Thursday, July 19, 2012

And, you know, in the world

I had heard that Chick-Fil-A was not exactly pro-gay, but it didn't much matter to me since I hadn't eaten there since I was a teenager, have no franchise near me, and don't eat fast food anyway. In other words, I had no occasion nor desire to frequent them--an unintentional boycott.
I had not made the connection, however, between the company and its sponsorship of a college bowl game. Now that the president of the company has come out and explicitly stated his position as anti-gay marriage (because he worries that god's wrath will be brought down upon us for defying Jesus's will) what will the NCAA do?
Will Chick-Fil-A be prevented from sponsorship of NCAA events?
We shall see...

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Yes, Virginia, there's still homophobia in women's sports

Anti-gay tweets are not that unusual. Anti-gay sentiments among athletes are not especially surprising either. Regarding the latter, though, most public anti-gay statements have been confined to the world of professional men's athletics. (Though more straight male professional athletes are voicing public support for potential gay teammates these days. See Ron Gronkowski--or rather read his statements. You can see him--all of him--in the latest iteration of ESPN Magazine's The Body Issue.)
But outward/overt homophobia in women's sports--especially at the collegiate level--is not as prevalent, which is why it is sometimes difficult to convince people that it still exists. It got a little easier recently when tweets from Florida Gulf Coast University student-athletes were picked up on. Three tweets from three different athletes within one month:

“Golden rule of softball: ‘No bow, lesbo,’” an FGCU softball player tweeted in March while thanking a teammate for the advice. “Needles to say, I will never be caught without a ribbon in my hair again.”

“To all the random girls I most likely will be dancing (with) #NoHomo,” an FGCU women’s basketball player tweeted, also in March, before clarifying in a tweet a day later. “But I don’t discriminate.”

In a tweet to a friend in April, an FGCU women’s basketball signee celebrated their friendship with a slur.
“Basketball (best friends) since the beginning,” the player tweeted. “I love you faggot.”
The response from FGCU has been 1) sufficiently vague and 2) not that surprising given the culture there. Regarding number two, FGCU--not too long ago--was at the center of several lawsuits and complaints from female coaches and administrators about gender equity. And despite the findings of an external investigation that stated there was no hostile climate at FGCU (done after the obligatory house-cleaning and back pedaling), it seems something is (still) in the air at FGCU.
Regarding number one--statements from administrators reveal that they themselves are not comfortable or don't know how to talk about these issues.
From the current director of athletics (installed after the lawsuit/settlement spree)
"I can’t speak across the board that there aren’t people that don’t have prejudices in any way in our society. But if people have them, they have to keep them to themselves and not allow them to affect their role how we operate as a student-athlete population. Or (as) staff member(s). We all fall under one umbrella.”
Keep your hate in, people--just tolerate. When you leave here, an educational institution at which you play sports, something that is touted as creating strong character and future leaders, you may spew your hate as you see fit. 

And from the softball coach:
“I understand the phrase [no bow, lesbo],” said FGCU softball coach Dave Deiros, who tells his players to be accountable for everything they say publicly, a point he said he reiterated after the recent homophobic tweet. “I’m not going to censor my players.”
As with any potential conflict, Deiros said the emphasis is always on what best serves the team.
“I’m not asking you not to be gay, and I’m not asking you to be gay. What I’m asking you is while we’re in the locker room, on the field, as a team, going to class, that’s the guiding principle. As soon as you leave and go out on your own, knock yourself out. Be your own person, represent the university well.”

Wait. What's the guiding principle? I'm confused. Have no sexuality?  Or don't talk about any sexuality you might be harboring. But don't worry--there's no censorship so say whatever you want in any kind of public forum. Being oneself is, for some people, being homophobic. How does Deiros reconcile this?

And from the basketball coach:
“Occasionally you’ll have a parent be concerned and want to know the composition of the team,” said FGCU women’s basketball coach Karl Smesko. “I think the parents that have brought it up were hoping that it wouldn’t be many. (I explain that) that’s just not something that we worry about.”

You should "worry" about it. And you should worry what these public statements you are making are saying to the rest of the country, including potential recruits who are gay or aren't uncomfortable with gay teammates. 

