Adventures of Baby Frog

Baby frog

I talked with NPR this morning about the possibility of a fun new project, and I suddenly recalled one of the essays I recorded for the radio a few years back.

It's still one of my favorites.

All these years later, I now wish I could find Baby Frog. I'm positive I buried him somewhere. But now there's an indescribable longing, hearing this again. I can only imagine that today's enemies will create that same feeling in 8 more years. Good to remember.

Here it is: Baby Frog.




U.S. Soccer's women problem: Updated


As an update to this post about the lack of equal coverage of the women's national team on the team's own web site -- the site that should be its biggest booster -- I just got off the phone with the head of communications for the federation and am ... optimistic.

Instead of continuing to rant and complain here or on social media, I decided to write to US Soccer to see what's up. That prompted a phone call. It was productive.

On the plus side, US Soccer says it's aware of the disparity in coverage. In short, the site features 22-23-24-25 stories a day on its main page, and pretty much every day, only 3-4-5 of them are about the women's team.

The head of communications says this will likely be flipped as the women's world cup approaches this summer, saying that "80 percent" of the stories will be about the women's side as the tournament approaches.

So ... yay.

That's good news.

I'm feeling optimistic and happy about that.

And yet ... I couldn't quite get rid of the nagging feeling that things may well return to what passes for "normal" after the world cup this summer.

I appreciate the extra coverage in the run-up to a major tournament -- I would expect no less for either the men's or women's side.

But that's not quite what I'm after.

I don't want any side to get ongoing, continuing extra coverage. I'd like in non-world cup or major tournament times for each side to be covered equally.

That's it. If you're running 20 stories a day, why not half for each?

Here's why I think this is so important.

I maintain that if the web site that is supposed to be the team's biggest booster gives slight coverage to the team, how can we expect national media to do any better? How can we expect FIFA to take the women's sides seriously if our own federation doesn't?

Fans, officials, players, kids. They look to this site as the main source of in-depth information about our national teams and day in and day out, one team is treated as somehow lesser.

The real-world ramifications are, of course, the fact that women will have to play a World Cup tournament on a surface that male athletes will never have to. Why take the athletes' complaints seriously if their own federation treats them as lesser?

So that's why I get bent out of shape about this.

I appreciate the phone call and the chance to talk about this stuff. I got the sense he listened and was aware he works in a male-dominated environment and how that impacts these decisions. We talked about hidden bias and how that can impact judgment calls on who gets coverage.

Take a look at this photo of the FIFA executive committee. It's not difficult to see why women athletes around the world get the shaft.


But a very similar photo can be taken of the US Soccer executive committee.

Group think has an impact. Unconscious bias has an impact. The US Soccer site and its unequal coverage of its national teams is just a very visible, public glimpse at what happens behind the scenes. It visibly quantifies what everyone "knows:" Women's soccer is treated as second class from within the organizations that should be their biggest supporters.

So the phone call.

Bottom line, time will tell. I'm optimistic after this phone call. I'm taking US Soccer at its word that it'll do better. Listening and being aware feels like a big first step. (Yes, it's annoying as all get out that we're at first step stages for equality in 2015).

But at this point, the ball is on their side now.

We wait.