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🏈🏆 Podcast Episode 29: Guess which league is an absolute gongshow

August 05, 2020
James Lang/USA Today Sports, via Reuters
James Lang/USA Today Sports, via Reuters

Tune in to this episode of The GIST of IT here!

Ellen: What's up, GISTers welcome to The GIST of IT, the podcast where two gals and two pals give you the gist of what's going on in the sports world. I'm Ellen Hyslop.

Steph: And I'm Steph Rotz.

Ellen: Thanks for tuning in.

Steph, it's great to see you again, we're coming off of a big August long weekend here in Canada, and I feel like I'm starting the week pretty fresh, feeling pretty refreshed after having that extra Monday off.

Steph: Feels good to always start on a Tuesday, it just jumps you right in there. And this weekend was great. I got to squeeze in some WNBA games, some NBA games, some NHL. How about you, Ellen?

Ellen: Yes. It was so fun having all of the leagues on literally all at once. I quite literally did not know what to do with myself. I didn't really know what game to choose or what to do. And it was so fun watching all of them, especially I found myself really enjoying the NHL because they're right into the postseason and they're right into the playoffs. So it was like nothing, nothing, nothing. And then just so intense, which was so fun. 

But I still am so sad about New York Liberty player Sabrina Ionescu getting that grade three ankle sprain, watching that highlight and hearing her ankle go over, it's just so sad to see a rookie with the star power like her and the ability like her to have her season basically over because they say that it's going to be about a month until she can return and the Liberty aren't going to make the playoffs and they're not going to risk their franchise player just to come back for a week or two and then maybe she wouldn't be able to play in 2021. So just I feel so bad for the Liberty, but also just for the WNBA altogether, because she's such a draw for fans.

Steph: I saw it happen on Twitter and immediately tuned into the game and just was so upset just watching. Yeah, it's a huge loss. What I'm hoping, Ellen, that we can talk about today is the MLB and some college football and college sports because they seem to be most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. And I'm still flabbergasted at how the MLB is moving forward.

Ellen: Yes, flabbergasted is a really good word, and I'm feeling the exact same. So let's get to it. OK, so, Steph, let's chat about the MLB and how COVID-19 just continues and continues and continues to impact them. We got into what's happening with the MLB a little bit in last week's podcast, but to recap and to kind of get into it more, let's start with what happened from the very beginning with the MLB. So as we've mentioned beforehand, unlike other leagues, the MLB opted to go without the bubble or hub city route as they have all 30 teams playing. 

So unlike the NBA and NHL that are doing a restart, the MLB is just a complete start and they're playing 60 games in 66 days, which would be very hard to do logistically within a bubble. So instead they decided to regionalize travel. So basically teams play 40 games against their division and then the remainder against the other league's regional counterpart. And so to back up there a little bit the MLB is divided into two leagues, so the National League, the NL, and the American League, the AL, and then each league is further divided into three divisions the East, the West and the central division. And there's five teams in each of those divisions. So if we take the New York Yankees, for example, they're in the AL East. So they'd be playing 40 games against those AL East teams and then 20 games against the NL East teams.

Steph: I can kind of see where they're coming from with not having the bubble or Hub City based on the explanation you just gave Ellen, especially since baseball games take forever and would be really hard to do back to back to back like we're seeing in the NBA and WNBA and NHL but this travel has to be what's causing the issues with COVID-19 positive tests and with this pandemic.

Ellen:  For sure. You know, some of its travel, but unfortunately, it's seeming like it's because the players are not following the rules. And so for a bit of a COVID-19 timeline, because I feel like that's what we've been living in for the last six months, let's just go into that for baseball. So MLB opening weekend, which was July 23rd, which I guess was a Thursday, but still, MLB opening weekend. The Philadelphia Phillies are hosting the Miami Marlins and four players from the Miami Marlins test positive for COVID-19. They get on a group chat and they still decide to proceed with playing their game on that Sunday, July 26th, even though it's against all the rules.

Steph: You said this last week and I'll say it again for the two of us, it's so unethical and irresponsible, truly how dare they, come on.

Ellen: Literally how dare they, people are dying from this. So, of course, you know, COVID-19, it spreads like wildfire. And now 20 Miami Marlins players/staff have come down with COVID-19 and it's completely messed up the MLB schedule, which does not have much wiggle room considering it's 60 games in 66 days. So Miami was suspended from play for a week until at least August 2nd, so this past Sunday. The Philadelphia Phillies, who are playing the Marlins, also suspended their game for a week after at least two staff members tested positive for COVID-19 probably getting it from the Marlins, which is ridiculous. 

And so as a result of those two teams having COVID-19, a bunch of games were postponed and rescheduled at the last minute, and you know, the MLB had to actually update its health and safety protocol to require every team to travel with a compliance officer to ensure players and staff are actually following through with the league's rules.

Steph: Ok, this does sound a little bit like a failing for both the players and the teams, as well as the MLB though, like both players and the league, have to take a little bit of the responsibility here, I get it, the players want to play. They get paid per game. And with the short season this year, they earn about, they're going to be earning about 37% of the regular season salary. And it's still super unclear who will get paid during these outbreaks. But this isn't the same as coming into your workplace when you have a cold in order to collect your paycheck. These are grown men who get paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to millions of dollars who need to now be supervised because they can't follow the rules. But also, I couldn't help but wonder, why wasn't the league being more stringent in the first place?

Ellen: Yeah, I just don't really understand how if someone got a positive test result that there wasn't someone there that said go to your bubble, the fact that the players could decide for themselves with the information that they have to still walk out onto the diamond and play is beyond me. But also this compliance officer reminds me Steph of when we were lunch monitors in grade eight of the kindergarten kids. You know what I mean? It's like you need to have your lunch time monitor, the compliance officers are going to be that lunchtime person, it's kind of ridiculous.

Steph: It is ridiculous. Grown men.

Ellen: Grown men, sometimes trash anyway. But here's the thing. It does get worse. It's not just the Marlins, not just the Phillies. Somehow on July 31st, so this past weekend, two St. Louis Cardinals players tested positive for COVID-19. And as of today, up to 13 members of the organization have tested positive. Somehow they're supposed to start their games up again on Friday. 

Some of this is because the MLB did say at the beginning of the season that all the teams could have bigger rosters. So as much as some teams are depleted, they do have a larger roster at this time to call from. But still, I think that this was really scary for me because over the weekend they represented the first team that was outside of the Marlins and outside of the Phillies on the East Coast that, you know, actually connected with each other. And now this is just not contained. And it kind of shows the travel side more than some of the Marlins players being idiots.

Steph: Ok, let's recap this a little bit. At the time of this recording, because who knows what will happen. The Miami Marlins, the Philadelphia Phillies and St. Louis Cardinals all have players and staff with positive COVID-19 test results. And because of this, at least 20% of the MLB teams were unable to play due to postponements. 

In fairness, you can expect when you have such comprehensive testing to have some positive test results. Pretty sure the MLB and the players expected that they knew that was going to happen, but I'm sure they didn't really expect something like this. It's hard to look at these numbers and then look at the NHL, for example, which has been super careful in their hub cities and had no new positive tests within the first week of returning to play, knock on wood, it won't happen, but I can't help but compare the two.

