Yeah I Said It: Ronda Rousey versus Cris Cyborg goes beyond Sports


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ADVANCE FOR WEEKEND AUG. 14-15--Olympic broad jump medalists salute during the medals ceremony Aug. 11, 1936 at the Summer Olympics in Berlin. From left on podium are: bronze medalist Jajima of Japan, gold medalist Jesse Owens of the United States and silver medalist Lutz Long of Germany. Long and German Olympic officials give the Nazi salute, while Owens gives a traditional salute. Owens was viewed as something of an oddity by the German crowds. Not only was he a brilliant sprinter, but he was the best long jumper in the world, as well. And, oh yes, there was one more thing.(AP Photo) ORG XMIT: NY177

Sports has been the backdrop for social change. There are people that are not fans of any sport that try to minimize its importance in society, but that’s not a realistic opinion. Sports have had important pioneers in every context, and by having those people as examples meaningful dialogue happened.

But this is the first generation of athletes that made me realize how fortunate we’ve been so far. Our previous pioneers usually understood how important they were, and they handled things with grace and patience. They were typically exceptional athletes that deserved to be where they were. And there was a clarity to their impact, we were definitely better off for having them exist and change their sport.


We had Wilma Rudolph, Jesse Owens, Jim Thorpe, Arthur Ashe, Martina Navratilova, Ernie Davis, Jackie Robinson, Hank Greenberg, Christy Martin, Gina Carano and the list could go on for some time. But they were special.


Can you imagine if the first notable baseball player of color wasn’t Jackie Robinson, but was Barry Bonds? How bad of a setback would that have been? What if football had gotten Lawrence Phillips instead of Ernie Davis winning the Heisman? It would have been tricky after that, right?

Because that’s what’s been happening lately.

Michael Sam was the first openly gay football player. As a pioneer, he was in a tough spot. He wasn’t the biggest or the fastest guy, although its hard for me to say a 6″2 265lb guy can’t be a defensive end in the NFL when they play smaller guys at that position right now. (Sidebar: there was no excuse for a guy that light to run a 4.91 40. That was just pure laziness.)

He had a good motor and he got to the quarterback, which was his job. I think he could have made an impact in the NFL. But rookies are expected to keep their mouth shut and their head down. There might not be a bigger jump in sports than the disparity between college football and pro football.

Sam liked attention.


He was arranging a reality show with Oprah, the most tone-deaf move he could have possibly done the moment after he got drafted. After that, it was one misstep after another as it took time for him to realize that he did more for gay people by being good at his job, than getting awards and appearing in specials.

He washed out of the league quickly. The Commissioner had to call around the league and beg an owner to take him, even briefly. He was on the practice squad for the Dallas Cowboys for a month, after that he joined Dancing With the Stars which immediately killed any hopes of the NFL. He could have restarted his career in Canada, but it quickly imploded because a breakup with his fiancee caused him to flee training camp for a month without telling him team. Honestly, gay people deserve a better pioneer than this.

Jonathan Martin and Richie Incognito

Jonathan Martin and Richie Incognito

The Miami Dolphins fully expected Jonathan Martin to a be a future team captain. He was smart, articulate, but a little undersized and not particularly tough. But they thought they could mold him. Coaches set locker room pit bull Richie Incognito on him to mentor him and toughen him up a little, after some very disappointing play at right and left tackle.

Martin responded by collapsing, and making a formal complaint of bullying that tore his franchise apart. Modern sensibilities about how the locker room should resemble other workplaces came about because of Jonathan Martin.

Let me be very clear, there was some offensive stuff happening that came to light, and at a certain point Incognito went too far. But what the media and the public didn’t understand is that you can’t apply politically correct office standards to football.

As an offensive lineman, Martin had one of the most brutal jobs in sports. He was going to have to basically grapple some of the largest, fastest, strongest humans on Earth. And on the line of scrimmage, they say anything to get you off your game. Richie Incognito made sexual jokes about his sister because he knew that defensive lineman will probe till they find a sore spot and then exploit it verbally all game.

After this story broke, Jonathan Martin was facing a career of people talking about his family to get into his head.

