Saturday, November 17, 2012

Tennis Hall of Fame suspends abuser

After a hefty amount of silence about the investigation into the abuse claims against Hall of Famer Bob Hewitt, the tennis powers that be have indefinitely suspended Hewitt from the hall. That seems like the same thing as being kicked out, given that his "legacy has been stripped from the institution."
The 72-year old Australian is living in South Africa currently. He was also recently removed from the South African Sport and Arts Hall of Fame.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

More hot messes

It's never great to be outed. It's probably worse to be outed because you have been arrested for aggravated assault against your ex-girlfriend.
That is the situation former WNBA and Tennessee Vols player Chamique Holdsclaw finds herself in this week. An arrest warrant was issued for Holdsclaw who turned herself in today. She allegedly fired a shot into the backseat of Jennifer Lacy's SUV which may or may not have had gasoline in it. Lacy is a current player for the Tulsa Shock.
Nike never said anything about whether letting girls play sports would decrease their risk of becoming abusers.
What else is going to happen this week?

You first, sports media

For the record, I don't hold female athletes up to any kind of gender-specific standard regarding role model suitability, general public presence, altruism, or good decision-making ability. In general, I don't understand why professional athletes are default role models. Because they are in the public eye? That seems to negate all the other reasons that might make them unsuitable: unhealthy focus on winning which leads to illegal behaviors; rigid schedules that mandate time away from family (for the family values folks); lack of real-life, everyday skills; a somewhat necessary solipsism required for success (especially in individual sports).
So my post yesterday was not at all about how disappointed I was in Hope Solo as a role model for all the children I don't have. I was mostly just sad for her. Sad for her positioning in this sociocultural moment in which a highly talented elite-level athlete is defending someone who seems to be a bad guy and then marrying him. Maybe they've both been screwed by societal structures and the sportocracy. Maybe that's what they have in common and what draws them to each other. I don't know.
But calling Hope Solo a "hot mess" and saying well "boys can be boys" so this girl can be a girl and should be treated like a boy doesn't quite work here. Let she who is without double standards cast the first criticism. But that person is not likely to come from sports media. So invoking an equal treatment rhetoric around Solo's foibles isn't quite fair when there is nowhere near equal treatment for women's sports and its stars in the sports media.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The empowerment potential of sport for women? N of 1

I'm pretty sure there was something I was supposed to blog about in the wake of the North American Society for the Sociology of Sport (NASSS) annual meeting in New Orleans last night. But I can't remember what it is. So instead thanks to one of my NOLA roomies, Dr. Pants, I will blog about Hope Solo instead.
Dr. Pants is a big fan of Hope Solo; she even read her auto(ish)biography Solo: A Memoir of Hope. I personally am not a Solo fan and though I considered reading the memoir for scholarly purposes, I couldn't get past the title.
I might be interested in some version of a sequel, however, given the latest news about Solo that I received from Dr. Pants.
Hope Solo is married!
She also hosted a party of a small group of friends a few days ago which resulted in the arrest of her then-fiance Jerramy Stevens. There was some alcohol, there was fighting (apparently over where the happy couple was to live), there was pushing and shoving and maybe some hitting. There was blood on Solo's elbow and blood on the shirt of Stevens who was found hiding in the upstairs bedroom when police arrived on the scene.

Solo was not supportive of the arrest of her then-fiance. She pleaded with officers not to take Stevens and told her brother not to tell the police anything (he was original tattletale apparently--he called the police). This is a little like a high school party gone awry.
Except more serious. These party-goers are not being taken home for chastisement from parental units. Stevens was taken to jail in the wee hours of Monday morning and released after a hearing yesterday. (The blood on the elbow, blood on the shirt connection was not--unsurprisingly--enough evidence.) There will be a follow-up investigation by the Family Violence Unit.
But their plans to get married on Tuesday were not interrupted. According to various news sources--and Twitter, too!--they got married Tuesday night.
I'm not the best person to comment on a short courtship, but I'm going to suggest that two months seems like not quite enough time to get to know someone.
I mean could Solo even get through the list of Stevens's encounters with law enforcement in that time? The former UW star and Buccaneers tight end has a decade and a half history of arrests and investigations, which started when he was in high school. Highlights:
  • felony assault in high school (altered to misdemeanor=keep football scholarship to UW)
  • investigated for sexual assault (no charges)
  • reckless driving and leaving scene of the accident
  • DUI--more than once
  • possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia with intent to sell (this lead to his release from the Bucs)
I think there are mistakes one makes when one is young. Or mistakes when one is a little bit famous. Factors need to be considered. What drives one to commit crime? To be violent? To sell drugs? How complicit are the various discriminatory structures in our society: education, sport? I think forgiveness can be proffered. 
But history matters. And you can understand why someone does something illegal and the sociocultural forces at work, but still not marry that person.
Oh, Nike and your false promises. When we asked to play sports, you all agreed because it meant (among other things) that we were "more likely to leave a man who beats [us]." I guess in addition to the other problematic promises, more likely is not entirely likely.

Friday, November 02, 2012

Spelman College focusing on fitness, not athletics

Here's a bold move in this era of big-time sports: Spelman College is eliminating its intercollegiate athletics program at the end of the year. The all-female HBCU, lead by President Beverly Daniel Tatum, will take the $1 million annual budget for athletics and use to establish fitness programs to be available to the entire 2,000-women student body. Spelman will keep its PE requirement but will expand opportunities for activities  like yoga and aerobics. The emphasis, according to Tatum, will be placed on life-long health:
“We want them to live long and healthy lives so they can get the return on that investment they’ve made in higher education…. We really see this as a life-saving activity that we are engaging in.”
The emphasis on mind and body is refreshing especially in light of the population. Black women are at greater risk for heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and various cancers than their white peers--even when accounting for economic status and education.
It's an important and hopefully influential stand to take. What I did find surprising was the either/or position. Most colleges already offer fitness classes and facilities for students--even when they have intercollegiate athletic programs.  Good facilities are necessary to remain competitive with other schools and students expect them. But, of course, colleges justify the expenses by noting the need for healthy minds and bodies.
So why is Spelman only now refocusing its attention? As I mentioned, it always had PE but as Tatum noted, many PE activities (like archery) might be fun but they are not necessarily ones that students will continue afterwards due to both access and interest. So, again, the shift is good. And if taking away intercollegiate sports, which do not have a long history at the school (according to my friend's aunt who graduated in the early 50s sports--even team sports--were all in the context of PE when she was there), will facilitate the shift--then good! But it seems like the school didn't pay any mind to the fitness needs of its students outside of PE and intercollegiate sports. The last time the school gymnasium was redone was the 50s. Part of the new fitness initiative is raising money for a new gym!