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Saturday sports: Equal pay in U.S. soccer; NBA and NHL playoffs continue


And now it's time for sports.


SIMON: Equal pay for Team USA women. Win Wimbledon, but no points. And the Warriors stay up. Howard Bryant of Meadowlark Media joins us. Good morning, Howard.

HOWARD BRYANT: Good morning, Scott. How are you?

SIMON: I'm fine, thanks. And a historic moment for women's soccer in the U.S. The unions representing both national teams, men and women, announced a new collective bargaining agreement that will have the teams split the bonus money they get from the World Cup in equal parts. What does this represent?

BRYANT: It represents a victory and a lot of fighting. This is a conversation. This is a battle. These are lawsuits, litigation that's been going on for a really long time. And let's not forget that this is a part of a continuum that years ago - not even - just a few years ago, you and I were having this conversation about the women's national hockey team and how they were going to boycott the nationals because of equal pay issues. And so you've got this, and you've got soccer, and you've got the - you know, tennis and all of it has been happening, all of this for the last 30, 40, 50 years. And so for the greatest soccer team in the country, which is the women's national team, to get this - it's gigantic and another example that nothing happens without struggle. Nothing happens without fighting. You have to stay in people's faces. And that's what the women did, and they won.

SIMON: Let me ask about Wimbledon, which has banned Russian and Belarussian players from competing this year because of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Now both men's and women's players association say that they will not award ranking points for anybody who wins. Does that make winning Wimbledon less appealing?

BRYANT: Well, the prestige of being there is still there, obviously. The competition is going to still be there. But once again, Scott, this is another continuum of what we've been talking about for the past year or so and more about there's no escape from the the prominence of sports and how it collides with the geopolitics. We were having this conversation with Peng Shuai in tennis and the Olympics. We were having this conversation with Brittney Griner. We're having this conversation now with the war in Ukraine. And so the idea that sports is somehow going to be separate from this - there really is a blending. And the players are going to have to figure out what they want to do with this because they're not escaping. They're not separate from it. But at the same time, it doesn't feel like a fair situation. But none of this is fair.

SIMON: Playoff time in America. Golden State came from 19 points behind last night to defeat the Mavericks. No salve (ph) for the Mavs. Impossible for Dallas to come back? They're down 2-0.

BRYANT: No, not at all. You got two games coming into Dallas. You've got 1-1 over in Boston and Miami. This - the playoffs have been fantastic. And to think that - I went to bed last night thinking, well, not your night, Warriors. But, of course, they've got Steph Curry. And it's happening across the board. These playoffs have been fantastic, and that does - and that includes the pucks over there as well. That includes hockey, with Connor McDavid and Edmonton. And Tampa Bay looks like they could three-peat. It's all just - it's a great time to watch.

SIMON: And the great Roger Angell has left us at the age of 101. We read some of his words earlier in the show. I wonder what you're thinking.

BRYANT: I'm thinking he's a giant. And I'm thinking he's one of the reasons why I do what I do and the joy that he gave all of us to write. You got to remember; Roger Angell was born in 1920. He was at Yankee Stadium. He saw Babe Ruth play. He saw Willie Mays play and Rickey Henderson and Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani and everybody in between. And once again, these are the people that keep us doing the things that we do. He was amazing.

SIMON: Howard Bryant, thanks so much.

BRYANT: Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Scott Simon is one of America's most admired writers and broadcasters. He is the host of Weekend Edition Saturday and is one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. He has reported from all fifty states, five continents, and ten wars, from El Salvador to Sarajevo to Afghanistan and Iraq. His books have chronicled character and characters, in war and peace, sports and art, tragedy and comedy.