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Beyond The Game

 October 29, 2021 at 12:00 PM PDT

Speaker 1: (00:01)

This week on round table covering sports in San Diego beyond play on the field. How to sports serve as a platform for justice, equity and community from high schoolers, calling out hate to women, breaking industry barriers and the one local team having its best season in decades. We're diving into it all. I'm Matt Hoffman, and this is KPBS round table.

Speaker 2: (00:22)


Speaker 1: (00:33)

Fall means Friday night lights are back at high schools, but a Marquis matchup between two of the best football teams is not happening. And it's not because of the pandemic. This is a story less about sports and more about race, class and humanity. This week Lincoln high school, a public school that largely served students of color in Southeast San Diego announced that it will not participate in a game against cathedral Catholic. That's a private school located in Carmel valley. Now this all goes back to racist, social media posts from the pandemic spring season earlier this year. And how staff at Lincoln say that cathedral Catholic has not done nearly enough to address the issue. KPBS education reporter. Angie Perez is here to talk with us all about it. Hey, AMG Ello. Okay. So let's briefly lay out the root of this issue. What was posted online by cathedral Catholic back in April?

Speaker 3: (01:19)

Well, as is the case in this day and age, it was all about what was on social media. And there were pictures that featured the Catholic football players, several of them, in one case, they were wearing a t-shirt t-shirts that said Catholics versus convicts. Uh, in another picture, players were mimicking what appeared to be gang signs. So the implication was definitely a slam on the Lincoln football player.

Speaker 1: (01:44)

Now there were some consequences here. How was cathedral Catholic punished? So

Speaker 3: (01:49)

The consequences included the suspension of the head coach on Doyle for two games. And the team was put on two years, probation and ordered to implement some kind of education program that would hopefully educate their football players and other students around what racism is and why it's wrong.

Speaker 1: (02:11)

The week Lincoln was scheduled to play cathedral Catholic, but the coach for Lincoln backed by school. Officials said that won't be happening. David Dunn says it's about protecting the players, dignity and respect, uh, mg. What else did he say in his statement that he put out this week?

Speaker 3: (02:24)

He did also mention, he said in his statement, we acknowledged that members of the cathedral community have made an effort to connect with coaches and faculty at Lincoln. However, his interpretation is that there needs to be more deliberate, intentional efforts to combat racism. So basically he's saying the apology is not enough actions speak louder than words, and that's what they want to see at Lincoln.

Speaker 1: (02:51)

We'll follow up on cathedral Catholic response in a bit, but first let's get some more perspective on Lincoln. Now you recently profiled its principal, Melissa [inaudible], and that story, her dedication to her students really comes through, especially for students of color. What do you think people should know about the makeup of Lincoln student body? Well, the

Speaker 3: (03:08)

We'll answer to that is that the majority of students at Lincoln high school are Hispanic or Latin heritage. So that is a majority that the principal definitely wants to make sure is heard. And whose voice is included in the voices of all the student population at the high school.

Speaker 1: (03:27)

Now we've seen this sort of thing before, just a few months back the tortilla throwing incident at Coronado high school, it targeted players from orange Glen's basketball team, and that story got national attention. And just like this latest story, race and class are at the heart of it, generally mg. What can teachers and coaches do to deal with these painful moments?

Speaker 3: (03:45)

It's teachers and coaches are models for students and their young minds are being formed, uh, in the course of their education. So it really comes down to that. What are teachers and coaches modeling for their students? And if there is an environment, if there's a sense that it's okay to make offensive jokes, then guess what students are going to do that. So the best thing that teachers and coaches can do is to model appropriate behavior and, and to educate, use it as a teaching moment on what is right and wrong.

Speaker 1: (04:19)

Lincoln's coach decided that it was more valuable to the school and the team not to engage with cathedral Catholic this year. And we know that you're not just an education reporter, but also a former teacher. And the phrase teachable moment is a cliche. But do you think that there's some value in this move that will stick with these Lincoln players beyond whatever may have happened during another football game?

