Hawaii Coach Asks Media Not to Cover His ‘Faggot’ Slur, Apologizes

Hawaii football coach Greg McMackin repeatedly used an anti-gay slur at a media preview on Thursday and then attempted to persuade the media to not report on it, the Idaho Statesman reports:

Mcmackin "Hawaii football coach Greg McMackin said Thursday at the WAC media football preview that Notre Dame did 'this little faggot dance' at a banquet the night before last year’s Hawaii Bowl.

McMackin used the term 'faggot' three times while explaining why Notre Dame was so fired up to play Hawaii in the game, which the Fighting Irish won 49-21.

McMackin responded to the Notre Dame clapping tradition by having his players do the ha’a, an intense Polynesian dance and chant the Warriors do before games.

McMackin said Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis got up at the banquet and told the crowd, 'We do something special at Notre Dame.' 'And they get up and they do this little cheer, like this,' McMackin said Thursday, doing a rhythmic clap. 'You know, this little faggot dance.'

Once McMackin saw Notre Dame’s team demonstration, he gave his players the signal — the shaka — to do their ha’a."

McMackin apparently pleaded with the press not to report on the slur: "I want to officially, officially apologize…Please don’t
write that statement I said as far as Notre Dame. The reason is, I
don’t care about Notre Dame. But I’m not a — I don’t want to come out
and have every homosexual ticked off at me. You know what I mean.
Because I don’t have any problem with homosexuals. But I apologize for
saying that and I’d appreciate it if you wouldn’t run that word. If you
said dance, that’s OK. But don’t use the bad term that I chose, please.
Thank you."

The paper adds:

"Once it was clear that McMackin’s comments would be reported, he made another statement to the media. 'I would sincerely like to apologize for the inappropriate verbage,
words that I used,' he said. '… I’m really ticked off at myself for
saying that. I don’t have any prejudices and it really makes me mad
that I even said that and I’m disappointed in myself. … What I was
trying to do was be funny and it’s not funny and even more it isn’t
funny to me. I was trying to make a joke and it was a bad choice of
words and I really — I really, really — feel bad about it and I wanted
to apologize. I’m going to apologize to my team. I’m going to apologize
to the people in Hawaii.' A Notre Dame spokesman said the school likely would not comment."

Comments

  1. Chan says

    He got carried away. His scrambling to retract and repair show me we’re getting somewhere. I hope people can accept his apology and move on…

  2. Kipp says

    Wow – that’s alot of seemingly sincere contrition from a college football coach. Guess you have to be a little sensitive when you look so much like gay Vito from the Sopranos…

  3. Fenrox says

    You know if you use a word like faggot and fully understand that some people will get mad or hurt if you say it, you are bigoted to a degree. There isn’t any way around it, clearly you are not committed to bigotry or hatred so why not just say that you have some prejudice? Say that you are working on it, say that it isn’t who you are and you have an open mind.

    Apologies don’t mean anything if they are not 100% free of deceit.

  4. gayalltheway says

    Apology accepted but the media should report it as it is.. first report that he used the f-word and then report that he later apologized for using such a derogatory word or as they like to call it nowadays, “poorly chosen word”. We demand the media to report the truth so there should be no exceptions.

  5. Willie says

    Folks I am gay — I slip and say things are “gay” and I have said “did you see that little faggot dance” about other things myself actually.

    Being holier than thou about such things is not the way to go.

    The way to go is to accept his apology and have a discussion with him.

    I am sure his employer will at this point.

    Straight Supremacy is always going to be with us as long as religions teach hatred toward gay people … and people will continue to use the word gay and faggot because honestly they are not as bad as the N word and how it was used.

    Sorry … true.

  6. Tay says

    If he would have said the “N” word, he would most likely be out of a job at this moment regardless of apology, and the backlash would be immense. However, since he only used the “F” word to degrade homosexuals, it’s okay…since he said ‘sorry’. Talk about double standard.

  7. Curtis Atkisson says

    I suggest that everyone contact the President’s office at david.mcclain@hawaii.edu and
    mcclain@hawaii.edu.

