The IX: Soccer Monday with Annie M. Peterson for April 26, 2021
Send me your fave independent sources for WoSo! — The Human Rights Campaign calls on the NCAA to act on anti-trans legislation — Must-click woso links — Crystal Dunn talks about her Thorns debut
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Independent journalists help grow the league and the game overall. I am incredibly fortunate in my position, and that is not lost on me. So I want to help emphasize that all of us who cover women’s soccer are lifted by more voices.
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Today I wanted to provide another update on transgender inclusion in sports. Lots is happening on this front, even though it might not specifically involve soccer.
Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David today penned a letter to NCAA President Mark Emmert, asking that the NCAA reject states that have adopted transgender athlete bans from hosting championships.
If you remember, the NCAA’s stance was incredibly effective in helping to repeal parts of North Carolina’s so-called “bathroom bill.” Because the NWSL has a team in North Carolina, this was an issue of importance to soccer fans.
We appreciate the NCAA’s past and present leadership, including its most recent statements. But there is more that must be done because the lives of young LGBTQ people are on the line.
And to be clear, people are already dying. These bills are further fueling the stigma that is driving a wave of anti-trans violence devastating our community. So far in 2021, we are on track to more than double the number of trans and gender non-conforming people killed in 2020, which was already the deadliest year on record.
With the NCAA’s commitment to safety, how can holding tournaments in these states possibly keep student-athletes safe? The only way forward to protect the people the NCAA works so hard to serve is by sanctioning the states fueling hate and violence against our community.
The letter comes in the wake of the NCAA’s latest Board of Governors meeting earlier this month, where the organization — again — said it was “monitoring the situation.”
Here’s the statement:
The NCAA Board of Governors firmly and unequivocally supports the opportunity for transgender student-athletes to compete in college sports. This commitment is grounded in our values of inclusion and fair competition.
The NCAA has a long-standing policy that provides a more inclusive path for transgender participation in college sports. Our approach — which requires testosterone suppression treatment for transgender women to compete in women’s sports — embraces the evolving science on this issue and is anchored in participation policies of both the International Olympic Committee and the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee. Inclusion and fairness can coexist for all student-athletes, including transgender athletes, at all levels of sport. Our clear expectation as the Association’s top governing body is that all student-athletes will be treated with dignity and respect. We are committed to ensuring that NCAA championships are open for all who earn the right to compete in them.
When determining where championships are held, NCAA policy directs that only locations where hosts can commit to providing an environment that is safe, healthy and free of discrimination should be selected. We will continue to closely monitor these situations to determine whether NCAA championships can be conducted in ways that are welcoming and respectful of all participants.
I’m not sure how many states have to adopt these kinds of laws before there’s enough “monitoring” to take a stand against discrimination and hate.
Bad actors have promoted so-called “culture war’’ issues to other people, rather than bring us together. Once they fail in one arena, like marriage equality or bathroom bills, they simply move on to another. Transgender athletes are an easy target since there just aren’t many of them. To date, just one (out) transgender woman has taken part in a Division I sport. (Here’s a good rundown of how the science falls apart upon even a cursory examination of the complaints from bad-faith actors in this space.)
It is my hope that the NCAA sees these transgender bans for what they are.
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Handy guide for tonight and beyond on watching the rest of the Challenge Cup, from Sandra Herrera for CBS Sports.
Hey Meg! When does the schedule come out? Meg Linehan takes a look at how the schedule is made.
Meredith Cash with the Insider did a smart thing, she went back and found Mili Hernandez, the young girl who apparently looked too much like a boy. (Or, she was just too good). This is a cautionary tale about what could happen with some of the proposed trans athlete bans, which would allow random folks to question the gender of athletes.
Stephanie Yang at All for XI took a look at the Anti Racist Soccer club, and the wonderful Kaiya McCullough.
Yang also wrote a great piece for The Athletic on Ted Lasso.
Paulina Vairo looked at Sky Blue’s transformation into Gotham FC for Sports Illustrated.
Oh hey, I wrote about Adrianna Franch ahead of last week’s derby between the Thorns and the Reign.
