Archive for the ‘Homphobia’ Category

and ponder Indy 2016.

How can any women’s basketball fan imagine attending the Final Four in Indianapolis if this ridiculous legislative apology for discrimination stands? Much of the analysis is looking at this from the men’s side of sports (of course), but it is all table setting for a year long debate.

From the New York Times: Sports Entities Begin to Digest Implications of Indiana Law

Most affected leagues and teams have either declined to comment or expressed muted concern.

But one influential agent went further, strongly suggesting that officials in professional and college sports reconsider their presence in the state in light of the law.

“I urge the Indiana Pacers, the N.C.A.A. and the professional sports leagues to not only condemn this blatantly unconstitutional legislation, but to take forceful action against it by re-evaluating their short- and long-term plans in the state,” Arn Tellem, the sports agent, said in an email. Tellem’s clients include the basketball stars Russell Westbrook, Derrick Rose and Anthony Davis as well as Jason Collins, the first openly gay N.B.A. player.

And several basketball players who could find themselves playing for a national championship next week expressed, like Johnson, broader tolerance of people who are gay.

It was nice to see this from the Pacers/Fever:

The following joint statement was issued today by the NBA, WNBA, Indiana Pacers and Indiana Fever in regard to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act recently signed into law in Indiana:

“The game of basketball is grounded in long established principles of inclusion and mutual respect. We will continue to ensure that all fans, players and employees feel welcome at all NBA and WNBA events in Indiana and elsewhere.”

Additionally, Pacers and Fever owner Herb Simon stated:

“The Indiana Pacers, Indiana Fever and Bankers Life Fieldhouse have the strongest possible commitment to inclusion and non-discrimination on any basis. Everyone is always welcome at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. That has always been the policy from the very beginning of the Simon family’s involvement and it always will be. ”

I appreciate the statement, but it needs to go further. Imagine, if you will, NCAA champion-WNBA Champion-FIBA Worlds Champion Brittney Griner’s Phoenix Mercury play NCAA champion-WNBA-Champion-Olympic Champion Tamkia Catching’s Indiana Fever at Bankers Life Fieldhouse and, say, Wimbledon great Billie Jean King graces the arena with her presence. They all decide to go out for dinner afterward… and are refused service.

How can any right-minded American think that is at all okay? There needs to be a commitment to do everything in their power to overturn this idiocy – in Indiana AND Arkansas (’cause 19 states that have ‘religious freedom’ laws like Indiana’s that no one is boycotting)

Oh, and WBCA? Where is your voice? *crickets*


If you contend you’re more like Illinois and Connecticut (two other states with “religious freedom” bills) than you are like Alabama and Louisiana — prove it.

Turns out that 19 other states have some form of a “religious freedom” bill, including the aforementioned two: Connecticut and Illinois. That’s surprising, considering that nobody is calling for the NCAA or NFL to boycott holding events in Chicago or Hartford. But do you want to know one reason why? Because the potential discriminatory nature of the “religious freedom” bills in those states is counteracted by the statewide policies protecting LGBT people from discrimination.

These anti-discrimination policies are not county-by-county. They’re not just government employment protection. They are sweeping measures that include public and private employment, public expression and interactions while receiving goods and services.

You, Indiana, have no such sweeping anti-discrimination policy. (Neither does Alabama or Louisiana.)


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At least, this is what SHOULD be their reaction to this piece of homophobic, regressive, faith-twisting legislation: Indiana law allows biz to reject gays

And the follow up: WBCA supports NCAA’s decision to move tournament.

And the follow up: NCAA moves headquarters from Indianapolis.

Personally, I’ve attended every Final Four since 2000. I ain’t going to Indianapolis in 2016.

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You Can Play Project.


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What a great way to spend a beautiful Sunday and get NO work done: watch a sweet quintology of WNBA games.

Most every team involved put in a fine show – entertaining to watch, tough nosed, and almost making you wish we could pull a  FIFA. No, not accept a bribe. Call a game a tie.

It started early with the Shock finally winning a close one AND an away game. Tough loss for Chicago, who did all they could do with their tall folks sitting on the bench. But, the Diggins Scowl was in the house, and her fierce game got some support from her teammates, and down went the Sky.

I’ll be honest: Totally did not expect the Dream to die in New York. But, with Cappie having a stunningly efficient game and Sugar showing up, the Lib survive so-so-ness from Tina and Alex (and Cruuuuuz survived several abrupt encounters with the floor) to earn the win. Helped that Angel went for high-volume shooting and someone jinxed Tiffany Hayes and Jasmine Thomas.

The Sparks sputtered at home against a balanced San Antonio (though McBride looked human).  It’s not that LA was awful.  But turnovers (22) and miserable shooting from behind the arc (1-11) doomed them. You know,  if Kristi returns from her “personal business” and the Sparks start winning, she’s going to be in-Toliverable.

The still Catch-less Fever kept Minnesota honest through much of the game. They shot for crap (37%), and the Lynx shot for gold (57%) and they still only lost by 6.  Nice offensive balance by the Lynx, but you gotta wonder what will happen if Brunson can’t return. (Yes, Dev, we see you….) Classy move by Lynx to honor Dunn.

The night cap between Seattle and Washington was a high quality classic. Old (UConn) Guard v. New (UConn) Guard as Bird and Hartley went toe to toe, which was wicked fun to watch. The teams combined for a measly 20 turnovers, which was a delight to see. The game went into overtime, as it should. And Seattle won, as the fans deserved.

BTW: Cool, though I’m not a fan: WNBA Pride shirts led sales for all NBA merchandise in its first week

Equally cool: Kate Fagan on Tina Charles: Changing the World, One AED at a Time

Speaking of cool: Seattle U’s Chillin4Charity!