    Imagine the pain that gay football players are forced through each day on his team and on his field. Imagine the amount of abuse and ridicule he allows to take place within his team — the amount he himself perpetuates. If someone is willing to say something like this to the media, then you know that they use things like this in everyone day conversation to ‘make jokes’. Please contact the President and tell him that this behavior will not be tolerated. M.R.C. Greenwood becomes the new President on the 1st of August. Please contact both of their offices, even though you won’t be able to get to President Greenwood until then.

  8. Bosie says

    I guess I can forgive him….isn’t that the point???? He made a mistake and then apologize right away….right?

    Now…can we move to health care reform???

  9. Wes says

    “… and people will continue to use the word gay and faggot because honestly they are not as bad as the N word and how it was used.”

    I dunno, they still seem pretty bad when they’re being screamed at me while I’m getting harrassed by a bunch of homophobes.

  10. JimmyD says

    It sounds like it just slipped out… just like words slip out of everyone every now and then. Nobody reading this site has ever let the wrong word slip out? Really? Never?
    It seems like this coach may really be sorry. He’s not denying anything. It’s not like he flung it as a hate word, ya know, like some blogging faggot we all know of did recently.

    He made a mistake. Again: Anyone here ever fuck up? How many readers have fucked up and then tried to deny it or turn it around to make it sound like it wasn’t their fault. That it was justified? Never apologized?

    I say forgive him. It came out, and regardless of his reason, he apologized without being forced to.

  11. CJS says

    Yeah, he screwed up. And yeah, he probably says things like that when the media isn’t around. But I think his apology was one of the better ones. It wasn’t “I’m sorry if I offended anyone” which implies that we’re overly sensitive, and there’s nothing inherently wrong with his comments. Even better was the fact that he thought Notre Dame wasn’t the party that deserved the apology. He was very forthright about what was wrong with his comments, and that’s kind of rare in these cases. I say cut him some slack; he’s already shown he thought twice about it after said it. My guess is next time he’ll think twice before he does.

  12. Clay says

    If Coach McMackin has no problem with gays, and if this was just a poor choice of vulgarity, why did he has the U of Hawaii to change the team name to “Warriors” from “Rainbow Warriors” when he took over? The Rainbow Warrior is a sacred figure in native Hawaiian tradition, with no gay connotation, but I guess that was still too close for his comfort.

  13. Curtis Atkisson says

    While I appreciate the immediate apology, think of the ridicule his players must suffer. Please find the text of the e-mail I sent to the President, followed by the text that I sent to the Coach. I would hope that everyone could take the time to copy and paste this text into an e-mail. The Coach’s address is: mcmackin@hawaii.edu.

    Dear President,

    I am deeply disappointed at the recent of contact of the head football coach Greg McMackin. The words that he used are derogatory in any context and should be punished to the greatest extent possible. Imagine the pain that each and every one of his gay football players feels every day at the hands of Coach McMackin. Imagine the taunting that is tolerated, the abuse and ridicule that is allowed — or even perpetuated, as shown recently — by Coach McMackin. Derogatory comments are derogatory in any context, and they are never ‘joke’ material. If a person is willing to say this to a crowded room full of media, imagine the conduct of this coach behind doors. I know that your tenure effectively ends on Saturday, but this matter is of such extreme importance that it should be dealt with harshly and swiftly. I will also be notifying President Greenwood of my concerns. I look forward to a swift response to the disgusting behavior of Coach McMackin.

    Curtis Atkisson

    Coach McMackin,

    I am deeply disappointed and disgusted in your recent conduct. Using derogatory comments such as that should never be allowed — let alone encouraged. Comments such as that are never ‘joke’ material, and it is offensive to think that they could ever be construed as such. I can only imagine that some willing to use language such as this in a room full of people — not to mention the media — is more than happy to use it in normal conversation with players and on the practice field. Imagine the pain and sufferring that you cause to each of your gay football players when you utilize language like this. Please consider the impact you have on their lives when you consider using words like this. Excellent athletes have committed suicide in the past due to the abuse sufferred at the hands of, and tolerated by, their coach. Please do not allow a situation like that to arise at Hawai’i. I would hope you can rise to your station. Please find the text of the e-mail that I sent to President McClain below. I will also be sending this to President Greenwood at the beginning of next week.