Martin wasn’t tough enough. He got another shot with the 49ers who realized that he wasn’t strong enough, which is pretty much the most fixable problem an athlete can have. Then he bounced to the Panthers where he got injured and retired in frustration at 25, having accomplished utterly nothing.


Finally legendary swimmer Bruce Jenner announced that he was transgender, and changed his name and persona to Caitlyn Jenner. That is an intensely personal decision, and it apparently inspired a lot of people that had similar emotions. I can’t criticize that. But the effect it had on sports wasn’t a feelgood moment…it was confusion.

What about transgender athletes?

Fallon Fox was born a man, got gender reassignment surgery and wants to fight Ronda Rousey. No one knows what to do. Does being born a man give you a physical advantage against a woman of the same weight? Obviously it depends on the people in question, but basic questions like advantages in bone density and muscle structure are being hotly debated scientifically. And when you look at transgender athletes like Gabrielle Ludwig, you can see that there are times when previously being a man is a clear advantage.

Yeah. This is fair, right?

Yeah. This is fair, right?

Maybe Fallon Fox is a fair fight, but its an up or down vote. Would we be exposing female athlete to unfair competition by admitting transgender athletes? Is it unfair to transgender athletes to not let them compete? To say, ‘hey you’re female…but you’re not REALLY female?’

Its not Caitlyn’s fault, but the aftermath of her publicity is mostly uncertainty. And that’s where Ronda Rousey comes in. I heard about her a couple years ago, and it was from guys that didn’t talk about female fighters. They were genuinely excited to see someone aggressive like her.

And then, at some point, the female didn’t matter. She was a fighter. And Cris Cyborg is no slouch either.

I want to see Ronda Rousey and Cristiane “Cris Cyborg” Justino fight because its the next big superfight out there. It does not concern me that they are women, in fact, its irrelevant. And isn’t that the goal of feminism (if there is a goal in third wave feminism)? To not be marginalized? To viewed and respected as much as men are in their fields?

Is there any other circumstance where there were pretty equally matched women (who SHOULD fight at 140) in a male-dominated combat sport that drew this much interest? (I do not count Laila Ali and poor Christy Martin, because Martin was outmatched, and Gina Carano looked like her heart was in Hollywood even before Cris Cyborg ended her career.) This is a pioneering event that is coming together before our eyes.

And that’s why this fight is so important. Not because of what it is, which to be honest is two people messily damaging themselves, but because of what it means – that women can enter things thought to be utterly masculine and redefine them completely.

And unlike the examples I used earlier, its a clear win.

When these two step in the ring, they will likely eclipse the miserable contest between Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather. They will be the superfight of the moment, and from what I’ve seen of these two, this will be a barnburner. And no one can take that away from them or tear it down. To succeed when everything is against you – to change the perception of how millions of people view women – well that kind of goes beyond sports.

Suicide Squad Issue Eight


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I’m going to pause for a bit so I don’t drown everyone in these articles and this is a good place to do it. After the disasters that have happened to the team so far, writer John Ostrander wisely slows down the pace and tell us a little more about the people, something that the recent comics have proven incapable of doing.

This issue begins with the team’s therapist Simon LaGrieve going over his notes in the middle of the night.

He remembers meeting Amanda Waller, a woman who has a lot of good reasons to be angry.


Every other iteration of Waller I’ve seen ignores anything to do with her family, but in this run, her family is an important piece of understanding her. LaGrieve helps her channel her anger, but its getting out of control.

For instance, she confronts Derek Tolliver, the politician who sent the squad on the doomed mission to Russia. He gives the wrong answer, and so she decks him.


Rick Flag’s anger has gone out of control too. He wants to rescue Nemesis, but no one is interested, especially his old flame Karin.


Flag has no idea that Mark Shaw is in the building and that Shaw (having no context for what is happening) simply sees a man attacking a woman. Flag and Shaw (dressed as the Privateer – ugh!) fight, but its not a fair fight. Mark Shaw was the Manhunter, trained and equipped by the celestial police force that preceded the Green Lantern corps.


Ben Turner aka the Bronze Tiger becomes the team leader. And his first job is to figure out what’s wrong with the Enchantress. He visits the unsettling Madame Zanadu who diagnoses the problem.


