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SBD/April 19, 2013/Sports in Society
With Griner Coming Out To Little Fanfare, Could That Signify Shift Toward Acceptance?
Published April 19, 2013
GENERATION CHANGE: YAHOO SPORTS' Jay Busbee wrote Griner "came out of the closet, to the world at large anyway," and the "world didn't end." In fact, Griner's career prospects "are as bright as ever." Griner knows the "key to acceptance is through upcoming generations." There are "plenty of people still alive who can remember a time before Jackie Robinson, but for the rest of us, the idea of a segregated baseball field is impossible to conceive." An athlete's sexual orientation "shouldn't be a bigger story than what he or she does on the field." If fans are "going to obsess on players' sexual preferences, Griner's understated stance, and the resulting acceptance, are the way to go" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 4/18). FOXSPORTSSOUTHWEST.com's Tully Corcoran wrote Griner has "nothing to fear from the women's basketball community." Homosexuality "isn't taboo in women's basketball, and frankly, it isn't taboo among Griner's generational peers" (FOXSPORTSSOUTHWEST.com, 4/18). ESPN’s Jemele Hill said Griner came out "in what I thought was the most in innocuous way possible. ... She treated it like it was no big deal.” Hill: "We have all this angst over the NFL and what will happen. Well, Britney Griner just gave a great example” (“Around The Horn,” ESPN, 4/18).
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MALE, FEMALE SPORTS: ESPN's Dan Le Batard wondered how coming out can be "so easy in female sports and so hard in male sports.” ESPN's Marcellus Wiley said the “level of concern” and interest “for the WNBA is not what it is for” the NFL, NBA “or other major sports.” Wiley: “Because this is happening in the WNBA and not in close proximity of where we are as a viewing audience, it hasn't hit home just yet. Once it occurs in the major sports then you will see ... the resistance to it and then the embrace and understanding of, ‘Okay, now this is happening ... and people will respect it.’” Le Batard noted gay athletes have come out in boxing, tennis, soccer and the WNBA, but that has "everything to do with how much we care about those sports, care about the people in those sports. Because we care about those sports more, it means more to us. It’s more of an issue that is provocative and flammable” (“Dan Le Batard Is Highly Questionable,” ESPN2, 4/18). SI.com's Richard Deitsch said, "We have a long way to go when it comes to men in team sports coming out and it not being a big deal, and part of that is just how men are raised in this culture.” Deitsch: “I’d like to believe 10 or 20 years from now, especially if many more athletes come out, the story won’t be a N.Y. Times front-page kind of thing. I think all of us have been hearing that we’re going to see some athletes, probably some NFL people, coming out in the next couple of months. I cannot see how that’s not going to be leading every newspaper in this country” (“The Dan Patrick Show,” 4/18).
IT'S ALREADY HAPPENED IN NFL? CBSSPORTS.com's Mike Freeman reported an NFL for the past few years has had a gay player on its team, "many on the team knew it, and no one cared." The player, who Freeman did not identify, was "not openly gay but several of the player's friends on the team knew it." Sources said that a "good dozen players on the team were aware the player dated men." Freeman: "One of the main reasons players have not come out as openly gay in NFL locker rooms has been due to fear of repercussions from teammates, coaches and fans." But if players on this team "knew their teammate was gay, and accepted him, this would represent a possibly dramatic shift in the entire idea that an openly gay man could exist in the NFL" (CBSSPORTS.com, 4/18). FOXSPORTS.com's Jason Whitlock wrote football fans are "less prepared than an NFL locker room for an out-of-the-closet, gay football star." Whitlock: "We are not as tolerant as football players. This is the beauty of team sports. They give participants a clear goal, a mission that helps teammates see past differences and focus on an individual’s ability to help the team reach its goal." He added, "Can a gay male athlete be packaged to meet all the traditional American values? He can certainly meet the values respected inside a locker room. We are the group that has work to do. Our traditional American values are going to have to be reshaped to make room for the gay man" (FOXSPORTS.com, 4/18). ESPN.com's LZ Granderson noted ever since Univ. of Colorado TE Nick Kasa said that NFL teams "asked him whether he liked girls during the combine back in February, some people have turned this offseason into a crazed quest for a gay guy in the locker room." But at "this point, who is really going to be shocked/surprised by this revelation?" Granderson: "Yes, the first guy to say it will be surrounded by reporters whether he's a star or scrub. Yes, his teammates will be asked about him, whether he plays or not. Yes, it will be a lot like the frenzy surrounding Tim Tebow last season." The NFL "survived that; the NFL will survive this" (ESPN.com, 4/18).