    (From above)

    I hope for the swiftest of responses and the strongest of apologies that consists of demonstrable actions, not just words. Please enjoy the rest of your day.

    Curtis Atkisson

    The subject line was ‘Your recent conduct’.

    Please take 25 seconds out of your day to communicate how behavior such as this must not be tolerated!

  14. Dan E says

    He apologized immediately, made no excuses, and it was a real apology, not a “I’m sorry if I offended anyone” non-apology. So yea, I’m cool with that. I think he’s learned from his mistake.

  15. JimmyD says

    Curtis: Should we write letters such as you suggest every time somebody fucks up? Seriously? I hear things just as bad in gay bars. I hear faggots being racists and ageist all the time. Without apologies. Words flung with the intent to hurt. Nasty queens who use words, againt their own, because they can fling them from across the room and then run.
    The coach got too excited and MADE A FUCKING MISTAKE… realized it and promptly apologized. He sounds like a man who may actually care. He might even have standards that he holds himself to.
    On the other hand… I suppose the Tom Cruise method will be next. Why don’t you suggest the coach be SUED. Maybe if he were executed you’d be happy?
    I am being extreme? Maybe. I certainly think you’re being extreme.

  16. Strepsi says

    Well I kind of love this. Because it means that — even though these people are homophobic, they are starting to learn slowly that it is not ok to say anti-gay slurs in public. Even if they are only holding back for their own sakes and not out of compassion, and even though they will grumble about political correctness and be mad, the fact is that it is becoming NOT OK. I give a lot of credit to the blogosphere for creating little shitstorms when necessary. It reminds me of when I was younger and people would complain, “Ya can’t even say jigaboo in public anymore!” No, asshole, no, you can’t.

  17. Dan says

    I kinda forgive him. At least he recognized immediately that he screwed up. The apology was profuse and emphatic.
    Is he homophobic? Well, what football coach isn’t? But at least they are learning they can’t say it in public without getting in trouble.

  18. David says

    It’s great that he caught himself, in a sense. But it’s awful that it happened in the first place. Why would such a word even come out of his mouth…three times? **Probably because he is used to using it.** And, the truth is, if he used the “n” word (even one time, much less three), he’d get fired; if he’s not fired for this incident, why not?

    Curtis A. – I like your letter(s). Completely appropriate and well-written.

  19. Gregus says

    It beats the usual…”I’m sorry if YOU were offended” line, which basically translates to “you’re a moron for being upset, and I’m sorry that you’re a moron”

    At least this was a little more straight-forward. Basic apology accepted.

  20. JimmyD says

    JohnInManhattan: Oh no… my homophobia is not internalized. I wear it on my sleeve… when I need to. I live in the Castro and every day I see the same hate being dished out to gays by gays that all gays say is wrong. I see young gays treating old gays poorly. I see white gays being shit to black gays who in turn and shit to Asian gays. Maybe it’s not THAT severe but I do see it frequently. I’ve heard white gays call black gays the ‘N’ word. The nastiness between some gay men and lesbians. Man Haters. Woman Hates. I’ve heard gays seethe the word ‘breeders’ to a harmless straight couple. Without apology. Some gays think that hate crimes don’t exist within the so-called ‘Gay Community.’ BLIND!
    I’ve used inappropriate words.
    I’d just like to think that the people who think this coach should be PUNISHED, after he did the right thing, have never, EVER done anything similar. If they say they haven’t, they’re lying.
    EVERYBODY is guilty of this at some point. How many actually apologize? My guess is very few.

  21. Curtis Atkisson says

    RE JimmyD: Sending a well-worded, well-reasoned letter is extreme? The reasoning that someone in such a habit of using a word uses it in situations in which is should not be used is sound. I don’t like cursing around my parents when I visit them, but it is sometimes hard to stop because I use those words frequently.

