Finish that sentence.
Touching moment? Honest emotion?
Well, I'm thinking players on his team, most football players really, would see a grown man cry and finish that sentence with the same word McMackin was apologizing for. It's the language of the locker room.
College football has gone into the strangest of bizarro worlds the past few days, as McMackin spoke the language, unacceptable in the real world but part of the daily life of the sports world. Talking about last year's bowl blowout loss to Notre Dame, he called an Irish team dance a "f****t dance." And the dance since then has been a whacked-out one, as the sports world has seen, yet again, its stupid and offensive ways ooze out.
So McMackin apologized to Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis, and Weis accepted, sort of. But it was also a little odd because Notre Dame wasn't the real victim in this. And then the Western Athletic Conference commissioner threatened action, so Hawaii jumped in and suspended McMackin.
But there are practices. Lots of practices. And the suspension does cover those. Sort of. Not wanting to make the players suffer for their coach's mistake, Hawaii is allowing McMackin to volunteer during those practices. Huh? He is suspended from practices, but can still run practices?
A suspension that doesn't suspend him from anything.
See, the sports world has to act shocked about what McMackin said, even though it's exactly the way the sports world talks and acts. How confusing it must be for him to be punished, sort of, for this.
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Let me just say this, in case there are any doubts about what I'm saying:
What McMackin said was an outrage. Unacceptable anywhere. In public, in the locker room. Anywhere. And in this case, it was at a press conference discussing the upcoming season. Cameras. Notebooks. Scribbling pens. Microphones. And a coach, representing his university, who thinks a dance doesn't look manly. So he uses the universal word in locker rooms, dugouts, playgrounds.
See, the sports world has to act shocked about what McMackin said, even though it's exactly the way the sports world talks and acts.And don't think this is just about political correctness. It's not. This is about the stupid machismo culture of sport. In that culture, gays aren't seen as real men. Or treated as them, either.
The minute McMackin said it, he started backpedaling, asking reporters to cover for him, to leave out the word he had used. He immediately realized he had let a little of sports' pathetic private turf out into the real world. And the outrage over this, going all the way to Hawaii's governor, has been a little disingenuous.
The thing is, the man just signed a five-year $1.1 million a year contract exactly because he talks like this. It's the language athletes respect. You don't like the way a player is practicing? Alter his name a little to make it a girl's name. Don't think McMackin is alone, or even a dinosaur. He's a reflection. They talk about respect and code, but the code doesn't really allow for respect, does it?
I'm not sure how to change this culture, so deeply ingrained. Entrenched. Suspensions, fines. It never changes a thing.
Speaking of fines, McMackin won't be paid during his suspension, and in addition to that, he's taking a seven percent pay cut. That said, on Wednesday, a day before he jammed his foot, shins and knee into his mouth, McMackin told a Hawaiian newspaper that he would be willing to take a seven percent cut, as his boss did, to help the school out of its financial crisis.
Still, a month's pay is lost here. He also has to do some work with gay and lesbian groups. McMackin later acknowledged that he had offended gays. I wonder who told him.
"I just want to say that I made a big mistake," he said Friday. "I want to apologize to everyone and anyone that I offended with my remarks. I'm committed to do whatever I can to use this as a life lesson to learn from my mistake."
\Keep in mind this is a beginner's lesson, and he has been teaching our kids for years.
"I talked to Charlie at Notre Dame," McMackin said. "I wanted to apologize to him and his outstanding football team. I should have never brought Notre Dame's program up in my interview."
See, bringing up Notre Dame's dance, and his feelings about it, wasn't the problem. The problem is that he perpetuated a hurtful stereotype, and did it in public, while representing a university.
Weis said that McMackin "demonstrated poor judgment when, while making comments critical of our football program, he used a derogatory word." McMackin, Weis said, had called to apologize, and he accepted. But then, Weis, in his statement oddly went to this: "As a parent of a daughter with global developmental delays, I am especially sensitive to offensive characterizations like the one at issue here."
I cannot figure out why Weis got into his daughter. But I can only imagine the uncomfortable spot he was in, forced to accept an apology from something he shouldn't really have been in position to accept. Worse, he has to find outrage in the same locker room talk he has surely heard most every day of his professional life.
Well, in the real world, McMackin's statements only go to hurt his image. In his world, it's the apology that's going to hurt him.
After all, tough guys don't cry.