Friday, November 12, 2010

Brody's Scribbles... Pink Football Cleats, Homophobic Bias, & Implied Sexual Identity

17 year old Coy Sheppard With His Pink Cleats   From WAPT ABC16 Jackson, MS. 
By Brody Levesque (Washington DC) NOV 12 | In one of those seemingly never ending shake your head moments occurring more frequently these days, comes this story from Mendenhall, Mississippi, where a 17 year old high school football player was kicked off his team last month, and not for the familiar reasons of his using drugs, getting caught with booze at a party or worse.  Nope, Coy Sheppard, a Mendenhall High School senior, who by the way was the star kicker for the Mendenhall Tigers until his coach booted him off the team, was summarily tossed when he came to a practise wearing pink cleats.
Now, here's the thing, this youngster had been known for his showing up and playing on the team for his career wearing different colour cleats. Apparently though, the hyper-masculine head coach Chris Peterson took offence at the colour selection this time round.  Sheppard tried to point out that he had worn those exact same cleats a few days before in a game, (Which the coach & his staff had ridiculed the kicker for wearing those exact same shoes according to Sheppard.) but Coach Peterson was having none of it.
Many youth in his position would have  likely thought to only challenge the coach's decision by going to the principal and complaining. Not Sheppard, he sued him and the school officials. The reason? Well as it turns out, October was Cancer Awareness month, and Coy's cleats were a gift from his 82-year-old great grandmother, a breast cancer survivor.
Commenting on the lawsuit against the Simpson County School District, deputy superintendent, Tom Duncan, insisted that Sheppard was kicked off the team for failing to follow his coaches' instructions, not for the colour of the shoes. He told reporters:
"It had absolutely nothing to do with lack of support for breast cancer awareness."
Oh really Mr. Duncan? Apparently you didn't get the memorandum. In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, October was all about the colour pink. All of the Major League Sports players wore pink wristbands. The NFL teams wore pink wristbands, pink-edged baseball hats, and, get this Mr. Duncan and Coach Peterson,  in some cases, pink cleats.
In defence of his son, Joey Sheppard told a local reporter for ABCNews affiliate WAPT Channel 16 in Jackson, Mississippi, that he understood not being disrespectful of Coach Peterson's authority:
"I do understand and we don't condone being disrespectful to the coaches, but he was standing up for what he thought was right. ...He's had five or six different coloured shoes throughout his last two years of kicking for Mendenhall and when he got the pink shoes that's when it became an issue. I think it is the pink shoes."
Yes Mr. Sheppard, I'd say so, after all, this is Mississippi where just last week 12 year old Randi Foster was beaten because she has a boy's name. Then too this is the state where Constance McMillen wasn't allowed to take her same sex gender date to her high school prom and where young Ceara Sturgis was told she couldn't wear her tuxedo for her senior portrait.
Pink Shoes? Oh you just know what was running through the minds of Coach Peterson and his coaching staff.
Of course, they'll deny that homophobic reaction had any thing to do with their decision... yeah, right.
When the story made national headlines, Oliver Diaz, Sheppard's lawyer and a former Mississippi state Supreme Court justice told reporters:
"I wish it could have been handled differently, where there could have been some compromise, I think all the kid wants is to play football and finish out the year."
All the kid wanted to do was play football, Okay. What is telling about the character of this young man was that in the lawsuit he filed all he demanded was that he received official reinstatement on the team, his personal record to be cleared, and  then Sheppard specified that any monetary damages or donations to go straight to the American Cancer Society.  This kid's a class act and a definite role model in my book.
The story has a positive outcome for young Sheppard, yesterday he agreed to withdraw his suit after school officials apparently relented. His attorney told WAPT ABC16 news that:
"The school district recognised mistakes were made and we were able to get the best results for everybody," Oliver Diaz said. "In the process, we were able to raise awareness about breast cancer campaigns. It's a win for everybody."
Diaz said the player's family has agreed to drop a lawsuit filed against the coach, principal and the school system under the condition that Sheppard returns to the team with the same standing he had before the incident.
Same standing? Maybe, but then again this incident speaks volumes about this charming attitude that is prevalent not only in just Mississippi, but across the entire American landscape.
LGBT youth in the United States are killing themselves in alarming and increasing numbers and here's a straight kid who is victimised by the same cultural pressures and nonsense responsible for those deaths.
I wonder how long its going to take for Americans to get the message?


Trab said...

It will probably take till there is a genetic modification to expand intelligence, or maybe till the religious gene is nullified.