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Iowa's pink locker room protested
Thursday, August 28, 2014 4:55 PM
OWA CITY, Iowa -- A University of Iowa professor who donned a robot costume to heckle Bill Clinton and Michele Bachmann has now set his sights on one of his school's famous quirks: the visiting team's pink locker room at Kinnick Stadium.
Kembrew McLeod is organizing what he jokingly calls a "Million Robot March" to coincide with an annual celebration Friday honoring legendary Iowa football coach Hayden Fry, who had the opposing team's locker room painted pink in 1979. McLeod wants the school to ditch the pink, which he says amounts to a school-sanctioned taunt that exudes homophobia and sexism.
Fry has said pink is a calming color meant to make Hawkeyes' opponents passive. But he also noted in his biography that it was the color of little girls' bedrooms and some considered it for sissies. The tactic has rattled some opposing coaches, with the late University of Michigan coach Bo Schembechler having student managers put white paper over the walls.
The paint became part of Hawkeye lore. A 2005 renovation added pink across brick walls and shower floors and installed pink metal lockers, carpeting, sinks, showers and urinals.
Many opposing players have shrugged off the color, with Michigan quarterback Devin Gardnerrecently calling it the best locker room in the conference because of its spaciousness.
Some feminists, lawyers, gay rights activists and editorial boards have criticized the gimmick over the past decade. But previous protests, including a longstanding threat of a discrimination lawsuit, haven't changed anything.
Ohio St.'s actions are not unlike their lower intestine: stinky and loaded with danger.