After a coach’s wife was caught on camera, the video lit up social media with her actions sparking a huge debate. Is it white privilege, sexual harassment, or just a game day tradition? One player’s mom has been very vocal with her opinion.
Megan Mullen, the wife of a University of Florida team’s head coach, has a controversial game day tradition that’s raised a few eyebrows after a video of it hit social media. Megan, better known by her husband’s team as “Mama M” or “Momma Mullen,” is known for kissing the players on game day. But, some people have accused her of using her white privilege to sexually harass the team.
As players exit the bus, Mullen looks the young men in the eye, holds their gaze, and offers a few words of encouragement. Then, Mama M kisses them on the cheek, offering the guys a warm embrace and often getting a big hug back. According to the team, it’s a game day tradition. “Every time we get off the bus, she always ready to give us a hug, kiss on the cheek,” one smiling player explained.
Mullen has also been known to leave little notes by the players’ lockers. “I love my ‘BOO’tiful Gators! Scare the hell out of Mizzou. Love you, Mama M,” one such note read. Although the players don’t seem to mind the attention, some social media users and celebrities are calling it gross and disrespectful after the video of Mullen kissing the young men hit social media.
“I think a high five is cool. I’m going to say, ‘No Bueno,’ on the hugs and kisses,” Tamron Hall, a television talk show host, said during a segment of her show, scrutinizing Megan Mullen’s actions. Hall wasn’t alone in her criticisms, either. Sports blogger Carron Phillips accused the coach’s wife of “sexually harassing” the football team and even made it a race issue. But, first, watch and see if you think this is sexual harassment or a harmless game day tradition:
“If this was a man doing it this, this would be on CNN, this would be on MSNBC, ABC News,” Sports blogger Carron Phillips told Inside Edition. “If we wouldn’t allow something to happen for one gender why would we let it happen to the other?” he asked. He even took his criticisms a step further, referring to Mullen’s actions as “peak white woman privilege” on Twitter as he promoted his article, blasting the woman’s actions.
“If a black woman was kissing an almost all-white football team of college-aged young men on the lips or cheek before each game, it would be a national story,” Phillips wrote in his hit piece, further bringing race into the equation. “The video clip is the definition of white female privilege,” he added. There’s one detail all of Megan Mullen’s critics seem to be missing, however.
“She is off to the side, she is not kissing every single player coming off the bus. Players go to her. She is off to the side, so they have to choose to go to Megan Mullen,” Jacquie Franchooli, the sports reporter who shot the now-viral video, explained. Additional footage from Franchooli shows that many players don’t stop for a kiss. Instead, they walk past and aren’t “harassed” for choosing not to partake in the practice.
So, the kisses aren’t “unwanted.” The players seek them out. They know they will be embraced and kissed on the cheek by Mama M, and they choose to approach her. But, how do the player’s real moms feel about Mama M bestowing such love and affection on their boys? Well, one mom has decided to speak out.
In a tweet addressing Megan Mullen, the mother of one of the football stars came to her defense. “I am very happy you are there showing/giving my big boy the love that you’re giving and showing because I can’t do it. I don’t make it to all the games,” Keiva Rodriguez wrote. And, that’s exactly where Megan Mullen’s heart is as she has become an “adopted mom” to the guys who are away from home and missing theirs.
“They deserve a family that loves them more than anything in the world, and every day I want them to know how proud I am of them,” Mama M explained. And, that seems to be exactly how her affection is received by the players who choose to get a kind kiss on the cheek. It’s evident by their defense of Mama M on Twitter that this tradition isn’t “gross” or “disrespectful” to them but rather appreciated. After all, listen to how they describe it:
People seem to forget that by definition sexual harassment is “unwelcomed.” If the players are walking up to Megan Mullen, knowing she’s going to hug and kiss them on their cheek, and they are hugging her back, it’s not unwanted. And, it’s really none of our business. If they don’t mind, neither should we. No one should be crucifying this woman for being a second mom to these guys and giving them a sense of family while they’re away from their own.
The real issue is the sports blogger who wrote an article, accusing Megan Mullen of sexual harassment without seeming to interview a single player. I tried to reach Phillips for comment on Twitter, but rather than respond, he blocked me. “Since the football players at the University of Florida are probably too afraid to say this publicly, I’ll do it for them,” he wrote as he introduced his hit piece, but that’s not journalism. That’s an assumption, and he failed to do his due diligence before slandering an innocent woman, who the players appreciate and love.