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Friday Links

Because neither Lydia nor Sara has the time at the moment to write a full post, here are some stories we’ve been thinking about recently:

  • Mo’Ne Davis Throws Like a Girl – At 70 MPH: obviously worthy of a full post, and we’ll get there, we promise.  But when we heard her quote “I throw my curveball like Clayton Kershaw and my fasball like Mo’Ne Davis” we were all like “daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaamn.”  According to this article, Davis’s 70 MPH fastball is 10-20 MPH faster than her male opponents.  Impressive.  She also just happens to be on the national cover of Sports Illustrated this week.
  • Becky Hammon Named First Full-Time Female NBA Coach: on the heels of the Natalie Nakase news, the San Antonio Spurs announced that they had hired Becky Hammon, WNBA player, as the first female full-time coach in the NBA.  “And there is no question Hammon understands the game – better than most. Her teammates already consider her like another coach; before the fourth quarter of Sunday’s must-win game against the Los Angeles Sparks, it was Hammon delivering instructions to her teammates while Hughes and his assistants game-planned a few feet away.”
  • An NFL Ref Quietly Protested the Washington Football Team’s Name: former NFL referee Mike Carey is amazing.  “For almost all of the final eight seasons and 146 games of Carey’s career, the first African American referee to work a Super Bowl — the official named with Ed Hochuli as the best in the game in a 2008 ESPN poll of coaches — essentially told his employers his desire for a mutually respectful society was so jeopardized by Washington’s team name that he could not bring himself to officiate the games of owner Daniel Snyder’s team.”

What stories in sports and gender have you been thinking about?  Let us know in the comments.

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Inspiring Aspiring NBA Coach

There’s nothing like a great article about a woman in sports with no stereotypes to make your morning. Seriously! Yesterday, the New York Times profiled Natalie Nakase, a Los Angeles Clippers Assistant Video Coordinator, who has a very laudable goal: to be the first-ever female NBA head coach.  Nakase accomplished something awesome this summer: being named an assistant coach for the two-week NBA summer league.  She earned the spot with two years of hard work and dedication to the Clippers.

Natalie Nakase, on the bench with the Clippers coaching staff.

The Times article is great: it talks about Nakase identifying her goals, going abroad to coach professionally, and then coming back to the U.S. to pursue work in the NBA.  She took a low-paying (or no-paying) internship with the Clippers at first in order to work her way in (and, as the Times notes, coaches Erik Spoelstra, Frank Vogel and Mike Brown all started as video interns.)

[W]hen Nakase, 34, sat on the bench recently on the staff of Brendan O’Connor, the summer league coach, it was an acknowledgment of the work she has put in over the last two seasons as a video intern.

“It’s where she wants to be someday,” [Doc] Rivers[, head coach of the Clippers,] said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s men or women — she wants to be a coach and she works her butt off at it. She’s in our film room all year, she’s terrific, and it’s a way of rewarding employees. She’s very loyal; she’s out on the floor with our guys, rebounding, and she’s a student of the game, and I thought it was important to reward her.”

I loved this profile, obviously, because it shows a woman as a professional in a men’s sports league, in an area dominated by men, working hard and getting where she can because the team’s staff and administration understand that women can do this just as well as men.  But I also loved the profile because it avoided all of the cliches and tropes of a “girl making it in a man’s world” story upon which it could have easily hinged.  Kudos to author Billy Witz for avoiding this, and presenting a great profile of a woman breaking barriers.

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It Was Probably the Crab’s Fault…

…or at least, that’s what the Tallahassee police will say.

Jameis Winston was cited for allegedly  shoplifting crab legs from Publix.

The crab was totally asking for it.  The crab was doing it for the publicity.  The crab is a slut.  Do we even know what the crab was wearing?  I bet the crab didn’t even have any clothes on.  I mean, look at how long those legs are. You can’t just expect to walk into a Publix, looking that appealing, and not have some guy put his hands all over you.

(H/T to Mike, who kicked off the email exchange that led to this post.)

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UConn Women Win NCAA Championship

Last night, the UConn Lady Huskies blasted Notre Dame, winning the NCAA Women’s March Madness tournament by scoring 79-58.  This was a matchup many had been waiting for; both teams were previously undefeated, and had never been placed in the bracket so that they could have a head-t0-head matchup in the Finals.

Connecticut center Stefanie Dolson celebrates a basket.