    I think that a perfectly acceptable apology would be to invite members of the press into a practice to show that words similar to that are not used on a frequent basis against or in front the students entrusted to his care. These are students that have been put in his care in every way that they are put in a teacher’s care — perhaps more. They will learn from, and internalize, what he says.

    As for the argument that ‘we all do this, so we must forgive others that do’, this seems like a take on an ad populum argument (a logical fallacy). Instead of accepting these things in ourselves, and I admit that I say things I would rather not say also, we should constantly strive to do better. And we should push others to do better also. We should never accept something because everyone does. That is the whole point of changing perceptions — they should be changed. I catch myself when I slip up and push myself to do better. Others should push him also.

    Please, take 25 seconds to send a well worded and well reasoned letter to the President of the University and the Coach himself.

  22. JimmyD says

    Curtis: I can understand a letter campaign IF the person didn’t apologize. In this case? I think he’s done all he needs to do. If it happens again? That’s a different story.
    Recently: Sarah Palin attacked David Letterman regarding a joke that went wrong. He didn’t need to apologize but he did. That wasn’t good enough for good Christian Palin. She made demands. Wanted a protest.
    When is an apology not to be accepted?
    If it’s insincere or forced. I don’t see either coming from this coach.

  23. says

    So if a white cop (I think we all presume McMackin is straight) discussing a criminal he had an interaction with “accidently” lets “Nigger” slip from his lips, and apologizes, that’s okay? “He’s not a racist, he just got excited.” I can see Dick Cheney using that excuse.

    If those thoughts weren’t running through his mind, those words would never have passed his lips.

  24. says

    Yeah, JimmyD…..words just slip out, sometimes; nigger, kike, wop, jungle bunny….sometimes just can’t help it….as long as they apologize, afterwards, I guess it’s just a meaningless slip of the tongue…

  25. Darrien says

    I’m inclined to give the guy a pass. He said somethign wrong and he recognised it and his apology isn’t one of those streamlined PR jobs – he realised he’d offended people and he wanted to say sorry. Yeah, there was homophobic content in what he said, but from his apology I don’t get the feeling that he’s a bigot. The reason for the apology might have been because of his professional position, but because of the ‘pleading’ unrehearsed aspect of it, I don’t get the impression that he’d like to be thought of like that personally.

  26. scott says

    I totally agree with others…if he had used the “N” word three times he wouldn’t have a job today…I’ve lived in Hawaii and attended UH…he’s just the tip of the iceberg…there wasn’t a day go by that the term “mahoo” wasn’t slung around…sorry if I misspelled it….but nothing will be done about this because we (the gay community) worry more about what we are wearing to the bar or to the gym than we do in making people understand it’s not OK to degrade us…it’s sad…..

  27. GregV says

    JimmyD,
    I have to wonder what circles you are in or where you hang out to see the things you describe seeing “every day.” I’ve met thousands of gay people from coast to coast and I have never met a gay man who said anything to suggest he hated women or used a racist word to describe blacks. If I ever did meet such a person, I’d probably tell him I’m offended and wouldn’t waste another minute on him after that.
    I’ve even visited San Francisco several times and saw a lot of social harmony at least in the places I chose to go.

  28. James says

    @ Scott

    Gays degrade each other and sometimes even themselves.What do you expect?As I said b4,we really should be cleaning our own backyard in this alleged “gay community” b4 we go off crying foul to heteros 24/7.

  29. bobbyjoe says

    Slipped out?

    Geez, if I ever let anything like the n-word or (the anti-Semitic) k-word or anything else of the sort “slip out,” particularly three times, for cryin’ out loud, I’d expect to be immediately fired on the spot, apology or not. And I’d sure as heck deserve to be. ’cause the thing is, those words aren’t gonna “slip out” in public unless I’m going around thinking or saying them in private. And any business worth its salt is likely to recognize that, and, really, do you want a great big old bigot representing you in, well, anything?

    So, yeah, he’s sorry he said it… to the PRESS.

