Hermione Danger Recommends is a series where I recommend a piece of media – TV show, book, podcast, etc – that centers on sex, feminism, and/or social justice issues.
(Before I begin this post in earnest, a brief confession: I truly did not intend for three months to go by between posts in this series, nor did I mean to recommend two podcasts in a row. However, with the Super Bowl so recently behind us and the 2018 Winter Olympics in full swing, I decided that this was a good time to take a break from writing about sex to write about sports.)
As cliche as it is to say, I’ve loved sports for as long as I can remember – mostly thanks to my older brother, who made sure that ESPN was on in our house constantly while we were growing up, but my parents played their part as well. My mom and I routinely have discussions about sports writers we follow on Twitter (Jemele Hill, we love you!), and I have very strong feelings about various sports media personalities. (I maintain that one can learn a lot about another person based on their favorite and least favorite Around the Horn panelists, but that’s another conversation entirely.) While we support several teams across multiple sports in our family, we’re Kansas Jayhawks fans first and foremost, and being inside Allen Fieldhouse for KU basketball games is something akin to a religious experience for me. I am not a patriotic person in the least, but I doubt I’ve ever felt prouder of this country than when I watched a US women’s gymnastics team win a gold medal at the Olympics, whether it was in 1996 or 2016. Simply put, sports have without question shaped who I am as a person.
However, sports – and by extension sports media – are also often cesspools of toxic masculinity, racism, misogyny, homophobia, and other garbage attitudes and behaviors. From Kobe Bryant to Ben Roethlisberger, Ray Rice to Greg Hardy, Jerry Sandusky to Larry Nassar, sexual abuse and domestic violence seemingly permeate the sports landscape, from youth sports to professional leagues, from “obscure” sports to our beloved national pastimes. And then, in the cases where a sports figure like Colin Kaepernick uses their platform to speak out against injustice and spark a national movement, they are so often vilified by fans and media alike, sometimes even blackballed from their profession.
There aren’t many places for social justice minded folks to get their sports with a side of praxis, but thankfully, Burn It All Down is here to help. Enjoy watching and/or playing sports but hate the fact that the people who write and talk about them for a living are overwhelmingly white cis men? Does pitiful coverage of female athletes and women’s sports send you into a rage? Ever wish you could listen to multiple women engaging in nuanced and intersectional discussions on issues in sports every single week? BIAD is, in the hosts’ own words, the feminist sports podcast you need.
Each week, Brenda Elsey, Jessica Luther, Shireen Ahmed, Lindsay Gibbs, and Amira Rose Davis (or some combination thereof) “bring an intersectional feminist view to the biggest stories in sports, toss the most abominable people in athletics on the proverbial Burn Pile, celebrate some of the most badass women, non-binary, and gender-nonconforming people in sports, and interview some of the most influential figures in the game.”
One of the things I appreciate most about the podcast, aside from just generally being a balm for my angry feminist soul, is that they highlight lesser-known sports and athletes. I have learned more about current issues in tennis and international soccer from the BIAD crew than I ever have from ESPN, and their Winter Olympics preview was one of the most comprehensive I’ve seen.
A few other stellar episodes I wanted to mention:
Episode 31: The Women Who Brought Down Larry Nassar
Episode 20: In Solidarity with Jemele Hill
Episode 34: The Best Of Burn It All Down 2017, part 1
Episode 35: The Best of Burn It All Down 2017, part 2
You can find episodes of Burn It All Down on their website, iTunes, or through other podcast services. You can follow them on Twitter and Facebook, and they also have a Patreon (of which I am a proud patron). These women are doing amazing work and deserve our support, so please check them out!