In my little screed yesterday about how the Republican values of fake piety, cheating, and worship of authority pervade the discussion of sports on Boston’s WEEI radio station, I mentioned the reputation of Bobby Knight, the winningest coach in the history of college basketball, for not cheating. By all accounts these were the priorities that guided his entire forty-year carreer:
1. Ensure an education (both academically and in life) for student-athletes.
2. Follow the NCAA rules.
Bob Knight retired yesterday, “effective immediately”.
I was among the many many people who thought that Indiana University did the right thing in firing Coach Knight. He never learned to control his temper, and could be an outrageous bully. He forced the situation at Indiana, essentially telling the regents of the school, “me or the president of the University: one of us has to go.” So, appropriately, he was told to go, leaving a school where he had coached for 29 years and won three national championships. He spent the twilight of his career putting little-known Texas Tech on the basketball map.
Knight’s nickname was “the General” or “the little General”, and Texas Tech was a kind of exile, his own little Elba Island. But if he thought it was an ignominious come-down, he never let on. To me, an occasional watcher of college basketball games on TV, Knight seemed as happy there as he did anywhere else. Which is not very happy at all.
Today I tip my cap to the man. Dan Wetzel of Yahoo Sports has written a great appreciation of Knight’s integrity here.
In the comments, Armands makes a good point:
That’s twice now you’ve used the word “homoeroticism” without any context or explanation, and with an obvious disapproval. Very disheartened. Be more careful which words you treat as slurs, and how you throw them around.
In order to prevent any confusion about my intent, I’ve removed the word from the opening sentence.
Please see below for a clarification.
I used the word “homoeroticism” without context or explanation, but certainly without disapproval. I apologize for making it seem like a slur, but I did not intend it that way.
In today’s Republican Party & “movement Conservatism”, we see a strong current of homophobia and gay-bashing, while at the same time we see a strong presence of (presumably “self-hating”) gay men. I’m thinking of, for example, Ted Haggard, Larry Craig, Jeff Gannon, among many others.
This pattern shows up, after a fashion, in sports talk radio: we see a fair amount of homophobia, while at the same time we see a fair amount of barely disguised lust for the bodies of beautiful male athletes. Not to mention that the athletes themselves are often seen to be hugging each other, holding hands, and engaging in displays of affection that, if they were to be seen in The Castro neighborhood of San Francisco, would elicit words of disapproval, if not disgust, from the kind of people I’m trying to describe.
From the Wikipedia entry on Dennis and Callahan:
On June 2, 2005 Callahan upset some listeners during interviews with Red Sox CEO Larry Lucchino and relief pitcher Mike Timlin discussing the upcoming visit of Carson Kressley and the cast from Queer Eye at Fenway Park. Kressley and his co-hosts were scheduled to throw out the first pitch at Fenway Park on Sunday, June 5, 2005 before the Red Sox faced the Los Angeles Angels. In questioning Lucchino, Callahan asked if the team had received any complaints about “’fruitcakes sashaying’ in front of children and families, and on a Sunday, of all days”. In a later interview, Mike Timlin voiced his opinion that “homosexuals are not living correctly”. Approached later by reporters from the Boston Globe, station manager Jason Wolfe claimed that Callahan did not object to Kressley being gay, but rather that “it’s the openness and the flaunting of it”.
If homosexuality is mentioned at all by the WEEI on-air staff, it’s usually in some kind of derogatory off-the-cuff “joke”. And yet they clearly idealize “manly men” and spend their lives discussing men-only assemblages like football teams and basketball teams; moreover, they talk a lot about “the locker room” where naked men abound. They don’t talk about women’s sports on WEEI; at least not so’s you would notice.
I don’t have any problem with homoeroticism, and I don’t have a problem with gay guys who would prefer to stay in the closet. I do have a problem with Callahan’s homophobia, however, and I make the observation that there’s a lot of worship of the male form that comes out of the mouths of WEEI staff and listeners who profess opinions like Mike Timlin’s that “homosexuals are not living correctly”. I suspect that in some cases, at least, there’s a measure of denial involved. And in any event there is at least the appearance of hypocrisy, which is what I was trying to get at. You know, these guys make these disparaging comments about “fruitcakes sashaying” one minute, and go on to talk about how beautiful Tiger Woods is the next.