Speaker 3: (04:38)

Absolutely. Uh, social media, whether you love it or hate it is here to stay at least for the moment. And so it can be used for good. And so I think the teachable moment here is that what was done is wrong. Racism is wrong. And as we know when national conversation erupted last year in 2020 after the death of George Floyd, and that was an opportunity for adults and teachers and coaches to talk about the issue and find out, you know, what do they believe in? What is right and what is wrong? And again, I go back to the modeling, that's really what it is. Uh, students will model what they see. And so then you have to wonder what is the bigger issue and what is the culture like at cathedral Catholic, that this would even happen?

Speaker 1: (05:29)

The reaction from cathedral Catholic and all this, what are we hearing from the school or even it's coach?

Speaker 3: (05:34)

What they're saying is that it's wrong. And what they're also saying is that they have tried their best to correct the problem. So the issue, as far as they're concerned is at least in the process of finding a solution, clearly Lincoln high school is not in agreement with,

Speaker 1: (05:50)

And those who run local high school sports have made a decision here. This is going to cost Lincoln in the standings, right? It is the

Speaker 3: (05:57)

San Diego CIF, uh, commissioner Joe Heinz announced that Lincoln will be given a forfeit loss because they have decided not to participate in Friday's game and cathedral will get a forfeit win in this case.

Speaker 1: (06:12)

And so we know that these two teams are not playing each other this year, but will they ever play again? Or is there something that sort of has to happen for them to play again?

Speaker 3: (06:20)

I think the stand that Lincoln has taken in the coach has taken in particular is the answer to that. And that is an apology is not enough. So the question of whether they will play on the field again, I think will be determined by what Catholic's response is to this statement from Lincoln. And, uh, and then we'll have to determine whether they're satisfied with that before they feel safe and able to go back on the field with that team.

Speaker 1: (06:46)

I've been speaking with mg Perez, he's our education reporter here at KPBS. And thanks so much for your time mg. Thank you. We have other reporting on this, that adds context to the story, KPBS, race and equity reporter. Christina Kim got reaction from local coaches, including Lincoln high coach David Dunn. And while talking with mg, we did mention this profile of Lincoln high school principal, Melissa Ardello. Here's an excerpt from that story

Speaker 4: (07:17)

For me to get to be back in a school full of black and brown kids that look like me

Speaker 3: (07:22)

Everyday, Melissa [inaudible] is grateful to be walking the sprawling campus here at Lincoln high school. She is one of two principals responsible for 1500 students. Many of them, she knows by name and speaks their language

Speaker 4: (07:36)

ITK. How you doing sweetheart? Good to see you. I'm proud to be a Latina leader here at, at, at Lincoln. I'm proud to be able to be someone who speaks Spanish to them. When they need me to speak Spanish, who can have them come in and be upset and say not blown in glass. Okay, that's fine. Speak to me in Spanish. When I was,

Speaker 1: (07:55)

Again, that's from a recent feature from KPBS education reporter mg Perez. You can stream all of our local content anytime on the KPBS YouTube page,

Speaker 2: (08:05)


Speaker 1: (08:10)

Stories like the one involving Lincoln high school highlight issues of equity and representation in sports. And part of this includes which sports are covered and who covers them. That was part of the focus of a woman in sports summit hosted recently by ESPN right here in San Diego. It featured women, athletes and journalists sharing their stories and advice. Samantha Rivera, as a reporter for Fox five here in San Diego. And she's here to tell us all about it. Hey Samantha,

Speaker 5: (08:34)

Hey, thank you so much for having me.

Speaker 1: (08:36)

Of course. So ESPN w is the umbrella brand for ESPN coverage of women's sports. Now you talk with its founder. What did she say that stood out?

Speaker 5: (08:44)

Yeah, she was amazing. I felt so lucky to be able to talk to her. She made a great point about relationships in sports and women, not just being one-on-one anymore, because there really is an entire network of us now able and willing to help each other out. So events like these really help you feel comfortable and confident. You can really take on the world with the support of these women behind you.

