Monday, April 08, 2013

Why Cal is my new favorite team

I really, really, really though Cal was going to take down the Cardinals last night. And I was rooting hard for that to happen. Sure Cal's trip to the Final Four didn't help my bracket any. But I was deeply distraught that Baylor was beaten by Louisville and I felt so bad for Brittany Griner and all the elbows she took during that game.
But the more I observed Cal and heard pieces of their story, the more my cheers were about them winning and less about vindication for Baylor and Griner.
Because, admittedly, I was a reluctant Baylor fan. I have always like Griner but not so much the Lady (gag) Bears as an organization. But who else could beat UConn consistently? It was Machiavellian really. But Griner is graduating and I can move on.
And I have moved on to Cal. Because I looked at the members of that team and I looked at their coach and I knew exactly what kind of atmosphere is fostered on that team.
Clarendon hugs Coach Gottlieb, pic from San Francisco Examiner
I have this theory--yet to be empirically proven (working on that)--that the make-up of a team is a direct reflection of a coach's philosophy and identity. And if you look at Lindsay Gottlieb's players you see that she believes in an inclusive environment. Can you imagine what Rene Portland would have done with a player with a mohawk like the one sported by senior standout Layshia Clarendon? I can't even imagine Geno Auriemma allowing a player who looks like Clarendon to be a Husky. Gottlieb has recruited almost exclusively from California (the one exception is the player from Israel) and her team looks like few others in DI women's basketball. Long hair, short hair, very little hair, almost no make-up, braids, mohawks. No apologetics here. Even Gottlieb eschews a lot of the unspoken mandates for female coaches. She rarely wears make-up. And yes, she sported some shiny black stiletto sandals last night, but she a quick search of Google images shows that she usually opts for a casual professional look.
And with the exception of the video coordinator, Gottlieb has put together an entirely female staff. I find that particularly impressive at a time when there remains some unspoken need to have a mixed gender coaching staff.
I'm just so excited to have a new team to root for that I feel really good about. So please wait a while before bursting my bubble about some kind of problem or issue with the Cal Bears. It was a tough basketball weekend for me, I need some optimism.

Sunday, April 07, 2013

The end of the Big East

There has been a lot of media focus on the demise--or the changes to--the Big East. I mean even It's Only a Game has aired several pieces on it.
But little has been said about the effects of the conference shuffling on women's basketball. The Big East is representing down in New Orleans this weekend. What will next year look like?
The New York Times discussed these issues.

Friday, April 05, 2013

The gay, gay, gay week in review

It was a pretty gay-focused week in sports.
Here's what happened:
 Rutgers fired head men's basketball coach, Tim Rice, after ESPN got hold of a video--which then went viral--of Coach Rice engaged in conduct unbecoming of a coach, and that was according to New Jersey governor Chris Christie. In addition to physical abuse, Rice dished out a heavy dose of emotional abuse in the form of homonegative and misogynistic slurs. The Outside the Lines story can be found here.
Glad this made news but a few ahem moments that were the topic of discussion in boot camp this morning in between pop squats, long-strider jumping jacks and rainbow deadlifts.
First, Rutgers knew about this behavior last fall when they fined and gave Rice a three-game suspension. The power of a viral video...We tell young people--especially intercollegiate athletes to be careful about social media; maybe college athletics administrators should take their own advice.
Oh my, I just learned that Rutgers AD is now out too! Have to admit, ESPN does a good job covering men's college basketball. Despite acting contrite and saying he made a mistake in not firing Rice last fall, Tim Pernetti is out of a job.
Anyway, second...this is not anomalous coaching behavior. Remember this? The University of Hawaii coach used the word faggot in a press conference! Multiple times.
And this guy. Knight has said he will not comment on the situation at Rutgers. His employer, ESPN, isn't making him either even though he's a college basketball commentator!
Rice and Knight; Juxtaposition of two AP photos
Rutgers got caught. Knight got caught. McMackin (who didn't get fired for his faggot comments) said them in public. There is a less forgiving public that is less tolerant of overt homonegativism. (Pretty tolerant of misogynistic comments as evidenced by the lack of concern over Rice calling his players bitches and other lovely monikers.)
But that doesn't mean bad behavior is isolated. It's just not all caught on video tape and sent to ESPN.

In American football news, Brendon Ayanbadejo has said one of the reasons he was released from the Baltimore Ravens, in addition to his age, is his outspoken-ness on issues of LGBT equality. Ayanbadejo has been vocal in his support of gay marriage, other advocates, and any potential gay NFL players. The Ravens deny this.

And across the pond, fans of the second-tier football (aka as soccer) team in Brighton, England keep asking for help in dealing with homonegative taunts and gestures they are subject to based on the fact that Brighton has a visible gay population. Club officials refer to it as "banter" from opposing teams' players and fans while Brighton fans call it abuse.

Wait, where are all the gay women?
Well, the women's final four commences this weekend in New Orleans. Maybe everyone is packing.

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

OTL tackles athlete charities

I caught Outside the Lines on Monday afternoon.

Wait, since when am I home on a Monday afternoon with the TV on?
Oh yeah, since I finished writing my dissertation! Whoop whoop! Hopefully posts will be more frequent.

Monday's episode was called Charity Conundrum. A video segment along with the podcast of the show can be found here. It was an investigation into athletes' charities and began with Lamar Odom's Cathy's Kids, which was used throughout the episode as an example of a bad charity: deceptive in its purpose, high administrative costs, mismanagement, lack of oversight. Attempted interviews with Odom did not go well either. He doesn't seem to know where the money goes (not to underprivileged children but to kids on two elite AAU teams) and is quite defensive when questioned about where the money is going. He kept saying "it's my money, it's my money" as if 1) he doesn't have to answer questions about it and 2) oh, yeah, it doesn't matter--because it's not his money. Once it gets committed to a charity, how it is handled becomes the responsibility of whoever oversees the charity. In this case, his former high school basketball coach, who makes over $70,000 a year just to oversee this charity which has been almost defunct in recent years.
Poor Lamar Odom, it's not enough that he married into the Kardashian family, now he is getting raked over the coals--on ESPN no less!--for trying to do good in his mother's name.
But he's not the only one. The OTL investigators found that almost three quarters of the athlete charities it looked into do not meet the standards set by the Better Business Bureau, GuideStar, and Charity Navigator. In fact the athletes' charities are actually working for other non-profits. This is legal but somewhat deceptive. Also, given the mismanagement and lack of transparency of many of these charities, very little money gets to the partner non-profit.
So what seems to be happening is that athletes start these charities to improve their image and for potential tax breaks.  [This reminded me of a recent episode of House of Lies (another show I now have time to watch!) where Matt Damon plays (a version of) himself seeking a charity to promote his image.]
The charity consultant interviewed suggested that most athletes would be better off throwing their celebrity behind an existing charity. This reduces overhead, meaning that more money can go to the charity. And it leaves the management of a charity to people who have experience doing this kind of work.
I complain about the pinkwashing of athletics, because I find the lack of information presented to potential donors problematic. It is up to the giver to do the work, which she rarely does because cancer is a good cause, right? The OTL report encourages us all to educate ourselves before we give. We should apply this standard to all our charitable giving. The organizations listed above can help in this process.