SBD/Issue 98/Sports & Society

John Amaechi’s Announcement Continues To Elicit Reactions

With former NBAer John Amaechi announcing his homosexuality in an upcoming ESPN interview and his new book, “Man in the Middle,” the WASHINGTON POST’s Michael Wilbon writes, “While we knew [NBA Commissioner David] Stern’s approach would be enlightened, the diversity of his league is reflected in the diversity of opinion we’ve been hearing from players throughout the NBA, from the sensible to the idiotic. ... Not everybody is in line with Stern’s thinking, which is why it’s so difficult for male athletes in team sports to say they’re gay” (WASHINGTON POST, 2/9).

REAX FROM THE LOCKER ROOM: Knicks President of Basketball Operations & coach Isiah Thomas “insisted that he thought a gay player would be accepted in today’s NBA.” Thomas: “We’re a diverse society; we preach acceptance and we’re proud of our diversity, no matter what your sexual preference may be” (N.Y. POST, 2/9). Rockets G Tracy McGrady said if Amaechi “would have come out when I was his teammate, I wouldn’t have cared. If he was producing on the basketball court and was keeping it professional, I would have had no problem with it” (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 2/9). TNT analyst Charles Barkley: “I could care less. I’ve got a ton of gay friends. I’ve played with gay guys. It’s no big deal whatsoever. It’s frustrating for me to hear all these reporters talk about, ‘A guy can’t come out when he’s playing. He’d be ostracized in the locker room’” (“PTI,” ESPN, 2/8). Pistons President of Basketball Operations Joe Dumars: “John Amaechi’s personal life should be a non-issue” (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 2/9).

SOME NOT SO SURE: Knicks C Eddy Curry said, “If one of my teammates came out, ... I’d be supportive of him.” But when asked if it was another NBA player, he said, “That’s if it was my teammate. I can’t speak for anybody else” (N.Y. POST, 2/9). Jazz F Jarron Collins, a former teammate of Amaechi, said of Amaechi not making the announcement while still playing: “There are a whole bunch of other issues that John was very conscious of if he had made that announcement. Who’s to say how the team or the community or the fans or anyone would have reacted” (SALT LAKE TRIBUNE, 2/9).

Bean Still Waiting To See
Active Player Come Out
COMING OUT IN RETIREMENT: Former MLBer Billy Bean, who announced his homosexuality after his retirement, said, “I had heard rumors all week that an NBA player was coming out, and I was excited at the prospect that it was a current player. I had hoped it was a current player, so we could move the process along” (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 2/9). Outsports.com co-Founder Jim Buzinski added of an active team sport athlete coming out, “I think the fears are overblown, but until the first person come outs, we won’t really know” (AP, 2/8). FSN’s Rodney Peete, on why athletes don’t come out while they’re playing: “You can’t, because you’re so discriminated against and ostracized for it. ... So many guys in sports are straight up ignorant.” D’Backs OF Eric Byrnes, when asked whether MLB could handle an openly gay player: “No, I really don’t think it could. I read there are 60% of people who would accept it. I would be one that would accept it. But what about those other 40%?” (“BDSSP,” FSN, 2/8).

ANOTHER AGENDA? TNT’s Kenny Smith said, “When a guy tells his sexual preference to make money and sell a book, so what? ... It’s like saying, ‘I grew up black in the suburbs.’ So what? There’s a lot of people doing that now” (TNT, 2/8). In Seattle, Gary Washburn writes, “Before we anoint Amaechi some kind of pioneer ... let’s consider that he may also be looking to profit from his revelation. Should sexual preference announcements be a source of financial gain?” (SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER, 2/9).

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