UConn absolutely dominated – I think they led 20-8 in the first quarter – and it was very clear who the superior team was.  So that mean’s we’ll be seeing more of this later this year:

UConn Women at the White House

I’m not mad about it.  I’m also not mad about the fact that I totally won our bracket challenge this year – go me!  That means Lydia owes me a trip to the NWSL this summer, and I plan to collect.

The TV ratings were pretty good, too: the game averaged 3.1% of homes in 56 major markets, the highest such rating for a women’s game since 2004 and the fourth-highest on record on ESPN in data dating to 2000.  The Hartford/New Haven market averaged a remarkable 29.3 percent of homes with Nashville, where the game was played, finishing second at 6.8.  New York was tied for seventh at 4.6.  For comparison’s sake, the men’s tournament the evening prior rated a 6.0% nationally.

The Lady Huskies join their male counterpart in being Champions of both basketball tournaments.  This also happened in 2004.  Pretty cool for Storrs, CT!

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UMass Shooting Guard Derrick Gordon Comes Out

Derrick Gordon, a 22 year old sophomore and starting shooting guard at UMass, has come out, making him the first openly gay Division 1 men’s college basketball player.

Derrick Gordon, via UMass Daily Collegian

Derrick Gordon, via UMass Daily Collegian

Notably, Gordon said that the Nets’ signing of Jason Collins was a pivotal moment for him.  “That was so important to me, knowing that sexuality didn’t matter, that the NBA was OK with it,” Gordon said.

I had the opportunity to see Gordon play when I went to the A10 conference tournament at the Barclays Center about a month ago.  The game was exciting, with UMass coming from being behind most of the game to win in dramatic fashion.  Gordon was closeted then, even to his teammates.  I can only imagine how much more free he feels now.

Congratulations to Gordon for having the courage to be honest about who he is; he will be, like Collins was for him, a role model for others in the NCAA and for younger players looking up to him.

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Join our NCAA Women’s Tournament Bracket Challenge

It’s March Madness again!  For the third (!) year in a row, we are hosting a Bracket Challenge for the NCAA Women’s Tournament.  Join us by filling out a bracket today!

This year, TWO teams are undefeated.  UConn went 34-0 this season, while Notre Dame went 32-0, prompting the age old question:  “Who would win in a fight between a Huskie and a Fighting Irish?”  Both teams are seeded #1 in their region, setting them up for a potential match-up in the title game.  UConn, now in the American Athletic Conference, this season has beaten #2 seed Stanford, by 19; #3 seed Louisville, by 17, 20 and 20; and another #2 seed Baylor, by 11 (on the road).  Notre Dame, now in the ACC, has beaten #1 seed Tennessee, by 16 (on the road) and #2 seed Duke, by 21, 11 and 16.  South Dakota, North Dakota, Akron and Winthrop are new teams to the tourney.  Of course, it’s speculation to assume that UConn and Notre Dame will be in the title game, but having two undefeated teams in would be just so cool, wouldn’t it?

Personally, after Brittney Griner and Baylor got beat and destroyed my bracket, I’ll be looking to Odyssey Sims to redeem the Lady Bears in my eyes.  Sara is hellbent on cheering for UConn, “the closest school to my hometown of Worcester, MA, that has ever had a shot in either basketball tournament.”

Sims and Griner celebrate during a game last year against UConn. Via Newsday.

Sims and Griner celebrate during a game last year against UConn. Via Newsday.

Remember: you don’t need to know anything about women’s college basketball to enter and that’s part of the fun!

Sign up today to win our prize!  If you win and you are in the New York area, Sara and I will treat you and a guest to a Brooklyn Cyclones game OR a National Women’s Soccer League game this summer (date to be mutually agreed upon by all parties).  If you’re outside of the New York area, we’ll send you one of our favorite books about Title IX.