Ellen: Yeah, no, I think that's a totally fair comparison because it comes down to also the root and the foundation of which they're playing too. And I think when you're in a hub city with everyone else too, you have to be so responsible because you know that in a split second, everyone could have it. Like if it does get into the bubble, it's really bad. 

But anyway, that's why over the weekend, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred warned that if COVID-19 isn't managed better than the league might have to shut down. That was actually reportedly what he said and I think that he's being legit, I don't think that he's blowing smoke, but it could still be a scare tactic to the players to basically say, get your shit together and stop doing what you're doing and stop lying and stop going out to all these places so that we can actually continue the season. And, you know, most players still want to properly play and finish out the season. And so maybe it's not a threat per say, but I would call it a good reality check.

Steph: We need those every once in a while.

Ellen: Yes. He's like a stern grandpa that's just coming down and laying the law. And so I don't know, as you mentioned beforehand, I think that this is a tough situation because there's onus on the MLB, there's onus on the MLB Players Association that agreed to this as well. There's onus on the players, there's onus on the staff. There's onus on everyone for agreeing to this travel schedule and not really even thinking about multiple hub cities or not even pivoting right away, like they're still doing all of this travel, even though there might have been an opportunity to pivot and go to another location. So I don't know. I think that it's tough. And I think that Manfred probably thought that he could trust his players and the MLB not to do stupid things like they did. But it turns out maybe that trust was not warranted.

Steph: The more I think about the MLB's return to play format, I think they should have gotten a little bit more creative with how they brought baseball back. It's so cliche to say now, but we're not in normal times, cannot stress that enough. I'm sick of hearing that phrase, but there it is. And the league is paying the price now for trying to make things as normal as possible. Something's got to give, whether it's travel, game length or number of games. Thinking back to what you said, Ellen, at the top of the show, if the games are long and it makes playing back to back games hard, why not shorten the games?

Ellen: Yeah, it's been tossed around a lot. Like why isn't the MLB playing seven innings? I think that a lot of people would want the game just to go to seven innings anyway. And what a great way to use this season as a guinea pig for a test for the future. And, you know, they've tried different ways to speed up the game. So in extra innings, for example, a team could start with a runner on second base. And the reason why that's such a big deal is because a runner on second base, even if you go up to bat and you hit a single for example, that runner on second base generally should get home. And so they're really trying. To speed up extra innings that way, so they've done a good job there and it has worked on extras, but I totally agree with you ,there was no creativity here. It was just the regionalised travel schedule and it was just the oh, we normally play 162 games. So actually playing 60 games is super short.

Steph: Mm hmm. And I know I'm coming at this more from a realistic and not a romantic approach to baseball...

Ellen: I have some romance for baseball.

Steph: So, yes, I acknowledge that I can be in a little bit of a different headspace than some baseball fans when I'm thinking so critically about this. Just wanted to put that out there. I like baseball, but I acknowledge my stance. The MLB is still on right now. I wouldn't be surprised if that changed soon. But anyway, while it is on, the viewership is thriving. It's having its best ratings ever. Opening weekend had more than twice the number of viewers as 2019 and ESPN's first 12 broadcasts averaged 1.16 million viewers, a 34% increase from 2019. Fox Sports also had a double digit rating increase, while regional sports networks experienced a 31% viewership increase from last year during opening weekend. And eight teams have gained over 50% in viewership. These are all pretty impressive numbers.

Ellen: Definitely impressive. And I think with a grain of salt, too. I mean, you know, you have all of those diehard baseball fans and baseball fans are probably the most diehard fans of any sports I would say. They get so right into it. They would go to multiple games a season in person and they now have to watch for a moment. I guess actually you could say that for any sport. So maybe that's not actually something to take with a grain of salt. 

You know, it was the first major league to come back in this pandemic, which I think is a big deal. And 60 games is actually reasonable to watch, finally. But I also think and maybe this is me more personally, but with baseball potentially ending, I think people are like, oh, my gosh, let's consume all of this baseball content that we can right now because we have no clue if literally in one week we're not going to have baseball for the rest of 2020.

Steph: For sure. All of that definitely plays a factor. But this viewership is at least a positive and silver lining for the MLB. Hopefully, maybe increased viewership will help generate some advertising revenue and help generate some of that lost income there for the league. But I hope it doesn't stop them from canceling the season if it ethically needs to be canceled for everyone's safety, you know.

Ellen: Yeah, yeah. That's a really good point. How the business shouldn't impact the safety side even though it's doing so well. Mm hmm. Yeah. And speaking of safety, because we're all about safety here at The GIST, wear your helmets kids. 

So speaking of safety today, which is Wednesday, August 5th, we were finally supposed to receive more clarity around the upcoming NCAA fall sports season after the Board of Governors met Tuesday afternoon to talk through everything. That's going to be breaking some point soon. 

So if you're listening to this now, maybe Google NCAA Board of Governors ruling and you'll hear something. We are still waiting. So it seems like college football is going to go ahead and move forward to focus on the major conferences, which if you need an update on what the major conferences are for college or how it's organized, have a listen to episode number 26 of The GIST of It. Stephanie and I covered that very comprehensively a couple of weeks back. 

So basically the ACC has decided to go with an 11 game schedule with one non-conference game. So that means traveling pretty far, the Big Ten is doing conference only for ten games. Same with the PAC 12, same with the SCC. And then the Big Twelve is doing ten games, nine games in conference and one out of conference. What's interesting with college football in particular is that there's this thing called the college football playoff, massive deal and that actually operates outside of the NCAA. But we still think that the NCAA could kind of impact and affect how the college football playoff is going to go on. 

So not really too much of a clue of what's going to happen there with college sports and, you know, outside of football or still what's going to happen to all those other sports and all of those scholarships and all of those students like that's still very, very much up in the air. It'll be interesting to see what the NCAA is actually going to say.

Steph: Mm. Got a lot of opinions, but I'm staying tuned to see what happens here.

Ellen: Well stay tuned for next week's for Steph's opinion on what's happening in the NCAA.

All right Steph. So all that covid stuff was a little bit heavy, as much as sports are back, you know, still talking about all that stuff gets me down a little bit. So let's talk about some other things in the sports world that have put a smile on our face lately and have made us say, wow, that was fun. And this week we have one. Well, I have one that I think is really fun. But I would say that you're a little bit cheesed about it. You have a little chip on your shoulder about this one. So the news that I love is that Dwayne the Rock Johnson, along with Dany Garcia, who apparently is his ex wife, I read on Axios Sports and I was like, imagine doing business with your ex. I could never in a million years do that. But I love that relationship. Good on them.

Steph: Well said.

Ellen: Yeah, yeah, trash people. Just drag it to the trash.

Dwayne the Rock Johnson, along with Dany Garcia and RedBird Capital Partners, are poised to buy the XFL. So as a quick reminder, the XFL was a rebooted football league that was started earlier this year. But then it had to close its doors when it went bankrupt amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. So anyway, this group has put in a bid for 15 million dollars to buy the XFL, which is actually pretty cheap, all things considered. And the sale still needs to be approved by the powers that be. And they're supposed to be doing that on Friday. There's no other bids in. So it's pretty well a done deal. And if it goes through, Dany Garcia could become the first woman to own a sports league, which I think is pretty cool. 

