The IX: Soccer Monday with Annie Peterson for January 4, 2021
Looking forward to 2021 — A little news — Some links from a slooooowwww holiday — My chat with Athlete Ally's Anne Lieberman
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Hello! It’s good to be back to The IX after taking a bit of a break to recharge for the New Year.
I’ve been covering women’s basketball the past few days for the AP, making the trek to Eugene to cover Oregon. Don’t want to step on The IX colleague Howard Megdal’s toes here, but if you get a chance, watch UCLA’s Michaela Onyenwere. She’s just fantastic. (Editor’s note: concur. Saw her live in the NCAA Tournament during The Great Before and was extremely impressed.)
It is super weird to cover a game in an empty arena. I’d been to soccer games in vacant stadiums, but watching basketball without fans is just odd. In a game like yesterday’s UCLA victory over Oregon, the Ducks certainly would have been boosted by their rapid fans in the final minutes. It might have made a difference.
I also wanted to give a shoutout to Ann Schatz and Elise Woodward, who have been a fantastic broadcast team for many games — both men and women — on the Pac-12 Network. It’s still rare to have women calling men’s games and these two are absolute pros. And some of y’all have no doubt heard Ann because she’s also covered some NWSL games.
As we get ready for women’s soccer in 2021, there’s already been a bit of news this morning: Tziarra King is headed to OL Reign. Here’s the press release.
The Reign also get a 2022 draft pick while forward Darian Jenkins heads to Kansas City along with the rights to midfielder Meg Brandt. KC also got the Reign’s natural 4th round pick in the draft.
As always, you can keep up with player moves and rosters here, thanks to Keeper Notes!
Looking ahead to the immediate future in WoSo: The NWSL draft is set for Jan. 13
The league received a waiver from the NCAA, so that players selected in the draft could either play out the coronavirus-delayed college season OR forgo their remaining eligibility and go pro. They have a bit of time to decide after they’re drafted.
And that brings us to the college season. It’s supposed to start on Feb. 3 but there’s a lot of confusion about how this is all going to work. Some teams have already had a “season.” I mean, Florida State won the ACC title game over North Carolina and Vandy downed Arkansas for the SEC title.
But for other conferences, the fall season was simply shut down. A source of mine in the Pac-12 says the plan — again, tentatively — is to play 12 in-conference games and 4 other games. A reduced field of 48 teams is expected for the postseason, and the College Cup will be played in Cary.
But in our current age of uncertainty, who knows?
Oh and there’s one more thing to look forward to in the immediate future: The USWNT January camp is tentatively set to start on Jan. 9. No word on details yet.
Couple of notes to end on: As we enter 2021, I’d love to hear from YOU! What do you want me to cover moving forward. Interested in college soccer? Let me know. How about the W-League? I’m open to suggestions. Are social justice issues as important to you as they are to me?
I’d really like to establish more of a back-and-forth, and I’d love to include YOUR voices in future Soccer Monday posts. So here’s your chance! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. DM me on Twitter at @anniempeterson. I’m on Instagram too, if that’s your thing, but that’s mostly pictures of my kids and my boyfriend.
Anyway, on to the links, and apologies: we’re a little light. I’m not the only one who took time off over the holidays.
(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! email@example.com.
First off, Shireen Ahmed wrote a really good piece for TSN on how sports must be a vehicle for social change in 2021.
This is an important piece from Jeff Kassouf of the Equalizer on the NWSL’s allocation money and what it means for national team players.
Dan Lauletta takes a critical look at the Mallory Pugh trade to Chicago, also for The Equalizer.
Seth Vertelney of Goal.com also examined the Pugh move.
The Athletic’s Meg Linehan wrapped up the year by answering a few questions and rating the best NWSL/WPS matches.
The Patriot Ledger did a nice job on this story about the Mewis sisters.
The Boston Globe profiled Sam Mewis.
Racing Louisville lands Brooke Hendrix.
Orlando’s Claire Emslie is staying with Everton, from Julie Poe.
People magazine had a blurb on Megan Rapinoe and Sue Bird. I just have to say, those two appear to have a SHOE CLOSET. OMG. I need one.
Speaking of Rapinoe, USA Today had a good story on the Najee Harris connection.
Suzanne Wrack took a look at the WSL’s rising stars for the Guardian.
Tweet of the Week
THIS IS THE BEST NEWS OF THE NEW YEAR: MARTA AND TONI ARE ENGAGED!!!!!!
Five at The IX: Anne Lieberman, director of policy and programs for Athlete Ally
For the last Soccer Monday a couple of weeks ago, we focused on the amicus brief signed by nearly 200 athletes opposing HB 500, Idaho’s law that limits trans women from participating in women’s sports. I wanted to share some of my conversation with Athlete Ally’s Anne Lieberman about trans inclusion, and the work Athlete Ally is doing.
Question: How did Athlete Ally get involved in opposition of HB 500? And what athletes have joined?
