Wednesday, May 15, 2013
SUBTRACTION BY ADDITION
SUBTRACTION BY ADDITION: As much as our secret life is one of a devoted sports fanatic, this space has had a decided dearth of athletics-related material over the years. And today is really no different.
Yes, our subject de jour is this week's 180 performed by new University of Hawai`i Athletic Directer Ben Jay who, after banning the use of the name "Rainbows" by UH men's teams shortly after his arrival earlier this year, decided this week to once again allow UH teams to use the beloved moniker.
But while it's a sports story everywhere else in the Hawai`i media, let us be the first to remind readers that is actually a long-sought repudiation of former football coach June Jones' bigoted and homophobic striking of the name Rainbow in 2000 because we don't want no sissies or fairies (or any other six-letter "f" word) amongst the macho men of our football team.
Lest we forget that's what Jones said it was all about at the time. He essentially announced that he was worried that his big, bad football heroes were afraid of being teased by other teams over the name "Rainbows" and that it was projecting an image he didn’t want for his team... wink, wink, elbow elbow.
To put it in historical context it was a time shortly after the voters of Hawai`i took away the historic, court-granted right to marry any person one damn well pleases.
And Jones used his position as football coach to project and impose his own intolerance, jumping on the anti-gay bandwagon in no uncertain terms.
It was the first and only time our constitution was changed to actually remove rights rather than protect them and it persists on the books today as a shameful reminder of how lacking in political spines our state legislators remains to this day- unable to even pass the legislation that the constitution allows to fully extend marriage rights to everyone, much less put the repeal of the constitutional amendment on the ballot.
But while the rest of the country moves into the 21st century (the 12th state, Minnesota, just okayed universal marriage rights yesterday) to seemingly compound the problem, Jay's original decision not only confirmed his own homophobia, he did it by exercising the same kind of arrogant decision-making that has brought down many a UH leader... "outgoing" UH President MRC Greenwood coming to mind after a similarly tone deaf performance, hers before a senate committee last fall.
Apparently Jay's reversal has pulled his own fat out of the fire for now. But memories are long and tenures at UH tend to be sort for those who come over to the islands and tell us what we need to do because we're apparently too dumb to manage our own affairs and we've been doing it wrong all along.
The circumstances surrounding Jones 2000 team renaming have been ignored by the Hawai`i press, especially in failing to compare and contrast the attitudes of a mere 13 years ago and this year- a year when news of the first "coming out" by a member of a major US team sport has been greeted with a hearty "ho-hum" in some quarters, many being something less than shocked to find out that some players are gay.
Is 13 years so long ago that no one remembers the bad old days when a football coach could get away with such appallingly bigoted behavior? Or is it just more of the Hawai`i presses "never was heard a discouraging word" attitude toward UH sports which has helped smooth Jay's short stint in charge of UH athletics?
The re-institution of the name "Rainbows" - albeit as part of the name "Rainbow Warriors," lest anyone feel like they're having their manhood challenged- has been said to be due to "tradition." But the end of a tradition of a**hole behavior should be receiving a lot more attention.
Because only if attention is paid to the more shameful parts of the history of the name "Rainbows," can there be a true end of the June Jones era of fear and loathing in the UH locker room.