Steph: OK, to be a party pooper here Ellen. I literally thought we were done with the XFL. I will tell you why I'm cheesed. I'm cheesed because I really want my WNHL. You know what I mean? I know that this is really cool that she's the first woman to own a sports league or will be if this gets approved. And all the mainstream media was truly focusing on The Rock in the sale and leaving Garcia out of the headlines. Not cool. Not cool, folks. The Rock, of course, does have a pretty good story. Before he started his life in the WWE, which I'm sure we all know him for, he played football in university in the 90s and spent two months in the Canadian Football League, the CFL, and then made his WWE debut in '96. And also fun fact, he played a former NFL player who ends up buying a team in HBO's Ballers, which is so ironic, so hilarious. Quite the story arc in this man's life. But he did tweet to his credit here how cool it is that Dany Garcia will become the first woman to own a team. Great work, great work.

Ellen: Great work. And who knows Steph, maybe they'll make a shit ton of money from owning the XFL and then maybe she'll start her own pro women's league. Or  maybe she'll get in on the WNHL. Who knows? That's the way that we have to think about it is like let's have her make frickin bank and coin and then let's have her start all these other leagues and expand all these other teams. 

Steph: If you're listening, Dany Garcia, bring a WNBA team to Toronto. Thank you. Appreciate it.

All right, that's The GIST of It from Ellen and I, thanks for tuning in. Even if I was a killjoy this week, if you still like what you heard, tell all your friends and get them to subscribe to The GIST of It on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play or Stitcher. And while you're there, feel free to rate us five stars and leave us a review.

Ellen: And in case you missed it, if you like what you heard today, even with Stephanie being a killjoy, you have to check out our free twice weekly newsletter where every Monday and Thursday morning we give you the gist of what's going on in the sports world. If you haven't yet, subscribe at thegistsports.com. Otherwise, if you want to get in touch with Steph and I, email us at pod@thegistsports.com or DM us on Instagram @thegistnews.ca or @thegistusa. I'm Ellen Hyslop. 

Steph: And I'm Steph Rotz.

Ellen: And this has been The GIST of It. See you next week.

🤸🎾🏈🏆 Australian Gymnastics Addresses Abuse in the Sport, Halep Opts Out of Palermo Open, Tyson to Return the the Ring In Exhibition Match

July 27, 2020

Gymnastics: Following the lead of their British and American counterparts, several Australian gymnasts recently publicized their personal accounts of abuse and harassment during their time with Gymnastics Australia.

  • Former gymnast and Commonwealth Games gold medalist Chloe Gilliland released a series of Facebook messages describing some of the abuse she faced and revealing that it led to bulimia, anxiety and suicidal ideations. Horrible.
  • In response, Gymnastics Australia CEO Kitty Chiller released an open letter, saying the organization applauds its athletes for speaking out and acknowledging that it has plenty of work to do. Damn right.

Tennis: World No. 2 Simona Halep is caught in a sticky situation. The 2019 Wimbledon champ was supposed to headline the Palermo Open, the first WTA International series tournament scheduled since the pandemic began, but pulled out after Italy’s health ministry announced a mandatory 14-day quarantine for anyone entering the country from Romania (where Halep lives).

  • The Open’s organizers are v. upset, arguing Halep could skip the mandatory quarantine as a pro athlete. But citing “the recent rise in COVID-19 cases in Romania and [her] anxieties around international air travel at this time,” Halep withdrew anyway. We were excited to see her play, but we’re much happier to see her stay healthy. Safety first!

Boxing: In this week’s “but why though?” news, Mike Tyson is getting back in the ring. The former heavyweight world champion, who just turned 54, will take on another former world champ, 51-year-old Roy Jones Jr., in an exhibition match on September 12th.

  • Tyson, who’s best known for his appearance in The Hangover films and for biting a part of Evander Holyfield’s ear off during a 1997 fight (yes, that actually happened), hasn’t boxed professionally in 15 years, but is still favored to win. TBH, we’re not really sure what to make of this. Just protect your ears, Roy.

NFL: In our continuing quest to “look for the helpers,” we’ve found our first opt-out of the upcoming NFL season. Kansas City Chiefs guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, who last year became the first M.D. to ever win a Super Bowl, has decided to forgo the 2020 season so he can continue helping those in need. Good guys do exist!

🏆 Podcast Episode 27: Big names are investing in women’s sports

July 22, 2020

Listen to this episode of The GIST of IT here

Ellen: What's up, GISTers? Welcome to The GIST of It, the podcast where two gals and two pals give you the gist of what's going on in the sports world. I'm Ellen Hyslop.

Steph: And I'm Steph Rotz.

Ellen: Thanks for tuning in.

Ellen: Steph, I am so jazzed and so amped for this week, there is just so much good news going around. Good vibes everywhere.

Steph: I'm feeling good. Ellen, are you feeling good? Like to your bones good?

Ellen: To my bones good. I like that question. That's when you know, if you ask someone and they're like how are you? And you're like, I'm good. But if you're like ‘to your bones good!’ That's when, you know, people are actually doing well.

Steph: Like, truly, I feel electric right now. I don't know if it's just me, but I feel like we're having a moment in women's sports and I'm starting to really believe that in my lifetime we might see like a reckoning in women's sports where we have more coverage, more content, more athletes to watch, more leagues. I'm just feeling really optimistic right now.

Ellen: Yes, it's a great time. It's a great week. And, you know, I also need to take the time to do a little bit of a shameless plug, because with sports coming back, as you know, Steph, we have a free twice weekly newsletter that gives the gist of everything that's going on in sports in less than five minutes. But without sports, during the pandemic, we've been sending out one North American wide newsletter. But now, because sports are coming back over the next couple of weeks, we're finally relaunching in some cities, as well as expanding to some cities starting tomorrow, Thursday, July 23rd.

Steph: My inbox is primed. It's ready. I can always trust in The GIST to give me what's going on in women's sports as well as men's sports. So I'm really excited about that. And what does this regional content stuff mean?

Ellen: Yeah, so basically starting on Thursday, you'll receive a GIST newsletter, catered to your location from both the national, so U.S. or Canada, and local (a city specific) level. So all newsletters will have national content. But city specific newsletters will also have an extra section specifically dedicated to their city too. So you won't miss out on any big news. But you'll also get that more special local news as well. And so we're coming back to Philly, Boston and Toronto, that one is for you Steph, and then we're also expanding to some major markets, which we're totally stoked about. So we're expanding to L.A., New York City and Washington DC.

Steph: L.A.! I'm excited to talk a little bit more about L.A. This episode, Ellen.

Ellen: Yeah, baby! It'll be a lot of fun. And, you know, we've hired a lot of kick ass regional writers, a regional editing team, a new U.S. content contributor. So I'm really excited for them to all get started actually writing the newsletters. It's going to be great to have some new woman-power on our team.

Steph: Thinking of staying informed with what's going on in women's sports and sports in general, in the newsletters can we expect how to watch the games? I'm always scrambling, trying to figure out where the frick to tune in.