Speaker 1: (09:05)

ESPN baseball announcer. Jessica Mendoza was also at this event. She was part of an all women play by play team earlier this year, the first and MLB history. That's when she and Melanie Newman called a Padres Dodger game. Last month, their rise is an example of the persistence that you describe as the theme of this event. What other gains can we point to over the past year or so

Speaker 5: (09:26)

Recently, the AHL announced they would have 10 female referees working this season. They had no female official before this, which is truly just insane to me. And then there was also Sarah Thomas being the first woman to officiate a super bowl game. So just stuff that really makes you proud to see it happening, but at the same time question, why it's taken that long to happen. But, you know, nonetheless, it's, it's been great to see these sorts of things happen.

Speaker 1: (09:53)

And of course the San Diego goals are part of the AHL here in San Diego, but sort of working as a woman in sports, especially on camera. It brings a set of challenges that men simply don't have to deal with. How do events like this help build support systems, especially for those just starting in the industry and women of color.

Speaker 5: (10:10)

Oh my gosh, they are so, so helpful. Just sharing your stories, raising your level of confidence, knowing that you have an army of women who will be there for you. It's so, so important to find that group of women who will really have your back, no matter what,

Speaker 1: (10:24)

Here in San Diego, we will soon have our own women's pro team. The national women's soccer league is expanding and a lot is still in the works, including a team name. But what can you tell us about this league and how the former team USA coach Jill Ellis is involved? Yeah,

Speaker 5: (10:38)

It's a great league, very competitive. And I'm beyond excited to have him come to San Diego, Jill Ellis with three years of experience as a teams, president, and just a presence alone, I think is going to be super important for them. She's someone women want to be around that veteran presence to help you be better, not just as a player, but you know, growing as a person. So I think she's going to do great things here in San Diego.

Speaker 1: (11:00)

The NWSL has had it, some of its own controversies lately, including a sexual assault scandal involving a former male coach. How has the league and its players responded to that?

Speaker 5: (11:10)

Yeah, I've seen nothing but support for the women involved, but I've seen so many players, not just asking but telling the league to do better. And it ultimately led to the NWSL commissioner in general, council leavings, and I mean over three years and in three leagues and nobody did anything to stop. Paul Riley is insane. So it's embarrassing. And I truly do hope the league finds a way to do better in the future and prevent things like that from happening.

Speaker 1: (11:36)

So that's a story to watch in the long-term, but in the short term, a lot of eyes are on the Padres right now. What's their latest in their search for a manager?

Speaker 5: (11:43)

Well, there have been some rumors on Ziggy and potentially talking to your team, but I don't think that's quite going to happen. Boundaries have however, hired a new pitching coach before a new manager. I found pretty interesting, but I really think they're just kind of taking their time with this and hopefully find the right person.

Speaker 1: (12:00)

So you've been in San Diego for just under a year now. And keep in mind, we don't have a football team here anymore. What do you think about this sports town compared to other places that you've been?

Speaker 5: (12:09)

Yeah, it's incredible. The energy is unlike any other place that I've been to just meeting Padres. Fans has been amazing. You know, they're so passionate whether the team wins or loses, they they're there. And then with the SD loyal team as well, their fans are, you know, so, so loyal, they're called the locals. They show up to every game, win or lose again. And then just like random athletes that you grew up watching, you know, there's Landon Donovan, Tony Hawk, just, you know, showing up randomly around here. It's been amazing. So I I've loved it so far.

Speaker 1: (12:40)

You've covered a lot of stories. Are there any that have sort of stood out to

Speaker 5: (12:43)

You? Yeah, most definitely. I would say recently there was a story I did about a local swim coach who beat leukemia and right before he was officially diagnosed, he was still trying to create these workout videos for his kids, you know, during the pandemic, when everything was still on lockdown and just to see the perseverance that he had through everything, he was still so positive throughout everything and really kind of just helping his family get through it. You know, he was the one with the positive outlook and, and the mindset of, yeah, I'm going to be fine. I'm going to get through this. And yeah, he was just an incredible person to talk to. And it's been one of my favorites.

