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Wicked Burn in Women’s Soccer

Hey, FIFA.  Can we talk, for a minute, about turf?

I can’t seem to contain my rage that the Women’s World Cup (as we’ve all been conditioned now to call it) is being played on turf.  No Men’s World Cup (no one is going to call it that when it happens, is it?  I may have to wage a one-woman war on that front) tournament (or even a single game) has been played on turf.  Why?  Easy.  Turf sucks.

As a totally amateur and terrible softball player for an office team many years ago, I know this first-hand.  When we’d be scheduled for turf games, I would often be “not feeling well” or mysteriously “delayed on the subway” for our team’s softball games, because turf sucks.  It hurts.  It burns when you fall.  It’s really freaking hot.  And tiny tiny rubber pellets creep into the crevices of your body and never leave.  (I have experienced what the USWNT members discuss here.  It’s not pretty.)

Abby Wambach and some other players tried to sue FIFA for this, but ultimately dropped the lawsuit because it wouldn’t be resolved in time for the Cup.  While this has resulted in an absolutely delightful sponsorship deal between Wambach and Scott’s Lawn Care, it is still completely shameful.  It’s as simple as this: women deserve equal treatment in tournament play.  That includes the surface on which they play.  If FIFA wouldn’t choose it for the men, then it’s not acceptable for the women.

I’d really rather be talking about something else at this point (like how freaking awesome Julie Johnston is playing), but FIFA’s questionable decision-making (in all things, truly) continues to leave this topic open for discussion.  I’m frustrated and angry as we advance further in the Cup.  Perhaps a reformed FIFA may be better for women, but we’ll probably have to have some actual women involved in the FIFA administration for us to even have a chance of that happening.

 

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Women’s NCAA Tournament – Bracket Challenge 2015

Although Lydia and I haven’t been able to update much, we still care about the women’s basketball tournament.

Join us here to create your bracket:
http://games.espn.go.com/tournament-challenge-bracket-women/en/group?invitesource=email&groupID=10445&inviteuser=NjAzMzEyMjg%3D&ex_cid=invite-email-tcwomen

Group name: BloomerGirls Brackets ’15

If you win, and you are in the New York area, Lydia and I will take you to your choice of a NWSL game or a Cyclones game this summer. If you are outside of New York, we’ll send you a copy of a great book about Title IX.

Enter soon – the women’s tournament starts tomorrow!

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Annual SABR Email Full of White Guys

It’s time!  Nothing like my least-favorite email of the year to get me fired up enough to write a post on a slightly dormant blog.

Once again, I have received an email from Major League Baseball apprising me of the upcoming SABR conference in Phoenix. And once again, it looks like this:

White guys!

White guys!

So many white guys!  You can see previous years’ versions here and here.

Take a look at the current speakers list here: http://sabr.org/analytics/speakers.  There is literally not one single woman on the list.  (There is, from what I can tell, one person of color on the full speaker list…but of course, they didn’t include him in the promotional email.)  You really couldn’t find a woman more qualified to talk about sabermetrics than Curt Schilling?  Now I know you’re not even trying.  Just for that, I hope he talks about creationism the whole time and doesn’t mention baseball once.

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NFL Teams You Won’t Feel Guilty Supporting: A List

None.

That’s the list.

This morning, TMZ released interior elevator footage of Baltimore Ravens player Ray Rice beating his then-fiancee (now wife) in an elevator.  Previously, the only footage that had been available to the public was exterior shots of Rice in the lobby dragging the woman out of the elevator.  We hadn’t seen the punches until today.  The NFL claims they hadn’t either (but if you believe that, I’d really like to sell you this nice bridge.)  Rice’s punishment?  A ban for two games.

Up until this point, I thought I could manage the four teams on my will-never-support list: the Ravens, the Steelers (Ben Roethlisberger was never tried in a court of law, but I honestly don’t care), the Washington Football Team (racists), and the Jets (because duh, Patriots rivalry.) At what point, however, does that list become so unmanageable that you just can’t stomach the entire league?

Jezebel writer Erin Gloria Ryan wrote this morning that “if you care about women and still support the NFL, you are a hypocrite.”  She’s right.  The NFL can handle all of our outcry because the owners laugh all the way to the bank.  “Why in the hell would the NFL change a thing about the way it disciplines its players if no matter what the League does, its harshest critics will continue to give the sport their eyeballs, money, and attention? If the Ray Rice incident didn’t dent the NFL’s ratings, sales, or audience, if seriously fucked up behavior by League leadership doesn’t have any consequences to their bottom line, then what was the Ray Rice outcry to NFL leadership but temporarily annoying publicity?”

I was jazzed when Roger Goodell released a new NFL Domestic Violence policy two weeks ago.  The policy stated that a 1st offense would garner a 6-game ban, and a second offense would mean a lifetime ban.  The policy applies to all NFL personnel including coaches, owners, and team employees, not just players.  This seemed to be a good step, and a public acknowledgment that Goodell had gotten it wrong when it came to Rice.  But this new video is so appallingly violent that I am completely sickened.  If the NFL saw the video before issuing the 2-game suspension, then I cannot imagine how a rational human being would have come to that conclusion.  And if the NFL didn’t, then they can and should consider revising their suspension of Rice.

Yesterday, while watching the OAK-NYJ game, I took a picture of my feet next to my boyfriend’s feet, up on my coffee table, with the NFL on CBS logo in the background.  I was looking forward to posting it on Instagram later this week, with some cute caption about how I hadn’t actually lost my boyfriend to football season, but had gained a companion for it.  I won’t be posting that picture, nor do I intend to post anything positive on social media or this blog about the NFL this season.  I just can’t.  I’m sure I’ll watch some games.  I like watching the Patriots, I like watching football with my boyfriend, with my brothers, with Lydia and our friends, and I really like the Superbowl.  But I can no longer publicly support the NFL.  To do so means discounting their complete ignorance of issues relating to violence, violence specifically against women and racism, and I simply cannot condone it any more.

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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.