Sunday, March 04, 2012

The Lavender Letter

A couple of weeks ago the Columbus Dispatch ran what I am sure they thought was a cute story about a new motivational system being employed the coaching staff at Ohio State.  The coaching staff as you will recall is new and is using the colored shirt system as a way to reward and/or punish/stigmatize players during their off-season workouts.
Lavender--the exact word used by the coach to describe the color--was the "leftover" color and assigned to players who were loafers, i.e. the weakest link.  The jersey allegedly was to be worn at practices, in the weight room, classroom. OSU's version of the Scarlet Letter.  The weakest links wear lavender.
An OSU law student blogged about it--quite astutely.
First, and the focus of my concern, while being masked as a tool to build a competitive team environment, forcing a player to wear a lavender jersey as punishment is patently homophobic, sexist, misogynistic, etc.  It takes a color that is feminine—and regularly associated with either women or the gay community—and assigns it to weakness, lack of commitment, or failure to work hard.  It is then used to demean and humiliate, you know, because the color is capable of emasculating even the manliest of men.
And, of course, has been attacked for doing so.
(This story has eerie similarities to the pink locker room upheaval at University of Iowa.)
 And according to explanations offered by administrators after they realized that not everyone thought that the story was cute, lavender--which is apparently, in reality, purple in practice--was the only color left after the system was put in place.
The color has since been changed. (Iowa, last I heard, still has its pink locker room.)  The discussion about the seemingly unquestioned homophobia in football though continues. The OSU law school, in fact, is trying to organize a one-day conference about the issue.
I am glad the lavender shirt issue was resolved quickly with apologies all around. I find it interesting though this use of a color coding system. It seems to have some historical precedence. Wasn't there some other homosocial environment where men wore specific colors to designate their performance habits to others?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Right. Maybe you missed the memo. Buzuvis was run out of Iowa on a rail and is now hiding in the friendly confines of the NorthEast babysitting a Title IX blog she doesn't allow comments on.

Not much of a surprise to see a gay law student taking a stand that no one that matters cares about. Seems we've identified a trend here...LGBT lawyers and lawyer wannabes thinking they're going to take down the evil empire of college football based upon the color wheel. Good Luck with that.

Your Buddy