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Tuesday’s Morning Mashup: Demaryius Thomas calls out Tom Brady at bar, but then says he’s great

03.07.17 at 9:29 am ET
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Good morning! Here is your Tuesday Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our WEEI.com home page or click here for the top stories and scores from our news wire.

TUESDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
World Baseball Classic: South Korea vs. Netherlands, 8 a.m. (MLB)
World Baseball Classic: China vs. Cuba, 10 p.m. (MLB)
MLB: Boston at Washington, 1 p.m. (WEEI-AM 850)
MLB: Canada vs. Toronto, 1 p.m. (MLB)
NBA: Portland at Oklahoma City, 8 p.m. (NBA)
NHL: Philadelphia at Buffalo, 7:30 p.m. (NBCSN)
College basketball: N.C. State at Clemson, 12 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Boston College at Wake Forest, 2 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Pittsburgh at Georgia Tech, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Milwaukee at Northern Kentucky, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: St. Francis (Pa.) at Mount St. Ma, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: South Dakota State at Omaha, 9 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Saint Mary’s at Gonzaga, 9 p.m. (ESPN)
Women’s college basketball: Detroit at Green Bay, 12 p.m. (ESPNU)
Women’s college basketball: IUPUI at Western Illinois, 2 p.m. (ESPNU)
Women’s college basketball: Saint Mary’s at Gonzaga, 4 p.m. (ESPNU)
Women’s college basketball: Marquette at DePaul, 9 p.m. (FS1)

AROUND THE WEB: 

— In a video obtained by TMZ, Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas jokingly took a shot at Tom Brady while partying at a nightclub on Saturday.

“F— Tom Brady! But he’s great!” Thomas said to the camera while at the Velvet Elvis Grille in Milledgeville, Georgia. The unidentified man with Thomas in the video assured everyone there is no ill-will between Thomas and Brady and said “He’s kidding!”

Thomas is also seen dancing shirtless on top of the bar and buying drinks for other club-goers.

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Read More: Andrew Bogut, Demaryius Thomas,

Mike Francesa doubles down: Hiring woman coach would be ‘publicity stunt’

03.06.17 at 5:07 pm ET
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NY PostMike Francesa allows that females can be CEOs and perhaps even the president. However, the WFAN icon will not concede that a woman has the capability to be a head coach in the NBA.

Digging in further after his controversial comments last week, Francesa used his opening monologue and then five friendly callers to assert that women coaching professional basketball players is an impossibility. Where others may seen misogyny, Francesa believes he sees reality, doubling down on claims that a female coach would be eaten alive by male NBA players.

“There’s no saying that everybody has to do every single job. Some are better for some people. That’s all,” Francesa said Monday, after he told a father of a daughter Wednesday that the caller wouldn’t see a world in which women coached men at the highest level. “That’s not being chauvinist. That’s not being stone aged. That’s just being reasonable. … It is difficult for men to run these rooms.”

Francesa cited the fact that there are zero women coaching men at the collegiate level, extrapolating from there that a woman who would rise up the ranks at the professional level would not have the resume needed to demand players’ respect. He pointed at the latest Knicks drama, in which Carmelo Anthony questioned the adjustments Jeff Hornacek has made, and said that if Hornacek can’t be blindly accepted by players, neither can a woman.

“I have no problem with women advancing in business, they have every right to do and they will do it as well as men, maybe better,” Francesa said. “Same thing with politics, we’ve seen that. … In male sports at the highest level, running young athletes, bringing them along on the college level, coaching them, teaching them, disciplining them, trying to turn them into a cohesive group, is probably harder now, with all the trappings we have, then it’s ever been before.” 

“…That would be a very tall order for a woman. That’s not an unreasonable statement,” Francesa said. “… I don’t see how that in any way is stone age. If it ever happened, I don’t think it would be anything more than a publicity stunt, I don’t think it would last.

You are not going to change Mike Francesa’s mind on this, or anything really because he is always right.

As I wrote last week, there are currently no women next in line for a head coaching position on the NFL, MLB, NBA or NHL level, but that’s not to say there won’t be one day. Right now it’s unlikely a woman can be a head coach because there just isn’t a female candidate up for the job.

Because of this, if a team hired a woman right now it would be a publicity stunt of sorts because she would only have been hired because of her gender. So, again, Mike is sort of right. If an NBA team hired Becky Hammon right now, that would be a publicity stunt. However, it’s not out of the question she could be a head coach someday.