Ellen: Yes women's sports seems to be all over the place. Everyone has different rights. I would say just off the top in general. CBS Sports for NWSL. Twitch for NWSL. WNBA, you're generally looking at ESPN2, and sometimes depending if Canada's feeling it or not, you can catch the WNBA on TSN as well as SportsNet.

Steph: Ok. Thank you. I'm going to write that down after this, thanks Ellen. And speaking of L.A., we teased that out a little bit earlier. Huge news dropped on Tuesday. Which if you're listening to this as this podcast comes out, was yesterday, about the NWSL, so the National Women's Soccer League, adding a franchise to the city. This is such a big deal for the NWSL. But also just for women's sports in general. Today, we're gonna get into it. What this means and also talk about why investing in women's sports matters so much. One of my favorite topics.

Ellen: All right, Steph. So let's get to this big news. Huge news. And set the stage for what we're going to be chatting about today. So, as you mentioned yesterday, Tuesday, it was announced that the NWSL, the National Women's Soccer League, the pro league in the U.S., will be expanding to an 11th team in 2022. So right now, there are nine teams that are currently playing. There's going to be another expansion team starting in 2021, and they're going to be out of Louisville, Kentucky. And then this new L.A. team is going to expand in 2022. And their name is going to be Angel City, which I kind of love.

Steph: Such a fitting name. They've already put out such a cinematic video advertising the launch of this team. And so I'm already so excited to see what kind of content we can expect from this team and what the logo might look like. There's a lot of star energy, obviously, we know with it being in Los Angeles. But also it's just so great to see how much this league is expanding because, you know, soccer is a global sport. It's going to thrive. I'm so excited.

Ellen: Totally. And it's going to thrive in such a global city like L.A. and a city that already has a team like L.A. FC from the MLS that has done so well. And actually speaking about that promo video that you were talking about. Let's link it into the show notes, because it's just one of those videos that just, I don't know, makes you love sports, makes you love soccer, gives you the shivers.

Steph: It has the same effect as your afternoon coffee. Watch it. You're going to feel like you can conquer so much more than before watching. Trust me.

Ellen: Who needs caffeine? Just watch sports montages. That's all you need.

Steph: It works for me. Honestly, I'm not even kidding.

Ellen: I love that. And so, you know, we're talking about this expansion today because when we see women's sports expanding, it's amazing. When we see girls youth sports expanding, it's amazing. And we love to see it. But this expansion is something phenomenal because the ownership group and who got this started is just absolutely jaw droppingly stacked.

And so the person who's leading this ownership group is actor Natalie Portman. Natalie Portman is running this, which is unreal. She's brought on other actors like Uzo Aduba, America Ferrera, Jennifer Garner, Eva Longoria and more. Serena Williams is also in this mix, along with her husband, who's a tech entrepreneur and the co-founder of Reddit, which is kind of cool. They both invested. And Alexis is one of the leading owners of the team. And what I love is that they actually brought on their daughter, Olympia, to be a part of the ownership group. And Olympia is only two years old. So now she is the youngest owner in pro sports.

Steph: This is such a wholesome story. One of my favs, Jayna Hefford, who we actually interviewed on the pod, she tweeted, "pretty cool to see Serena Williams and Alexis investing with their young daughter in mind. Kudos to all those who are investing in the future of young girls" which I think is such a fun way to phrase it when we think about Olympia being one of the youngest or the youngest team owners and just thinking about that energy that they're bringing into the world, which we so desperately need right now. I'm here for it.

Ellen: So neat. And I think to her point as well. Alexis actually replied to Usain Bolt when he had his baby and he was like see you in the 2048 Olympics. Like saying that both of their daughters are going to be in the Olympics in 2048. And it's just like, manifesting those sorts of things and saying those sorts of things out loud is like hell, yeah our daughters are gonna be athletes and we're gonna support them.

Steph: I am here for this couple. I'm so new to learning about them as a union because to me, Serena Williams is the main character all the time. So I totally was not even paying attention to who her partner was. And he seems like a pretty cool dude.

Ellen: He is a cool dude. And let's not get it twisted like she is the main character.

Steph: Oh, she will always be our main character.

Ellen: She is the greatest athlete ever. I think, living right now she's the greatest athlete. But Alexis is a really great partner. He's so supportive of women's sports. He is a mega fan of the U.S. Women's National Team when they won the World Cup last year, I don't know if there was anyone more fired up, outside of maybe the players parents, probably than it was Alexis who was just so excited about it. And he just seems to be doing the right thing. He recently left the board of Reddit so that his seat could be filled by a Black person to ensure diversity on their board during the Black Lives Matter movement. So he's thinking, he's not just, you know, Moneybags McGee out there.

Steph: Mm hmm. Yeah. It was really good to see some concrete action from him when we're talking about the Black Lives Matter movement and using your power. That was such a great example. And Reddit has since filled that position with the first Black board member, being Michael Seibele.

Ellen: Great. You love to see it. It's awesome to see those sorts of things and hopefully he encourages a lot of other action. So outside of all of the actors and actresses and the tech entrepreneurs and Serena Williams and just the Williams family all together, 14 former U.S. Women's National Team players are also investing in the team, including Mia Hamm, absolutely obsessed, I wear her number, as well as Abby Wambach, who both of them are actually previously to Canadian Christine Sinclair, the holders of the international goals record. So it's Christine and Abby, then Mia Hamm. So that's pretty cool. And then some of the other women who are leading the ownership group include Kara Nortman, who's a partner at Upfront Ventures and media and gaming entrepreneur Julie Uhrman.

Steph: What I find so cool about all of this, apart from everything else I've obviously found so cool, is that there are so many influencers and influential people from so many different industries, so many different walks of life that are getting in on this and being investors and seeing the future of women's sports right here and now. This is a huge business decision. And every one of these people are betting on women's sports to do well and obviously are betting that they're going to make money. Anything that I've learned about rich, powerful folk is that they don't just throw their money away. And they're not going to just, you know, be tossing it around willy nilly. So I love to see that they are investing in the future. 

We've talked on the podcast before about the importance of seeing this and framing this really and truly as what it is, which is an investment in women's sports and the importance of trying to close that pay gap in women's sports. And I need to toss in the reminder here that the highest paid NBA player makes a hundred and eighty six times the highest paid WNBA player.

So when we're thinking about investing in women's sports with these huge names on the ballot here, it's not only about the corporate sponsors, it's not only about, you know, getting paid through those avenues, but it's also about the investment at the team level. You know, that family level, there for you every second of the way, type of investment that we're seeing with this creation of this team and these types of business people and actors and influencers investing in women's sports also should get the ball rolling for other folks and powerful people to take some action, get involved, whether that's women's soccer or another woman's sport. There's money here. Take a look at what's happening right now and let's encourage a little bit more action from other people. Am I right?

Ellen: For sure. And I'd like to think that other investors and corporate sponsors will have it in their mind that if Upstart Ventures, if Alexis and Serena, if these actors and actresses are betting on women's soccer, we should too. And we know that in the past, a bunch of celebs have invested in men's sports and they continue to invest in men's sports right now. And those teams really really benefit from the celebrity endorsement of their team. You see them court-side. You see them making connections. You see them, you know, giving clout to the team. And women's sports deserve that. And they're going to gain a lot from having owners like this ownership group. 