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Friday Afternoon Links Post

Because you’re ready for the weekend, here are a few stories we’ve been reading this week:

  • Canadian hockey goalie Suzanne Szabados has joined the Columbus Cottonmouths, a team that plays in the Southern Professional Hockey League.  This is notable because everyone else on the Cottonmouths, as well as everyone else in the SPHL, are men.  “There is no professional hockey league for women that pays a livable wage, so the best female players have limited options if they want to continue playing after college. They can squeeze in training around a job, train full time, and depend on outside financial assistance or find employment with a team in a men’s pro league like Szabados.”  Best of luck to her!
  • Via Title IX blog, a law professor from University of Pittsburgh, Deborah Brake, has published a scholarly article, available for free on SSRN, using female athletes’ apparent preference for male coaches as a case study to show how the U.S.’s discrimination laws are flawed.  From the Abstract: “The predominant legal model views discrimination as a top-down, inter-group phenomenon. In discrimination law, the paradigmatic case is intentional bias directed by an in-group superior toward an out-group subordinate. (E.g., a male boss discriminates against a female subordinate.) Shifting either one of these dimensions to involve within-group bias or contra-power bias complicates the discrimination claim, resulting in new doctrinal demands. Shifting them both creates space for productive theorizing about the complexity of discrimination and the adequacy of the law’s response to it.”
  • The Mets’ short-season A affiliate, the Brooklyn Cyclones, are running a promotion called “Princess Night.”  Grumble grumble grumble.
  • A few weeks ago Lydia’s now-former favorite Knick, Raymond Felton, was arrested for illegal gun possession.  His wife (who has since filed for divorce) turned one of his guns over to the police, alleging that Felton had threatened her with it during an argument.  Not cool, Ray.  Of course, because the Knicks are a terrible organization, he was not suspended a single game, and continues to play.
  • A great piece from The Aerogram looks at the barriers to entry into the sports industry faced by South Asian women in particular. (h/t Aditi!)
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Mr. Met Joins Twitter, Mrs. Met Slut-Shaming Ensues

Back in November, I wrote jubilantly about the New York Mets’ decision to bring back Mrs. Met to cheer alongside with everyone’s favorite mascot, Mr. Met.  In that post I wrote I was happy to have her back in part because female mascots are so few and far between; indeed I was only able to name a handful.

Two days ago, Mr. Met joined Twitter.  He’s the best, so it was cute.

Mr. Met's first tweets

Mr. Met’s first tweets

Mrs. Met is not on Twitter, for now:

A fan asked about Mrs. Met!

But since joining, other mascots have tweeted at Mr. Met with various insinuations about affairs with Mrs. Met.  NJ.com has a round-up of screen shots of their tweets, which include pictures (I’m assuming they are from last summer’s All-Star Weekend at Citifield).

The thread goes as follows:

Ok, I’m sorry, WHAT?! Are the people running these Twitter feeds actually slut-shaming a mascot?!  What is wrong with these people?  These are mascots – goofy characters intended to rally fans and induce team success — and they are tweeting about how a female, married mascot is sleeping around (or something, I mean what even is Slider?) and cheating on her mascot-husband?  STOP THE MADNESS!!!

Or if you’re Jay Horwitz, the Mets’ own PR guy, I guess you’re going to play along:

   -

I thought this was supposed to fun.  It’s been a long, cold, snowy, baseball-less winter.  So come on, keep it light, don’t be a bunch of pigs, and don’t make it harder for the Mets to have a female mascot.

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Jason Collins Signs with the Nets, Becomes First Openly Gay Player in a Major US Sport

After rumblings Thursday, the day of the NBA Trade Deadline, the Nets have signed Jason Collins to a 10-day contract.  And just like that, we have our first openly gay player in one of the four major professional sports.

Jason Kidd, now the Nets coach, and Jason Collins as teammates on the Nets in 2006

Jason Kidd, now the Nets coach, and Jason Collins as teammates on the Nets in 2006

Jason Collins is a good fit for the Nets, and vice versa.  The team has a ton of veterans who have played with and against Collins over the years.  Their starting center, Brook Lopez, is out for the season, they’re down a forward after trading Jason Terry and Reggie Evans for Marcus Thornton earlier this week, and their other center, Kevin Garnett, probably shouldn’t be playing every day.  The Nets tried to make a trade before the deadline and couldn’t, so to the free agent market they went.

New York is a good fit for Jason Collins.  We are a tolerant, gay-friendly place, at least relatively speaking.  And players who play here are used to our sports media hoopla, which turns every bit of news into a circus, big or small, important or inane.

Additionally, Collins was originally drafted by the Nets and has a great relationship with many current Nets.  ESPN reports:

Collins would be reunited with Nets coach Jason Kidd, who played alongside the defensive-minded big man in New Jersey from 2001-08, making two trips together to the NBA Finals. Collins also played with Nets guard Joe Johnson for three seasons in Atlanta and spent half of the 2012-13 season in Boston alongside Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett before being traded to the Washington Wizards. Collins is friends with injured Nets center Brook Lopez, who, like Collins, played alongside his twin brother at Stanford.