But Francesa said “if it ever happened” meaning even if it happens in the future it would be a publicity stunt. And that is sexist. As is saying a woman in a head coaching position wouldn’t last.

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ESPN will reportedly undergo massive layoffs again

03.06.17 at 10:13 am ET
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ESPN laid off roughly 300 workers in October 2015. (Ron Chenoy/USA Today Sports)

ESPN laid off roughly 300 workers in October 2015. (Ron Chenoy/USA Today Sports)

For the second time in three years, it looks like ESPN will undergo significant layoffs. But unlike the purge in 2015, which primarily affected workers behind the scenes, faces that appear in front of the camera will likely be casualties this time around.

According to Sports Illustrated’s Richard Deitsch, ESPN management has been ordered to trim tens of millions of salary from its payroll over the next four months. The company will reportedly buyout contracts in order to fulfill the mandate.

In a statement sent to SI, ESPN said these anticipated moves are a part of the network’s evolution.

“We have long been about serving fans and innovating to create the best content for them,” it reads. “Today’s fans consume content in many different ways and we are in a continuous process of adapting to change and improving what we do. Inevitably that has consequences for how we utilize our talent. We are confident that ESPN will continue to have a roster of talent that is unequaled in sports.”

It’s no secret that ESPN has been hemorrhaging subscribers in recent years. In February 2011, the network was available in more than 100 million households. As of December 2016, that number was down to 88.4 million. With soaring rights fees –– ESPN now pays $3.3 billion annually to broadcast the NFL and NBA –– and a decreased customer base, the company’s business model is being challenged. The decreased advertising revenue coming out of Bristol is one of the reasons why Disney, ESPN’s parent company, reported lower-than-anticipated first quarter earnings last month.

ESPN remains the dominant force in sports broadcasting. But in a changing media landscape, the challenges it faces aren’t going away. These expected layoffs are another reminder of this grim reality.

Read More: ESPN,

Monday’s Morning Mashup: Arian Foster explains why he can fight wolves; Russian politician wants to make fan fighting spectator sport

03.06.17 at 9:26 am ET
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Good morning! Here is your Monday Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our WEEI.com home page or click here for the top stories and scores from our news wire.

MONDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
MLB: Boston at Houston, 1 p.m. (WEEI-AM 850)
MLB: NY Yankees vs. Pittsburgh, 1 p.m. (MLB Network)
World Baseball Classic: Israel vs. Taiwan, 10 p.m. (MLB Network)
NHL: Boston at Ottawa, 7:30 p.m. (NESN)
NHL: Dallas at Washington, 7:30 p.m. (NBCSN)
NBA: Indiana at Charlotte, 8 p.m. (TNT)
NBA: Boston at LA Clippers, 10:30 p.m. (CSN; TNT)
College basketball: Gonzaga vs. Santa Clara, 9 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: BYU vs. Saint Mary’s, 11:30 p.m. (ESPN2)

AROUND THE WEB:

—  Arian Foster sent a tweet storm on Sunday detailing why he is capable of killing a wolf. Reasons include wolves don’t have thumbs, “don’t know biology” and biting is their only weapon.

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Read More: Arian Foster,

Thinking Out Loud: Providence basketball getting hot at right time

03.03.17 at 5:53 pm ET
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Rooke_JohnThinking out loud…while wondering what Keno Davis is up to?

— Providence’s unlikely surge into the postseason has become a small tidal wave. With a win Saturday at St. John’s, which will be no easy feat, the Friars could finish as high as the 3rd seed. Incredible, really, for a team that was picked ninth in the pre-season by the Big East coaches.

— It also keeps alive a streak of the Friars finishing higher than their preseason selection in each of Ed Cooley’s six seasons as head coach. Don’t be shocked to see his name mentioned in off-season coaching searches over the next month or two.

— Five straight Big East wins last happened three years ago, during the run to the tournament championship led by Bryce Cotton. Six in a row? Last occurred in 2004, before an NCAA flop to Pacific. Let’s just say – it isn’t a common occurrence in this league.

— St. John’s whipped the Friars at home to the tune of 91 points with an all-freshman backcourt at the end of January. Better that it’s PC with something to play for than the Johnnies at this stage of the game – but don’t discount St. John’s next week. All they need is a crack in the door.

