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Thursday, February 08, 2007

here come teh gays    

speaking of the worst (read: slowest) week in sports, congratulations to John Amaechi on being the first openly gay NBA baller (albeit an ex-baller).
And bravo to TrueHoop for a remarkably well thought and written stance on the topic.

I like how his piece progresses-- by considering the likely very small real impact that this story will have right now, but acknowledging that hey, the process of acceptance sure seems inevitable at this point, and that this is a small step along that path. The sense of inevitablility our author conveys is something that leaves me feeling pretty good.

Of course, none of this means that Derek Raivio will make it out of the NBDL. So there's still some ground to cover.

8 Comments:

  • > Speaking about John Amaechi, the NBA player who just
    > came out of the closet.
    >
    > Injured Philadelphia Sixers forward Shavlik Randolph
    > acknowledged it's a new situation.
    >
    > "As long as you don't bring your gayness on me I'm
    > fine," Randolph said. "As far as business-wise, I'm
    > sure I could play with him. But I think it would
    > create a little awkwardness in the locker room."

    By Blogger K1, at 11:19 AM  

  • Ray Ray's comments are kind of interesting too:

    “I knew guys who played with him in Utah who used to speculate that he was,” Allen said. “But it didn’t affect me, so I didn’t pay attention to it.”

    Allen said he does not doubt whether somebody currently in the league is gay.

    “Based on the pure numbers, you figure there has to be,” Allen said. “I am just hoping it is clear in my locker room. What can you do? As long as guys are taking care of their business and doing what they need to do basketball-wise, it doesn’t affect me.”

    Asked why he would not want a gay teammate, Allen responded: “You don’t want to know that there is somebody in your locker room and you are not aware of it. And maybe you had to be careful being where you put yourself in a situation where you might get hit on by a teammate.

    “We are so close and we basically know so much about each other, I won’t say it is deception because each person has their personal life.

    “But it is just one of those things you don’t want to have to find out from somebody else and feel like you have been deceived by family because this is a family right here.”


    On the one hand, it's right in line with a lot of what I would expect people to say, but I also kind of see a lot there. The anxiety about getting hit on always seems a little weird to me--I mean, if he's acknowledging that there are gay players in the league and no one is getting hit on, well, wouln't that indicate that it's not that likely? That just maybe gay NBA players are pretty freaking clued in to what a mess hitting on their teammates could create?

    But bringing in the word deception...well it certainly shows there's a lot of feelings involved. I don't know, it poses an interesting tension between not wanting to know and wanting to know. It makes me kind of wish the interviewer had pressed him a little bit to say what he would want a closeted teammate to do with regard to disclosure, in an ideal-hypothetical situation.

    It's also interesting, because I wonder how much pressure he feels to disapprove on some level. I feel like his reputation as being pretty soft is something he's kind of always trying to combat, a little futilely--his ridiculous pseudo-feud with Kobe, etc. On the other hand, the Kobe thing clearly worked to his advantage, even though everyone knew how ridiculous it was, it still managed to get in Kobe's head. And I have a sense that Ray knew all of that and basically proceeded knowing it. So I think of him as pretty cerebral in that sense, and I just wonder how much he thinks about this issue in terms of managing his public persona. And by extension, other NBA players as well.

    By Blogger Jesse, at 11:34 AM  

  • 1) For all that he's in the wrong, I think Ray Allen articulates the earnest parts of locker-room fear pretty nicely. Simply leaving it as "stay out of MY locker room, Rudy Gay" doesn't do justice to the rationale. Sure, it's that rationale is predicated on some truly self-centered, ignorant shit, but Allen at least demonstrates where the weaknesses in the mindset lie.

    2) The implication that homosexuals are lying about being gay in order to get into the showers with hetero players is laughable. It makes perfect sense that all that work that gay ballplayers have done since childhood (practicing free throws, lifting weights, running suicides, doing layup drills, etc.) was just part of Teh Gays' evil scheme to check out some big dick. The lying has absolutely nothing to do with THIS being how honesty is rewarded. It's really just a gay conspiracy to make buttsecks with Shavlik Randolph. Obviously.

    3) David Stern is the most powerful league commissioner in sports history. He has a soft spot for the WNBA. He's not averse to using his pulpit to enforce social change upon his players, as the dress code fiasco proved, nor is he all that concerned about alienating the average fan. And despite his fascist ways, he's in fact a lily-livered liberal, as we found out from the records on 2004 campaign contributions.