So hopefully we see something similar with Angel City in the same way that we see, you know, Jada and Will are the 76ers partial owners and you see them at games and you see the benefits of that the 76ers reap from that. So I'm really hoping to see that same sort of positive benefit with Angel City as well. And you know on top of this, there's just so much room for growth and there's so much white space in the women's sports market. So from a corporate perspective and from a sponsorship perspective, because it's not cluttered, you can really make a mark by supporting women's sports. You're not going to get confused with a bunch of other brands.

Steph: Oh, my gosh, this is so cut and dry to me. I literally always remember the brands that support women's sports, like when we're talking about the NWSL, we have Nike, Secret, Budweiser, they're in my brain forever. CCM and women's hockey is always someone I'm going to be supporting. When I had to go buy a hockey bag two years ago, you bet I was buying CCM. Like when they stepped in and paid Brianna Decker when she technically won an All Star competition in the NHL and didn't get the monetary benefit of it. I will remember that. And they are now backing Akim Aliu in the Hockey Diversity Alliance. So these people, these brands give me positive associations, like Natasha Cloud with Converse, like all of these companies are in my memory. I am a marketer's dream, of course, but...

Ellen: You are a literal marketer's dream like you say something three times to you and you're like: "I must get this."

Steph: I must get this totally. My next sneakers will be Converse, I guarantee it, but it's true, we have financial power, women care, we have money, we're going to spend it with people that have positive associations with women's sports. It's just gonna happen.

Ellen: Yeah, you're absolutely right. And, you know, from a corporate perspective, from an investment perspective, there are a shit ton of young girls playing sports right now, more than ever. There's so many playing soccer, hockey, volleyball, gymnastics, basketball, you name it. And there's only an upward trajectory from here. Like there's only 11 teams, you know, in the NWSL by 2022. There's 32 plus teams in the majority of other leagues. We have so much room to grow. And so that's what also makes me excited for what's happening right now is that it's just like propelling this growth for the future.

Steph: And outside of soccer, too, you're more of a soccer gal. I'm more of a hockey gal. Hockey could use some serious help. It really makes me wonder what could happen there too, and the potential that we have in other sports outside of soccer right now there is the National Women's Hockey League, the NWHL and the Professional Women's Hockey Players Association, the PWHPA. The PWHPA players represent the best two hundred plus athletes in the world. But they will not play in the NWHL because they don't fund it and see it as a sustainable long term cross border league. Really, they're looking for the NHL to intervene, to have a similar setup with the WNBA and the NBA and that a WNHL could be a sister league to the NHL. But the NHL says that they won't do it as long as the NWHL is still around.

Ellen: There are so many acronyms in that, but you did a great job in covering all of that, I'm still with you.

Steph: Keep following me. It really really makes me wonder, would the NHL be less nervous to intervene even with the NWHL operating if they knew that they could bring in team owners like the L.A. Angels City has? Or if they knew that they could bring on massive corporate sponsors similar to the NWSL. Thinking here, just like a Toronto example too, right, think of the amount of power and clout that Drake behind the Toronto Raptors has brought. Let's think about these models in women's sports and more generally, how will this move up and impact the greater ecosystem of women's sports? 

I love to think big picture, Ellen. So we're talking about these teams. And my mind immediately does to, 'Ok. What does this mean for women's sports long term' and not just for the L.A. team and the L.A. city, the NWSL and women's soccer in the U.S. But what does this mean for all of women's sports? Will it positively impact everywhere in North America. Could we potentially see a team up here in Canada for soccer? Will it impact hockey? How will this impact the WNBA? I think there's a lot to dig at here with these types of big names entering the NWSL. And what I also want to probe out there is will it encourage rights holders like ESPN, NBC, CBS to cover more women's sports during primetime cable? A lot of questions. Top of mind.

Ellen: A lot of questions. But how fun is it to actually be able to ask those questions and not say no right away? You know, I feel like we've never actually been at that place before.

Steph: These are huge names backing a team. And it's nothing but exciting to me right now.

Ellen: Totally. It's going to be so fun to watch and to see what happens. And it's gonna be really interesting. And we know that the change for the women's sports ecosystem is not going to happen overnight. It's just not. We've seen very, you know, slow, gradual change since Title IX came in in the 1970s. But it does feel kind of like a magic moment right now, doesn't it? There's a lot of momentum that women's sports has been carrying for about two years or so. And it's a momentum that I've never experienced in my life before. And I preface this because I've been a sports fan since I could understand sports. Probably since I was three or four years old, Sports Center was what I'd watch every single morning and every single night. And so the fact that I'm now 27 and this is the first time that we are actually seeing this momentum and that there could be positive change in that by the time we're in our forties, maybe the NWSL is even better than the MLS like that could legit happen.

Steph: Ellen, I'm so happy to hear you say that because you have been a way more long term avid sports fan than me and I'm feeling this so to hear you say that you're feeling this has me so excited and I'm so excited to see what these networks do to amp up women's sports too when we're thinking about, you know, how how we could look in the future.

Ellen: Mm hmm. And it's. Really excellent timing, too, because the semifinals of the NWSL Challenge Cup are today, Wednesday at 12:30p.m. and 10:00 p.m. Eastern. Kind of late for us. But 10pm Eastern too. We'll cover that in the newsletter tomorrow if you don't want to stay up to watch that. The finals are on Sunday, which is going to be so much fun. And then the WNBA season is finally starting on Saturday. So just like what a time to celebrate women's sports.

Steph: What a time to be alive.

Ellen: Ok. So talking about the NWSL and Angel City was already a lot of fun and, you know, instead of going back to our WTF Moment of the Week, I just feel like because it's one of those amazing weeks, let's just keep on talking about the fun and have our Wow, That Was Fun segment.

Steph: Let's keep riding that wave. This week I'm so excited also because, you know, while it was fun, it's fun that Covid-19 testing results have come out for the majors and the quarantine/bubbling seems to be working. So that's very fun news with the NBA, zero of the 346 players tested on the NBA campus since July 13th returned positive test results. Amazing. Celebrate. MLB, six of the 10,548 tests administered through July 16th came back positive, so that's 0.05%. Wow. I'm shocked, truly. 

MLS, zero of the 1,106 individuals tested on the MLS campus from July 18th to 19th were newly confirmed positive. Again, floored. NHL, two of the 2,618 tests administered between July 13th and July 17th came back positive. So that's a percentage of 0.08%. Oh, wow. OK. That's fun. When it comes to women's leagues, there's a lot less information available online. We haven't been able to get any firm numbers with the WNBA. So if you're listening and you have those numbers, we welcome some information. And for the NWSL, reported two days ago, there are more than 2000 tests administered with zero positive results. So it's also looking really great for the NWSL.

Ellen: This is all great news. And to be honest, I'm quite surprised with the MLB. I'm a little bit nervous about the MLB because instead of them having hub cities or bubbles like the rest of the leagues, they're doing travel for a 60 game season and they're doing regional travel. So they'll be playing within their divisions for 40 of those games. But that worries me. But six right now is amazing. I'm really interested to see how that changes. But I don't want to take away, I still want to say that it's fun. I just... You know, the MLB makes me nervous.

Steph: Oh, I'm holding my breath. This is great news, but I'm floored.

