S1: Hi, I’m Josh Levin, Slate’s national editor, and this is Hang Up and Listen for the week of July 6th, 2021. On this week’s show, we’re going to talk about sprint champion Sha’Carri Richardson marijuana suspension and the future of weed and sports. Amira Rose Davis of the podcast Burn It All Down will also be here to discuss Gwen Berry plans to protest at the Olympics in the past and present of black women activists and sports. And finally, we’ll look at the first week of new name, image and likeness rules for college athletes. They’re making money and weird and wild ways, and the earth continues to rotate. I am in Washington, D.C. I’m the author of The Queen, the host of the new podcast One Year, which debuts this Thursday.
S2: Yeah, subscribe, please.
S1: You guys could see my it is very long. So you know that the show is good if it’s distracting me from shaving for this long podcast.
S3: Beer exactly like a playoff beard.
S1: Also in D.C., Stefan Fatsis author of the book Word Freak in a few seconds of Panic and Stefan is beardless. Now, ciggy hasn’t been working very
S3: hard now or playing in the Stanley Cup finals.
S1: Neither one with us from wherever it is that he has in Slate, staff writer and host of Slover in Season three and the upcoming Season six Joel Anderson his in the middle ground Gregoire’s this week.
S2: Yeah, this is the same beard that I’ve always had.
S1: I mean, just been in between me and Stefan on the beard, the hang up beard gradient.
S3: Do you think your beard is that much more than mine? No, I’m not
S2: certain about that.
S1: Yeah, that’s a good point. Matt has a little bit cocky about my beard.
S2: Yeah, I don’t get out ahead of yourself there. You get over your skis. This is an impressive beard in its own right.
S1: So it’s an important moment of humility for me at the top of the.
S3: One notable thing about sprinter’s Sha’Carri Richardson’s positive test for marijuana at last month’s US track and field trials was that she didn’t deny or apologize for using pot. She said she was trying to cope with the stress of learning from a reporter that her biological mother had died. She did apologize for, quote, the fact that I didn’t know how to control my emotions or deal with my emotions during that time, which she didn’t need to apologize for. The US Anti-Doping Agency gave Richardson the most lenient possible suspension one month, but her victory at the trials in the 100 meters was invalidated. So she won’t be allowed to run that event in Tokyo. She still could be named to the women’s four by one hundred relay team because that race is more than a month from the date of her suspension. Rules are rules Joel and Richardson must have known that she was taking a risk. But banning THC, especially in Arabic sports like track and swimming, arguably has nothing to do with performance enhancement or competition integrity. And this great and compelling athlete is deprived from doing her main thing, and we are deprived from watching her because of outdated sport. A kraddick rules. I’m not happy about that.
S2: I try very hard not to be a rules are rules guy. I think it absolves people of the privilege of thinking right. Because rules aren’t intrinsically good and fair, because they are on the books. And we know that for all sorts of reasons, particularly in this country, that there’s been rules used to justify all kinds of unfairness, discrimination, etc.. And in a world where not very many black women get to be global icons are presented with moments that could create real wealth and really hurt and disappointed the Sha’Carri is missing out on this opportunity. Maybe the way to think about this is in two different ways. There’s a way of looking specifically at Sha’Carri and then more broadly at Wata. And if it’s testing protocols, it makes sense. And I think that Sha’Carri caught a really bad break and took this all on the chin in a really admirable way. Like imagine like going through this at the age of twenty one years old. I’ve been really impressed with how she’s handled it and I just, you know, mostly for her sake, I wish she had smoked so close to competition, could have made it to the other side of this and competed at one hundred. But more broadly and I said this a few weeks ago when we had David Epstein on, I wonder about the need to monitor athletes in this way, because first, it’s all a piece of this nation’s broader and widely acknowledged failure of a drug war. That this sort of came up in the late 90s is meant to monitor people’s drug usage. And second and this sort of goes back to our conversations about inclusion for trans athletes or whatever else. I’m interested in this idea of fair competition, which like maybe we should reconsider as a whole because we know that there’s actually no such thing as fair competition, whether through training or diet or any other literal physical advantages that athletes have. And so it all comes from the same well, like monitoring drugs, Drug?”• intake, all this other stuff. And I’m just wondering if maybe this is an opportunity for the IOC, for WADA to reconsider how we got here in the first place, because it just in the end of the day, it just seems stupid, doesn’t it, Josh?
S1: It does seem stupid. I think Dave Epstein in his newsletter and report did a good job of laying out some of the misconceptions are here. And one of the issues is that these rules are set down by the World Anti-Doping Agency to govern two hundred and six Olympic committees in all sports. And so he said that there’s only maybe one example of a drug that’s banned and one particular sport and not in others. And so these are one size fits all rules for countries have different views and approaches on different drugs. Different sports will necessarily think about performance enhancement in different ways. With regard to different drugs. You have different states like Oregon where Sha’Carri Richardson was because the Olympic trials were there, where weed is legal. And so effectively what you were saying with rules are rules. Well, yeah, she did violate a rule, but there were other rules and laws that she didn’t violate, depending on what the context was. And it brings to mind to me the conversation around Tyran Matthew when he was at LSU, when he got kicked off the football team for first it was a synthetic marijuana suspension, then it was a positive marijuana test. And there was just this really divergent set of opinions around, well, why would he throw all of this away, knowing that they were testing for weed? And why don’t you just not smoke and not get kicked off the team? Like, how hard is that? And then on the other side, the argument that he’s not harming anyone, it’s not it’s not a performance enhancer, no matter how it’s classified. And so what are we doing as a school, as a society, and also, like millions upon millions of people are engaging in this active. It is both legally and illegally with no repercussions at all, as opposed to like the repercussion being getting kicked out of the Olympics. So that just seems disproportionate. You know, I think what the Sha’Carri Richardson thing has done in a really helpful way, and it’s through the way that she’s handled it and talked about it, is spotlighted the kind of pain that she was in to make this bad decision. And she really screwed up. She had and she did this to herself in a way that she acknowledged. And so I think it helps you to understand why someone would do this, because they’re in a bad headspace. It’s not because she’s stupid. It’s not because she was just, like, willfully throwing things away. It just shows how sad she was, how upset she was, how she wasn’t really thinking. Right. And so then instead of extending empathy and allowing someone to make a mistake, it not only seems really wrong, it is really wrong. And yet there is a way Stefan in which hands are tied here. And I guess my question for you is, does that seem like a copout to say, well, the rules are the same for 206 countries, you can’t just give leeway to the United States here. In what ways do you think Grace could have been extended and in what ways do you think this is just played out, how it should that she is getting sympathy, that she did acknowledge that she made a mistake and she will be able to run in the four by one?
S3: You know, let’s stipulate that she’s handled this about as well as someone could handle it. And she went on the Today show and made those comments. She was contrite, again, not for having done what she did because of her mental state and her grief and her anxiety, whatever she was feeling about what she had learned. But because it jeopardized her ability to run in the Olympics and it reflects badly on her sponsors, she said, and the people that have supported her and her coaches and the people that have gotten to know her since the Olympic trials, who knew nothing about Sha’Carri Richardson, right? This is not a famous athlete. This is somebody who was going and this was her Olympic moment, one of those athletes that will become familiar to everybody who’s paying attention to sports over the course of those two weeks that the Olympics are held. What does it reflect? Josh, and it reflects an absolute inflexibility on the part of these gigantic sport kraddick organizations. The head of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency came out and basically said, this is stupid, we shouldn’t be testing. And I feel badly for her, but we have no choice. Our hands are tied. So as long as they’re going to be these gigantic organizations who take upon themselves the authority for regulating every sport in this cookie cutter way, I just don’t know how you get around it. Somebody pointed out I think it was Epstein, actually, it was David in his newsletter that if we start making exceptions, well, guess what? The Russian Federation would have made a lot of exceptions for the actual cheating that its athletes engaged in at its behest during the Winter Olympics and in other sports a few years ago. So the small answer is that Sha’Carri Richardson is positive test. And the sympathy, the outpouring of sympathy for her is certainly going to, I think, lead to change in terms of how the World Anti-Doping Agency regulates THC. But this is whack a mole when it comes to drugs and performance enhancement and how we treat athletes and how we punish them.
