The ReCap by Laina Stebbins: 7.18.18 Podcast by HWTP Sports Talk

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"...

what if the US had qualified for this World Cup?"

On this week’s HWTP Sports Talk podcast, Slate’s Mike Pesca joins us to discuss his new book that explores “the greatest what-ifs in sports history” – namely, how history may have been altered if certain moments in sports had played out differently. His interview with David starts at 45:57.

A.J. Perez of USA Today also joins the show to discuss recent happenings in the NHL and MLB, and Monroe News court reporter Caitlin Taylor speaks with David about the texting and driving trial of MSU basketball strength coach Todd Moyer.

Mike Pesca on the greatest sports ‘what-ifs’ (45:57)

Mike Pesca is an author and the host of “The Gist,” a popular daily podcast by Slate. His new book is called "Upon Further Review: The Greatest What-Ifs in Sports History,” which consists of a collection of short essays from 31 different contributors – hand-picked by Pesca – which seek to explore how the fabric of history may have been altered, had just one moment in sports history gone the other way.

While writing the book, Pesca says he cast a wide net, reaching out to clever writers with good ideas who “understand what excites the imagination.” The result is a collection of short essays that proves enjoyable for sports fans and historians alike.

"As sports fans, we always engage in 'what-ifs' on a casual level...But is it so exciting for the person who’s not invested in it? So that’s why we had these rules [for the book],” Pesca says.

“‘Engage in a history lesson' is one of [them]. Or, 'tell me about a sporting event that actually had much larger societal implications.' Or, 'take one of these classic what-if conundrums and really prove your case.”

Pesca also hosted a limited edition Slate podcast based on his book, aptly named “Upon Further Review.” In it, Pesca brings certain chapters of the book to life by way of audio storytelling.

One notable chapter adapted for the podcast was written by former NPR host Robert Siegel, who imagines an alternate universe in which the Dodgers had never left Brooklyn in 1957. In the audio episode, Siegel narrates a (very convincing) faux NPR-esque radio story based on the scenario.

"Just to hear Robert Seagull pretend that the Dodgers were still in Brooklyn...He spends 30 years building up his credibility and ruins it with this one story,” Pesca jokes.

On the last podcast episode, Pesca says, listeners can hear a fake Boston sports talk radio show set in a different alternate universe: “These two loudmouthed guys from Massachusetts debate the ‘horrible’ Patriots...because in this scenario, Tom Brady never takes over the Patriots because Drew Bledsoe never gets hurt,” Pesca says.

There is one scenario that Pesca wishes he would have added, however.

"The best ‘what-if’ happened after the book went to publisher,” Pesca says, “which is – what if the US had qualified for this World Cup?"

“Upon Further Review” is available for purchase on Amazon. You can also delve into one of the book’s case studies on Slate, in article form: "What If Richard Nixon Had Been Good at Football?"

Caitlin Taylor on felony trial of MSU coach (14:52)

 Todd Moyer

Todd Moyer

Caitlin Taylor is a staff writer at the Monroe News. Her reporting this week follows the trial of Todd Moyer, a Michigan State University basketball strength and conditioning coach, who is charged with two counts of reckless driving causing death. Both charges are felonies which carry a maximum of 15 years in prison.

The trial began Monday morning and is expected to continue until the end of the week.

NOTE: The end of this section contains a post-show update about Moyer’s trial.

Prosecutors allege that Moyer’s texting while driving was the contributing factor to a high-speed crash last summer in which a mother and her 5-year-old daughter were killed. The fatal crash occurred on US-23, a two-lane highway near Dundee, Mich.

The posted speed there was 70 mph, Taylor says, but drivers were starting to “drastically reduce their speed” as they drew closer to construction zone up ahead.

But Moyer’s pickup truck did not slow down – even after passing a number of large road signs that warned motorists of the upcoming work zone.

“He was traveling about 78 miles per hour when his pickup truck rear-ended the two victims, and he did not brake before impact,” Taylor says.

Moyer’s phone records were extracted by Monroe County sheriff’s Detective Jeff Hooper, who was brought in as an expert in cell phone investigation. Taylor says the phone records show that Moyer sent or received 23 text messages prior to the crash. Included in those texts was a website link to a strip club in Ohio.

Moyer’s defense had hoped to show that he may not have been looking at his phone the exact moment of the collision, and that Moyer was not the only driver to blame for the crash.

From what she has seen, Taylor says the jurors have “really maintained their composure throughout this trial so far, despite some of the really gut-wrenching photographs and testimony that have been presented.”

It’s unfortunate that it takes such a tragic accident to underscore the importance of paying attention to the road while driving, Taylor adds.

UPDATE: On Friday afternoon, Todd Moyer was found guilty of both charges after several hours of deliberation by the jury. His sentencing is set for August 30.

AJ Perez on recent NHL, MLB news (26:33)

AJ Perez is a reporter for USA Today. His wide-ranging discussion with David included the topics below; for the rest of their conversation, listen to the podcast episode.

NHL – tragic death of former goalie

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“The details haven’t fully come out...there’s a lot of unanswered questions so far.”

Last Sunday, news broke that former NHL goalie Ray Emery had died while swimming with friends at Hamilton Harbour in Lake Ontario. Emery was just 35 years old.

“It was kind of shocking,” Perez tells David. “...35 years is way too young.”

According to Hamilton Police in Ontario, Emery was reported missing early that morning. His body was recovered later that day close to where his friends had last seen him in the harbor. The cause of death has been ruled as drowning, although questions still remain. The coroner’s investigation is ongoing and may take months to reach a conclusion about why exactly Emery drowned.

“We're still trying to figure out what he was doing in that harbor...that waterway is one of the most polluted in Canada,” says Perez, who finds it surprising that anyone would be swimming in that area.

“The details haven’t fully come out...there’s a lot of unanswered questions so far.”

Emery played for the Ottawa Senators, the Philadelphia Flyers, the Anaheim Ducks and the Chicago Blackhawks. His last season on ice was 2014-15 with the Flyers.

Emery took up the sport that is Canada’s national pastime, played for 11 seasons in the NHL with a number of teams, and eventually got to hoist the Stanley Cup, David says – he was “a true Canadian.”

MLB – Wash. Nationals promo goes awry

At the 2018 MLB Home Run Derby on Monday night, Washington Nationals star player Bryce Harper put on an impressive performance that landed him a trophy win – although it appears that his team’s financial department may need to count this as a loss.