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gotten some relief, and others may be feeling toastier.

New York’s in trouble. It doesn’t matter if the score a lot of points or a few points. They’re not winning. Even more troubling? The Sun’s success might mean they get a Lottery Pick for the Charles trade. #MightComeBackToBiteYou. Oh, and adios Toni?

The Dream is in a groove and lovin’ it. (Now, if only the AJC would notice.)

The 2014 WNBA season is now in its second quarter and the Atlanta Dream is showing itself to be a legitimate contender.  But to be more specific here, that’s for the WNBA Championship, not just Eastern Conference banner. 

Indy and D.C are…surviving –  I KNOW coach Dunn and folks want Catch back, but I also know they want CATCH back. Respect their patience.

By the Great Lakes, Chicago folks are falling like flies, and it’s killin’ their mojo, but not their Pride. The All-Star break can’t come soon enough.

Is the Sun rising? Coach Donovan Knows It Takes All Kinds To Make Sun Mesh

In the West:

L.A. was making everyone wonder, que pasa? Then they met Tulsa and earned a no-longer-take-them-for-granted win.

The Lynx were rolling, but shorthanded still. Then they encountered the high-low we all expected Griner-Taurasi to be. Looks like the Merc are bringing the heat.

Seattle is making folks earn every win against ’em…. but, I’m guessing Bird would rather win than pile up stats. They do have a new COO, though: Alisha Valavanis will be leaving her post as the University of California, Berkeley’s Assistant Athletics Director of Development for Annual Giving and Alumni Relations

It’s amazing what Danielle Adams can do – unless, of course, you remember what she did in the NCAA Championship game. Doesn’t mean I don’t worry about her knees….

Some great games on today — and it’s WNBA PRIDE TIME!



Shock @ Sky.

Dream @ Liberty.

Stars @ Sparks.

Fever @ Lynx.

Mystics @ Storm.

Just a thought about Mechelle’s piece The WNBA’s Pride predicament. It’s amazing what happens to my heart when I read the players tweeting their support of WNBA Pride. For those of us who have journeyed with the players, fans, coaches and owners within the league, we know what a seismic moment this is. We’ve been frustrated, logical, realistic, impatient, hurt, embarrassed and sensitive to others. And yet, here we are: WNBA PRIDE.

This year, the league is acknowledging that fan base with a first-ever multi-media campaign: WNBA Pride, Presented by COVERGIRL. Nine teams are hosting a pride-themed game including the Chicago Sky, whose match up against the Shock on ESPN2 Sunday will be the first nationally-televised such game in professional sports.

Wicks, who came out before her retirement in 2002 when a reporter asked her if she was a lesbian, called the WNBA’s pride campaign “fantastic.”

“There have always been gay and lesbian fans at WNBA games,” she said. “It’s nice for fans of the community to be recoginzed for their support.”

For some reason, I’m flashing back on Whoopi Goldberg’s Broadway show (1985) where a character said, “Love isn’t smilin’ at people with your face and squintin’ at them with your heart.”

Here’s hoping that, wherever you draw your personal code of morals, ethics and/or intra and inter-personal behaviors from, you can agree with this: judge people by the “content of their character.”

In other news: More games to watch in you’re in Toronto: Welcome to the 2014 Women’s World Wheelchair Basketball Championship.

Canada, Germany, the Netherlands and the United States all remain undefeated after two days of play at the 2014 Women’s World Wheelchair Basketball Championship at the Mattamy Athletic Centre in Toronto, Ont.

AND they’re putting up big numbers. The games are streamed.

Speaking of international play… The lil bits (aka, the U17 team) was in a dogfight with the Canadian team… end then they zoomed away in the fourth.

The medium bits (aka the U18 team) will reassemble at the USOTC for training camp July 25-August 5. You can watch them play for FREE in Colorado Springs, August 6-10.

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from Mechelle 

Representing Athlete Ally, Taylor and Appel had a postgame discussion with fans at a restaurant inside AT&T Center right after a recent Stars game. Ticket sales manager Alma Lara also attended the event and addressed various questions from fans. One concern raised was the “Kiss Cam” that is shown on the JumboTron in the arena. A fan was upset that, at a previous game, the Kiss Cam focused in on two men who are part of the Stars’ staff that entertains fans during timeouts. They reacted in mock horror, suggesting the idea of two men kissing was inherently odd and comedic.

The meeting was attended by about 40 fans who expressed gratitude about the chance to discuss these issues. Appel was later asked by espnW if it bothers her that none of her teammates — some of whom she acknowledged are gay — came to the Athlete Ally meeting. If she as a straight person found it so important to participate, why didn’t they?

“The opportunity is there,” Appel said. “And I think it’s really important for players — like Brittney Griner has — to say, ‘Hey, it’s OK to talk about being gay.’

“But by the same token, I respect my teammates if they’re not comfortable putting themselves out there. I don’t want to push them into it. I want them to take the initiative.”

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From his article in Time Magazine:

Many will argue that the pay difference is the result of free market supply and demand. More people want to see men play professional basketball than want to see women play, so the players are paid accordingly. You can’t argue economics. There is truth to this. You can’t force people to attend a sporting event if they don’t want to.

However, this is something of a self-fulfilling prophecy. We can change things. First, we need to address why they don’t want to watch. This goes back to cultural biases. If we don’t value girls’ sports in middle school and high school, then we don’t grow up to value them as professional athletes. And by value, I mean make athletic opportunities available, pay coaches equally, and promote female sports with the same vigor as we do male sports.

