The Altas Society Asks Michele Tafoya

September 06, 2023 00:59:51
The Altas Society Asks Michele Tafoya
The Atlas Society Presents - The Atlas Society Asks
The Altas Society Asks Michele Tafoya

Sep 06 2023 | 00:59:51

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Show Notes

Join CEO Jennifer Grossman on the 168th episode of The Atlas Society Asks, where she interviews famed American sportscaster Michele Tafoya and why her growing disenchantment with increasingly work sports coverage and desire to have a more unconstrained voice on politics led her to leave her longtime post at NBC Sunday Night Football.

Michele Tafoya runs the "Let's Get Sane" Substack Column and hosts the Michele Tafoya Podcast, where she interviews guests to discuss the state of American politics and culture. She is also the narrator of an upcoming documentary, "Triangle Park," based on the very first NFL game ever played -- at Triangle Park in Dayton, Ohio. Check out more from Michele Tafoya on her website: https://micheletafoya.com/

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Episode Transcript

Speaker 0 00:00:00 <silence> Hello everyone, and welcome to the 168 episode of the Atlas Society asks, my name is Jennifer Anju Grossman. My friends call me Jag. I am the c e o of the Atlas Society. We are the leading nonprofit organization, engaging young people with the ideas of Ayy Rand in fun, creative ways, including graphic novels and animated videos. Today we are joined by Michelle Tafoya. Before I even begin to introduce my guest, I wanna remind all of you who are watching us on Zoom, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube. Go ahead, line up, start, uh, asking your questions, type them into the comment bar, and we will get to as many of them as we can. So, our guest today, Michelle Tafoya, of course, is an American sportscaster and journalist. Until last year, she was a sideline reporter for N B C, uh, Sunday Night Football. Today, she runs the Let's Get Sane Substate column and hosts the Michelle Tafoya podcast, where she interviews guests to discuss the state of American politics and culture. And yesterday we just got the news that, uh, she will narrate a new documentary called Triangle Park based on the very first N F L game ever played over a hundred years ago at Triangle Park in Dayton, Ohio. Very exciting. Michelle, thanks for joining us. Speaker 1 00:01:33 I'm so glad to be here. Thanks for having me. Speaker 0 00:01:36 So, our audience always likes to begin with our guest's origin story. We were chatting just a little bit, uh, before the show, and I understand that you, uh, were, you grew up not far from here, um, in California. Yes. Speaker 1 00:01:51 Uh, my parents were both from Northern California. They both, they met at uc, Berkeley pre, uh, free speech movement. And, um, they came down here to down south to Southern California and raised four kids in Manhattan Beach. My dad was an aerospace engineer, and my mom was a school teacher. And on that very, uh, humble, uh, sort of sum of money, they raised four of us sent us all to college. And, uh, I'm grateful. My mom still 92 years old, lives in the same home I grew up in, so I, I feel, still feel an attachment to that place. Speaker 0 00:02:25 Wow. So, uh, what were, what was your path to becoming a sportscaster? Did you go into journalism first? Were you interested in sports? Speaker 1 00:02:37 I loved sports. It was such a part of our family's life. My dad was a massive San Francisco 49 ERs fan, because he grew up up there. And so, you know, even though we were living in LA and everyone we knew was an LA Rams fan, we were the, you know, sort of the people who stuck out Oh, those Niners fans, you know, and we, uh, went through a lot of mostly downs with the 49 ERs until a guy named Joe Montana got there. And Bill Walsh was the, uh, head coach. And then we enjoyed this unbelievable stretch of glory, and it was so fun. And I absolutely loved the game of football. I, I played quarterback on my fly football team in sixth grade in elementary school. I loved football more than any other sport. And, you know, I knew there was no future for me in it, but I loved it. Speaker 1 00:03:24 And I followed it every day for pretty much my whole life. Loved basketball too, and played other sports. And my brother was a big basketball star in our town. Um, but something about football just always stayed with me. Now, if you had told me when I was leaving to go to college, you're gonna wind up being, uh, a, an N F L side rep report, sideline reporter. I probably would've gone, yeah, I don't know, <laugh>, but somehow along the line, my utter addiction to, to football and my desire to be a, a broadcast journalist, those two things merged. Uh, I made a pit stop at U S C for a, a Master's in Business along the way, just to make sure I had my ducks in a row if things didn't go well. And then I set off on this long odyssey toward becoming a, a sideline reporter on the N F L. And it took many years, and it took a lot of radio, and it took a lot of, you know, uh, bumping and stumbling through television. But, uh, ultimately I, I, I wound up there somehow <laugh>. Speaker 0 00:04:25 Interesting. So you really did follow your passion, um, both, yeah. In terms of getting into, uh, being a sportscaster and then eventually, um, getting out of it. So we're gonna talk a little bit about that. But, uh, in, in, uh, talking about your early influences, I understand you also read several of e Rand's books starting with We, the Living, which is always a great way to start, is to, to read them in order. Speaker 1 00:04:53 That, that's what I thought. I'm glad you said that, because I, you know, everyone talks about Atla, Atlas Shrugged, and of course, the Fountain Head. But I, I said, if I'm gonna get into these, I'm gonna start at the beginning. So I started with We, the Living, and it had a profound impact on me, particularly the ending. And it just, um, it just made me appreciate so many things from a different point of view, freedom for one, um, liberty, uh, the ability to be who you want to be, who you think you're meant to be. Um, so all of those things really resonated with me. And so I just kept going on and, and read the, the three big ones. And, um, you know, I just, they've always stayed with me. Um, I just felt they, they were engrossing, they captivated me. I really had a hard time putting them down, frankly. And so I, I don't know how many schools these days mandate these books or, you know, as part of the curriculum, but I just think they're so highly valuable, and they definitely had an influence on me, me and my worldview. Speaker 0 00:05:59 And what about your kids? Have you gotten them into, uh, <laugh> reading, following in your footsteps, <laugh>? Speaker 1 00:06:04 Oh, well, you know, we're gonna try with these three. Uh, I have two kids with the three books. I mean, um, they're, my daughter's a little too young yet, uh, although they do have her reading Homer's The Odyssey right now. Uh, and so we'll see if she can handle, uh, Ayn Rand. I think she can, my son's we'll, also, what's that? Speaker 0 00:06:24 I said we could send you some, some graphic novels Speaker 1 00:06:27 As well, that, you know what, that would be awesome. Because