S1: The following podcast contains naughty language.
S2: Hi, I’m Josh Levine, Slate’s national editor and the author of The Queen. And this is Hang Up and Listen for the week of May 4th, 2020. On this week’s show, we’ll check in with ESPN Chicago Bulls documentary The Last Dance, which is really the only sports thing we’ve got going for us right now, thankfully. Pretty interesting to talk about. We’ll also check in on the U.S. women’s national soccer team, equal pay lawsuit, which took a turn last week when a major ruling went against the players. Finally, the hang up and listen for in team magazine club reconvenes for a discussion of the 1998 Sports Illustrated cover story on athletes and out of wedlock children. Where’s Daddy? The headline.
S3: We’ll talk about the article and the controversy it kicked up. Hello. From Washington, D.C.. I already said hello. I’m saying hello again. The view from a desk this week, quite similar to the view from my desk last week. Stefan Fatsis. Also in D.C. Author of the books Word Freak and A Few Seconds of Panic.
S4: Stefan, I feel like it’s tradition in the intro for you to describe one item in the background of your Zune window here. What is the football next to the Broncos helmet?
S5: Oh, that’s my NFL football. I bought one NFL football to train cricketing with the Broncos.
S3: And that is my football by Stefan Fatsis. Did you autograph it to yourself?
S5: I did not.
S3: Great job kicking Stefan from Stefan. Also with us in Palo Alto, California. But by way of Houston, Texas, Slate staff writer has the slow burn season three. Joel Anderson. What’s up, Joe?
S1: Hey, we’re so glad to be back.
S3: Glad to have you back and always need to get that Houston reference in there. Should that ship should we just forget Palo Alto and just go to Houston? Or do we need to honor your current location as well?
S1: I definitely think of myself as a Houston person living in Palo Alto, but I’ve lived here long enough, Palo. I’ve lived here five years, which is longer than anywhere I’ve lived. That was not Houston. So I think we should keep Parlato in the introduction for by way of Shreveport, Louisiana. By way of Tampa. We’ll get the whole CVA in there. One of the few people in the world that’s willing to admit that I like Tampa, Florida, out loud, too. So we’ve got it all.
S6: We’ll get into that. Any future in drag. Yeah.
S3: A few days ago, documentary filmmaker Ken Burns said the fact that Michael Jordan’s production company is involved in the last dance makes the whole project suspect. That’s not the way you do good journalism, Burns said. And he is probably wagging his finger while he said it. It’s certainly not the way you do good history, he added. Burns does know something about bad journalism and bad history, given that he used plagiarist Doris Kearns Goodwin as a talking head in his documentary Baseball, albeit before her plagiarism was discovered. We’re not here to adjudicate the Doris Kearns Goodwin plagiarism timeline. I am here to say that this Chicago Bulls dock exists only because Michael Jordan wants it to exist, which is something to keep in mind as we’re all consuming it. And yet the two episodes aired on ESPN on Sunday do not put Jordan in the most flattering light. Episode six goes long on Jordan’s gambling. Episode five delves into his lack of political activism, most notably his famed quote, Republicans buy sneakers, too, and his failure to endorse Harvey Gantt in his 1990 Senate race in North Carolina against Jesse Helms. Here is Jordan discussing both the sneaker quote and get it.
S7: I don’t think that statement needs to be corrected because I said it in jest, you know, on a bus with, you know, ask Gran and Scottie Pippen if it was, you know, darn off the cuff. My mother asked to do a PSA for ah again. And I said, well, I’m not speaking out of pocket, that’s all. And I don’t know. But I will send a contribution to support it, which is what I did.
S3: Joel, what did you think of how this material got treated in the last dance? And what did you think of Jordan’s responses that we just heard?
S1: So I think that his claim that the Republicans buy sneakers, too, was said in jest would hold more weight if he’d taken some action other than that in the intervening years. He hasn’t shown much interest in inserting himself into so-called social justice issues. So, like we can go back to 2015 when Kareem Abdul Jabbar Sape of Michael Jordan, which is sort of I mean, it’s amazing that one great player would say this about another, that he, quote, took commerce over conscious. That’s unfortunate for him. But he’s got to live with it. Right. And then a few months later, Michael Jordan wrote for The Undefeated that I can most no longer stay silent about the police abuse of black people. And then he gave a million dollars to a police group, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. So he gave money to a police group in a civil rights group as if they were equivalent institutions and equally responsible for the problem of racist police abuse. So it shows it like, in a way, Michael Jordan still he’s still riding the fence like he oh, he does not want to insert himself in these issues. And so I think about what he told his mother in the documentary that I’m not speaking out of pocket about somebody I don’t know. Good to know. Right. Well, here’s the thing. He didn’t know Harvey again. But as a 12 year old in Houston, Texas, as we mentioned, I knew that Jesse Helms was a bad person, but he was one of the most widely known racist to hold a public office in my lifetime. And if there was a Mount Rushmore for racist, Jesse Helms would have been on it to me at 12 years old. So it’s not that even Michael Jordan had to know anything about Harvey Gantt. He had he knew enough about Jesse Helms. So all that to say, I’m alternately surprised that he didn’t have a better response to this in that he aired it. So it gives you the sense that the documentary is willing to air Michael Jordan towards his flaws and everything else. But I’m also just sort of stunned that why doesn’t he have a better answer for that all these years later?
S8: Well, I think that the reason for that is that he thinks this is a good answer, that he’s had 30 years to think about this. He’s had 30 years of his handlers denying that he ever said Republicans buy sneakers, too. In any context, even though it was reported by Sam Smith, the Chicago reporter, in his book, The Jordan Rolls, I think that Jordan actually thinks this is a good answer. And his answer is, well, I decided to be just a basketball player. That’s always been his fallback. I was so busy being the best basketball player in making myself into the best basketball player that I couldn’t be involved in political issues. It’s obviously a transparent and flimsy argument, but I think Jordan sincerely believes that it’s a good argument and that what he thinks the documentary allows him to do is to air the criticism and air the facts of what happened. And then he can present his response, which he believes to be a credible one that exonerates him from criticism.
S9: Well, I’ve said that this documentary doesn’t have much to say about issues beyond basketball. But if it does have something to say. Then it’s about celebrity and one of the things that has been the biggest themes and was the episodes that we saw on Sunday is what does it mean to be Michael Jordan? And you see it with the crush of people around him at all times. You hear it in Jordan in one of the better, I think, candid moments that was captured in this fabled behind the scenes 1998 footage, which has disappointed a little bit. But this was good showing him in his hotel room trapped there saying I can’t get out and I want I’m ready for all of this to be done. And there is a kind of convergence, Joel, with this like focus on Jordan and celebrity and the weight of being him and her biggest issue in a talking head segment from Barack Obama, where Obama comes on and says he criticizes Jordan and says, I was disappointed that you didn’t speak out.
S3: But we also need to recognize what it means to be Michael Jordan and the unique responsibilities and burdens that are on him. And deploying Obama in that way, I thought was really interesting.
S1: Yeah. And I think that that was a really good use of Barack Obama there as opposed to one of the previous episodes. I can remember when he was just a former Chicago resident. Right. But I think that there is something important to think about there. And it reminds me of what LeBron went through even a few months ago, and that it shows that the bind that famous black people are in, that if you speak up about American injustice, about black people, then people hold you to the fire on everything else. They expect you to know so much about everything else. I think of LeBron speaking up for Trayvon Martin and Eric Garner, but then falling short on Tamir Rice, which happened right in his backyard when he was in Cleveland. I think of him calling Trump President Trump a bum on Twitter, but then inserting himself into the NBA China debacle and people criticizing him for that. And so if Michael Jordan shows us anything, as if you don’t if you don’t make any expectations for yourself around being an activist and people won’t necessarily hold you to that same standard, you’re going to get it anyway. And so, you know, there are people there’s internal community criticism of Michael Jordan that has always been there, but he’s sort of been above the fray. And the fact that it was in this documentary shows you that it bothers him because they did not have to address the Harvey Gantt thing. I don’t think in the timeline of Michael Jordan’s life, that’s not one of those things that people would immediately call the mind. But he had it in there because he felt like he needed to address and say, hey, look, this is why I was absent on these issues.
