home
arts
literature
social sciences
special features
discussion
about glbtq
   search

 
   Encyclopedia
   Discussion
 
 
 
 
Advertising Opportunities
Press Kit
Research Guide
Terms of Service
Privacy Policy
Copyright
 
site guide
search tips
research guide
editors & contributors
contact us
send feedback
write the editor
 
 
 
 
subscribe
Subscribe to our free e-mail newsletter to receive a spotlight on glbtq culture every month.
e-mail address:
 
 
 
  unsubscribe
 
 
Popular Topics in Social Sciences
Stonewall Riots Stonewall Riots
The confrontations between police and demonstrators at the Stonewall Inn in New York City the weekend of June 27-29, 1969 mark the beginning of the modern glbtq movement for equal rights.
 
Gay Liberation Front
Formed soon after the Stonewall Riots of 1969, the short-lived but influential Gay Liberation Front brought a new militancy to the movement that became known as gay liberation.
 
The Sexual Revolution, 1960-1980 The Sexual Revolution, 1960-1980
The sexual revolution of post-World War II America changed sexual and gender roles profoundly.
 
Leather Culture
"Leather" is a blanket term for a large array of sexual preferences, identities, relationship structures, and social organizations loosely tied together by the thread of what is conventionally understood as sadomasochistic sex.
 
Anthony, Susan B. Anthony, Susan B.
Although best known for her crusade for women's suffrage, Susan B. Anthony spoke out on a range of feminist issues.
 
Africa: Sub-Saharan, Pre-Independence
With reports from hundreds of sub-Saharan African locales of male-male sexual relations and from about fifty of female-female sexual relations, it is clear that same-sex sexual relations existed in traditional African societies, though varying in forms and in the degree of public acceptance
 
Androgyny Androgyny
Androgyny, a psychological blending of gender traits, has long been embraced by strong women, soft men, members of queer communities, and others who do not easily fit into traditionally defined gender categories.
 
Russia
A cultural crossroads between Asia and Europe, Russia has a long, rich, and often violent heritage of varied influences and stark confrontations in regard to its patterns of same-sex love.
 
Topics In the News
 
Words Matter: The Firing of Mike Rice
Posted by: Claude J. Summers on 04/04/13
Last updated on: 04/05/13
 
Bookmark and Share


Coach Mike Rice.

On April 2, 2013, ESPN's "Outside the Lines" broadcast a video in which Rutgers basketball coach Mike Rice is shown shoving, manhandling, berating, and throwing balls at players. Although the video was first brought to the attention of Athletic Director Tim Pernetti in November 2012, only when it became public did the university respond appropriately. Following widespread outrage, on April 3, 2013 Rice was fired and an assistant coach resigned. [Later, Pernetti and the interim university counsel also resigned.] Even more egregious than Rice's physical abuse of his players was his verbal abuse, especially his repeated use of homophobic slurs.

In addition to documenting the coach's physical abuse of his players, the video also depicts him referring to players as "f----ts," "f-----g fairies," "p-----s," "sissy b-----s," and "c---s," among other epithets. This language of homophobia and misogyny says a great deal about sports culture. The fact that it did not provoke outrage from other coaches and administrators at Rutgers says a lot about the continuing insensitivity to homophobia of Rutgers University officials even after the consciousness-raising and hand-wringing following the suicide of Tyler Clementi in September 2010.

The most shocking aspect of the entire episode is the failure of Pernetti and Rutgers University President Robert Barchi to fire Rice when they first became aware of the coach's abusive behavior. Instead of firing the coach, they imposed a three-game suspension, a fine, and an obligation to attend anger management classes. In doing so, they sent a message that homophobic speech is not a very big deal, even at a university supposedly newly committed to creating a welcoming and safe environment for glbtq students.

As ESPN's Dana O'Neil observed, "Words matter, and they carry weight with as much heft as a shove."

She added, "Every time a university looks the other way or dishes out a dismissive punishment, it's like sending an abuser back into the home of a domestic violence victim."

The story about Mike Rice's firing is not only a sports story, but also a story about gays in sports and gays on campus.

On April 5, it was announced that Pernetti and the university's interim general counsel had resigned. At a press conference, President Barchi explained that he had not seen the video until it became public. He apologized particularly to the glbtq community and described himself as a champion of the community.

While there have been calls for Barchi's resignation, more important is the need for a fuller explanation of why Rice was not fired earlier. Troy Stevenson, executive director of Garden State Equality, has called for an investigation into why Rice was not fired in November.

A faculty member who engaged in Rice's behavior would have immediately been removed from the classroom. Why, then, was Rice given a slap on the wrist? Clearly, standards of behavior for coaches are different from those expected of faculty members.

Once the video of Rice abusing his players went viral, the university responded quickly and decisively. Obviously, it took public exposure to force the university to do the right thing.

Is this because of the corrosive influence of big-time athletics on universities? (Some have speculated that Pernetti, who was in the midst of negotiating Rutgers's admission to the Big Ten athletic conference when he first learned of complaints about Rice, did not want any distractions that might endanger the negotiations. Did he fail to act in November because he wanted to avoid the questions and publicity that would have followed Rice's dismissal?)

It is likely that Rice's homophobic and misogynistic comments failed to make much of an impression on Pernetti. He may have considered them so commonplace in sports as to hardly merit attention and likely failed to connect them to the homophobic atmosphere that contributed to Tyler Clementi's suicide.

The pervasiveness of homophobia in locker rooms helps explain why it is so difficult for elite glbtq athletes to come out. As we await the appearance of our Jackie Robinson--an openly gay professional athlete in one of the major sports--it is well to consider sympathetically why he hesitates to open the closet door and what burdens he will have to face when he does.

Below is an ESPN report on the video that led to Rice's dismissal.

 
Related Encyclopedia Entries
 
browse:   arts   literature   social-sciences   discussion boards
 
learn more about glbtq       contact us       advertise on glbtq.com
 
Bookmark and Share

glbtq™ and its logo are trademarks of glbtq, Inc.
This site and its contents Copyright © 2002-2014, glbtq, Inc.

Your use of this site indicates that you accept its Terms of Service.