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Will Indiana side with Putin?

Committee approves HJR-3 with 8-4 vote, sending resolution to Indiana Senate

Former Indiana Fever player Tully Bevilaqua attended the hearing with her wife and two small children.

“We’re hoping that (they’re) going to stand on the right side of history and vote no on HJR-3,” said an emotional Bevilaqua. “We are a family. Same love. We just want to protect our family.”

Monday, supporters of the controversial resolution told committee members they’d rather have HJR3 defeated than have it put on the ballot without the second sentence.

“We would rather see the single sentence defeated than placed on the ballot,” said Curt Smith of the Indiana Family Institute.

But Tully Bevilaqua’s wife Lindsay said, if it were to pass, they might decide to leave Indiana.

“We’d hate to go,” she said. “But it’s something families like ours will have to consider if this does go through.”

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Love, Germany

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From Michelle: Rivals team up for a cause – Cal’s Lyles, Stanford’s Kokenis work to support LGBT inclusion in sports

During a week when rival teams dig in and prepare, Mikayla Lyles and Toni Kokenis are reaching out. During a week when programs with a history might be talking a little trash, Lyles and Kokenis want to start a dialogue.

Lyles, a senior guard from Cal, and Kokenis, who played three seasons at Stanford before concussions forced her off the court, carved out time this week — in the run-up to the annual back-to-back games between the Bears and Cardinal — to create a shared space for inclusion and a conversation about acceptance.

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(and some of the coaches, too)

UConn Women’s Basketball Kicks Off BTS Tour of Champions

In Support of LGBTQ Inclusion

University of Connecticut women’s basketball went 35-4 during the 2012-2013 season, capturing its eighth NCAA Division I national championship title. As some of the most recognizable names and faces in the country, the Huskies understand the importance of using fame and notoriety to impact social change. UConn women’s basketball partners with Br{ache the Silence Campaign as the first team to kick off Tour of Champions, a national initiative to increase the visibility of positive role models by highlighting NCAA Division I women’s national champions who advocate for LGBTQ inclusion in women’s college sports.

UConn women’s basketball student-athletes, Bria Hartley, Stefanie Dolson, Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and Brianna Banks used their own creative vision to share the importance of being not only the best in the game, but champions of respect and inclusion on and off the court.

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Laurel Richie

“Sophia has the right to express her point of view, however, I do not share her view,” WNBA president Laurel Richie said in a statement. “The WNBA supports diversity and we are committed to the equal and fair treatment of all people.”

Of course, she couldn’t ignore it, ’cause the rest of the world ain’t. From The Atlantic Wire: WNBA Star Doesn’t Care What She’s Voting For, She Just Doesn’t Like Gays

The WNBA is actually light years ahead of any other professional American sports league when it comes to progress for gay players and gay fans. While the NFL and NHL are busy talking about the anticipation of a single openly-gay player, the WNBA’s 2012 first draft pick, Brittney Griner, came out of the closet, was signed by Nike and was in a massive spread in ESPN magazine when she was drafted. “I am a strong, black lesbian woman. Every single time I say it, I feel so much better,” Griner said. Griner and Young actually went to the same college. 

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At Sochi Olympics, the podium can be a platform

Any young athletes out there wondering what to do about the Sochi Olympics, don’t listen to the spine-caved International Olympic Committee. Instead listen to the plain voice of Martin Luther King Jr. He wasn’t an athlete, unless pool-sharking counted, but he was more observant of sports than you would suppose, and he was especially interested in the Olympics as a stage for disobedience. There is no question he would tell today’s athletes, “Protest.”

’cause I was just reviewing the submissions for “Official Sochi winter US Olympic Footwear Providers:”

Kinda fond of the wings… But it might give new meaning to the term, “Wind aided record.”

Who’s your frontrunner?

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As you may or may not know, the San Antonio Silver Stars player has taken a public stance:

@sophiayoung33: Should San Antonio be a city that allows same sex marriage?? I vote NO.

Of course, if you’re followed the debate — I mean, the ACTUAL debate on the ACTUAL amendment being proposed, you’d know that the vote has nothing to do with same sex marriage. It’s about to ensure that people cannot be discriminated against for any of the following: sexual orientation, gender identity, veteran status, or disability when it comes to housing or employment.

What Sophia believes about gay marriage is one thing. Folks will disagree with her on that. Folks may even lose respect for her because of her beliefs.

But 1) she’s proving she’s an uneducated voter and 2) by voting “No,” and urging others to follow her, she is voting FOR allowing discrimination.

Not good.

Rebkellians discuss.

From Hoopfeed: Sophia Young steps into equal rights controversy, Silver Stars fan speaks at city council debate

What happens when a WNBA player posts a tweet about a hot button topic while attending a protest on another controversial issue? San Antonio Silver Stars forward Sophia Young found out yesterday. The fan favorite since her college days helping lead Baylor to its first national championship in 2005took on two topics in one tweet. She followed up her first tweet with photo evidence of her stances. Young is not playing this season due to a torn ACL she suffered while playing overseas in China. However, she attends home games, interacts with fans and is active in the San Antonio community with charity work and her AAU girl’s basketball team, Sophia Young Elite.

While one can argue that adding protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people to San Antonio city’s nondiscrimination code is related to state matrimony laws and gay marriage, legally the distinct issues have absolutely nothing to do with each other. However, Young tweeted that she was against gay marriage while attending a protest at the city council opposing adding LGBT protections to the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance.

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from the NY Times: 

Only 21 states have laws barring employers from refusing to hire people or firing them because of their sexual orientation, and only 16 of those have inclusive workplace nondiscrimination laws that cover bisexual and transgender people as well as gays and lesbians.