they do those things. See, I don't remember those growing up. Exactly. Speaker 0 00:06:33 Yeah. Speaker 1 00:06:34 My kids have them in droves, you know, they just, they've got stacks of 'em. And it is such a great way, I think, for them to, to get through books and maybe subject matter, that's a little bit, that's a little bit heavier. Uh, but yes, that would be a fabulous idea. My son will leave for college next, uh, next fall. And so, uh, I'd love it if he had some of this under his belt before he went, Speaker 0 00:06:55 All right, we will, uh, make that happen. We've got That's so sweet. Um, Anthem as a graphic novel, and that, uh, the, uh, illustrator is a, a Marvel Comics illustrator. Oh my Speaker 1 00:07:06 Goodness. Speaker 0 00:07:07 Yeah. A little known, um, play. No, uh, it was a screenplay that Ayn Rand wrote called Red Pawn. Um, and that never got made. And it set on a, uh, a, a prison island, used to be a monastery, but it was turned into a prison island in the, in the Soviet Union. So, again, has a little bit of that. Uh, we, the living feel, right. And, um, we are about to come out with a new graphic novel, uh, based on notes Ayn Rand made for a screenplay about Oppenheimer and the making of the atomic bomb. We did not know that this, uh, the movie was coming out before we, uh, embarked on this project. So, Speaker 1 00:07:51 Amazing timing. Speaker 0 00:07:52 Yeah. Because, you know, um, in, in the late 1970s, 70% of kids were reading books on a daily basis. That percentage is now 12%. But that one genre that is defied all of, uh, those downward reading trends is graphic novels. So, um, so that's what we're doing. Uh, alright. So, um, before getting into your remarkable decision to, to leave your professional sports casting, uh, career at the pinnacle of, uh, of your success, um, if there is a personal sort of hall of fame for you, in terms of interviews you were really proud of, or, or just moments, historic moments in sports that you were really proud to be a part of, what might some of those be? Speaker 1 00:08:41 Oh my gosh. Uh, you know, there are so many, but let me tell you about the first one that comes to mind, because it was actually not really a sports related incident at all. Yes. It happened at an N F L game. Uh, the head coach was Gary Kubiak of the Houston Texans. And right as we went to halftime, my job is to interview both of the coaches one on the way into his locker room, and then the other one on the way out after halftime has ended. So I was running into the locker room with Jim Caldwell and the head coach of the Indianapolis Colts, and I was talking to him, and we have a little earpiece that we wear during the game, so we can hear our producer and director. And I always take it out when I go to do these interviews so I can hear the coach better. Speaker 1 00:09:25 Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. But it was, it was literally, it was out of my ear, but it was sitting right here on my shoulder. So just imagine a little tiny speaker sitting on your shoulder. And I suddenly heard this Michelle, Michelle, Michelle, coming from this little speaker. It's kinda like Horton. Here's a who. And I, I sort of looked down and I said, coach, I gotta go. And I put, I'm like, what do you, what? I'm interviewing Calwell. And they said, somebody's down on the field, somebody's down. So I turned around and I sprinted back onto the field, and it turns out it was Gary Kubiak, the head coach of the Houston Texans down on his back. As he was leaving the field, he simply collapsed. And so now this went from being sports reporting to being, you know, breaking news and a man's life. And as I, you know, you're trying to watch and observe, and I was thinking to myself the entire time, are we gonna see this man get up? Speaker 1 00:10:23 Or are we not gonna see this man get up? You see, is what is happening. You have there a zillion possibilities, right? And, but of course, as a reporter, the worst one comes to mind, and you're trying to prepare for that, and you're trying to stay mentally engaged. So covering that story for the rest of the game was probably the most remarkable, uh, moment of my career, and certainly one that called upon skills I didn't even know I had. So we all were very proud of the way we handled that. Um, we had Bob Costas hosting the halftime. We had Al Michaels and Chris Collinsworth in the booth, and I was on the field, and I was just the only touchpoint of information for people. So it was, it was, it was a little scary. And it was definitely, um, I think we're all very proud of the way we handled it. Speaker 1 00:11:10 But there were others, uh, you know, and, and covering Michael Phelps for his final Olympic games in Rio Dero Wow. Was, that was an absolute treat. What a treat. And the whole team, team, u s a in the water exceeded expectations in almost every single event. And here, you know, the beauty of covering, and I just got a little goosebump, the beauty of covering the Olympics for N B C, whoever the American network is, is you kind of get to be a little bit of a homer. You get to be a little bit of a cheerleader. You know, you're gonna cover every athlete. If an Italian wins, you're gonna interview the Italian. And, but of course, we are broadcasting to America. So those are the stories everyone wants to know. And it was just such a joy to watch our team utterly blow away the expectations of everybody, I think, including themselves. And what, uh, I would walk out of that aquatic center every night and go, I can't believe this is my job. I can't believe I'm, I'm being paid to do this. This is like, I'd do this for free. It was that much fun and that joyous. And there are so many more, but those two immediately come to mind. Speaker 0 00:12:19 Well, you know, in listening to you speak, my, my heart almost hurts a little bit because you're describing a really remarkable career, one that you clearly love, that you were very proud of, that you'd worked very hard for. So it hurts that you felt like you needed to leave, but it sounds in a way that you weren't so much leaving something behind, but maybe moving towards something that was speaking to you. And I think you've been totally <laugh>, uh, classy in, in, in the way that you've talked about your, uh, decision and saying that no one had pressured you. But I, I can't help but wonder if you felt any, you know, kind of alienation or, uh, any heat for some of the things that maybe you posted on social media or just any tension? No, Speaker 1 00:13:18 No. Honestly, no. Um, look, when I was at Sunday Night Football, we were the number one show on primetime for 11 straight years while I was there. And we knew that we didn't wanna taint that in any way. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And so we all sort of, there was this, this unwritten agreement that we were not gonna be quote unquote controversial, uh mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Uh, and, and so we all, and I knew, and, and I had asked if I could do a podcast sort of a parallel, you know, on the side. And I did a demo for N B C to, so they'd know what I was gonna be doing. And they said, look, we get it, but can you just wait until you're done here? And I respected that because they just didn't want to court any controversy. And then during my final season, and we all knew it was my final season for about three seasons, we knew, which was my final season. Speaker 1 00:14:13 Not everyone knew that, but we knew it. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Um, I had given my notice in 2018, and I was asked if I could stay on to do another Olympic games and do another Super Bowl. And I said, okay, I'll do that. And so that meant I had to again, sort of stifle all these other things that I wanted to say. I could say them around my, my workmates. I could say, trust me, there are a lot of people who are very much in agreement with a lot of my viewpoints that I worked with. So it was very well known the way that I saw the world. But in that final year, um, the view asked me to come on and audition for their conservative host position, and I asked permission to do that. And my producer said, yeah, you know what? Because this is your last season. Speaker 1 00:14:58 Go ahead. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And, um, so I went on there and I said, <laugh> some things that, that they weren't necessarily comfortable with. So they said, you know what? That one week on the view was probably enough, let's leave it at that. So I finished out the season and, and no, I never, ever once felt pressured. In fact, if I felt any pressure, it was to stay, not to leave. Interesting. And yeah. And I, I just couldn't because I, I, I imagine in in any of Ayn Rand's books, uh, any of her heroines, if they had been forced to keep secret, all of their, the things, their feelings, their thoughts, their ambitions, you know, you wanna jump off a bridge, right? You can't, you can't. I hear you. Keep it in. So I, I, I made the decision to leave because I, I just had to be part of a bigger conversation. Speaker 0 00:15:49 You know, I, uh, that resonates with me. I worked at a Dole Food company for 12 years, and, uh, and it was a great job. And I started this nutrition institute, but my heart was, you know, <laugh> elsewhere. I I really felt like there was something very serious happening to the nation. And as important as nutrition was, um, and trying to get people to put healthy things into their body, I felt that, uh, what was calling to me was I needed to have people put healthy ideas, healthy values, healthy principles, right? Yes. That there was a kind of, we talk about nutrition, defense deficiencies, but that there was, um, a spiritual deficiency that was even more, uh, kind of deadly than, um, lack of nutrition. Now, um, so I'm hearing you, which is surprising about, uh, your time and that you did not feel alienated, and that there were, in fact lots of other people that kind of shared your views, but you just kind of kept it, uh, you know, straight and you kept foc the focus on the game. Speaker 0 00:17:04 But I, I have heard that others have criticized what they, uh, see as some of the increasingly woke, um, di direction of sports casting. And, uh, and we're talking about sports. So, you know, you think it would be the far farthest thing from politics. You interviewed Sage Steele, for example, um, who was suspended from E S P N for comments, she made expressing, uh, conservative opinions on a range of issues. So you have been extremely gracious. Um, but do you, is, is that criticism fair? Um, yes. Maybe it wasn't at N B C Sports, but other networks, or Speaker 1 00:17:46 It's not just the networks. It it's the leagues. Yeah. It's the N F L, the N B A. Mm-hmm. The N H L Major League Baseball, the W N B A, it, it's, it's the leagues as well. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And, um, I mean, for, you know, just, look, I am a free speech absolutist mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So when Colin Kaepernick of the San Francisco, San Francisco 49 ERs decides he wants to kneel during the national anthem. Originally he was just sitting on a, on the bench mm-hmm. <affirmative>, which I found, I found disrespectful. 'cause I love my country, and I know what people have sacrificed to keep it the freest place on earth. So I, I, I questioned him. I questioned what he knew, what was behind it, and I, and I, I was disappointed. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Okay. So that's, that's my right. I can own my own opinion. Speaker 1 00:18:40 Um, you don't go on the air and say that, but you can feel it inside of yourself. And, and it, that's where I saw it begin. And of course, in 2016 when Trump was running for office and, and went off on these players and called them names for kneeling, uh, you know, a lot of the country said, yay, yay. We love that we, because we're, we're angry too. We don't like seeing these young men who are making a fortune do this. But at the same time, if you love America, you love freedom of speech and freedom of expression. It's just very interesting though. Sports is supposed to, as you said, be this place, bring people together. Yeah. Yes. Where you come together and that stuff goes away. Remember when Whitney Houston sang at the Super Bowl, the, the, she sang the national anthem. We were in the first Iraq war, and the place, I mean, went bananas. Speaker 1 00:19:33 And the, the sense of pride we all had mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And then of course, of course, post nine 11, the, the unity that lasted about six days. I'm being facetious, but you know what I mean, we all, you know, everyone was arm in arm. We had this common adversary, and we, we knew we had been attacked, and our liberties were being attacked. That was my great awakening, was nine 11. But having said that, um, this, this whole thing just kept bubbling up within the world of sports. And, um, and it really, I, I think someone asked me recently, when do you think sports really turned that may became a political thing? I mean, you can go back to the Mexico City games where, you know, the black power fists were held in the air. But I, I do think on a, on a mass scale, the N f L's, the most popular sport in the United States of America, when you had players start to kneel, and the fans didn't like that mm-hmm. <affirmative>, that was the beginning of a fisher between fans and players. Interesting. Yeah. I, I really do think that that was the beginning of it. So it's not just the networks, although, yes, I have seen announcers on E S P N, sage steel's, old, old, old place of employment, make very political statements on the air, but they happen to be, you know, leftist statements. