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Little Scottie #99 / Straight and Narrow (4/23/10)

A women's basketball coach brings family values to the Big 12.
A women's basketball coach brings family values to the Big 12.
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Fri, Apr 23, 2010 - UDK, Page 4A
Robin Pingeton, the new women's basketball coach at the University of Missouri, didn't waste any time creating some controversy. In her first press conference, she proclaimed, "I'm a Christian that happens to be a coach. My values are very important to me." The statement would have gone unnoticed at a non-secular university. But, while it's not the most conventional introduction, few would fault her for simply being a woman of great faith.

What really got everyone's attention was her follow-up assertion: "I'm very blessed to have my staff here. This is something very unique, I think, for Division I women's basketball to have a staff that the entire staff is married with kids. Family is important to us and we live it every day."

In an effort to do some damage control, the media relations representative for Missouri women's basketball said, "Fostering a family atmosphere didn't mean anything other than building a community feeling." Nice try.

There are certainly stereotypes about women who play sports just as there are stereotypes about male figure skaters. But women's basketball is one of the only team sports to have had an openly-gay active player in the professional ranks – Cheryl Swoopes, one of the sport's all-time superstars who came out in 2005. No professional male athlete in the four major U.S. team sports – football, basketball, baseball and hockey – has ever come out before retirement.

Not every women's basketball player is a lesbian. I suspect most are not. But it sets a dangerous tone for a coach to preach religious beliefs that threaten to create a hostile environment for players. Women's basketball has made strides in this area above and beyond most sports. It would be terrible to see anything undermine that progress.

Read more about the fallout from the comments: http://bit.ly/b69gVd.

Check out the story about the KU players transferring: http://bit.ly/cWAg1X
Scott A. Winer / Writer, Little Scottie

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