Before the event, the Washington Nationals tweeted out a promotion for a Home Run Derby discount. With the discount code “DERBY,” each time Harper hit a home run at the event, $1 would be knocked off the price of tickets to see the Nationals play.

Harper ended up hitting 45 of them – translating to a whopping $45 discount on Nats tickets. This means fans can now pay as little as $1 to watch them play.

But is this really such a big financial loss for the Nat’s as it appears to be? – Perez says not to worry.

“They’ll still make the money...they’ll re-coop,” Perez says, noting the long lines for concessions and expensive parking at Nat’s Park.

The normal ticket prices are “insane” anyway, Perez adds; “baseball is having the challenge of reaching the younger demographic, and I think a big barrier to that is how costly it is.”

After Monday’s event ended, the Nationals acknowledged the discount situation with a cheeky tweet, reading: “brb ... apologizing to our finance department”.

MLB – Machado and ‘the big trade’

David and Perez discuss speculation about the expected –though not yet finalized [as of Wednesday’s show] – high-profile trade of All-Star shortstop Manny Machado to the LA Dodgers.

As Machado’s contract with the Baltimore Orioles was set to expire at the end of the season, the Orioles have been in talks with several teams, including the Dodgers, about a potential trade deal.

“The Dodgers are going for it,” Perez tells David. “After last year, getting so close, getting to game seven [and] being one game away from winning it…they’re going for it.”

UPDATE: As expected, Machado was indeed acquired by the Dodgers Wednesday night. According to ESPN:

The last-place Orioles decided against negotiating an expensive, multiyear extension because they have too many holes on the roster as the team moves into rebuilding mode.

Baltimore received five prospects for their end of the deal.

On Friday, Machado made his debut on the LA team with a 6-4 win against the Milwaukee Brewers.

Listen to the entire show below.

The ReCap by Laina Stebbins: 7.11.18 Podcast by HWTP Sports Talk

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David is joined this week by New York Times reporter and author Karen Crouse to have a discussion about sexism in sports, and Crouse’s article, "At Wimbledon, Married Women are Still 'Mrs.'" Later in the show, Jesse Dougherty of the Washington Post comes on to discuss a college basketball corruption case that now involves the University of Maryland.

NYT’s Karen Crouse on sexist traditions in sports

Karen Crouse covers sports for the New York Times. She is also the author of “Norwich: One Tiny Vermont Town's Secret to Happiness and Excellence.”

One of her latest articles for the Times explores Wimbledon’s apparent fixation on the marital status of female players, with the case study being Serena Williams – who is now being referred to as “Mrs. Williams” by chair umpires, after getting married last year but not taking Alexis Ohanian’s last name.

“If you are a woman competing at Wimbledon, you are either a ‘Miss’ if you are single, or you are a ‘Mrs.’ if you are married,” Crouse says.

“But when you have the case of someone like Serena, who is recently married but has not taken her husband's name, they just call her ‘Mrs. Williams’ – so it makes it sound as if she is married to her father.”

This particular way of addressing players according to their marital status does not extend to men, however.

“If you are Roger Federer – [who is] married with four children – you are simply ‘Federer,’” Crouse says. “So, the married men do not have the courtesy title in front of their names.”

Is this just a case of the British being overly proper and fond of tradition, or something more malicious?

“I’ve heard the ‘tradition’ side of it as it relates to Augusta National,” says Crouse, who also covers golf for the Times. “I'm getting to the point where when I hear the word 'tradition,' it's feels like it's synonymous for sexism or prejudice. I just don’t buy it.”

She points to the fact that women at Wimbledon have had equal pay for 11 years now.

“They've been able to get past…the idea that women don't need money because they're married to men who make the money,” Crouse says. “They've gotten over that tradition, so maybe it's time for them to recognize women as their own people, and not who they are married to or…whether they're married or single.”

“It has the impression, at least, that you just see women as appendages of men,” she says.

Crouse says that in an over-600-page compendium about Wimbledon, you can find the detailed marital history of every semifinalist and finalist on the women’s side, both singles and doubles: “It has the date of when you were married, the place, and the full name of your husband,” Crouse says.

“That's how I found out that Serena's husband, Alexis Ohanian, his middle name is Kerry because this was listed in the Compendium. It is so crazy.

“None of this is done on the men's side,” she says, adding: “If you're going to have this kind of information and the women are going to be recognized in terms of their relationships, you should do the same for the men.”

WaPo’s Jesse Dougherty on college basketball corruption

Jesse Dougherty is a staff writer at Washington Post who covers college sports and University of Maryland athletics. He speaks with David about a developing story that now involves both of his beats.

An FBI investigation into corruption in college basketball has now led to more subpoenas for the University of Maryland, even after the University handed over records after being initially subpoenaed in March.

The new subpoenas request information regarding one unnamed former player at Maryland, the team’s assistant coach, and a recruit who ultimately attended Kansas.

“The company line from everyone is that ‘this happens everywhere.’ Of course, that's not entirely the case,” Dougherty says.

“There are over 300 schools in college basketball, so it can't be everywhere – but I don't think any school’s really in the clear, even if the trials are looming.”

Back in March, it was reported that Diamond Stone, a former Maryland player, was implicated in improper payments that were meant to steer him to sign with sports agency ASM after college.

“He was one of a long list of players that was sort of roped into this whole federal investigation,” Dougherty says.

When that happened, Maryland announced that they were conducting an internal investigation. “Given the fact that...Maryland was looking into some matters on their own front…it didn't seem like Maryland was totally in the clear of this kind of thing,” he says.

The March subpoena, in part, requested communication records between Maryland employees and Christian Dawkins. According to the Washington Post: “Dawkins is facing charges, including wire fraud, under accusations he arranged payments for the families of several top recruits to ensure they attended certain schools and eventually signed with preferred agents and financial advisers.”

The initial subpoenas were then followed up, less than two weeks ago, with more that request additional information regarding communications with another player.

So far, the University of Maryland’s reaction to the new subpoenas has been “pretty close to the chest,” Dougherty says, but “I can’t imagine Maryland’s feeling great about that.

“It's not something you want connected to your program. And [with] about a dozen now that have been implicated or sort of tied into this…morale can't be a hundred percent, that's for sure.”

Since there are few connections between Maryland and Silvio D'Souza, the recruit who ended up attending Kansas, Dougherty says it's “not totally surprising to see Maryland at least come up in a subpoena” – although, he and David agree that the case might not necessarily track back to Maryland.

