Senior News Editor
“Sports are awesome,” said Andrew Pettit, sports camps and leagues coordinator of McMaster Athletics and Recreation.
Unfortunately, the nature of competitive sport is such that exclusionary comments and name-calling are commonplace.
Athletics and Recreation has taken an active stance against homophobia in the University’s athletic facilities through Positive Space Training, held at various times throughout the year in collaboration with QSCC (Queer Students Community Centre) and McMaster’s Human Rights and Equity Services.
Although exclusion of this sort is not common at McMaster, the importance of the issue has garnered substantial support. The initiative began two years ago, and has since seen consistently impressive turn out, noted Pettit.
The second Positive Space Training of the 2011/2012 academic term was held on Nov.15. Each session of training is led by members of the QSCC, and begins with an introduction to key terminology commonly used in a derogatory manner. The training outlines the “Name It, Claim It, Stop It” approach to homophobia
This approach encourages bystanders to identify the inappropriate comment, and be able to explain why it is wrong and take the necessary steps to prevent it from continuing.
Currently, Positive Space Training is not mandatory for any groups on campus.
“The hope is that people will want to take these kinds of steps against homophobia,” said Pettit, explaining that similar training is already required for certain groups.
However, considerations are underway for installing a mandate for Positive Space Training.
Inclusion in athletics extends beyond homophobia, noted Pettit.
“Sport is for everyone and no one should be excluded for being too skinny, or not pretty enough,” he said.
Among McMaster students, the gym can be a source of anxiety for some.
“I know that at Mac, I don’t have to worry about being judged, but I can’t help but feel a bit intimidated walking into the gym sometimes,” said Ankita Dubey, a fourth-year Psychology student.
“This is not simply about being gay or lesbian; it’s about supporting an end to discrimination,” said Amos Connolly, head coach of McMaster’s men’s basketball team.
“Collectively, we are able to make a strong endorsement towards acceptance rather than alienation, love rather than hate.”
To further express McMaster Athletics and Recreation’s support, the men’s basketball team joined the numerous other campus groups in participating the Pride Week Parade held throughout the McMaster Campus on Nov.16.