It remains to be seen what will happen next, but I’m not convinced the New York sports media will go all that crazy over it; the Nets are four games out of first place in the Atlantic Division and at this point are a playoff team.  They made moves because they want to contend, and maybe I’m being optimistic or naive or something, but I think the personal story will wane to the team story sooner rather than later.  (Are you watching this John Mara and Steve Tisch?)

As a Knicks fan and expatriated Manhattanite living near the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, I do not like the Nets.  I do not like the use of eminent domain and empty promises to build the arena, and I do not like their stupid poser fans (what basketball team did they like before last year?  Or do they just love the Brooklyn™ brand?).  But right now that’s neither here or there.  They were not afraid to make the right move for their team, and in doing so have made history.

I’m proud to live in a city that isn’t afraid to break barriers in sports and I know that, from the perspective of fans and media, we can seamlessly embrace an out player. Now go give em hell Jason Collins (except don’t actually, because that will hurt the Knicks, who need all the help they can get).

Screen Shot 2014-02-23 at 3.56.38 PM

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Why I Have Been Half-Heartedly Watching the Sochi Olympics

If you haven’t read Lydia’s post on this subject, please read it first.  I agree with so much of what she’s written on the subject of the Sochi Olympics, and why their existence is problematic.  And yet, I have been casually watching the Winter Olympics this year, for a few reasons I’ll articulate.

First of all, even just committing to “casual” is a huge step for me.  There’s something I can’t reconcile in my head about being obsessed over these Olympics as I have been for Olympics past.  And obsessed I have been: during the 2008 Summer Olympics, I watched during the start of my 1L year of law school, staying up far into the night when I should have been reading about Lucy, Lady Duff-Gordon, cheering Michael Phelps in the relays and screaming about track stars.  But this Olympics doesn’t seem to warrant that prior obsession; despite the fact that my viewership has no bearing on Putin’s Russia, it somehow feels disingenuous to all of my LGBT friends to go haywire over some people skating against each other halfway across the world in the rich white people Winter Olympics.

But that doesn’t mean I don’t care at all.  And in fact, it is precisely because I do care that I have been watching.  It is not the fault of the 2014 Winter Olympians that they have happened to reach the peak of their sport during this Olympic year in this country.  Sochi was chosen as the site of the 2014 Winter Olympics long before any of them maybe even knew they had a shot.  Sochi was even chosen before Russia implemented its extremely terrible LGBT laws.  While I have little faith that the IOC would have done anything differently had they known these laws were coming, I think it is important to celebrate not only the U.S. athletes, but also athletes from around the world who made it to the Olympics despite the challenges (for many, those challenges are financial – it’s not like the Jamaican bobsledders or the Nepali luger really have a lot of access to government funding.  For that matter, neither does the U.S. Olympic Team, which is why they have to get sponsors in the first place.)

I also feel compelled to support the Olympics because for almost all women’s sports (perhaps only excluding women’s soccer, which has the World Cup), the Olympics are literally the pinnacle of the sport.  Right now is one of the only times that people actually pay attention to women in sports.  The NHL does not have a women’s league.  In fact, very few of the female athletes in these games have a professional league in which to compete – and get paid.  (Certainly, there are sports, such as skiing and ice skating, that are not lacking for events during the year.  Unfortunately, these are the exceptions to the rule.)  Most of the athletes compete in college, and then they have to find something else to do to support their sport in the four years between Olympics.  Some of them were even college athletes in one discipline who’ve been enticed to others, such as the track stars who join bobsleigh teams.  (This is also why I strongly support the return of softball to the Summer Olympics.  Whatever on baseball since MLB never lets the stars play anyway, but oh, softball, we need you back.)  There are some professional women’s sports leagues around the world, but their defining characteristic, other than say, the LGPA, WTA and WNBA, is that players must work elsewhere during the off-season to make ends meet.

USA Women’s Hockey, Silver Medalists 2014

So, I’ve been watching: for female athletes, for whom this is their only shot, for all Olympic athletes, for whom this is their only shot, and for those who are competing for the pride of countries that don’t muck with human rights.  And I’ll continue watching throughout the games, but don’t think I do it without pause.