Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Say what?

I do have some thoughts on the Pokey Chatman resignation and allegation(s), but they are not quite done yet. But I want to comment on some of the things said in this article about the situation at LSU.
First, Donnita Drain, head coach at Langston University, when asked if the situation was bad for women's basketball said it was and explained that it makes everyone (and I assume she means female head coaches) suspect. She notes that if you are not married then you are assumed to be gay.
Interesting, she was not asked if Chatman's resignation hurt the status of women head coaches--she was asked if it hurt the game. Her response seems to indicate how the situation has brought to the surface long-held assumptions about sports and lesbians that become somewhat buried--especially at this time of the year when we hear about parity and the increasing depth of women's basketball.
Perhaps if women's sports created a culture where individuals did not have to hide the fact that they are gay, this situation would have been less damaging (though how damaging it is remains to be seen and just how to measure such damage is also a question).
But what is really curious about the article is the following:
According to Brescia University coach Sean Page, the flagging number of male coaches in women's basketball relates to the concern of inappropriate relations between coaches and players.
"It's very hard for us (males) to get jobs in this industry," Page said. "There are less and less men coaching in women's basketball ... Georgia coach Andy Landers is the only male head coach left in the SEC."

I assume what Page is saying is that fears of sexual relationships between male coaches and female players are behind the growth of female head coaches.
His comments seem way off base to me. First, he competely overlooks the fact that women might actually be good coaches and that is why they are in the position of head coach.
Second, his comments do not make sense if one considers that one of the reasons given for men coaching women's sports is the fear of predatory lesbians. He also fails to consider the history of coaching: prior to the passage of Title IX women coached women's sports--about 90 percent of head coaches were women. Men, once upon a time, did not care to coach women's sports. Only when the prospect become more lucrative did they become involved.
In reality, since Title IX the number of female head coaches of intercollegiate basketball has remained pretty consistent (at around 60 percent) according to sports scholars Linda Carpenter and Vivian Acosta who have been compiling and reporting on the numbers of women in all facets of intercollegiate sports since the 1970s.
And, if we look at the head coaches of all women's intercollegiate sports we see that men comprise nearly 58 percent of these positions.
In all of intercollegiate athletics--men's and women's programs combined--women occupy only 17 percent of head coaching positions.
And lest Page think he has it tough being a man coaching women's basketball, he should remember how many women coach men's DI intercollegiate basketball: 0.


Diane said...

When I read the entire thing, Drain's comments came off as even more offensive: "It hurts it a lot. It throws everybody under the same umbrella...people always start questioning why you're not married (and assume) that you must be gay."

So what? That does have a ring of lesbian=predatory.

Gender Blank said...

Thank you for this post and your thoughtful rebuttal of some of those asinine statements.