S2: One thing that is been really encouraging, in addition to the idea that maybe the IOC, maybe US track are going to move forward on this is the way that even as a society that we’re treating Sha’Carri Richardson like it does seem that there’s been some growth. I mean, you mentioned Turin, Matthew Josh. But I also think back to when Ricky Williams tested positive in the NFL and then retired as a result. And it was like he was a huge for lack of a better term fuckup, you know, like people thought he had thrown his whole life and his career away for weed, even as we
S3: knew a weirdo. Right. He was he was sort of branded a weirdo, even though
S2: we knew that he had social anxiety disorder, which is another thing that we didn’t really have the tool. Maybe we had the tools, but just not the empathy to think about and regard him in that way. So it has been encouraging that people are less fixated on Sha’Carri is like a fuckup. And if somebody who was in pain and medicated herself in that way. But I also like touching on something else you got said I still go back on this idea that, well, if the Americans don’t test for something or whatever, if we just open things up, then Russia is going to do it. And again, I’m just like, man, we’re talking about athletics and sports. Nobody is ever really able to come up with any consistent rules for what constitutes an unfair advantage. Anything can be a Performance-Enhancing to a certain degree. Like I mean, anything that you take, you could probably find some sort of thing to, oh, this person, alcohol lessened their anxiety or whatever, like they took a shot. I don’t you know, if you want it to be that credulous about a claim of what constitutes fair and unfair. Vantage, you could go down the line and be that dumb about it, and so I guess I’m just like, why are we not reconsidering this whole idea of putting people through this battery and protocol of tests and the changes over and over again like these lists change the substances that are listed on them, change over time all the time. So it just seems like maybe like we’re going in the wrong direction if we’re asking these organizations to just reconsider how they’re doing and say, hey, why are you doing this in the first place?
S1: Well, the move towards the kind of biological passport model as opposed to testing for substances, I think in some ways the biological passport is more invasive. Right. It’s like giving these agencies access to all of your data about what’s going on inside your body. But it does seem more accurate, as Dave Epstein talked to us about when we’re discussing Shelby Hoolihan and her burrito. It seems more accurate is a way to determine fluctuations that might be a natural in people’s bodies, but also seems like a way that we could maybe move past this approach that you’re describing Joel of a substance by substance approach and like, oh, is this thing available in a convenience store or is this thing legal in Oregon and all of that? It does seem like the direction we’re moving in, but I also feel like a lot of times we widen out conversations a little bit wider than they need to be. This is just about marijuana and the solution is to not ban marijuana anymore. And like that would fix this specific problem, but it would also fix some bigger problems. And we’ve seen like the thing that Wata couldn’t do that like the NBA and NFL do Stefan maybe I’m wrong about this. Basically what the NBA and NFL have done is keep some sort of nominal testing in place, but basically signal to the players you can smoke or do edibles or whatever you want. And we’re going to only test during a couple of weeks and training camp or whatever it is that they do, it’s just moving the way the country’s been moving.
S3: But that’s the case here, too, Josh.
S1: It’s not appropriate to talk about decriminalization in the context of sports, but it’s basically like not a full elimination of all rules, but relaxing them in some ways that it’s like an acknowledgement that weed is just like a part of Americans lives. Or I guess in the case of the NBA, international players lives still.
S3: Yeah, to be fair, though, the Olympic movement has gone in that direction. They only test for weed in competition during competition. So there has been some progress there. And the next step here is clearly to not test for this at all and to throw out the arguments that, well, in some context, you don’t want somebody who’s riding a bicycle at 70 miles per hour to be high. OK, that might make sense. So the idea of sport by sport regulation for certain drugs is probably sensible, but
S1: doesn’t testing only in competition? Theoretically, maybe that’s better, but like actually in practice isn’t that much worse if you’re going to do one or the other, would it make more sense to test out of competition? Because then in this case, if somebody is on weed, you take away their medals. That doesn’t make any sense. That doesn’t seem more kind of sensible or relaxed.
S3: None of it makes any sense. The bigger picture, I think, and the thing that you alluded to earlier, Joel, is that how we scrutinize athletes and whether we need to be more attuned to the pressures that they face on a day to day basis and what we expect of them. Lindsay Crouse had a good piece about this in The New York Times last week. She wrote that the best athletes are already under this extraordinary pressure to perform. But on top of that, we asked for this extraordinary conduct in their personal lives that have absolutely nothing to do with how they play. And that’s exactly what we saw here. We saw a woman who was struggling and not in a good, as you said, Josh good head space and sympathy is what was required. And sympathy is what she received from everybody, it seems, except for the people who could grant her a waiver and say, we understand what you did and we believe you, and therefore we are not going to issue the most draconian punishment possible, which is to keep you from competing in your event at the Olympics. There’s no leeway there, and that’s what was needed.
S1: I wonder, Joel, if one of the issues here is the like Shelby Hoolahan burrito issue, which is that we’ve come to think for good reason that every time athletes make an excuse that they’re lying. And so, yeah, this idea of like extending grace or empathy, either we feel like they’re all lying. So why should they get it? Or that if you do extend it in this one case where we have good reason to believe that she is telling the truth, then that would be taken advantage of by other athletes.
S2: The one thing that we know for certain well, I think we know this for certain is that all athletes are going to take all the available advantages they can avail themselves of. Right. And so I can’t really define the difference between why people are taking Sha’Carri at face value and not Shelby Hoolihan, but for the fact that Shelby. Houlihan’s excuse sounded ridiculous, eating a pork burrito or whatever, right? We do know that athletes are going to try to stay on the very cutting edge of this stuff. And it’s been twenty five years in football teams were handed out creatine to players and all of a sudden that stopped. That wasn’t allowed in the NCAA anymore. They weren’t allowed to hand out these big tubs of creatine. All of this stuff is constantly evolving and constantly changing. But one thing we do know is that athletes are going to be out front on it. One other quick thing is that we are talking about this national mood. We’re moving towards the acceptance of marijuana use and that sort of stuff in marijuana sales or whatever. And I live in a state where you can order weed to your front door, like legally, which would have seemed impossible 20 years ago, would have come in handy 20 years ago when I was in college. But now we talk about all these other states or whatever. But I’m like right now I’m currently you said I was in an undisclosed location, Josh. I’m in Texas. And Texas is a place where Alex Caruso just got arrested the other week for marijuana possession as Caruso being the Los Angeles Lakers guard. So it’s not quite is progressive out there and a lot of precincts in this country. And so, like, I think that we’re still grappling with what direction we want to go. Like, it’s clearly seems to be moving in a much better direction. We’re being a little bit more open to the idea that, hey, marijuana is totally a reasonable substance to partake of. But there are a lot of places in this country with that not quite resolved yet. And like that’s the sort of argument, the sort of debating point that ensnared Sha’Carri Richardson right now.
S1: Up next, Amira Rose Davis and Gwen Berry and black women athletes and activism. Rule 50 of the Olympic charter decrees that no kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas. If you want to blame international sport acrobats for that role, which will be in place during the Tokyo Games, you are well within your rights to do so. But it’s also worth noting that two thirds of the three thousand four hundred and fifty seven athletes surveyed by the International Olympic Committee’s Athletes Commission said that podium protests were not appropriate. One athlete who disagrees with that take is the hammer thrower Gwen Berry Gwen Berry got suspended for 12 months for throwing her fist in the air during the 2018 Pan Am games, and she recently turned away from the flag during the medal ceremony at the U.S. Olympic trials. As far as what she’ll do in Tokyo, Barry says, it depends on what I want to do in that moment and what I want to do for my people in that moment. Joining us now is a mirror, Rose Davis. She is an assistant professor of history and African-American studies at Penn State, also a co-host of the excellent Burn It All Down podcast, Amira. Thanks so much for being here.
