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Sports leagues regularly play defense against anti-LGBT measures

Int’l Triathlon Union reversed course after rainbow flag ban backlash

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sports community, gay news, Washington Blade
From left are Chris Mosier, Bryan Frank and Savannah Burton. (Photos courtesy the subjects)

There has been a lot of news recently regarding policy changes on LGBT topics including the transgender military ban, conversion therapy bans and nondiscrimination bills. It has been a reminder that even when policies are put in place that support human rights, they can be reversed at a moment’s notice.

The sports community is experiencing similar reversals and changes to those that have been seen in the political arena. 

On Jan. 14, Senate Bill 49 was introduced in South Dakota to overturn a 2015 policy in the state that allows participation for all students regardless of their gender identity or expression.

Its passing would restrict participation in high school activities by birth certificate and could set a precedent for other states to follow. The bill failed to advance past committee on Jan. 24 and the protections for transgender athletes currently remain in place.

It only took a few days for the attack to begin again.

Chris Mosier is the first transgender athlete to compete for Team USA and tracks policies for transgender athletes on TransAthlete.com.

“While SB 49 was shot down, the South Dakota lawmakers introduced House Bill 1225 just a few days later which is the exact same bill targeting transgender high school athletes,” Mosier says. “They are hoping to angle the bill into a ‘friendlier’ committee to get it passed. The attacks against trans youth are still on.”

Supporters can sign an open letter that Mosier created here.

On Jan. 18, the International Triathlon Union banned rainbow flags from all competitions, equating the rainbow flag with unsportsmanlike, disrespectful and dangerous displays. The ruling read as follows:

“Athletes will avoid displaying any kind of demonstration of political, religious, sexual orientation or racial propaganda.”

The sexual orientation part of that was new for 2019 and was designed specifically to eliminate rainbow flags. The public outcry regarding the ruling was immediate and six days later the ruling was reversed. The International Triathlon Union released the following statement:

“The International Triathlon Union has decided to immediately change the rule that stated that ‘Athletes will avoid displaying any kind of demonstration of political, religious, sexual orientation or racial propaganda,’ so that ‘sexual orientation’ will be immediately removed.”

D.C. triathlete Bryan Frank qualified for the 2015 Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii and knew he would be carrying the rainbow flag across the finish line.

When he was a half mile from the finish line, he grabbed a rainbow flag from his entourage of seven supporters who were holding it on the sidelines.

“There is still a stigma that LGBT athletes can’t compete at a top level. Kona is the world championships and I wanted to show that anyone can play on the world stage,” Frank says. “There was another guy running next to me and he stepped aside to let me have my moment at the finish line. I got lots of cheers.”

This past week, the International Powerlifting Federation and USA Powerlifting banned transgender athletes from competing by posting an update to their transgender participation policy on their website.

Originally, the International Powerlifting Federation had adopted rules that followed the International Olympic Committee’s policies on transgender athletes. The rules allow such athletes to compete provided their hormones are within normal ranges.

The new ruling prohibits all female transgender powerlifters and male transgender athletes who use testosterone from competition.

LGBT sports watchdog Athlete Ally issued the following statement regarding the ruling:

“Access to sport is a human right. When (LGBT) people are systematically excluded from sport, they are denied not only an essential component of their physical, mental and emotional well-being, but also access to a community and the social support therein.”

You can sign the Athlete Ally support petition here.

Blocking athletes from competition, whether they are youth athletes or professional athletes, raises concerns on many levels. Participation in sports supports positive mental health and improves social skills along with promoting physical health.

Sin City Classic hosted its annual multisport tournament last month in Las Vegas and the dodgeball tournament boasted 500 athletes from 60 teams. Most of the Team USA men’s and women’s members competed in the co-ed division.

Winning the tournament MVP honors was trans athlete Savannah Burton, a former member of Team Canada’s women’s dodgeball team. Next up she will be competing in the Ontario provincials and hoping to qualify for Canadian Nationals.

