TAG | Ohio State University
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.
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.
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.
Just over a week ago, the Columbus Dispatch ran a story highlighting (celebrating?) Ohio State football’s new approach to conditioning and training motivation in the Urban Meyer regime: avoid the lavender jersey.
The Dispatch’s Tim May describes Ohio State’s new director of performance, Mickey Marrioti, as “a colorful motivator,” and that “In a scarlet and gray world, a lavender shirt sticks out.”
How it works: you loaf on the field and Mariotti makes you wear a lavender shirt—something the Dispatch describes as “a stain that takes at least a week of renewed gusto to erase.”
Senior linebacker Etienne Sabino acknowledges the purpose of the program, “You don’t want to wear those.”
So what’s wrong with it?
First, and the focus of my concern, while being masked as a tool to build a competitive team environment, forcing a player to wear a lavender jersey as punishment is patently homophobic, sexist, misogynistic, etc. It takes a color that is feminine—and regularly associated with either women or the gay community—and assigns it to weakness, lack of commitment, or failure to work hard. It is then used to demean and humiliate, you know, because the color is capable of emasculating even the manliest of men.
A former professor of mine, Douglas Whaley, blogged on the subject as well. (It is actually how I found out about this.) Whaley writes: “It never occurs to Marotti, of course, that some of his players might actually be gay.”
That is the biggest problem I have with the lavender jersey. If there is a single gay player on that team (the roster lists 86 young men, so odds are, there is at least one) or even an assistant coach or other team personnel, that person is now pushed further in to the closet and feels even more unwelcome and ostracized by the team. Isn’t that rather contrary to the purpose of building a cohesive football team?
Professor Whaley submitted a letter to the Dispatch editors much to that effect:
“So Ohio State football’s new director of performance makes players who are loafers on the field, in the weight room, etc., wear a lavender shirt to embarrass them ["New strength coach a colorful motivator," Feb. 13, 2012]. Does he also use anti-gay slurs when referring to these slackers or is the shirt’s color enough to send the same homophobic message?”
Sheesh, such a contrast from Jim Tressel (who, by the way, is as outspokenly Christian as Urban Meyer) who, as you may have forgotten, was the first Division I NCAA football coach to be interviewed by a GLBT publication.
The second problem—beyond that first point that I’m sure many folks would roll their eyes at, suggesting it is just some over-sensitive, liberal agenda mumbo-jumbo—at best, the program violates numerous NCAA and Ohio state policies, and at worst, the program violates Ohio law and Title IX.
Where to start?
How about Ohio State Athletics’ “Our Values” statement? Most pertinent:
People. We will keep the well-being of our student-athletes, coaches and staff at the core of every decision.
I’m pretty sure the well-being of any gay athletes, coaches, or staffs have been ignored on this one.
Respect. We will celebrate a climate of mutual respect and diversity by recognizing each individual’s contribution to the team.
Violates this too.
What about the NCAA’s anti-hazing campaigns?
It turns out there is not an explicit hazing rule promulgated by the NCAA, but there are countless programs and initiatives the NCAA has initiated to prevent hazing. While most are directed at student-on-student hazing, it is much worse that hazing at issue here is coming directly from the institution—the entity usually charged with protecting the student-athletes from this type of conduct.
One initiative, NCAA’s hazing handbook, titled, “Building New Traditions: Hazing Prevention in College Athletics,” is illustrative.
Page 3. Comparing what is hazing versus team building.
Hazing: humiliates and degrades, tears down individuals, creates division, lifelong nightmares, shame and secrecy, and is a power trip.
This lavender jersey idea hits every single one of those…
Team building: promotes respect and dignity, supports and empowers, creates real teamwork, lifelong memories, pride and integrity, and is a shares positive experience.
… And none of these.
Page 4. What should athletic administrators be responsible for?
Well, crap, the athletic administrators are the ones doing the hazing here, so thinking they’d would act accordingly to prevent others from doing so is asking too much at Ohio State.
No need to keep going through the document; there is plenty there if you want to read further.
How about the “Hazing Fact Sheet” promulgated by the Ohio State Union?
While more directed at student organizations and fraternities, I presume the rules also apply to athletic teams (and if they don’t officially, they should). The Student Code of Conduct definition of hazing: “Doing, requiring or encouraging any act . . . that causes or creates a substantial risk of causing mental or physical harm or humiliation.”
Okay, I’ve provided enough of the “soft” policies; how about some “hard” law now?
Civil liability for hazing is set forth in Ohio Revised Code § 2307.44: “Any person who is subject to hazing . . . may commence a civil action for injury or damages, including mental and physical pain and suffering, that result from the hazing.”
“If the hazing involves students in a . . . university . . . , an action may also be brought against any administrator, employee, or faculty member of the . . . university . . . who knew or reasonably should have known of the hazing and who did not make reasonable attempts to prevent it and against the . . . university . . . .”
That language looks really bad for Ohio State.
Now, the definition for hazing is written rather narrowly in § 2903.31, which could be a defense for Ohio State, in the event a player tried to sue about this.
A quick aside: I doubt any player—probably the only party that would have standing to actually sue about this—would ever bring a civil action about this. But, I think it’s generally a good idea to avoid violating laws whether or not you will actually be sued. (And you never know, maybe there is a gay player on the team or maybe one of those “loafers” doesn’t get their scholarship extended for next year and has a reason to sue.)
Anyway, the definition: “‘hazing’ means doing any act or coercing another, including the victim, to do any act of initiation into any student or other organization that causes or creates a substantial risk of causing mental or physical harm to any person.”
Arguably, the lavender jersey is not an “act of initiation.” If faced with a suit, I’m sure the school would say that the conditioning program is not an initiation to the team. The contrary argument is that especially during the early stages of team formation and conditioning, the norms and culture are being formed, and those are the team are being initiated to it. No knowing which argument would prevail, I would still go to the default perspective that a school—particularly one that hasn’t had the most pristine image as of late—should not test a gray area of the law.
Then there is Title IX.
Many only view Title IX as an equalizing device, providing more opportunities for women in sport. But the law is much more broad and can be used against gender stereotyping. The Women’s Sports Foundation provides a great synopsis of some cases that have addressed harassment based on gender expectations. The courts have ruled that “harassment based on gender non-conformity is a form of sex discrimination and, therefore, Title IX applies.”
Whether the conduct of the team (assigning the lavender jersey) or the conduct of the player (being the “loafer” leading to receiving the jersey) would trigger Title IX protection, again is debatable, but again, it seems like it would be risky for a school to continue conduct in such a gray area.
In sum, the lavender jersey motivation bothers me mostly for contributing to the homophobic culture of sports. But knowing that few athletic institutions will change their conduct because of that, hopefully all the violations of NCAA program, Ohio State University policies, and Ohio and federal laws may do the trick.
I’ve been in the works of planning a “homophobia in sports” type of event to be hosted at the Ohio State law school in mid-April. This issue will definitely have to be discussed, and I’ll be calling in the big shots to do the talking (and hopefully will be able to line up some meetings with athletic administrators as well).
A few hat-tips to send out: Professor Whaley for his original blog post, Andy Gammill for directing my attention to it, and Paul Alderete for creating the Ohio lavender jersey used as a thumbnail for this post (I have no idea what the actual lavender jersey looks like).