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> and those interesting, those are encouraged. Speaker 0 00:20:57 All right. And also encouraged is people asking questions. So we are going to be turning to those in a little bit. I wanna remind all of you that are watching, this is a really neat opportunity to ask the questions to the woman who, uh, was u usually the one with the microphone. So <laugh>, um, we're gonna do that in, in a, in a second. Um, we wanted to talk to you about, uh, the vaccine mandates and, uh, the, the lockdowns. Um, another recent guest that I had on this show is, uh, ed Dowd. He wrote a book called Cause Unknown, the Epidemic of Sudden Deaths in 2021 and 2022. Um, he covers the increased incidences of, uh, sudden Death among young athletes. Uh, specifically, he, uh, looks at what's happened over the past couple of years, compares that with a historical data, um, a study called the La Zine Study, which looked at again, sudden, uh, deaths by, specifically by athletes. Speaker 0 00:22:04 And over the course of a 38 year period, they found an average of about 29 such deaths among healthy athletes a year. Um, Dowd in his book notes that that number has, has now how many of these sudden deaths among athletes that are happening, uh, every month. So, um, I just, you know, obviously vaccines, the mandates, um, we, you know, we saw some high profile examples of, uh, of athletes, um, who didn't want to take the vaccine, and mm-hmm. <affirmative> had to suffer the consequences of that. Uh, was this, was this a topic of any speculation in the sports casting world, to your knowledge Speaker 1 00:22:51 As far as the sudden deaths? Uh, not so much, although I, I think, I think people are scratching their head for sure. Look, the covid season of the N F L was the strangest season I ever covered. We were masked up, we were separated. We couldn't really go to practice unless we tested positive, or excuse me, negative, like twice the week heading into the game. All these rules and regulations. And the one that bothered everyone the most was the masking up. We had to do it on airplanes. We were traveling every week. We had to sit in cars together in masks. We had to be in meetings and masks, or we held our meetings on Zoom. All of those things happened, and it was extraordinarily frustrating. And I remember we got to this point that said, man, when that vaccine comes out, I'm taking it. Speaker 1 00:23:36 I'm done with this masking up stuff. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, right? You were just ready. You thought it was gonna be like a flu shot. So those of us working in the N F L were required mm-hmm. <affirmative> and those playing in the N F L were required. As you mentioned, a few got away with not doing it. Most notable example, Aaron Rogers, who was then the quarterback of the Green Bay Packers, uh, now with the Jets. And so we did it. We wanted to keep working. We wanted all this stuff to keep happening. Um, later on, you saw these, these examples of not just the sudden deaths, but I was actually contacted by some people here in my, where I live now, they had formed a group of vaccine injured. And so I met with them, and there were about 10 of these women who all sat there and told me how they were physically before the vaccine. And now what's happened to them. Many of them are absolutely debilitated. Um, one was a marathon runner. She can now barely get off the couch, and you have to ask yourself, and, you know, every doctor that visits with her. So I don't, I don't know. I don't know what's going on, what Speaker 0 00:24:41 Happens, right? Speaker 1 00:24:42 Yeah. And so, and then the myocarditis, which we know happened, right. That was, that was studies proven, documented. Speaker 0 00:24:48 Mm-hmm. Speaker 1 00:24:49 <affirmative>. Right. So I, I think, I think if we don't talk about it, we're doing ourselves a huge disservice. Right. I think, and I think the other thing that really bothers me about this is that the drug companies who made these vaccines were granted, you know, they, they weren't gonna be liable for any kind of injury that occurred. And that's a really scary thing, particularly when it's going to be a mandated drug, as in so many places. It was. So, um, if we, I know when DeMar Hamlin had that sudden, he had a heart attack basically on the field last season. Uh, I, I know there was speculation, and people may not have said it out loud 'cause they don't wanna be viewed as conspiracy theorists, but certainly there was that speculation Speaker 0 00:25:37 And we, we should be able to talk about that. Exactly. Um, you know, I, I, uh, that, that interview that I did, again, the book is pretty, uh, well researched and, um, you know, the, the documentation is, is all there. That interview got taken down from YouTube. So I hope this interview does not, um, Speaker 1 00:26:00 You know, that, that is ridiculous. That is ridiculous. Because I, I suppose what they're telling you is that's misinformation. Is that the idea for taking Speaker 0 00:26:10 It down? I know, but you know, if, if, if somebody has a problem with it, then what's, uh, you know, best way to fight one man's misinformation is with, uh, you know, other information Yeah. And other data. So, um, not by suppressing it, because frankly, that makes you, uh, makes people even more suspicious. Yes. Um, particularly when we're talking about things that are, you know, documentable, <laugh>, <laugh>, it's, it's not like it's, uh, we're talking about fairies and, uh, ghosts. I mean, they, they, they are, these are things that, that should be able to be debated. Um, no Speaker 1 00:26:48 Question. And, and frankly, that is one of the things that drove me to leave my previous job, is that people were afraid to talk. I mean, this is the United States of America, and if you're afraid to talk or you're afraid to post something on a, on your social media channel, and I get why they are, we see what happens to some of the brave souls who do it, right? Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, we've seen people lose livelihoods, lose their jobs, lose friends, lose family members. Uh, just, it's astonishing. I I can't even believe that this stuff is happening. Speaker 0 00:27:24 All right. We're gonna get to some of these questions on, uh, Instagram. My modern Gult asks, hi, Michelle, could you please settle a bet? Texans or Cowboys? Who is better? I don't even know what to make a bet with. Well, Speaker 1 00:27:39 Yeah. You know, what we're gonna see, uh, I, I say if, if I would be a fool to predict going into this season what I think is going to happen and who is going to be better, they, every year, and we all talked about this, you, you go into a football season and you think, you know who, who the heavy favorites are. You know, obviously the defending Super Bowl champs, blah, blah, blah, but you think you know what's gonna go on in each division, and so on and so forth. And then you just get proven so wrong every year. So you think, you know, but you don't know. So I will not say which one is better, although I will say that, um, you know, the Cowboys have done a very, very good job of putting a good offensive line together. And that always helps. But again, I, I not gonna say it, not gonna, but it's not a good bet because there's no wrong or right there. <laugh>. Speaker 0 00:28:29 All right. On, uh, Facebook, Candace Marina asks, um, Michelle, in your years as a sports reporter, what is the biggest change you've seen? Speaker 1 00:28:39 Hmm. Probably the biggest one, and it's a really fair question, is, is more women, you know? Yeah. When, when I was doing it, I started in Charlotte, North Carolina, and I think there were maybe two of us in the whole area of the Carolinas. And you see so many more women now in Playby play in analyst roles. Doris Burke, an old friend of mine, is an N B A analyst now, she's, uh, she's done great things. She's made history. And so I just think the increase of women at, in all areas, and you've got officials now. Sarah Thomas is another friend of mine, she's an N F L official on the field. She's the first one made history. So I think that you're just, you're seeing a lot more of that, and in very appropriate spots too, in, in front offices and coaching staff. So that, I think that's been the biggest change, Speaker 0 00:29:28 Um, having both of us live through the whole, uh, me Too moment. And, uh, started our careers years earlier, being one of the only, uh, women. In doing what you were doing in sports casting at the time, did you experience much? Um, I don't know, sexism or, uh, resistance? Speaker 1 00:29:55 I, I will, I, I would be lying if I said there was none, but I will tell you what my approach was. Um, if it's there, I don't care, and I'm gonna kind of bulldoze over it or just ignore it. