SportsPulse: We have our Sweet 16 and it's loaded. USA TODAY's Scott Gleeson gives each team a reason to feel they can win (or lose) it all.
I'm not sure what was worse that UC Irvine coach Russell Turner believed it was OK to be homophobic or break down women to accept an opponent or that he believed it was fun.
It wasn't any of those things.
Turner killed with Oregon's Louis King in the postgame handshake on Sunday night, after the ducks had beaten the theaters to reach Sweet 16. Then asked, Turner said he had tried to cheat the ducks second highest score by call him "queen". Encouraged his players to do so too.
"I said" double team queen "to try to see if I could annoy him. And I did. And I kept talking to my team about what we wanted to do," Turner said and smiled proudly. . "We called him Queen, because I knew it could annoy him."
That's right. A 48-year-old man who shows the entire maturity of an 8-year-old to try to get an edge.
UC Irvine should be so proud.
UC Irvine coach Russell Turner's tusk was wrong. (Photo: Kelley L Cox, USA TODAY Sports)
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Turner claimed that it was a sign of respect that he resembled the king's importance to Oregon for the queen of chess.
But that makes no sense. In the history of the trash, no one has ever used a chess analogy as an insult. Turner also tried to rattle King by complimenting him? So if Anteaters had played Duke this year, he would have beaten Zion Williamson by calling him "leading scorer" or "first round draft pick?"
No, Turner tried to get under the king's skin by questioning his sexuality or his masculinity. It really doesn't matter what it was; In Turner's point of view, being gay or being a woman is as inclined and worthy of ridicule.
UC Irvine temporary athletic instructor Paula Smith did not return a phone call Monday from the United States TODAY Sports. Oregon refused to comment on Sunday night and again Monday, but King's mother Ativea said on Monday that she and the King's father will turn Turner to publicly apologize for their son.
"It was in bad taste," Ativea King said.
It was more than that actually. Words, like the messages they send, and the informal homophobia and misogyny of Turner's barrels, continue to mean the marginalization of both gay and women. It's not only disappointing, it's dangerous.
When women or members of the LGBTQ community are discriminated against, harassed or worse, it does not happen in a vacuum. This is because they are considered "less than", not those that deserve equality or respect. It is OK to humiliate or attack them because they are not as important. Their lives – their health, their safety, their self-esteem – mean less.
This Turner, at his age and with his life experiences, thinks this way is appalling. That he is capable, as Anteater's head coach, to pass on his bigotry is unacceptable.
Studies have shown that we were not born with prejudices or pretensions. They are learned behaviors. And UC Irvine players are still impressive, teens and young men live for themselves for the first time and try to figure out what kind of adults they want to be.
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Perhaps they will embrace the values they learned from their parents or follow the example of a favorite teacher. Perhaps they will be influenced by the friends they make in school or the eyes opened by classmates of different sexes, races and sexual orientation.
But some players will hear Turner's bigoted comments or pick up his little mindedness and think it's okay. That they have the right to degrade and abuse others.
And what if there is someone in Turner's team who is gay? Imagine how unwanted and alone he would have felt, not just hearing Turner insult King, but also encouraging his other players to use the slur as well.
The king's stallion was not very effective when Oregon won and he had 16 points in five to 10 shots. But it makes it no less important to call Turner.
Ignorance and bigotry are never fun. They are never appropriate. Shame on Turner to believe they were.
Follow USA TODAY Sport Colonist Nancy Armor on Twitter @nrarmour.