What if Bev Kearney were a white male football coach?

Kirby Lee-US PRESSWIRE

What if, indeed.

That's the challenge from the people championing Bev Kearney's cause right now.  Because what highlights the hypocrisy of sport more than a black lesbian coaching a non-revenue sport fired for the same indiscretions that The Good Ol Boys Club has always committed?

The last assumption is at least in part derived from the fact that Major Applewhite (white, male, coaching a revenue cash cow) had an indiscretion with a student trainer at the Fiesta Bowl in 2009 and is still employed by the university. Kearney (black, homosexual, coaching a revenue drain) was terminated for her indiscretions.  She and her attorney contend that it was for doing the same exact thing.  The only difference has to do with race, gender, revenue, and perhaps sexuality (though that's not cited in her formal grievance - just advanced by a few of her supporters).

The facts disagree.

But rather than try to penetrate false equivalence with sequential logic, let's do exactly what Kearney's apologists have challenged us with: imagine her treatment had she been a white male football coach.

Let's do just that.

A 42 year old head football coach at Texas recruits, places on scholarship, and has a lengthy clandestine affair with, an emotionally vulnerable 19 year old player from an impoverished background bereft of authority figures.  The coach has direct control over the player's scholarship and college fortunes.  He lavishes the player with gifts - a reported litany of NCAA violations - including a brand new car, and treats him, according to all credible reports, preferentially.  When that player wanted to end the relationship, the head football coach - according to the athlete - exerted considerable emotional pressure on him, playing upon his dependency and weakness, leveraging their considerable imbalance in positional and personal authority.  Eventually, the player reported this abuse to UT officials. Over time, several other athletes under the coach complain about his personal viciousness, emotional abuse, favoritism, and pettiness. Some athletes report much more positive experiences, balancing out the view and rendering the story all-too-human.

After a decade, an incompetent, cowed UT administration finally acts to fire the football coach.

The white male football coach is a victim, was treated unfairly, and deserves our sympathies.  Right?

Next:

At a big national meet, a female track coach sleeps with a male student trainer, over whom she does not have scholarship control. The indiscretion is brief and there is no evidence that impropriety was used to secure the affair or harm the trainer later on (yes, there is a power imbalance here, no matter the reporting lines). No gifts or favors are exchanged that violate NCAA rules. No repercussions after the fact from the person in power to the lesser, save embarrassment for both. The coach is not fired, but is publicly humiliated, and continues on in their profession with a small slap on the wrist.

Would summary termination have been the only proper course here?

**

So what if Bev Kearney had a been a white male football coach?  A member of the Good Ol Boys club?

The imagined hypothetical certainly clarifies the case, but not in the way her camp anticipates.

For starters, she'd have little basis for a lawsuit and we wouldn't be talking about her.

Similarly, she'd be stripped of the governmentally protected status of her race and gender, much less the social sympathy of disability and sexual preference - the honey to the media flies and various advocacy groups - and left to contend with the simple reckoning of her own actions.  She'd have fewer people carrying water for her, too - whether for their understandable, but misguided, default sympathies to the Venn diagram of the historically mistreated; for the opportunity to create wind for the sails of their advocacy group; to attack UT in general; or to just grind some old Bellmont axes.

We'd be left be left to contend with a much more chaotic world bathed in grey, where villains don't always spring forth from Hollywood central casting and vague power structures, a world in which we're forced to contend with the perverse equality that marks all human beings: the possibility that everyone can behave deplorably in unchecked positions of power.

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