S3: Well, we don’t know. I mean, that’s what’s so interesting about this documentary. Like, we can only kind of inferred Stefan from what we see. How much control was exerted by Jordan and his people. And I’m not sure I agree with you, Joel, because I don’t think we would have had a whole episode about gambling if this was the Michael Jordan documentary produced by Michael Jordan and directed by Michael Jordan based on a script by Michael Jordan.
S1: It kind of goes back to what we just said earlier, though, don’t you think, that like what Stefan said, that he finds his argument in this case to be persuasive?
S10: And I think that’s the case with the gambling stuff. I mean, I think this is near for a very specific reason, and that is for Michael Jordan to say that everything I did was purely because I like to gamble as a hobby. I have never had any sort of gambling problem. My going to Atlantic City with my dad and my friends during the 1993 Eastern Conference Championship Series against the Knicks was no big deal. It was a way for me to get out of a bubble and blow off some steam. And then I think most egregiously, he includes the fact that he had these enormous gambling debts and associations with these shady characters. The documentary admits that he had a one point two million dollar gambling debt with some dude who wrote a book called Michael and Me about golf gambling, and that it admits like it includes well, it included him admitting it basically and saying no big deal. I like to gamble. I have plenty of money. And I didn’t know that slim bowler and this white dude that I golfed with were bad guys until much later. That is so incredible for him to say it absolves himself of any responsibility for anything that he does. And that, I think, is the thread here. All of these things. And we can talk about some of the other things and these two most recent episodes, they are all designed from Michael Jordan to have the final word about the controversies that have attached themselves to him throughout his career.
S1: And don’t you think that that’s why we spent so much time watching him? Tosk quarters with his bodyguard to show that, oh, this is not a gambling problem. This is not, you know, I’ll have a gambling problem. I don’t have an addiction problem. I have a competition problem. And I felt like that was a means to an end to show. Oh, Michael Jordan’s real issue is that he cannot stop competing against other people. And you see him hustling, you know, Scottie Pippen through the crowd to onto a bus so he can play golf with him and take his money. Like, I feel like it was all built towards this mythology around Michael Jordan’s legendary competitiveness.
S9: Yeah, I think I disagree with both of you guys. I thought the takeaway from that scene with him tossing quarters with the security guard, and I loved that footage.
S3: And I also liked that they went along with it, that it just like went on for kind of longer than you would expect to see them tossing quarters against the wall that showed that he was a degenerate gambler. Did you gamble on anything and then get the quote from Wil Purdue about how Jordan wanted to play in their dollar a hand blackjack game just because he wanted their money in his in his pocket? You know, the reason that you know about Slim Buhler from is good because the documentary included it in David Aldridge said Jordan claimed he couldn’t make it to the White House because of family obligations. But he was actually out gambling with this dude who is a criminal. And so I feel like, you know, the worst version of the documentary would not include any of this stuff. Right. Right. Would just gloss over it. And you seemed you guys seem to believe that we’re seeing like the next worst version, which is you don’t include that.
S4: But in itself, exonerating absolutely.
S11: 100 percent. You don’t think that Jordan’s like FLAC of 30 years and his agents and his money managers and the NBA, where he is an owner of a franchise, didn’t clear this stuff and look at it as a way for Michael Jordan to explain the things that people have criticized him for. It’s no secret that he had gambling. That’s right. That’s what you said, Josh. So this is a way for Jordan to have a word, the final word about all of this stuff, and that is to dismiss it and the themes that we have hit on here. It’s that I’m competitive and that I am first and foremost a basketball player. These are the running things that guide the entire documentary. All of Jordan’s grievances against other people, which I think we’ll get into in a minute, are all designed for Jordan to say, hey, that’s just who I am. That’s just who I was.
S1: He didn’t want to look so bad. Because if you’ve noticed or more, we’re more than halfway through this documentary or we need to. Jordan hasn’t come up yet.
S3: I mean, like the things that he doesn’t want to think about, I was going to come out as the probably clearest example of Jordan exerting control. Is that his ex-wife and you know, we’re watching last night and my partner is like, why buy her? We seeing his family? Like, that’s an obvious omission. So, yes, good. Good point.
S1: Yeah. No, I mean, it’s it’s clear. I mean when you can see at the very end. I don’t know. I would be interested to know how it ended up that he’s celebrating his third championship. They had on the phone and say, hey, do you want to talk to your wife? And he’s like, yeah, sure. I guess. Right. I mean, I would have liked. I would like to know why they included that particular clip right there.
S5: There’s one other piece of airbrushing that I think is important that we talk about, and that is in 1998, he goes to the garden and they’re playing the Knicks in a regular season game and he wears the original Jordans. And we get the flashback to how Jordan signed his deal with Nike and how Adidas, which he loved that you can see, didn’t give him the money and that Reebok was incompetent. And they ended up going to new comer Nike, which offered him like two hundred fifty thousand dollars upfront, some sort of you know, it was a landmark deal at the time. And we see footage of the first meeting at Nike with his parents. And there are commercials from the early years, the Spike Lee Mars Blackmon stuff. And what does it leave out entirely? The person who negotiated the deal for Nike and got Michael Jordan to Nike, that’s Sonny Vaccaro. And Sonny Vaccaro is now reviled now by Nike and left the company many, many years ago, obviously, you know, falling out. He’s been written out of his history. And that’s just like, you know, again, another example of Jordan settling scores here. This is his chance to give credit and to assess blame. And I’m going to leave out Sonny Vaccaro because I don’t want to give that dude any credit.
S3: Yeah, that’s a good that’s a really good point. I feel like Jordan is at the center of this documentary. And so obviously, his perspective is going to be aired. I think all of us feel like Jordan doesn’t come off that great in his answers and explanations. And the thing that I would encourage you to think about is like, how could we be the only people?
S4: Who feel that like you think everyone else in the world is like, wow. Yeah. That’s. That makes sense. Yeah. Jordan turns out, you know, his explanations here are great. And do you think, like, the filmmakers don’t understand how Jordan comes off, just like I don’t think we could be the only people who see through life.
S11: I think the filmmakers probably were thrilled that Jordan wanted to include this stuff and to give him the distance, to give him the ability to answer these questions on his own.
S5: I’m sure they were happy that he was you know, that he was being as honest as Michael Jordan could be, I guess. Right.
S1: And I’m not saying that like we’re unique in any way, because we have we’re coming up with this and discussing it as content. But there are people that probably were more moved by the Kobe footage, for instance, than anything else last night. Right. Like that. I can envision a world where the conversation is about how moving that was to certain people rather than discussing Harvey Gantt. I mean, you were living in a world Donald Trump as president. There are a lot of people there probably don’t see a problem with Michael Jordan, you know, failing to insert himself in that Senate race in the first place. Right. So it could be all over the place. People could just look at that final product and say, well, hey, look, you’re getting to see Michael Jordan behind the scenes, playing around with bodyguards, having fun with Scottie Pippin, you know, talking shit at the at the dream team. Scrimmages like that sort of stuff could just as easily be this. The center of Frank is here. Is anything else. Right.
S12: But I don’t want to have that be the center central focus. Our Josh. Let’s talk about some of the players that Michael Jordan trashes once again in these episodes. I mean, that was really a range of players from Clyde Drexler guys and Thomas to Tony Kukali to Dan friggin morally. I mean, Jordan would use any excuse to manufacture grievance and go after dudes. And that is another running theme of the series.
S13: Well, so you’re 50/50 right there. He does trash Isaiah Thomas and Clyde Drexler, number one, a always and forever is Isaiah Thomas. The Clyde thing was was more like it was partly based on Clyde saying that he was good, but it was also about other people saying that Clyde was good and he just wanted to make sure that he was the best. But the other to the you mentioned, Dan Marli and Tony Kyouko had nothing to do with him was about Jerry Krass, right. About Jerry Kresse liking Dan Marly and Jerry Krass liking Tony Coach.
S1: So the only two people that Michael Jordan hates is hit Armor’s and Jerry Krass. That’s the that’s the key to understanding Jerry. It’s also interesting that he didn’t say anything really about Charles Barkley, like they were friends. They were really close friends. And I was looking at a clip of them together side by side on Oprah Winfrey from, you know, I guess the 90s or early 2000s or whatever. And he never said anything about him at all. Like, did he make a comment about Charles Barkley during that portion of the documentary? Nothing was included in the final. Yeah. Yeah, that’s I just find that really interesting, too.
