Sunday, February 18, 2007

Tim Hardaway Makes Homophobia Look Bad

With the recent furor over Tim Hardaway's antigay remarks, John Amaechi's book and the Snickers Superbowl commercial, suddenly everyone wants to know what athletes think of gay people. I think this situation has gotten out of hand, which is why I am proposing that the commissioners of all the major athletic organizations immediately impose a "don't ask, don't tell" policy: journalists, don't ask athletes what they think of gay people and athletes, don't tell us.

I don't want to hear what athletes think of the War in Iraq, global warming, nuclear proliferation or gay rights. To tell you the truth, I don't even want to hear what they have to say about sports, either, but sportscasters insist on interviewing them. Former Miami Heat star Hardaway, who doesn't have a lot of time to browse in book stores, probably wouldn't have even known about Man in the Middle, the book written by NBA center John Amaechi, in which he reveals that he is gay, if an interviewer hadn't told him about it. Hardaway was just speaking off the cuff when he told a talk radio host, "You know, I hate gay people, so I let it be known. I don't like gay people and I don't like to be around gay people. I'm homophobic, I don't like it, it shouldn't be in the world or in the United States." For saying out loud what a lot of athletes think he was banned from the NBA All-Star game and subjected to the malicious laughter of The Today Show's newscaster when she reported on his remarks.

It seems everyone jumped on Hardaway for what he said. Even the conservative group Concerned Women for America attacked him, lamenting that Hardaway has made being antigay look bad. "Hardaway’s comments are both unfortunate and inappropriate," said CWA’s Matt Barber. "They provide political fodder for those who wish to paint all opposition to the homosexual lifestyle as being rooted in 'hate.'" Although Barber agreed that "it’s perfectly natural for people to be repelled by disordered sexual behaviors that are both unnatural, and immoral," he regretted that Hardaway’s inartfully framed remarks "only serve to foment misperceptions of widespread homosexual 'victimhood' which the homosexual lobby has craftily manufactured." All of the hard work that groups like CWA have done to make homophobia acceptable has now been ruined. Of course, the real victims here are the people who are now afraid to openly bash gay people because they might be subjected to ridicule by the liberal media.

Ironically, one of the few people to stand up for Hardaway was John Amaechi. "Finally, someone who is honest," commented Amaechi. "It is ridiculous, absurd, petty, bigoted and shows a lack of empathy that is gargantuan and unfathomable. But it is honest. And it illustrates the problem better than any of the fuzzy language other people have used so far."

The furor caused by Hardaway's remarks even forced Wolf Blitzer to take precious minutes away from covering Anna Nicole Smith to talk about gays in the NBA. Interviewing NBA commissioner David Stern, Blitzer quoted another NBA expert on homosexuality, Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James: "LeBron James said this, he said: 'If you're teammates, you have to be trustworthy, and if you're gay and you're not admitting that you are, then you are not trusting.' He makes a point." Of course, Blitzer knows that the reason he is one of the most trusted anchormen in America is because his name tells us all we need to know about his sexual orientation. It would be devastating for the credibility of any news anchorman if it turned out he was not being forthcoming about his sexuality. If this is true for journalists, it must also be true in basketball, which is why gay athletes must be encouraged to come out so that they can be shunned and beaten up by their teammates and hounded from the NBA.

Blitzer also makes an important point about locker rooms: "This is a situation like gays in the military, within close quarters - the locker rooms in the NBA, these guys are all together." I'm sure Blitzer has had the same experiences I have had in the locker room at my gym, where gay men are constantly staring at my naked body, their eyes practically burning me with their lascivious desire. I have had to quit going to the gym because of it, but athletes and soldiers don’t have that option.

The locker room used to be the one place where real men could feel safe and secure in their masculinity. In high school, athletes were often picked on by acerbic gay wits who cruelly ridiculed them with jokes that went over their heads, while girls, who thought of them as little more than slabs of muscle to accompany them to school dances, giggled behind their backs. For jocks the locker room was a welcome respite from the taunts of other kids, a space where they could be themselves, snapping towels at other guys and patting them on the butt, without having to confront difficult psychological questions about the complexities of human sexuality. Now we want to ruin that for them? Perhaps the most tragic result of this controversy is that someone has uploaded videos of Hardaway naked in the locker room. Now millions of gay men can leer at him slathering lotion on his muscular thighs and buttocks and he is powerless to stop them.

Until Hardaway was forced to humiliate himself with tortured apologies in a desperate attempt to save his lucrative endorsement contracts, I thought there was nothing more painful than watching pro football players being coerced into viewing the Snickers commercial in which two men kiss. Why did the Mars Company think it would be funny to subject athletes to this kind of psychological trauma? Our athletes are already having enough trouble competing in the world as demonstrated by their abysmal showings in the World Baseball Classic, the Winter Olympics and the World Cup. Do we need to add more stress to their lives by making them confront their feelings about homosexuality? I hope we can go back to the idea that there are no gays in professional sports. Things were a lot easier for people like Tim Hardaway when they believed that gay people throw like girls. What possible good could come from disabusing them of that notion now?

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12 comments:

Dr X said...

So, cruel... and on target.

The best piece I've read on the Hardaway-Amaechi flap.

Nick Kasoff said...

As one of my favorite talk hosts would say, "Shut up and dribble."

Nick Kasoff
The Thug Report

Highlander said...

I think EVERY professional athlete should be gay, and they should all be gay married, too. That should cut down on all the screwing around in pro sports. Plus, all the women I date can stop comparing me to professional football players, because, if they're gay, well, then, of COURSE they're that good looking, and stop trying to make me feel bad about it, would you?

That's what I say.

CitizenBoo said...

Why didn't someone tell Hardaway that his comments would have been perfectly acceptable had he only replaced "fag" with "homosexual"???

Anonymous said...

Your argument seems to be that there should not be gay players in the locker room. But there ARE gay players in the locker room. The only question is whether or not the culture of the locker room will evolve to accept that truth, as most of the rest of society has.

Why would you wish that not to happen? How is the world a better place if those gay athletes are shamefully silent? The terrible scandals of the Catholic Church show that denying one's sexuality can be a mistake, as sexuality--like many things--tends not to do well when relegated to dark, secret, unspoken corners.

Mike said...

The locker room used to be the one place where real men could feel safe and secure in their masculinity. In high school, athletes were often picked on by acerbic gay wits who cruelly ridiculed them with jokes that went over their heads, while girls, who thought of them as little more than slabs of muscle to accompany them to school dances, giggled behind their backs. For jocks the locker room was a welcome respite from the taunts of other kids, a space where they could be themselves, snapping towels at other guys and patting them on the butt, without having to confront difficult psychological questions about the complexities of human sexuality. Now we want to ruin that for them

Heh, heh. Mmmmm, now that's some mighty tasty snark ya got there, Mr, Swift.

agemo said...

Ummmm.......when is homophobia supposed to look "good"? hatred. venom. bile. vitriol. does any of that look good? no matter how one tries to color it, homophobia is BAD and never, never, never will be anything else.

Scaramouche said...

Every pro-athelete should be made to ride a moped so they can be prepared for the scorn of riding fat-chicks.

Mr B said...

"gay men are constantly staring at my naked body, their eyes practically burning me with their lascivious desire."
Blitzer maybe, but YOU need to get over yourself.

Anonymous said...

So Jon Swift thinks gay athletes should come out so they can be shunned and beaten up by their teammates? What?? What is wrong with this man? People claiming to be Christians who advocate hatred and violence make me sick.

Job said...

Of course, the writer is totally fair.
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