THE COACH'S WIFE
By Art Chansky, Tuesday, April 8, 1997, 12:30 p.m.
If you want another reason why Dean Smith is not your typical
college basketball coach, check out his wife's web page on the Internet.
Its address is www.talkintrash.com.
Dr. Linnea Smith has been an activist against child and women's
pornography for more than 10 years, waging campaigns against national
magazines such as Playboy and Sports Illustrated. Her web page is another
medium in her fight against what she believes is the demeaning depiction
of women in our society.
This is not a popular stand to take, especially when you are
married to the most prominent coach in college basketball. But her
husband is as supportive of her causes as he is of his own, which include
banning advertising of alcoholic beverages at (and during broadcasts of)
"Certainly I agree with everything she's saying," Smith was
quoted several years ago. "She's a caring person and very bright. She
made a presentation to our national coaches' association in 1986 about
the preseason Playboy spread. Immediately, John Thompson said he wasn't
going. Then Bob Knight pulled out. They didn't do it because they like
her. They did it because she was right."
Coach Smith referred to Dr. Smith's all out war with Playboy over
articles, pictures and cartoons that, she says, portray women "not as
human beings, but body parts to be bought, rated and leered at." She
asked college football and basketball coaches to boycott Playboy's
preseason All-American teams, whose honorees are invited to a gala
weekend in Miami where, among other things, they are photographed
for the section spread in the magazine.
Her latest target is Sports Illustrated for its annual swimsuit
issue that has been among the most controversial special editions in the
history of publishing. SI annually loses hundreds of subscribers after
the swimsuit issue comes out, but its newsstand sales that week are by
far the biggest of the year.
Dr. Smith claims that "less than 10 percent" of the content
typical Sports Illustrated is devoted to coverage of women's sports, yet
the magazine has now made the swimsuit issue a "stand alone" of 250 pages
(up from 200 last year) with photos of the models "inspired by
pornography. Mimicking the photo layouts in magazines like Playboy,
Penthouse and Hustler, the Sports Illustrated swim suit issue presents
women as ineffectual and submissive sex objects to gawk at."
Among Dr. Smith's tactics are to publicize the list of
advertisers in the current swim suit issue and invite people to write and
call them with their objections. She also asks readers to boycott other
Time Warner magazines, such as Time, People, Entertainment Weekly, Money,
Fortune and Southern Living.
Click another highlighted reference on www.talkintrash.com, and
you can find Dr. Smith's letter of objection to Sports Illustrated in its
entirety, along with responses to her activism from prominent journalists
like Bill Rhoden of The New York Times to citizens across the country. It
makes for an interesting point of view, even if you read the swim suit
For Dr. Smith, a psychiatrist by trade, this has been risky
business for more than a decade. To some, she is a fanatic, to others a
kook. And, unfortunately, some rival recruiters have dragged her into the
gutter of street talk for their own purposes. A few years ago, she
seriously considered giving up the fight because of the possibility that
it could hurt her husband's program and school.
"Don't go to Carolina," was the anti-recruiting rap, "because
Dean Smith's wife won't let the basketball players have sex."
She went on, however, figuring the few unfortunate souls who
would believe such drivel are not as important as the millions she is
trying to reach with her message. If you care to take a look, it's
(Art Chansky is author of The Dean's List, the best-selling
from Warner Books.)
go to Art Chansky's Sport's Column
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