S4: Yeah, thanks for having me.
S1: Let’s start with Gwen Berry before we get to the broader issues here. You’ve reported on Gwen a lot over the years. And so you have some insight into this question, which is what’s changed for her since the 2013 Pan Am games as an athlete and as an activist?
S4: Yeah, I think that question of what’s changed is both a lot and not a lot at the same time. Back in twenty nineteen, she protested at the Pan American Games and the response institutionally was to discipline her and raise Damadian as well, who protested at those games to put them on probation and really very publicly send a message using them as examples that the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee was not going to and USA track and Field was not going to stand for these kind of political displays on the medal stand at the time, Gwen, as an activist, knew that she was unsettled by the anthem, but she was also talking about personal journey to that moment. She was talking about growing up in Ferguson, not far from where Mike Brown lived and was murdered, and I think really driving motivation for her two years ago at that time. Now, of course, if you fast forward just nine months and we’re living in a global pandemic, and then, of course, George Floyd and the murder of Judge Floyd moves the needle a lot in both corporate responses and the kind of resurgence of Black Lives Matter, and it crosses the bounds of where it usually was. We’re starting to see lay white people get involved in corporations and yes, U.S. Olympic Committee and Paralympic Committee and USA Track and field. And when they put out their statement of Black Lives Matter, Gwen very publicly said, well, that’s funny, I’m still on probation for saying essentially the same thing. Just a few months earlier, they very publicly took her off probation at that time. And so when we fast forward to what we saw at the with her medals and protests recently at the U.S. trials for the Tokyo Olympics, that wasn’t going to come with discipline from the U.S. Olympic Apparel, come to the U.S. track and field. That’s a major win for the athletes who have worked on the Social Justice Council to get that approved and not penalized. You also have backing. She has color of change, backing her puma, backing her, whereas in twenty nineteen sponsors were fleeing. And Spar’s and I think that’s really important to note. And then lastly, the activists, I think she’s continued to grow and advocate tirelessly for her community, for her people. She’s continued to read and just grow as a scholar. And she’s very firm on the anthem, especially that third verse that talks about slaves and the enslaved not speaking for her and her community. And so I think that is where she’s at today with it. And I also think it’s important to note that the anthem was not expected to be played at the trial. So everything that we saw and everything that then went viral was also not this kind of predetermined thing, but was a kind of spur of the moment reaction to Anthem suddenly being played at a time where it was unexpected.
S2: Can I just jump in real briefly and ask you, because you have talked to Gwen, do you think that she was set up because Gwen seems to believe that she was set up in that moment.
S4: And I totally understand why she feels like that for a number of reasons. One, the national anthem is played once that trials like at the beginning of is not played for every medal stand, because when they’re all competing for the same nation in two, you would be there for two weeks. And so that’s fairly uncommon. The second is that the hammer throwers, according to Gwen, according to Mashonee Robinson, who’s on the USA track and field Paralympic and Olympic Social Justice Committee, as well as other attendees who are at trials who I’ve spoken to, noted that the hammer throwers were told that they were going to play the anthem before or after their medal stand moment and giving them a heads up in case they needed to hold. And they didn’t play it before. So they were given the green light to go on to the stand and then the. Started playing if the anthem hasn’t been played all day, and you’re told specifically it’s not going to be played when you’re on the medal stand and you know that there’s eyes on you in terms of that space and that protest that you’ve done before, I absolutely understand why it feels like a setup. Now, talking to Masami Robinson, she was like, is the unfortunate coincidence, right? Somebody had to press play on that. And one of the things that people are asking for is a level of transparency who Pressplay who was told to press play was. This is a game of telephone that got lost in the details or was there something more nefarious going on here? And I can’t sit here and say, oh, she wasn’t set up. And I can’t tell Gwen not to feel like that, because after the years that she’s had in this space, that is one of many logical conclusions.
S3: The criticism that Gwen Berry has suffered since since the trials has mainly been confined to the places you would expect it to be confined. Fox News Dan Cranshaw. On the one hand, it’s annoying, but I imagine for her that this is what you want. Her response on Twitter was, at this point, you all are obsessed with me, which gets her point across and allows her to be more of a public figure and a genuine activist, more representative of the United States that’s going to the Olympics and is unafraid. Do you view it that way? Like this is part and parcel of being an activist and she recognizes that clearly?
S4: Yes and no. I mean, I think that she certainly wants attention on on the work that she’s doing with activist athletes on the shirts that she is selling and fundraising with, on the activism that her and many other people have been doing. But I don’t think anybody can want the vitriol and the terrible messages. But I think that part of that’s part of the calculation. It was her birthday week and she’s been inundated with messages that have told her to go back to Africa and have called her all sorts of names under the sun that have dug through her past history and tried to bring up things to embarrass and humiliate her that have gone off to her family. And I think that there’s on one hand, absolutely there’s a history. We know the cost of activism. Right. Tommie Smith and John Carlos tell us this. Right. Other activists who we don’t remember their names because they were so disposed of are reminders of this. And so I think that she absolutely knows that that’s a burden to bear and she’s unafraid to bear that burden. But I think that Gwen, like many activists, would rather control how they are able to get their message out an amplifier. And a lot of times this just feels like you’re still on square one, that every conversation you’ve had for the last few years, every interview you’ve given, every piece you’ve written, every panel you’ve been on have been for not because people are still asking the same questions or using you symbolically in ways that don’t match up at all with what you’re saying. I think specifically in this situation, a lot of the hate Gwen was getting was saying she hates America, she hates this flag, etc, etc. And she was saying, you said those words. I said, this anthem doesn’t represent me. And I think that a lot of what she was called to do on her birthday week was to just correct. And I think that is very different than amplifying the work
S1: you were alluding to. I think some of the tweets that resurfaced that she made 10 years ago that were not great tweets doesn’t mean that she’s a bad person or that she hasn’t grown and changed in that period. I think the point to be made here is that there will be this digging into her past, into her present. Anything that she says and does or has ever said and done will be scrutinized and will be digested and spit back out at her. And that’s the reality. And so you’ve been talking to her, Mary. You’ve been talking to other black women athletes. And so can you just give us a sense of what those conversations are like? And we also before you came on, we did a segment about Sha’Carri Richardson and her marijuana suspension. So just what is the kind of ambient atmosphere now with all of this stuff kind of swirling in Tokyo, coming in just a couple of weeks?
S4: Yeah, I mean, I would say overwhelming, exhausting are the words that I immediately come to mind. I think certainly in the work that I do, I study black women athletes, a symbol, but also when they’re disposable. And that has really, I think, been the overarching story for the last few weeks. So one of the things that they are talking about, pointing to USA Track and Field Black Lives Matter shirt with the 68 medals in protest outside of the trials and shout out to Victoria Jackson AC, who captured this and brought this point up or are able to profit off of the kind of spectre of protest, but yet aren’t really standing in defense of Gwen. And that makes people exhausted. I think one of the most interesting conversations I’ve had recently is with Anna Cockerell, who’s USC grad and going to the Olympics as a 400 meter hurdler. The clip of Anna went viral after her race. She was so joyous to have made the team. And one of the things that Anna said to me that I. And particularly stirring was that a lot of the message she started receiving were trying to make her a foil for Gwen, which were saying, Oh, you’re the great, you’re grateful to be here. You’re happy to be at the Olympics. And this is how she was position and she was talking about how that felt. Really weird, because, I mean, we’ve all sat on panels together with Gwen and Anna together, who have both been mobilizing and organizing and has done tremendous work organizing black athletes at USC and black collegiate athletes across the nation. And so for her to now exist only as this kind of quick, viral crying caricature is something that she was wrestling with at one point, very happy to have her message of mental health out there and her joy captured and also feeling like, is that all I am now where when people are calling me for interviews, they want to talk about my depression. And I have so much more to say. And I think that is something that is is really felt, especially in light of just a few weeks ago, having all these conversations about black women’s mental health specifically around Naomi Asaka. And I think that is absolutely at the forefront of the minds of many of the athletes I’m talking to, which is how do you protect your mental health when every day, especially in this past week, it’s felt like news either about Sha’Carri and her suspension or the runners who are being designated is not female enough to compete or the Aphro swim caps. It just feels like every day you open up Twitter and there’s another thing that’s policing or scrutinizing the bodies and the abilities of black women going to the Olympics. And I think juggling that with your joy, individual joy to be there and the kind of symbolic thing that you now represent is is tough.