She also comes up with a solution of sorts.


But its not a real solution, its just postponing the problem.


LaGrieve realizes too late that having his young, naive assistant therapist treat the handsome, troubled Floyd Lawton (Deadshot) might be a bad idea for obvious reasons.


And they make out, and then Floyd runs away because he can’t handle it all. Oy.


Oh yeah, and Captain Boomerang is still running around as Mirror Master, although no one knows it.


The comic ends on a sweet note. Unlike the Squad, LaGrieve has a family. And it keeps him sane.

Suicide Squad Issue Seven


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So the team is stranded in Russia, and they end up on the radar of a Russian government super team that is being phased out because they look ridiculous for the Rocket Reds, another super team of men in power suits.

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The team comes up with one desperate option that would be…SUICIDE.

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Penguin comes up with the idea of pretending to be soldiers and robbing tourists of their passports and clothes. But the tourists are all stuffed in a room and starting to get impatient.

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This leads to a fight. Now I guess things have changed in the cartoons and comics, but Deadshot was never much of a hand to hand fighter before.

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Nemesis is again the noble guy that volunteers to stay behind. Now there’s a bit in a train, not the most necessary to the plot but I couldn’t leave it out.

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Nemesis is caught and tortured for information. As they make their way to the ice, the Russians show up – but so do their reinforcements: Black Orchid, Bronze Tiger and Captain Boomerang (who had to be forcibly kidnapped out of his apartment because he didn’t want to leave it).

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A fight ensues because that’s how problems are solved in comics.

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You learn important lessons here, like don’t mess with Black Orchid or the Enchantress if you value your health. I’ve heard the Suicide Squad described as ‘street level’ or not particularly powerful, and that makes sense because you can get better stories out of overpowered heroes, but it really depends on the team lineup.

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Boomerang beats his opponent, right when the Enchantress starts to rampage again.

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They go the extraction but there are enemy aircraft. Briscoe and Sheba start to do their thing.

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After all that the mission is a flop and Nemesis is in enemy hands.

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Funny 80’s costumes aside, this is WAY ahead of its time.

Kids Sports are the WORST

I have kids, three of them. Along with kids, inevitably, comes Kids Sports. This is not to be confused with real sports. These are not teams comprised of actual athletes. No. These are groups of kids who wear the same color shirts while some oversized man-child throws a ball of some sort in the middle and parents sit in the bleachers for a hundred hours every Saturday, watching their kids NOT catch/block/throw said ball.

I'm sleeping behind the shades.

I’m sleeping behind the shades.

There are two types of parents at these events. Group one: the parents who watch the game intently, cheering at every strike, making excuses for every missed play, and talking about how great their kid is at catching/pitching/batting. These parents know every kid on the team, they bring coolers and back up drinks, snacks for other kids and they show up to every game and every practice.


Group two: Me. If I make it to the game, I can normally be found either scrolling through Facebook, avoiding other parents, or in my car. You will not find me at a practice and most other parents have no idea if I am someone’s parent or some creeper who occasionally makes an appearance. I don’t know the coaches names, I’ll never be the team mom, and if you ask me to bring snack, I will tell you that because we don’t live in a third world country, chances are, our kids will make it through that one hour practice without fainting from starvation.

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My youngest daughter plays softball. I hate softball. I especially hate kid’s softball. Because I love my daughter more than I hate softball, I support this interest and while I may not show up at every event, I’ll pay for her to play and make sure she gets to everything. This summer she participated in a competition league. They were required to try out to make the team, which would generally indicate that some skill is involved. Competition leagues cost money. Normally a lot more money than regular season ball. So her father and I shelled out some cash for her to participate in this “exclusive” league.


Here are some things that happened during this season. The coaches played their kids and everyone else was either benched or put in the outfield. Parents got mad and yelled at the coaches. Coaches paid the girls for plays made. Saturdays and Sundays were spent at tournaments for weeks and weeks. Practices interfered with my life after work. Here are some things that did not happen during the season. Winning. Tying. Close games. Anything that would indicate that my money was well spent.

