(This story was published in 2005).
By: Helen Carroll
Dr. Pat Griffin has been leading the quest combating homophobia in sport for women and men in the world of sports. She is director of the “It Takes a Team” project for the Women’s Sports Foundation. I work for equality and opportunity for women and men with the National Center for Lesbian Rights.
Many of you know both of us; have respected our views of fairness and inclusion in the “LGBT Sports Movement”. We have worked to try to get all of us to realize that being on a level playing field critical for all people including women, people of color, those with disabilities, etc., before we can really make societal changes in attitudes towards “us” in sports.
With that said, both Pat and I find frustration, sadness and anger overtaking our emotions as we realize through reading comments on the Outsports discussion board (read comments here) concerning Jay Mohr’s column in Sports Illustrated that Pat’s letter must pertain to gay men as well as straight men.
Let me thank the people were very supportive of women in sport in the posting; however, the comments in these posts did sadly seem to represent the majority:
-’Nobody cares about the WNBA.’
-‘WNBA need to be comfortable being a 2nd tier sport.’
-‘Guys watch chic sports because of short pants.’
-‘Guys don’t watch it (the WNBA games).
-‘Jay wrote a tiny little column about going to a bb game primarily attended by bulldykes-what’s the big deal?”
Many say Mohr’s piece was only a column of humor. Humor comes from what one finds as the truth and then puts a funny twist on it. This humorous "truth" is harmful to any work we do for equality of women in sport. The Outsports postings and Mohr’s article simply expose what an uphill battle we are to fighting; especially considering that many gay men are entrenched in this sexist mindset.
I am calling upon the men that can see these injustices and roadblocks to help us change this destructive attitude. It is so much deeper that how the WNBA plays basketball
If you have positive ideas on discussions or panels that could happen contact me. Or better still--do it yourselves. Actually, I will put that anger on the back burner and be available to help or advise any way I can with action items that will make a change. It’s just your turn to step up and lead some of this fight for equality.
Helen Carroll, a former college basketball coach and athletic director, runs the Homophobia in Sports project for the National Center for Lesbian Rights.