Mr. Collins’s announcement coincided with the reintroduction in the House and Senate of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, an overdue measure to outlaw employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. It has been stalled in Congress for years. But the idea that job applicants and employees should be judged on their professional credentials and the caliber of their work, and not be penalized because of who they are, is a basic fairness principle, and one that polls indicate most Americans support.

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Griner Is Part of Mission to Help All Live in Truth

When the N.B.A. center Jason Collins announced he was gay last week, I was thrilled. Not only was I extremely happy for him, I thought that maybe, just maybe, his courage and the wave of positive reaction meant that we were on the verge of an era when people accept and celebrate one another’s differences. I think that’s what makes life beautiful: everyone is different and we can all learn from one another.

Lordy, I hope women’s basketball coaches learn from Griner and Collins.

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Jualeah Woods, the interim women’s basketball head coach at San Diego State following the unexplained retirement of Beth Burns, was hired as an assistant on Cynthia Cooper-Dyke’s staff at USC. Technically it is a downgrade for Woods, who spent eight years at SDSU and held the title of associate head coach under Burns.

Speaking of Cooper: Texas Southern names new head women’s basketball coach

Ella Vincent writes:  Brittney Griner Is Revolutionizing Women’s Basketball – Will Brittney Griner’s coming out break down the “feminine” wall of women’s sports?

Basketball star Brittney Griner is one to watch for many reasons. She came out and revealed she was gay before she had her first professional game aft for the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury. She is one of the rare athletes to come out as an active player. It was a moment that showed how far America has progressed-but also how far it still has to go. Google her and “Brittney Griner man” shows up as often as her dunks when she played for Baylor University. More disturbing than the comments about her being a man are the attempts to make Griner feel ashamed for preferring pants over dresses. However, with Griner set to debut on the national stage this summer, can butch female athletes be free to express themselves?

Angela Hattery offers: Homosexuality and Professional Sports: A lesson from Brittney Griner to the NFL

On April 15 th , 2013 Brittney Griner, arguably the best player in women’s college basketball, was selected as the number one pick in the WNBA draft; she was drafted by the Phoenix Mercury and will play alongside the legendary point guard Diana Taurasi.   Three days later SportsWorld buzzed with the news that Brittney Griner had “come out” as gay.   

Critics pondered how Baylor, as a conservative Baptist institution, would deal with Griner’s announcement given that the Baylor student handbook reads in part:

The University affirms the biblical understanding of sexuality as a gift from God. Christian churches across the ages and around the world have affirmed purity in singleness and fidelity in marriage between a man and a woman as the biblical norm.

  Her coach, Kim Mulkey, while acknowledging that Griner was taunted and harassed during her career “professed ignorance” of her players’ relationships.

The official Baylor comment is that they will not “call out” Griner given that she has brought so much positive attention to the university.

Anyone else callin’ “bull” on Mulkey and  Baylor’s “ignorance”?

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From Variety: Media Coverage of NBA’s Jason Collins Varies Widely

The news Monday that Jason Collins had become the first active player in any of the four major U.S. team sports to reveal himself as gay itself provided a new demonstration of how idiosyncratically different media cover a story.

Even ESPN and ESPN.com seemed to be at odds over how to treat the NBA center’s news, which came two weeks after the 66th anniversary of Jackie Robinson’s first major-league game, while ESPN analyst Chris Broussard created his own controversy with [his] comments:“If you’re openly living in unrepentant sin, whatever it may be, not just homosexuality, (but) adultery, fornication, premarital sex between heterosexuals … I believe that’s walking in open rebellion to God,”  Broussard said on a special edition of ESPN’s “Outside the Lines.”

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Well, before everybody starts complaining about how UConn’s dominance is bad for the game (I’m doing a private countdown), let’s address the fact that, for some folks, we’re already at the “Is this as good as it gets” stage: Women’s college basketball plateaus

Back in 1995, when Connecticut won its first NCAA championship in women’s basketball, the sport seemed ready to explode.

The attention Rebecca Lobo, Jen Rizzotti and the rest of the Huskies received from the adoring media, especially in the New York City area, helped fuel a “Year of the Woman” campaign for the Atlanta Olympics in 1996 and the birth of the WNBA a year later.

Title IX triumphs!

But as the confetti fell on UConn’s eighth title team Tuesday night in the New Orleans Arena, there was the general feeling that women’s basketball, both on and off the court has plateaued.

I’m always amused by folks who think women’s basketball will grow in an uninterrupted line upwards, or that somehow “social agendas” — read “empowering women,” “fighting sexism,” “fighting homophobia,” “advocating for equal opportunities” — are hindering the game’s growth. (Is there anything that DOESN’T have a “social agenda”?)

That’s why, while I love the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame, it also frustrates the hell out of me. Why?  Because it lays out the history of women’s basketball as if it were a natural, fight-free progression. It was not. And is still not.

I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating: imagine if the small-minded, homophobic and sexist folks hadn’t won the battle to ban girls basketball in the mid ’20’s and 30’s. Consider what was happening at the turn of the century:

When Doctor Naismith joined the faculty of the University of Kansas in 1898 basketball was generally regarded in Kansas college circles as a woman’s sport. This could scarcely have been surprising to its inventor, for girls had begun playing it in the East when it was barely a month old. Coeds on Mount Oread experimented with it as early as 1896, the Kansas University Weekly reporting on November 21 that the girls had organized several teams and that the freshman and sophomore girls hoped to play a match game. There is no record of this contest, if it was played, but if the young women carried out their plan it probably was the first basketball game on a Kansas campus.