Really nice story here on Deyna Castellanos from Fernando Alcalá-Zamora Ruiz for The Equalizer.
It was a shame that the Super League drama overshadowed the Chelsea-Man City match, from Katie Whyatt for The Athletic.
Suzanne Wrack’s excellent story on for the Guardian on the financial potential of women’s socccer.
Also breaking from Wrack this morning: Fara Williams says this season is her last.
Good explainer in The Athletic about soccer’s new rules and how they’ll impact soccer in the United States.
RJ Allen takes a thought-provoking look at the W in the NWSL for Last Word on Sports.
Rachael Kriger with a good profile on Lo LaBonta for The Equalizer ahead of tonight’s match.
TWEETS OF THE WEEK!
Also, hoping for the day that when Lisa Baird is in town that I can take her out for coffee. Or better yet, a Budweiser.
Five at The IX: Crystal Dunn
Crystal Dunn spoke about following her debut with the Thorns! Here’s what she said:
Question: Thought on the game?
Dunn: I was definitely a bit nervous going into this game, I know how much the fans love to support this team and I kind of went in and being like, All right, I hope I don’t let them down. I hope I don’t let them down.’ But honestly, once I got in the game, just hearing their energy allowed me to settle in a bit.
Question: How does it feel clinching a spot in the Challenge Cup final? And what does this mean to you and the Thorns, knowing that you’re just sort of at the beginning of your season, though?
Dunn: I mean it’s incredible. Obviously, I’m really happy with the team’s performance. We’re not a perfect team by any means right now, we’re building and building and building. But I think we put out a really good performance today. And just clinching a spot in the final is incredible. For anyone thinking these games are just preseason games, they’re totally lying. I’m a player that loves to win and I love to make it to a championship. So I think the team is very, very pleased to be in the final. But of course, we are still building and trying to get better day by day.
Question: Obviously this was your first game with the Thornes, but it was the third game for the Thornes this season. What’s it been like integrating into this team after they’ve already got two wins under their belt?
Dunn: It was a bit odd that I was in preseason, then I had to leave again, and then I came back and then I left again. But the team is just so close knit that when I came back, I didn’t feel like I really missed a beat. Obviously, I was supporting the team from afar. All the internationals that were away were supporting the team from afar and it was a seamless reentry when we all came back. And the team is, like I said, really close. I think for us coming back, we just tried to increase the energy and build off of what the team has already been working on. And obviously getting two wins without us was incredible. We were so ecstatic about it and obviously us all coming back, we just want to keep raising the bar more and more.
Question: what were the highlights in terms of how you played and how the team played?
Dunn: I think the team played really well. Like I said, I think we’re not where we ultimately want to be just yet. We’re still kind of in that right after preseason mode where we’re building and building and building. But I’m really pleased with the team’s performance. The energy was there. The effort was there to just want to win the ball back and kind of go again and go again. And I think it was incredible. When I look to the left and look to the right, everybody was working so hard to get in the attack. And if it broke down, we’re working extremely hard to get the ball back. So I’m really pleased and I think the team is super excited to be able to play in a final.
Question: Can you talk a little bit about playing in the midfield tonight?
Dunn: It’s really fun, obviously, being back in the midfield. Mark, basically, hasn’t overwhelmed with too much tactical information. I think for me, it’s just getting on the ball as much as I can, causing a bit of havoc, and obviously running at the back line whenever I can. So it’s my first game under the belt, I’m just going to continue growing and gaining that chemistry with the players around me even more. But it was really fun to be out there playing with some incredible players.
Question: You kind of started as an 8 in the midfield, and then when Sinc came out, you went to more of a 10. I was wondering if you could talk about the versatility and fluidity in the midfield.
Dunn: It’s so incredible to really be in the midfield where all the players — yes, we have a role, but it’s all about us getting on the ball and being in the best spaces to impact the game. Sliding into the 10 for me late in the game felt pretty natural because, even when I was an 8, I was kind of popping into that space and then popping back into that 8 role again. So the midfield is really fluid. It’s really fun to be in a position where everyone around you is moving and trying to show up for the ball and getting on the ball. And I tend to do way better when I’m not put in the box and when I’m told that I could be free and really express myself.