— As for handicapping the Big East Tournament next week – I’ll take Villanova. It will be hard for Butler to beat them again if they reach the finals, having won twice against the Wildcats already. Sleeper? Marquette, if not the red-hot Friars. Those guys can light it up.

— What are PC’s NCAA tournament odds? Going into Saturday, they’re solid. 11 Top 100 wins, six Top 50 wins in the RPI beats all-comers at the Friars’ end of the spectrum. But Providence has been snubbed before, so a word of advice – don’t leave the dance invite in the hands of the chaperones. Earn it, by finishing strong.

— And that, in itself, is truly an unexpected pleasure coming from this college basketball season. While Ed Cooley is very much deserving of Big East Coach of the Year, my bet is on Butler’s Chris Holtmann, if not Villanova’s Jay Wright.

— Another pleasure this year – the home crowds at the Dunkin Donuts Center. While overall attendance is down from last year’s Dunn & Bentil pro show, the Big East attendance averaged nearly 11,000 fans per game. The student section was one of the best, if not THE best, I’ve seen in 29 years.

— Winning attracts crowds. Who knew? But the marketing department has also stepped it up, big time.

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Colin Kaepernick ends his protest on disingenuous note

03.03.17 at 1:17 pm ET
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Colin Kaepernick says he plans to end his national anthem protest in 2017. (Robert Hanashiro/USA TODAY Sports)

Colin Kaepernick says he plans to end his national anthem protest in 2017. (Robert Hanashiro/USA TODAY Sports)

Colin Kaepernick said last year he would keep kneeling during the national anthem until significant progress was made toward social justice reform. But now, after opting out of his contract with the 49ers, he plans to stop his protest. This makes his apparent quest for change seem disingenuous.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Thursday the former San Francisco quarterback will stand for the “Star-Spangled Banner” in 2017. Kaepernick said he arrived at his decision because he doesn’t want his demonstration to distract from the positive impact he’s made on the issue of racial inequality. Apparently, he believes his work is done.

Kaepernick’s protest, which started in the preseason and continued through the entire regular season, was more than a symbolic gesture. His foundation gave $1 million to community organizations, with the 49ers matching his donations. He also organized and spoke at a camp for underprivileged kids in the Bay Area, setting up workshops that covered topics ranging from nutrition health to advice on how to interact with police officers. Kaepernick says he plans to continue those charitable endeavors, but without the accompanying public symbol.

While LeBron James and other NBA stars routinely speak out on social issues, Kaepernick’s protest sparked a national conversation. In addition to other NFL players, kids on high school and youth football teams across the country followed his lead. The Beaumont Bills, a Texas-based club comprised of 11- and 12-year olds, cancelled their season after some players decided to kneel to draw attention towards injustice. But now, without the safety net of a $14.3 million salary, Kaepernick is abandoning them.

With President Donald Trump in office, voices like Kaepernick’s are needed more than ever. Up to 8 million undocumented immigrants are now at risk of being deported under the administration’s new guidelines, including those who use food stamps and other social assistance programs. Trump is also promising to unveil a new travel ban that applies to several predominately Muslim countries, after the last one was overturned by a federal court.

The first hit to Kaepernick’s credibility as a social activist came shortly after Trump was elected to office, when he told reporters he sat out perhaps the most pivotal election in recent history. He made it clear last year he wasn’t a fan of Trump or Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, calling them “proven liars” and racists. It was a lazy take that did little to advance the national conversation.

“I’ve been very disconnected from the systematic oppression as a whole,” Kaepernick explained when asked why he didn’t vote. “So, for me, it’s another face that’s going to be the face of that system of oppression. And to me, it didn’t really matter who went in there. The system still remains intact that oppresses people of color.”

While that’s true, the Trump administration poses an unique threat to civil rights. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, whose federal judgeship appointment in the 1980’s was opposed by Coretta Scott King due to his history of clamping down on voting access, said this week the Justice Department will pull back on police department civil rights suits. The Justice Department under President Barack Obama opened 25 probes into police departments, including Ferguson, Missouri, which was found to have targeted the African-American community in an effort to increase city revenue.

There were also several ballot measures in California that spoke to directly to the issue of criminal justice reform, which Kaepernick says he’s passionate about. Prop 63 tightened the state’s gun laws, and Prop 64 legalized legalized marijuana. That should be a topic of great importance to Kaepernick, considering the ACLU found black people are 3.7 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than white people. He spoke a lot about police practices, but did little to change them.

