CAT | Allies in Sport
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!
There are two events happening in Columbus, Ohio, this Friday, March 30, that offer a slate of both educational and entertainment activities.
Columbus Blue Jackets “Pride Night”
The latter of the day, which I’ll start with first since there is less to be said, is the Columbus Blue Jackets “Pride Night” game against the Florida Panthers. The game starts at 7:05 p.m. with a pre-game happy hour at 5:30 p.m. in the Founders Club of Nationwide Arena.
If you are interested, Contact Erica Ganyard at (614) 246-7675 to order tickets or with questions. Tickets are available at four prices: $34, $50, $62, or $85.
A portion of the ticket sales benefit ARC Ohio, Bravo, Equality Ohio, Kaleidoscope Youth Center, and TransOhio. Being that I go to ARC Ohio for HIV testing; consider Ed Mullen, executive director of Equality Ohio, a friend; volunteered for a year at KYC; and know that Bravo and TransOhio do tremendous work; that these great organization will be beneficiaries in some capacity is reason to attend. For a portion of your ticket price to go these organizations, you need to purchase your tickets from Ms. Ganyard.
I am slightly disappointed with the slate of the programming this year, however. Compared with last year, which had the entire group sitting together in the sky terrace (a more private and intimate setting which was great for those that may not feel the most comfortable holding their partner’s hand, etc. while sitting in the normal seating areas) and had a post-game game between two gay hockey teams, Ohio Mayhem and Chicago Black Wolves), the agenda leaves me wanting more. Basically, there is a pre-game happy hour (cool), but the tickets are scattered all over (boo) and there is no other programming advertised (double boo). (For an example of how it should be done, check out the programming for the Washington Nationals game last season.)
I’m hoping that since Blue Jacket Rick Nash recently joined the You Can Play campaign, that there is a chance the PSA will air during the game. But I’m not counting on it.
“Humanistic Foundations: Historical, Philosophical and Sociocultural Studies of Sport”
The Ohio State University, joined by Pennsylvania State University and University of Western Ontario, is hosting an all-day conference for the cross-disciplinary study of sport at the Ohio Union, Barbie Tootle Room, 1739 N. High Street.
The event lasts all day and includes a number of topics that look to be interesting, including cross-studies of race, sexuality, gender, and more.
I am particularly interested in those in Session I, “Mediated Differences: Representations of Gender and Sexuality.” This session includes topics such as:
- 8:00-8:20 “Identifying Typologies: Women Bloggers and the Concept of ‘Sports’”
- 9:00-9:20 “‘What Kind of Respectable, Straight Male’: Paulie Malignaggi, Homophobia and Professional Boxing”
Session II also includes: “Controlling Sex in Sport: The Initial Days of Sex Testing by the IOC” from 9:50-10:10.
Other topics for the day will cover sociological implications in physical education, globalization of the NBA affecting the player’s union, ethical dimensions with parents coaching youth sports, and more. You can view a complete schedule of all the topics here. (There is also a welcome gathering on Thursday evening and a closing reception on Friday evening.)
Materials prepared for the event also include abstracts for the topics, so you can get a glimpse of the content before attending.
The abstract for the discussion on homophobia in sport is on page 15, and pasted below:
“What Kind of Respectable, Straight Male”: Paulie Malignaggi, Homophobia and Professional Boxing
MacIntosh Ross, University of Western Ontario; Daniel Taradash, University of Iowa
In the twenty-first century, internet forums, article responses and blogs have made the World Wide Web an unprecedented repository for often overlooked opinions of sports fans. Since many of these opinions are uncensored, readers are often presented with harsh, stereotyped views regarding class, race and gender. This paper will focus on perceptions of gender in online boxing fan forums, using R.W. Connell’s theory of hegemonic masculinity to explain homophobic reactions to American boxer Paulie Malignaggi on various boxing websites.