Ellen: Mmhmm. Otherwise, you know, the most fun thing is that sports are finally coming back within the week and next week, too. And I mean, OK, there's been soccer for a long time. Big soccer fan. I'll watch soccer. But we need the sports ecosystem just back and altogether. So MLB is starting Thursday, a.k.a. tomorrow. Amazing news came out of the MLB earlier this week. San Francisco Giants coach Alyssa Nakken became the first woman as an on field coach, so actually on the diamond, coaching in Monday's game. So it was a preseason game. But how cool is that, that she is the first coach on the field for a spring training game?

Steph: Momentum. We've got momentum.

Ellen: Momentum baby. It's happening. WNBA, as we said, starts on Saturday. We've actually written a guide to the WNBA 2020 season, which we will also link to the show notes. Talks about everything with Covid, players to watch, players dropping out, key matchups, rookies, yada, yada, yada. Challenge Cup, as we mentioned, finals are on Sunday and then the week after the NBA starts on the 30th and NHL on August 1st. I'm friggin happy.

Steph: I'm ready. Let's go.

Steph: All right. That's The GIST of It from Ellen and I. Thanks for tuning in. If you like what you heard, tell all your friends and subscribe to The GIST of IT on Apple podcast, Spotify, Google player, Stitcher. And while you're there, please rate us five stars and leave a review.

Ellen: And in case you missed it, The GIST creates sports content, experiences and community that's by women and for all sports fans. If you like what you heard today, you have to check out our free twice weekly newsletter where every Monday and Thursday morning we give you the gist of what's going on in the sports world. If you haven't yet, subscribe at thegistsports.com. If you have a question, any comments, just want to get in touch with Stephanie and I, email us at pod@thegistsports.com, or DM us on Instagram @thegistnews.ca or @thegistusa. I'm Ellen Hyslop.

Steph: And I'm Stephanie Rotz.

Ellen: And this has been The GIST of IT. See you next Wednesday

🏆🏈 Podcast Episode 26: Without college football, are college sports doomed?

July 15, 2020
Texas A&M Football/INSTAGRAM
Texas A&M Football/INSTAGRAM

Listen to this episode of The GIST of IT here.

(Edited for clarity)

Ellen: What's up, GISTers? Welcome to The GIST of It, the podcast where two gals and two pals give you the gist of what's going on in the sports world. I'm Ellen Hyslop.

Stephanie: And I'm Stephanie Rotz.

Ellen: Thanks for tuning in.

Stephanie, I am so excited to see your beautiful face again and to hear your wonderful voice. It's always a treat every Tuesday evening doing this podcast with you.

Stephanie: Oh my gosh. One of my favorite faces. Ellen Hyslop, favorite raspy voices. This week, you know what else I was pretty stoked about to see is our Toronto Maple Leafs sporting some fabulous T-shirts, the Black Lives Matter T-shirts, and taking a stand as we're getting ready to get the NHL back up and running.

Ellen: Totally. And I think because Toronto is the biggest hockey market and because it is one of the original six teams in the NHL, it also gives such a big statement to the Black Lives Matter movement and what they're doing, especially in a sport like we've talked about before, that just has so much whiteness.

Stephanie: And we had our Toronto Raptors with their bus. So I'm trying to, you know in 2020 to see some silver linings, and they seem to be popping up this week.

Ellen: Totally. That's great. This week, I'm glad that you're seeing that because I just got looped into the hashtag #FreeBritney that's going on right now. And I am absolutely shocked and so sad. And I wanted to bring it up because you're absolutely obsessed with Britney Spears. And as a kid, I was totally obsessed because my middle name is Britney. So I obviously thought that I was her when I was younger, you know, so it makes me so sad to see what she's been through. And, yeah, for anyone who's listening, who doesn't know what FreeBritney is, please search the hashtag #FreeBritney.

Stephanie: It's such a fascinating tale. I say that word because I just don't know how else to phrase it. I looked into this during grad school because I wrote a paper about her because any excuse to write a paper about Britney Spears I'll happily take. But it's an interesting take on how far we've come to an understanding of mental health in popular culture as well. I mean, I'm all about the silver linings because I've got to today.

Ellen: At least after all of these years, at least it's finally coming to light. We've talked a lot about uncovering and it does seem like 2020 is the year of uncovering, including the year of uncovering what's happening to Britt.

Stephanie: Mm hmm. It's also the year of Covid and Covid-sports. And ugh shall we sashay onto the sports world?

Ellen: Let's sashay away.

Stephanie: I am so fascinated and obviously saddened by what's happening with a lot of the colleges and universities right now that so many schools, because of the Covid-19 pandemic, are having to go online for the upcoming fall semester at least. And that so many students will still have to pay their full tuition. There's a lot up in the air about what a student's future is going to look like for fall 2020 right now in the post-secondary landscape in Canada and in the U.S. And it's been super interesting to see what schools are doing from a sports and from an athletics perspective. Canada, so here in Canada, for the most part, has said no to sports, whereas the U.S. is kind of still sorting their stuff out.

Ellen: Yes, it is a wild, very wild situation, especially considering that so many students, particularly in the U.S., are able to get post-secondary education through sport scholarships. And it's also quite interesting looking at it kind of from an economic perspective, because so many schools also really rely on football, which is a fall semester sport that might be cut, in order to fund all of the other sports.

Stephanie: That economics peace with NCAA, so college football has been a hot topic I would say this past year and more than that for sure, and of course, when we're talking about economics and we're talking about economics in varsity sports, we're also talking about gender and race and the economics of labor and how we value labor and whose labor. And let's get into that some more with this episode.

Ellen: Ok, so first Steph, I feel like we need to set the stage because I don't know about you, but sometimes I find the way that the college conferences and leagues are set up is whacky and somewhat confusing.

Stephanie: Oh my gosh. So confusing, especially for a Canadian gal like me.

Ellen: Yeah. As an out of towner, I need to wrap my head around things. So to start with the NCAA, which is the college association for all different types of sports in the US, there are 32 conferences. Conferences are basically created because there are so many schools across such a big country and they all have varying skill depths athletically, also depending on each sport. 

So y'all can Google the full 32 conferences because we will not list that out because that would literally take our entire podcast. But we wanted to go through the main ones, mostly because these main conferences are the best football conferences in the US and they're called the Power Five. So those five are the Atlantic Coast Conference, also known as the ACC, as expected, this is the East Coast as well as Florida schools. The second is the Big Ten conference. So those are mostly north-central as well as eastern schools. The Big 12 conference, which is mostly Midwest schools, and the PAC 12 conference, which is mostly West Coast schools. And then finally, we have the SEC, the Southeastern Conference, and it's in the name. Those are mostly Southeastern schools. So again, these five schools are called the Power Five. And we've linked a map to the power five in the show notes, because if you're a visual learner like me, that will help out a lot to visualize how the conferences are mapped out. 

So in addition to the power five that we'll be talking about today and how college football kind of impacts all of those conferences, we're also going to be talking about the Ivy Leagues. So these are the East Coast prestigious bougie schools that I first learned about watching Gilmore Girls, learning about Rory choosing between Harvard and Yale literally had no clue what those were. And we're also going to be talking about the Patriot League. So they have 10 core members in their league, all coming out of the northeast it seems like, and some of their schools include Boston University, Loyola and Navy.

