The IX: Soccer Monday with Annie M. Peterson, September 28, 2020

On NWSL COVID-19 positives and the fallout —Woso links — Interview with Chicago's Sarah Gorden

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On NWSL COVID-19 positives and the fallout

By now many of you know that the Houston Dash had a positive COVID-19 test, and still played a home game against the Orlando Pride over the weekend.

We all can guess who had the positive test, and in the interest of that person’s privacy I’m not going to reveal it here.

Two veteran Pride players exercised their right to opt out of the match, Sydney Leroux and Kristen Edmonds. Good for them. It’s important that all people are allowed to make decisions in their best interests and still earn a living. Wouldn’t it be great if grocery store workers got the same accommodation? But that’s an aside.—%20Kristen%20Edmonds%20(@Kris10edmonds)%20a%20href=

As we get deeper into fall — and yes, I’m floored that it’s already fall — it is likely there will be many more cases and deaths, in part because there’s been no coordinated federal response to the pandemic.

It follows that sports will be impacted. Again. Look at Major League Soccer, where an outbreak forced a match set for Sunday to be postponed. It was the first match postponed since the league’s bubble tournament in Florida this summer. And don’t even get me started with college football.

Here’s the problem as I see it: We run the risk of demonizing those who test positive. Look back on why the Pride withdrew from the Challenge Cup and the speculation about “Patient Zero.” Many subject them to trolling and vitriol, which can be an issue without concrete proof of the source.

Questions can arise about whether the person who tested positive was following protocol or being reckless with their own behavior. That becomes especially problematic when women are targeted with this kind of language.

There’s lots of ways that people can get this virus, even the most cautious among us. Maybe it’s an asymptomatic family member or roommate or friend we thought was being safe.

In the NWSL we should be looking at those in charge don’t enforce the rules. Let’s face it, some of these players are young. And we all have a bit of coronavirus fatigue at this point. That makes it more important than ever for those at the top to protect their most valuable asset: The players.

Pride goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris called the Dash out following the game for apparently lax health and safety measures. She also revealed that children connected to the Pride tested positive. Julia Poe wrote about Harris’ reaction in the Orlando Sentinel.

“There’s no surprise that a lot of things were surfacing on the Internet of the Houston team not doing their job social distancing and being out and about without masks,” Harris said. “After what we went through and the guidelines we have been going and abiding by — we don’t leave our home. We don’t go to restaurants; we don’t go out in public. We limit our grocery store [trips] once a week. This has been difficult, and to see people out and about, not taking our safety into account after the traumatic experience we had, I don’t blame players just saying, ‘No, it’s not for me, I’m not going.’ And that’s what Kristen and Syd did and it sucks and this is the reality. But this is COVID. Everyone has to do the right thing and whether they do or don’t, you know, we can’t do anything about it. But when it comes to health and safety, everyone has to make their own individual decision and we support that. And so does our club; our club completely supports it.”

If there’s a message I want to impart here at all, it’s this: Let’s not point fingers at those who have the virus, let’s point the finger at those who were supposed to make sure they were protected from it and failed.

On to the links.


(Reminder: First, the underlined words are the links. Second. CLICK these, even if you’ve already read them. ESPECIALLY NOW, as newsrooms are forced to make difficult choices. Clicks = Attention from editors, producers and webmasters. Third, if you want to push out stuff you’ve written or read, email me!

Hey guys, I hope this works and I’m unsure how long the links will stay active, but here are Manchester United’s media Zoom calls with Christen Press and Tobin Heath. Interesting stuff here and I’m hoping to tackle in a future Soccer Monday, but there’s too much to write about! (Which is an extremely good problem to have!) One final warning, these are really big files, so I’d only download them if you really want to see them.

Here are some of the media’s takes on Tobin!

First Jonathan Tannenwald for the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Asif Burhan for Forbes.

Kathleen McNamee for ESPN.

My AP colleague Rob Harris’ take.

And finally, from Jeff Kassouf of The Equalizer.

And here is a sampling of stories about Christen Press:

Kassouf for the Equalizer

AP’s Harris.

Sandra Herrera for CBS Sports.

Suzanne Wrack for The Guardian.

And here are some more links from around the WoSo world:

The power of public pressure, people! From the BBC.

Alex Morgan is still waiting on her first match with Tottenham, from The AP.

Tannenwald looked at how U.S. soccer stars are embracing the WSL.

I wrote about the absolutely wonderful Sarah Gorden and her HoodSpace nonprofit for AP.

Fun story from The Athletic on Arsenal’s Steph Catley and her boyfriend.

Alex Vejar for the Salt Lake Tribune on how the Royals are buying into Amy LePeilbet’s approach.

Nice story here from Stephanie Yang for All for XI on Kate Howarth’s return.

Julia Poe had a good story here on the Pride’s Marisa Viggiano.

