Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A little piece of my feminist heart died (or Why it's so hard to be a women's b-ball fan)

Perhaps not upsetting news to some of you.

But seriously, sitting in the XL Center last night*, I cringed every time I heard the announcer boldly exclaim Lady Bears. Lady Bears? Sounds like a bad children's book.

And yet I rooted for them. Well I clapped whenever they scored and raised my arm up whenever Brittney Griner sank one of her free throws (note that my arms are not tired this morning. Never forget: Free throws win ball games!). I avoided the glares, as best as possible, from the nearly rabid UConn fans surrounding me. (I mean, yea! that women's basketball is popular in Connecticut, but seriously, little scary down there. The woman next to me did not come back to her seat after halftime. And I was being very good.)

I rooted for them knowing that Baylor is a Baptist school and their anti-homosexuality policy. Knowing that it has driven at least one successful player from the team, and wondering the circumstances under which star senior guard Kelli Griffin left right before the season began. Knowing that coach Kim Mulkey might herself be harboring some homophobia.

And what forced this feminist conundrum? Pretty much my utter distaste for all things Geno Auriemma--which I will not rehash here. This isn't news after all. I know. I sound bitter. But it's not because I lose the March Madness pool every year because I just refuse to put UConn in that winner's spot. It's something deeper. Something about...that guy. Someday. Someday the world will know what I and Pat Summitt and few select others know.

Until then, enjoy this pic from the game last night. In case you couldn't spot her--that's Kim Mulkey in the very gold blazer down there.

* Dear Mechelle Voepel, I really like and respect you. But if you could please set an example for other media and reporters out there and not use the term "Lady," even when the team does, that would be great.


Anonymous said...

I have no particular love lost for either UConn or Baylor, but given that you evidently feel that Auriemma is a really bad person how about if you either state why that is the case or provide links that at least in some way support the cheap shot.

If you aren't willing to do so maybe you shouldn't poor mouth a coach that will most likely pass John Wooden's UCLA team this year for the longest collegiate winning streak in the history of college basketball.

ken said...

I don't like his disrespect for Pat Summitt--calling her program the Evil Empire.
I don't like his general ambivalence about women's sports and his lack of consciousness about the history of discrimination in women's sports. That he would joke about taking one of his players to Augusta after winning a national championship indicates a certain obliviousness.
It seems like he thinks this is an inferior gig--he just happens to be really good at it.
I don't like his coaching style that seems to rely on put-downs. (Not that this is especially unique in coaching.)
I think he is very self-centered and arrogant. It's always about him and not the team. I don't think he respects other female coaches in the game. And I think he harbors some homophobia.

Also, I have a problem with the link between being a winning coach and a good coach.

Anonymous said...

That's what I thought. Positioning your very subjective opinion to read like you have some horrible secret about this guy is not too cool and based upon your response it also is not accurate.

I think the real reason you don't like Auriemma is that he is a guy coaching women and his teams continually kick ass and takes names. He doesn't appear to play the politically correct role that you'd like him to play. He doesn't hang out in your Feminist / GLBTQ echo chamber where everyone who doesn't agree with your worldview is either misogynistic or a homophobe.

He's just a basketball coach and he's driven to win. He teaches and passes on that drive to his team collectively and his players individually. Based upon the only quotes I can find from him he doesn't care if his players are lesbians or not. He just wants the best players and he expects himself as a coach to bring out the best in them. Rather than your half truths and innuendos about Auriemma how about if you quote one source that indicates he has ever done anything negative about lesbians in women's basketball. He's certainly coached his share of them. Also feel free to reference any negative quotes from any of his UConn alumnae that have starred in the Olympics or the WNBA.

This guy is a first generation immigrant that has coached the UConn women for 26 years. In that time he has had one losing season, has the highest winning percentage of any collegiate basketball coach ever and specifically has a reputation for developing women basketballers that excel at the Olympic and professional level. He's a winner in every possible way and has done nothing but facilitate the growth of the women's game during the last two and a half decades. Hardly seems like someone who "seems to think" that the way he has chosen to spend most of his adult professional life is an "inferior gig" to me. Frankly his journey sounds like a great American success story and I imagine that if he had different plumbing you'd be singing his praises. For someone who bitches constantly about how persecuted the GLBTQ tribe is it seems you have no problem treating others unfairly. Strange indeed.

He's a winner and he helps those around him become winners. Pissing people like you and your groupies off is probably just an added bonus.

Anonymous said...