Speaker 1: (13:20)

And before we go, your channel Fox five is broadcasting the world series. Who do you like this year? And what do you think of the Padres chances of maybe breaking through next year?

Speaker 5: (13:29)

Yeah, I've got the Braves winning it all. I'm kind of sick and tired of the Astros winning for obvious reasons. And as far as the Padres, I think they can go pretty far. They've got the right pieces. Hopefully, you know, all those injuries that we saw have gotten better and hopefully a new manager can bring in some fun and exciting energy to, to get the guys pumped up again.

Speaker 1: (13:48)

Yeah. I know a lot of fans are hoping that they will go very far. Next year. I've been speaking with Samantha Rivera, a sports reporter for Fox five San Diego. Thanks so much Samantha.

Speaker 5: (13:57)

And of course, thank you.

Speaker 6: (14:00)

This is a rivalry game, you know, and, uh, um, it's an important game in, uh, uh, we right now, you know, we've got the old oil can and we'd like to keep it

Speaker 1: (14:11)

That's as Tech's football head coach Brady Hoke on the challenge ahead this weekend. Now usually San Diego state football does not get a ton of national attention, but they're on a roll they're undefeated star is the best in decades and they're doing it despite playing all their games on the road it's worth talking about and to do so. We have one of the young voices from campus covering this team. Jane, you take as the multimedia assistant editor for the daily Aztec SDSU student run newspaper. Thanks so much for joining us, Jane. Hi. Yes. So excited to be here. So first off the Aztecs are undefeated at seven wins, zero losses. What's next on the schedule as they try to keep the magic going. Yeah, so really exciting time to be an Aztec and also

Speaker 7: (14:51)

Just to be here from San Diego. So this weekend on Saturday, they're going to face Fresno state at dignity health sports park in Carson. That game starts at seven 30 and it's going to be a big game. We're all hoping for another historic win, which will hopefully give them the momentum that they need before their game in Hawaii. On November six,

Speaker 1: (15:11)

We have an unlikely star emerging from this team, kicker and punter. Matt Arizer, who we should mention is also from Rancho Bernardo high school. He's gone viral in recent weeks. Here's what a coach Brady Hoke had to say about him during his last post game press conference.

Speaker 6: (15:25)

Yeah, he's the MVP, as far as I'm concerned right now, how he's plied and what he's done. Um, and the thing that, you know, excites me the most is he comes every day and Matt's got a different attitude than maybe some other kickers would have. I mean, you get you Utah. He goes down and makes three tackles. Right. Uh, and they're pretty doggone physical too. Why

Speaker 1: (15:50)

Is a riser someone to watch for Aztec fans this season?

Speaker 7: (15:53)

You know, first off, I just think it's been such a fun person to fund athlete to watch this season. And of course, like everyone's looking to see what he does every single game. And I think the turning point was definitely this past weekend in Colorado Springs against air force. After that kick, I mean on Twitter, people were just re-tweeting. It instantly went viral. I saw a lot of tweets like from Nate Burleson, host of CBS mornings and pat McAfee also tweeted about it. So it's just become like such a fun thing to watch and talk about. I mean, I know on campus, that's like one of the only things everyone keeps talking about in class is just how fun this football season's been. And

Speaker 1: (16:34)

When you say that viral kick, break that down for us, what exactly

Speaker 7: (16:37)

Did he do? So he had an 81 yard punt against air force. And immediately after, I mean, we had one of our reporters, Andrew Finley in Colorado Springs. And as soon as that kick happened, I mean, Twitter was just lit up because everyone ended up turning during the channel to watch the rest of that game because that kick was so, so incredible to see

Speaker 1: (16:58)

This season is unique in so many ways with the team playing it's games up in Carson, while new stadium is built in mission valley, that's also where the chargers played their games after first leaving San Diego. What's it been like for you and your colleagues at the daily Aztec making those trips and getting an experience like this?

