“The most unique thing [about being at OSU,]” he added, “Is how much the people who have attended Ohio State love their school, perhaps more than any other place I’ve come across." - Jim Tressel, from interview in Outlook Columbus.
I started writing a comment to today's Skull Session in response to some of the most small minded statements I had seen since moving to Ohio from the south. Sure enough, before too long, I had gotten a bit long winded for a comment post, and likely am too long winded here. At first I was going to go point by point, comment by comment, then saw that would take way too long. Then I said what does it matter, really? When some variation of this or at best this would be what I would be trying to reach in some instances? Than I remembered - because we're better than this at Ohio State. I agree Jason, maybe you should have avoided this can of worms, although I'm sure it would have popped up somewhere else. I am curious to hear if anyone else agrees with the statements below, or if the general consensus of the site is this is someone "bitching about being offended." And for the record, yes, people have taken offense to the pink locker room at Iowa, this is not someone just picking on Urban (of note, Haden Fry was another FB guy with a psych background - his rationale was for the calming effect, not embarrasment). And no, its not bending over for "1%," but rather up to the 4% in most cities by US census data, and even higher in metropolitan areas (such as Atlanta with 12.8% identifying themselves as gay in Census data). Not to mention the 37% of adult men and 13% of adult women who had at least 1 sexual experience resulting in orgasm with a person of the same sex from Kinsey's data which may better translate actual sexual preferences but I digress. What majority is sufficient before we accomodate the concerns of a minority group in the United States? What with that whole freedom from tyranny/oppression thing I hear our country is big on? But I digress.
Growing up in a southern military town during the 80's and 90's, I was often able to behold some of the most insensitive comments anyone could have imagined starting at the ripe old age of five. I still remember asking mom where my six foot tall, two hundred pound special forces father was one night he didn't come home from work, only to find out later he spent that night in a brig because he beat up (to put it mildly) an individual who had apparently called him a "fag." This of course is something you just don't do to someone in that military machismo culture, much less to a Latin male in the environment he grew up in. I ended up going into a different profession myself, but having played sports growing up including time as a team captain on the football team, I definitely saw the same culture where the worst thing you could do was in some way emasculate someone with your comments. So I get it, believe me. Been there, done that, changed since. In fact we had a similar jersey idea, but instead of it being a particular color as the embarrasing factor, it was a short mesh jersey that needless to say didn't look flattering on anyone, much less a 250 pound male athlete with his stomach hanging out. So we laughed together at how ridiculous the person looked more so than anything else (and they worked harder next time not to wear it).
The issue, one that I think that many are not getting, is only partly that the color happens to be one used by many LGBT groups - its what you are implying with the use of that color in this instance. For example, I've seen several Susan G. Komen pink Buckeye jersies floating around (gotta love our lady Buckeye Hockey team). I don't think either the professor or student who wrote on this have any issues with those. Why? The context in which they are used are completely different.
Of course, if you are a white heterosexual male, I can imagine a lot of any minority group's issues with anything they might find offense would seem silly to you. Maybe you thought the "Chink in the Armor" headline that got an ESPN staffer fired was more funny than anything else - I mean why are people so sensitive?? (note heavy sarcasm). I'm glad you love the lavender shirt or wear purple every day. How enlightened of you. Thank you for clarifying your viewpoint on the "I'm a white guy I don't understand why this offensive dur hur" so eloquently with such humor. Anecdotaly, you are may have that one gay friend or sibling. My thought, this as the bastion of the small minded - the "I got a friend" line, which makes my next ignorant comment okay because someone from that group puts up with me. But sure, lets go with that. I am glad that this "friend" or sibling may not really care about such things. More power to them. Likely they do not want to discuss it with you given your concrete thoughts on the matter, but that's something for another time. Looking at actual evidence, I would disagree that this laissez-faire attitude would be the viewpoint of the majority of the LGBT community in this situation. I'm sure many would find such a thing offensive, something else they have to put up with every day. Especially kids. Don't think that they have enough on their plate? I would beg to differ, my first example in the way of studies of suicide rates, where we see that homosexual teen suicide rates are higher than those of heterosexual kids. Here, let me spell it out for you, from one such study:
Lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth were significantly more likely to attempt suicide in the previous 12 months, compared with heterosexuals (21.5% vs 4.2%).
There's a reason for that, and not because they are "sissies" or "wussies." It is because of the abuse they have to put up with on a daily basis, overt or implied, like this. In a way, homosexuals are sadly some of the last people in society that you can make offensive jokes about and in a lot of cases, get away with it. Heck, you're a big strong man because you made a gay joke (or your way of dealing with your own issues, but whatever). If this was being said about race, I'm sure someone might have gotten fired by now. It is a shame that this activity, and the associated comments, are seen as acceptable.
The beauty of this situation is that there is something that can easily be done to help the situation, something that would make a quantifiable impact. From the same article we see that:
Among lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth, the risk of attempting suicide was 20% greater in unsupportive environments compared to supportive environments.
Would you call this practice something of a supportive, or unsupportive environment? How do you think the trickle down to Ohio high school students might affect kids think this line of thinking is okay? You can't help but think they might think it okay to put out that much more abuse to the LGBT kids as they walk down the hall (homosexual adolescents are 2 to 4 times more likely to be threatened with a weapon at school - oh but wait that's because they're "sissies" right? Another study stating the obvious - about how children who don't conform to gener roles may risk abuse). Given the opportunity to help a lot of kids feel better about themselves, trickle down effects aside, tt seems like an easy, obvious choice to make. And something for the coaches to keep in mind for the future. Truly the right thing to do when we already have enough that directly or indirectly makes the lives of children, adolescents, and adults in the LGBT community that much harder. The humiliation was shared not at the sole expense of the players that wore the lavender jersies, but at a community who sees this color as one they use as a source of pride. Think of how you feel when someone burns a flag or defiles it in some manner. Not so great when someone is tainting something you cherish is it? I wouldn't enjoy it much either.