In 1897 their athletic facilities were enlarged. A space was reserved to be used as an athletic field for women and facilities were provided for an open-air basketball court. [2] The women of Baker University first played the game in the spring of 1897, when the contest between the Delta Delta Delta team and one picked from the other girls of the university was a feature of the first spring field day, according to The Baker Orange of May 19. Girls pioneered in basketball at Washburn College, Ottawa University and Emporia Normal, as well as at K.U. and Baker. TheWashburn Weekly Review announced on November 3, 1898, that “we may expect our young ladies to issue a challenge to some of the neighboring schools for a basketball game before long,” and reported a week later that they were learning the fine points of the new pastime at the Y.W.C.A. gymnasium in Topeka.

Heck, what might have happened if THIS sentiment had prevailed in the men’s game:

Veteran basketball men say that one factor that prevented basketball from becoming a major sport during the first decade of its existence as a Kansas college game was that men students regarded the game as effeminate.

Where would our game be if it had grown in lock-step with the men’s game? Yes, it probably would look different on the court — sort of how men’s gymnastics is different than women’s gymnastics — BUT off the court?:

  • Perhaps the fan bases would grow at an equal level (’cause, back in the day, they were huge for both girls and boys teams).
  • Perhaps coaches would have been equally paid and respected. For instance, maybe a reporter would be asking, “Would Coach Mike Krzyzewski have been successful coaching in the women’s game?”
  • Perhaps college athletic scholarships, offered to men as early as the 1870’s, would have also been offered women, as opposed to having to be legislated. ‘Cause, as we know, even legislation, most universities are still not in compliance.
  • Perhaps the homophobic bullying tossed at women’s basketball players would be called out/challenged directly by coaches, parents and the media and called out for the hate speech it is. Perhaps, then, Kim Mulkey would not feel the ned to play the ostrich, but be a leader amongst coaches who say “Enough is enough.”

I’m not offering the above “what ifs” as an excuse, but as an example of how things ain’t so simple and/or cut and dried when it comes to women’s athletics. Knowing history is essential to making progress.

So, I look forward to reading Val Ackerman’s “White Paper,” in which, she will present her findings on her “comprehensive assessment of the current state of intercollegiate women’s basketball” and present “her conclusions and recommendations about how best to position and manage the sport.”

  • Revenue generation
  • Marketing and television strategies
  • Image and branding
  • Youth/grass-roots tie-ins
  • Cost structures
  • Scheduling
  • Governance/management
  • Championships

The above points of focus center on topics one might call “hard skills” involving money, tactics and personnel, which is essential to developing strategic plans for growing the game. That is, IF the NCAA actually has the will (and personel) to take action. There have been earlier studies on improving all of the above — with grants given out by the NCAA in 2010 — but for some reason (yes, I can think of some) schools seemed unwilling to adopt identified “Best Practices.” And there was nothing the NCAA could do about making them because universities are independent beings. (Sound familiar, WNBA?)

I’m going to guess that Val’s paper will NOT address “political” issues such as university funding of sports or homophobia within and without the sports. That being said, there does seem to be a sea change happening (and a corresponding backlash – did you see this reaction to the firing of Rice?), primarily led by student-athletes.

Recall this from 2012: Athlete Ally: Hudson Taylor tackles homophobia

The gay jokes. The homophobic slurs, those comments uttered so habitually on the practice mats that no one stops to notice what they actually mean or whom they hurt. They stung Hudson Taylor.

Wear an equal rights sticker on your helmet during a match and we’ll have a hard time cheering for you, some of his Maryland teammates warned. Their words clawed at Taylor, tore at him the way their words tore at so many athletes never bold enough to speak out before. He wondered if by taking this stance he was actually hindering his cause, if his teammates were becoming more homophobic simply because he asked them not to be.

“Sometimes, 18- to 22-year-old young men don’t realize how much an impact their words have,” said Maryland wrestling coach Kerry McCoy. “Hudson brought that issue to the forefront for our team.”

Yes, I wish coaches would speak out more. But, I do understand the fear factor: did you see this from The Tucker Center?  Examining Online Intercollegiate Head Coaches’ Biographies: Reproducing or Challenging Heteronormativity and Heterosexism? Writes Pat Griffin:

Let’s look at the decision whether or not to include a description of one’s family in a professional bio through the lens of heterosexism.  For a heterosexual married coach or athletic administrator, this decision is relatively minor.  Being heterosexual and married with children is what is expected and accepted. Heterosexuals freely share this information in a million little ways every day: wearing a wedding ring, placing family photos on a desk in the office, having casual conversations with colleagues about family, bringing family to department social and sports events. Why wouldn’t she or he want to include this information in a bio? There is no real down side to providing information about a heterosexual spouse and children. To the contrary, in a sports world where many high school recruits and their parents, athletic directors or the general public still view non-heterosexuals in negative ways, this “evidence” of heterosexuality can be read as a big plus, whether intended as such or not: The coach is not gay! 
Through the same lens of heterosexism, the factors affecting the decision of lesbian, gay or bisexual coaches in same-sex relationships to include their family information in a professional bio are quite different from those of their heterosexual colleagues.  Their decision is a big deal in ways that it is not for heterosexual coaches.  Here is why – Lesbian, bisexual and gay coaches carefully consider this decision because it can open the coach to professional and personal risk in a world where heterosexism is the norm.  Only 16 states and the District of Columbia have laws that prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. There are no federal laws that prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Many coaches work in schools that do not even have institutional non-discrimination policies that include sexual orientation or gender identity. As a consequence, most lesbian, bisexual and gay coaches have no legal protection against discrimination based on their sexual orientation.