    I'm wondering if maybe the commish will turn this opportunity yes. Be the first American sports league to approve of open homosexuality, come what may. If Der Fuhrer can't pull that off, who could?

    By Blogger Jeff, at 1:18 PM  

  • Eh, guess not:

    NBA commissioner David Stern downplayed the personal issue as it relates to his sport. "We have a very diverse league," Stern said. "The question at the NBA is always, 'Have you got game?' That’s it. End of inquiry."

    He's right, but if it's not an acceptable response when discussing race relations, why would it be acceptable here? That's more like it's being swept under the table and not talked about.

    Maybe we have to wait for the gay Net to be outed by Joumana before Der Fuhrer takes this seriously.

    By Blogger Jeff, at 1:45 PM  

  • for the record, some progress is already happening at the level of individual teams, spurred on by various cities' tourism boards.
    For instance, the phillies have hosted a gay pride night each of the last 4 years. The 76ers have had them too in recent years.
    Now, Philly's tourism board has been pushing for the gay tourist dollar for a few years now, with remarkable success. Philly is widely considered one of the top cities to visit if URSOGAY.

    But Philly is hardly alone in this... for instance:
    http://www.gaybaseballdays.com/

    I agree with you, Jeff- the groundwork has been laid. Stern would be well served to take a stance. That said, I'd be VERY suprised if the NBA blazed the gay tolerance trail, just because being a gay male is still pretty much the biggest taboo in Black America.

    I do like King Kaufman's observation on Salon.com today,
    "What if Philadelphia 76ers forward Shavlik Randolph had said he's not really comfortable with black teammates, but he manages? What if he'd said, "As long as you don't bring your blackness on me I'm fine"? And "As far as business-wise, I'm sure I could play with him. But I think it would create a little awkwardness in the locker room"?

    That would be so not OK it's almost impossible to express. Randolph would get a thank-you card from Michael Richards for taking the heat off of him. But Randolph said those things about having a gay teammate, so, hey, no problem."

    Perhaps a league-mandated education project for the players, pointing out exactly this double standard would help. Heck, since they're mandating a year of college pre-draft, maybe the NCAA should take the lead on this kind of education.

    Side note, I think that Bud Selig has a great opportunity to make these kinds of changes in baseball, as a final positive note to his career as commish, which would certainly help put a shine on his pretty damn tarnished legacy.

    By Blogger Alex, at 1:50 PM  

  • Shav is obviously 100% wrong on that count. (Boy, that Coach K is one hell of a teacher off the court, isn't he?) And Kaufman is obviously 100% right.

    And I totally agree that the NBA is the last league you'd expect to blaze that trail, for precisely that reason.

    But I don't agree with the education route. Education is a two-way street... you can't make someone learn if they aren't willing to listen. Given the success of sports leagues' education system regarding guns, drugs, nightlife, women, financial management and so forth, I doubt counseling will make enough of a dent. Do you think an education program would have changed any minds about Jackie Robinson? Nothing changed whatsoever until he suited up and fucking shoved it up everyone's ass.

    As such, I prefer the "fuck you" approach that Robinson took. He said "I'm playing baseball. You don't like it? Fuck you." Now Robinson's a hero, not to mention Branch Rickey for hiring him in the first place. When's that gonna happen for a gay player? When's an owner or a GM gonna stand by his gay employee?

    Just saying "gay is OK" to a therapist isn't going to change shit. The only way to change the athletes' minds is for a gay athlete to come out of the closet, as an active player, and force people to consider his case while simultaneously watching him do his job just like anyone else. Someone needs to put his own ass on the line and make that happen before anyone takes this seriously.

    By Blogger Jeff, at 3:18 PM  

  • You're probably right. I don't really see how, on a policy level, Stern could really affect that. Though I suppose he could make clear that gay bashing (physical or verbal) would be met w/ the same fines/suspensions that any intolerance based on race would. Which would cost him exactly nothing to say. So boo on him for not doing so. He probably thinks this is all beneath him, the smug bastard.

    One thing we do know- when the gay Jackie Robinson does come along, he'll get one hell of an endorsement deal from Snickers.

    By Blogger Alex, at 3:38 PM  

  • Call me crazy but I think putting chocolate nuts in his mouth on national television does more harm than good.

    (yeah, yeah, -1 to me)

    By Blogger Jeff, at 4:13 PM  

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