I really like Coach Meyer, love his coaching and recruiting philosophy, and do not really have as strong of an issue with his "forcing" his players to bible study and church service as Whaley's blog entry implied (as, well, he's not forcing them to do anything and he's allowing for alternative religious view points). I also very much respect how he handled the situation - him and Marotti might have easily not thought about how some might view what they were doing. I doubt either man is homophobic. But I can definitly see a big difference in their view on the matter, those of several of the posters, and that of, say, Jim Tressel (in an article titled "Everyone is Important," no less).
"The greatest achievement we can have as coaches is that a young man leaves us with a concept of who he is, what he wants from life, and what he can share with others – someone who is ‘comfortable in his own skin,’ and that identity can go in a number of directions... We strive to teach and model appreciation for everyone,” Tressel says. “One, we are a family. If you haven’t learned from your family at home that people have differences and those strengthen the whole, then you are hopefully going to learn it as part of the Ohio State football family... Whatever a young man feels called to express, I hope we will help him do it in a supportive environment. Everybody is important, and maturity is learning to find and appreciate those differences in others."
One of the things I miss most about Tressel, and hate to see the Tatgate scandal having tarnished, is how great of a man the guy really is. Someone you can really hold out as a role model - I mean how many people reading this would feel comfortable sitting across from a homosexual individual, much less be one of the first head football coaches to be interviewed by a GLBT magazine one on one? Don't think someone negative recruiting made a comment about Tress being in some "sissy" magazine? It took a strong man, confident and comfortable in himself, to do so.
Many of us can not appreciate the exact reason why one group might have an issue with something we do or say. And honestly, sometimes it may be downright offensive or silly - what is or isn't really is not in my purview to say. If within reason, I don't see why I couldn't change something as simple as a jersey color for someone who might find it offensive (and in this case, I think rightfully so). I think its great to give a kid a little extra insentive to not loaf. It's a long off season, and you have to motivate them, and hey making them wear a M!ch!g@n jersey should be more than enough punishment. Honestly, I think it is even worse punishment, and love the suggestions towards this (minus the smart ass comments on Native Americans).
In reading the comments posted since Jason's post, I was very disapointed to see both the immature and small minded nature of them, but also the response from the 11w staff as well. I was disapointed that the line was drawn at using the words "homos and fags," but not at some of the "non PC point of view" statements that had no place on a site for our shared love of all that is Buckeye. I would hope that someone form the staff would have the courage to say something despite what seems like an overwhelming majority making what I feel to be some very disparaging comments. It is like saying it is okay to make comments with regards to African Americans loving their fried chicken and watermelon, but we are going to draw the line at the use of the "N word," sorry fellas. Let's go ahead and make some taco jokes, as long as we don't break out an actual racial slur about Hispanics, because, you know, that's going too far. Shame on you. As much as I would hope a post such as this would never have to be written on an athletics site, I do not feel the comments that were made had any place either when believe me, I'd much rather be talking about football recruiting. And believe me - I understand Jason, Alex, DJ, Sarah, Ramzy et al would much rather comment on recruiting as well. And have your own stuff to do besides comment on a site you work for. However when you see something you think is not right, you might want to say something about it, or you in essence are just agreeing with it. You have to agree - some comments today have really been over the line. Before the "oh well what can I say then" army steps in, there's a big difference between making a comment about a kid named Taco being recruited because Brady Hoke thought he might be getting tacos, and insensitive comments about someone's race and ethnicity (for example). Things, such as sexual orientation, which can not be helped, and should never be the focus of a negative comment (here or in person - I would love for some of the folks who have said these things to put their name by them, as I'm sure work and family would love to know how they really feel).
Some of these comments and "jokes" I have seen have been no better than those we saw recently from that school up north. You know, the ones that everyone thought were soooo offensive. We are better than that, better than immature teens going to some school we don't care too much for. Especially after seeing so many individuals go on about how ridiculous the Michigan players' comments were, and not just as bulletin board material, I'm very surprised to see this response. I think now its obvious the concern was more over disparaging the Buckeyes, rather than the juvenille homophobic rants. I'm not looking for ban hammers (although why racist/insensitive comments aren't the quicker way to earn a banhammer than those on politics/religion is beyond me). Heck, I love free speech as much as the next guy. I love that we can have this kind of discourse. And I also appreciate that the coaching staff did not do this to offend anyone. But the fact of the matter is that people did take offense to it - and Urban did the right thing to fix the situation. Not just the smart thing, Jason. Unfortunately, many today have not followed the fine example of Coach Meyer and Coach Tressel with their comments. Much to my disapointment 11w has unchracteristically dropped the ball in pointing that out, and offering what I would hope would be a more adult viewpoint. A viewpoint that I'm sure those in the LGBT community would appreciate. One that those like myself who count themselves among those who care about them as our friends and relatives would appreciate. As Tress might say, these folks love this place as much as if not more than any of us, and are an important part of our Buckeye family, your Ohio State family. And this isn't how you should treat anyone. Much less family.