In response to reports of racism experienced by former Hawkeye football players, Coach Kirk Ferentz says he is listening and takes responsibility for changing the culture that allowed and perpetuated the demeaning and unfair treatment of black athletes.
While he is overhauling the culture of his athletic department, I hope he also will consider a new paint job for the visiting teams’ locker room. For the past 40 years, the Kinnick Stadium locker room for visiting teams has been painted pink, and during a 2004 renovation, pink lockers, toilets and showers were installed.
When objections were raised, the excuse was made that the color pink is supposed to be “soothing.” But the stereotypical link of the color with women and the gay community appears to imply that the opposing team is “effeminate” or “weak.” This is hurtful and demeaning, not only to the visiting players, but also to women and LGBT+ people.
Belittling others does not show the strength of character that should be demonstrated by an athletic program, and jokes made at the pain and expense of others are not funny. While Coach Ferentz is listening and making plans to upgrade the athletic culture at the University of Iowa, he should include abolishing the pink locker room at Kinnick Stadium.