Thursday, February 15, 2007

Gay Games

Every few years the issue of homosexuality surfaces in one of the major sports. Players are asked to explain how they feel about the subject. It’s the same old thing. Until now.

You have to give it to former NBA star Tim Hardaway. He didn’t pull any punches when he explained how he feels. He admitted to being a homophobe and believes that homosexuals don’t have a place not only in the locker room but no place on the planet as well. He hates gays. His words. Granted, he later apologized for saying those things but he made no retraction. He still hates gays. His apology was for so forcefully expressing his opinion. Hardaway meant what he said.

And good for him. I don’t agree with Hardaway nor do I respect people who have such an opinion of other people but I do admire the guy for speaking his mind clearly and plainly. Everybody else dances around the subject. The mighty Lebron James tiptoed around his own homophobia and described the issue as a matter of trust. When this subject comes up athletes almost always mince words. Hardaway gave the media what they wanted: headlines. They tried to make a story out of Lebron’s incoherent mutterings but before the King could be labeled a homophobe, Tim Hardaway stepped up and delivered.

And it’s a non story. Most players don’t have a problem with homosexuality until it is sitting next to them sweaty and naked in the locker room. It’s unsettling to think that one of your teammates might be sexually fantasizing about you as you bend over to pull on your athletic supporter. Lebron’s on point when he talks about trust. If a player comes out of the closet after showering next to you for four years the dynamic of that relationship is going to change. It’s probably harder for men to cope with than women. Men tend to be more protective of their sexuality. There’s more bravado involved. On some primal level men feel violated when they become the object of another man’s desire. In fact, women find sexual attention from men to be a little frustrating if not humiliating, so it’s not unreasonable for a man to find it objectionable.

That doesn’t make homophobia appropriate. Sexual orientation has nothing to do with athletic performance. Tim Hardaway’s issues revolve around homosexuality in general. He made it clear that he wants nothing to do with gays on any level. Lebron’s issues seem to revolve around the locker room. If steps could be taken to ensure privacy, most players would readily accept gay players. It’s all about those naked moments that take place before and after games.

Sure, intelligent people will say that it’s silly. Each team probably has at least one gay player on the active roster. So players should just accept the fact that they’ve been thoroughly examined by a homosexual and probably starred in plenty of kinky fantasies. Based on what we’ve seen throughout history the player who seems most adamant about his heterosexuality is probably the one who his gay. Tim Hardaway’s comments were so forceful it’s likely he is harboring some flamboyant demons who want nothing more than to get out and dance, dance, dance. We’ve seen that before, haven’t we?