Commenter MediaHound continues the conversation about homophobia in sports and the need to separate sex from sexual abuse.
Is there, or have there been issues with Homophobia in sport at PSU? The answer to that would appear Yes. The Jennifer Harris case (2005 – settled confidentially 2007) and resignation of Rene Portland Coach indicate there clearly was–as does media coverage of the time. Portland was on the record from 1991 as her rules being “No Drink, No Drugs, No Lesbians.” The harassment of Harris, who Portland believed was gay, proved very corrosive–and prompted many others to speak of their experiences. It is a matter of record that some seen as powerful at PSU in the field of sport supported Coach Portland. That homophobia was there at PSU when the so recently exposed events were occurring.
Did homophobia play a role in this present case, and if it did, how big a part? Only certain central figures can answer that one. Was homophobia endemic, systemic, overt, covert–or simply just there and affecting perception of morality and team?
If it was an issue, then maybe it’s a good thing that people who could be described as Old Guard are gone. Some were known to hold religious views, and it’s quite possible that those views were allowed to override other obligations that PSU held. It is possible that one person with strongly held views can hold a whole group in a vice like grip.
If PSU let homophobia play a part, then they have a bigger issue than just what happened to kids of a certain age. PSU will have been working against it’s own core values and the cry of “We Are” has been shallow and false for a long time. In fact, many have held that view for a some time, so it’s quite possible that the unfolding events are part of a bigger picture and a moral malaise that has been allowed to fester.
I smile at Tom Matlack’s line “So real men don’t make out with each other…” I would love to see the faces of many as they look at a picture of Brian Sims and wonder at him sucking face with some other (sports)man. I wonder what Mr. Sims would say to the idea that he’s not a real man?
If PSU has an issue with homophobia in sports, maybe they need to look at the example of Brian Sims, openly gay, 6’2” and weighing 260lbs, a Scholar Athlete, NCAA Football Captain, Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania. It’s only 40 miles down interstate 80 from PSU, but it appears that the distance was far greater.
In 2000 Sim’s team mates were worried when he was in the closet. They had figured out he was gay. The team was worried that if anyone said anything he took the wrong way that he might be keeping a tally and use it against people in the team. That was eating team moral. The team was all important, as was winning. He said “hey guys I like cock” and they said “fine, no problem”. The risk to team cohesion was addressed and the team played on and even won. Odd how the call of “We Are” found an alternate home.
I also wonder if it had all happened at Bloomsburg, if the story would have come out different? I have to say yes, but I don’t believe that homophobia is anywhere near the central cause of delay and cover up.
I think that in this case we have money speaking louder than morals and egos that believed themselves invincible. Failure to investigate fully and in detail may have been linked to homophobia, but cover up is all money.
photo by acf_windy/flickr