So, maybe the tipping point will be led outside of the college arena. How can you not draw hope from this?

NHL, Players Union Launch Initiative To Battle Homophobia

The National Hockey League and its players union launched an initiative today that it hopes will stamp out homophobia from the game.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman tells our Newscast unit that the partnership with You Can Play is intended to send a message that everyone is welcome in the NHL as a player or a fan.

“This is really about celebrating diversity, whether or not it’s your national origin, the color of your skin or your sexual orientation, and making you feel comfortable that whoever you are you can have a place you can play,” Bettman said.

And while there is this (NFL More Homophobic Than Ever, Asking Prospects If They’re Gay and The NFL Sets the Standard for Homophobia) there is also this and this Donté Stallworth, Wide Receiver, Joins Group Fighting Homophobia In Sports

“I think it’s important for us as professional athletes not only to set the tone in our own respective fields, but also for the kids who are watching our programs or our sports,” he said. “If you isolate a child and teach them hate, hate, hate, that’s the way they’re going to grow up. … And unfortunately, that’s the environment that I grew up in. There was a lot of disrespect for gays. I unfortunately was a part of that. But as I got older, I became more ashamed of that and more open to rights for all.”

Yes, I see women’s basketball as being more than “just basketball.” I can enjoy the game for the game’s sake — niche sport or not. But I also enjoy the fact that it can have a bigger role: It can challenge our preconceived notions and push us to consider our conscious (and unconscious) biases about the “natural state” of the world around us. Why would anyone want to shy away from do that?

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From the NY Times: Faried Shows Support for L.G.B.T. Community

Denver Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried became the first N.B.A. player to join Athlete Ally, an organization aimed at combating homophobia in sports.

Faried, 23, was raised by a lesbian couple in Newark.

“I have two moms and I love them both very much,” Faried, who played collegiately at Morehead State in Kentucky, said in a statement from Athlete Ally. “I respect, honor and support them in every way. The bond I have with them has made me realize that I want all members of the L.G.B.T. community – whether they are parents, players, coaches or fans – to feel welcome in the N.B.A. and in all of our communities.”

This follows on another column celebrating allies: Super Bowl Writer On Saying Thanks To Brendon Ayanbadejo

Just then, before Suggs spoke to us, I looked off to the right to see a big bruiser of a man pulling on his haberdashery at a locker beneath the numeral “51.” Six years of living overseas had blurred my player-recognition skills and jumbled my recall of jersey numbers, so I had brought along a lineup card. I fished it from my pocket and found the “51.”


Oh . . .

There stood Brendon Ayanbadejo, age 36, born in Chicago to an American mother and Nigerian father, educated at UCLA, three Pro Bowls as a noble special-teams sort, a man whom I had never met but for whom I held a vast gratitude. In a giddy locker room in which the great Ed Reed waltzed around singing Eddie Money’s “Two Tickets To Paradise,” I momentarily had misplaced Ayanbadejo’s face. In fact, in the urgency of the game, I had not thought of him all weekend. Yet here was a man I had never expected to exist in all my life, a heterosexual football powerhouse who had spoken up voluntarily and beautifully and repeatedly for g-g-g-gay people.

When will it happen in the women’s basketball coaching ranks? WBCA, I’m looking at your leadership and asking you to speak up. From Pat Griffin: Straight Women Allies in Sport: Rare Sightings of An Important Species

The problem is that straight women allies in sport are invisible and they offer their support privately.  By confining their support to private conversations within their teams or one on one to coaching colleagues, straight women athlete and coach allies fall victim to the same old homophobia and fear of association with lesbians that has plagued women’s sports since Senda Berenson organized the first women’s basketball game at Smith College in 1893.   Don’t get me wrong, private allies are better than no allies.  But we need public allies who speak out consistently and boldly if we are to change the culture of fear and secrecy that persists in women’s sport.  To most effective challenge heterosexism and homophobia in women’s sports, straight women allies must be willing to speak out publicly.

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From Graham: Studevent takes on bullying – Lady Lions senior was bullied as a teen, starts program to help middle schoolers

Then came the day, not long after she had a chance as an eighth-grader to travel to a tournament with older girls, that she found a letter addressed to “Senorita” in her bag, spelling out in no uncertain terms that she wasn’t welcome in her new surroundings. More letters followed, always anonymous, calling her a “taco bitch” and far worse. Emails spread, intermingling her name with pornographic videos. She was even tipped off that a girl, whose identity she never learned, planned to pay two classmates to plant marijuana in Studevent’s bag. All of this because she was different, because she didn’t come from the same place or look like other students, because she was easy to single out.

“It wasn’t so much what was said; it was just the fact that it was said from the people I looked up to,” Studevent said. “I’ve always been proud to be Mexican. You can say I hopped a fence, whatever joke you want to make, but I’m always going to be proud of who I am.”

The WBCA and its coaches could take a lesson from Studevent when it comes to confronting homophobia — which is a kind of bullying.

Not holding my breath, though. Remember this from Pat Griffin back in October, 2012?

