Monday, May 16, 2011

Will We Ever See a Gay Athlete?

Articles all over the Internet have reported that Phoenix Suns president Rick Welts came out of the closet, and told the world that he was gay.  The admission is of huge importance, because he is the first person I can think of who admitted he was homosexual, while still active in professional sports.  Former athletes like John Amechi, and Billy Bean(former Padres outfielder, not the GM) have come clean about their sexual orientation, although years after they were active.  My question is:  are athletes willing to embrace a homosexual teammate?

Honestly, I have no idea.  It is a nice thought, though.  While I wasn't alive then, I remember reading about all the horror that Jackie Robinson faced when he broke the color barrier.  Teammates refused to shake his hand, or even acknowledge the fact he was alive.  Fans booed, cursed, and spit in his direction, opposing players tried to slide into him, hoping to hurt them.  But Robinson kept playing, despite all of the adversity, and became one of the most respected athletes in the history of professional sports.  His contributions to the game will never be forgotten.

Would a gay athlete face the harsh treatment that Robinson did?  Personally, I think that he would not, but I do not feel that he would be openly embraced.  Unfortunately, our society still looks down of homosexuals.  Here in California, voters rejected a bill that would have allowed gays to marry.  It has since been overturned, and gays are allowed to marry here in California, but the measure still has its fair share of opponents.

A gay athlete would face so much scrutiny.  Many closed-minded teammates wouldn't want to shower around him, because he "might stare at their junk."  Some fan would boo the athlete simply because of his sexual orientation.  The story would be all over the news, adding controversy to an athlete who just wants to play the game he loves.  While I feel many of his teammate would support their gay teammate, just as many would not want him around, potentially destroying the cohesion of the team.

Billy Bean, a former Padres outfielder said teammates Trevor Hoffman, and Brad Ausmus supported him when he decided to come out.  Former Padres catcher, and Bean's AAA roommate Brian Johnson told Bean that "he wishes he would have told him when they played together, and he would have supported him 100 percent."

While these athletes are very encouraging, there are athletes like former NBA point guard Tim Hardaway.  In 2007, during a radio interview, Hardaway admitted that "I am homophobic, I hate gay people."

His comments, although ignorant, share the sentiments of many professional athletes, Hardaway just had the gall to admit to it.

As a sports fan, I would definitely support a gay athlete.  We are all people, and a gay man has the same right to play sports as a heterosexual.  I do not think an active athlete will come out anytime soon, but I hope someone does.  It would be a big step for ensuring equality for everyone.  Kudos to Rick Welts for being a pioneer.

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