Friday, March 09, 2007

This Makes Me Sad

Bill Feig/Associated Press

Pokey Chatman resigned over suspected inappropriate conduct with a former player.

Pokey Chatman has resigned as coach of the LSU women's basketball team, reportedly because she had what has been termed an "inappropriate relationship" with a former player.

What all does that mean? Obviously, it means she's gay. In Louisiana, just having a gay relationship is enough to get fired and land in jail. But if the relationship began while the player was still in college, it's just wrong. There are power dynamics involved when a coach begins a relationship with a player. The coach has power, and the player doesn't; therefore, the coach must say no.

Interestingly, most often these player/coach relationships involve women players. Male players are almost never found to have been involved in a relationship with a coach. Why is this? Because jobs coaching men aren't available to women. Once Title IX forced colleges and universities to pay men's and women's coaches on a more equivalent basis, those women's jobs became desirable. But women have never been hired to coach men on more than a token basis. So at this point 75% of all coaching jobs are available to men (100% of jobs coaching men's teams, 50% of jobs coaching women) and 25% are available to women. So it's rare to find a female coach charged with an inappropriate relationship; when the coach is female, it usually involves a lesbian relationship.

We see many women involved with or married to former male coaches. Prominent examples: Jackie Joyner Kersee, married her coach Al Joyner, who she met while he was her track coach at UCLA; Julie Foudy is married to Ian Sawyers, who was a coach in her development league when she was 18; Brandi Chastain is married to her former coach at Santa Clara. Foudy and Chastain's marriages were discussed in the excellent Sports Illustrated article on this issue, "Passion Plays", by Grant Wahl. There's no official copy of the article on the web, but if you go to this link and scroll down to Feb 11th, 2003, 06:49 PM, it's reproduced there.

As an attorney, I look at this from an employment discrimination perspective. A coach should never be in a relationship with a player while they are coaching them, because that is an abuse of the coach's power over the player, and makes all the decisions the coach makes about that player suspect. Why did she get so much playing time, etc.? On the other hand, coaches and players do fall in love, and if they happen to pursue that relationship after graduation, there's no problem. The problem is those years while attraction exists in the midst of the coach/player relationship. The coach, the older, more experienced person, is expected by society to be the bigger person and hold off until the coach/player relationship is no more. If Pokey Chatman was involved with a player while she was on the team, Chatman had to go. But we don't know that yet. If she began a relationship with a player after that player left the team, then she's being discriminated against for being gay.

As a sideline, the LSU AD, Skip Bertman, is a real moron. Here's his quote in the initial round of stories about Chatman's resignation:

"The girl did what she did and LSU had no control over that," Bertman said, referring to Chatman.

The girl? Chatman is 37 years old and has coached for LSU for 15 years. Give me a break.

ESPN: Sources: Chatman quit amid sexual misconduct claims

New Orleans Times-Picayune: Chatman to leave LSU immediately

NYTIMES: L.S.U.’s Chatman Won’t Coach in N.C.A.A.

1 comment:

Michael said...

Yeh we recently covered Pokey's story over at Highbrid Nation and the story's writer seemed a bit sad to find out she was a lesbian. Guess he had a crush, lol. I'm actually surprised that there haven't been more stories like her's in the news.