Gender Over Race More Adverse Impact On My Life, Hall of Famer

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Gender Over Race More Adverse Impact On My Life, Hall of Famer

Former NFL Player, college football hall of famer, Don McPherson says gender over race had a more adverse impact on his life.  In this Gender Leadership Group 2 part blog series and talk from the Better Man Conference last year, he discusses how sports has gone astray in how it influences our culture. He tells stories of toxic masculinity in the NFL, starts bringing awareness to how unconscious bias and sexism is indoctrinated into our youth culture, discusses emotion as related to masculinity and shares solutions that support healthier masculinity and gender equality as a culture.  He will be speaking at the Better Man Conference 2017 in September. Solo and group delegation tickets are still available.

Don McPherson, College Football Hall of Famer, former NFL player and feminist.

Transcript:  Dale Thomas Vaughn, Co Founder of Gender Leadership Group and MC/Speaker at the Better Man Conference 2016:  So I'm going to bring to the stage Don Mcpherson, he's a college football hall of famer, second in the heisman trophy voting in 1987, played professional football, and is now one of the leading voices as a male feminist in all areas especially on college campuses, my friend and mentor, Don McPherson. (applause)

Don McPherson:

Good afternoon!  How are you doing?  Everybody feeling good?  All right, good.  I have about 10 minutes to go on a little bit of a rant …

Let me just tell you really quickly (a little bit about)  who I am, so you have a little bit of context about where I come from and the perspective of the work that I do, that I did at SMU for Dale several years ago.  I'm from New York. I'm the youngest of five. I grew up in a sports family. My oldest brother played for the San Diego Chargers, now runs a megachurch down in San Diego.  If anyone knows or has ever heard of the Rock San Diego, that's my brother Miles.  I had another brother at the same time, while Miles was away at the San Diego Chargers, that ranked second in the world as a middleweight fighter, and at that time I was at Syracuse University playing football.  And so I grew up around sports and I love sports...I take that back, I love when people compete and enjoy competing against one another.  And what sports has become is something very different and I'm going to get to that in a moment.  

I LOVE SPORTS...I TAKE THAT BACK, I LOVE WHEN PEOPLE COMPETE AND ENJOY COMPETING AGAINST ONE ANOTHER

As Dale mentioned, I was inducted into the (College Football Hall of Fame).   I’m wearing my hall-of-fame ring because earlier this week I MCed a dinner in New York City for the, I'm on the National Football Foundation New York City chapter of the College Football Hall of Fame, and the New York City chapter we had honored a bunch of high school scholar athletes on Tuesday night in New York and so whenever my ring leaves the house I keep it on...I don't normally wear it.  So I'm also involved with ESPN in other networks covering college football, I vote on a number of college football awards, I'm heavily involved in the sport of college football, it’s the only sport I really watch and care about.  I'm also a feminist and an activist in the prevention of all forms of men's violence against women.  I’ve started on……...and on the U.S. National Committee for U.N. women and currently sit on the task force with the NCAA on sexual violence on college campuses and I've been doing this work on college campuses for about 22 years.  I'll get into that in a moment but my conversation around masculinity comes from the work to prevent men's violence against women.  

And in doing so I had to challenge how I was raised.  So coming from a sports background is coming from the world of sports my entire life, I had to look at the issue of masculinity and men's violence against women from that perspective.  And so even before I started doing work around men's violence against women in 1994, even before I started doing that work, I was already doing work using sports as a platform to talk to young people about social issues.  And I came to the conclusion about where sports was going and I taught a class called Sport And Civility at Adelphi University back in the early 90s and I would always ask the class how many of you think sports are good for kids?  And every hand in the class would go up.  

HOW MANY OF YOU THINK SPORTS ARE GOOD FOR KIDS?  EVERY HAND IN THE CLASS WOULD GO UP

I WOULD TELL THEM, "I THINK SPORTS HAS BECOME A CANCER IN OUR CULTURE." 

AND THEY WOULD LOOK AT ME WITH JAWS DROPPED

And I had a lot of non-traditional students who are coming back to go back into the profession of coaching and then I would tell them that I think sports has become a cancer in our culture and they would look at me with jaws dropped.  Here's the former athlete telling us that..and we all want to be coaches and physical educators, he's saying that “sports is a cancer in our culture?”  I started challenging them.  If you do not proactively teach the things that we think sports is all about, the altruism of sports…….?  When I was playing I was not a great guy, I was the most evil maniacal….(laughs) right?  (I was) the most egotistical, ego maniacal person you could meet.  I win, you lose, that's it.  And if you think about where sports is in our culture, it doesn't represent all those altruistic things that we think it does. Even if you look.. and we don't care that it does (represent altruistic things).  There was a time when it was the myth, that athletes were great people.  We just didn't know who they were and now that we know who they are, we don't care!  

So a year ago or two years ago, this is my little bit of my rant part... because I'm affiliated with the NFL because I played in the NFL, I'm still very close to the game of football.  Two years ago, we had Jameis Winston whose DNA was in a rape kit, who was a thief, who was suspended for a game for standing on the table in his school saying, “Fuck her in the pussy, Fuck her in the pussy!”  Pardon my language but this is what happened, this is the individual we're talking about.  He did those things.  He stole and did that thing after he was charged with sexual assault, after his DNA was in a rape kit, and the NFL said they're gonna clean up their act.  Jameis Winston played in the NFL’s Pro Bowl last year or this year, just a couple months ago.  Then there was Richie Incognito.  Remember Richie Incognito, the white guy for Miami Dolphins who was bullying Jonathan Martin, a very fine young man from Stanford University? (He) was calling Jonathan Martin a punk ass nigger!?  The white guy calling the black guy in the NFL a punk ass nigger? Richie Incognito played in the Pro Bowl this year. We don't care.  What are our young people are looking at when they see that!?

I FIRST STARTED SAYING "SPORTS IS A CANCER" BECAUSE OF THE AUTOMATIC ASSUMPTION THAT SPORTS AUTOMATICALLY DOES SOMETHING GOOD WITHOUT CHECKING WHAT THAT IS

And so when I first started saying that “sports is a cancer” because of the automatic assumptions that sports automatically does something good without checking what that is...because the larger culture has something to say about the role of sports in society. Then I started doing working on men's violence against women and I went to Northeastern University thinking I was going to be doing work primarily around racism in sports.  Then I met a guy named Jackson Katz. Some of you may be familiar with Jackson's work, and Jackson blew my mind because he exposed my privilege.  And I always say he exposed the detriment of masculinity in my life.  I always say to people that my gender has had a more adverse impact on my life then my race.  And it's funny because white people go, “But your black!  What could be worse than that?”  

So I had to start breaking down how I learned what it meant to be a man because that's the work that we were doing around masculinity and men’s violence against women.  And then I had to start breaking down how I learned what it meant to be a man because that’s the work we were doing around masculinity and men’s violence against women.  Then I came to that place where I had to really be honest about how I learned what it meant to be a man and when did l learn it?  And I had to ask and I ask this question to men all the time, “What is the worst insult you heard as a little boy?”...”You throw like a girl!”.....

(End Of Video...To Be Continued)

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