S14: He’s also kind of beef that Horace Grant for being the alleged Deep Throat source for Sam Smith, the Jordan Rose book, which was banned tonight.
S13: And with the on court stuff, I think I’d like to end my comments on this week’s last dance segment here. The dream team practice footage is always great. It’s really fun to to see that. And then it’s hard to imagine the balls not winning any of these championships. There are only a few ways in which it could have gone sideways for them, which is really the most remarkable thing about their run of six titles. But, you know, the shot that John Paxson made in Game six against the Suns in the 93 finals. I think you hear from an announcer as that Chacko then that it was the only shot that any ball made any only points that any Bulls player made in the fourth quarter of that game. And it wasn’t like with a tie game, the Bulls were losing by two. It took them from losing that game to winning game six. And I could have been the only game seven in an NBA finals that they would have had to face if that shot doesn’t go. So that’s just the like an uncaught sense. I think that’s the most interesting moment that we saw in this sequence of episodes.
S14: And kudos to Paxson for having the guts to take that shot.
S1: He was so wide open, no kudos to him, which is great and would not take that away. Of course, Horace Grant, who clearly didn’t want any of that moment.
S15: That was a really good pass by Horace Grant and no Horace Grant Lander here.
S4: All right. I wanted to let you know that in this week’s bonus segment for Slate Plus members, we’re going to talk about the latest plan to bring back the NBA. How realistic is it to put players and personnel in a bubble in Las Vegas or Orlando?
S3: We will discuss.
S16: You can hear that discussion if you’re a slate plus member after the U.S. women’s national soccer team wrapped up another World Cup title with a win over the Netherlands and Lee aren’t France last summer. Fans erupted in a now famous shout. There were two targets there. One was FIFA boss Gianni Infantino, who no doubt heard the fans as he took the podium to hand out trophies and medals to women who would receive a fraction of their men’s World Cup counterparts. The other was the U.S. Soccer Federation, which was the defendant in an equal pay lawsuit filed by members of the four time World Cup winning women’s team. That case took a bad turn for the women last week when a federal judge dismissed the player’s claims that they were drastically and deliberately underpaid by U.S. soccer compared to the men’s national team. The ruling tossed out the most serious claims by the women who were demanding 67 million in back pay and damages as part of the lawsuit. Josh, like all rulings, the judge’s conclusions are more complicated than they might look at first glance. And the ruling features some gaps in logic and perhaps the interpretation of facts. But it’s a fact is clear right now the women have to appeal the ruling or head to the bargaining table, playing a much weaker hand for U.S. soccer in the long term winning.
S13: This case might actually be worse than losing the case. Just the fact that this is a lawsuit in the first place meant, inevitably, that the outcome was going to be really bad for U.S. soccer. As part of the filings, arguments were made around women being worse athletes and deserving less pay. Because of that, which is it? And appropriately so. A public relations disaster led to the head of U.S. soccer. Carlos Cordero resigning. So the fact that this was not settled and wasn’t settled a long time ago just means that no matter what happens, what happened in this ruling last week, what’s going to happen this week, what happens next month? There’s just like no there’s no possible good outcome from a public relations sense. And Stefan, you know, lot of times when you say from a public relations sense, you’re not talking about substance. You’re just saying style. And you’re making some claim that style is more important than substance. But actually, when I say it, I think that the public relations aspect here is extremely important because this is about how women are perceived in our society, how women at the top of their craft are treated. And I think this ruling is pretty narrow in looking at these collective bargaining agreements. And the argument the judge makes, which I think is defensible, is that these contracts were negotiated by players unions and the contracts are separate in the unions are separate, and that if the players have any beef here, it should be with their representatives. I’m not saying I agree with that argument. I’m saying it’s not totally unreasonable on its face.
S17: But the bigger picture here is that, you know, U.S. soccer is a nonprofit. They shouldn’t be in the position of making the argument that women deserve less money in the first place. It’s you know, I don’t know how this is going to get resolved, but I just don’t think that this is a legal victory. Is a win for U.S. soccer?
S1: Yeah. I mean, they’re making this argument in a world where a lot of fans are men and have sexist beliefs about like what women deserve and how much money they should be making. So even even it’s like a public relations argument. And I know that we think that, like, oh, U.S. soccer might look bad here, but I’m not actually sure. They may look bad to fans of the U.S. women’s soccer team. But on the whole, I’m not so certain that taking this hard line approach is necessarily bad for them. And in a lot of ways, it was substantiated for them by going to court, because I think about this, you know, they went to court. This judge makes a ruling and people are surprised. And I’m like, well, welcome to America. And the idea that the justice system is the best and only place to resolve issues of inequality, inequity. You know, we should know by now that American jurisprudence is like not some necessarily ideal deliberative body. So I can’t speak specifically about Judge Klausner. But I mean, Sally Jenkins made some great points in her column from the weekend where she says, hey, look, this guy Klausner has already been cited before for making, you know. Not specious arguments, but arguments that, you know.
S11: I think, you know, later dismissed or whatever, overturned by an outright dismiss by an appeals court. Yeah.
S1: Right. So, I mean, you know, we still have to operate in a world where a lot of people don’t believe that women should be making the same amount of money as men. Right. And so I’m not. I mean, although there has been a change in leadership in U.S. soccer. It’s not a given that by taking this hard line approach against the women’s soccer team that anything bad will happen.
S8: You know, I mean, I think what we what we do know about the judge is that he’s a 78 year old white guy. You know, his his views of equal pay inequality might be a little retrograde. It’s hard to tell. But what we do know is that in this ruling, he takes a very narrow argument that I think on appeal, the women’s attorneys will say, does not hew to the facts. And the basis for his ruling is that that in collective bargaining, the women demanded something which was guaranteed pay of like seventy two thousand dollars a year if you were on the women’s national soccer team that the men didn’t have. But the reality of the negotiations are such that the women approached U.S. soccer at the initial part of bargaining and said, we want some guarantee and we want a similar bonus structure to the men. U.S. soccer refused to give them both of those things. And the women chose to get the guarantee. And the reason that you might want the guarantee if you’re a women’s soccer player is that salaries are so small in women’s soccer. So the seventy two thousand dollars is meaningful to a player who makes the national team who also can be cut from the national team at any point. So there’s a lot of apples and oranges going on here in these legal arguments that I think on further review. A different judge or set of judges may choose to look at differently. And one of the arguments that the women made is that or one of the arguments that the judge relied on was that actually between the years cited in the lawsuit, the women per game made more than the U.S. men’s national team did. Well, that’s because the U.S. man didn’t qualify for jack shit. They didn’t make the World Cup. Their opportunities to make more money were limited. The women had to win every last fucking game they could play in order to reach a level of compensation that was slightly better than the shitty men’s team.
S13: Yeah, I mean, I think the most convincing case that you can make that Kaitlyn Murray and others made over the weekend is that the women couldn’t have earned anything more than they earned during this period, winning two World Cups, the men, by missing the 2018 World Cup, maybe not literally, but essentially made the bare minimum that they could have possibly made. And so actually, if the if the men beat Trinidad and Tobago in that final game, if Christian Ballistic is not, you know, crying on the ground, then this lawsuit looks a lot different. The facts on the ground are a lot different. I mean, I think we can blame Trinidad for this, honestly.
S12: The men’s failure bailed out the U.S. Soccer Federation out here in terms of, you know, they would have made a lot more money if they had advanced to the second round of the World Cup, as they had done in 2014 and 2010.
S13: The apples and oranges thing, there’s like an orchard full of apples and oranges here such that I don’t think you can make a clear ruling in this case.
S17: I think that you bring in, as you were alluding to, Stefan, your views as a person who’s living in this world and you can interpret all these facts and it’s not even twisting them. I don’t think you can look at this set of facts and make a totally different conclusion. And so I think it’s just unfortunate that and this is kind of what you were saying before, you’ll do like a court of law is where this had to be settled. You would like to think that you had soccer and the women’s national team could have recognized that this was not going to go well. I think the women’s team did not expect it to go this way. I think they thought that by bringing it to court, they would be able to put pressure on U.S. soccer, maybe to reach a settlement. And if not, then they would win. And that’s not what happened.
S13: But you would just like to think that they could have all recognized the mutual interest in coming to an out-of-court settlement here. And the fact that that didn’t happen is disappointing.
