program that they should, they won’t get them. I guess. Is it sort of frustrating to me? You know what? Yeah.
S19: And I don’t think it’s. I don’t necessarily think that, Barry. I’m saying that’s their excuse, right, Ted? Their logic. I still think that there’s a way to go in to all of this and make sure that the actual money that the players themselves are generating, that more of that is going back to the player themselves. And especially when they’re dealing with bonuses, with media contracts, with all of these things. And I did laugh a lot reading through this, Matt.
S7: You know, this letter from the men’s national team, because it was so transparent that all of a sudden they were like horrified by this sexism because now it was being held against them in this very real way. But ultimately, it’s a lesson, I think, for all labor that it helps.
S18: Like, you’ve got to stick together. Next up. You know, it does. Just because the system isn’t screwing you over yet and it’s screwing over your colleagues. You still need to find solidarity because eventually it’ll come back to you.
S1: That’s a message to you. Cody Ballenger. Yeah, that’s right, Tony.
S3: So I guess maybe we can finish up Benzi with what the response has been, because it would be unfair to say that the men have never expressed solidarity. They’ve expressed it in the past and kind of a general way. Not not in the nineteen hundred word way perhaps, but it’s not like the man’s the the male players have been against the women are of, you know, come out against equal pay.
S12: But is the feeling among that you know what.
S3: How you feel or how that the players feel or what’s what’s been written about this, that this just seems really disingenuous or is it like we don’t really care what the motivation is? It’s like actually nice to have the solidarity no matter what.
S19: Even if it is self-interested, like you said, I’m fine for it to be self-interested because, you know, ultimately labor solidarity, that kind of it’s like it’s all it helps fight for all of us.
S7: But ultimately, I think what we need is more individual male players speaking out. This statement is from the Players Association. The other only other statement they’ve ever released also was from the Players Association.
S25: And I certainly understand the women players all more famous than the men. I know they really moved the needle. If Christian politics was saying maybe it would. I don’t know.
S6: I think it would. I think it would help. Ultimately, what it does is it gets them more individually, more. They’re putting more individually at risk if they are speaking out individually. And that’s what would would move the needle more. I think from what I’ve heard, the women are happy that this statement is made. And it is. I mean, it’s a scathing statement. It takes on FIFA, takes on everything, the corruption of soccer in general and has a specific called action, which is to not support the federations sponsors until the federation does the right thing. And I like that it ended with a call to action. But ultimately, I think we need more individual actions and we might be getting meaning to the point where there’s more or like actual labor actions taken to see the needle move.
S3: All right. Lindsey Gabs, thank you. And the email is Lindsey Alanda as a why a power play is done is very good.
S21: And so hit me up. Tell me that you are a Hang-Up listener and you’ll be put in the drawing for a free subscription.
S3: And Joel, you’re not giving anything away this week. I don’t know. Not very generous of you, but maybe we’ll circle back to you. Lessness, thank you for your listenership and we’ll have more for you next week.