Kaepernick, of course, isn’t obligated to continue kneeling for the rest of his career. But given the nation’s current climate, this seems like a curious time to step aside. That is, unless Kaepernick is worried about hurting his value on the free agent market. With promises to curtail his protesting, he may become more attractive to teams that are leery of taking on a marginal quarterback with such a polarizing personality.

Muhammad Ali and other social justice crusaders weren’t afraid to suffer financially if it meant standing up for what they believe. It appears as if Kaepernick isn’t willing to make that kind of sacrifice.

Read More: Colin Kaepernick,

Friday’s Morning Mashup: Reporter unknowingly interviews Adrian Peterson; MLB, MLBPA agree to 2017 rule changes

03.03.17 at 8:57 am ET
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Good morning! Here is your Friday Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our WEEI.com home page or click here for the top stories and scores from our news wire.

FRIDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
MLB:
Boston at Atlanta, 1 p.m. (WEEI-AM 850)
MLB:
NY Yankees vs. Toronto, 1 p.m. (MLB Network)
NBA: Cleveland at Atlanta, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
NBA: San Antonio at New Orleans, 9:30 p.m. (ESPN)
NBA: Boston at LA Lakers, 10:30 p.m. (CSN)
NHL: Tampa Bay at Pittsburgh, 7 p.m. (NHL Network)
College basketball: Harvard at Princeton, 5 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Miami (Ohio) at Ohio, 6:30 p.m. (CBSSN)
College basketball: Iowa State at West Virginia, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Jacksonville State at Belmont, 7:30 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Akron at Kent State, 9 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Murray State at UT Martin, 10 p.m. (ESPNU)
Women’s college basketball: TBA vs. N.C. State, 11 a.m. (NESN Plus)
Women’s college basketball: TBA vs. Notre Dame, 2 p.m. (NESN Plus)
Women’s college basketball:
Northwestern at Ohio State, 12 p.m. (Big Ten Network)
Women’s college basketball: Purdue at Indiana, 2:30 p.m. (Big Ten Network)
Women’s college basketball: TBA vs. Florida State, 6 p.m. (NESN Plus)
Women’s college basketball:
Minnesota at Maryland, 6:30 p.m. (Big Ten Network)
Women’s college basketball: TBA vs. Duke, 8 p.m. (NESN Plus)

AROUND THE WEB:

— A TV reporter in Houston interviewed a man on the street for a story on road rage last week and didn’t realize until the end of the interview the man was Adrian Peterson.

Peterson gave a general response to reporter Jon Donnelly’s road rage question and Donnelly had no idea who he was interviewing until he asked for the man’s name. When Peterson told him, Donnelly paused before saying, “Wait a minute…you’re not?” to which Peterson replied, “Yeah.”

The Vikings declined Peterson’s 2017 contract option the day this happened so it must have been a relief for Peterson when he realized this reporter just wanted to ask him about road rage.

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Read More: Adrian Peterson, MLB,

Mike Francesa’s coaching opinion is sexist, but problem is he’s not entirely wrong

03.02.17 at 11:04 pm ET
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NewsdayLike many jobs in sports, coaching remains a male-dominated profession, but a few women have found their way into the professional ranks of men’s sports. Former WNBA All-Star Becky Hammon has been an assistant with the San Antonio Spurs since 2014, and Kathryn Smith became the NFL’s first full-time female coach while working with the Bills in 2016.

Still, WFAN’s Mike Francesa thinks it would be “impossible” for a woman to be a head coach for a team of men.
On Wednesday, a caller asked Francesa if the radio host expected to see someone like Hammon take over a team in his lifetime. Francesa dismissed the notion as being outside the realm of possibility, saying Hammon had “no shot” to become a head coach.

“To be the head coach of an NBA team?” Francesa asked. “No shot. The odds on that are a million-to-one, and if it wasn’t the most dominant coach in the league doing that, I don’t think anyone else would hire a woman right now.”

Hammon was hired by Spurs coach Gregg Popovich in 2014 after attending team practices and meetings the previous year. In 2015, she coached the Spurs’ NBA Summer League team, leading it to the Las Vegas Summer League title.

“I think it’s an honorable thing, but the bottom line is what you’re asking her to do is an incredibly difficult thing to do,” Francesa said. “It’s not something that makes sense to even aspire to.”