S1: Why it the belief then that, you know, the new U.S. soccer president, Cindy Parlow Cone, that there was going to be a change in approach going forward? Right. That U.S. soccer was going to have a better, more agreeable approach to the women’s claims. So we’re basically at a point right now where they still can reach an agreement if they want to. It’s within sure it’s within their purview to do that. Don’t have to. They don’t have to make the women appeal this ruling.
S11: No, they don’t. And my prediction is that they want is that they will reach some sort of settlement here. I mean, the women are in a weaker negotiating position which serves U.S. soccer’s interests. But at the same time, the week the women remain in a very, very powerful public relations position, which is to the detriment of U.S. soccer. U.S. soccer needs to repair its own image right now following those legal briefs that they filed saying that women are inferior to men. So it is absolutely in their interest to have a real negotiation that reaches some sort of mutually acceptable terms for how these women are going to get paid for the next quadrennium and beyond.
S13: So more than at any point previous. You feel like there’s mutual interest and that there’s going to be an alignment here, because I feel like in the past we we would have said that we didn’t think that it would have gotten this far, even that it seemed at least that there should have been mutual interest before. But maybe we were wrong. And it took this ruling, which, you know, we should be clear, U.S. soccer. Its response was not celebratory. No, it was very brief, Curt, and not wanting to, you know, do any kind of whatever the soccer equivalent of an end zone dance is like there’s recognition by current leader. And so they didn’t want to, like, rip rip up a shirt off and Brandi Chastain style that there’s recognition by current leadership that there’s nothing to be celebrated here. And so I think that is a good new one.
S1: Recently installed leadership as well. Right. I mean, this is you know, I mean, if we had we had this conversation four or five months ago, maybe it would be different. Right. But I mean, this is a fairly new U.S. soccer federation. So, yeah, I mean, they they didn’t seem very happy, at least judging from the statement. But who’s to say I mean, the issue, it’s not what they say in their statement. It’s how they approach and handle the women’s claims going forward from here on out. And we’ll note we’ll know a lot about that, because they’re not I mean, they’re not going to be able to hold court probably in California for a while. Right. I mean, that’s the art of having an appearance. There’s not gonna be a lot of that going on. So they’ve got time if they want to resolve this.
S11: Yeah. And I think it’s important. You mentioned who the the the new head of U.S. soccer is that Cindy Parlow Cone, who was a member of some of those great U.S. women’s teams in the 90s, and her personal reputation is now really on the line. And I think that they’re going to be very sensitive to that. I mean, Cohen was on was like I’m vice president of the federation and got elevated to the president’s job. And there was criticism of her as having because of her position as a vice president, sort of effectively condoning and being responsible for at least being responsible for knowing what their lawyers were saying. So it you know, it is going to fall on her to recast the way this federation approaches the most valuable, famous and helpful players in American soccer right now.
S13: Stephan and Dolan, I’m curious what you guys think of this, because I think there are good arguments to be made on both sides.
S17: I’m wondering, we feel like equal pay is the wrong construct here, because as we’ve discussed, the contracts aren’t the same and they shouldn’t be the same, like because of the difference at the club level. It makes sense that the women would want and need the kinds of guarantees that men don’t. And yet the players have been very adamant in framing this as an equal pay issue before this ruling. And after that, this is about being treated differently because they’re women, about systemic differences in that we can see across all sorts of different industries. But when you frame it as equal pay rather than we should get what we deserve and we deserve more than you open yourself up to arguments like the judge makes this ruling that, you know, it’s just hard to look at this as in terms of equality when the baseline structures are so different. It just doesn’t really map on that that neatly. So, Stefan, do you feel like it’s a mistake to talk about it or frame it as equal pay, even though it’s such a powerful argument in our culture and an important argument in our culture?
S18: Absolutely. It’s a very powerful phrase in our culture. And you’re right, though, it feels like after everything that’s happened, the right approach publicly might be to get on get get away from the notion that we should be comparing ourselves to men. And particularly the U.S. men who don’t deserve any comparison other than, you know, the bottom line of what their collective bargaining agreement says. I mean, these women are above and beyond the U.S. men in soccer right now. And I think it demeans them to suggest that this is a an issue that needs to be framed as us versus them. And it definitely bit them in this ruling because the judge ultimately focuses very, very directly on what the men had and what the women had. And that’s not the case that they should be presenting in a court of arbitration or in a contractual negotiation, I think.
S1: Yeah, I mean, I think equal pay is just a pithy shorthand for broader arguments about discrimination in employment. And, you know, compensation. Right. And so, I mean, I guess like that’s something that makes it digestible for people that are sports fans who are not necessarily looking at the legal briefs. The judges supposed to go beyond that, like the to the lawyers are supposed to go beyond. Right. You know, the shorthand of equal pay. But I mean, it’s important to notice to note that equal pay is something that we talk about in every industry. And we barely you know, it’s not something that’s like basically been realized in almost any industry in America or in the world that women tend to be and people of color and women of color tend to be paid something less than equal. Women and people of color and women of color quite often fail to get whatever would be equivalent to males, tend to be white male in whatever feel there is. So when they say equal pay, we know that we’re talking about institutional discrimination of women in this instance and they’re not getting their just due. And the judges supposed to know better than that. And in sports fans is supposed to know better than that. But again, this is a problem that goes far beyond soccer. And I mean, hell, I mean sports fans. There’s not. I mean, if you look at Twitter, if you looked at baseline sports fan, it’s not a given that a lot of sports fans believe that women should be paid equal to men. I mean, shit. I mean barstool sports.
S18: No, just go into the comments on any of these stories.
S1: Yeah. Barstool sports isn’t famous because, you know, they’re known as feminist over there. There are a lot of people that think that they get what they get and that’s proper.
S18: Josh, though, in this particular instance, the better comparison for the U.S. women’s national soccer team, just in terms of comparison, not in terms of trade compensation. Isn’t the U.S. men. It’s like the German men and the Italian man and the Brazilian man and the English man. It’s all of the best sports teams in the men’s side of international football. That’s who they should be comparing themselves to because it demeans them. It diminishes their accomplishments to compare them to the U.S. men’s national soccer team. And that’s not you know, I’m not arguing that that’s how they should be approaching this from a legal or even a contractual negotiation standpoint. But to put their accomplishments into perspective, that’s what we’re talking about.
S9: Yeah, that’s fair. I also just think it’s not fair to the U.S. men either, although I don’t think we should necessarily. But they should not be the focus in this conversation. But it’s just like, you know, it’s not why do they deserve to be, like, shat upon? Like they’re obviously, you know, that they hit and make the World Cup in 2018. They made it in 2014 to the dead, 2006, etc, etc.. So I just think the comparison does no good for anyone, for anyone and any reason.
S3: On May 4th, 1998, 22 years ago today, as we’re recording, Sports Illustrated published what it billed as a special report. The cover read, Pro athletes have fathered startling numbers of out of wedlock children. One NBA star has seven by six women. Paternity cases have disrupted teams. What’s happening? And what does it mean for the kids left behind? The headline was, Where’s Daddy? And the cover featured an image of a young black child holding a basketball. The son of Boston, Celltex guard Greg Minor.
S9: The article, ran by investigative reporter Lester Munson, opens with NBA player Larry Johnson taking a paternity test. The piece says that Johnson pressured the mother of his child to have an abortion, which she did not. He was eventually ordered by a judge to pay eight thousand eight hundred fifty dollars per month in child support and thirty thousand dollars a year for a nanny. Munson writes that this was only the latest of Johnson’s expensive sexual misadventures, noting that he was supporting five children by four women with his 12 year, 84 million dollar contract.
S3: The player alluded to on the cover with seven kids by six women with Shawn Kemp months and also lists what he calls an NBA all paternity team of players who have had children out of wedlock and have subsequently been the subject of paternity related lawsuits. Larry Bird, Patrick Ewing, Jwan Howard, Jason Kidd defined Marbury Keema large one, Gary Payton, Scottie Pippen and Isaiah Thomas. The story is fascinating to read now because of both the content and the moralizing tone that it’s written in. We should also note that this was a huge deal back then when an essay cover story had the ability to dominate the news cycle. The essay piece inspired a two episode arc on The Oprah Winfrey Show, which a bunch of NBA players were pissed about in his column in the Philadelphia Inquirer. Stephen A. Smith. Yes, that Stephen A.. Smith quoted Shaquille O’Neal as saying, Somebody is always trying to bring down black athletes, especially the ones getting paid. Joel, there is a lot to get into here. Where do you want to start with this story?