S2: It’s sort of a misnomer to think of. Team USA is like this one big organization, a guy, you know, like everybody on the team knows, everybody from the fencers to the steeplechase runners, members of the dream team. Right. Like they’re sort of disparate. But I’ve been struck by the idea that I don’t know where a lot of their white teammates are on this. And what really brought that home was that the top two finishers in the hammer throw the enterprise. And Brooke Anderson, they stood at attention, wave to the crowd during the national anthem. And I was curious if Gwen had noticed that if she had made note of the fact that not a lot of people that were not black athletes had come to her aid and said something that’s come up.
S4: Yeah, I mean, certainly and this has been a multi years in the making. I think a lot of black athletes know where their white counterparts stand. And some have been vocal like race and certainly and some have been less so. And I think that doesn’t mean that there aren’t internal conversations. But I think that what’s very clear to me is that folks tend to know, especially when you’re breaking it down by sport, within track and field, these athletes tend to know where their ship is going to come from and where it’s not. Are with the limits of that look like. And so do I think it bothers some of them? Yeah, definitely. But I think that especially in light of the conversations that have going on this week with Rachel Nichols and Maria Taylor, I think that other feeling of who’s saying something to me in private, who’s saying something maybe publicly like they’re supporting me, but maybe turning around and having different conversations, that that also contributes to the sense of kind of isolationism, which is you always have your head on a swivel. You’re always checking to make sure you can fully trust those you’re competing next to. And track and field right is a weird sport. Unless you’re talking about the relays, you’re on a team together, but they’re really individual performances. I think that this conversation, once we start looking at some of the team sports becomes a lot more interesting in many ways.
S3: Gwen wasn’t the only athlete at the trials, the only black woman athlete at the trials who who protested in some ways and those have gotten much less attention. The IOC has said that they’re setting sort of different rules that will allow athletes to demonstrate inside venues and in different places, all very regulated. Do you have a sense Amira of what we might expect in Tokyo in terms of what sorts of individual or coordinated protests athletes are willing to make?
S1: As we all know, the best form of protest is in a designated zone. Yes, very specific time and stipulated when and how you can protest. That’s how the best protests work.
S3: There will be the mixed zone for talking to reporters on the protest zone.
S4: You could expect mass intentionally. The IOC is a mess and they’ve long been intentionally vague in this kind of gray area about this. And that’s no different. So what you see from them is this kind of, OK, you can do it here in the Olympic Village, but you can’t do this and you can do. I think what’s particularly been quite offensive this year is that they’re like, you can’t wear black lives matter, but you can wear words like equality or freedom or education and
S1: that like the names on the back of the. Jerseys on the NBA, but I was
S2: just about to say, this is the Gordon Hayward education reforms. Exactly.
S4: Now, which I think is really telling. So I think in some ways, what I’ve appreciated about this from the IOC, this is allow us to take a mirror and hold it that the NBA, for instance, and say, what are those words doing exactly? If the IOC is good with it, then, you know, they’re not doing very much. And so I think that that was something that really particularly struck a chord when I talked to Michelle Robinson. She really honed in on this. And she said as a member of the Social Justice Council, this was really frustrating, especially to the black track and field athletes who understand how they factor into the sport in terms of the revenue that’s built off of them, in terms of the TV time that’s built off of them, particularly, it felt very like being very singled out by the IOC in terms of how this gets implemented and what athletes do. I mean, this is what we will continue to see because that gray area, the IOC really has usually relied on the various agencies to then police their own athletes. And if the U.S. Olympic Committee and Paralympic Committee is like, hey, we’re not going to do that, we might not support you, but we’re not going to discipline you. I think we’re going to be in this kind of weird gray area where we might see the IOC try to make some moves or see some power and actually get out some punishment. It really is intentionally vague. And I think that’s what’s really hard about going into the Olympics and thinking about what you might do. But also, to your point, like activism, when it’s all agreed upon, is not actually disruptive in the way that many activist athletes aim it to be. So I think that your guess in many ways is as good as mine, but I will certainly be watching.
S1: Yeah, and it’s telling that the question for Gwen Berry is always like, what are you going to do at the Olympics? Gwen where are you going to do it? The Olympics. What are you going to do at the Olympics? I mean, it shows that for these athletes and I think for black women athletes in particular, that the Olympics is in some cases once in a lifetime. Maybe if you’re Allyson Felix five times in a lifetime, opportunity to really have the spotlight and be valued, to have your opinion be valued, to have people care about who you are and what you do in a way that is really not the case otherwise. And so that just puts a whole lot of pressure on everyone. It puts a lot of pressure on Gwen Berry puts a lot of pressure on the IOC. And I mean, it’s all the conversations about Sha’Carri Richardson. That’s why that punishment is so severe is that, you know, it’s taking away this opportunity that it’s not like she can run in the Olympics, like in three months or something. It’s like it’s over and done with. It’s kind of like a powder keg, right? Amira. And that’s in some ways what makes this such an amazing opportunity.
S3: And Josh that’s also on top of the pressure to perform. They want to win medals. They need to because of their training.
S4: That’s why I said when you said, what is Gwen going to do at the Olympics? She’s going to throw it. She’s going to do the hammer throw. Right. Like but I think that it really is something to make note of because we’re coming through a very strange Olympic cycle where there was real burdens placed on athletes who had to adjust for the Olympics being pushed for a year. I mean, Gwen specifically, you know, we had to figure out, like, how do I survive? How do I train? There was athletes who went back to cleaning homes, who went to Uber, EADS, who were trying to figure out you playing so meticulously for that shot every four years. To have that extended by a year, especially in the Olympic sport, is really hard. And you add in pandemic burnout, you add in like actual loss, health concerns, mental health and a lot of activism that people have been doing. It’s been a huge burden to get to this point, which means it’s that much more upsetting when you see people, whether it’s Sha’Carri Richardson or it’s beyond McNeil. Right. Like being in these situations where it feels like those opportunities, that moment is slipping through their grasp.
