Monday, April 12, 2010

Religion, Marital Status and Sexual Orientation As Coaching Credentials

The University of Missouri has hired a new women’s basketball coach. Robin Pingeton, from all accounts, is an accomplished coach with all the credentials you might want in a college women’s athletic program. She has lots of coaching experience and success. She was named regional coach of the year for her season at Illinois State University. She sounds dynamic and positive in interviews. She has a 5-year contract with a base salary of $300,000 and the chance to earn up to $600,000 with incentives. The Missouri athletic director talks about the importance of increased spending on women’s basketball so the team can compete in the tough Big 12 Conference. It all sounds great, right?

Yes, I thought so too until I got to this part of the ESPN article,

“Calling herself a Christian who happens to be a coach, Pingeton was accompanied by her husband and 3-year-old son. An aunt and uncle who have lived in Columbia for nearly 50 years sat proudly in the audience…She emphasized the theme of family throughout her remarks, noting that the three assistants who will follow from Illinois State are each married with children.”

Pingeton’s particular personal religious convictions should be irrelevant in this context. She is going to be coaching at a public institution, not a private religious institution. Her husband and son were at the press conference as were her proud aunt and uncle. Nothing unusual about that. Family is often present to celebrate professional achievements (unless, of course, the family is a same-sex partner). But then she goes on to make sure we know that heterosexual marital status is important to her by noting that all of her assistants are married with children.

So, we now know as much about Pingeton’s religious convictions and status as a heterosexual married mother as we do about her coaching achievements and plans. We can also infer that she believes that one of the most important qualities in assistant coaches is being heterosexual and married since this is what she chose to highlight at the press conference rather than their basketball credentials.

The reporter notes that Pingeton “emphasized the theme of family throughout her remarks.” Nothing wrong with that. Except that when the coach leads with a description of herself as a Christian and boasts at her first press conference about how straight her assistant coaches are, you have to wonder about what kind of team climate she will promote for student-athletes who are not Christian or who are not heterosexual.

Why do you think a coach would foreground this information in her introduction to the community? Is she beginning her recruiting efforts already by sending a not so subtle message to potential athletes and parents that Missouri is now a Christian heterosexual team? Maybe in Missouri this is perceived as a positive message. I don’t know. I’ve never been to Missouri.

It just amazes me that a coach at a public institution feels entitled to focus on religion, marital status and heterosexuality as part of her and her assistant coaches’ professional credentials. It does not bode well for anyone on the University of Missouri team who is not a Christian or not heterosexual. I hope I am wrong, but it doesn’t seem like a good beginning. It makes no sense to me that new coach would limit her potential recruiting pool to heterosexual Christians either. No offense, Coach Pingeton, but that is not the way to win a championship. It certainly isn’t the way to communicate a message of openness, respect or inclusiveness.

Additional Note: Check Mechelle Voepel's blog for more information on this topic. The first part of her blog is devoted to the new University of Colorado coach and then she discusses Pingeton's press conference in the second half. Several readers made interesting comments on the post also.

24 comments:

Jody said...

Taxpayers in Missouri should be outraged by this! It makes me wonder who the AD is and what his/her agenda might be. We need to send that school a copy of the movie "Training Rules." Thanks for your blog Pat!

Anonymous said...

I just felt sicker and sicker as I read this article... Sheesh. In 2010 we are still on the kick of women have to be ladies, Christians, mothers or whatever, first... who "happen to be coaches". It's just ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

I worked at Mizzou at one point and never felt it was a ultra-Christian place to work but this definitely sends a message to people. Thanks for posting this blog!

Carol Anne (aka Scamp) said...

Great column (as usual), Pat.

Mechelle Voepel blogged that she stayed up all night, working on a post about Robin Pingeton and Linda Lappe (the new Colorado coach). Can't wait to read it.

http://voepel.wordpress.com/2010/04/12/new-in-the-north/

Angry Sms said...

Yeah its a very fine and informative post. thanks for sharing with us...

calugg said...

Ah....the loud heterosexual parade. Me thinks the coach "presents" too much. This is why I love psycholinguistics. What is said (and not said) says more about the "sayer" than anything else.

Stay tuned for some really wild crap coming out of this program. I suspect it's going to be another Rene Portland "all the homophobic crazy, all of the time."

Eric said...

I'm absolutely sick about this. I had no idea about any of the ultra-Christian/homophobic nonsense surrounding Robin Pingeton. My brother and I (both card-carrying homos who are women's basketball fans in general, and Mizzou women's basketball fans in particular) are two of like thirty people who show up for home games. I was excited to hear that Pingeton was hired. I thought a coaching change might help to invigorate the program. Now, I'm not so sure at all.

Tenured Radical said...

All of that is code for "lesbians are not tolerated on my team." My friends in the coaching world tell me that this is a common recruiting strategy to "reassure" parents of top recruits that their daughters willnot be around lesbians.

Anonymous said...

I find it very ironic that you are you are pointing fingers at someone for not being tolerate when all of your comments are very intolerate of her views.

Maybe, just maybe Mizzou wants to win basketball games. Ever thought of that one???

Pingeton has values. Those values just so happen to help her turn average basketball programs into good ones. I know it will hurt you to watch her achieve success, but sometimes the truth hurts.

Anonymous said...

think tim tebow and urban meyer over at anti-gaytor land. its interesting how far the sports dept are from the regular mission of the modern university to create foster diversity and develop students as young people and citizens of the world...

Mary said...

What a bunch of chicken poop. You (Pat Griffin) must just like to hear yourself talk. Your inflammatory rhetoric is nothing but a string of straw man arguments that you can rage against but are meaningless. If this coach had "come out" at her speech, you would be hailing her to high heaven. You and your PC-obsessed cronies shoving yourselves and your views at everyone are the MOST INTOLERANT bunch of them all. What hypocrites you are.

Scamp said...

Mechelle Voepel has posted part #2 to her blog.

http://voepel.wordpress.com/2010/04/20/whats-new-at-mizzou-part-2/

Anonymous said...

You know it amazes me how people hold on to every word spoken by public personallites and try to find some interpretation of what they are saying and how it affects every group we have created in this society.
I would suspect that if you look at your own lives you too would find fault in your actions.

Anonymous said...

I know this was posted a few weeks ago, but it just infuriated me to hear that this coach stressed having a family as a positive characteristic that she and her assistants possess. Without even considering how this implies a preference for heterosexual individuals, she suggests that a positive team environment is best created by a heterosexual person with a family of their own. As a D1 athlete whose coaches are not married or religious, this upsets me a great deal. My coach inspires us to live up to high moral standards and has created a team culture where honesty, an appreciation for our good fortune, a willingness to help others, and tolerance are stressed. Our team is a family and we all feel safe speaking with our coaches about anything, whereas I don't imagine Missouri players will be able to speak with her about a few things. It makes me sad when I think about how much my team's coaches care about us, despite not having children, and that some people suggest this makes them less suitable. I hate that sexual orientation is used as a bargaining chip in the athletic world. I've heard stories of coaches telling recruits to avoid certain teams because they are "lesbian teams", or reassuring parents that "that" isn't a part of their program. The NCAA needs to crack down on this so that one day coaches can be free to be open about their sexuality. My main point, however, is that having a family of your own doesn't make you better at running a team than someone without one.

Trish Stratus said...

a very well written article. thanks for sharing.

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