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, I think being offended is a choice. I think being, feeling victimized is a choice or marginalized now. Now, listen, I had moments where I was, I'd get really angry mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So I'm not saying I was all, you know, tough as nails all the time, but my general philosophy going in was, I'm not a woman competing in a man's world. I'm a journalist competing in a journalist world. My job is to provide information, to learn information, to dig, to report, and I'm gonna be the most prepared person in the room, and I'm gonna ask the right kinds of questions, and I'm gonna really think those through before I open my mouth. Speaker 1 00:30:48 And so, you know, if, if things happened, um, and I think they do in just about every feel between men and women, not just this one. Uh, certainly the, the ratio of men to women when I first started was, was gigantically, you know, uh, it was not balanced, but you, you just, you learn to be professional, and you act professional, and you tell yourself what you are and who you are, and that gets you through those any of those times. It also, it also, you give off a vibe when you're not gonna take any crap. Speaker 0 00:31:21 It's, it's so true. Yeah. You know, and I think having those, um, early experiences, I mean, if I look back to when I was in college and, you know, getting some very inappropriate, uh, attention from a professor or oh, you know, my first internship, but like at that point, you're, you're still getting your sea legs, right? Yeah. Right. And you don't have confidence, and you're able to actually be manipulated in a way. Yes. And there people will say, well, you know, you were wearing that, and if you weren't wearing, you know, that kind of thing. Yeah. But you learn, and I, I do. And of course, getting older helps too, <laugh> mm-hmm. <affirmative>, um, in, in, uh, limiting the unwanted attention. But, uh, I do think you kind of figure out the right vibe and how to carry yourself. And, um, it, it does make a big difference. Speaker 1 00:32:12 Be professional Speaker 0 00:32:14 <laugh>. Yes. Yes. All right. Uh, we've got another question on Twitter. Silas Connor's asking, speaking of Rio de Janeiro, uh, were all the horror stories regarding the Brazil Olympics? Rio? Speaker 1 00:32:27 Well, I'm not totally sure what horror stories he's, uh, ref they are referring to, to, but this, I'll say, um, <laugh>, I've covered, I covered five Olympic games, uh, nano Japan, Sydney, Australia, London, uh, Rio de Janeiro, and then, uh, Tokyo in 2021, the Covid games. And I will say that of all of those, Rio was probably the least prepared city. Um, there were, yeah, there were days where the concessions were empty by those Speaker 0 00:32:58 Brazilians <laugh>, yeah. Speaker 1 00:33:00 Concession stands were emptied by, you know, 11:00 AM Oh, sorry, we're out of everything. You know, so if those are the horror stories that he's talking about, some of those were true. But I will also say it's one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen. And I, I have nothing but wonderful memories of my time there. But, uh, you know, uh, so any of the other stuff, I'm not, I'm not totally sure, uh, what they're referring to. Speaker 0 00:33:27 All right. Um, George, Alex Opolis on Facebook is asking about, is there actually a push in sports to remove the barrier between men and women in sports? Or is it just these one-off situations that is kind of being overblown? Speaker 1 00:33:43 Huh? It, you know, here's why it's hard to say. It's being overblown. When you have organizations like the ncaa, like fifa, like, um, all the international bodies actually having to sit down and consider what their rules are going to be about trans women competing against women. And I would note that we haven't seen it go the other way. We haven't seen any women who are now trans men wanting to compete against men. We only see it in the one direction. And the fact that schools and universities, and like I said, all these organizations, these governing bodies are having to consider their rules about this. I don't think it's overblown. I think that this started quite a long time ago, and back then it was a one-off. Um, and it may still be just a case here and there, but it's enough to say, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. Speaker 0 00:34:35 Yeah, we gotta draw, draw the line. Speaker 1 00:34:36 We gotta draw the line. And we gotta think about what it meant when we signed ti signed Title IX and what it meant for women. We try to infringe on their opportunities. It just makes no sense to me. It's absolutely, and utterly unfair, Speaker 0 00:34:52 Very upside down. Um, yeah. All right. Zach Carter Facebook asking, aside from football, what would you consider your favorite sport? Speaker 1 00:35:02 Oh, gosh. Um, you know what? I have become a baseball fan. I, I never really was. I did see Nolan Ryan pitch a No hitter. Uh, that was my first ever major league baseball game. My dad took me and, um, and my brother, and we saw Nolan Ryan pitch a no hitter, which was so utterly thrilling. But after that, I really didn't have any interest. Then I married a baseball player, he played in college, and our son became a baseball player at a very young age. And so I'd sit at these T-ball games going, oh God, this has just come on. And the more they grew and the older they got, the more it started to look like, like baseball. And the more I learned the beautiful nuances of the game, it's such a fascinating game. It really is. Um, so many things to think about. So I have grown into a baseball fan. Um, I, I, I loved my time covering the N B A. As I said, I loved covering aquatics at the Olympics, but, uh, those would probably be the ones, and I shouldn't disappoint my daughter. She plays soccer, love soccer too. Yes, Speaker 0 00:36:01 I do. <laugh> all. Well, that was a disappointing moment, um, that the United States had to suffer women's soccer. Yeah. Um, alright. So, uh, Ken ha harms asks, why do you think the N F L has gone so woke? Is, is this the players or is this really a part of a, a broader kind of undermining of all of our institutions in society with this virus of, of victimhood and treating people not as individuals, but as one group or another group Yeah. Or gender, or this or that. Speaker 1 00:36:44 I, I think this has