“Access to sports participation, in the gender that they identify, should be a right for every transgender athlete,” Burton says. “The values gained from being part of a team or a competition improves self-worth, overall physical health and provides a sense of belonging. The friendships and support I have received from my women’s dodgeball team (Wildlings) has been a game changer for me and I don’t know where I would be without those incredible ladies. When organizations are inclusive, everybody wins.”

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Sports

Las Vegas Raiders head coach resigns after homophobic emails surface

Discovery made during misconduct investigation into the Washington Football Team

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Courtesy of ESPN

LAS VEGAS — The head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders, Jon Gruden resigned his post Monday after an article in the New York Times reported that he frequently used misogynistic and homophobic language directed at Commissioner Roger Goodell and others in the National Football League, (NFL).

The emails were discovered in a workplace misconduct investigation into the Washington Football Team the Times reported, but ended up costing Gruden his job when they also showed Gruden denounced the drafting of a gay player and the tolerance of players protesting during the playing of the national anthem among other issues.

In a statement released by the team late Monday, Gruden said; “I have resigned as Head Coach of the Las Vegas Raiders. I love the Raiders and do not want to be a distraction. Thank you to all the players, coaches, staff, and fans of Raider Nation. I’m sorry, I never meant to hurt anyone.”

The sequence of events started last Friday when the Wall Street Journal reported that Gruden used a racist term to describe NFL union chief DeMaurice Smith in a 2011 email to the Washington team’s former executive Bruce Allen.

According to the Associated Press, Gruden apologized for his “insensitive remarks” about Smith, saying they were made out of frustration over the 2011 lockout. But the latest emails sent from between 2011-18 when Gruden was an analyst for ESPN show his use of derogatory language went well beyond that.

A league source confirmed the accuracy of the emails to the Associated Press and said they were sent to the Raiders last week. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the league hasn’t made the emails public.

The New York Times and the Associated Press both noted that Gruden used a gay slur to insult Goodell and said he was “clueless” and “anti-football.” He also said Goodell shouldn’t have pressured the Rams to draft “queers,” a reference to Michael Sam, who was the first openly gay player drafted by an NFL team.

Gruden’s abrupt resignation was announced live on the Colts/Ravens “Monday Night Football” broadcast when the NFL ran multiple LGBTQ-inclusive advertisements, including one featuring an NFL logo wrapped in the colors of the Trans Flag and Rainbow Flag Gay City News Editor Matt Tracy reported.

Raiders owner Mark Davis issued a statement which only said that he accepted Gruden’s resignation. In a separate statement the Raiders announced that special teams and assistant head coach Rich Bisaccia will serve as Interim Head Coach of the Las Vegas Raiders, effective immediately.

“Coach Bisaccia will meet with the media at the regularly scheduled media availability on Wednesday,” the team said.

According to ESPN and the Associated Press, Bisaccia has been a special teams coordinator in the NFL for 19 seasons with the Raiders, Chargers, Dallas and Tampa Bay. He has no head coaching experience but his elevation will allow other assistants in the Raiders organization such as defensive coordinator Gus Bradley to stay in their current roles.

Jon Gruden resigns as Raiders head coach | SC with SVP

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New Zealand university names trans athlete ‘sportswoman of the year’

Laurel Hubbard is first out trans woman to compete in Olympics

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Screenshot via CBS Sports

DUNEDIN, New Zealand — Olympic weightlifter Laurel Hubbard was named “sportswoman of the year” at the prestigious 113-year-old University of Otago and OUSA Blues and Golds Awards event this past week.

The 43-year-old Queenstown, South Island, native was the first openly transgender woman to compete in an Olympics when she competed in the women’s 87kg weightlifting event at the 2021 Tokyo Games.

In a statement to the local newspaper, the Otago Daily Times, Hubbard said she was ‘‘grateful for all of the support and kindness received from the teaching staff and students at Otago University.’’