Stephanie: Very confusing, but somehow I'm starting to piece it together, it makes sense. Thanks, Ellen.

Ellen: Great.

Stephanie: There are so many schools. The U.S. is huge. Oh my gosh. Let's also talk about the importance of college football itself in the United States. People are obsessed with college football, like both students as well as their alumni. It's a big cultural thing in America. And to put it into perspective, the top six largest football stadiums in the U.S. are all for college football teams, not NFL.

Ellen: Yes. Which is crazy.

Stephanie: Like my university that I graduated from doesn't even have a football team. 

Ellen: That's true. Ryerson. Yeah. No football team. Like even at my school, we had a good football team, but you only went if it was homecoming, like you didn't really go to any other games.

Stephanie: Not as much school spirit, I guess, in Ontario. But I'm sure you can imagine how much revenue is brought in by college football, thinking about those massive stadiums, thinking about how popular it is and how embedded it is into the culture, the latest numbers that we have are from the 2017-2018 season whereby Texas, Texas A&M and Ohio State all brought in over two hundred million dollars in revenue. And looking at Texas A&M, they saw forty seven million dollars in profit in one year.

Ellen: So great that. It's such a huge number.

Stephanie: It's a huge number. And that's a lot for one sport. There are a lot of naysayers about football because sometimes it will receive much more love and much more TLC than the campus and classes themselves. But what's cool about the revenue and profit brought in by these football teams is that they do share the love. College football for most conferences, especially smaller conferences, help to fund other sports, including sports like volleyball, soccer, rowing, etc..

Ellen: Yeah, and this kind of reminds me, and I feel like it's a meme that's gone around social media right now, but it kind of reminds me of Cady Heron in Mean Girls when she wins homecoming queen or prom queen or whatever it was, and she gets given the crown, and she's like "a piece for Gretchen Weiners... a piece for Regina George" and then everybody slowly gets a piece. That's kind of how I feel football is. Football is the homecoming queen, and they're like "and volleyball gets some and rowing gets some, fencing, you get one, too." That's how I kind of picture football in this scenario.

Stephanie: Isn't it Katie Heron, isn't that part of the joke?

Ellen: Oh my God. As I wrote it down properly to be Cady. Oh my gosh. That's so embarrassing.

Stephanie: No, I love that. You also often misquote song lyrics. So I think it's on brand Ellen.

Ellen: All the time.

Stephanie: But because of the Covid-19 pandemic, there is a problem here, as I'm sure we're all kind of putting the pieces of the puzzle together. With classes moving online and probably without football teams playing. What's going to happen to these other sports and what's going to happen to all these other, you know, buckets that Cady Heron's tossing her pieces of her tiara into? And fewer than half of the Division One teams, ESPN reported, have financial reserves in place that could be used during a type of crisis like the Covid-19 pandemic that we find ourselves in.

Ellen: It's really scary to kind of think about, you know, like how much schools would rely on one specific sport and how much really all of us were just zero percent prepared for a pandemic like this. And I think that this whole thing with college sports really got real at the beginning of last week, when most Ivy League schools announced that they're going online for the fall semester, and because of that, they're also postponing collegiate sports until the spring and that includes football as well. 

So there's basically going to be no football throughout the fall for the Ivy Leagues. And on top of that, Stanford, which is not an Ivy because it's on the West Coast, I think. But it basically has the prestige of an Ivy. And I think a lot of people, including myself, thought that it was an Ivy. They have been forced to cut eleven of their thirty six varsity teams, which is huge. That's a really big percentage. Some of those teams include rowing, squash, synchro swimming, fencing, men's volleyball. And they had to cut them or else they would have seen losses north of 70 million dollars due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, but also due to the impact of having no football. 

And Stanford is a school that Tiger Woods came out of, Julie Foudy came out of, like gold medalists at Olympics have come out of this school. And it's really hard to think that so many Olympians might have just had their hopes dashed because now they can't go to Stanford. Luckily in this case, because Stanford did have some of a reserve and because they do have the prestige that they do, they do have some money in the background. And so they've been able to honor athletic scholarships for those affected students. And if the pandemic allows it, those eleven sports will still be able to participate in 2021 again, if it's safe to be able to play.

Stephanie: I've been reading, too, that most schools are going to try, obviously, where possible to maintain and to honor those athletic scholarships. And while we know here that Stanford is honoring those scholarships, when I started to think about varsity sports needing to shut down because of covid, my mind immediately went to thinking about those athletic scholarships, like will these kids lose them in the long term? 

And those scholarships enable a lot of people to go to post-secondary. And a lot of access happens when you have a full ride scholarship or a partial ride scholarship due to athletics. And you think of those students who are juniors or seniors in America or grade eleven or grade twelve here in Canada that may have been playing volleyball or a rower for their entire life, trying to get into one of these schools because they couldn't afford it else wise. And now it looks like for at least a couple years they may not have the opportunity to play and I'm sure college is the end of a lot of those people's quote unquote, athletic career.

Ellen: For sure, and I think you bring up a good point too, about the access of what sports can bring in terms of, you know, people who might not be able to afford to go to school, who can go to school because of sports. Hopefully those people will still be able to find ways to make it. But it's definitely going to be difficult, especially when we don't know much about how schools are going to be handling those scholarships.

Stephanie: And there's just so much up in the air. I mean, we don't know if... Yeah, there's just so much up there.

Ellen: So much. And so after the Ivy League, so we kind of covered the Ivy League, postponing everything for the fall. The Patriot League, which is another Division One league. And again, the divisions in NCAA are D1, D2 and then D3, D1 being the best and D3 still being good, but just of the worst of the NCAA kind of schools in terms of sports. They have canceled fall sports. And again, they're also including football and are figuring out if maybe they can push the football season to the spring, but they're not sure. 

Otherwise, when we get back to those Power Five that we talked about at the top of the podcast, we're still waiting to hear what they're doing when it comes to having school online and remote, when it comes to sports, when it comes to football. The college football season is still supposed to start on August 29th, but a lot of schools have said that they'll make their final decision by the end of this month. 

So by the end of July. But when they're saying this, I was like, that's still not the best decision because you're still going to have your teams out practicing and in training camp before then. And I just don't understand how that could be a safe situation, especially given the pandemic in the U.S. right now. I was looking at some of the numbers and last month, 23 Clemson players tested positive, 37 members of North Carolina's athletic department tested positive last week, and in late June, more than 30 Louisiana state players were quarantined after a Covid-19 outbreak. And these are still schools that are having training camp and practices. So a decision by the end of July for end of August just doesn't really seem adequate to me at this point. I'm no doctor, but it just doesn't seem adequate to me. Meanwhile, the Big Ten and the PAC 12 have said that they'll get rid of any non-conference games in order to decrease travel.

Stephanie: I really want to dive into this a little bit. You know, the morality part of the issue of continuing to practice and whether or not to keep football going during this pandemic. A great article was written by Morgan Campbell for CBC Sports outlining how it's the rich white coaches that want football in a pandemic, but they're putting unpaid Black players, about 49% of athletes in Division One are Black, at risk. 