The Christian Science Monitor took a look at the wage gap in soccer.

OK, I’ve got to hand it to FIFA, the social media team is doing a lot to promote women’s football lately. Way more that in recent years. So with that in mind, I offer this nice little piece on Marta and that memorable 2007 goal.

Kelley O’Hara spoke to Sam Kerr for the Just Women’s Sports podcast!

Here’s the My Sporting Mind podcast that Carli Lloyd spoke about her retirement after the Olympics, causing a bit of a stir. We all pretty much knew this, I wrote about it when she talked to me about kicking in the NFL. Obviously though, she needs to make the Olympic squad.

Five at The IX: Chicago’s Sarah Gorden—%20HoodSpaceChi%20(@HoodSpaceChi1)%20a%20href=

I spoke to Sarah Gorden about her experience as a woman of color in soccer, and her new initiative HoodSpace. You can see my story in the links above. Right now she’s in the crowdfunding stage, so if you have a few bucks to spare, it’s a good cause.

Annie: Tell me a little bit about what you’ve launched?

Gorden: So I’ve launched HoodSpace, which is going to be a nonprofit that brings yoga, sport and meditation to girls of color here in Chicago. It’s really just based around empowerment and helping girls find that inner confidence, where you know who you are in every situation, helping them find their voice, and really centered around mental health here.

Annie: Why was mental health an issue for you personally?

Gorden: I’ve definitely been on my own mental health journey throughout the past few years. When I got drafted by Chicago to play professionally, it’s really when I realized that I really didn’t have any outlet or knowledge on how to process my emotions. I’m a very sensitive, passionate person, so there’s a lot of emotions that go through me on a daily basis. That’s kind of the beginning of my journey. Finding yoga and meditation, for me, helped me accept how I feel and process, and how I move forward. It helped me tremendously on the soccer field, from where I was when I was a rookie to where I am now. And it has also helped my relationships and helped me find my voice and be confident in that voice.

Mental health is something that, if you saw some of the other initiatives that we’ve done with the Red Stars, it’s kind of like all of our initiatives have been based around black mental health the last few months. Obviously, I was the driving force behind those initiatives. Just being in the city and seeing the violence and everything that systemic racism has created, it made me think that maybe we can really help each individual process and potentially heal. Obviously, we all have different parts in this fight — fighting systemic racism. And I didn’t feel as though my fight was within the system, but more so in the individual.

Annie: A lot of platitudes have been made, like Black Lives Matter T-shirts and things like that. But what was the impetus that made you want to act on something to make a difference?

Gorden: I think we’ve heard a lot of the term performative allyship, especially over the last few weeks. Especially with what’s happened with the shooting of Jacob Blake, because there were a lot of people that said a lot of great things when George Floyd was first murdered and there was a lot of black squares posted and there were a lot of promises made, individually and by teams and companies, etcetera. Over the last month, we’ve really seen who has been true to fighting this fight.

For a lot of us, it’s never been performative. It’s always been about making change, because either we are black or we have black family, we have black friends, or we’re just passionate about equality. So it was always just a matter of time when I was going to launch my nonprofit. I knew I wanted to bring something to the community and have some sort of impact somewhere. It was just a matter of finding where specifically I thought I could help.

Annie: Does being a mom of a son impact some of the fact that you’re using your voice now more than ever?

Gorden: It’s no secret that I’m the mom of a son, I’m the mom of a black son. So absolutely. I’ve said it before, this is absolutely a life or death matter. We’re fighting for the future of our kids. And so, yes, 100 percent, it’s part of the reason I’m so passionate about all of this, because it will affect the future of our children.

Annie: You’re in a you’re in a sport that is very white. What what are some of the things that you have faced? Being a woman of color in a soccer player?

Gorden: So I think it’s important to to first state that I’m more so, although I am mixed with black, I am more so a woman of color because of the way I look. As I said a million times, I’ve definitely have privileges compared to a darker skinned women. Especially darker-skinned women who play soccer. But there have been things that have happened to me as well. So you can only imagine what could happen to a dark skinned black woman that’s playing soccer.

I’ve shared the story how when I was younger, I got called the N-word in a club game. I was raised around white people in a white community. And I had never really looked at myself in that light until moments like that happened. They really you take a step back and be like, Wait a second, I’m a what?’. Like I said, I’ve been very fortunate. I’m very privileged because of being mixed.

Mondays: Soccer
By: Annie Peterson, @AnnieMPeterson AP Women’s Soccer
Tuesdays: Tennis
By Joey Dillon, @JoeyDillon Freelance Tennis Writer
Wednesdays: Basketball
By: Howard Megdal, @HowardMegdal The Next
Thursdays: Golf
By Carly Grenfell, @Carlygren
Fridays: Hockey
By: Erica Ayala, @ELindsay08 NWHL Broadcaster

Written by Annie Peterson