been building for a long time, and much like the frog in the pot of cold water, that is slowly brought to a boil. We didn't see how bad it was getting until we suddenly realized, wow, that water's really hot. Um, and now we see it in all our institutions. And so the leagues are no, um, they're not, you know, they, they're not immune. And so you have people in front offices and, um, people sort of creating the marketing messages and so on. And the George Floyd moment, which happened in my backyard here in Minnesota mm-hmm. <affirmative> was hugely important. Um, and it happened at a time when we were all locked down and could only watch that video over and over and over again. And it, you know, it, it was awful. It's hideous. It, it was a moment that everyone thought represented a vast, vast problem. Speaker 1 00:37:45 And, um, and we play it on people's guilt. And, you know, um, so I, I think it, this is a really tough one, but I think it's been around us longer than we knew. It just took the right set of circumstances to let it really sort of mushroom. And I do think it's out of control. And I do think that the media is a bit complicit in this because of the way that they st tell stories and the way that they don't tell stories. There are arrows of omission and commission and, and, and statistics get blown out of control. And to, and the next thing you know, you've got actresses in Hollywood saying they're hunting down black men in the street, which is not what's happening. And so, I, I, you know, we just got captured by it at a time during Covid, where I think everyone needed something to feel productive about, because we were all so unproductive at that time and or relatively unproductive. So, um, you know, I, I, it's, I I hope we find some equilibrium. I really do. I hope the pendulum swings back. Speaker 0 00:38:55 I'm optimistic. I'm optimistic. Uh, all right. Joe Skilly on Twitter has an interesting question. He's Speaker 1 00:39:03 Asking you. Doing a great job with these names, by the way. These aren't like your easy names. These aren't, you know, Sam Jones, this is, you're doing great. Speaker 0 00:39:11 Thanks. Um, uh, who knows, maybe someday I might grow up and become a sports C master Speaker 1 00:39:16 <laugh>. Speaker 0 00:39:16 Uh, all right. So Joe says, um, Michelle, how has Randy and protagonists like Dagney Taggart, um, shaped your vision and, and in, in navigating your life? What, what were some of the, uh, the principles that, that you took away and, um, that may have e even influenced your most recent decision? Um, because I see a lot of integrity in, uh, saying, I, I need to be all parts of me. Right. I, I can't just kind of compartmentalize my life anymore. Yeah. Speaker 1 00:39:55 I, I think that's a, a great way of sort of summarizing what those characters meant to me. I mean, you know, I think these characters were written at a time when no one else was writing characters like this. So Ayn Rand was way ahead of her time. And I, I think just that sense of being true to oneself, um, having integrity, doing the right thing, being strong, uh, in your convictions. And, and, and I have really taken a deep interest in a lot of different philosophies in the last five, 10 years. Stoicism is probably right there at the top of the list. And understanding that you really live with yourself more than you live with anyone else. And I've done a lot of self-loathing in my day, you know, from the time I was a kid. And, um, and, and I still do it from time to time, but it's so important to, to try to be, I don't know, just to, the potential looks like this. And when you utilize the potential and maximize it, it just, it's exponentially bigger. And I think that that's just important to me to live a life where I've expended all of my potential. And I don't even know if that's possible, but I certainly am gonna try. So I, I, I hope that answers the question. I, I just, you know, Speaker 0 00:41:22 Um, so you were interviewed by Tucker Carlson recently. You talked about, again, something that gave me a, you know, a little moment there, um, having to go to your kid's school and saying, Hey, I'm doing this. I'm making this decision. I'm gonna get involved in this campaign. Um, don't take it outta my kids. What does it say about our world where that patent even needs to be a, uh, consideration? Speaker 1 00:41:54 Well, like we were talking about earlier, every institution has been permeated by this kind of this mm-hmm. <affirmative> tribalism, these, um, identity politics and schools are certainly, no, no, again, not immune. They are, in fact, I think where Speaker 0 00:42:10 They're the forefront. Speaker 1 00:42:11 They're the, they're at the forefront, the front lines. This is where the stuff is rooted. Yes. And, um, you know, my kids are finishing up school at this particular place, and I didn't, I haven't always agreed with Speaker 0 00:42:25 All their, what they were being taught, Speaker 1 00:42:26 What they were being taught, or how, or, and, um, yeah, that, that, you know, I <laugh> there were times that I'd go in and I'd say, look, I, I'm gonna tell you how I feel about this. Please don't hold this against my son. Please don't hold this against my daughter. This is me. Speaker 0 00:42:41 And do you think, do you think they did? Do you think they, Speaker 1 00:42:44 I, so far I don't. I knew, I do know that one teacher would not have, usually the older kid goes through and the younger kid has the same teachers that the older kid did. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, it's sort of this, oh, we know them. And we'll, you know, uh, there was one teacher that didn't want to have anything to do with my family, uh, after I had addressed him about something. And so, yeah, my daughter was not in his class, but that was fine. She still got the education she was supposed to get. Um, but yeah, I, you know, I, I don't think they've been punished in any way. At least God, I, I, I hope they would tell me if they thought that way, but I think they're both thriving. So, fingers crossed. Speaker 0 00:43:20 How did they feel? How did they feel about your decision to take your career in a different direction? Speaker 1 00:43:26 You know, I'm Speaker 0 00:43:27 Happy to have <laugh> more of you around <laugh>. Speaker 1 00:43:30 I'm home a lot more. That can be good. And that can be not so good depending on the day. You know, anyone who's a parent knows that. Um, but I think that they, that they've always supported it. I mean, they only knew me in that one way, and we didn't have any serious talks about it. I was gonna do it, uh, regardless, because I, I had to, I just, I, I had to, it was like a feeling of, if I don't, I'm gonna just crumble. And, um, and so, no, it's been, it's been fine. Um, I don't think they feel like they've missed anything or that they're missing anything now. Um, so yeah. It's, it's, it's all good. I, I, I do know that as they've grown up now, my son in particular doesn't wanna talk politics with me anymore. I think he's just kind of tired of it. My daughter's a very good listener, though. And, uh, I think she's got a good head on her shoulders. <laugh>. Speaker 0 00:44:24 That's good. Well, uh, yeah. As your son goes off to college Speaker 1 