S2: I know that this maybe is an antiquated notion, like nobody is going to be boycotting the Olympics. That’s just not going to happen. There’s too much at stake. But are you all surprised that doesn’t a little bit more talk of a collective boycott of the Olympics? The Olympics are bad, like we know that the Olympics are bad in and of themselves, just the whole concept and how they displaced people, tremendous use, waste of resources, all that other stuff. But I’m just surprised that there has been a little bit more talk about that, even if even just cursory talk,
S4: I don’t know how surprised I am. But also then sometimes I am I’m like really confused about this. I don’t know if confused is the right word. So absolutely, the Olympics are terrible. My good friend Jules Boykoff wrote a great book called No Olympics. Everybody should check it out. I want to also shout out no Olympic activists who whether they’re talking about disrupting a bid by Boston or L.A. protesting the Olympics has been almost as long as the Olympics itself. We see a lot of people use that moment to mount various protests, but also to protest the games. Itself to say, hey, you displace people, you know, you caused this harm, you build these structures that nobody will use, you leave all of this area worse than when you found it. And you’re enormously like, you know, second to maybe FIFA. And I think that activism on the ground has continued and actually only amplified since covid. It’s just that those stories don’t necessarily cross over as much, though. The people in Tokyo are really protesting. Hospitals are saying, hey, look, we’re at capacity. The towns that usually hope train host training camps are saying, no, we’re having a spike here. You can’t come. All of that is spurring more protests than usual. But then at the same time, it was like weird to see it like kind of rolling merrily along. And if you’re watching at home, we’ve been conditioned to watch Pandemic’s at this point. It’s shot in a way that doesn’t necessarily feel as different. You get your nice little inspirational packages, you get your personalities. I think where my surprise comes in is this particular iteration of calls for boycott is coming from different places, is not coming from tired and true NIL Olympic activists. Right. It’s coming from LÉ consumers of sport who usually love the romanticism of the excitement of the Olympics, especially black folk who love to celebrate black magic and black excellence at the Olympic Games. And after this past week, I think what I’ve seen on my timeline especially is people saying, let me get this straight. You’re going to punish Sha’Carri for some for smoking a joint after she found out her mother died. You’re going to police women out of competition because of natural chromosomes. You’re going to police our Afro swim cap. You’re going to police Brianna McNeil and in question her abortion. You’re going to do all of these things then? Absolutely. Like where’s the boycott? How do we sign up? What used to be a space where you would just cheer for black or magic? Two weeks ago, you saw the means. We’re taking land, sea and air with the moon, Byles and Samon manual in Sha’Carri on it. Those are fewer in farther between this week. What a difference a week makes. And so I think that to me is what’s surprising. That to me is what is new here. Where that goes, I don’t know. But I do think that it invites a lot more people in to think very critically about the intersection of sports and politics and race and gender and all these things that nerds like me hang out and talk about all the time. But in this moment, it’s putting a crack in that romantic Olympic nostalgia. Now, when the Games start, will that be swept away? Sports, if anything, it’s very good at sport watching. It’s very good at drawing you in and getting that excitement going. So I don’t know if it ever really stands a chance, but perhaps we’re having more conversations. That means in three years now, we start the conversation from a different place.
S2: I mean, Amira, let’s keep it real. There were a lot of people on both sides. There was supposed to stop watching the NFL over Colin Kaepernick. And it seems like their ratings are doing exactly right.
S4: That’s the other thing. Right. What does it look like to actually try to discipline these huge institutions? The answer has to be in collective activism, but that’s a really hard to do when it involves people actually turning off and tuning out of something that is very seductive.
S1: Amira Rose Davis is a professor at Penn State, is also a co-host of the Burn It All Down podcast, which you can find wherever you get your podcast, Amira. Thank you very much. Thank you.
S3: Coming up next, the first week of name, image and likeness rights for college athletes.
S2: Last week, the NCW went through a transformational moment. There’s been a long time coming for the one hundred and fifteen year old organization. For the first time in NCAA history, college athletes around the country were permitted to profit off their names, images and likenesses. You’ve probably seen it referred to as NIL, and it didn’t take long for the deals to start rolling in. Twin sisters Hayley and Hannah Cavender, Fresno State basketball players with a combined five hundred and seven thousand Instagram followers announced deals with Boost Mobile and something called Six Star Pro Nutrition. Adelaide Helverson, a volleyball player in Jacksonville State University, became the first athlete signed by barstool sports and the Heisman Trophy. Front runner, Oklahoma quarterback Spencer Rattler signed an endorsement deal with chicken fingers restaurant raising canes and unveiled a new personal logo. And those were just a few of the biggest names. Now the NCAA and its institutions must adjust to this fundamental shift in a business model that has for so long denied even the smallest amounts of cash to the players at the heart of this multibillion dollar industry. So Josh to get this started, did you at all find this sea change in college sports disorienting? Or you already used to the idea of bionics being a pitchman for a sweet company?
S1: The a very specific question. I was not I am not yet used to the idea of Auburn quarterback Burnett being a pitchman for a Birmingham based sweet company. I found it extremely disorienting. It is very, very weird to go from zero to a billion in terms of athletes being able to market themselves and make money and one general come and then some specifics. It’s just amazing how badly the NCAA botched this, how the NCAA had a lot of time and then less time and then no time to pass comprehensive name, image and likeness rules. And they just didn’t do it. And all of these different states were not used to state legislatures being at all functional and somehow they were able to do it. And all these different rules are in place. And it’s a patchwork, but it seems to be working for a lot of athletes. And so it’s just example number eight hundred and seventy three of the NCAA is ineffectualness, and it’s definitely making its own strong argument for why it should not exist. But then onto the specifics, it’s just really fascinating experiment and like real time capitalism, just showing which athletes are capitalizing, how they’re capitalizing. ESPN had a good rundown of the different types of deals that are being made. A lot of them are like cameo style things. I’m literally on Cameo. It’s similar services where athletes can just like record video messages, do chats, talk on social media with fans. A lot of athletes are selling their own apparel. There’s an app called Yawk where athletes can play video games with fans. And Arkansas Receiver is partnering with with PetSmart. His dog is also partnering with PetSmart. But Stefan, there are a couple of examples in the story that are not at all like those. There’s a Florida state offensive lineman, Dillon Gibbons announced he was using the new rule changes to raise money via a go fund me to help a friend who has an incurable disease. Marschall offensive lineman Will Olmer will no longer have to use the alias Luckie bill or pass that money when he plays live country music. He’s been playing music since he was eight and had previously not been allowed to promote any of his shows. And so this is a good reminder of just like how incredibly wack the rules were previously. And it’s not just like athletes can be on cameo and sell shirts. Now you can have a go fund me for your friend who has an incurable disease.
S3: There is going to be plenty of work for lawyers and compliance officers and business advisors in the next few months and years. And we are certainly going to be heading toward new forms of rules, dodging expansion and of policing students. Because if you don’t think that the NCAA is going to try to continue to weigh in and exert whatever last bits of control it can over this, I think that’s naive. The NCAA is going to do what the NCAA does, which is go for, as Alex Kirshner pointed out in his piece for Slate in less than two years, Mark Emmert, the president of the NCAA, calling animal rights an existential threat to college sports, to an important day. So it’s going to take credit for changing things that it forever refused to change. And then it’s going to try to weigh in on how these rules are implemented.
S1: But how could it do that? Doesn’t it seem like they missed the boat here?
S3: Yeah, they totally missed the boat. But there will be attempts to put some order here whether. That’s leaning on individual universities to impose certain forms of control over NIL rights are already are rules in place now with this patchwork of state legislation? I think it’s. Twenty four states now have adopted laws, but also school by school. A BYU, a religious institution, is putting rules in place on what kinds of things athletes can’t endorse alcohol, tobacco, et cetera. Pornography, not that any athlete should be endorsing pornography. Probably they’re going to be rules here.
S1: All right, Grandpa, I mean, Joel do you think that this like Wild West first week is going to be an outlier when we look back a year or five years or ten years from now, or is it only going to expand from here? What do you think?
S2: Well, I thought you were going to ask me about if it was OK for them to endorse porn, but I’ll move on. I just I’m still undecided on that. I definitely think that things are going to change and significantly so because I think reading about this over and over again, the one thing that that keeps coming up is that marketers, compliance officials, everybody else, nobody actually knows what college athletes are worth and an open market like this. And so that is still to be determined. We don’t know if PetSmart made a smart play getting Arkansas wide receiver that never heard of to be the face of one of its products or for Spencer Rattler to be selling chicken fingers and raising canes, which is the chicken finger, but not that great. But we don’t know what that actually is going to mean. Presumably it will have some benefits for the company and for the athlete, but we don’t know long term. And I think they’re still trying to figure out how to sort that out down the road. But I mean, I think we’re sort of talking around this and it’s because it’s uncomfortable. But like we know that this is going to be a boon for conventionally attractive white female college athletes, like they’re going to be the ones that seem poised to benefit the most out of this. And that’s why I feel like although this is really cool and I like the idea of Bogdanich selling sweets to people, this does not make up for the fact that the NCAA and its institutions are not paying what they owe the athletes. These rights, these NIL rights should have never been denied. It’s a farce and it’s immoral that they were denied these rights in the first place. But it still doesn’t address the fundamental inequity that the players that generate this hundreds of millions of dollars for these institutions are still not getting a piece of it. The colleges, they think of it in terms of compliance and they can throw more money at it. They can just, oh, compliance officers will help navigate the rules, will help make that up because they are part of the NCAA. But they didn’t cut a check. And that’s what I think people for people that see the NCAA as like a civil rights issue, that’s the missing piece here. They’re like, we can get really cool about like these companies coming in and trying to find ways to make these athletes pitchman. But this has nothing to do with what these athletes are actually old in total.