    Would he be sorry if he says it (and keeps saying it) to his friends, neighbors, and players? You know, when there’s not a mic or camera around to catch him? Or is this okay? I mean, if we don’t hear it from now on, what possible damage could it do, right?

    So, what IS the “teachable moment” in this instance? Not to have this kind of bigoted mindset and not to say these things at all, or just not to say them when there’s a news organization around to catch you?

  30. James says

    @ Greg

    Trust me there are a good number of racist white queens and woman-hating gay men out there.They may not act out much in public,but they do exist.Some even right here on towleroad.Open your eyes and ears…G

  31. Paul R says

    Someone try to find a better apology from a middle-aged football coach. You won’t find one. Maybe he was trying to cover up his use of the word to cover his ass, but maybe he was genuinely chagrined at his poor choice of words. Everyone says things they regret.

    And GregV, if you’ve “never met a gay man who said anything to suggest he hated women or used a racist word to describe blacks,” you might want to get your hearing checked. Misogyny and racism are far too common among a certain type of gay men (usually white).

  32. DELIUS says

    He’s clearly got some homophobia issues, but I can accept that apology. I don’t want to hang out with someone like that any time soon, but I’m willing to cross him off my enemies list.

  33. Yeek says

    I don’t insist that any individual respect me or genuinely feel sorry after using an epithet.

    However, I do insist that individuals FAKE IT. And in turn, I agree to fake respect for them and regret for hurting their feelings as well.

    McMackin meets the standard. Who cares what he actually “feels?” He backed down, he apologized. There’s not much more we can really ask for.

  34. JMDRWAC says

    Clay, FYI, they changed the nickname before this guy became the head coach. Not his doing.

    We constantly ask people to learn from mistakes and stop acting in harmful ways. Maybe this man is doing exactly that. I too like the tone of the apology. I think we should shake hands and ask him to wear a grass skirt to the next game.

  35. Curtis Atkisson says

    I don’t really know the backgrounds of all you ‘passers’ come from, but I wonder if you have ever lived in an atmosphere of homophobia before. Not only the blatant homophobia, but the sleight backhanded homophobia. The type of homophobia where people tell their favorite gay joke because it is funny and ‘not because they are homophobic’. The type of homophobia where people use words like faggot to make others angry, but would never dream of calling that to an actual gay person. The type of homophobia where people know that the hairstylist, the interior designer and the boutique owner are gay. Environments like these can be as bad as having a bullet shot through a window.

    Listen: All I ask is that we continually hold people up to a higher standard in reference to situations like this until it can never happen. We hold each other up to higher standards when we are encountered with these, and other derogatory, statements. That we demand more from ourselves than we do now, and, after we achieve that, demand more. The only way to prevent something like this is to demand it get changed. I’m not asking for an apology statement of words. I’m asking for an apology statement of action. It is not enough to say sorry for saying it in front of the press. At the least, the coach could make it a team policy that these words carry punishment with them. This would be an excellent way to show true remorse.

    Oh, and by the way, anyone who says that we should tolerate homophobia just because he is a football coach, or because he is anything, is begging to live in a world where people never change. People should never get passes to be homophobic or derogatory at all — and that includes us.

  36. says

    Listen to the audio if you think he is sincere in his apology.

    Dude should be fired. Not because he said “faggot” but because he tried to cover it up. Second time he’s fucked up at a presser and asked the press to cover for him. Last time they mostly did.

    Guy can’t be trusted, shows no honor. Not able to effectively manage or discipline players as a result.

    On a different note, does anyone else have the same reaction as I do to the word “breeder”? I have honestly only ever heard it used in obviously false narratives like the one JIMMYD serves up about what a cesspit of bigotry the Castro is. I’ve only heard racist comments in the Castro on the movie screen or when they came out of the mouth of a guy I saw dating on our last date.
    I’m not saying there aren’t racist things said in the Castro daily, but Jimmy needs to do a better job of picking his friends. There sure as fuck is no shortage of non-racist gays in the Castro. Jesus.

