Friday, October 03, 2008

The tales of two Jennifers

Not so very long ago in a land not so very far away at a place called Penn State there was a young woman named Jennifer who played basketball for a homophobic basketball coach, who dismissed young Jennifer from the team because of alleged attitude issues. But young Jennifer knew of coach Rene "the Meanie" Portland's discriminatory tendencies and filed a lawsuit against her. Vindication came, we believe, in the form of a closed settlement and the curious and "coincidental" departure of the Meanie from her position and the state of PA generally.
And now in a place very far away and oh so foreign (at least to me), another young Jennifer is facing something similar (but not exactly the same).
Jennifer Colli, who played at Southern Methodist University in Texas, lost her scholarship, she says, because her coach, Rhonda Rompola, is a big homophobe (and a closet case). The cases are quite different. Colli, for instance, is not making Title IX and other discrimination claims against Rompola or the university but rather is charging breach of contract for her lost scholarship and retaliation for going to the athletic department to report various issues such as drug use on the team and academic violations. But we have similarities too with coaches who were inordinately interested in the sex lives of their players. [Colli is openly gay whereas Jennifer Harris is not but claimed that Portland never believed her.]
But it's really not the similarities or the differences that matter. What's of concern is that these are just two cases where two young women came forward. But there are so many others who do not. We learned that (ok we knew it, we just got some evidence) during the Portland case when former players came forward and spoke of their experiences and how they had been driven off the team. It will be interesting to see whether others will begin to contest their maltreatment, too.

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