The first-ever Think Tank on Homophobia in Sport took place at the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) headquarters in Indianapolis this fall. Although a think tank attended by a bunch of jocks sounds like a joke, the focus of this meeting, co-hosted by the National Center for Lesbians Rights (NCLR), was serious business. Sports experts, policymakers, coaches, and players discussed the practice of "negative recruiting"—talking homophobic trash about a rival team or coach in order to attract talented (presumably straight) students to your own college.
In a high-profile case last year, a girl on the Penn State Division I basketball team was allegedly hounded off the squad by her coach, who likes to boast that the Lady Lions were free of lesbians. The player, backed by the NLCR, is suing.
According to NCLR's Sports Project Director, Helen Carroll, who spearheaded the think tank, dyke-baiting is business as usual in women's collegiate sports. "Putting a stop to the unethical tactic of negative recruiting is critical," the former NCAA Athletic Director and national championship b'ball coach wrote in an op-ed on the NLCR web site. "As long as any athlete or coach can be harmed by being tagged with the 'lesbian' or 'gay' label, the goal of achieving true equality in sports will remain out of reach."
The NCAA ("100 years celebrating the student-athlete") downplayed the think tank, apparently issuing no press release, and so the October 30 meeting went largely unreported. Still, NCLR's Carroll says the org has agreed to host an annual confab on homophobia in sports. Maybe next year's event will be less hush-hush.