  37. candideinnc says

    I accept the apology. At the same time, I wonder if there isn’t the possibility the man realized, after making the slur, that this would affect his job, and rushed to protect his career rather than rushed to apologize. Lots of institutions of higher learning seriously frown on all kinds of bigotry.

    Nonetheless, the man seemed sincere, so let it go.

  38. Curtis Atkisson says

    I was unwilling to let it go, and I think that it might have an impact. I e-mailed the President of the UH system yesterday and received a response this morning. The response is below:

    Mr. Atkisson,

    As I have said to the media (see http://www.kitv.com/video/20231155/index.html), I am angered and disappointed by the statement attributed to Coach McMackin. It certainly does not represent the values of the University of Hawaii.

    The coach of the football team of the University of Hawaii at Manoa — one of the 10 campuses of the University of Hawaii system — reports to UH Manoa Athletics Director Jim Donovan. Donovan in turn reports directly to the leader of the UH Manoa campus, Chancellor Virginia Hinshaw; both are copied on this reply. They will have direct responsibility for handling this matter going forward.

    Tomorrow marks the end of my five years of service as the University of Hawaii President. Vice President Linda Johnsrud will be Acting President until M.R.C. Greenwood arrives in Hawaii on August 20. I am also copying VP Johnsrud on this reply.

    David McClain
    President
    University of Hawaii System

    As you can see, the President of the entire system responded to my letter — which means that my letter was taken seriously. The President has now sent letters to the soon to be Acting President, the Chancellor of the campus and the Athletic Director.

    Little things like this can make an impact. Imagine if all of you ‘passers’ had e-mailed also. Think about the potential difference in the magnitude of the response. It only took me 2 minutes to write the e-mail. It would have only taken you 25 seconds to copy, paste and send the e-mail. Would that really have been too much?

  39. David says

    I agree with Curtis 100%. Apologies are better than not; but the language shouldn’t slip out — three times — in the first place, and there need to consequences for that. Yet again, what if it were the “n” word?

  40. says

    The coach’s statement deserves a serious response. Previous commenters are correct that someone who uses that word at a press conference three times is more than likely using it much more often on the practice field. His behavior wasn’t just reprehensible from a prejudice standpoint, it also demonstrates shockingly bad judgement. This was a press conference for God’s sake… he was at WORK… even football coaches need to remember to be professional.

    That said, I do think that his apology was sincere enough… so I’m going to save my apoplectic freakout for another day. I do find it encouraging that when this man realized his blunder, he rushed to apologize and try to mitigate what he knew would be a shitstorm of well-deserved criticism. We’re clearly reducing the social acceptance of homophobic slurs… bit by bit, one bitchy email at a time. Keep it up.

  41. Dave in Chicago says

    Okay, here’s what’s really disturbing to me, above and beyond the fact that he made these comments in the first place. If you listen to the full audio posted by the Idaho Statesman (http://media.idahostatesman.com/smedia/2009/07/30/12/0730_audio_mcmackin.source.prod_affiliate.36.mp3), you’ll hear that every time the coach uses the word “faggot,” there are these bursts of delighted laughter from other people in the room. That’s right, not disapproving silence, but laughter — a significant portion of his audience was loving it, egging him on. They thought he was brilliant for using that word — just listen. So, the problem here goes beyond just the coach. He knew his audience and was performing for them. I don’t know exactly how many people in the room were laughing, and how many weren’t, but it’s really awful to listen to him being rewarded in the moment for doing it.

  42. Harris of Hollywood says

    I think people have to understand that we’re transitioning from a place where words like “fag, faggot, fairy, fruitcake” were accepted words used by guys to put down other guys. It went from “Fag” to really meaning “wimp, weak, girlie, etc.” I think when most people say it, especially people as old as the coach, that they mean it in that way, and not “you are a homosexual.”

    He realized his mistake, he apologized, and it seems sincere. Moving on.

  43. Jon Brian Blake says

    His apology was sincere because he makes more than the Governor of Hawaii and doesn’t want to lose his million dollar job.

    The word just slipped out? Three times? It sounds like he’s pretty comfortable with the word. I can’t say the “N” word once let alone three times….

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