“It could just be that they're trying to gather more information…I think Maryland’s roped in just by association in this,” Dougherty says. “They’re sort of tangentially connected to the Silvio case. And as you said, if there is some glass half-full, it could be that – that it's not actually going to crack down on [Maryland], but just sort of an information gathering for a trial that could unfold in October.”

Until then, “things are going to bubble to the surface, and it’s going to be a fun thing to follow and report on,” says Dougherty.

Listen to the entirety of both conversations below.

The ReCap by Laina Stebbins: 6.27.18 Podcast by HWTP Sports Talk

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Dr. Jaime Schultz

“First of all, I think what's important to do is to separate transgender or transitioned athletes from athletes who have differences of sex development, or what we might call intersex. So these are two different situations, but what ties them together is testosterone.”

The show this week features an insightful interview with Dr. Jaime Schultz, an associate professor of Kinesiology at Pennsylvania State University who specializes in the history of women's sports. Schultz joins HWTP Sports Talk and speaks with David about her reporting on a new sports policy that appears to discriminate against female athletes with hyperandrogenism – including South African track star Caster Semenya – as well as other testosterone-related sports policies that have state-by-state implications for transgender athletes.

For two young transgender girls (who are also state champs), the girls’ club is not welcoming

David starts the discussion with the case of two 16-year-old transgender athletes who made national headlines this month.  Terry Miller and Andraya Yearwood are track and field stars in their state of Connecticut, recently coming in 1st and 2nd place at the state girls’ championship, respectively. They were both assigned male at birth, but live as females and are undergoing hormone therapy for their bodies to reflect this.

Miller and Yearwood have been able to officially compete as girls because Connecticut’s governing body of interscholastic sports enables students to participate in athletics based on their gender identity. In their case, though this rule has affirmed their gender identities by allowing their participation in the girls’ division, it has also opened up Miller and Yearwood to a floodgate of criticism from competitors and parents who see them as having an unfair physical advantage over other (cisgender) female athletes.

Critics believe that since Miller and Yearwood were born into male bodies, they should be competing in sports competitions for males. This is essentially based on the concept that boys naturally possess much higher levels of testosterone than girls, therefore giving any male-born person a physical advantage over females.

Some have even begun petitioning the state to change its current rules, so Miller and Yearwood would presumably have to compete against boys or not compete at all.

“For critics who question their place in girls’ sport...based on your philosophy and where you stand on what sport should be for, that changes the tenor of our discussion,” Schultz says.

“It’s a question of science, and it’s also a question of identity, and it all just gets really complicated.”

Further complicating things: ”Different states have different regulations for transgender athletes,” she adds.

For a transgender boy at the top of his high school wrestling career, the boys’ club was off-limits

Whereas rules in Connecticut allow students to participate in sports based on their gender identity, rules in Texas are quite the opposite. In Texas, students are required to compete as the sex stamped on their birth certificate.

Schultz brought up the case of Mack Beggs, a 17-year-old star wrestler in Texas who has been on the receiving end of another testosterone-related controversy.

Beggs was born biologically female, but lives as a male and began taking testosterone treatments in 2015. He fell in love with wrestling, and was determined to be at the top of his sport in high school.  But when Beggs requested to compete with other boys, the state said no.

“Beggs wanted to compete as a boy…but Texas said, you can’t do that, you have to compete as a girl because that’s what it says on your birth certificate,” Schultz says.

Beggs was ordered to continue competing as a girl, and last year became the first transgender participant to win a Class 6A girls’ state championship in Texas high school wrestling.

But being forced to compete as a female regardless of his male gender identity made his very existence in the division an extremely contentious issue. He often got booed, people said hurtful things to and about him, he developed a reputation, and he became the (divisive) talk of the town.

Beggs was even at one point charged with allegations of doping because he was taking synthetic testosterone for his hormone treatments, Schultz says, although it was prescribed by his doctor and his school district had determined his testosterone to be well below the allowed level.

“You can see how Texas sort of hamstrung itself by these rules,” Schultz says. “Nobody is breaking the rules here. They are competing in line with what the state organization has said who can compete...so it might seem unfair, but nobody's breaking the rules,” she says.

. . .

Historically, athletic events have always been split into the two main categories of men’s sports and women’s sports.  As a result, an athlete’s eligibility to compete in such events becomes directly related to their apparent ability to fit neatly into either of the two categories (male or female).  But what happens when not everyone can fit so neatly into one of those boxes, even when they desperately would like to so they can keep playing their professional sport?

Caster Semenya and defining “femaleness” in sports

Caster Semenya is a two-time Olympic champion, three-time world champion, and a track and field hero in her home country of South Africa. But because of the way athletic institutions define and measure the concept of “maleness” as a lack of “femaleness,” a new policy has been slated for implementation later this year that could cut Semenya’s astonishingly successful running career short.

Semenya is a woman with a condition called hyperandrogenism, which means she has an abnormally high level of testosterone. As a result, Semenya has been subjected to harsh treatment, including medical “gender tests” and stigma brought on by speculation about her sexual characteristics and reproductive organs.

“This is kind of the direction that most sports organizations are headed...that we're using testosterone levels as a way to define who can compete as a woman. So it's defining femaleness,” Schultz says.

“Now, for men, it doesn't much matter to them really. Men naturally have a much more expansive range of testosterone.”

The IAAF has been using testosterone as a measure to verify female athletes’ eligibility since the 1980s, apparently managing instances of hyperandrogenism and intersex athletes quietly on a case-by-case basis for decades before ever establishing it as policy. Then, in 2011, the IAAF announced an upper limit for testosterone levels.

A court case in 2015 had that policy suspended for about two years, after it was ruled that there was not yet enough evidence to prove that additional testosterone gave women a performance advantage in sports. Earlier this year, however, that evidence was submitted – and the court apparently found it quite compelling.

IAAF regulations: discrimination in the pursuit of fairness?

In a decision that Semenya has called “unlawful” and said she plans to fight, the Court of Arbitration for Sport recently ruled that starting in November 2018, the new policy on hyperandrogenism will indeed be enforced for women who race in track events from 400 meters up to the mile. This would include Semenya, who especially excels in the women’s 800 and 1,500.

The regulations could very well result in female runners who exhibit naturally high testosterone levels being forced to either change events entirely, compete against men, take hormone-suppressing medication, or even undergo surgery if they want to continue competing against women.