S1: Oh, man, there’s so much I mean, I the one thing that I thought about as I read this over again is that I feel like the idea came from a news meeting where they heard about Shawn Kemp’s plight and they thought that’s not enough to sustain a story. Or like, we can’t just pin this all on Shawn Kemp. Is this part of a broader trend? And then they had to stretch it out because I think about the, you know, the line that they use. I said the NBA players have fathered a startling number of out of wedlock children, but they give, you know, numbers like there’s no there’s no data here. Right.
S3: There’s an anonymous quote from an agent who says, I’d say there might be more kids out of wedlock than there are players in the NBA right now.
S1: Lin Elmore says something that, oh, probably every player has something on one to two because there’s some that have none. So you have to balance for the fact that some have four or five or seven, like Shawn Kemp. And so it just seems really sloppy, although they did all of the things that you would want a reporter to do, because they’ve got a sociologist. They’ve got, you know, women’s voices in here. A female attorney, family law practice, attorneys in here and everything. But it still just seems really sloppy. But I think that is a reflection more of the era than the journalism in and of itself. I think that’s like the thing the claims that they made here were claims that I heard and even sort of believed back in the 90s. But now we have a lot more data. We have a lot more information. People that are smarter have taken on a lot of these these ideas about pathology, about black athletes and have sort of pushed back against it. But back then, there was not necessarily the vocabulary or the the the expertise base to sort of push back against this sort of reporting.
S11: I definitely want to get into that idea of how what’s changed in the 22 years since this story was written. I mean, journalistically, you’re absolutely right, John. This was conceived in a meeting where, you know, let’s put our investigative reporter on this and let’s do a thorough assessment of the state of out of wedlock children in the NBA.
S12: And, you know, it’s journalistically sort of scrupulous because of the number of, to be sure, Graff’s in this story. There is so much hedging going on at every turn. And I will read some of those to be sure sentences. Although there have been no studies on athletes and their out of wedlock kids, dot, dot, dot paternity suits are by no means the exclusive preserve of the NBA, nor are they unique to this generation. It could be argued that the spate of out of wedlock births among athletes simply reflects a societal epidemic. Professional athletes have a lot of sexual opportunities and probably always have high profile white athletes have certainly had their share of paternity cases. So there is a through line of this story. Is that this?
S11: Because there really is no strong argument to be made other than anecdotal.
S9: Yeah, there’s a lot of box checking here because this is such a fraught topic.
S3: It gets into matters of race, obviously. And it’s clear that they’re very aware of that. Yeah. And that there are these kind of caveats and to be shorters and but it’s not just about race. There’s also this question. And it’s raised and batted down and raised and batted down repeatedly in the article about the gold digger phenomenon, for lack of a better term, that there are women out there.
S12: They don’t it doesn’t use the word golddigger. But that’s right.
S3: There are women out there who see getting impregnated by an athlete as an opportunity to make money. Their voices in that article saying that’s true. There was an article saying it’s ridiculous. It reminds me of Danning Bare’s article about the rape allegations against the Mets that we discussed on the show earlier this year. And there were all these articles in the 80s written about groupie culture. And as Dan noted in his piece, a lot of the perspective in those pieces was from that of athletes talking about how groupies were trying to scam them. And this is coming along a decade later. And you can see kind of how the culture had moved in that decade. We know it’s not where we are now, but after a decade, you couldn’t write a story then that just said within our gold diggers, use would say, like maybe women are gold diggers, but also maybe they’re not. And so this article is just like very. It feels very unsure of itself while also kind of keying in to what was then something that was widely discussed and seen as this cultural phenomenon. Like I remember like you were saying, Joel, like Shawn Camp and all of Shawn Kim’s kids was like a huge discussion point in high school or whatever. It’s like it was a thing that a lot of people were talking about. And so I don’t think it was a mistake for Sports Illustrated to wade in here and recognize that there is a story.
S1: Right. And I think that Shawn Kemp does have like a fascinating story because it wasn’t necessarily the paternity issues that caused the decline of his career. He had to go to rehab for substance abuse. You know, years later, it turned out. So we can’t necessarily pin all this on, you know, on paternity issues. But I think this huge chunk in the story where they ask all these questions, does the distraction of unplanned fatherhood and paternity suits affect an athlete’s performance? How does a child deal with having a father whom he hardly knows and rarely sees except on television and they don’t really answer those questions? Right. I mean, it’s like you’re going to ask all these questions to give the give this story some heft and some import, but you don’t have enough information because it’s not out there to answer those questions. And so it just sort of undercut the value of this story to me in the first place. Like, if you don’t, you know that you don’t have enough information. You know, you don’t have enough data to sustain these broad claims that you’re making about these, you know, really salacious court cases. And so then just sort of undermines it. But I’d, you know, like like you said stuff. And they do a lot of dancing to make this story fit.
S11: You know, you say, well, to be sure, there’s really no other way to do this story in the absence of really strong empirical evidence. I mean, this was an anecdotal story that also has lots of, you know, legal documentation behind it and people to talk to both the players, their lawyers, their agents, the mothers and the children in some cases. I mean, Larry Bird out of wedlock daughter is quoted in the story and there are scenes with her in this piece. But it does try to sort of it’s a very ominous bus magazine story. Right. You know, we’re going to quote experts on throwing out the idea that, you know, sexual conquests are about proving your masculinity. And there’s gonna be a couple of graphs of about race and even the race stuff feels like, oh, yeah, we should probably say that. Ninety five percent of the players we’ve mentioned in the story are black. And here’s why. So there is this a lot of dancing to get at this larger issue.
S12: I’m wondering whether this story, Josh, would be written today or written any differently today or getting back to Joel’s original question. Has the culture changed in some way in pro sports?
S9: Yeah, I think it would be written much differently today. And it’s interesting thought experiment to think about about how that would happen, because it does feel like, you know as well as we’ve said, there’s a lot of kind of profound. Great box checking here. And I think you would have to really grapple with these issues in a way that felt less perfunctory because the statistics that are cited in the piece are now 32 percent of U.S. children are born to unmarried mothers in 1995, compared with 18 percent in 1980. And then also that 70 percent of black children nationwide are born to unmarried mothers, with 21 percent for whites and 41 percent for Hispanics. What they don’t have is statistics on what is the rate of out of wedlock births and professions where people are making a huge amount of money and traveling all around the world and are incredibly famous. You know, how do you how does it compare to, like, rock music or or something like that or Hollywood or whatever, you know?
S3: And so I think when you have the statistics that you do have kind of anchor the story and a particular way and the statistics that are in there, the ones around what the actual numbers are in the NBA, what the numbers are around people and the particular income quintile, that means that that those issues really aren’t discussed or talked about at any length.
S1: And so I think if the story was written today, I think that’s one thing that would need to be addressed, that that 70 percent of black children born to unmarried mothers stat has been around pretty much since I can remember reading, you know, articles. You know, as you know, since I first started reading Market magazine article, that was always a data point used to emphasize the pathology of black people. But like, what we do know now is that you are born to an unmarried mother, does not mean you don’t have a father. It just means that your parents weren’t your parents were not married at the time. But it was always it’s always sort of invade is like there’s this deep problem within the black community because they’re you know, they’ll have the majority of the children are born to unmarried parents without thinking about all of the societal issues that go into who can get married, how they get married, who has the money to get married in the benefits of marriage that are conferred upon people that may or may not be born, you know, under certain circumstances. So you can see that they, like, put a lot of heft on that data point as well to say, hey, this is why we’re talking about it right now, because a lot of these guys are black and this is a bigger problem within the black community. But like, even if they did not have that context, nobody had necessarily made a broader push for why that number doesn’t tell you as much as they seem to imply that it does.
S5: Right. And it’s only at the end of the story, Jol, that we hear that. Oh, actually, some of these athletes who have had kids out of wedlock are, in fact, very good and attentive fathers. And they visit their kids a lot and the mothers have no complaints and they are in their kids lives. That felt a little bit to be sure.
S3: They also had a lot of the players that are written about in the piece are huge jerks, if not worse.
