Have you seen this video of University of Hawaii football coach Greg McMackin sobbing an apology for using the word "faggot" three times while talking about Notre Dame's football program?
I'm surprised by this, and I'm sure McMackin is as well. I did sports in high school and junior high, had coaches who seemed like nice people but just couldn't hold back the misogynist and homophobic remarks. It was as much a part of coaching as making us run laps.
But apparently that era's coming to an end.
I watched an inordinate amount of ESPN this past week while working at the USGA Senior Open (weird experience, I'll probably have a post on that later), and I was surprised by the hard line the commentators on that channel took against this coach. They have this one gabfest program with 5 gasbags discussing sports news, and they were each trying to one-up each other on just how harsh the University should be to this coach.
Their sensitivity to this issue is appropriate for their personal interests. Besides the intended insult to Notre Dame, McMackin insulted gay people everywhere with his remark, and he only reinforced the stereotype that all people into sports are fag-hating he-men who need to prove their masculinity by tearing others down. It keeps a significant sector of potential fans away from the games and will only ostracize the more traditionally heteromasculine games, like football, as society changes.
Watching that video, though, I get the impression that this guy didn't know the rules had changed. Whether he is homophobic or not (I'd put my money on "yes"), this guy probably thought he was a decent human being, a "nice" person, and that his actions were generally acceptable. Football's a man's sport, and calling a rival "faggots" is about as mean as one can be. It was all a part of the show, and the journalists were just supposed to eat it up.
Well, he miscalculated, and now it's going to cost him. Not just in terms of pay (I'm not going to care about a 7% cut in an estimated $1.1 million salary considering the fact that the top tax bracket is paying much less in federal income tax than they historically have been paying and, even if we went back to Eisenhower-era levels and he were paying upwards of 90% on income over $200K, he'd still be making much more than he needs to live a comfortable life. His salary is especially outrageous when considering there are other folks at universities, like adjunct professors and cleaning and food staff, who aren't even making a living wage), but in terms of reputation. He's the sacrificial lamb that the industry is going to use to show how much they're progressing.
Of course, some in the community aren't satisfied. Here's a comment from The Advocate that I think is representative of quite a few that I've read:
Suspended? Pay cut? Why wasn't he fired? If he had used the "N" word, would he be suspended or would he be fired? Why is it that we still accept being treated as second class citizens? Shame on us for not insisting this man be fired.
Well, this person is right, the n-word is considered so insanely terrible that he probably would have been fired for saying it (although the implication that black people aren't still treated as second-class citizens is laughably false).
But I don't know if we want to go down that road. There are quire a few white racists who let themselves off the hook when it comes to racism because they don't use the n-word and have never personally lynched anyone. To them, as long as they aren't one of those terrible racists from the history books, then they're fine. More than fine - if you call them out for being racist or even try to discuss a racial issue with them, they consider it a personal offense. How dare you question my generosity to black people; I've never used the n-word!
I'd rather have that not happen when it comes to homophobia, and, for a variety of reasons, I don't think it will. And I'm sure McMackin at least learned to keep his comments about faggots to himself, but I'd rather that word not become so terrible that people can feel good about themselves for not using it. Forcing this guy to publicly go through the motions of introspection when it comes to homophobia will do a lot more good than just firing him.