Meanwhile, the idea that there might be a gendered double standard remains on the table when it comes to how women are treated in sports; little attention appears to be paid to men with low testosterone or trans male athletes competing in men’s events, and men are not screened for high levels of naturally-occurring testosterone, as women now are. This has led many to believe that some existing policies, including that of the IAAF, are discriminatory against women.

Through something called a therapeutic use exemption, Schultz says, “if [men] have a documented condition that gives them low testosterone, they can supplement” their testosterone with synthetic testosterone.

“Women don't have that same option,” Schultz says. “If a woman falls below the reference range for testosterone, she doesn't have that same opportunity to supplement her testosterone.”

In terms of weighing the scientific and ethical rationales for regulating women with hyperandrogenism in elite sports, a scientific article published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism in 2015 came to this conclusion:

“Regulating women with clinical and biological hyperandrogenism is an invitation to criticism because biological parameters of sex are not neatly divided into only two categories in the real world. It is, however, the responsibility of the sports-governing bodies to do their best to guarantee a level playing field to all athletes.”

The article goes on to recommend that sports-governing bodies should, at the very least, formulate policies that are more sensitive toward possible cases of hyperandrogenism. This could include a heightened prioritization of privacy, informed consent, and the provision of psychological support for athletes with a disorder of sex development.

As Schultz writes in her story – unless this decision from IAAF changes or is somehow overturned – “We may be left with a sport without Caster Semenya, or at least the same Caster Semenya who continues to set new standards of excellence in women’s track and field.”

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Listen to the full conversation below, and read Schultz’s article for The Conversation here.

The ReCap by Laina Stebbins: 6.13.18 Podcast by HWTP Sports Talk

 Luther Wright with former NBA commissioner David Stern

Luther Wright with former NBA commissioner David Stern

This week, David is joined by Amy Ellis Nutt of The Washington Post to discuss her reporting on rising suicide rates across the country, particularly those of athletes. Author and game fixing expert Brian Tuohy also speaks with David about newly-legalized sports betting, and some potentially unintended consequences it may have as it becomes more widely available across the country.

Amy Ellis Nutt on rising suicide rates, links between athlete injuries and mental disorders (36:20)

 Amy Ellis Nutt covers neuroscience and mental health for The Washington Post. In the aftermath of recent high-profile deaths by suicide, including Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, Nutt joins David for a timely and important discussion. Topics include Nutt’s reporting on rising national suicide rates, the significance of mental illness as a factor, and how athletes can be uniquely vulnerable to both.

A growing national crisis

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In her most recent article, Nutt reports on details from a new CDC report revealing that suicide rates in the U.S. increased between 1999 and 2016. This was true in all but one state, held for variables including age, gender, race and ethnicity.

In 2016, the number of reported suicides in the U.S. more than doubled the number of homicides, Nutt writes.

Why is America continuing to see a troubling upswing in suicide rates? According to Nutt, a combination of factors are at play – with undiagnosed mental illness being a significant one.

Nutt says there are sadly many people who tragically take their own lives, with their undiagnosed mental disorder(s) only being discovered after it is too late.

“When you go back and do a psychological autopsy on these people, you discover they have all the signs of mental illness, but they haven’t been seen,” she says.

This is often due to Americans not having access to proper care and/or not being able to afford treatment, Nutt says, which by themselves have a lot to do with driving numbers of suicides up.

“Half the counties in the United States do not have a psychiatrist, psychologist or social worker, which is really stunning,” Nutt says.

Add to this a prominent social stigma surrounding mental illness, and it becomes apparent why so many Americans do not receive the treatment they may desperately need – whether they know they need it or not.

Why athletes are especially vulnerable

Nutt, speaking to her experience as a former sports reporter, says that athletes tend to have a harder time dealing with issues of mental and emotional health in general.

Often, this can largely be attributed to the significant amount of pressure and scrutiny professional athletes are expected to shoulder gracefully – while continuing to perform at a top level and maintain a good public image simultaneously.

It’s easy for us to think of pro athletes as being pampered because of their lifestyle, Nutt says, but in reality we might be failing to recognize classic signs of mental illness.

She talks about the story of former NBA player Luther Wright, who had a promising but ultimately short stint in professional basketball. His career was cut short after less than a year for reasons including a struggle with mental illness.

Nutt recalls what Wright said during a revealing interview in 2015, in which he spoke about the pressures of being a pro athlete: “He said as an athlete, you're desperate to provide for your family. And especially when you finally reach that professional level, you just might not feel you have a luxury to divulge that you're having a mental health issue,” Nutt says.

“If you're even able to recognize it yourself, it's not something you want to talk about” because of the social stigma and unwanted public attention, she adds.

On top of that: “Athletes are a special breed, they’re perfectionists. Everything about the life of an athlete is measurable…so the standards by which athletes measure themselves are very exacting,” Nutt says.

In this way, it becomes all-too easy for athletes to feel like they are failing if they don't meet certain benchmarks or measure up in a particular way. This perfectionism can lead to athletes playing down or hiding parts of their life they deem damaging to their career, including injuries.

The links between athlete injuries and mental health

David brings up the death of NFL hall of famer Junior Seau, who took his own life in 2012. Seau confided in those close to him about the many concussions he had suffered, but went to lengths to hide them from the public during his 20-year career. Not once was he even formally diagnosed with a concussion. Upon his death, Seau was discovered to have CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy), a degenerative brain disease found in athletes and others with a history of repeated head trauma.

As described by this NPR article, Seau’s death brought the issue of football-related concussions to the forefront of a national conversation – but six years later, are professional and collegiate teams doing enough to mitigate these risks today?

“I’m not sure they are,” Nutt says.

“Only about 40 percent of Division 1 schools actually have a licensed full-time mental health practitioner,” she tells HWTP Sports Talk. “That, to me, is kind of stunning when you consider the particular problems of athletes.”

An all-too common occurrence for pro football players, repeated hits to the skull are now widely known to pave the way to early-onset dementia, Nutt says.

However, “what a lot of people don't know is that any kind of head trauma increases the risk of developing a mental disorder – sometimes as much as 400 percent.”

In other words, dementia, CTE and cognitive loss aren’t the only potential consequences of repeated head trauma. Mental illnesses can also develop as a result.

“Things like depression, anxiety, and even schizophrenia – those are things that can happen from repeated blows to the head,” Nutt says.

Nutt also points to a study in which researchers examined the injury experience of elite athletes: “Having an injury – these researchers likened [that experience] to a grief process,” she tells David.