S1: Dave Megahed, who’s in prison now?
S19: Yeah, I mean, people who have done really bad things to the mothers of their their children who’ve treated the children terribly.
S4: And I think let’s transition to the conversation that came out after the article and the Stephen A. Smith’s column is really fascinating because it’s about how NBA players, among them, Derek Fisher, responded to this Oprah Winfrey series. And it reminded me of the conversation after the race Ray Rice video where it kicked off this whole big conversation about NFL players and criminality, the NFL players and domestic abuse. And a lot of NFL players then about that and then NBA players around this didn’t appreciate being everybody being lumped in and saying you’re all criminals, you’re all irresponsible. And I think there’s something to that. And I think it’s really hard to do a quote unquote trend story without sweeping everyone up into the trend. And, you know, Joel, you said there’s a version of this story that you could do that focuses on an individual player, but then that also runs into the problem of, OK. Who do you select to kind of exemplify like what? You’re obviously making some sort of editorial judgment in that selection. And so it’s it’s just hard like these subjects are are hard. And so what do you what is the responsible thing to do here?
S1: Yeah, I mean, I just I we all stories don’t have to be written yet. I mean, that’s one thing. Right. You know, I mean, there’s a lot of sports stories and that doesn’t necessarily have to be the one that’s written. Because I’m thinking back to the earlier part of our conversation. Josh, you’re an editor. Would you. If somebody came to you with this story idea, would you say, hey, all right, let’s figure out a way to focus is what would you say?
S4: Well, so I wrote a whole book. About a case that shows that welfare fraud actually exists, but also tries to show that the stereotype of the welfare queen is like wrong and racist. And so it took a really long time to do that story and do it well and appropriately and convey all of the nuance that I felt like the subject warranted. And so as an editor, my view is that if the subject is really challenging and thorny my first impulses and to run away from it, my first impulse is to say this is interesting, how can we do this in a way that conveys that thorny ness with appropriate nuance? And sometimes you don’t have the time or resources or staffing to do that. And you can’t do you can’t give every story that’s thorny the amount of resources that it needs. And so, yeah, in those cases I think pass and let somebody else take it on. But I wouldn’t pass on a story just because it was potentially fraught and could go horribly wrong. Like I, I think those are stories that as editors we need to be thinking about how to do. Right.
S1: Well, I think about that story. Remember him, maybe this is another one for later, but the SB Nation story from a few years ago did like imploded their long form department about the former western Michigan guy that end up being a cop who ended up, you know, they he’d have been convicted for being a serial rapist or whatever. And you remember the story. Yeah. Right. And so, like, I think of that story, for instance, I’m like, oh, there’s a way that story could have been written that didn’t ruin everybody’s day, didn’t ruin careers and in devastated apartment. So I’m not saying that this story is that. But I do envision a world in which, like, maybe it can be written. But I think of it in terms of the story of Shawn Kemp in and of itself is fascinating. He was one of the most famous basketball players in the world. He had a decline. People didn’t know what was going on. That is a story enough to me. It didn’t have to be a trend story. But I don’t know if that’s how Lester Munson came at it either.
S5: Yeah, well, I think one of the things that would be different today and in different hands is that the overall moralizing tone that you flag at the very beginning, Josh, wouldn’t be such a central part of this piece. And it’s something that comes up over and over in this story, whether Len Elmore complaining about kids these days and the modern athlete only cares about himself all the way to the very end of of the piece, which takes you into like an NFL rookie orientation session, quoting Jim Druckenmiller, backup quarterback, talking about how, you know, they wanted to let everyone know that girls out there will take a chance to get pregnant. You know, they’ll do anything sometimes to get some money out of you. I mean, the point that gets hammered home is that that that that athletes have to avoid everything and that it’s their responsibility to avoid any entanglement whatsoever. And also this message that it’s the last line in the story, quoting a public service announcement from the Detroit Lions. Whether you’re married, divorced or single, fatherhood is forever. I mean, you know, it’s hard to argue with that. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s pretty it’s pretty anodyne statement. But in the context of this story, you’re left thinking that this is one giant scold on black players, particularly in the NBA.
S3: The story was called Where’s Daddy? May 4th, 1998, issue of Sports Illustrated. We will again put a link to that on our show page. And people seem to like this segment, so it seems like it’s coming around being like a once a month thing. So I’d like to keep it up if you guys want to keep it up.
S11: Let’s do it. I like reading all magazine stories here.
S15: All right. Now it is time for after balls.
S3: And we learned while we were taping that Don Shula, the legendary Miami Dolphins coach, died at the age of 90. None of the Corona virus, but he is best known for being the all time leader in wins among NFL coaches, 347, including the playoffs, led the Dolphins to that perfect season in 1972. Do not now till consulting the trustee Wikipedia page that he went to John Carroll as a collegiate and the football program. John Carroll, excellent nickname. The John Carroll blue streaks. Never heard that one before. Never heard of a blue streak that the team.
S1: Just blue hands for Delaware, but not the blue streaks. Pretty good.
S11: Where’s John Carroll University?
S4: John Carroll is in Ohio. It’s the University Heights, Ohio. And they play in Don Shula Stadium.
S9: And perhaps unsurprisingly, it is blue hands home of elite quarterback Joe Flacco.
S13: Blue streaks in elite nickname. Stefan, what is your blue streak?
S14: For those of you who may have missed it last week and my after ball, I talked about the documentary, The Battered Bastards of Baseball, about a countercultural mid 1970s independent minor league team, the Portland Mavericks. The Mavericks played in a very ugly concrete ball called Civic Stadium. And when they played, I noticed the stadium didn’t paint over these soccer lines on the field, which raised the question, who were the soccer lines for? Civic Stadium was home to the Portland Timbers of the North American Soccer League. And I discovered the stadium also hosted a very important game in the history of soccer.
S12: Brazilian legend Pele is last competitive match. It was the 1977 NASL championship game. Soccer balls. Seventy seven between Pele’s Cosmos and the Seattle Sounders. The Cosmos had other aging stars, including Giorgio Kanala Franz Beckenbauer and Carlos Alberto. The Sounders consisted mostly of old or second tier English, Scottish and Welsh players. Harry Redknapp, who would go on to manage Tottenham and other clubs in the Premier League, was a player coach. Though he didn’t play in the game that day, Soccer Bowl 77 is on YouTube and I watched a bunch of it. And I’ve got to say, it is fantastic. Fans are crammed to the edge of the concrete hard astro turf, pitch short shorts, Pleistocene era animation and graphics. Horn section, heavy music. Let’s take a listen.
S20: This is Portland, Oregon. The City of the Roses and site Soccer Balls 77 this afternoon, a capacity crowd of thirty five thousand is on hand to see a game that the experts are calling the most dramatic, emotion filled championship in North American soccer league history.
S5: Can you identify that voice, anyone?
S10: Apparently not. It’s a 25 year old John Miller, the great baseball play by play guy Pele comes out of the tunnel alone holding a ball. He does a lap around the center of the field and Miller is totally into it.
S21: They’re playing for the championship of North America today. But Pele number 10 as he greets the crowd moments ago. This is the only championship he has ever won. And it is his last chance. The last time that the black world, the most fabled athlete in the history of sports, perhaps the most loved athlete in the history of sports throughout the world. The last chance for Pele today as he plays for the money one more time. The last time Shandilya Paul Gardner ready to go.
S10: For the record, one of Pele’s nicknames was indeed the Black Pearl. It’s a fast paced, scrappy game. Seattle hacks key knowledge and Pele and the other Cosmos a lot. The ref swallows his whistle. Miller keeps calling them ball clubs and screaming Look out and announcing it, announcing a break in the action when they go to commercial, even though there’s no break in the action. The swelling roar at the supposedly neutral site for the Sounders is deafening. The Kosmo score first in the 20th minute on a goal by 21 year old Englishman Steve Hunt. The Cosmos had recruited Horne by doubling the salary he was making at Aston Villa. In England, he would play two seasons with the cosmos before a long career back in England. Let’s listen to Miller, an Englishman, Paul Gardiner on the gold called.
S21: I am coming back to that Vale and England comes right whether that’s quite a deal. Look at the run run with Nathan.
S22: Very quickly off his lines. He has to be everybody knows by now that.
