Another Off-Color Locker Room Tale

Steve Murray
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Wednesday - October 05, 2005
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Color seems to get people upset. It irritates them. Research has shown that color can also be relaxing. You wouldn’t know it. Colors was criticized for glamorizing gangs, Color Me Bad forced more than a few R&B fans into fits of rage, and to stand back from anyone discussing the new UH road uniforms. So it should come as no surprise, really, when an Iowa law professor got in a twist about the color of a locker room.

When Erin Buzuvis’ tour of the football facilities ended with a trip to the visitors’ locker rooms, all hell broke loose. Why? The place is painted pink. Actually, the official color is dusty rose. The shade is called Innocence. Not black and gold, the school’s colors, nor that off white or lime green that can be found in most one-bedroom apartments, but pink. The hue associated with little girls, stylish Barbie outfits and healthy salmon. A color scheme that demeans women and perpetuates offensive stereotypes about women and homosexuality, so sayeth Buzuvis. It’s also the color used for breast cancer awareness.

A bit of history: Former Iowa football coach Hayden Fry, trying to put his psychology degree to use, figured the light color would take the ferocious edge off their opponents. Have them holding hands, eating granola and singing Kumbaya before the game. It didn’t work. With the exception of former Michigan coach Bo Schembechler, who was so incensed he had the walls covered in butcher paper, everyone has considered the decor a joke. Some even used it as motivation to pummel the Hawkeyes. For the last 25 years, it has become a tradition.

Buzuvis believes the locker room violates NCAA policy. In her blog, always a conduit of rational thought, she said the color scheme is “a subtle way of painting the words ‘sissy,’ ‘girlie man,’ and ‘f*gg*t’ on the walls.”


So what does the baby blue color in the visiting locker room at Wisconsin’s Camp Randall Stadium say? Are the Badgers calling their opponents little boys - or members of the North Carolina basketball team? If the walls were blue, would that be problematic toward men? Green an irritant to the Irish?

Besides, I thought the rainbow was associated with homosexuality. Apparently this only applies to those wishing to get under the skin of the UH football team.

Without getting too graphic, this being a family publication after all, visiting athletes have an easy way to express how they feel about the decor. Not so for Buzuvis. Along with pink walls, carpet, sinks, benches and lockers are pink urinals. I think you follow.

In a serious note to the story, the professor reported receiving a large number of threatening e-mails, which the university is taking seriously. As it should. Regardless of her opinion, she has the right to express her beliefs in safety and without threats to her body and life. The Constitution allows each of us to fly off the handle on any meaningless topic we see fit to become enraged about.

But if Buzuvis wants to get offended by a locker room, her efforts would be better focused on the University of Oregon. The Ducks new changing room was built to the tune of $26,667 per locker - this according to College Planning and Management. That’s offensive. Much more than pink walls in Iowa, the playing of We Are The World before UH games at Aloha Stadium or Kenny G at Louisiana Tech.

Well, more offensive than pink walls anyway.

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