You are SO wrong about Kim Mulkey and her Baylor Lady Bears team. Kim is well known in the women's basketball community for not discriminating: not by sexuality, not by religion, not by anything. There have been quite a few lesbians on her Baylor teams.

Emily Niemann left Baylor of her own accord. She actually tried to quit the program by e-mail when Kim was on vacation. Emily transferred to UCSB and then quit that program as well. Nobody drove her away.

Anonymous said...

p.s. My credentials: I've been a women's basketball fan since the mid-1980s, a lesbian all my 65 years, and a fan of Kim Mulkey's since 1982 (when she led the Louisiana Tech Lady Techsters to the first women's NCAA championship).

ken said...

I don't think it's a big secret that I think GA is a jerk. I realize I am in the minority. But don't worry--I don't feel like persecuted minority!
Of course what I say is subjective. Isn't everything?
Rene Portland had different plumbing--I'm assuming--and I wasn't a fan of hers. But then again, I'm not an essentialist so...
As for Mulkey, Scamp. We obviously travel in different circles. The dykes I know have no love lost for her and in discussing the Baylor/UConn match up had to one of those lesser of two evils discussions.
I know Nkosi made some suspect decisions. I'm not making excuses for her. But I don't doubt that being a young lesbian basketball player at a Baptist college (again--she chose it) was not the best environment for her.
There have been quite a few lesbians on every basketball team. The issue isn't numbers. Numbers do not equal acceptance. The issue is experience/atmosphere.

PS Anyone know where my groupies are? I seem to have misplaced them.

Anonymous said...

You are truly a piece of work. In this brief exchange you've managed to christen both Auriemma and Mulkey as homophobes with zero proof or basis in reality. I'm no statistician but I imagine that the odds of the head women's basketball coaches at the number one and two ranked colleges in the nation both being homophobes are pretty long. Of course those odds improve substantially if the definition of homophobe is anyone that you don't like or doesn't agree with you for any reason.

I don't know the circumstances around Griffin leaving the Baylor program and I can't tell if you do or if you're just doing your normal shtick. It really doesn't matter. The facts bear out that both Griffin and Neimann abandoned the Baylor program and walked out on their teammates. It's also clear that Neimann followed up by walking out on UCSB after committing to their program and their coach taking on a schedule reflective of the squad he thought he was going to have. As someone with experience working with young people I can tell you that once they start quitting and walking away from their commitments it becomes increasingly easy for them to repeat this activity later in life and it normally has negative lifetime outcomes. It doesn't matter if they are straight or gay. For the purposes of this discussion both of these young ladies can be accurately described as quitters. The fact that you want to make excuses for them in spite of their objectively observable actions and then accuse their coach of being a homophobe with no proof shows just exactly how screwed up your perspective is.

You are neither logical nor reasonable and your continued view of the world through the victimhood lens ensures no fair-minded straight or gay person will believe your views are credible.

ken said...

No one is making you read this blog. If I am so very uncredible, then no one will listen to me anyway, which means I am not a threat. And so if I am not a threat, then what the hell does it matter what I say about anyone? I'm just another loony queer feminist voice in the blogosphere.
If you don't like the fact that I have an attitude about it; that I am flippant and sarcastic and irreverant, well...see my above recommendation. It's my blog. You're welcome to start your own.

I have no idea why Griffin left the program. I do know why Nkosi left. I believe that attention needs to be paid when players--successful players--leave successful programs. The recent accusations in Indiana--since you seem to like evidence so much--is a good example of what happens when a coach's behavior goes unchecked.

Anonymous said...

Before you state that you *know* why Emily Niemann Nkosi left Baylor, please read Kim Mulkey's book, Won't Back Down. Give her viewpoint your attention, too.

Anonymous said...

Most adults understand the difference between someone being a smart-ass or sarcastic, flippant or however you'd like to describe it and saying things that have no basis in reality. In the real world there is a big difference between calling someone a jerk and goofing on them versus saying they are a homophobe in a public forum. I would have thought that even you would be discerning enough to pick up on the difference.

Just because there are coaches out there that don't handle their players the way you'd like them to doesn't mean they are all homophobes. It may mean they are poor coaches in your eyes and possibly some of them really are homophobes. The only thing you accomplish by accusing all of them of being homophobic is to totally destroy whatever credibility you might have one day had.

You are however correct on at least one item. This certainly is your blog and you've proven you have the right to be as moronic as you want to be. Too bad the truth and objectivity suffer in the bargain. I'm done with you.