Listen, I don’t care if my kids won or lose. Hell, half the time I don’t know if they win or lose. This season, I couldn’t help but notice the fifteen run lead every other team had over ours at every single game. Not one game was close. This team was the goddamned Bad New Bears except they definitely didn’t win at the end. But whatever, sometimes you lose. Sometimes you lose a lot. I like to think it’s probably a good life lesson, one that I would appreciate more if it didn’t take YEARS of my life to sit through one damn tournament.

Here’s what I found absolutely astounding. The other parents. Our kids sucked. Really sucked. They walked just about every batter, got very few hits, and caught next to nothing. There was not one kid on that team that looked out of place. Meaning that they all sucked equally. The reason I know this is because I have eyeballs and could see it. The other reason I knew this is because an average game ended with a 20-7 sore. For some reason, the other parents didn’t know this. They said things like “The girls played really well” or “It was just an off day” or “Those girls looked older”. The list of excuses goes on. Wait. What? It was an off day? EVERY day was an off day???? They played really well? I am so confused. I just saw my daughter drop twenty-seven balls and I just saw yours walk twenty-seven batters. Which one of them is going pro?


Let’s just go down a bit of the roster shall we? There’s the ten year old infielder who called every ball there ever was and literally caught not one single one of them. The catcher who caught more balls with her chest than her mitt. The aforementioned pitcher who although cute as a button with her blond ponytail, could not get a ball over the plate if she were bowling it with bumpers. What about the batter who strikes out every time because she refuses to swing at anything? Oh wait that’s half the team. Then there’s the batter who strikes out every time because she swings at just everything. Oh wait. That’s the other half of the team. And please don’t forget the left fielder that spends half the game making daisy chains in the outfield and the other half making faces and signing to her best friend, the right fielder.


The last tournament was this weekend. In order to advance to Sunday’s games, we needed to win on Saturday. Earlier in the week a parent mentioned cancelling her Sunday plans for the tournament. I couldn’t help myself and I asked why she would cancel her plans. She looked at me confused. Oh my god, she was delusional. She thought maybe there was a chance for a win. When I said that I believed she was probably safe in keeping her plans as we were currently losing 14-2 and would only win if the other team forgot to show up, she looked shocked and found another parent to talk to.


It’s not that we should tell our kids they suck but I will not lie to my child. If she asks me if she played well my answer is no. You did not play well. You dropped every single ball. But guess what? My kid won’t ask me if she played well. Because she knows when she didn’t. Because I don’t blow smoke up her ass in any aspect of her life. It’s possible that my parenting methods are wrong in a lot of ways but I simply can’t see how lying to my child and giving her a false sense of greatness, is in any way beneficial to her. I don’t believe her self-esteem is suffering because she is good at other things. And I tell her. We have a pretty real relationship and I think she appreciates it. Or maybe she doesn’t but the way I see it, it’s a win/win situation because therapists gotta eat too.

I’m just saying maybe we stop giving our kids trophies for losing and maybe we stop indulging their every want and maybe we stop arguing with their teachers to change their grades. And maybe we stop raising entitled dickheads with no work ethic and no want to work hard for anything. I am all for telling kids they can do anything. If they work hard. Or have actual talent and work hard. But when my son told me he wanted to be a basketball player I had to suggest that he have a backup plan. Because he’s not that good at basketball. And he doesn’t practice that much so he’s probably not getting much better. And that’s ok. He’s good at other things. Things that don’t involve me baking in the hot sun for a million years trying to keep myself from shoving little Suzy’s mom off the bleachers in the hopes that a slight head trauma will allow her to see that her daughter one hundred percent is not naturally athletic and “going far” in this sport.


Suicide Squad Issue Six


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This is supposed to be a stealth mission in Russia. So the issue starts with the Enchantress blowing up the entire place and going on a rampage.

Rick Flag comes up with a solution. Deadshot suggests a different one.

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Except its hard to threaten a guy with a death wish. Deadshot doesn’t kill the Enchantress, but he does hurt her fairly badly and Nightshade teleports her out. Deadshot is just getting started though.

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They flee the scene, with the Firebird. She is not happy about it.

