Plausible Deniability Federal prosecutors make their case public. They tell the college sports world, “We have your playbook.” Details come out on secret payments. Who made them and who knew? Who received the money and to whose benefit? Who was the victim of pay-to-play and what, exactly, was the crime? After a stint playing overseas, Billy returns for the NBA draft. His name and the Kansas program have been swept into the case. Sentences come down for defendants. Billy and Nichole experience the fallout. Paula weighs the impact of all this on players, families and the system as a whole.
The Sting Colleges can’t lure high school players with cash. That’s against NCAA rules. But Paula shows how private, elite youth basketball teams can provide a work-around. They become a point of contact not just for colleges, but sneaker companies, would-be agents, financial advisors and others. Meet a Florida youth coach who courted funding for his team from major athletic wear companies. He made big promises in return. But he didn’t know he was being recorded by undercover agents. “The Bag Game” game unravels, as the feds’ secret investigation – the one that led Kansas to bench Billy – comes to light.
Nichole and the Bag Man Billy’s mom Nichole and her partner T.K. move around the country so Billy can play for elite high school teams. To remain eligible for college, Billy and his family can’t accept any money. But players in “The Bag Game” offer to circumvent those rules. Billy gets his top college pick, while Nichole makes a connection that could secure the family’s finances. But Billy’s dream is short-lived. And Nichole’s dealings get attention from federal investigators.
The Making of Billy Preston To unravel how a top college recruit’s NBA dreams ran into a sprawling federal investigation, reporter Paula Lavigne explores his early years. Billy Preston and his mom struggle to get by in L.A. An active kid, Billy finds basketball through his mom’s partner, a high school coach and former professional player. Billy’s star rises in youth leagues. He generates buzz as an NBA prospect. Top colleges vie for his talents, and his family pulls out all the stops to support his goals.
Blue Girl (Warning: this episode includes description of a suicide.) The newest generation of Iranian girl soccer fans take a bold new approach. They cross-dress as men to sneak into Azadi Stadium, documenting their rebellion live on social media – an irreverent middle finger to the government. One of those girls is Zeinab Sahafy, from Episode 1. One night four of her friends are arrested and she flees for her life. Another girl, still in the country, loses her life. In a moment described as “a miracle,” Iran’s regime relents on its ban and thousands of women enter the stadium. We end Pink Card wondering how this hard-won slice of freedom connects to the 2022 historic protests and a possible new revolution, more than 40 years after Shima’s teenage mother left home.
The White Scarves One game sets off a movement. In 1997 Iran surprisingly makes the World Cup in the last three minutes of play in a game against Australia. When Iran’s national team gets helicoptered into Azadi Stadium to celebrate, women are asked to stay home. They don’t listen, and thousands rush the stadium. This is the origin story of the White Scarves, a group that uses international soccer matches to defy the regime and take back their country. As the White Scarves gain international fame, they face grave danger at home.
The Mannequins This episode starts with two questions: If women equally led the 1979 revolution, why were their rights stripped away first? How does this happen to an emboldened part of the population? At first, the women fight back, chanting “Azadi! Azadi!” [translation: “Freedom! Freedom!”] in the streets until the clerics back down. But in a story told by legendary writer and activist Mehrangiz Kar, women’s rights erode one by one – leading us to the nationwide ban on women at stadiums. This is when Iran’s national soccer stadium becomes a battleground.
Red Girl Growing up Iranian American, Shima Oliaee found her mother didn’t talk much about where she came from. Watching soccer, though, was a portal to Iran, a place that was in large part a mystery. Shima delves into the stories she didn’t hear growing up: Iran’s mandated modernization and how soccer played a role, the women-led 1979 revolution, and her parents’ mistaken-identity love story. Shima and her mom meet Zeinab Sahafy, a young Iranian woman and soccer fan, who has been named an enemy of the state.
The Longest GameBaseball holds its records sacred. Most home runs, strikeouts, career wins. But what about the longest game ever? That honor goes to a small-town AAA game in 1981, when the Pawtucket Red Sox and Rochester Red Wings slugged it out from dusk to dawn. The record-breaking 33 innings brought hope, despair and drama on and off the field. Radio Diaries and 30 for 30 take listeners to that frigid, surreal night with the voices who lived it – including Hall of Famers Wade Boggs and Cal Ripken Jr. Most heroes of The Longest Game never made it big, but their unflagging endurance made history.