In speaking out against the decision by the Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA) to rule Maori Davenport ineligible to play her senior year, Rutgers head coach C. Vivian Stringer asked, “Who steps up? Who protects her?”
Prominent voices across the world of sports — from media and broadcasters to players and coaches — have spoken out in support of Davenport. Although the increasing public pressure has not yet inspired the AHSAA and its executive director, Steve Savarese, to rescind the ruling and reinstate Davenport, the Rutgers-bound senior just won some important allies.
Stepping up to tackle things from a different angle is Alabama state Rep. Kyle South (R-Fayette), who views the injustice being perpetrated against Davenport as more than an isolated incident. The bill South introduced has three main demands designed to check the powers of the AHSAA, with provisions for oversight and accountability. According to Sean Ross at Yellowhammer News, “the lack of accountability and transparency has been an issue — and prickly point of contention with state lawmakers and officials — going back for years.”
More to the point, issues with the AHSAA — beyond the repeated black eyes on the state of Alabama —are important to lawmakers because the organization is funded with taxpayer dollars, which gives Alabama governing powers.
Rep. South is willing to cut off funding to the AHSAA if the changes he has requested in his bill are not pushed forward to prevent future debacles such as the one Davenport is experiencing now, stating:
The majority of their revenues are from gates, during playoffs in every sport, where a third of that money has to be paid back to the AHSAA in the form of a check from the schools. And at the point that they cut a check from a [public] school, it’s public funds. So, for them to say that we don’t have any authority whatsoever over them, technically we could cut off their funding. And that’s not what I’m aiming to do, but if we need to we could go down that road.
Rep. South’s bill, which received 87 cosponsors in the Alabama state House of Representatives the day it was introduced, would:
- “[M]andate that any rules by the AHSAA regarding a student athlete’s eligibility be reviewed and approved by the State Board of Education.
- [C]odify that 25 percent of the AHSAA governing body be appointed by the State Board of Education or the State Superintendent of Education.
- [R]equire that the Department of Examiners of Public Accounts audit the AHSAA in the same manner as it would a public agency.”
Rep. South emphasized that the bill derives from “cumulative” issues with the AHSAA with the situation involving Davenport being the straw “that broke the camel’s back.” More to this point, NBA star DeMarcus Cousins tweeted this week about issues he experienced with the AHSAA when he was “a kid in Alabama,” underscoring that the AHSAA has been plagued by governance issues for years.
South also likened the body to a “dictatorship” and said, “[F]or fear of retribution ... nobody ever brings up any issues” involving the AHSAA.
With the story blowing up on the national stage — and Rep. South’s willingness to take the initiative to transform the AHSAA — young athletes coming up behind Maori Davenport hopefully will not have to deal with similar injustices in the future. But even if the bill is passed quickly, it could be quite a while for changes to be reflected in how the AHSAA does business, which means Davenport will likely miss her entire senior year.
At minimum, the legislation proposed by Rep. South would be called the Maori Davenport rule — she deserves it, after all she and her family have been through. In a perfect universe, however, Steve Savarese would be forced to resign and Maori Davenport would be reinstated immediately.
Scorching the status quo
Andrew Wiggins is a product of the normalized homophobia that still plagues society.
After the Thunder-Timberwolves game that saw Nerlens Noel carried out on a stretcher, Minnesota guard Andrew Wiggins answered questions at his locker, including one about an on-court tiff with Dennis Schröder, who plays for Oklahoma City.
“I don’t know what’s wrong with him,” Wiggins says. “Uh, he was just gay. He was acting crazy for no reason.”
Once the comment started to pick up traction, Wiggins said he never meant any disrespect and apologized, stating on Twitter that he would “never use any term to disrespect” the LGBTQ community.
I have the utmost love and respect for the LGBTQIA community and I would never use any term to disrespect them in anyway.— andrew wiggins (@22wiggins) January 9, 2019
The problem, of course, is that Wiggins used the word gay as an insult. And although he did not cause harm to LGBTQ individuals intentionally, he caused harm nonetheless. After all, he likened the word gay to “acting crazy,” which is offensive in the same way that saying someone “throws like a girl” is offensive to women.
But it’s not Andrew Wiggins’ fault.
We live in a society where racism, homophobia and sexism were once legalized norms. Although the laws have changed on paper, people’s hearts and minds have been slow to catch up, and certain phrases — such as “that’s go gay” — have become so entrenched in the culture that many (except LGBTQ people, perhaps) do not register the harm.
But even if normalized homophobia is not Wiggins’ fault, it is his responsibility to learn from this situation and do better — to eradicate from his vocabulary use of this word in a derogatory context and, most importantly, to understand that calling someone gay as an insult is rooted in homophobia even if a person consciously has no animus towards LGBTQ people.
We are all products of our history, but we also have the duty to change the darkest parts that keep us from being our very best and from giving our very best.
More in the world of women’s hoops
For Skylar Diggins-Smith, baby-bump watch is in full effect.
The Dallas Wings guard, with husband, Daniel, are shown on the day of their baby shower.
Jewel Loyd has had it with overseas.
Like many WNBA players this time of year, the reigning champion with the Seattle Storm is playing abroad and a recent tweet from the guard shows that it might not be a pleasant experience.
Overseas got me thinking about getting a 9-5.....— Jewell B Loyd (@jewellloyd) January 3, 2019
Jewell Loyd and all players in the WNBA deserve better.
There’s still more!
- The Phoenix Mercury have fired assistant coach Todd Troxel after it launched an investigation into an alleged domestic violence incident between Troxel and his fiancee. A woman (reportedly, his fiancee) called 911 during the Nov. 30 incident, and Troxel was treated at a hospital for “serious cuts” to his hand.
- Rebekkah Brunson may serve foodie waffles out of her food truck, but that hasn’t stopped her from getting fancy for broadcasting duties on Fox Sports North.
- Chiney Ogwumike launches Chiney X YouTube series. Really, the Sun forward is a burgeoning media mogul.
- Lisa Leslie makes a guest appearance on ABC’s Speechless.
Bonus: Candace Parker, “El Agresor”
Watch Candace Parker with her personal chef discuss what it’s like to succeed in male-dominated professions on UNINTERRUPTED’s Pairings, in partnership with Patrón Tequila. During the conversation, the chef prepares a shrimp dish while the two sip “El Agresor” cocktails.
Wanna make the cocktail?
1 oz Anejo Patrón Tequila
.5 oz Fresh Lemon Juice
1 oz Cold Pressed Apple Juice
5 oz Simple Syrup
Combine all ingredients and serve in a champagne glass with a lemon twist.