Okay, so it seems that “summer hiatus” became an “indefinite hiatus.” But, if you’ve done what I’ve said and you ‘follow’ WideRights on Twitter and ‘like’ WideRights on Facebook, you know that I am not dead and that I still actively follow this subject, provide commentary when I feel like it, and love engaging in discussions about it.
As far as writing new content for this blog, studying for and taking the bar exam was a completely justifiable excuse to put anything substantive on hold. But that time has come and gone. (I passed and am now a real, grown-up attorney for the Columbus Blue Jackets!)
The reasons I haven’t continued to write—since being done with the exam—are several, but most of all, I felt like I ran out of things to say. All the topics started to become repetitive: “Ally does something awesome!” “Random athlete comes out!” “Homophobe does something bigoted and idiotic!”
Of course, sharing those stories is important; the progress and growth for LGBT awareness and discussion is sport is absolutely awesome. Chris Kluwe shot onto the scene as a major ally. You Can Play continues to do wonderful things in sports. Several athletes have come out. Even with those developments I felt that Facebook and Twitter do a better job for sharing those stories.
I always wanted this blog to be more than just a collection of news stories. I wanted to add a certain perspective to them. The academic rigors of law school blended well with that goal. During that time in school, I was more inquisitive and felt more of a need to inject an intellectual perspective to things.
But again, you can only comment on a new ally, new homophobic, or new out athlete in so many ways. When it felt like I had a cookie-cutter blog ready for any new development, I knew I’d taken the blog as far as I wanted it to go.
I’ve considered expanding on what I’ve done with the blog, perhaps to provide more and different content and resources. But right now, I’m focused on other things. I’m focused on making the most of the fortunate opportunity I have to work for a professional sports organization. I’m focused on learning as a new attorney, building networks within the community, and discussing these topics on an internal and local level.
So why now? I mean, after all, I have considered writing this post for a while. Well, since you asked, it’s because I have done some writing recently for another publication and want to share it!
In anticipation of “An Evening with Chris Kluwe”—Monday, April 8, 5pm, at the Archie M. Griffin East Ballroom at the Ohio Union [Facebook Event Page], I was given the opportunity to interview him. While I’m quite an amateur at interviewing (and holy cow did it show in the recorded phone call), I really wanted the chance. I think the feature turned out great, and you can read it here, published for Outlook Columbus.
Not sure when I’ll update this mess again. I may tweak this web page a bit to make it look more like an official blog archive while also featuring Twitter and Facebook updates so you know I’m still alive and active.
So, today is Day 1 of my bar exam prep course. Between the 40ish hours per week that I need to commit to studying + 20 hours of work (oh, an update: I’m working with the Blue Jackets this summer), it is likely I won’t update this blog during the summer (pending, of course, some major, major news that absolutely warrants it). I will try as much as I can to continue to forward and talk about pertinent stories on Twitter or Facebook, so be sure to follow/like accordingly.
On Monday, April 16, I was proud to be involved in a panel discussion at the Ohio State University Moritz College of Law on the subject of “Homophobia in sports and developments in policies at the institutional level.”
The two panelists were phenomenal: Professor Erin Buzuvis, from the Western New England University School of Law (and co-founder of the Title IX Blog), and Brian Kitts, a co-founder of You Can Play.
The event was well attended by law students, faculty, and alumni.
For those that were unable to attend, the event was recorded and the video is now available online. I parsed the video into segments based on the topic of discussion for your convenience.
You can view the entire event (just over an hour) with one simple click by viewing this YouTube playlist or you can watch individual segments based on the subject you’re interested in by viewing the embedded videos below.
On Monday, April 16, the Ohio State University Moritz College of Law will be hosting a panel discussion on “Homophobia in Sports and Developments in Policies at the Institutional Level.”
The event will be from 12:10 p.m. to 1:15 p.m., and the event is free, open to the public, and lunch will be served. The law school is located in Drinko Hall at 55 West 12th Avenue. (Facebook event with all the details here; RSVPs are appreciated for planning purposes.)
I am very pleased that this event is coming together, and the two speakers that will be on the panel are great: Professor Erin Buzuvis, a Title IX guru, and Brian Kitts, a co-founder of You Can Play. (Their complete bios are below.) Oh, and yours truly will be moderating the discussion.
I also had a wonderful meeting with Sr. Associate Athletics Director, Miechelle Willis, yesterday about the event. Ms. Willis focuses on student-athlete wellness and was very receptive to the slated message for the event. So receptive, in fact, that she agreed to send out an invitation of the event to all the student-athletes and coaches at Ohio State! I have no idea if any will accept the invitation and attend, but the possibility excites me!
While the exact questions and topics for discussion have not been finalized, this is the preliminary list of ideas I have come up:
- NCAA’s new policy for transgender athletes: what are the rules, how did it come into effect, etc.
- Does Title IX apply to issues of sexual orientation and gender identity in college athletics?
