Well, what’s the point? And that’s what Training Rules seeks to uncover. Yes, faggots. It is not just fun and games here in Ohio. Not normally a fan of the documentary form, I took it upon myself to give this one a look after a hard-hitting spin class got me all fired up and ready to go. This film clocks in at just over and hour and paints a fairly dismal portrait of women’s lives in sports, focusing on the story of Jen Harris, a hotshot college basketball player whose career was cut tragically short by the homophobia she encountered as a student-athlete at Penn State. We don’t get to hear a hell of a lot from Harris for legal reasons, but her parents contribute a great deal to the narrative and it’s pretty heartbreaking. Other testimonials are provided by ex-Penn players (the Gulas twins are particularly cute), the awesomely dykey softball coach Sue Rankin and a variety of other sports activists. I didn’t even know there was a National Center for Lesbian Rights!
The one glaring and most unfortunate absence is any comment from the coach in question, Rene Portland. – the woman who joylessly coined the 3 No’s. She’s apparently an icon at the college level and ultimately resigned her position at Penn after Harris’s case was settled and a slew of other ladies stepped forward to speak out. Since this shit went down, millions have been paid in reparations to scorned ex-players across the country, which makes this pic a rousing David versus Goliath tale, but there’s no court documenation and no real interviews with anyone taking Portland’s side. So there ain’t a hell of a lot of “dramatic tension.”
The big question for me: is ol’ Rene a closet case? Portland dismissed a ton of exceptionally talented women from her squad, perhaps even to the detriment of the team’s success. Then there’s the creepy-ass excerpts of her visiting the Vatican. And back in the day she looked like a foxy carpet-muncher, for whatever that’s worth. (The archival game footage is great … jocks of the fairer sex had the best haircuts in the seventies and eighties.) I don’t know about you, but I smell an embittered rat in Lady Speedstick.
Watch and decide for yourself.