The study additionally found that with regard to depression and suicide, “about 10 to 20 percent of elite athletes who suffer an injury really warrant a clinical intervention,” according to Nutt.

“It’s easy to be blithe about it, but when that is your life and you injure something...and you might not be the person you were, or you might have to retire early – then it’s devastating, if that’s been your whole life and it’s taken away from you,” she says.

If you or someone you know is in suicidal crisis or emotional distress, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK [8255] or text HOME to 741741 for help.

Brian Tuohy on sports gambling (20:00)

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Last month, the world of sports celebrated a long-awaited ruling from the Supreme Court. The 6-3 decision lifted a federal ban on sports gambling, essentially allowing it to transition from an underground practice (with the exception of Nevada) to a legal, above-ground enterprise that states can choose how to regulate.

Since the May ruling, both New Jersey and Delaware have instituted full-scale legalized sports betting. New Jersey’s began Thursday, with large crowds convening at racetracks to celebrate and place their first bets.

Brian Tuohy is a game fixing expert and author, notably of “The Fix Is In.” He joined David to discuss the potential pros and cons of the pastime’s newly-legalized status, and offer his thoughts on what the future may hold.

“I think overall, it’s a good thing,” Tuohy tells David. “If people want to do it...they should be allowed to do it. Then you can regulate it, then you can tax it, then you can have some sort of oversight on it.”

Another positive, according to Tuohy: before the Supreme Court ruling, “everything outside of Las Vegas and Nevada was basically illegal and was controlled mostly by organized crime.

“The more it's legalized, the more you take it out of organized crime’s hand – and the more, hopefully, you can regulate it,” he says.

Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Mississippi are the next few states in line to likely implement sports betting on a full scale in the near future. Legislation geared toward this goal has also been introduced, but not yet passed, in 15 additional states. Click here to follow ESPN’s state-by-state sports betting bill tracker.

Tuohy adds that not all consequences of legalizing sports gambling will be positive.

“On the downside, what I'm afraid is going to happen, at least at first – I think the sports media is going to get carried away with the gambling end of it,” he says.

Tuohy predicts that, to the dismay of the average sports fan, a large portion of sports coverage – including online articles – will likely begin slanting heavily toward this angle as betting becomes more widely available.

“I'm afraid that sports coverage...it's all going to become about gambling and about the betting line,” Tuohy says, “and I think it might get overwhelming for the casual fan who isn't gonna gamble. It just might be too in people's faces.”

“I think they're going to believe that the gambling fan is the engaged fan, and the more they can talk or write about gambling and the sports betting end of things, the more clicks they're going to get,” he adds.

“I think it's going to be a constant loop.”

As for modern-day figures like Jimmy “The Greek” Snyder, a popular commentator and gambler on “The NFL Today” in the 1980s largely known for bringing sports gambling into the mainstream: “I think every show's going to have a guy like a Jimmy The Greek,” Tuohy says.

“What I think's going to be the problem is that they’re not going to vet any of these guys,” he continues. “They're going to find somebody on Twitter, or who has some sort of established reputation – be it good or bad, it's not going to matter – there’s gonna be somebody who's established in the gambling industry and they're going to make them a permanent panel member. And you're going to hear nonstop about, again, the gambling end of sports.”

“In the end I still think it's a good thing,” Tuohy says, “but I'm afraid the way the media is going to treat it is going to be a bad thing.”

As for the crowd that has already been gambling in the underbelly – “I don’t think it’s going away anytime soon,” he tells David.

Tuohy explains that a big reason is due to the fact that, unlike in illegal gambling, the major sports books are corporate-owned entities that do not accept huge wagers. “Especially from guys that they believe are sharp, good gamblers,” Tuohy adds.

“So, I think the underground is still going to exist because the illegal sports gambling industry is going to still take those big bets,” he says.

Furthermore, gamblers who win big money from underground bets don’t have to worry about paying taxes on what they win.

In Las Vegas, “you win over 10 grand, you're instantly taxed on it – whereas if you win it with Vinnie, you know, out on the corner, you don't have to.

“So even though it's going to be legalized...there's still going to be this illegal industry that exists, because they can get around certain things that proper sports books won't deal with, and the taxes and fees that they won’t to have to pay,” Tuohy says.

Listen to the whole conversation below.

 

The ReCap by Laina Stebbins: 6.6.18 Podcast by HWTP Sports Talk

 NFL Network's Jeffri Chadiha

NFL Network's Jeffri Chadiha

David is joined by NFL Network’s Jeffri Chadiha to talk about Bobby Kennedy and Rosey Grier on the 50th anniversary of RFK’s assassination. Later, New York Times reporter and author Joe Drape joins the show to break down a little league baseball bat scandal and give his take on Justify’s upcoming Triple Crown attempt.

This week’s show was brought to you by USA Natural Patches, home of the B1 all-natural sports performance patch. Visit BuyB1.com and use the code PepJ52 to get 20% off your order.

NFL senior writer Jeffri Chadiha on “Rosey & Bobby”

June 6, 1968 was a day that shocked the country and the world – and left a national wound that we are still assessing to this day. After his victory speech following the California primaries, Robert F. Kennedy, the beloved activist and the leading Democratic candidate for president, was assassinated in Los Angeles.

Wednesday marked the 50 year anniversary of RFK’s sudden and tragic death. David is joined by award-winning writer Jeffri Chadiha to discuss Chadiha’s compelling piece for NFL.com about the relationship between Robert “Bobby” Kennedy and NFL star Roosevelt “Rosey” Grier. The night of the assassination, Grier was guarding the Senator’s wife, Ethel Kennedy.

Chadiha says that everything in Grier’s life had changed after he was asked to be a part of Kennedy’s presidential campaign in 1968.

“Bobby Kennedy really loved people, and he and Rosey Grier had that in common from the start...It was a natural bond that they created,” Chadiha says. The two also had football in common; like Grier, Kennedy was also a former football player at Harvard.

“Rosey Grier was probably at some point going to do something to help people, to help humanity, because that’s in his soul,” Chadiha says, but “in so many ways, Bobby Kennedy taught Rosey Grier about how to...not just love people, but how to help people.”

“He wanted to change the world, but he ended up changing Rosey Grier in the process.”

Kennedy was well-known and beloved for his fervent social justice advocacy. He confronted issues that America still grapples with today, including economic equality, racial injustice and immigration.

“The world was divided, the country was divided back then, and I think Rosey felt like [Kennedy] was the person who was going to change that,” Chadiha says.