Players, you may not know in college get scholarships, but they don't get paid any sort of salary. And this is a billion dollar industry that we're talking about here, when we're talking about college football in the states. And if you've been following this at all, you might have heard a lot of rumblings lately that the NCAA will finally allow athletes to earn money from endorsement deals in the 2021-2022 academic year. If we get into that academic year, which is a big deal because they can start profiting off of their namesake themselves with third parties. So not being directly tied to the university, it would be external to those. So they're not seen as employees of the university. So that's a big deal. But they don't get paid any sort of salary, and that would obviously only be for the stars of the league. 

Meanwhile, college football coaches, 82% of which are white men, get paid literally a shit ton. The biggest school coaches can make anywhere from five million to nine million U.S. dollars. A really, really powerful line that Morgan said in his article was, quote unquote, "Money motivates the push to salvage the college football season this fall. But race underpins all of it." We've seen a lot of big players and teams call out racist bullshit from their coaches and from their institution during this Black Lives Matter movement. And their boycotts and calls have created some change and have started this conversation for sure. 

So now when we're talking about Covid-19 numbers increasing and keeping in mind black Americans are hospitalized at four times the rate of white Americans during this pandemic, we wouldn't be surprised if we saw a lot of players opt out or boycott the season due to this pandemic or ask for a third party outsider to manage testing in facilities to ensure their safety. There's a lot at stake here and not just money, we're talking about people's lives.

Ellen: Yeah people's lives are at stake here. And it also reminds me of that power struggle that athletes and college athletes are constantly finding themselves in, that they sometimes feel like they're forced to play in unsafe situations because their coach and the people at the top basically control their future and what can happen for them. And you've got to believe that there's a lot of seniors, so fourth year university players who are like, yeah, I could get an NFL contract out of this year or I might not. And would they be willing to play in an unsafe environment? And then there's race that's added on top of all of that that you need to consider. And it's a really sticky situation that college sports find themselves in.

Stephanie: Mm hmm. If it's on, there's not really that much of a choice. If you think about it in those terms. Right. Like, will I play and risk not having my chance potentially to get into the NFL or will I not? It's messy.

Ellen: Yes, very messy. It's a very interesting and precarious situation. And again, just so unprecedented. And it's really hard to judge everything in the situation because we've never gone through it before. And I think people are doing the best that they can with the information. I'd like to think. As you mentioned before, Steph, you know, think positive. Silver linings. Let's hope people are doing it. 

But, you know, I still have a lot of questions. There's always that revenue and profit argument to keep football, with no fans in the stands. There's a massive loss of revenue there. And does the revenue coming in from watching games on TV pay for itself for this year? Does it pay for any other sports this year? Still, you know, such a big question mark. And I'm also wondering, speaking of the NFL, will the college decision impact what the NFL decides to do for their season? 

So the NFL has already said we're only going to have two preseason games this season's still going to start in September. We haven't heard anything about hub cities. We haven't heard anything for sure about how many fans are going to be in the stands. We haven't heard anything about scheduling travel differently. I'm very interested to see how the NFL might have to pivot based off of what college decides, especially in the Power Five. 

And then, Steph, as you mentioned, I'm just like, what are the long term impacts on athletics in the U.S. from Covid-19? You know, we're thinking about scholarships. How long will certain sports be canceled? How is this going to impact the greater industry of youth sports? If all of a sudden all of these athletic scholarships that families and kids are really gunning for are just gone.

Stephanie: And college football is so embedded into local economies of those different places where the games and the universities exist. So there's a lot of reverberations outside of college football potentially not happening.

Ellen: Yeah. A massive trickle down effect.

All right, so we know that college sports are very much in the air right now and really just the college period is very much in the air right now, whether it will be in the classroom and online. But to leave the podcast in a little bit more of a lighthearted space, let's talk about our 'Wow, That Was Fun Moment' from this week.

Stephanie: Sports-ish related this week. Twenty three year old Valentina Sampaio became the first trans woman to be featured by Sports Illustrated in a swimsuit issue.

Ellen: So cool.

Stephanie: Very used to barrier breaking. Previously, in 2017, Valentina was the first trans woman to be on the cover of Vogue Paris and in 2019 was the first openly transgender model to be hired by Victoria's Secret. So, you know, we're talking silver linings throughout this whole episode. We've got another one for you here. So shout out to Valentina.

Ellen: Year after year after year. Friggin love. And she's twenty three.

Stephanie: Oh, my God.

Ellen: Imagine accomplishing all that by the time you're 23. Unbelievable.

Something that I've had a lot of fun consuming this week is all of the content coming out of the NBA bubble and the WNBA's wubble, which I absolutely love that name, of course it's the wubble, it's so perfect. But because there's not many reporters there that can actually get all of the behind the scenes access anymore, it's mostly up to the players to be able to give us that behind the scenes access. 

And so on the NBA side, we've seen so much just like fishing and shotgunning beers, which is like the bro-iest thing ever. But then we've also seen Matisse Thybulle, who's a rookie for the Philadelphia 76ers, just create some incredible YouTube content and he's so talented and amazing. So it's been really cool to see the other side of that. 

And then also with the wubble too, it seems like they've sorted out all of their woes of being housed in just not an adequate place. And it seems like they're starting to have more fun on social, too, sharing different TikToks together and chatting about food and all that sort of stuff. So I don't know. It's been fun to see what they've been up to from like a player standpoint.

Stephanie: The carrying of the coffee moment was also extremely related. That was a Toronto Raptor, right?

Ellen: Yeah. Marc Gasol, who by the way, is just like absolutely ripped and jacked coming out of covid, like this pandemic has done very well for him. He looks so much better than he ever has. I've always been like, how does he run so back and forth? Like he had some extra meat on him. But he is ready to play. Yeah. Brings in the Nespresso. Oh, I absolutely loved it. Just coming with the necessities.

Steph: Alright that’s The GIST of it from Ellen and I. Thanks for tuning in! If you liked what you heard, tell all of your friends and subscribe to The GIST of It on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play or Stitcher and while you’re there, please rate us 5 stars and leave a review.

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🏆 Ivy League Postpones Fall Collegiate Sports to Spring 2021

July 09, 2020

The GIST: As we anticipate the return of so many pro sports, the college sports world is not looking great: it seems like a few sports won’t be coming back this year...or ever.

The big picture: Earlier this week, most Ivy League schools announced they’re going online for the fall semester and because of that they’re also postponing fall collegiate sports until the spring. And yes, that includes football.

  • This is a BFD not only because people are obsessed with college football, but also because football represents a huge part of most colleges’ revenue, which is then used to help fund less financially lucrative sports (think: fencing, wrestling, rowing).

An example: Yesterday, Stanford University — which has produced numerous Olympians and national champions, and counts golfer Tiger Woods and soccer star Julie Foudy as alums — announced they will be cutting 11 of their 36 varsity teams. Without the cuts, the school has said they would lose an estimated $70 million from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the loss of the football season. Whoa.

  • The good news? The school will honor any athletic scholarships for affected students. And, if pandemic measures allow it, the school will let the 11 sports continue during the 2020–21 school year, but they will have to transition the teams to club sports (which means no funding) by the start of the 2021 academic year.