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Racism, Sexism, and Porn in 49ers Diversity Training Video October 19, 2006

Posted by C.A.R.D in Card, Citizens Against Racism and Discrimination, Gays, Racism, Racist, Sexism, Women.
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A diversity training video featuring lesbian porn and racist humor, which was billed as a primer on handling the media in San Francisco, has clear roots in male locker-room culture, members of the Bay Area’s sports community said Wednesday.

Players have said the 15-minute video was intended only for internal use and was taken out of context. But sports academics, coaches and community activists said the locker-room context, where male athletes meet minimal restrictions on what they say, can breed attitudes that are not acceptable in the public sphere.

Ribbing and teasing are part of the locker-room culture, said Mike Machado, veteran head football coach at Valley Christian High School in San Jose. But that behavior must end at hazing or racial slurs.

“If the coach’s philosophy is that the locker room is an out-of-bounds place, it’s creating a problem in the long run,” Machado said. “If they are taught there are places you can take shortcuts and compromise integrity, you’re not doing them any favors.”

In the sanctity of the locker room, athletes feel comfortable talking about difficult issues and personal relationships, and they’re comfortable naked, said Ted Butry, an assistant professor of sports psychology and sociology at San Jose State University. Some athletes compensate for the vulnerability they feel by turning hyper-masculine — embellishing stories and making jokes.

People in the professional sports world are insulated, said Helen Carroll, sports coordinator for the National Center for Lesbian Rights in San Francisco, who coached a champion women’s college basketball team at the University of North Carolina-Asheville.

“They have tunnel vision about great players, hiring coaches and winning games,” Carroll said. “You ask how this could happen in San Francisco, but it’s because the 49ers are not aware of their surroundings. This happens in some form, behind closed doors in every professional league and team.”

Even high school players suffer from “egotistical ignorance,” said Alonzo Carter, coach at McClymonds High School in Oakland.

“There is a mentality that you share among your teammates and don’t expect the information to leak out. The macho side of us talks about and assumes things we don’t know, but with no ill intent.”

Sometimes, players just need to hear they have offended someone and they’ll apologize sincerely, Carter said, adding that exposure to different kinds of people also can help.

Coaching women’s football, for example, has made him tone down comments that an athlete playing softly is “playing like a girl,” Carter said, because many of his female players are tough.

49ers owners Denise and John York issued an apology Wednesday afternoon for the “senseless, inexcusable” video, and promised to prevent a repeat incident.


The team’s new policies should include more sophisticated diversity training that doesn’t play to stereotypes, community leaders say.

In the controversial video, former 49ers trainer and martial arts expert George Chung donned buck teeth and thick glasses, and spoke in a theatrical Asian accent.

“It’s the good ol’ boy syndrome. He’s playing the game, and has to belong, ” historian Phil Choy said. “It’s a manifestation of how society has not resolved these racist issues. It takes place privately, but the stereotypes and racism are still there.”

Chung did not return a call to comment.

Henry Der, a longtime civil rights activist, said the video reflects the team’s ignorance of its responsibilities as a local institution.

“The 49ers are revered by the Bay Area community,” Der said. “They have certain obligations to their fans.”

There is an undeniable connection between professional athletes and their fan base in the Bay Area, said Amy Love, publisher of Real Sports, a women’s sports magazine in San Jose. Given the Bay Area’s social and ethnic diversity, she said, it is key for the 49ers to better understand gays, lesbians, Asian Americans and women in general.

“It’s important the teams embrace the broader community of fans who no doubt were included in each of the various subsets that were at the short end of their video.”

Source: SFGate.com

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