Speaker 7: (17:14)

It's definitely been fun, but it's also been challenging. I mean, this is like a really weird, unusual time for us. Like we're all still adjusting to having classes in person having to go to them and then balancing that with like everything that we want to cover in person as student journalists. But I think our passions just helped us get through those challenges. I mean, it's a long day as reporters, you know, we're there early, we're there after long after the game ends. And that two hour drive in-between can be a little long, but I mean, just being able to cover the team during historic time and have that opportunity to do that has just been really incredible to be a part of. I know we were so excited just to be back in Carson for the first game. I wasn't there. I was there at the third one, but just back at that first one, before any of this undefeated stuff started happening. So yeah, we're definitely just happy to be back.

Speaker 1: (18:10)

And so we know that the media is still going up there and covering the team, but our fans traveling with the team and is the home experience any different.

Speaker 7: (18:17)

So this season, they actually started offering $5 bus trips round trip to, and from Carson for students, I will say, however, I don't know that that has been successful, but as far as like atmosphere, I would say that there's still a lot of alumni. It's still close enough for a lot of people who graduated to go to these games. So the atmosphere is still, you know, pretty lively and it's, I think it would be nice to see a bigger student presence there, especially since the school is making it possible for them to get up to

Speaker 1: (18:50)

There. So we know that the Aztecs will be back in mission valley next year, those who have driven past the old stadium site have seen this new stadium taking shape. How is that coming along?

Speaker 7: (19:00)

Um, so it's coming along great. I was lucky enough to attend the topping out ceremony back in July. I want to say. And, uh, just to be on the ground on the dirt of the future basher field was incredible. You can really see it has a signature look to it. It has like the sticks that are coming out of the top right now, which will be light. So we'll just kind of give it that open feel. And I know that they're planning on having, uh, San Diego food trucks be a huge presence for the stadium and they want to make it, you know, place where the public can come and hang out in the park or go around the future mission valley west campus, and also enjoy concerts football games and other sporting events.

Speaker 1: (19:44)

People love college football for the pageantry and music is a big part of the experience. You just did a story on the SDSU fight song, which is turning 85 years old. What did you learn about the school's history when doing that?

Speaker 7: (19:56)

The story? So that one was very fun. I was super excited to cover this T this story in particular, because I felt like, you know, I was at these games and I literally was watching this band, like they're the poles. And they paste the game. Like the excitement of the game is because of this band and specifically because of that fight song, because every touchdown, the band plays the fight song. So, you know, you paired that with this historic record that they'd been having or the past couple of months. And on top of that, it was the 85th birthday of the song. I just knew it was a great time to see what they do. So I followed them for two days. I watched one of the rehearsals and talk to them about what they thought about the fight song and talk to coach Brian ransom about what the fight song means to him because he's been director since the eighties and he seen the campus change. And he actually even told me that a few years ago, they changed some of the lyrics to the fight song to make it more inclusive. So they changed some of the lyric as tech men to just as tax and sons of Montezuma to just mighty Montezuma. That way the women's teams could adopt the same tradition as the men's teams as singing the song whenever they won a game. So that was interesting to learn and also see that that song hasn't been changed much in the 85 years,

Speaker 1: (21:22)

Like sports performing in the marching band is about teamwork and community. How have they been affected by the pandemic?

Speaker 7: (21:28)

Right? So they've definitely been affected in terms of, you know, just logistics. So on that Friday rehearsal, they were able to, you know, practice their, uh, formations and their music, but a large part of their practice was to just go over, you know, bus assignments and seating and all those other things that need to be done for contact tracing, because these kids are going to be sitting on a bus for two hours there and back, you know, to another city. And then everything that involves, uh, transporting them, feeding them, getting all the equipment up there. It is a huge undertaking. And coach ransom told me that when they approached him about the band returning to the games and Carson, that they didn't bat an eye with the expense. And he told me is a huge expense for SDSU athletics to get them up there. And they've been really supportive about having them back at the games. Um, but I will say, I did ask specifically, like, how does it feel to be playing at their quote home away from home? And a lot of them said that it was fine. You know, a lot of people who go to SDSU are from Southern California. So they're able to now have family, may be in the LA area, come see them play. And, um, they're just happy to be playing. And they're also happy to be supporting an obviously undefeated team right now.

