Change Is Gonna Come

Mike Rice, Macho Men, and Homophobia

Re Mike Rice: Time to start thinking about how to get macho men not to use gay slurs as putdowns.

Mike Rice deserved to be fired at Rutgers after we saw that video. I don't think many people would dispute that. And while he's obviously (I hope!) an extreme case, I doubt very much that he is some kind of insane outlier among men's coaches.

I played a lot of sports and had a lot of coaches. I had only one who arguably sat somewhere on the Rice continuum. He would say things to you like, "I bet you sit down to take a piss, DON'T YOU?!" And this was junior high. He took it all rather seriously. We were 3-8, I think, in part because we rebelled against him. And I bet you can guess which side I was on! But even he had his good points I guess.

Mostly, my coaches were gentle types. My favorite was my high-school baseball coach. Also the American history teacher. A great man. Dave Chaplin. Died young. He could ride you all right, but I don't remember him being anything close to abusive.

But at the upper levels, I bet Rice stands out, but not as much as you'd think. I think huge numbers of college football and basketball coaches call their players (pardon me, but just to keep things real here) pussies. Now, that's offensive in virtually all human contexts. A company president would be way out of line in calling a (male) sales rep with low figures by that name. But in male athletics, it's not really so awful. As a player you sort of expect to be called something like that by a coach once in a while.

I find the fag stuff far more offensive. And stupid. I just wish macho men would quit talking that way. They will one of these days. White men used to use the n-word sometimes at each other; you're a white n---- and so forth.

These aren't exactly my circles, but I would guess that incidence of that is way down across this country, as most people know you're just not supposed to use that word. The same thing will happen someday with gay slurs. In fact if I were gay and had a billion dollars, I'd launch a series of PSA's in which tough guys--lots of athletes, a few macho movie and music stars--looked at the camera and said talking like that isn't cool. That would have impact. Geffen, take it away.