In 2007, Paulie Malignaggi won the International Boxing Federation world light welterweight championship by defeating title-holder Lovemore N’dou. Malignaggi defended his title twice before vacating the championship to fight Ricky Hatton in 2008. Unlike other champions, Malignaggi’s sexuality was routinely discussed and/or attacked online. Although his skills elevated him to the rank of champion, Malignaggi’s appearance – bright colored ring attire and thoroughly groomed look – did not align with hegemonic notions of masculinity. Furthermore, Malignaggi’s reliance on speed and technique, rather than power, was routinely pointed out, criticized and linked to his lack of ‘manliness.’
Within hegemony, a dominant cultural form does not extinguish all competitors. As Connell argues, other forms of masculinity continue to occur throughout society, constituting alternative, albeit subordinate, ways of being a man. We will argue that Malignaggi represents a subordinate masculinity, outside the boundaries of the dominant, hegemonic masculine culture exalted in boxing and other sports. Since hegemonic masculinity is heterosexual, many boxing fans framed Mailgnaggi as homosexual when discussing the fighter online. Fans typically approached Malignaggi’s sexuality in one of two ways. First of all, fans create posts asking for verification of Malignaggi’s sexuality. Secondly, some fans attack Malignaggi’s ability as a boxer by labeling him with homophobic pejoratives, suggesting that a homosexual man cannot box successfully. Ultimately, both types of forum entry reinforce existing notions of masculinity, marginalizing not only Malignaggi, but boxers who actually are homosexual.
If you attend either event, look for me and say hello! I’ll try to take notes to document the various panels I attend and of course I will be reporting on anything notable that happens at the Blue Jackets game.
Columbus Blue Jackets captain Rick Nash has joined seven other NHL stars in a video promoting the message of a new non-profit organization: the “You Can Play Project.”
You Can Play is co-founded by Philadelphia Flyers scout Patrick Burke who, along with his father Brian Burke (GM of the Toronto Maple Leafs), is carrying on the commitment to fight for equality of LGBT athletes after the death of his younger brother Brendan.
You Can Play’s mission:
You Can Play is dedicated to ensuring equality, respect and safety for all athletes, without regard to sexual orientation.
You Can Play works to guarantee that athletes are given a fair opportunity to compete, judged by other athletes and fans alike, only by what they contribute to the sport or their team’s success.
You Can Play seeks to challenge the culture of locker rooms and spectator areas by focusing only on an athlete’s skills, work ethic and competitive spirit.
The organization’s website includes numerous other resources, including an ally pledge and a captain’s challenge. The Project is also going to do something similar to the “It Gets Better” project—finding athletes, coaches, etc. to record promotional videos—except the focus will be narrowed to the simple message that sexual orientation will not be considered in evaluating your capacity to play sports.
In an interview with Outsports, Burke explains that the athletes he has worked with have been more supportive of this narrow message: “Some athletes who might support a gay teammate might not be on board with gay marriage or don’t want to deal with those issues. We’re just getting athletes to say they want the best teammates and the other stuff doesn’t matter. And they know they’ll never have to take a position on gay marriage or march in a pride parade. They can just say they want a safe locker room and not have to do anything else.”
A 30-second initial video (shot and produced by HBO, a partner of You Can Play) will air on national television during the 1st intermission of the NBC telecast of the NY Rangers v. Boston Bruins today, March 4.
You can watch the full-length, 60-second video here:
Like the “Don’t Say Gay” PSA that aired during the NBA Finals, it is absolutely incredible to have a video with this message airing during a national telecast. It actually leaves me speechless.
Aside from Nash, the video also features Patrick and Brian Burke, Duncan Keith (Chicago Blackhawks), Brian Boyle (New York Rangers), Matt Moulson (New York Islanders), Joffrey Lupul (Toronto Maple Leafs), Claude Giroux (Philadelphia Flyers), Daniel Alfredsson (Ottawa Senators), Scott Hartnell (Philadelphia), Corey Perry (Anaheim), Andy Greene (New Jersey Devils), Dion Phaneuf (Toronto Maple Leafs), and Henrik Lundqvist (New York Rangers).
You Can Play’s advisory board also includes some notable names: John Buccigross (ESPN Sportscenter anchor), LZ Granderson (CNN/ESPN columnist), David Testo (recently out professional soccer player), Rick Welts (out President of the Golden State Warriors), among others.