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But you know who is happy? DEADSHOT. He’s shooting everything moving, and he finds a rocket launcher.

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Deadshot doesn’t make good decisions when he’s in his manic phase.

Anyway, the plan is messed up, because there are two more people than the Penguin planned for and Nightshade might be too exhausted to teleport them out.

They make their way to a non-passenger train. Flag is frustrated he didn’t say with Nightshade who barely makes it on a different train with Nemesis. They have to snuggle to keep warm but it doesn’t go anyway.

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They get back to the embassy, where the under-secretary ambassador freaks out.

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You’re stuck in a foreign country with a bunch of bad guys, a government that has denied the lousy mission they sent you on, with someone who never wanted to be rescued in the first place.

Suicide Squad Issue Five


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Zoya Trigorin is a dissident Russian who has written a book – The Firebird, and she has been promptly thrown in the gulag for it. A meeting with top generals and what is clearly supposed to be Mikhail Gorbachev goes over what to do with her.

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This is decidedly progressive decision making for Russian villains in 1987. Meanwhile in Belle Reve, Amanda Waller has drafted Batman villain the Penguin to help with the planning for rescuing Ms. Trigorin.

The mission isn’t the only problem.

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June Moone and the Enchantress are too different beings, beings that no one knows a lot about. And its getting hard to tell where one begins and the other ends. I’d be interested to see how the upcoming movie handles this character.

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Captain Boomerang is enjoying his apartment in New Orleans, although the thoroughly institutionalized Deadshot is indifferent. But Boomerang can’t help feeling a little bored. He wouldn’t mind pulling a caper or too. This is a bad idea but that is what Captain Boomerang does. He has bad ideas.

So they go to Moscow.

Flag goes as…Colonel Flag and the rest of them are members of his staff or his team.The Russians have recently taken the United State’s ambassador’s staff and they are posing as the replacements.

Nemesis speaks Russian, as it turns out and does Deadshot.


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They get to where they’re supposed to and then they learn part of Penguin’s plan.

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The Enchantress comes out, but she is just barely able to be controlled. They break into the jail, deceive the guards and secure Zoya. Enchantress is able to imitate her, as they are similar in height. The plan goes smoothly until-

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And then they get caught.

I think this is when it started to sink in for me that this was a special comic. The setup is like every 80’s action movie ever, but nothing is quite the way it should be. The Russians are smart and flexible, the ‘victim’ doesn’t want to leave, and the Squad is sort of unpredictable.

Suicide Squad Issue Four


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This issue starts with a bunch guy pulling off a small violent robbery. A figure comes from the shadows – a hero we don’t. He has a crossbow, but its armed with an explosive tipped arrow. And when the car stops-

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Why this guy is perfect for the Suicide Squad! He’s like a stupider looking Green Arrow. He’s –

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Oh crap. He’s a racist.

And he’s like an evil Batman. He’s really rich, well-connected and he even has a chauffeur. But after he leaves, we see that the real chauffeur is in the trunk of the car. And the driver?

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Rare DC super-heroine Black Orchid. There have been a few versions of this character, and this is the rarest one. There isn’t a lot of information about her, but she is a bruiser.

Anyway, Amanda Waller is briefing the team (and their new member, Chronos) about a tense area in Central City where the ghetto meets a white working class neighborhood. A conservative businessman named W. James Heller (who is not good at fake superhero names!) is stirring the pot and funding white supremacist groups, eventually forming his own named the Aryan Empire.

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Its not a surprise that the Australian Captain Boomerang might have some quaint ideas on race. It is a surprise that Deadshot knows Heller. Heller was a rich kid whose family got killed in a race riot and subsequently twisted by his hateful grandfather.

Waller has a plan.

She sets up a crime involving Captain Boomerang and Bronze Tiger. Hell takes Boomerang into his organization.

They show up to give a speech at a demonstration and…

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William Hell plays William Tell. I can’t make this up.

The first William Hell makes the shot, but the second one misses high. He is unmasked as James Heller. Heller is accused of keeping the REAL William Hell hostage and twisting his work.

‘William Hell’ walks away, but is shot in the back by one of his former henchmen. Mortally wounded he is loaded into an ambulance.