Yes, I would agree that many college and professional women’s sports teams are generally open to and comfortable with lesbian teammates. Yes, many lesbian professional athletes are out to their teammates and coaches.  Of course, lesbians have always been important participants in and advocates for women’s sports.  On some teams lesbian coaches and athletes are welcomed and invited to be as open about their sexual orientation as they choose to be.  Yet, as we celebrate this openness, we must understand that situations like these are also true:
  • College coaches of women’s teams still have “no lesbian” team policies
  • Lesbian athletes are dismissed from college teams, find their playing time limited or are harassed until they quit teams solely because of their sexual orientation or gender expression
  • College coaches of women’s teams still use negative recruiting tactics to insinuate that coaches of rival teams are lesbians
  • College coaches who are lesbians are afraid to identify themselves out of fear that it would be used against them in personnel decisions and recruiting
  • Only one Division 1 women’s basketball coach in the entire United States is publicly out as a lesbian (Sherri Murrell at Portland State University)
  • Lesbian athletes are discouraged from being open about their lesbian identity lest it “tarnish” the entire team’s reputation
  • Lesbian coaches, athletes and sports administrators are targeted with anti-LGBT vandalism and anonymous harassment
With regard to the last item on this list, read this article about a lesbian high school athletic director in California who is currently under attack by vandals who are targeting her because she is a lesbian.

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other such targeted celebrations during basketball games can raise a huge number of issues.

As Mechelle said in her chat, “the fact that the league is celebrating [Pride], and that WNBA president Laurel Richie easily says the words “lesbian” and “gay” publicly, are all good signs.”

It’s also a fact that many faith-based organizations are deliberately and actively against equal rights for all, something I find both hypocritical and wildly un-American. So, when WNBA teams host “Faith nights,” it can, understandably, raise the hackles of all fair-minded fans. From an email I received:

I’ve written to LA Sparks mgmt. because this year they had 2 christian events as “entertainment” and no non-christian concerts/entertainment.  This really turns me off to attending Sparks games and I know I’m not the only one.  Is it possible that certain teams are looking to decrease gay fans and increase “families”, specifically christian ones? Don’t know but I think that it’s not a smart idea.

I agree, it’s unwise to alienate one fan base in the hopes of drawing another one. Neither am I willing to lump all faith-based organizations under one umbrella. But how do you decide who does or does not get a night? Here’s my simple litmus test: does the group/organization follow this non-discrimination statement as presented by Iowa State University:

“(Fill-in-the-blank) does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, age, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity.”

If the group demonstrates a pro-active compliance, cool. If no, respectfully suggest that they are more than welcome to support the League through the purchase of group tickets, but no team of the WNBA would knowingly align themselves with an organization that would deliberately discriminate.


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From her latest entry: Sexist Tweets, OK. Racist Tweets, Not So Much

 In the space of two weeks reporters for national media have gotten themselves into hot water for tweets about sporting events. First up – Roland Martin of CNN who was disturbed by the David Beckham underwear ad broadcast during the Super Bowl. His homophobic tweet calling for a little causal violence directed toward men who like the ad was roundly criticized by GLAAD, the LGBT media watchdog organization, as well as others. He was suspended as punishment.
The reactions to Whitlock’s tweet focused almost entirely on pointing out how racist the comment was. It seemed to go right over the heads of most commentators that there was also a huge dollop of sexism in his comment also. Whitlock’s comment is offensive to Asian men and all women. Why haven’t more men who object to Whitlock’s racism also criticized his sexism? Here is one exception.

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Helen Carroll & Pat Griffin and encourages everyone to Vote for them as the Outsports’ Person of the Year?.

While other gay-sports activists get the headlines and Facebook fan pages, these two women continue to be the gold standard in the movement. This year was just another year of extraordinary accomplishments. Griffin launched a new initiative with GLSEN, Changing the Game, that is helping end homophobia in K-12 sports. The women together published a groundbreaking report that lead to an official NCAA policy on trans athletes. When we published our list of the 100 most important moments in gay-sports history, these two were a part of making at least nine of them happen. And while others simply preach to the choir, these two women consistently reach out to those who are not on the side of fairness and equality. They are pioneers in the deepest sense, and 2011 was another incredible year for their work.

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From Mecca Jamilah Sullivan at The Feminist Wire: Media, Sports and Black Queer Youth: Tayshana Murphy and the Dimming of Stars

But then, three weeks after her murder, the Manhattan D.A. identified violent, homophobic comments and drawings about Murphy on the wall of the stairwell where she was killed. The D.A.’s indictment press release doesn’t mention the homophobic comments or the possibility that anti-gay hate played a role in the crime. Even the New York Times article on the Grant-Manhattanville feud, which quotes another 18-year-old woman as Murphy’s “girlfriend” leaves the issue of homophobic hate silent, focusing instead on Murphy’s foreshortened basketball career. One exuberantly homophobic blog even goes so far as to say that the love of basketball turned Murphy gay. The message of all these sources is clear: Murphy wasn’t really a black lesbian; she was an athlete. And her loss should be mourned accordingly.

From Pat Griffin: Reflections on the Death of a Young Black Lesbian Athlete

Advocates for LBGT athletes and coaches must make a commitment to think beyond our own personal experience. Men must understand the role of sexism as it affects the experiences of lesbians and bisexual women in sport. White people must examine how racism mixed with homophobia make the experience of LGBT athletes and coaches different from those of us who can ignore racism even as we benefit from it. Those of us who have enough food, safety, shelter and access to financial resources need to ask ourselves what we are going to do in response to Tayshana’s death? How will we make sure this kind of tragedy never happens again.

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NCAA president Mark Emmert says the organization could look into changing its bylaws to better establish its authority to address situations like the child sex abuse scandals at Penn State and Syracuse.

NCAA president Mark Emmert says the organization could look into changing its bylaws to better establish its authority to address situations like the child sex abuse scandals at Penn State and Syracuse.

The governing body already has a working group considering different rules to prevent violations in what have traditionally been college sports’ problem areas, such as recruiting and amateurism.