Chadiha goes on to talk more about the long-lasting impact Kennedy’s life, friendship, and death had on Grier, and how it changed the trajectory of his life and career post-1968.

Read Chadiha’s full piece on NFL.com, "Rosey & Bobby,” here.

NYT writer Joe Drape on youth batting, sports betting

This season’s new standards for youth baseball equipment came with a big price tag, and are being met with outrage and frustration from young players and their parents.

Reporter and author Joe Drape writes about the controversial new standards in his latest New York Times article, “New Rules for Bats Leave Youth Baseball Parents With the Bill.” He talks with David about the updated standards, how they are being received, and the potential consequences of raising the price of youth sports.

Back in the day, David points out, all you needed to play baseball was a bat, a ball or two, and a street or field to play on. “It wasn't something that was costing parents hundreds of almost thousands of dollars to keep kids competing,” he says.

So, what gives?

“They put in, like, OSHA standards of how the bat is built and what effect there would be,” Drape says. But not for safety reasons, as one might presume.

“USA Baseball…[they] didn't think it was competitive enough,” Drape says. The new models apparently make good hits – and thus, home runs – harder to come by.

The approved bats, stamped with the USA Baseball logo, can range from $45 to $350. Drape’s article also reports that retailers are having a hard time keeping them in stock.

“Team sports has definitely become an economic divide,” Drape says. “There's no doubt, when you raise prices like that and make the barrier to entry about bucks, that you're discriminating against people.”

Drape adds that when team sports have this monetary barrier to entry, lower-income children are only able to participate if they can already demonstrate a high level of ability; whereas for children whose families can afford the costs, their talent level is not a factor in their inclusion.

It’s all about the money.

“They basically have sold sports to the folks who can afford it,” Drape says. “Doesn't mean they're the most gifted.”

In the last part of his and David’s discussion, Drape also weighs in on the upcoming potential for Justify to win the Triple Crown at the Belmont Stakes.

To catch the whole conversation, listen to the full show below.

Pepper Johnson: Life after coaching by HWTP Sports Talk

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I didn’t want them to jeopardize their careers...”

Johnson on concerns that players would turn to steriods.

By Michigan State University alumna and HWTP editorial manager Laina Stebbins

If you’re a longtime fan of the NFL, it’s a safe bet to assume you’re familiar with Pepper Johnson.

Thomas "Pepper" Johnson has quite the track record: 13 years playing football, 16 years coaching it, with five total Super Bowls under his belt (two as a Giants player; three as a Patriots assistant coach). He’s essentially lived and breathed football since 1986.

Golf, on the other hand? – Not so much.

“I gotta up my game,” Pepper said, who I spoke on the phone with as he made his way back from a golf outing with a friend. “I lost...He has bragging rights.”

Where he is now

Just shy of his 54th birthday, Pepper is back living in his home state of Michigan. He is a year removed from his last assistant coaching job, when a New York Jets coaching shakeup in early 2017 saw six members of the staff – including Pepper – dismissed from the team.

Since then, aside from honing his golf skills, Pepper has been working with USA Natural Patches as the company’s VP of Sports Marketing. The company sells customizable patches that stick to the skin and administer 75 mg of pure thiamine (vitamin B1) to the user’s system.

Vitamin B1 is an essential micronutrient which Pepper says is proven to provide a boost of energy and help the body with overall function. Unlike having to take the vitamins orally or taking shots, “you stick the patch on, and you go,” he said.

Pepper first got into the vitamins business in 2016 when he was still coaching for the Jets. It may seem like a random business venture at first – he said his son was “surprised” when he learned his father was in the vitamins business – but the B1 patches have been quite relevant to his career in the NFL.  (Click on the photo below to navigate through the photo slide: Former NY Giants David Diehl, Lawrence "LT" Taylor and former NBA player Jayson Williams)

While coaching for the Jets, Pepper said he would approach the players about wearing the patches in part because he was concerned that they might turn to steroids instead for enhanced performance and energy.

“I didn’t want them to jeopardize their careers,” Pepper said.

He steered them toward the vitamin patches instead, which he said give players the boost they need while keeping them healthy.

Vitamin B1 is also beneficial for brain health – a particularly important component for football players, who are more prone to concussions and long-term brain damage. Pepper said he’s talked to plenty of ex-players who fret about the potential damage they have sustained.

“We’re bringing more awareness about what B1 does for your mental health,” Pepper said.

“We are talking to the NFL and the league officers and trying to get awareness of vitamin B1 with the concussion protocol,” he said. “That’s going to be huge.”

The NFL concussion protocol was established a decade ago in response to calls for the league to better address the diagnosis and management of concussions. The protocol has undergone many adjustments since then, as football-related head injuries have been further thrust into the national spotlight and more has been discovered about their long-term effects.

In addition to raising awareness of the importance of brain health for football players, Pepper is in the process of testing the patches to gain an official “stamp of approval” from the NFL. If the B1 patches are approved, the league’s trainers and nutritionists would be able to supply them to players directly.

Pepper said after multiple practices and meetings in a single day that often run into the evening, it can be difficult for players and coaches alike to keep up their energy levels and stay focused.

“A lot of guys are humdrum in those practices,” Pepper said, but they “could come back to those night meetings and still be energetic" when they were wearing the B1 patches.

“For me, I would put the patch on and I’d go out to practice...when I came back in, we would have the meetings with the players, and then we’d have more meetings with the coaches, and that’s when I really felt the results of the patches and what they do,” Pepper said.

On his transition from player to coach

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“The transformation, it wasn’t an easy one.”

Johnson on wearing a coaching uniform standing on the sidelines.

Pepper played his first seven seasons in the NFL with the New York Giants, followed by three with the Cleveland Browns, one with the Detroit Lions, and his last two seasons with the New York Jets before officially retiring as a player.

Two years later, through the NFL internship program, Pepper found himself as an assistant linebackers coach under Bill Belichick for the New England Patriots.

This was not something that Pepper had planned for.

“I wanted to come back to my high school and coach my high school,” Pepper said, who had grown up in Detroit and attended Mackenzie High School.

But after the program was over, he was approached by his former coach. “Coach Belichick asked me if I could stay,” Pepper said.

“I had two people I had to get permission from: my mother, and my son.”

Both gave him the green light, evidently, but the transition from player to coach did not prove to be a very smooth transition.

“It was really rough,” Pepper said, explaining that this was largely since his very first season with the Patriots was a difficult year for the team. He was also hyper-aware that being a new coach meant it would take time for older players to listen to him and for younger players to trust him.