Speaker 1: (22:46)

We know you'll be all over it. As we enter the final month of the season, how can we follow the daily Aztecs work? And I know you don't have a crystal ball, but do you think that there's a chance that the Aztecs could stay undefeated?

Speaker 7: (22:57)

So I did some surveying, you know, from the newsroom and majority of the people believe that we can stay undefeated if you compare the, the records, the season against the upcoming teams that we have Fresno state this weekend, um, university of Hawaii, the following weekend, we at the daily, I was like, believe that they can stay undefeated and we will be there to report on it either way. And you can follow us on our social media at the daily Aztec on Twitter and Instagram. We have at DSEK sports on Instagram and Twitter. And of course we are actually returning our live show. And you can catch that on YouTube Thursdays at 12 o'clock.

Speaker 1: (23:41)

I've been speaking with Jane, you take multimedia assistant editor for the daily Aztec. Thank you so much, Jane. Oh, of course. Thank you so much for having the matter had so much fun And we can't end the show without hearing from the Aztecs breakout star. Here's some of Matt arises back and forth with local media this week. He was talking about his new Twitter fame and bringing some overdue attention to kickers and football.

Speaker 8: (24:09)

A lot of attention on Twitter recently, especially from one pat McAfee. So how's it feel knowing a guy like, like that with that pedigree is talking to

Speaker 9: (24:17)

That was, that was pretty cool. Um, all that stuff makes me laugh. A lot of people are really creative on Twitter, especially some of the adjectives you used.

Speaker 10: (24:25)

I think of all the things that I saw this weekend, my favorite was the small Heisman campaign. Every gun we built for you, are you ready to take on such an award? And all

Speaker 9: (24:37)

I know it's never been done in history, but there's a time there's always a gotta be a first,

Speaker 10: (24:42)

Uh, the profile of kickers, punters, specialty unit, making that a bigger part of all lexicon. What does it mean for you to be a part of that as you really aren't?

Speaker 9: (24:53)

Oh, that that's huge to me. Um, there's definitely a lot of position bias. I don't know how, how else you would say that, but, um, in terms of the amount of scholarships specialists get, it's less than every other position on the field. We're usually, you know, last picked for, for a lot of things. So being a part of maybe pushing that narrative, that kickers and punters can be as important as anyone else on the team. That's, that's huge to me. That's, that's a big goal.

Speaker 1: (25:18)

Once again, if the Aztecs win this week, there'll be eight and oh, for the first time, since 1968, that's when chargers legend, Don Corey L was coaching the team. Thanks so much for tuning into this week's edition of KPBS round table. And thank you to my guests. Angie Perez from KPBS news, Samantha Rivera from Fox five, San Diego and Jane UTIG from the daily Aztec. If you missed any part of our show, you can listen anytime on the KPBS Roundtable podcast, I'm Matt Hoffman. Join us next week on round table.

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Lincoln High School football players on the field in this undated photo provided by the San Diego Unified School District.
San Diego Unified School District
Lincoln High School football players on the field in this undated photo provided by the San Diego Unified School District.
A discussion on equity and community building within San Diego's sports scene. Topics include Lincoln High School's decision to bow out of a scheduled football game due to racist social media posts linked to an opposing team, increasing representation for women in the sports industry, and the strong start for SDSU football as it plays all of its games on the road this season.

A discussion on equity and community building within San Diego's sports scene. Topics include Lincoln High School's decision to bow out of a scheduled football game due to racist social media posts linked to an opposing team, increasing representation for women in the sports industry, and the strong start for SDSU football as the Aztecs play all of their games on the road this season. KPBS reporter Matt Hoffman hosts with guests M.G. Perez from KPBS News, Samantha Rivera from Fox 5 San Diego, and Jayne Yutig from The Daily Aztec.