I guess they never read this article in the WBCA’s Coaching Women’s Basketball… from 2004. Deafening Silence:

Few would deny that 2004 was a year full of engaging and positive stories celebrating the growth of women’s basketball. The NCAA tournament drew unprecedented attention from both the media and fans culminating in a dramatic final with record-breaking viewership. The WNBA welcomed an extraordinary group of rookies, successfully negotiated an Olympic break and crowned a new champion in front of a sold out house. On the international front, the United States maintained its dominance in classic style – showcasing the past, present and future with a team that epitomized the very essence of the women’s game. Finally, as the new college season began, the buzz was not only about a breathtaking crop of young freshman, but a topsy-turvy season that seemed to suggest that the “holy grail” of parity was close to a reality.

However, since I pride myself in following women’s basketball closely, I could not avoid a disturbing number of stories that shared a common theme: the sexual misconduct of coaches with their players. Consider the following brief sample of stories from this past year:

* A 39-year-old former Little League and youth basketball coach in Maine pled guilty to eight felonies and two misdemeanors, admitting he raped three teenage girls in the 1980’s and then sexually abused two others in 2002 and 2003.

* * In Texas, a 45-year-old coach arrested on charges of criminal sexual penetration. The warrant included threats made towards the girl’s college career if she resisted sex with the coach. The alleged abuse took place in 1994 and 1998 and the accuser came forward after she heard stories about other alleged victims coming forward.

* * In California, a high school girls’ basketball coach surrendered to police after a warrant was issued for his arrest on charges of sexual misconduct with a minor.

* In Oregon, a coach who admitted he had sex with two former pupils, one who was under the age of consent, vowed to coach again. “I’m going to continue to teach basketball, because I’m arguably the best at what I do in the country,” claimed the coach. “People are going to contract me out to (coach). I’m either going to build a facility where I don’t have to worry about when I want to use it, or somebody is going to rent me court space.”

* In Wisconsin, a girls’ varsity basketball coach and social studies teacher faced charges that he sexually assaulted a 15-year-old player while pursuing her for months for an intimate relationship. He was charged with five counts of sexual assault of a child, three counts of child enticement with sexual conduct, and one count of sexual assault by school staff.

* In Arkansas a girls basketball coach faced felony sexual assault charges on an allegation he had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old student.

* In Colorado a girls’ basketball coach accused of having sex with three of his underage players was charged with 59 counts of sexual assault and child abuse. The horror was compounded when the coach was found dead of an apparent suicide in his jail cell.

As a writer, a fan, an educator and a woman these articles set off alarm bells, and I keep waiting for some kind of response from the organizations I consider the leaders in women’s basketball: the NCAA, the AAU and the WBCA.

The silence has been deafening.

And incomprehensible.

The NCAA considers one of its core values “protecting the best interests of student-athletes.” Its Health and Safety site has amongst its headings Sports Medicine, Drug Testing, Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drug Education Programs (which includes a link to the Minimum Guidelines for such programs). A link to the Nutrition and Performance page reveals a site whose aim is “to promote a healthy and safe environment for student-athletes regarding optimal nutrition, positive body image and peak performance by providing education and awareness.”

And yet when I contacted the NCAA, a representative who works with their Health and Safety programs knew of no regulations, guidelines and or position papers on sexual abuse published by the NCAA. “We provide the NCAA membership with resources to address sexual health and relationships issues,” wrote the representative, “through our Health and Safety Speakers Grant Program, which provides funding for outside speakers to present on selected wellness issues, and through the APPLE Conferences.”

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Lisa, Lisa, Lisa

Honestly, what were you thinking.

I’m goin’ with what Cam said:

Frankly, Lisa Leslie is just pissed because Lisa thought the interview was to discuss “Leslians,” which are the horde of players (and coaches, announcers, and fans) who worship the ground upon which she walks. She assumed the interview would be to discuss the Leslians, as well know everyone in the league is a Leslian, according to the statistics kept by Ann Meyers, Head Leslian in Charge (HLIC).

When she found out the interview was about “Lesbians,” she was really caught off guard and was so frazzled that she could not give an intelligent response.

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this TV Alert: In The Life Episode on LGBT Issues in Sport

In The Life is featuring an episode on LGBT issues in sports in September. Look for the local TV listings for PBS stations in your area to see when it will air or you can watch it here.

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A little background to

the It Gets Better PSA from Henry Abbott’s “True Hoop” blog at ESPN: Baseball and WNBA join anti-bullying campaign

…it struck me that athletes have a special opportunity here. In the clumsy traditional stereotypes, the jocks fall in more with the bullies, right? They’re the ones making it worse, as it were. So people like Hill and Dudley get to do something special. By piping up for treating all people, including LGBT people, with dignity, they’re adding their two cents, and more. They’re also communicating that even on the macho fringes of society, deep in the sports world where still nobody comes out of the closet, the LGBT community has friends. They’re also role modeling civil behavior to young sports fans, some of whom may have the inclination to bully.

I never had the feeling that NBA players had some obligation to join the It Gets Better campaign, but it was always an idea with potential.

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From Mechelle’s blog

a little on the “Rainbow Ceiling.”

I took part in a “webinar” last week, which was put together by reporter Stefanie Loh as part of the Association of Women in Sports Media convention.

The topic was a familiar one that people talk about … and yet don’t talk about: homosexuality in sports, in this case, particularly women’s sports.

Involved in the “webinar” were Dr. Pat Griffin, a leading advocate of incorporating GLBT sensitivity to education, Portland State women’s basketball coach Sherri Murrell, former Belmont women’s soccer coach Lisa Howe (who lost her job for coming out publicly as gay), Olympic and pro softball player Lauren Lappin, and me.

You can read the highlights from the discussion here, or download the full transcript from that site. Or you can listen to it here, which also allows you to download a podcast.

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