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The Squad used Chrono’s time delay machine to allow Bronze Tiger to deflect William Hell’s bolt, making him miss. However the machine blinded Deadshot…who did his shot with his eyes closed.

Now honestly this has been a decent comic so far, but you might not understand why I hold it in such high regard. The next issue, for me was the turning point.

Suicide Squad Issue Three


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The introduction of this comic is with the cosmic villain Darkseid on his home planet Apokolips. Frankly this is from a fairly stupid event that happened in other comics, but basically he is sending an all female team to break out someone imprisoned in Belle Reve, the Suicide Squad’s headquarters.

Courses there’s a little rivalry on the team he’s sending.

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This is kind of a bad time.

Rick Flag is shaken by seeing Karin, and he knows the mission didn’t go too well. He finds out that Plastique is undergoing a painful procedure to get rid of her memories of the mission and that Karin is helping villain Dr. Moon to carry it out.

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Nightshade isn’t happy about being an accomplice to a massacre. She tries to vent her frustration. It doesn’t go well.

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There’s a reason she’s nicknamed ‘The Wall.’ Nemesis is torn too, even though he owes the squad for rescuing him, he doesn’t actually feel like he’s fighting crime anymore. Everything just seems too dirty. Captain Boomerang complains that he’s trapped in Belle Reve and gets the concession of a pied a terre in New Orleans.

Even though its early in its run, Suicide Squad is starting to show why its exceptional. If you just went on a violent mission, you wouldn’t just shake it off with a joke, like an 80’s action movie.

Flag shows up, furious about Plastique’s treatment. Waller refuses to back down leading to this exchange-

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We don’t know what would have happened next, because the Female Furies teleport in from Apokolips. No one is equipped to defend the prison, half of the Squad is recovering from the previous mission, Deadshot doesn’t feel like getting out of bed, and Boomerang hides to avoid being drafted.

The Bronze Tiger is a master martial artist who has fought Batman to a standstill. But the Furies are around Wonder Woman strength. Its not a fair fight.

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The Furies go through the entire prison, ignoring the guards, weapons, and poor outmatched Nightshade who gets hurt again. They get their prize, but Lashing is betrayed when they go to teleport out.

The portal overloads and her body is launched outside the compound in the explosion, her fate unknown.

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And then Waller apologizes.

That’s one thing I see people get wrong when Waller is in cartoons, or TV shows or whatever. She’s not a villain. She’s a tough person who makes tough decisions, and sometimes she goes too far.

Suicide Squad Issue Two


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They arrive at the Jihad’s headquarters.

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There the team finds out that the Chimera is actually Suicide Squad member Nightshade, who resents being an accomplice to murder, even though her powers just provide transport through a pocket dimension.

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Plastique immediately betrays the team which is generally what bad guys do, given the first opportunity.

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Except there’s another team member she doesn’t know about, master of disguise Nemesis. There’s a reason Amanda Waller doesn’t tell her team everything. But Plastique gets away from Nemesis and she hurts Nightshade before she is subdued. The team’s exit is blown.

Rick Flag fights Rustam, but Rustam escapes as well. Captain Boomerang gets to show us his stuff.

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Boomerang is a comic character for a lot of Suicide Squad’s run. But it doesn’t mean he’s not lethal.

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Bronze Tiger cripples Ravan who swears revenge. He reveals that the Tiger was in the League of Assassins casual fans are familiar with the League through the Nolan Batman movies.

Deadshot kills the Manticore, June turns into the Enchantress and beats the Djinn but then struggles to transform back into her human self.

Rustam shows up with a gun, flanking Mindboggler. Boomerang spots it and…

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The team has to steal a jet to get out, but someone has to stay back to flip the gate open to the hangar. Furious at his failure with Plastique, Nemesis volunteers, and the Squad flies away.

Thankfully there is a backup extraction. Briscoe, the team’s helicopter pilot (who is a little overly attached to his copter Sheba) gets him out.

The first two issues are its own arc, and this comic has showcased on a small scale what made it great, diverse complex characters, missions that don’t go as planned and twists galore.

But you ain’t seen nothing yet.


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