By Dan Woog
Here’s a colorful story.
University of Hawaii at Manoa football coach Greg McMackin used the word “faggot” not once, not twice, but three times in a recent press conference. The occasion was the Western Athletic Conference football preview in Salt Lake City. According to Dan Hinxman of the “Reno Gazette- Journal, McMackin described Notre Dame players as performing “this little faggot dance” at a banquet before last year’s Hawaii Bowl. McMackin’s superiors were not amused. They suspended him without pay for 30 days, and cut his salary by 7 percent. His remarks cost him nearly $150,000. Some of the money will pay for a student intern in Hawaii’s gay student activities office.
Here’s The OutField’s take on McMackin’s mouth:
*** The “little faggot dance” must have worked better than McMackin’s pre-Bowl preparation – which, interestingly, included Hawaii players’ own dance (a ritual Polynesian Ha’a performance with presumably no homosexual elements). The faggoty Fighting Irish kicked Hawaii’s hetero butts, 49-21.
McMackin stuck his foot further in his mouth by asking reporters at the press conference not to write about his “faggot” comment – sort of. “Don’t write that ‘faggot’ down,” he pleaded. “Just please…cover for me. Go ahead, say ‘faggot dance.’ No. Please cover for me on that, too…I’ll deny it.” He added that he didn’t “want to…have every homosexual ticked off” at him.
So: no apology for saying “faggot.” A flailing hope that “faggot dance” would play better than mere “faggot.” And an admission that he’d lie about what he’d said – a tacit acknowledgment that he understood the power of words. At least he didn’t say that he didn’t want “every faggot” angry at him.
***McMackin did make amends later – sort of. He said: “I’m sorry I said something so hurtful, and I’m very remorseful. I’ve offended the gay and lesbian community, and now I’m going to work with the LGBT community on campus to use this as a teachable moment for me and hopefully others. I’m very pained and disappointed in myself, and hope to make up for some of the pain I’ve caused others. I’ve made a mistake and now I have to show leadership in dealing with both the football program and building respect for all people in our community.”
Give the man props: He did not fall back on the nauseating conditional: “If I offended anybody…”
He did volunteer to work without pay during his suspension. (Though perhaps he was worried that if he did not, he’d be assigned public service in, say, the University of Hawaii’s gay student activities office.)
McMackin will participate in a public service announcement describing how words can hurt. In addition, he will be a presenter during student orientations and support awareness training for the athletics program. Perhaps he will meet some actual gay students during these events. It will be interesting to see the effect those encounters have on him, and whether he will demand of himself the same commitment that he presumably asks of his players during their practices and games.
***If anyone needs a reminder, McMackin proves that money does not equal brains. His 7-percent pay cut of nearly $150,000 means he makes at least $1 million a year (more than the president of the university and governor combined). You’d think someone earning that salary would be smart enough to think before he speaks – and be aware of what to say when he does open his mouth.
***McMackin is not the only one to blame in this incident. When he made his “faggot dance” comment, most of the sportswriters allegedly laughed. None later wrote about their own reactions to his “joke.”
***Hawaii is famous for its polyglot demographics. It is the most racially integrated state in the U.S. – the only one where whites are not the majority, but rather only a third of the population. There are substantial Japanese, Chinese, Filipino, Pacific Islander and Native Hawaiian populations (though, our current president notwithstanding, few blacks). One wonders what would have happened had McMackin used an ethnic slur for Asians – or African-Americans.
***In a deliciously ironic twist, the University of Hawaii’s athletic teams are called the Rainbows – sort of. For years, the men’s teams’ nickname was Rainbow Warriors – complete with a colorful rainbow logo. But in a controversial marketing move in 2000, the logo was changed to a stylized “H,” and each team was allowed to call itself either Rainbow Warriors, Warriors, Rainbows, Rainbow Wahine or Wahine. The move was an acknowledgment, in part, that “rainbow” symbolizes something different on the mainland than it does on the islands.
The football team ran as far away as possible from any “rainbow” association. They chose Warriors.