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Coach Jim Harbaugh: I did not say 'faggot'
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Coach Jim Harbaugh: I did not say 'faggot'

by Shaun Knittel - SGN Staff Writer

Stanford Cardinal Football Coach Jim Harbaugh denies he used the word 'faggot' while yelling at officials during the November 28 Notre Dame-Stanford game. In a statement to Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), one of the nation's leading LGBT advocacy organizations, Harbaugh said:

"It did not come out of my mouth. It would not come out of my mouth. It's not in my heart to ever say that."

Allegedly, Harbaugh yelled some choice words at game officials during the college football game - a contest that Harbaugh's team, the Cardinals, won 45 to 38. After a quarterback scramble gave the Cardinals a first down, the referees called a holding penalty, negating the play. That call set Harbaugh off on the following rant: "That's bullshit! Asshole! Fucking asshole faggot!"

In sports, without a doubt, there is a long and documented tradition of vulgar, profanity-laced rants against game officials who make calls a coach does not agree with. Most of these rants are immortalized in "best-of" videos where coaches are ejected from a game after screaming at an official or throwing and kicking things.

Unfortunately, there is also a long tradition of rampant homophobia that explains why Gay athletes in sports like football tend to stay in the closet.

The controversy started when Chris Finley made and then e-mailed a YouTube link alleging that Harbaugh yelled the homophobic slur at an official following the holding call. The problem, though, is that the audio is muted and Finley laid over some text of what he guesses Harbaugh is saying.

In other words, there is no audible proof that Harbaugh said such words.

Harbaugh told GLAAD that he did curse, but denies using an anti-Gay slur. Still, Harbaugh is bothered by the character assassination attempt in a sport that has been rocked by anti-Gay rhetoric all year.

In late September, Hawaii college football coach Greg McMackin was suspended for 30 days without pay and was fined $169,000 for making anti-Gay derogatory comments while describing Notre Dame's chant before last year's Hawaii Bowl.

Then, in early November, the Kansas City Chiefs fired National Football League running back Larry Johnson after he called the team's head coach and various members of the media an anti-Gay slur.

As for Harbaugh, the simple truth remains that without audio, it is impossible to know what he said. In any case, it should go without saying that football coaches and players alike ought not to engage in anti-Gay name-calling if they want to keep their jobs and reputations intact.

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