The caller mentioned his daughter who has an interest in sports, but Francesa was adamant that she would have no avenue to professional coaching.

“Here’s your thing — you have decided that your daughter should be allowed to manage a professional team. Let’s be honest, your daughter, maybe she’ll become a great athlete. Maybe she’ll become a great executive. But the problem is there’s not gonna be an avenue for her to manage a major- league men’s team,” Francesa said. “First of all, do you know how difficult it would be for a female to manage 25 men? Or 50 men? Do you know how impossible that would be?”

The caller answered that it would be tough, to which Francesa responded, “It wouldn’t be tough. It would be impossible. You’re gonna tell me that you would think a woman could walk in to an NFL team and coach as a head coach, 15 assistants and 50 to 60 men?”

When I was 12 I dreamed of being the manager of an MLB team. I decided not to pursue that, but it wasn’t because anyone told me I couldn’t. I agree with the caller that it would be tough. Really tough. However, I disagree with Francesa that it would be impossible. It’s not happening any time soon but it’s not impossible. There is currently a woman MLB coach and there was, until recently, another in the NFL. It’s not unfathomable to say they could be a manager or head coach one day, but the chances are slim. I even doubt it will happen, but I don’t think it’s something women shouldn’t aspire to.

By definition, what Francesa said here is sexist. Saying a woman can’t do something because she’s a woman is sexist. But he’s not completely wrong. And that’s the real problem.

I see where he’s is coming from. It would be extremely difficult for a woman to coach an MLB or NFL or NBA team because where would they come from and how would they get there? As Mike said, there’s no real pathway currently for women to coach on this level. As of right now, it is virtually impossible because there aren’t any women in positions where they can move directly to a head coaching job should one open up. But that doesn’t mean it won’t be impossible in the future. Just not in the near future.

I’m not offended by this at all because this is Mike Francesa saying this. Of course he’s going to say this. There’s never been a woman head coach or manager so he thinks there never can be. He’s a traditionalist who just learned what Uber is yesterday.

And I agree with Francesa that Susyn Waldman couldn’t manage the Yankees. She’s insufferable.

ALSO, Mike: You said someone can’t coach a team on a major league level if he (or she) hasn’t played the game. Not that this story is even necessarily true, but you said in the past you were offered a job in the NFL in the 90’s, possibly to coach, but you never played football. so based on what you said here, you are unqualified to coach an NFL team and I know you don’t believe that.

Though because Francesa had a “baseball career” in high school, he would be qualified to manage an MLB team. It’s a shame his bad knees cut that career short.

In a Twitter fight, Curt Schilling tells Rosie O’Donnell she’s spewing ‘poop and lies’

03.02.17 at 4:35 pm ET
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Curt Schilling has been a steadfast supporter of President Donald Trump. (Howard Smith/USA TODAY Sports)

Curt Schilling has been a steadfast supporter of President Donald Trump. (Howard Smith/USA TODAY Sports)

Curt Schilling and Rosie O’Donnell might be two of the most loudmouthed and opinionated people in the United States. It’s only fitting they’ve been entangled in a Twitter war with each other.

The war of words started when a random user named Mike shared a video with Schilling of O’Donnell calling for Donald Trump’s impeachment at a rally Tuesday. The liberal comedian led an anti-Trump event in front of the White House before the President spoke in front of a joint session of Congress.

“The evidence against Trump and Russia is huge and mounting every day. We see it, he can’t lie about it,” she said. “He is going down and so will all of his administration. The charge is treason.”

The FBI continues to investigate ties between Trump and Russia, after 17 federal intelligence agencies concluded last year the Kremlin interfered in the election on his behalf. Three Trump officials –– former campaign manager Paul Manafort, ex-foreign policy advisor Carter Page and short-lived national security advisor, Gen. Michael Flynn –– have all been forced to step down due to their ties to Vladimir Putin’s autocracy. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is now also under scrutiny, after the Washington Post reported he met twice with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. while he was serving on Trump’s campaign. In his confirmation hearing, Sessions denied having any contact with Russian officials.

In response to O’Donnell’s claims, Schilling said she was spewing “poop and lies.”

Schilling then brought up O’Donnell’s disparaging comments about Trump’s 10-year-old son, Barron. The bombastic actress questioned in December whether Barron Trump is autistic, saying it potentially represented an “amazing opportunity” to bring attention to the epidemic. She apologized after Melania Trump threatened legal action.