00:44:29 Right now, Speaker 0 00:44:30 We'll hope for the best. Speaker 1 00:44:31 We will keep our fingers crossed. Speaker 0 00:44:33 Yeah. Well, and, and we're gonna get you those, uh, those graphic novels. Speaker 1 00:44:37 That's awesome. Thank you. Speaker 0 00:44:40 Act as a prophylactic. Yeah. <laugh>, um, the toxic, toxic ideological waters he's going to be waiting into. Speaker 1 00:44:48 Yes. I, he's finally, my son is filing reading, uh, meditations by Marcus Aurelius. So I was thrilled with that. And that was completely voluntary, so I was like, wow. That's good. Speaker 0 00:44:59 Uh, so yeah. So talk a little bit about, uh, sideline Sanity. How did you get the idea for that? Any favorite episodes? Speaker 1 00:45:08 So, I started this podcast, which I thought was gonna be the best way for me to just make this transition to whatever was going to be next. And I originally called it Sideline Sanity, because the alliteration and going from sideline mm-hmm. To wanting to talk about things that are, I feel like we're living in insane times. And I think you, like you said, the world is a little bit upside down right now. So I thought Sideline Sanity, uh, a little very recently, I changed it just to the Michelle Tafoya podcast. 'cause apparently people thought it was a sports show, and they tune in and they were sorely disappointed. I wasn't talking about sports, but it has been a lot of fun. I have interviewed authors, I've interviewed activists, I have interviewed politicians. I've interviewed other podcast hosts. I've, um, I've, I've been able to do and learn so much. Speaker 1 00:45:52 And I, I, I really am, you know, kind of honing in on what it is that I, that's the most important to me, uh mm-hmm. <affirmative>, and those things are, education is probably number one. Um, this gender ideology is right up there. The border is right up there for me. I feel like we're losing our country. And I listen, my my parents, my grandparents came from another country, so it's not like I'm anti-immigration. There's a vast, vast difference between anti-immigrant and, you know, anti-illegal immigration. So the, I I, I welcome people that wanna be here. I wish they'd come legally, and I wish they'd come safely. Right. Well, Speaker 0 00:46:29 We can't have anarchy. You know, we can't have anarchy at the border. We, we have, you know, there's, there's, I don't see a big role for government, but it should be able to do just, you know, a couple of things, including protecting the border and protecting us from violent crime. Um, speaking of which, so there you are, right. In Minneapolis, uh, with your family. Any thoughts on the whole defund the police movement? Do, do you feel like Minneapolis has recovered from that? Were, were you there during the riots? What was that like? Speaker 1 00:47:05 Uh, yeah. I was here during the riots, um, you know, and there were curfews and it was discomforting. And, um, and I think the city, it took a massive toll on the city. There are parts of the city that are still just, uh, businesses boarded up and you don't feel safe. Um, the defund movement has really taken a toll on the morale, uh, within our police departments. I spoke to a group of, of first responders and police officers from the state, and you can just see it on their faces. They are, they are demoralized. And, um, you know, we're, we're suffering maybe not quite as badly, but certainly we're suffering at the hands of our governor and the mayor of Minneapolis and the mayor of St. Paul to that, to a certain certain extent, what some of these other big cities are suffering, you know, homelessness mm-hmm. Even in Minnesota, um, and, and crime. And it's, it's, it's just so aggravating. Uh, and, you know, look, the officer Derek Chauvin, who knelt on the neck of George Floyd has been put away for life as he should have been. Um, but that's just, it's not enough for people. Yeah. Speaker 0 00:48:21 Well, I mean, I think if we think that Black Lives Matter, then maybe we should take a look at the huge, um, impact of black on black crime, and that all of this, uh, violence is hurting the black community, the, the most. And we need to figure out what's going on and how we can, uh, have reforms that will help, um, families stay together and, and give kids the kind of values and structure that they need in order to lead, uh, productive lives. All right. Alan Solia asks, what is your perspective on Riley Gaines testimony in Texas and, and what she's been through, and what these young women, so one of the things I thought was so remarkable is how few women are speaking out. Speaker 1 00:49:14 Yes. Yes. And there are a lot of men, because I've called on men and women to speak out, but some men have said back, it's got to come from the women. And I have said, you've gotta stop competing in these events that allow, uh, trans women to compete against you. Walk away, walk away. These are unfair events. They shouldn't be happening. Someone's letting them happen. Leave. All the rest of you should just leave and, and make it stop. Um, RI Gaines is, the word that comes to mind is unflappable. She has taken incoming from so many directions, and she just sort of like, it rolls off her, like water off a duck's bag. She is a tough young lady, and she's young, you know, she's just only recently outta college, but she's got a calm, collected demeanor and an answer to just about everything. I, she honestly is a hero in this whole thing. I, I think she will be remembered. And I'm, I'm, I've had her on my podcast a couple of times, and I just admire her. But I'm, I am surprised, uh, the numbers who are joining her are really few. Yeah. And not, you know, and, and then Martina never Tova comes in and says, no, this isn't fair. And she gets completely, uh, you know, called a transphobia and all their, I mean, it's insane. Right. This is ridiculous. You can't call Martina never lova a homophobic. Right, Speaker 0 00:50:37 Exactly. Speaker 1 00:50:37 You cannot, she's anything but a bigot. Anything but a bigot. She's just trying to stand up for what's right. And it is just astonishing to me how more people aren't coming into this, to this fight. I just, I hope we embolden them to do so here. Speaker 0 00:50:54 Well, and you're having this podcast, I think you're coming from a very unique position as, as a sportscaster and talking to athletes. So I really hope, uh, you'll continue to do more of that. Yeah. And more women will feel empowered to, to come forward. Um, pivoting from politics for a moment, uh, talk about this project, the, uh, the Triangle Park. I didn't realize that the first N f L game was played in 1920. That's pretty cool know. How did you get involved with that? I know, Speaker 1 00:51:27 In Dayton, Ohio? Well, the filmmaker is a guy named Alan Farst. And if you've seen The Tree Man, which is a story about, um, rich Lavell of, uh, excuse me, Chuck Lalle of The Rolling Stones. Um, he won awards for this, and he reached out to me and said, Hey, I'm making this film. Would you wanna be involved in any way? And I looked at his, the footage he had already shot, and I said, yeah, can I be your narrator? And so we started working together, and together we got a bunch of people, Larry Fitzgerald, Ben Roethlisberger, Eric Dickerson, Troy Aikman, joy Buck, uh, Chris Collinsworth, um, I'm sure I'm Tony Dungy. I know I'm leaving people out. Susie Calber. And they all sat down to be interviewed for this documentary. So I just get to kind of put it, you know, be the voice that puts it all together, that stitches it all together. Speaker 1 00:52:13 But we shot a lot of it at Triangle Park and Dayton, and it was the site of the first N f L game. And so this is gonna be coming out later on this fall. And, uh, we announced this week that my attachment to it, I'm, uh, even though I've been attached to it for quite some time, uh, and this is just the beginning of the rollout of what I think is gonna be a great, um, a great thing for football fans and non-football fans alike. There's a lot of history involved. 