Uncloseting Sports

“The issue is not gay soldiers, it is dead soldiers,”  read the t-shirt at a rally i attended some years ago and echoed my feelings on this long fought civil rights issue.  Of course i want gays to have access to the same rights as non-gays.  But this does not eliminate my critique of the military and deep reservations about this dangerous, exploitative and crazy expensive institution.

Similarly with gay marriage,  i am thrilled to see such rapid progress on this issue, but i still struggle with the institution of marriage. Specifically, the states sanctioning of personal relationships and the determination of how failed marriages are settled.

Michael Sam - whose private life is not very public news

Michael Sam – whose private life is now very public news

Recently, college football star, Michael Sam, announced that he was gay.  Predictably, homophobic sports writers and bureaucrats got very upset and started saying all manner of asinine things.  I would have ignored this story completely, because i pay almost no attention to sports, except this video kept being posted on Facebook by people who i think have good analysis generally.

Hansen is apparently a big deal in sports news, having twice been named by Associated Press the sportscaster of the year.  His main point here is that the ethics of sports culture regarding romantic relationships is seriously messed up.  Men can beat, rape and even kill women they are intimately involved with and they are still considered manly enough to be great athletes.  And most fans and sports industry insiders are happy to ignore these transgressions.  Love another man and we have a serious problem here.

Michael Sam’s daring announcement is part of the cultural shift in this.  But i fear the way he is treated (absurdly low draft pick, ridicule and worse by teammates and others inside the industry) may well make him regret his choice to go public.  Veteran basketball player Jason Collins all but lost his ability to play the game when he announced he was gay in an interview with Sports Illustrated last April, no team has been willing to sign this talented free agent.

This story compelling 2 minutes of commentary by Hansen reminds us that there is work needed on both sides of this issue:  acceptable (or private) intimate behavior of athletes and behaviors that are unacceptable.  What really needs to happen to change things culturally and politically is for fans to start writing letter to and boycotting teams and sponsors where players are abusive to women.


Addendum: And as bad as things are, i should confess that as i researched this issue i found that professional football teams are increasingly discriminating against players who break the law or are even known to be abusive to their partners.  My hope is this shifts unexpectedly rapidly as some aspects of the gay marriage debate has.

[Edited by Judy Youngquest]

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About paxus

a funologist, memeticist and revolutionary. Can be found in the vanity bin of Wikipedia and in locations of imminent calamity. buckle up, there is going to be some rough sledding.

8 responses to “Uncloseting Sports”

  1. dh says :

    Michael Sam was collegiate going pro, not high school. As is evidenced in the picture you posted featuring his University of Missouri jersey, and also mentioned in the video you posted.

  2. MILO says :

    maybe this will bring down the american football industry and we can finally get some sports in this country.

  3. santalorena says :

    Last night, I wrote that, despite NFL bozos who cower and fret that they won’t be safe in the “delicate ecosystem of the locker room” (as Rachel Maddow phrased it), I’ve been blown away by some of the genuinely supportive statements many people in the sports world have made about Michael Sam. Things are changing. And I’m so glad that the hypocrisy regarding pro-athletes’ record of deplorable treatment of women is being talked about quite a bit in the mainstream.

    • paxus says :

      Vermin – this is part of why i had to add the addendum to the end of the post. The first piece is that old bad habits are not being ignored (or embraced) as before and especially high profile crimes of athletes are causing them to loose pro opportunities. AND the support has been a bit surprising as well. The old boys are both dying off and losing their clout, and the world becomes a fairer and more just place as they pass.

  4. richard w. lisko says :

    radio lab had a great story about the ball player who did the first high five after hitting a homerun in the seventies i think for a texas team. his status as a bachelor gave rise to questions about his orientation. the team offered him forty thousand dollars to get married. his reply was: to a woman? he didn’t make it long in the league after that in spite of rising star status.

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