O’Donnell tweeted “f— u” to Schilling, ending the conversation.

It’s been a busy stretch on Twitter for Schilling, who was smacked down earlier this week by former Missouri Secretary of State and U.S. army veteran, Jason Kander. He also recently defended right-wing troll Milo Yiannopoulos, then retreated after hearing the former Breitbart editor’s rationalization of pederasty.

Add his beef with O’Donnell to the list of greatest hits.

Read More: Curt Schilling,

Teenage transgender wrestling champion Mack Beggs is a living embodiment of courage

03.02.17 at 3:10 pm ET
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The word “courageous” gets tossed around carelessly these days. But in a sports context, it’s difficult to think of somebody who fits the word better than Mack Beggs, the 17-year-old transgender Texas state girls’ wrestling champion.

Beggs, who identifies as male, wasn’t permitted to wrestle boys this year. The University Interscholastic League, which oversees athletics in Texas public schools, says students’ genders must be based off their birth certificates. So Beggs was forced to wrestle girls. He went 56-0 this season and knocked off Chelsea Sanchez for the 110-pound weight class title last weekend. When the Euless Trinity junior’s hand was raised in victory, he was greeted with an impassioned mix of boos and cheers.

“I just heard the boos, but I heard more cheering,” Beggs told ESPN Wednesday. “Honestly, I was like, ‘You know what? Boo all you want, because you’re just hating. You hating ain’t going to get me and you nowhere, and I’m just going to keep on doing what I’ve got to do.’

Many of Beggs’ detractors, including WEEI’s Gerry Callahan, say he shouldn’t have been allowed to compete at all.

“Sometimes you’re not allowed to do what you want to do,” Callahan told me on the radio this week. “It’s totally unfair to ask a boy to make a move –– a lot moves go right to the crotch. You want a boy doing that to a girl?”

It wasn’t Beggs’ choice to wrestle in the girls’ division. His attorney says he wanted to face boys, but was rebuffed. At that moment, he was faced with a choice: stop wrestling because of who he is, or keep pressing forward. Beggs chose the latter, and says he was faced with taunts throughout the entirety of the season. He was called “”f—-t” and “it,” with some opponents declining to step onto the mat with him. One of his friends’ fathers even sued him, saying he will bring “imminent threat of bodily harm” to the girls he’s competing against.

That’s a lot of trouble to go through just to wrestle. People who suggest Beggs, or other student-athletes in his position, change their gender identities to gain a competitive advantage are out of their minds. Beggs just wants to embrace who he is.

“You just have to stay strong,” he said. “There’s going to be sucky days. There is going to be sucky days, believe me. … There’s always going to be another day. There’s always going to be another week. You’ve just got to keep on rolling.”

It’s understandable why some parents are apprehensive about their daughters facing Beggs, who’s been taking testosterone injections in order to expedite his transition from female-to-male. But the fault here lies with the UIL, which prohibits Beggs from competing against other males. Irate parents should take their complaints to the state. It’s not Beggs’ responsibility to worry about the comfort of his opponents. He must do what’s best for him.

Transgender kids are some of the most vulnerable people in the U.S. More than 80 percent of transgender students say they feel threatened at school, and 41 percent of transgender people say they’ve tried to commit suicide at least once in their lives. The suicide attempt rate of the overall U.S. population is 4.6 percent.

In his interview with ESPN, Beggs said he thought about taking his own life when he was in seventh grade. By refusing to cower to social pressure, he may now be a role model to other transgender kids who are entertaining those same dark thoughts. Thanks to the Trump administration’s decision to overturn federal protections for transgender students, a simple act like going to the bathroom could now be a traumatizing experience for some. Imagine living in a world where you’re perceived as such an outcast, that performing even a basic bodily function could invite scorn and ridicule. It’s important for the marginalized to see others who stand up against adversity, and raise their hands high –– just like Beggs.

Today, only 16 states and the District of Columbia permit transgender student-athletes to compete based on their gender identity sans medical intervention. Seven states require an amended birth certificate or proof of medical action, such as surgery or hormones. In Texas, birth certificates can only be changed with a court order. It’s an expensive and arduous process, meant to make it difficult for transgender people to be who they are.

After going through this season, perhaps Beggs will serve as a trailblazer when it comes to transgender rights in the athletic community. It’s his most consequential fight yet.