University of Iowa professor plans to dress up like a robot to protest the football team’s pink visitors’ locker room


Professor Kembrew McLeod holds up a sign for his “Million Robot March.” (Ryan J. Foley/AP)

University of Iowa professor Kembrew McLeod has a bone to pick with the color scheme of the Hawkeyes’ visitors’ locker room at Kinnick Stadium. He wants the university to ditch what he thinks is a sexist and homophobic Pepto-Bismol pink paint job that’s existed in the Iowa’s visiting locker room since 1979. But he wants to do it while dressed like a robot.


The locker room in question. (AP/The Des Moines Register)

Per the Associated Press:

McLeod, a communications studies professor, hopes his absurd approach will draw attention to the issue. He said people dressed as robots will meet on top of a hotel parking garage, and then march through FryFest, an annual event that draws up to 20,000 Hawkeye fans. They plan to hold signs and chant slogans such as, “Binary code yes! Gender binaries no!” and “Delete the pink locker rooms!”

The timing of his “Million Robot March,” as he’s calling it, is set to coincide with FryFest, the annual celebration of legendary Iowa football coach Hayden Fry, who chose the pink color in 1979. At the time, he noted its calming effect and said he hoped the subdued color would make Iowa’s opponents less aggressive on the field. Of course, it also being the late ’70s and early ’80s, Fry said in his biography that the color was for little girls’ bedrooms and sissies, the AP writes, which is why McLeod sees the color as a problem.


Even the urinals are pink! (AP/The Des Moines Register)

McLeod’s efforts will probably not “delete the pink,” but the 43-year-old professor doesn’t seem to necessarily care as long as he can draw attention to the issue while entertaining people at the same time.

“Ten to 30 robots marching along with human allies is a visual spectacle that I think will travel far and wide,” McLeod told the AP. “It’s a serious issue, but we want to demonstrate that we are not humorless, politically correct downers.”

Organizers of FryFest aren’t sure they see the humor, though. More importantly, they’re not sure Fry fans will.

“I’ve made sure the police are aware of this,” Josh Schamberger, the president of the area convention and visitors’ bureau, told the AP. “I don’t need Hayden Fry fans who have been there having fun, having some beers, getting in some sort of altercation with Kembrew’s group.”

Judging from this tweet, things are bound to go well.

Marissa Payne writes for The Early Lead, a fast-breaking sports blog, where she focuses on what she calls the “cultural anthropological” side of sports, aka “mostly the fun stuff.” She is also an avid WWE fan.

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Marissa Payne · August 29, 2014

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