'cause it was also the same year that women got the right to vote. So a lot was going on in America in Speaker 0 00:52:44 1926 years before Ayn Rand arrived here in the United States, as a matter of fact. Um, and three years after the Bolshevik Revolution. So, uh, I, I think that's, you know, just bringing it back to Ayn Rand, another reason why she is so remarkable, um, I mean, if you wanna talk about glass ceilings Yes. Coming to the country, uh, without speaking English, six years after women won the, the franchise, and then, uh, writing these remarkable novels, which had these amazing female characters. Right. And I think that's one of the things that's so aggravating to me that Ayn Rand is so reviled and disdain. Um, and if you wanna talk about it marginalized, uh, by the left is because in some ways she really should be celebrated as a great, uh, feminist heroine, no question. And champion of women. So Speaker 1 00:53:50 Why do you think that they don't celebrate her as such? Speaker 0 00:53:52 I'll tell you, I'll tell you, I think it is because, uh, no one was more effective than I rand, you know, um, she, uh, her fiction, her fiction, those stories, uh, are the gateway drug to liberty. Before Ayn Rand, the Battle for Liberty was an intellectual battle. Afterwards, it became a romantic spiritual battle. Uh, the, uh, co-founder of Cato said that Ayn Rand was the, uh, greatest all time recruiter for the Liberty movement. Um, people would read Ayy Rand's fiction, and they would go on to read, uh, you know, Roth Bard, or Hayek or Von Me's. It's usually not the other way around. So I think number one, she was effective. And number two, uh, you know, she took the left on in terms of their moral high ground. Right? So a lot of people will say, oh, well, socialism is a lovely idea, but, you know, it just doesn't work in practice. Speaker 0 00:54:54 She said, no, not only does it not work in practice, it's an evil and a moral idea because it is not consistent with, uh, self, self ownership with Right. With an individual's right. To their own lives. Um, and so, uh, I think that's, I think that's why she is, uh, she is reviled, but we will keep, um, fighting the, the good fine to, to make Ayin rand, uh, hip again and <laugh> well read again and make America make Atlas rug fiction again, <laugh>, because, uh, right now looking around it looks, uh, looks like we're walking around in a, in a scene from, from Atlas Shr between the broken supply chains and the rising inflation and the border of that building and, uh, and all that. So Speaker 1 00:55:45 That is a great point. When I was even one, one of your previous questions from a of a viewer was, you know, how did it impact your perspective? I get those flashbacks as well. I feel like, oh my gosh, we're back in that part of whatever, you know, Atlas shrugged where everything was. Yes. And you just go, this is wrong. This is so wrong. Um, right. I hope people, if they haven't read, we'll read, Speaker 0 00:56:11 We are going to make sure that they, they do. As a matter of fact, we've got, coming out in a couple a week or so, a couple weeks, uh, not too long, we took, we made an AI model, an artificial intelligence model, and then we did live action with actors, and then we fed that footage into this AI model. And it is now, um, we're producing an animated and anime style book trailer. So, like, similar to what they have. Speaker 1 00:56:43 Oh my gosh. Speaker 0 00:56:44 Um, and we're gonna crank that out and, uh, yeah. Just 'cause people, the, the truth of the matter is Michelle, no one knows who Ayn Rand is. I mean, right now, if, if I have to go by, by the student conferences that I, that I go to, and these are already conservative libertarian kids, um, it's usually, you know, no who's Ayin Rand? Gosh. So, but on, on, and part of that is just the natural lifecycle, I think of any author. But, uh, you know, you try to look at everything as an opportunity, um, and we get to reintroduce an entire generation to something totally new. Yeah. And I think that is, um, that's something worth doing. Yeah. So Speaker 1 00:57:27 Resurgence for Ayn Rand. Speaker 0 00:57:28 Right. So, uh, as we, we wrap this up, um, I have to ask you, uh, because you, you know, you did work in politics. You, you tried to, to get, uh, you know, a, a, a better person into the, the governor's office. Yeah. Any political future for you? Mm-hmm. Have you, I'm sure people have talked to you about it. Speaker 1 00:57:51 Yes, they have talked to me about it. And, uh, I think if I had told my husband before we got married that I did have political aspirations, we may not have gotten married. Yeah. So, um, I'm having to consider a lot of things and I think if I can have an effective voice, uh, outside of public office, I will try to do that. Uh, I I, I, I'm not gonna, I sound, I sound just like a politician when I say <laugh>. You never say never, but, uh, you, you know, circumstances could change something could happen, um, but not at the moment. Speaker 0 00:58:27 Te FOIA Taggart 2024. Love that. Speaker 1 00:58:30 That's Speaker 0 00:58:32 <laugh>. Speaker 1 00:58:32 Love that idea. Speaker 0 00:58:35 All right, well, on that note, uh, this has been really fun, Michelle and, um, me as well. We are gonna get those graphic novels to you, and we are gonna get you at one of the Atlas Society galas. We, we, we wanna spend more time with you. That would be fun. And, um, yes. And so everyone check your, uh, your feeds there. We've put the link to, uh, the Michelle Tafoya podcast and, uh, best place to follow you, Michelle, is Speaker 1 00:59:01 Probably what was once Twitter and now is now, you know, at either at Tafoya podcast or at Michelle underscore Tafoya, T a f o y A. I know that's confusing for a lot of people, but it's, Speaker 0 00:59:13 We put it in what's, it's in all of the feeds. Yes. So Speaker 1 00:59:17 We got it. Oh, thank you. I really appreciate that. Speaker 0 00:59:20 Thank you. All right. And thanks to all of you for joining us. Thanks for your great questions. Uh, thanks to those of you in the audience, you know, who you are, who are already supporting the work of the Atlas Society with your tax deductible donations. Uh, if you haven't yet considered doing that, now would be a good time to do it. And everyone, Atlas Society Gala is a little over three weeks away in, uh, Miami, October 5th. So hope to see you there. Take care.

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