Anne Lieberman: We have Billie Jean King, Megan Rapinoe, Layshia Clarendon, Candace Parker, Meghan Duggan. I mean, we just have such an amazing list of of athletes who really signed on with no hesitation. And it was amazing to get to work with them individually or with their PR teams to have these conversations. People were just really excited to sign on to lend their name to this.
We got involved because — Athlete Ally is a very interesting organization because we’re at the intersection of social justice issues and LGBTQI+ inclusion and, more broadly, and LGBTQI+ human rights and sports. So we do a lot of work both domestically and internationally on these issues. And Lambda (Legal) reached out to us saying, ‘We really would love to write an amicus brief for the Hecox case. Do you think Athlete Ally would be interested in signing on? Who else should we partner with?’ We brought in the Women’s Sports Foundation immediately because we’ve done quite a bit of work with them in general around trans inclusion and also inclusion of athletes with intersex variations. We organized a campaign with them around Caster (Semenya), for example. And so we started the conversation with Lambda many months ago to talk about the angle of the brief, what athletes we wanted to sign on. We decided that we wanted to focus on athletes competing in women’s sports because there is this belief or emphasis that female athletes don’t want trans women to participate in women’s sports. And we wanted to show that there is an incredible bench of athletes who want trans women and girls to be included in women’s sports. [
Question: Like those so-called “bathroom bills” there’s a lot of misinformation about transgender participation in sports. How do you combat the attitude that suddenly cis men will flock to compete in women’s sports?
Anne Lieberman: That always makes me laugh because I always say, do you think a cis man is ever going to do that? Which is funny, but it’s true. In all seriousness, there are a few pieces: This has been a fear since the beginning of competitive sports. We saw an uptick in policing of gender during the 1938 Olympics in Berlin, which was which was the first Olympics after the second World War. It’s a really fascinating moment, because there was no way for countries to assert dominance because the war had ended. So sports became a way, in that particular moment, that countries really were showing their dominance in international and a global scale. That Olympics is when you really see an uptick in anti-doping regulations and also gender verification testing of female athletes. And so, throughout the history of sport, people competing in the male category have not been tested to prove their maleness. It has only been women. The thing that’s particularly horrifying about pieces of legislation like HB 500 is it really harkens back to some of the earlier days of sex verification testing where people have to prove that they are, quote-unquote, woman enough — by the way their bodies look, are they feminine enough, do they have the right kind of external genitalia, all these horrific things. And HB 500 actually is focused on trans and intersex athletes. But if we’re on a team, and you don’t believe that my gender is female, you could call me out and I could be tested. So it’s also about policing anybody who doesn’t conform to very specific types of femininity.
But when people ask the question, ‘Well, aren’t trans women just going to take over women’s sports?’ There are few responses: The first is that the IOC has had a trans inclusion policy since 2003. There have been 54,000 Olympians since then. Not a single one has been openly trans. So there have been pathways to competition for now 20 years, and there’s not been a single trans athlete. And in the NCAA there have been ways for trans athletes to compete since 2011 There’s no evidence that we have, truly, that trans women across the board are bigger, faster, stronger than cis women. And it’s a fear that that quote-unquote men are going to be taking over women’s sports. But when trans women and girls are competing, there are no men competing. We have very deeply ingrained beliefs about what we believe people assigned male at birth can do physically versus people assigned female at birth. The reality is that our bodies are far more complex. It’s not black and white. And yes, of course, there are there are differences between people’s bodies. But that doesn’t mean that the difference is going to make somebody assigned male at birth always better at every single sport than somebody assigned female at birth. I think that’s also where people get tripped up, because I think people sometimes think when people are saying ‘Oh, there’s no physical differences between people assigned male at birth and people assigned female at birth.’ That’s not what we’re saying. We’re saying there are differences, but bodies are incredibly complex and competitive advantage is really complex.
Something that’s particularly hard about this argument or these conversations is that it challenges people’s deeply, deeply held beliefs about gender and about what bodies can and can’t do.
Question: What are some of the things Athlete Ally is doing surrounding trans inclusion?
Anne Lieberman: We have four main areas of work in general, and all of this includes our trans inclusion work. But so we work in LGBTQI+ education, policy and advocacy, research and athlete activism. We want to make sure that everyone has access to comprehensive education around building inclusive spaces for LGBTQI+ communities.
But most recently, we’ve been really focused on a series of trans inclusion trainings for different audiences. We’ve been partnering with Chris Mosier from Transathlete. Chris is a very close dear friend of mine and a close colleague. Chris and I have been putting together a curriculum. We just did a very big training with a number of Women’s Sports Foundation athletes, and we’re doing a second iteration of that training with sports professionals, athletic directors, etc., and then another training with female athletes. We do quite a bit of educational work and then also a lot of policy advocacy. So we are often the organization that state-based groups turn to when they’re trying to fight one of these horrific pieces of legislation to say, ‘Hey, what kind of messaging should we be using in this circumstance? Can you train people to speak to legislators? Can you connect us to an athlete who wants to speak up and out on this issue in this particular state?’ We do a lot of op-ed writing, some of the media pieces. And the athlete activism part of that is which of the athletes in our network would be a good fit for what particular piece of advocacy we’re working on.