- Culture of masculinity in men’s sports and resulting sexist/homophobic conduct (Iowa’s pink visitor locker room, Ohio State ‘lavender jersey’)
- Perceptions and stereotypes of sexuality of men versus women athletes
- Impact and importance of allies in sports
- Negative recruiting in women’s sports: what is it, how prevalent is it, and how does it affect players?
- Implications of NFL, MLB, and NBA adding ‘sexual orientation’ to class of people protected from discrimination in collective bargaining agreements
- State of homophobia and growing numbers of allies in professional sports
I hope to see you there on Monday!
Oh, you may not be in Columbus or have a prior commitment? Don’t worry, we have arranged to have the event recorded and I will be uploading it here as soon as I can. (I plan to splice the video into parts for each question asked, hoping it will be more user-friendly.)
Here are complete bios for the speakers:
Brian Kitts is co-founder of the You Can Play Project, an international effort to promote respect for LGBT athletes in sports. Brian spent more than 10 years in the front offices of professional sports teams in the NHL, NBA, MLS and the NLL. He is the marketing and communications director for the mayor’s office of Arts & Venues in Denver, and teaches sports and entertainment marketing at the University of Denver.
Professor Erin Buzuvis researches and writes about gender and discrimination in sport, including such topics as the interrelation of law and sports culture, intersecting sexual orientation and race discrimination in women’s athletics, retaliation against coaches in collegiate women’s sports, the role of interest surveys in Title IX compliance, participation policies for transgender and intersex athletes, and Title IX and competitive cheer. Additionally, she is a co-founder and contributor to the Title IX Blog, an interdisciplinary resource for news, legal developments, commentary, and scholarship about Title IX’s application to athletics and education. In addition to a seminar about sports, law and culture, she also teaches administrative law, employment discrimination, and property. Prior to joining the faculty in 2006, she clerked for Judge Thomas Ambro of the Third Circuit and practiced law at Goodwin Procter in Boston. She also spent time as a Visiting Professor at the University of Iowa College of Law.
Just hours after You Can Play unveiled another video with eight NHL players—including Blue Jacket RJ Umberger—expressing their support of gay athletes (video below), Umberger scored the first goal just 3:41 into the Blue Jackets “Pride Night” game against the Southeast Division leading Florida Panthers. Umberger then closed the show with an empty netter with 48 seconds to go, giving the Blue Jackets the 4-1 victory.
(Also, fitting the theme, that last goal was assisted by fellow You Can Play supporter, Blue Jacket captain Rick Nash, furthering my theory that the sports gods appreciate sports allies, particularly on “pride night” events.)
The Blue Jackets have really embraced the opportunity to be “spoilers,” even after clinching 30th place (that is last place for the non-NHL fan) a while ago. In fact, in the past 27 games, the team is 13-13-1. Considering that the team’s overall record is 26-45-7, at least they are finishing on a somewhat stronger note.
The continued effort by the team is noticeable. Rick Nash, who I don’t think anyone would blame for giving a half-ass effort after all the trade drama and the current state of the team, is still going out every night and playing hard. Allen York—the Blue Jackets 3rd/4th goal tender who has had to step up after injuries to Mason and Sanford—is playing well and stopped 30 of 31 shots on the night.
That hustle by the team was most notable in killing 1:40 of a 5-on-3 Panthers power play in the 1st period. A friend of mine came up from Florida for the game (he is a Panthers fan), and he noted that the Panthers are generally a good power play scoring team. And of course the Blue Jackets aren’t the greatest penalty killing team. It was just another example of what was great effort and a great game and win for the home team.
As far as the other “pride night” festivities, I do not know how it went. As I noted in my previous post, the format of this pride night compared to last season was a bit underwhelming. The group was offered tickets in a variety of sections, so I doubt there was any cohesive gay cheering group. There was no post-game LGBT game on the ice. There was a happy hour pre-game, but I did not attend. (I will be on the lookout for any photos/reports that come out about it.) (EDIT: Stonewall Columbus posted a few photos from the happy hour on Facebook.) Oh, of course, since it was a group attending the game, the scoreboard did flash “Welcome Pride Night participants” during the 2nd intermission amongst the gaggle of other groups.
I did, however, have tremendous seats to the game (thanks to my previously mentioned friend from Florida who knew a guy, who knew a guy)! We were sitting just a few rows behind the penalty boxes, right at center ice. Did you know that those highfalutin sections have like a private little lounge that gives out free popcorn and ice cream?! The bathrooms were nicer than the regular concourse ones too, I must say. I was definitely not used to that sort of treatment. And from the perspective of viewing the game, while I sometimes appreciate seats higher up to be able to follow the puck better, there were times when being that close really gave a sense of what the goalies and players are seeing on shots.
Oh, oh, oh, and before I forget: apparently twitter follower Bryan Blaskie’s (straight) parents were on the kiss cam! So, kudos to their kisses!