He also missed playing the game himself.

“Deep down inside, I still wanted to get out there and play a little more,” Pepper said. “It was rough being on the sidelines while other people were having fun.

“The transformation, it wasn’t an easy one.”

Despite the rocky start, Pepper found his niche in the team and gained the trust of players, even implementing a new team tradition that was a first for the league.

Prior to the 2002 Super Bowl, individual player introductions were the NFL standard for a team’s entrance onto the field. The Patriots turned this on its head when they instead made the decision to run out of the tunnel and onto the field together.

“That idea to come out together, not individually...that was my idea,” Pepper said. “I had told them, ‘we need to focus and get more together.’”

The Patriots won that Super Bowl, and the practice has since all but replaced the previous league standard.

On working with coach Bill Belichick

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“He’s no tougher than [Bill] Parcells.”

Johnson on Belichick's coaching style

In addition to coaching under Bill Belichick for the Patriots, Pepper had previously played for him during his time with the Giants, Browns and Jets.

Belichick is known as a notoriously tough coach to play for.  49ers defensive end Cassius Marsh recently described playing for him as a rather unpleasant experience, saying, in part:

“They don’t have fun there [in New England]...There’s nothing happy about it. I didn’t enjoy any of my time there...It made me for the first time in my life think about not playing football because I hated it that much.”

Pepper, having either played for or coached under Belichick for the better part of 28 years, has a different perspective.

"It’s tough to try and label Belichick as a ‘tough coach’ or anything like that, because in my day, all the coaches were tough like that,” Pepper said. “He’s no tougher than [Bill] Parcells.”

“I think in this day and era, a lot of the coaches are just more lenient."

Regardless, Belichick’s notorious coaching style has led many to believe that it may be the root cause of Tom Brady’s recent string of absences for the Patriots’ off-season program. Brady has been working with Belichick for nearly two decades, so there is plenty of speculation that he may have finally had enough of Belichick, and is yearning to leave.

A fair assumption to make?

Pepper Johnson disagrees.

“They have been doing this for a very long time together,” Pepper said. “I’m quite sure [Brady] feels comfortable in the system that he has to work with.

"I don’t know how much of a concern Bill Belichick has with him not being there. It’s just people trying to write stories and screw up something and trying to break all this winning up,” he said.

"I think all of this stuff is being blown out of proportion.”

Pepper also noted that Brady being absent on the field for the time being is likely giving newer players more of a chance to show their stripes, if anything.

“After so many years, really what do you want from that guy?” Pepper said. “What more can he do there?”

On the NFL national anthem controversy

Speaking of things that Pepper believes are being overblown by the media: "The whole national anthem thing, I don't like talking about it much because that’s another one of those things that is blown way out of proportion,” he said.

The NFL’s controversial new national anthem policy was rolled out early last week following pressure from President Trump, who had been publicly calling for fans to boycott the NFL if players continue to kneel during the national anthem.

The new policy states that players must stand during the anthem, stay in the locker room if they do not wish to, and face fines and/or penalties from the league if they choose not to comply.

"Once upon a time, you had the choice if you wanted to go out and do the national anthem or stay in the tunnel and come out after the national anthem. And so many games, we stayed in,” Pepper said, speaking to his experience as a player in the late 80s and the 90s.

Pepper takes issue with the assumption that standing for the Star-Spangled Banner makes you patriotic, whereas choosing not to stand makes you unpatriotic and disrespectful.

"The cameraman isn’t standing at attention, the hot dog man isn’t standing still,” Pepper points out. “And what is more disrespectful – someone sitting down, or someone who is getting ready to sing the national anthem and don’t know the words?"

As for those who protest during the anthem: "I’m quite sure the majority of any athletes that in the past have chosen to do whatever during the national anthem [were] not spitting in the face of our troops,” Pepper said.

Regardless, Pepper feels strongly that politics have no place in football – or any sport, for that matter.

“I don’t think sports and politics mix, period,” Pepper said. "I don’t wanna sound negative toward athletes, but I don’t think that’s a good place for politics…and I don’t just mean the national anthem.”

On his past and future

It’s been a little over a year since Pepper was a defensive line coach for the Jets, and he’s itching to get back into that world.

“When you get out of the league, it’s hard to get back into the league,” he said.

Either way, Pepper says he feels fortunate to have played a positive role in the careers of players he’s been able to engage with and help over the years as a coach.

“It’s about talking to people and understanding them and not coaching them all just the same,” he said. “I coach every one of my players individually.”

Pepper said he was always getting told to “stay in his lane” for taking his individualistic approach to coaching. “I have a real problem with that, because I have always been that person that likes to help people,” he said.

I asked Pepper where he sees himself in a few years.

“I would love to be coaching,” Pepper replied.  Johnson finally made it onto social media! You can follow him @PepJ52 on both Twitter and Instagram.

By Michigan State University alumna and HWTP editorial manager Laina Stebbins

The ReCap by Laina Stebbins: 5.30.18 Podcast by HWTP Sports Talk

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“This whole movement has been hijacked”

George Martin told HWTP Sports Talk regarding the NFL national anthem controversy.

Former NY Giants defensive end George Martin joins HWTP Sports Talk with David Weinstein to discuss the ongoing NFL national anthem controversy. The result is a thorough, engaging discussion about social issues in America and where the NFL may be falling short in addressing them.  A must-listen!

Later, Michigan State University alumna and HWTP editorial manager Laina Stebbins speaks with David about the recent settlement agreement between MSU and Nassar victims, and the troubling First Amendment implications it may have for future sexual assault cases. Stebbins also discusses her interview with former NFL linebacker and defensive line coach Pepper Johnson, which will be available on the HWTP blog by Monday.

George Martin: “This whole movement has been hijacked”

The NFL’s new national anthem policy dictates that players must either stand for the Star-Spangled Banner on the field, stay in the locker room if they do not intend to stand, or face a fine and/or penalties from the league. George Martin, a former New York Giants defensive end and Super Bowl champion, offers up his thoughts as a former player who has seen the norms surrounding the national anthem at NFL games evolve over the years.

David points to widespread misconceptions in the public narrative about what the national anthem stands for, why players kneel in the first place, and how those protests should be interpreted.

In these misconceptions, Martin says, the original message behind the protests has seemingly been forgotten.

“I'm greatly disappointed that the narrative, that this whole movement has been hijacked,” Martin says. “It was never an intent to disregard the national anthem.”

