03 August 2009

Open letter to University of Hawai'i-Mānoa's AD

Here's the original incident.

Here's a story on the reaction.

Here's my letter to the AD:

To: athdir@hawaii.edu
Date: Fri, 31 Jul 2009 22:32:36 -0700
Subject: Coach McMackin's comments

Dear Mr. Donovan -

I am writing to express my deep concern and disappointment over Coach's comments at the WAC media day. They were disgusting and have no place in public discourse, but what is more troubling is that his cavalier use of a deeply offensive epithet seems to betray an attitude that has no place at an institution of higher learning.

As gay man I was shocked when I heard it; as an alumnus (MURP '05) I was particularly offended.

I am a sports fan, and as such I have learned that I need to be thick skinned against the stream of comments that I hear while watching a game in a stadium, arena, restaurant or bar. It's commonplace enough in a bar to hear "faggot" when a player drops a ball or a ref makes a bad call, and that's bad enough. I feel it, each time, despite my best efforts. But for a state employee and educator at the state's flagship institution to refer to something that he considered less than whatever his ideal of masculinity may be as "faggot" isn't just unacceptable - it's just stunning.

Insert any other epithet and he'd be gone tomorrow. Think about it - run through them, the worst word for race and gender you can think of, and it makes your skin crawl, doesn't it? A firing in that case would be appropriate. I guess that it's still okay to vilify and denigrate gays in athletics, and that's unacceptable.

Chances are very, very good that there's at least one young man on that team for whom this is a personal affront from a respected leader, teacher, and mentor - and state employee - and there is no question that at UH-Manoa there are gay male athletes. It's not a theoretical insult; it's real, personal and hurtful.

I can't express enough my disgust for Coach McMackin's comments; I can express my real disappointment at my alma mater's reaction.

I hope that the entire Athletics Office takes this as an opportunity to educate its educators on how to comport themselves in public, first - and further how to be real leaders for all students at the University.

I will monitor this story closely and hope to hear that more substantive steps are being taken to ensure that the University of Hawai'i is a safe place for all students, a place where all people are respected, and a place where no one - not even the head football coach - is above the rules of common decency and civility.

Steve Brennan


CFox said...

Did you cc the president?

Bren in SoCal said...

Good point.
Will forward.