‘‘It is not possible for athletes to complete at the Olympic level without the encouragement and aroha [a Māori word meaning “love”] of friends, family and supporters.

‘‘This award belongs to everyone who has been part of my Olympic journey,’’ she told the paper.

Hubbard’s participation at the Tokyo Games had provoked controversy as she had prepared for competing as the world’s first out transgender woman Olympian. The director of medicine and science for the International Olympic Committee, Dr. Richard Budgett, directly addressed those who had attacked and mocked the New Zealander and claimed she shouldn’t be competing with cisgender women, saying  “everyone agrees that trans women are women.”

“To put it in a nutshell,” he said, “the IOC had a scientific consensus back in 2015. There are no IOC rules or regulations around transgender participation. That depends on each international federation. So Laurel Hubbard is a woman, is competing under the rules of her federation and we have to pay tribute to her courage and tenacity in actually competing and qualifying for the Games.”

Otago University Students’ Association president Michaela Waite-Harvey told the Otago Daily Times that the Blues awards aim to highlight Otago students excelling in their chosen sport.

‘‘We could think of no-one more worthy of sportswoman of the year than Laurel Hubbard who represented Otago and New Zealand incredibly well at this year’s Tokyo Olympics.’’

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Gold medalist Tom Daley battled COVID in hospital prior to Tokyo games

An x-ray revealed “blotches” on his lungs, and he was kept at the hospital for 10 hours to increase his oxygen levels

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Tom Daley (Photo by sportsphotographer.eu via Bigstock)

LONDON – British Olympic champion diver Tom Daley acknowledged in an recent interview with British newspaper The Times, that he had been secretly rushed to hospital seven months prior to the summer Tokyo Olympic games after contracting the coronavirus.

Daley told the paper “[my] lungs felt pressurised, as if they had sacks of rice around them”, and added: “Every time I stood up, I felt the room spinning and a blinding white light, as if I was going to faint, and as if I couldn’t get enough oxygen into my body.”

He went on to describe his ordeal in graphic details telling Times journalist Jane Mulkerrins that he gave specific instructions to his husband, screenwriter D. Lance Black one night as he headed off to sleep, what to do in the event he quit breathing.

He also told Mulkerrins he was frightened for their son Robbie if he and his husband both contracted the COVID-19 coronavirus, especially after he was rushed to hospital by ambulance unable to breath correctly.

When his head began to feel like it had “a vice tightening around it” and his “oxygen levels were dropping,” it was at that point Daley said he decided to call 111. [The UK’s emergency phone number]

‘My oxygen levels were dropping’

He was rushed to hospital in an ambulance and put on oxygen. An x-ray revealed “blotches” on his lungs, and he was kept at the hospital for 10 hours to increase his oxygen levels, The Times reported.

“I understood how quickly things could potentially go downhill,” said Daley.

“I had flashes of fear about whether I would be put on a ventilator, and my time being up. I was really terrified.”

He also described his reasons for keeping his ordeal secret so that his rivals in his sport wouldn’t know.

The episode kept the Olympian diver out of training for nearly seven months although Daley along with his British teammate diving partner Matty Lee won the gold with a score of 471.81 in the men’s synchronized diving on at the Tokyo 2021 games.

After tough competition in the Men’s 10m platform diving from China’s Cao Yuan who picked up the Gold Medal and his teammate Yang Jian cinching the number two spot with a Silver Medal, the 27-year-old Daley secured a Bronze Medal win with a score of 548.25.

It was the second Olympic Bronze Medal for the Plymouth, England native, in individual diving completion since he won bronze at the London Games in 2012. Daley and his teammate Daniel Goodfellow won a Bronze Medal in the 10m synchronised at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.

The Times interview comes as the paper’s magazine is serializing Daley’s new book, Coming Up for Air: What I Learned from Sport, Fame and Fatherhood, which is due to be published by Harper Collins on October 14.

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