“The issue was the infringement and the deterioration of the rights of People of Color...they used the national anthem to bring that to the forefront,” he continues. “That has been forgotten in this whole discussion, and to me, that is the whole shame of this whole situation.”

Speaking on his 14 years in the league, Martin says as a player he cannot recall there ever being a discussion about what to do during the national anthem. He and his teammates always stood proudly to “acknowledge the country in a patriotic fashion” – but Martin also says that this was never forced, always voluntary.

“I have a very, very staunch and very strong commitment to patriotism,” says Martin, whose father served in the military during WWII. “And at the same time, I know what patriotism stands for, and it can't be mandated. It can't be forced upon you.”

He adds that the American right to protest is also spelled out in the US Constitution – another reason why the mandate does not make sense to him as a measure of patriotism.

David also points out that the NFL Players Association seems to have been left out of the discussions prior to the league implementing the new policy.

“To implement a unilateral decision without the input the NFL Players Association, I think it's just totally misguided,” Martin says. “I think that they come together initially and sat down collectively, as our bargain agreement suggests and recommends.”

Had this procedure been followed initially, Martin contends that “a lot of the harsh rhetoric and language and conflict could have been avoided.”

HWTP’s Laina Stebbins on the ongoing mess at Michigan State

As David rightly puts it, the situation at Michigan State University regarding the Larry Nassar sexual assault case is “something that is simply not going to wash itself away.” It continues to spiral outwards, and has potentially far-reaching implications.

MSU recently entered into a $500 million settlement with Nassar’s victims. Many are now saying that although this number accurately reflects the great magnitude of damage done by Nassar, a portion of the settlement may unfortunately set a troubling First Amendment precedent by stifling the rights of victims and victims rights advocates to speak out about sexual assault and advocate for legislation pertaining to it.

Another new MSU/Nassar development – on Wednesday, former MSU president Lou Anna K. Simon was served with a subpoena at her vacation home in Traverse City. She is being compelled to testify before a Senate subcommittee about the Nassar case, and initially declined to do so because the new hearing date conflicted with her vacation time.

Simon resigned earlier this year under pressure from state legislators, MSU students and more following her apparent mishandling of the Nassar case and sexual assault in general at the university. Her interim replacement, former Michigan governor John Engler, is not faring much better and has been garnering controversies of his own with his words and actions regarding the Nassar case.

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Also...

Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to interview former NFL linebacker and assistant coach Pepper Johnson.

Johnson has been involved with an organization called USA Natural Patches since 2016, selling patches of vitamin B1 that he says aid in bodily health and function when worn on the skin. He is currently in the process of obtaining the NFL's official approval for them. Once approved, the league's trainers and nutritionists would be able to directly supply the B1 patches to players for a boost of nutrition and energy without the use of steroids.

Other topics of discussion include: Johnson’s transition from player to coach in 2000, his take on the recent speculations surrounding Tom Brady and coach Bill Belichick, his views on the NFL national anthem controversy, his thoughts about politics in sports, and more.

Look for my full interview with Pepper Johnson on the HWTP blog this Monday, June 4.

The ReCap by Laina Stebbins: 5.23.18 Podcast by HWTP Sports Talk

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This week on HWTP Sports Talk, David has a conversation with author Jesse Berrett about American politics and the NFL. He also speaks with USA Today Sports writer Nancy Armour about policies regarding maternity in women’s tennis, and with Washington Post writer Jerry Brewer about the NFL’s new policy targeting athletes who choose to kneel during the national anthem.

Jesse Berrett – on where and how the NFL fits in with American politics and culture

Jesse Berrett, a teacher and historian in California, published a book this month called “Pigskin Nation: How the NFL Remade American Politics.” In it, Berrett explores an especially heightened era of football and politics in the 1960s.

“People don’t want to think about sports as being political,” Berrett tells David, but he explains that his book illustrates how the NFL has always been interwoven with American politics and culture.

In this particular decade, Berrett says, the NFL began to market itself in a particular way which politicians, former players, etc. picked up on. They chose to further that image the NFL was selling “and used it politically, because the NFL seemed so powerful and useful and appealing.”

Berrett’s book also explores how the NFL as a franchise made its way into the mainstream – a fascinating history that not many Americans are familiar with.

Read more about Berrett’s book, “Pigskin Nation,” and purchase it here.

Nancy Armour – on Serena Williams being denied a seed in the French Open following the birth of her baby

Sports writer Nancy Armour also joins David on the show to discuss her latest article for USA Today Sports: “Is French Open punishing Serena for having a baby?"

Williams, often regarded as the greatest female tennis player of all time, was not given a seed for the upcoming French Open. Officials say this is because they awarded seeds based on rankings, and Williams did not qualify for one at No. 453.

Why the low ranking? – Williams recently had a baby. She had announced her hiatus from tennis because of pregnancy on Apr. 19, 2017, and gave birth on September 1 that year. She had many serious complications, which resulted in Williams having a cesarean section.

The birth of her daughter “literally almost killed her,” Armour says. “This was not a simple delivery by any means.”

In her article, Armour argues that the French Open is essentially punishing Williams as a professional athlete by not offering her a seed because she chose to have a child. “Williams obviously could not play tennis during that time, so an exception should have been warranted,” Armour tells David.

“You are asking these women to either put your career on hold and have a baby, or keep playing and hope that you will still be able to have a child when you want to,” Armour says. “To me, that’s not fair.”

“If you have a child, you should be able to do so without penalty,” she adds.

Jerry Brewer on the NFL’s new anthem policy

David also caught up with Jerry Brewer, a Washington Post sports reporter, about the NFL’s new mandate that players must stand for the national anthem if they are on the field or face fines and/or other penalties.

The statement from the NFL reads, in part:

“This season, all league and team personnel shall stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem. Personnel who choose not to stand for the Anthem may stay in the locker room until after the Anthem has been performed.”

In Brewer’s view, this shows yet again that the NFL’s management is willing to sacrifice ethics when their bottom line is at stake.

The socially proper thing to do during the national anthem is obviously to stand, Brewer says, which is exactly the point – the act of kneeling instead is meant to garner attention so the players can deliver a message to the American public about police brutality in this country. The NFL’s new policy will take away players’ freedom to peacefully protest for their cause, he says.

We are a republic that is supposed to show respect for each other [more than] symbols” like the American flag and national anthem, Brewer tells David.

"It’s very dangerous in this country when you start dictating to Americans what is American and how they should be expressing their patriotism,” he adds.