Women's College Basketball Association scraps screening of film about homophobia

Posted on 06 Apr 2010 at 8:13am
Portland State coach
Portland State coach Sherri Murrell is one of the few out lesbians in the sport.

I posted an item yesterday afternoon about the NCAA men’s basketball final — which was one hell of a game in case you were watching “Dancing with the Stars,” which I’m told was also on last night. Anyhow, in the interest of gender equity, it’s only fair that I post something today about tonight’s women’s college basketball final in San Antonio, which pits Connecticut against Stanford (and you thought Butler was an underdog against Duke!).

Fortunately, though, The San Antonio Express-News has saved me from the awkwardness of posting a “Who’s hotter?” featuring women’s players. That’s because The Express-News reports today that the Women’s College Basketball Association has canceled a screening of a film about homophobia in the sport. “Training Days,” a documentary about a lawsuit filed against Penn State coach Rene Portland, was scheduled to be screened at the WCBA’s annual conference, which is held in conjunction with the Final Four. But the WCBA canceled the screening, saying in a statement that it wanted to “protect the coach and the profession.” As an alternative, filmmakers ended up screening “Training Days” at the Esperanza Peace & Justice Center:

“This is a film that looks at one particular case, but it’s a very widespread phenomenon,” said Dee Mosbacher, one of the film’s directors and producers. “Even if coaches are not abusing their players based on homophobia, they’re saying something is wrong with it by not talking about it.”

Through interviews with former Penn State players, the film chronicles discrimination that began when Portland became coach in 1980. But during filmmaking, Mosbacher and co-director and co-producer Fawn Yacker couldn’t find one women’s Division I basketball coach who publicly identified as being gay.

“It’s still a closeted community,” Yacker said. Later they met Sherri Murrell, the women’s basketball coach at Portland State University, who told her bosses she was lesbian before they hired her. Murrell, in town for the tournament, attended Monday’s screening.

“We need to reach out to this issue,” said Murrell. “We need to have some open forums on it.”

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