S3: You know, I think that’s an excellent point, Joel, because what’s happening here is the creation of more revenue that can be counted as part of the college sports industrial complex. Not a dime is being denied any of the institutions that participate in college sports. In fact, their reputations are going to be enhanced by athletes being able to go out and market themselves. This is more free marketing for college sports. And that probably explains, in addition to competitive reasons, why LSU bought a billboard in Times Square and is calling itself and I LSU. And one of the athletes on that billboard was a gymnast who has five million followers combined on Tick Tock and Instagram. And this is going to benefit college sports. The only institution here that is is harmed reputation early is the NCAA, because every school is going to try to take advantage of the fact that its athletes can make themselves and the schools can help those athletes make themselves even more popular than they than they might be. Josh, do you
S2: think LSU is going to be noticed? And I and I LSU from here on out? Do you think that’s going to catch on? Josh not really.
S1: Well, so they also do the NFL to try to recruit five star football players. They also do. I think I think we’re running out of initialisms here. But Joel, you mentioned that we’re still trying to figure out the model for how much these athletes are worth. I think there is a pretty good model. It’s this is influencer economics. And the reason that the people that are cleaning up so far are cleaning up doesn’t have anything to do with them being college athletes. I mean, that might be a little bit of an exaggeration, but it just has to do with how many followers you have on social media. I mean, Olivia Dunn, LSU gymnast, has the most. Followers of any college athlete, and so she’s primed to take advantage of this, Sheriff O’Neal, LSU basketball player, didn’t really get off the bench very much this past season, but has millions of followers because he’s Shaq’s son. And so he stands to benefit a lot here. And so the point he made is really smart, Joel. And we can see this is like, all right, there’s fairness. People can make what they’re worth so long as they’re like a conventionally attractive white woman or like the progeny of a famous athlete. If we’re looking at, like, extraordinary financial success here, then the economics are going to be the same ones that govern the kind of celebrity social media influencer economy. But I do think it’s important to note that things like the offensive linemen who can play music now or like that, you can have a go fund me without having to run it through your compliance department or the fact that if you want to get money to buy food or to like help your family, you can do a couple of cameos or sell some shirts and so
S2: or shit, just show up at a restaurant and get a free meal. If somebody recognizes you and wants to pay for your meal now, they can do that now.
S1: So, yeah, I mean, I think this is extremely important just as a conceptual framework and as a shift in terms of how we think about athletes and money and payments and work. And so just because it’s going to shake out in the same way that all kind of marketing and advertising shakes out with the people that are conventionally attractive or famous are going to make the most money, it doesn’t mean that the the work is over, but it just means OK. Now, college sports looks just more like American capitalism, basically.
S2: Yeah, no, I think that’s absolutely right. And I don’t even know that it’s a shift. We’ve always seen these athletes like that. We always knew Tim Tebow and Johnny Manziel and Brian Bosworth and Pistol Pete were like huge celebrities. It’s just that now the NCAA is no longer denying the obvious that these people are huge moneymakers and they’re huge stars on their own and they’re just being granted the rights that deserve them. At the end of the day, if there’s anybody that is ready for this, it is going to do it well and is poised to take advantage. I have to guess that Nick Saban is probably really excited about this and already has some great ideas for how he can capitalize on this.
S1: And that’s really true. I mean, Dabbous, when he had said, the Clemson coach, that he didn’t want his players on social media, I don’t know, Joel and Stefan how players are going to look at coaches that expressed his outrage. I think tab is going to change and has already changed to adapt to the Times. But this idea that coaches can and should police athletes behavior, I think is going to be a turnoff when it comes to recruiting. And you saw LSU at that billboard in Times Square. The reason that this is obvious, but the reason that it did that campaign was to flag for potentially incoming recruits. We will encourage you to market yourself, to sell yourself, to make money off of yourself. And where are you going to do that more and better than other schools. And so come and play for us. And Nick Saban is not going to be left behind here, but there is going to be a generation of coaches. I mean, can you imagine the quotes that we’re going to see Stefan like football coaches about how all of this is a distraction and blah, blah, blah?
S3: Yeah, but it’s going to be hard for those coaches to really have any kind of quarter, because if your athletic department is spending, I don’t know what it costs to get a video billboard up in Times Square and basically announcing that we are here to help you. We want to make you like Olivia Dunn or Jamal Adams, the ad, the football player who narrated the video on the billboard. We want you to be them. We want your face to be in Times Square. We will help you achieve that and in the process, help you make a lot of money. Maybe this is a sort of a power balancer for the universities and athletes versus the tyrannical coaches or the controlling coaches. I don’t know. There’s so much that we don’t know here about how this is going to this is going to shake out what kinds of things are going to prove truly lucrative for college athletes, how these kinds of deals will help burnish athletes reputations. A couple of quarterbacks, Oklahoma Spencer Rattler and Miami’s Derek King, said that they would donate part of their earnings to help underserved people in underserved communities. There are a lot of potential ramifications to the way animal rights and athletes abilities to capitalize on them are going to help them going forward. I think the last thing we should be thinking about is whether Dabo Sweeney is frustrated that this might be a distraction for his players,
S2: the solution for them, if they would. You know, if they want to take it, they take this word of a. You could just make your fucking business like this, let the guy sign the deal and stick to Xenos, you know, I’m saying.
S1: Now it is time for after balls and I neglected to shout out my favorite and I own moment of the past week Joel I think you might know what I’m talking about here. So there’s this company called Dream Field that McKenzie Milton and directing the quarterbacks, the successful college football quarterbacks started. And it’s basically a platform that connects college athletes to potential advertisers and they’re serving as like middlemen. You can put yourself up here and then companies can contact you. It’s a good and important service for athletes who are looking to navigate this confusing new world that we’re in. And so each athlete puts an hourly rate up there of like how much they would potentially charge if somebody wanted to engage their services. And McKenzie, Milton and Dierking put two thousand dollars per hour up there, which is good for them. They should ask for two thousand dollars an hour and maybe somebody give that to them. But Joel Anderson, do you know who had the highest asking price of anybody on the Dream Field website
S2: who had the highest asking price? Wow.
S1: OK, I slacked you about it. So this is a test of whether you were paying attention to my slacks. Joel. That’s really what I’m asking about is whether you pay attention to me.
S2: This isn’t fair. I’ve been out of town. I’ve been out of town. So I don’t think that’s fair for you to put me on the spot like this said. I resent it.
S1: Joel Joel loves my slacks, americium.
S2: I don’t ignore his slacks, I promise you so.
S1: The answer is Ole Miss quarterback Matt Corral, who threw five interceptions against LSU in twenty twenty, is asking for ten thousand dollars per hour, which maybe that shows a kind of lack of judgment and understanding that led him to throw five interceptions against LSU. But on the other hand, ask for ten thousand dollars per hour, Matt Corral maybe somebody will give it to you. But this is the strongest evidence confirming the excellent point that Joel made of like we’re not really sure how much college athletes are worth, but good for Matt Corral for helping us to set the ceiling.
