Ever yell at someone on the phone or troll them online, only to meet them in person and discover that they’ve got 15 years and 30 pounds on you and held the New York Metro Golden Gloves title three years running?
I think that’s probably how University of Massachusetts Amherst is feeling this week.
The athletic department at the public university in western Massachusetts held its first annual “Pride Day” Saturday, when it faced off against the Liberty University Flames — and was summarily crushed by them.
The taxpayer-funded state school had spent three weeks trolling the evangelical Christian school in Lynchburg, Virginia, because Liberty’s conservative, biblical values differ from theirs — and if there’s anything liberals hate more than biblical values, it’s dissent.
Congratulations to @UMassFootball for beating Stony Brook 20-3 in their home opener! Not only did they win, but they didn’t give up a touchdown, something the team hasn’t done since 2008! GO UMASS! pic.twitter.com/xMkBGehZiU
— UMass Amherst (@UMassAmherst) September 17, 2022
UMass Amherst told The Boston Globe that the timing of “Pride Day” falling on the weekend when they would host the Christian school’s team was merely coincidental.
That was apparently a lie.
The Daily Hampshire Gazette of Northhampton, Massachusetts — about 15 minutes from the UMass campus — reported that the director of the state university’s Stonewall Center said the timing was very intentional.
(The Stonewall Center, according to its website, is “A Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer, Intersex, and Asexual (LGBTQIA+) Resource Center.” At least they spelled out all the words, because I would have had a hard time guessing what all the letters in “LGBTQIA+” stood for.)
“This is the first one and it’s not coincidental that they chose to make the first one, the game against Liberty, right, a very hostile school when it comes to LGBT students and, really, many students who have various marginalized minoritized identities,” Stonewall Center director Genny Beemyn said. “I think athletics being really supportive of the LGBTQ+ community wanted to send a different message than what Liberty sends, so it was sort of fortuitous timing that we wanted to do a Pride Day event, and they had this game on the schedule.”
I would think that the athletic department would have preferred a different message. Maybe something like, “We win football games.” Apparently not.
In fact, I’d prefer that a taxpayer-funded institution like UMass Amherst (where, by the way, I almost certainly would have gone to college had I not joined the Army first) would be more neutral in its messaging overall. People of good conscience disagree on issues regarding the morality of human sexuality; this is no place for the government to take one side over another.
At the very least, they could avoid open hostility. I don’t think that’s too much to ask.
UMass, which says it receives about 35 percent of its funding from state appropriations, obviously disagrees.
“It just really sends a signal that this very traditionally anti-gay anti-bisexual environment, that we are really sending a different message out to people,” Beemyn said. “I think that’s really pretty powerful given that that history of the sport and and [sic] of men’s sports in general in this country.”
Is it powerful, though? I think winning the game might have been more powerful.
I don’t know whether UMass Amherst feels it successfully got its message of “Pride” in sexual sin out to the general public with its Saturday event.
One message it certainly did get out, however, was that its football program stinks. Liberty crushed them, 42-24, and UMass dropped to a 1-5 record, putting them dead last in the seven-team FBS Independents standings.
I guess it’s good that they had pride in something; they certainly can’t have any in their on-field performance against those hate-filled Christians from south of the Mason-Dixon line.
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