By Kathleen Arens
Visitors who come to The University of Iowa usually are swarmed with large crowds of Hawkeye fans wearing the school colors of black and gold. However, many fans are unaware that the Hawkeyes visiting team is seeing pink. The opponent really is seeing pink. The one thing that’s not black and gold in Iowa City is the visitor’s locker room at Kinnick Stadium. It’s pink, and everything – the walls, the sinks, the toilets, the urinals, the floor, the stalls, are pink.
Intimidation is part of the history and fun in the spirit of competition in the Big Ten conference. Former Hawkeye head football coach and psychology major Hayden Fry, instilled this pink locker room tradition more than 20 years ago to intimidate rivals because he thought it would have a calming effect on the opposing players. Not everyone agrees it was just to calm the players down.
“I think the locker room is painted pink with the intent of giving a psychological effect by implying that they’re girls,” says Iowa student, Carolyn Cerney.
When the football stadium was renovated in 2005, many people were opposed to keeping the locker room pink. Some people thought that painting the locker room pink is offensive to females because it’s degrading and makes them feel inferior. Some fans feel differently.
“From a female standpoint, I don’t think it’s offensive. I think it’s funny,” says Cerney.
The pink locker room is a Hawkeye tradition that has been around for more than two decades. It’s an expression of school spirit and competitiveness that comes with being a member of the Big Ten conference. While other conferences have rules requiring both home and visitor locker rooms to be painted the same color, the Big Ten has no such rule.
“They shouldn’t repaint it because having the locker room pink is not going to change the way people treat opposing teams,” says Cerney. “That’s the fun of the Big Ten conference. Rivalries and friendly taunting get fans and players amped up.
Whether or not the pink locker room will have an effect on Saturday’s Hawkeye opponent is up for debate. Since 2006 the Hawkeyes have had a 29-6 home record against teams other than Northwestern. However, the Hawkeyes have been 0-3 against the Wildcats the last three times they met in Iowa City. Northwestern players appear to be immune from the calming effects of this color, and seem to be at home in the pink locker room. Saturday’s game will be broadcast on the Big Ten Network. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. Central Standard Time.