S23: And you couldn’t tell. Here’s what happens, Hunter chases a ball from Kimmorley down the left wing. It’s cut off by the Seattle goalkeeper Tony Czerski. Czerski gets up, looks around, and then he puts the ball down and starts dribbling to his left. He doesn’t see Honda come from behind. Hunte pokes the ball away and it rolls into the net while Czerski tackles him from behind. After the game, a Seattle defender explained what happened. Tony’s experienced, but he’s deaf in one ear and can’t hear a thing. I shouted like hell at him. He couldn’t hear me. Seems like it would be good for your goalkeeper to not be deaf. Shoe comes off during the goal and he’s waving it while Pele carries an awkwardly in celebration. It really is terrific. Seattle ties the game. Four minutes later, though, we missed that goal because the broadcast is cut to a commercial. And then in the 70 eighth minute this happens in the I play play.
S21: They keep the pressure on in this baby. I’m. He’s gonna pay them to get the ball. But here’s the opening. What do you know your.
S23: In the cosmos, when two to one. Steve Hunt is the Copenhagen school player of the game. He gets 15 hundred bucks from the US tobacco company after the final whistle. You can see Pele in the distance. Immediately take off his iconic number 10 jersey and toss it to a Seattle player. It’s blurry, but it looks to me like the recipient is number three. Who is Jimmy McCallister? The only American on the field for the Sounders. And lo and behold, I’m right. McCallister, who was just 20 years old, told reporters afterward that he had asked Pele at the pregame banquet if he would give him his jersey. Pele agreed and did. He called MacAllister the best American player in soccer and said he’ll be one of the reasons America will have a good national team. And one day reach the World Cup competition, McCalister went on to a 10 year pro career. He earned just six national team caps low and was not directly involved in the United States finally reaching the men’s World Cup final in 1990. But he played in soccer ball 77 and I would hope still as Pele’s jersey. If you’re listening, Jenny McAllister or someone who knows Jenny McAllister is listening. Let us know what happened to the shirt.
S14: Josh, what’s your blue streak?
S3: So a little while back now, I did the trivia thing where I gave the 10 clear’s what not. Guess who you pick 10, whatever you want to call it. And people seem to enjoy that. Got a lot of e-mails about it. The answers, in case you’re wondering, for all of these weeks. First one was Shaquille O’Neal. Second one was Spud Webb. So I decided I’m going to bring it back. Got 10 more clues for you guys this week. I don’t know if I want to get myself into a thing where I’m making promises by doing it every week. I was going to say I’m going to do it this week. Then we’ll see where where this road leads us. So Joel and Stefan rules. You will slack me when you think you know the answer and you only have one gas. If you guessed wrong, you got locked out forever. And that clears get easier as they go on. You guys ready?
S1: Yeah. Let’s go to clue number one.
S24: The first newspaper story I could find about this guy says that he had five three pointers in a single game for the maroon giants, the Maroon Giants. Number two, he attended the University of Michigan. He attended the University of Michigan. That is clue number two. Clue number three for you. Is that right? Before he got drafted in the first round? He said, I always wanted to be one of the best. My mom said I could be if I kept working. I guess she was right.
S6: The article featuring that quote also noted that he should get enough dough after getting drafted to replace his rested 1981 Datsun rusted 1981. Donson love repeating phrases. That is clue number three. Clue number four. Early in his career, he got into a brief conflict with a clerck at an electronics store when the three different models of BCR he wanted to purchase were all out-of-stock.
S24: Three different models of VCR that he wanted to purchase, all of them out-of-stock. What are the chances I would personally get in a conflict with the clerk at that electronics store? Joel is has his hands on the keyboard, but is not in anything yet. Clear number five. The New York Observer once reported that his last name had become a synonym for two desks or to blow off as he Fatsis term big time again. The last name of this person had become a synonym for to death or to blow off. As in, he fancies turn big time. Stefan is shaking his head. Number six, this guy’s adorable nephew. Very adorable. Is the star of a popular Internet. The nephew is the star of a popular Internet meme. That’s clean image. Clue number seven, Mark Wahlberg shot him in a movie, not in real life. Number seven, Mark Wahlberg shot him in a movie.
S19: We have no guesses from either Joel or Stefan.
S25: Number eight in 2006, the pioneering baseball thinker Bill James read that watching our man make 40 defensive plays and then watching Adam Everett, a 40 defensive plays the same position. It’s sort of like watching video of Barbara Bush dancing at the White House and then watching Demi Moore dancing in striptease.
S6: Classic Bill James. Barbara Bush, Demi Moore. Strip tease. Our man, Adam Averette, 40 defensive players. All right. Stellar gases, man. Moving on to clear number nine. The New Yorker’s Roger Angell read about our guys 2014 retirement. His ease, his daily joy in his work has lightened the sadness of this farewell. And the cheering everywhere has been sustained and genuine. Roger Angell on his 2014 retirement. His ease, his daily joy in his work has lighten the sadness of this farewell.
S25: And the cheering everywhere has been sustained. And we have a correct guess from Stefan Fatsis. And number nine. Congratulations to seven pats at number 10. Our final clue when our hero e-mail his former teammate, Alex Rodriguez. So in 2016, A-Rod failed to immediately respond, saying that, quote, his in his inbox was completely false. We have a correct guest from Joe Anderson. I love this is my favorite quote. When our hero e-mailed his former teammate Alex Rodriguez to two years after his retirement in 2016, A-Rod failed to immediately respond, saying that his inbox was completely false. A-Rod is going to a full inbox. All right, Joel, Stefan, congrats on the correct answers.
S3: I will say this next week, so I will reveal the correct answer. And on next week’s show page by my innovation is going to be I’m going to put all of the clues with all of the links to all the sources that I use to compile this information. So hope you enjoyed that. I’m not. Do not e-mail me personally with your answers. But if you do have thoughts on the guests who pick 10 concept. Feel free to e-mail.
S2: So hang up at Slate dot com. You would like to continue. That is our show for today. Our producer is Melissa Kaplan. Listen to Pasha’s and subscribe. Or just reach out to Slate dot com slash hang up and you can e-mail us and hang up at Slate dot com. If you’re still here, I am guessing you may want even more. Hang up and listen. In our bonus segment this week, we talked about the latest plan to get the NBA back in business.
S1: I miss basketball. I would love to be watching playoff basketball right now. I would love to see LeBron go for his fourth ring, but I don’t want it that bad. But the point is that somebody out there wants it that bad for Joel Anderson.
S2: And Stefan Fatsis and Josh Levine remembers Zombo. And thanks for listening.
S3: And now it is time for our bonus segment for Slate, plus members of the NCAA. Major League Baseball, the NHL, every league is batting around all sorts of ideas about how to get up and running again on the NBA front. LeBron James said last week nobody he knows wants to cancel the season. Maybe the Warriors went against LA. They don’t seem particularly interested in coming back to play out the string. But LeBron wants to try to win a title. He remains totally unclear how a resumed NBA season would work and if it could work. Last week, ESPN dot com published in FAA. Q On a possible NBA bubble, a cocoon that would allow players and personnel to get back to work, possibly in Las Vegas, possibly at Disneyworld in Orlando. Joel, the piece went into some detail about what all would be required. I thought it was a useful exercise. The piece said it would amount to 15 hundred people, 1500 being deemed essential. That includes players, coaches, team staffers, referees, TV folks, hotel staff and on and on. What did you think of this proposal and kind of where you at in terms of just thinking about when and how stuff is going to resume?
S1: I mean, I guess the way to think about this is what is actually essential here. Do we need basketball that badly?
S3: I think you’re going to say, like, you know, do we need Jerry Dudley?
S1: Which Lakers player? Right. You’ve got you can have a D in LeBron right now. Alex Caruso. I don’t think that Caruso. So it would be because of essential personnel. But I just every time this comes up, I mean, I just always go back to the same place. I’m like, why are we doing this? It’s a great distraction for people to envision all these increasingly insane ways to stage competition and live television content for those of us who are stuck at home and don’t have to work in these really dangerous conditions. But I just don’t understand, like, it seems unseemly that in a country where we don’t have enough testing capacity to ensure the safety of our citizens, that there would be some reserve for basketball. And I just can’t kind of get over that. I miss basketball. I would love to be watching playoff basketball right now. I would love to see LeBron go for his fourth ring, but I don’t want it that bad. But the point is that somebody out there wants it that bad. A lot of people out there want it that bad. And because of that, because this keeps coming up, because this is an ongoing conversation we have, I’m under the impression that we’re going to see it at some point. You know, Essentialists be damned.