S3: On the other hand, Josh, not everybody can throw five interceptions in a game. I might want to hear about that. That’s worth something.
S1: He’s a very talented young man and a dark horse Heisman contender. So maybe that will be a bargain.
S2: My understanding is that Mississippi State and Iolaus a little restrictive. So I’m just kind of wondering how that’s going to work. I’m sure. Known rules follower Lane Kiffin is going to help. Known rules follower Lane Kiffin is going to help Matt Corral navigate the murky initial waters in Mississippi, which I understand they weren’t even allowed to enter into NIL deals in the state of Mississippi. But I’m sure Kiffin can help him get a little cash on the side one way or another.
S1: Stefan, what is your Matt Corral? And depending on if this goes about ten minutes, that’ll be about sixteen hundred seventeen hundred dollars. So to choose your time wisely,
S3: I may go even longer. In Myanmar over the weekend, Buddhist monks, university students and other citizens marched, prayed and walked out of work as protests against a military coup that toppled the country’s civilian government in February stretched past 90 days. Athletes in the Southeast Asian nation have been protesting to the sports push back began not long after the military retook control of the government from the country’s leader, Dawn on San Suu Kyi. Aung San Suu Kyi is the Nobel Peace Prize winner who was detained by the military for 15 years, was released in 2010 to great fanfare, but has been tarnished internationally by her refusal to condemn military genocide against Myanmar’s Rohingya minority. Since the coup, the military has cracked down on protesters, killing more than 800 people. Among them were chit Bobo Nguyen, the captain of the under twenty one team for one of Myanmar’s top clubs. He idolized Paul Pogba of Manchester United. He was shot and killed in March on what’s now called Antifascist Resistance Day. Also in March of Myanmar, player on a second division soccer team in Malaysia celebrated a goal by flashing a symbol of the resistance, the three finger salute from the Hunger Games that was adopted by pro-democracy protesters in Thailand and Hong Kong and now in Myanmar. He was suspended for one game because in the words of the chairman of the Malaysian League’s disciplinary committee, football must be above race, religion and politics. Football must be used to unite people and not to divide them and should not take sides with anybody. According to a story in The Guardian, Myanmar’s 10 team domestic league is basically at a standstill. Some players have quit to train to fight the military. Also, about 10 members of the men’s national team refused call ups for Myanmar’s final three World Cup qualifiers in late May and early June. In Japan, the soccer federation pressured other players to go. There was no way, obviously, that. Myanmar was going to reach the World Cup finals, but there is a soccer culture there. Myanmar is ranked one hundred and thirty nine of the 210 nations in FIFA, which means there are 71 nations below it. Myanmar made it to the U. 20 World Cup in 2015 where it took the lead against the United States before losing two to one. Before the pandemic, the senior men’s team beat higher ranked Tadjikistan in a World Cup qualifier four to three and lower ranked Mongolia one to nothing. But with half of the team missing in Japan, any chance of advancing to the third round of Asian qualifying was gone. So the main question was whether players would protest the risk was more than getting kicked off the national team. It was, as is the case in opposing repressive regimes of getting jailed or even killed, or a family members suffering reprisals. The day before the first game against Japan in Chiba on May twenty eighth, a veteran who was boycotting said it would be good if some of them came out and gave the three fingered salute to an international audience. He said he wasn’t optimistic, though, because our players aren’t united. But when the camera panned, the players lined up on the field for the national anthem before the game KO he won on a twenty seven year old backup goalkeeper, flashed the Hunger Games salute with the words We need justice written on his fingers. The footage went viral, then protests and Hisako, U.A. of the New York Times wrote a fascinating account of his ordeal, which we’ll link to on the show page. Myanmar lost the game to Japan 10 to nothing. He Lomong stayed with the team for the next two matches, losses of eight to one to Kyrgyzstan and for nothing to Tajikistan. The Times reported that assisted by a Myanmar dissident who had fled to Japan in the 1990s, the goalkeeper tried to flee the team hotel several times but was thwarted at the airport on the way home. When he was asked to show his passport, he flashed a message in English and Japanese on his phone instead. I don’t want to go back to Myanmar. The goalkeeper has filed for asylum in Japan. He told reporters that he’s worried about the safety of his teammates and his family back in Myanmar, and he fears for his life if he is sent home.
S2: I mean, you think of the things that like the platform for protest around the country and like the stakes are so high and so many places around this world, and I like the idea that you’re supposed to just totally turn off who you are and your beliefs and ideas and everything and your politics and to just enjoy games, it’s just it just seems fundamentally dumb. I mean, nothing nothing captivates people. Nothing grabs people’s attention like an athlete protesting, like it’s really hard to get people behind things and to get attention to various causes around the world and that they think that this dude should just suck it up and that this is not the spot for it. It just seems, you know, ridiculous. But I mean, that’s I guess that’s what it’s always like, right, that nobody wants their sports sullied by the real world.
S1: Yeah, I think that’s very true. And that story that you flagged, Stefan, it’s a good reminder that we should think a little bit more broadly when we’re talking about the stakes of protest and protest at the Olympics. And it’ll be obviously very interesting to see how athletes representing other nations choose to represent themselves than their causes do.
S3: And I think that’s something to actually look for, like which Myanmar athletes will be at the Olympics. You know, we’ll be looking at American athletes, but there are other countries that also are suffering and athletes are going to be under scrutiny in their own spheres
S2: to actually sort of jarring when you think of like all the inequity and cruelty that goes on around the globe. And it’s just it’s actually more amazing that we don’t see more protest in spite of that. But it could be also that that cruelty is why people are afraid to risk it all to its people behind these protests as well.
S1: That is our show for today. Our producer this week was just in the right to listen to Pasha’s and subscribe or just reach out, go to sleep, dot com slash hang up. You can email us at hang up at sleep dot com and please subscribe to the show and give us an Apple podcast for Joel Anderson Stefan Fatsis. I’m Josh Levin remembers MBT and thanks for listening. Now it is time for our bonus segment for Slate, plus members and our thoughts about the new name, image and likeness rules could not be contained in a mere segment or a mere after bar introduction. Joel. One of the things that I found most interesting is like Reggie Bush and Chris Webber trying to reframe what was done to them in ways that are totally logical and understandable. So Bush got his Heisman Trophy taken away for getting. But back then we called extra benefits and maybe we still call them extra benefits. But USC had to vacate wins. As we know with Chris Webber and Michigan. They got the final four beaners taken down because of another case of college athletes taking money. What do you think about Bush and I guess Bush more than Gwen Berry at this point? Because Bush is actually like sending letters and asking for the Heisman Trophy to give him the trophy back. What do you think of him trying to glom on to this new reality Waran and asking for his case to be revisited both by people who may be tut tutting at the time, but also by the entities that like actively took away his trophy?
S2: I think he’s right to put them in the spotlight and to make them have to respond to him and to try to make him whole, because there is sort of a cloud over Reggie Bush because of this stupidity. Right. His career written out of the record books, taking his Heisman away. What actually happened there, like the default, is to think that Reggie Bush actually did something wrong. So it’s clearing his name all these years later. And I can totally understand why he wants to do that. But I even beyond Reggie Bush man, I just think of making all of the people that preceded him and succeeded him, making them whole. And it’s it’s too late for that. But I just I can’t help but think about all the money that Vince Young and Reggie Bush missed out on when they were in L.A., you know what I mean? Reggie Bush was dating Kim Kardashian in the middle. It’s like he was a huge celebrity and he missed out on that. And I’m just thinking I’m like, yeah, you’ll get your Heisman back. But just think of all the money and all the opportunities that he was he missed out on because of all this stupidity. You know,
S3: I don’t know why. Why maybe restitution is an answer. Maybe the NCAA should be forced to create a pool of billions of dollars and compensate everybody that played college sports for the last, I don’t know, 50 or 60 years.
