The Rittenhouse Review

A Philadelphia Journal of Politics, Finance, Ethics, and Culture

Saturday, November 30, 2002  

Something to do With the Showers Again, No Doubt

From a piece by Kevin Drum at his weblog CalPundit, picked up from Charles Kuffner of Off the Kuff, I learn that Rice University football coach Ken Hatfield recently has been feeling a little insecure in his masculinity, or quite full of the Holy Spirit, or both.

Hatfield, a purported and self-professed “devout Christian,” said recently that he would consider removing from the team any player who publicly (which I think it’s fair to interpret to mean, “vocally” or “verbally”) revealed a gay sexual orientation.

In a subsequent op-ed piece in the November 28 issue of the Houston Chronicle, there rises to Hatfield’s defense -- this despite an earlier private and public reprimand of the coach by Rice University President Malcolm Gillis -- junior-college history teacher Tom Lovell, of Tomball College.

The Chronicle, seemingly ignorant of Rice University’s policy on the matter and not realizing this really is a “case closed,” published Lovell’s pointless little jottings. In them, Lovell characterized the criticism to which Hatfield has been subjected for what he called the coach’s “squeamishness over coaching out-of-the-closet gays,” as the height (or depth) of “political correctness.”

Then, taking a giant leap into the realm of fantasy, Lovell said the controversy proved that everyone at Rice -- a school that with its emphasis on science and engineering heretofore had not been known as a hotbed of incipient revolution -- must adhere to “the leftist party line,” lest they be “targeted for abusive public pillory.”

Well, what was it that Coach Hatfield said that stirred up such a ruckus? In an article in the November 1 issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education, “The Loneliest Athletes” [Note: Referred to in the link provided above.], Hatfield, a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, indicated that homosexuality is contrary to the FCA’s “sexual purity” policy, which, according to the CHE, states:

God desires His children to lead pure lives of holiness. The Bible is clear in teaching of sexual sin, including sex outside of marriage and homosexual acts. Neither heterosexual acts outside of marriage nor any homosexual act constitute an alternative lifestyle acceptable to God.

According to the CHE reporter, Jennifer Jacobson, Hatfield said that while not a single player has come out to him in his 36 years of collegiate coaching -- Big surprise! -- he “would be concerned both about the effect on the team and about what the parents of other athletes would think, he says. He would ask the player, ‘What happened? What changed since we recruited you? When did this come about?’”

Implying, as this statement does, that the pious Christian Coach Hatfield has better gaydar than I do, it is a challenge to respond to such laughable ignorance. Many have tried, with noble effort and greater intellectual resources than I can command, to respond to such lunacy, but few have succeeded, at least when it comes to convincing those persons who make such statements.

I’ll save this challenge for another day, but suffice it to say that I do not know even one gay man who, just like his heterosexual friends, was not aware, on at least some level, of his sexual orientation before the age of 14. Not one. Some adjust to and accept this realization quickly; for others, depending on a variety of psychological and social factors, it takes more time. Often quite a bit more time is required, even today.

And if it so happens that this acceptance occurs to a member of the Rice football team between the ages of 18 and 22, or 24, or 26, or whatever ages Hatfield’s players are (and coincidentally, the ages at which most men I know finally accepted their sexual orientation), well, that’s just too bad for him. Rice’s anti-discrimination policy, as Hatfield learned, but Lowry apparently did not, applies to everyone at the university, including the school’s revered and reverential football coach.

One might also ask how concerned Coach Hatfield is that the heterosexual players on his team might be engaging sexual activity outside of marriage. There’s nothing in the FCA statement on “sexual purity” that would lead a reasonable person to conclude that fornication of this sort is not at least as abhorrent to the organization.

Until Coach Hatfield and Professor Lovell start chastising the Rice football team’s heterosexual players for sleeping with their girlfriends and groupies, and that (the chastisement, I mean) with a fervor even approaching that which these two have reserved for the team’s gay players -- out or not -- neither man has any moral ground upon which to stand and neither deserves even the slightest bit of our attention on matters moral or political, let alone the ink needed to splatter a handful of incoherent mutterings on Chronicle newsprint.

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