Coincidentally, as I was reading the article about FGCU, I had open on my computer an interview with Judith Butler (for a different project) in which she talks about speech acts. The interview is from 1999 and I found this passage particularly relevant to the issue at hand. (Please don't dimiss it because it is Judith Butler or me because I use Judith Butler.)
I think in the US we go around trying to target people who say racist things, and indeed there are good reasons to do that, targeting people who say homophobic things and holding them responsible for their speech. I think there are all kinds of reasons to stop a person when they speak such things and say, for example, 'look that's a racist act'. I think that's important. But I think that a politics that begins and ends with that policing is a mistake, because for me the question is how is that person, as it were, renewing and reinvigorating racist rituals of speech, and how do we think about those particular rituals and how do we exploit their ritual function in order to undermine it in a more thorough-going way, rather than just stopping it as it's spoken. What would it mean to restage it, take it, do something else with the ritual so that its revivablity as a speech act is really seriously called into question.

I don't know what that would look like right now. But I think it's a very interesting concept to explore and apply generally to hate speech and acts and in a sport-specific context.

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Saudis are sending

The IOC would have looked quite foolish if, after all the negotiating, the Saudi Arabian government did not send any women to London this month.
I am soooooo curious as to how the negotiations went down over this issue. What threats were levied? Retorts offered? Etc. Etc.
But however it all happened, there will be two women on the Saudi Olympic team: a judo practitioner (judoist? what is the correct term?) and a runner (800 m).
This is old news by now, I know--that's all I have time for these days. Old news but seemingly good news.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Hall of Fame investigates Hewitt

After a lot of feet dragging and failed attempts to keep the story quiet, the International Tennis Hall of Fame has said it will investigate the claims of sexual abuse made against inductee Bob Hewitt.
This news came out last week, just as the HoF was getting ready to host its annual pro tournament and induct the class of 2012.
Claims against Hewitt in South Africa are being looked into. The statute of limitations for alleged abuse that occurred in the United States have all passed. But concerned parties, including the women who allege they were victims of Hewitt's when he was a coach, asked the HoF over a year ago to address the situation.
After saying they would draft a policy to deal with future similar situations, rather than addressing the past, the HoF received a great deal of criticism. Now they have hired a Boston law firm to do a confidential investigation. But no one from the organization has commented--apparently all the HoF powers that be were at Wimbledon last week.

Friday, July 06, 2012

Saudi loophole?

So will Saudi Arabia be allowed (by the IOC) to get away with not sending any female athletes because they just can't find any?
The top choice, equestrian Dalma Rushdi Malhas, cannot attend.
Will the IOC allow Saudi officials to say "well, we tried."
I hope not. So do others.
This is a very strong editorial about why the IOC should ban the entire Saudi Olympic team if it does not contain any women.
The author rightly notes that wild cards are available--and surely the IOC will grant them given their stake in this situation--to athletes who do not meet Olympic qualifying standards.
But even if that was not the case--would it be ok for the Saudis to say--well, give us some more time? This has been an ongoing issue. It is not about time, it is about culture.

On a related note, FIFA has (finally) said it will allow players to wear the hijab.

Poetry Friday

I have been watching (in the background, on my computer mostly) a lot of tennis of late. Wimbledon ends this weekend ("oh, good" the Girlfriend says) and I thought it would be a good time for a tennis poem.
I wanted to publish all of Robert Pinksy's "Tennis" but I couldn't find it. (If anyone has it--send it my way). So I will just publish one of the sections of the poem.


Call questionable balls his way, not yours:
You lose the point but have your concentration,
The grail of self-respect. Wear white. Mind losing.
Walk, never run, between points: it will save
Your breath, and hy pnotize him, and be may think
That you are tired, until your terrible
Swift sword amazes him. By understanding
Your body, you will conquer your fatigue.
By understanding your desire to win
And all your other desirs, you will conquer
Discouragement. And you will conquer distraction
By understanding the world, and all its parts.

Monday, July 02, 2012

Pre-Olympic commericals

The Gatorade commercial with Abby Wambach makes me cringe. Even her voiceover "acting" is bad. Part of it is probably the script, too.
"She's lost a lot and water won't put it back." Who says that??
"Yes, she is easy to spot. She is also easy to break."

Thankfully Gatorade has redeemed itself with this commercial about keeping young girls in sports:
I liked the BP commercials featuring athletes who will (likely) be competing in London. Both able-bodied athletes and paralympians.
Alas, it is a commercial for BP. And I think about how an oil company is using those differently-abled bodies to sell its product and improve its image.
This one I believe is airing on Great Britain. I haven't seen it on US television. Couldn't find the one that is currently airing in the US, tough.