S19: Another way to say what you just said is like it’s just too soon to think of any kind of scenario in that Pizzi your way.
S1: Yes, eventually.
S3: No. You know, I appreciate everything that you said, Stefan. What, are you in the same place, Jeff?
S5: More or less. I mean, I understand, however, why the leagues are doing this. They have to do this. I mean, this is no different than any business trying to figure out how are we going to reopen if we can reopen.
S3: And we would be irresponsible, the NBA, not to be having these kind of absences anymore.
S5: I mean, this is no different than higher education, trying to figure out whether they can bring students to campus in September or any other business, trying to figure out when they can resume allowing people to go to work. And because it’s sports, it becomes a fun thought exercise. In addition to being an important strategic planning exercise on the part of the leagues, for instance, Major League Baseball, one of the proposals that they apparently are considering, according to a piece by Bob Nightingale in USA Today last week, would involve realigning the entire league into three ten team divisions based entirely on geography and allowing the teams to play in their home ballparks, but limiting, obviously, the amount of travel that they would have to do. And they would play like a 100 100 game regular season, but they wouldn’t have to go from coast to coast. So you would mitigate some of the potential risks there. And, you know, it involves the same level of gaming out what’s going to be possible in terms of quarantining and protecting and who would get to who would be involved in the production of the games and also whether any fans would be involved. So I read all of these. I think I’m with you, Joel. I read this stuff and I think, yeah, that’s you know, it’s that’s pretty to think about. But in reality, I don’t think it’s necessary. But again, these are multi-billion dollar businesses that need revenue to start coming back in and have these these complicated contracts with broadcast networks that they were are eager to fulfill so they can get revenue flowing back. For them.
S19: Yeah. Again, I thought that this ESPN piece was really useful at kind of concretize ng what all it would require and then you can come to your own conclusions around. Right. Does this seem absurd or unseemly? Just running through a little bit of it. The piece says consultation with head coaches and executives led to the idea that they would need twenty eight people per team. Fifteen active roster spots, head coach, three assistants, three trainers, physical therapists, strength coach, equipment manager, team logistics coordinator, front office rep, PR official and security officials. That’s 28 per team, down from 40 or 50 during the regular season or 75 or more in the playoffs. It went on to say 20 to 25 people to broadcast the games. The hotel’s situation requires an enormous amount of personnel that says 300 to 350 workers. And then there’s also the questions around older people being at higher risk. And question asked, would the NBA allow coaches such as Gregg Popovich and Mike D’Antoni to work? Seventy one year old Popovich, 68 year old D’Antoni. And then back, circling back to your initial comment, Joel testing Foushee, Anthony Foushee has said weekly testing of athletes might be sufficient as long as they’re watched. The ESPN story quotes contrary opinion from biology professor at University of Washington, Karlberg Extrem, who says testing every day would be my gold standard. And so we’re just not at a at a place right now where that’s even a possibility. And so it seems like what we’re left with is in our current scenario.
S13: There’s no way to do this without infringing on capacity that might be used for other people. There would be more important to be tested.
S19: And so that just means like, okay, well, I guess this is all just like a wait and see. Then we just have to sit, sit back and wait until the moment when the NBA wouldn’t be infringing on another people who need this stuff more.
S1: Right. I mean, I think about this there’s this assumption that, you know, Gregg Popovich and Mike D’Antoni, they’re older. They’re more at risk. So we consider some means to keep them out of harm’s way. But we’ve lived long enough in our lives. We know Reggie Lewis. We know the story of Hank Gathers. There’s no way to know we did so much about this virus that we don’t know and how it affects people and who gets it that you know. There’s no saying that there’s no talent, that somebody that’s 38 years old, NBA player, has some sort of unknown heart issue and they die as a result of this. And like what? They really want to have that happen on their watch. It sounds like that’s something that they’re considering. But there’s so many unknowns with this disease. And I mean, I guess I can say, you know, I I’m just recovering from it. Right. And one of the scariest things about that is that you just don’t know how it’s going to respond to your body like the fear the unknown with this is which sort of it makes it seem does seem unreasonable that we just need there, assuming that all these guys are healthy, they’re all wealthy, they’ll have access to health care. But debt is not necessarily sufficient to protect your life. All it takes is one player dying for us to see the folly of this.
S18: And that’s a really good point that I can’t say that I had even thought about. I mean, any underlying health condition would have to be ruled out by by doctors in advance of being able to play at all. So it’s not just a matter of testing for coalbed. It’s a matter of testing for anything that might complicate a player’s health. If he were to become exposed, then, you know, that could be a player as asthmatic or a player or has some sort of underlying heart condition that is undetected. I mean, it seems to me like if you’re going to take a fully protective approach like you’re suggesting, Joel, that’s going to require a battery of medical testing of the athletes before they’re allowed to play or live in this kind of environment or travel, you know, in the case of baseball from city to city to to do their jobs.
S26: I think it’s it strikes me as unlikely that that would happen and maybe it should. But, you know, players do undergo physicals. And I think that the the teams and maybe the players themselves would think like that. That is unnecessary, even if it is necessary. But just feels to me like the next couple weeks are going to be really important. Mostly, you know, for the country. And then as that subset of that for sports, because this stuff just starts to open back up again, we’re just gonna we’re gonna see what happens. And I feel like if there isn’t a huge uptick in cases in places like Texas that are opening up more, then there’s going to be more pressure external and maybe a sophomore. Done leagues to come back because everything’s fine again and I don’t know. It seems unlikely that that’s the right approach, but it just feels like know, we’re just starting May. I feel like at some point this month is when decisions are going to be made like the NBA. You can’t get to June 1st and be like we still don’t know if we’re gonna be starting the season like they need to make a decision, even if it’s not going to. We’re not going to be at a point where we have enough data to know what the right decision is to make.
S1: I mean, again, we I think we do this every time we have this conversation. But don’t you all think that something is going to happen, that there is going to be some games?
S13: Well, they started playing tennis already. They’re playing some not an ATP or WTA, but, you know, there that there are things that are kind of starting back up. We just saw today that ESPN struck a deal to broadcast Korean baseball games. And so it’s going to be different in different places around the world. But you are starting to see stuff kind of slowly come back in slightly different forms. And so, yeah, just like stuff is happening, decisions are being made. And I do think I think you’re you’re right that some there will there will be games at some point this summer. I think that’s true.
S5: And I think what ultimately happens, particularly with some lower level type sports, is that there’s going to be a point of of sort of natural impatience that sets in. And we’re there. Well, and people are going to drop their guard and start socializing again and start patronizing restaurants and business. And certainly in some parts of the country that’s already happening and all over the country that’s happening. And that’s probably going to happen on some level with sports, though, it’s not going to be the major leagues taking ultimately risky decisions that could compromise the health of a lot of people. I mean, the NBA isn’t going to be reckless about restarting. And I think that goes to your point, Joel, like and Josh also that they’re going to have to make a choice and that choice might be the season’s over and we’re going to aim to restart the NBA in November or December.
S1: I think there’s one big thing here that I’m surprised it hasn’t come up, that these leagues haven’t offered up their minor leagues as a potential solution. You know that the G League or the minor leagues do have much less labor protections are the ones that might get out there first and they can say, OK, that seems like that’s OK. They don’t play in front of big crowds anyway. And there’s this appetite. People were pretending that Horace was something that they wanted to watch on TV. So maybe the best to the hawks, Matthew. So. So so maybe it’s worth it. You know, maybe we can see, you know.
S9: But I know the G League Showcase has been cited as an example of what the NBA could do. Like, that’s all the teams there go to Las Vegas and there aren’t crowds. It’s just scouts that go to those those games. So there is a precedent there. I will say we’ll have ample opportunity to talk about this in the weeks to come. Let’s end it there for now. Thank you.
S4: Two slate plus members for your membership, as always.
S1: And particularly our new slate. Plus minus. Yeah. And a lot of new Slate plus members. Thank you for supporting us. That’s been awesome.
S3: Yeah, it’s really, really awesome. We really appreciate it. And we’ll be back with more next week.