S1: Now, when you said before that the NCAA is going to regulate this, like, I was very suspicious that they’ll there’s anything they’ll be able to do now that the horse is out of the barn, that I think they will be able to they’ll manage to avoid doing that. They’re dying.
S3: I would hope that actually USC steps up here and
S1: I USC, it doesn’t work. I’m sorry they
S3: had to vacate, what, 14 wins and a national championship. But that would be the ultimate statement that we knew all along that this was wrong, or at least that we’re willing to say now that it was wrong and Reggie Bush was screwed and so was the institution, so was the university.
S1: And her piece in the Atlantic, Jemele Hill, brings up the even more egregious case of Terrelle Pryor. Pryor with the with the tattoos. And I had forgotten this detail that he was suspended, given a five game suspension, chose to go to the NFL. The NFL suspended him for five games for getting the IS. Now, that is that is the quintessentially messed up example of how it’s not just the NCAA and that there’s this, like, entire system in place buying into this fiction that athletes getting again, quote unquote, extra benefits was somehow egregious misbehavior.
S2: It also just think of how dumb this was, because not only did they suspend him, the NCAA like that was the initial punishment, but like they let him play in the bowl game in which he got hurt, which hurt his draft status. They were so committed to the rules that they made an exception to allow him to play in this revenue generating bowl game. He got hurt. It affected his career and in the NFL still upheld it. So it’s all like this entire cartel. It’s good to see pieces of it get chipped away at, but it’s still not nearly enough. Man like the NCAA is so much money to people like Stefan brought up man like making it. I don’t even think about people like that. I think about people that, like, never got a chance to, like, be great in the NFL
S3: like Terrelle Pryor. I mean, he played in the league for a while, but how much better could he have been? I mean, Jamal made that point in her piece. How much better could he have been if he had come into the NFL like every other rookie comes into the NFL? Or maybe if he had stayed at Ohio State for another year and gotten better,
S1: Maurice Clarett would be an example of somebody who would it might have made money in college. Yeah.
S2: People who, like, didn’t get a chance to, like, avail themselves of, like, professional riches. And they were only going to be famous in college. And that was it. Like Eric, I mean, I don’t know why I said Eric Crouse, but he just was a notably great college player who didn’t do shit in the NFL. And I’m like, yo, like, how awesome would it have been for Eric Crouse to have signed a deal with a low. Car dealership in Lincoln, Nebraska.
S3: Think of all the all the amazing local car dealership commercials that didn’t get made.
S2: We’ve been denied for far too long.
S1: We have been. So let’s play this parlor game. You did this a little bit on Twitter Joel. You were really impressed with all the people that said Tim Tebow, but it really capitalized on this, just like what an original answer that was. And I think the first names that people come up with when playing this part of the game are Tim Tebow and Manziel. But I think there are a lot of other examples that are just like the more kind of hyper local things of just like Tyler Hansbrough is a good example of somebody that would have made Bank and North Carolina Colt
S2: McCoy in Texas.
S1: Another good example, I’m sure Stefan has some lame open basketball players in other parts of Jersey, but who are some of your like under the radar in our all time all stars?
S3: Well, since you mentioned just Penn basketball player Michael Jordan, who wore number twenty three, could have sold a lot of jerseys. Oh, that’s true. Yeah. 90S basketball player.
S2: Yeah, that’s a really good question. I’m trying to think like Steve Tannehill in South Carolina, the quarterback from the NIL. Yeah, the ponytail guy. Like, just imagine that dude have an opportunity to make deals or whatever, like he was a folk hero back in the day. And what I’m thinking about the guys that missed out, it’s particularly dudes like that, dudes who had never going to be shit in the NFL. Oh, God bless his soul. Jared Lorenzen, University of Kentucky, that 300 pound quarterback there in the late 90s, early 2000s, like that dude could have made a hell of a lot of money, like even just off of, like, buffet endorsements, you know what I mean?
S1: I feel like the all time kind of winners on this would be guys like Steph Curry, Davidson Jersey would have and just an unbelievable Sellar then and kind of in perpetuity. But just think about Hank Gathers Loyola Marymount or Beau Campbell and Merrymount Jersey. Larry Johnson.• and Stacy augment the Fab Five jerseys. Fenice Dembo, Wyoming Jersey to throw back a little bit, don’t you think? Stefan when we when we talk about the billions of dollars that have been made in television rights for March Madness, that some of that that’s an example of how many dollars are out there that could potentially go to the stars of these tournament games who not only are stars in that moment, but we still know who Bryce Drew is from. Valpo like these could be jerseys that sell forever.
S3: Yeah, the Tyas add New Jersey people would be buying that. And in Los Angeles for the next hundred years, I mean. Yes, and this is the question I think in terms of money is this, this would be an example. And I alluded to in the in the show that, you know, we’re not losing money here, but this might be an example of like where money that would go to the university to buy the exact same jersey that the player didn’t get anything for would now be the player’s money. And this should be money that in retirement, after your college careers, you should have access to. Would you buy the Waltin or an Alcindor jersey from UCLA if the money went to them? Great. I don’t care if they’re pros and they’ve made millions already. They’re entitled to that too. So it’s this that but while they were in school, hard to imagine in the 60s and 70s that’s even being considered. All of our examples are from the last kind of twenty to twenty five years. But sure, you could go back and name any athlete that got a lot of attention for being weird or different or great.
S1: Elgin Baylor College of Idaho, Jersey.
S3: Oh my God.
S2: Yeah, that’s kind of the thing, man. Like, the possibilities are endless. Like I was thinking of like including George Washington, a uniform or something like that, like Adonal Foyle, Colgate, Vin Baker, University of Hartford, Michael
S1: Oliver, Candy Pacific. We could we should play in this segment at some point. But you’re naming random big man from small colleges.
S2: Well, I mean, John CONCACAF, SMU, you know. Yeah, but think things like that. Joe Klein, Arkansas. But just like all of these guys, there’s a market for like this sort of obscure kind of a funny jerseys, whatever. Like I got out of this is an obscure I have a Dwight Gooden throwback jersey that I got fifteen years ago or whatever. And I was like, guy, because I always wanted that dude’s jersey. And like, now it’s finally OK to wear it, because back then he was kind of seen as a, you know, large kind of a fuckup. So a person that was struggling with Drug?”•, you know, drugs that people didn’t have the sort of understanding about that back then. But yeah, like going back in time and being able to get those kind of jerseys Matt. That would be awesome. And you would love to see these players and their families, like, be able to avail themselves of that stuff because I said you could die, you could die is dead, man. And I don’t know what his family is doing today. I like how it’s doing, but like the opportunity to tap into that revenue stream, that would be pretty dope and it would be a really easy thing for these institutions to do. But like I mean, because it’s cool, it won’t happen.
S3: My last question for you, Josh would be what makes and I guess we’re going to find this out over the next months and years. But what makes a college athlete marketable? It’s not just greatness, as we discussed, obviously, social media now, but what other sort of tandem? Balls that will propel athletes to to the point where they can capitalize on their on their names,
S1: I think in college it can be as simple as one transcendent moment that catapults your school to
S2: Johnny, choosing
S1: in a high profile in Johnny Gesang being one example. But it can also be I think it’s Joel said there’s some players that maybe there’s something funny or strange about them or they’re really tall or they’re really short or they have got funny jumpshot or they’re like good at dunking or it can be really anything. And I think what we’ll see with NIL is that players will be able to capitalize on any number of things and just very small ways. And I think the small amounts of money that I think a lot of players will get will be just as notable as the large amounts that somebody like Tebow or Menzel would have gotten. It’s just more about the opportunity to capitalize than it is what the actual outcome is. It just seems like there’s a lot of things wrong with the ways in which certain people do and don’t make money. But again, it’s like nice that they’re at least governed by the same unfairness that the rest of us are governed by, as opposed to like having this additional layer of unfairness slathered on to the top. And with that. Thank you. Thank you, everyone. Thank you. Slate plus members will be back with more next week.