Chris Culliver made some seemingly homophobic comments a few days ago. I do not think that he was necessarily trying to put down or make a negative comment about homosexual people, he was just trying to convey the general opinion of the average pro athlete in our era. Being homosexual isn’t really a big deal in our society anymore. Many prominent actors, musicians, business people, and even politicians are openly homosexual and nobody, well at least nobody with anything better to care about, seems to care. That being said, the world of pro sports may be the most difficult of areas to break through as an openly gay man.
I have no doubt that there have been plenty of gay men in professional sports over the years that just didn’t come out of the closet in order to better fit the stereo type of the macho man that was expected of them by their fans, coaches, and teammates. There is more than just a social backlash that would occur should a well known athlete come out of the closet… what would their teammates think? To be a successful team in a team sport there needs to be a sense of family. we often here players call their teammates brothers. They play together, practice together, go out together, and share the same locker room , the place where I think the biggest problem would arise. How would the other players in the locker room feel if they knew that one of their teammates was a homosexual? Would they feel comfortable changing in front of said player? Would they be willing to go into the shower with that player? or what if that player gave them a pat on the butt after a good play?
I really do think that biggest problems that an openly gay player would face would not be from their fans, from their coaches, or from their opponents. Sure , I could definitely see a player like Kevin Garnette having some rude and insensitive things to say to a homosexual player, but is that really any different from things he says to players now? A coach might treat a player differently if he knew that player was gay. We all know how the bulk of fans would treat the player. The average sports fan is an overweight, out of shape, probably stupid man that lives in a cushy suburb and has so little going in their life that watching a scantily clad man grunting and sweating while trying to score a ball against another sweaty man is the only thing he has going on in his life, and he would certainly not hesitate to put that athlete down to make himself feel better.
Even with all of that, the true challenge for a homosexual player would be acceptance from his teammates. It isn’t like acceptance from the bulk of society either. I feel like for the most part, society is accepting of homosexuality. Even if people are against gay marriage or gay couples adopting, for the most part they have a live and let live mentality. I think that is exactly where the problem will be. It wouldn’t be as simple as live and let live because teams are supposed to act as a unit. In a locker room where everyone’s ego is out of control, how would a team function if they knew their teammate was gay? They certainly wouldn’t want that guy in the shower, or changing in the spot next to them , or showing up to a social event and hanging with the crowd, and they would have a hard time sticking up for that guy should reporters, fans, or other players have something to say.
How would a female feel if there was a man in the locker room while she was changing? She would probably feel very uncomfortable and maybe even a little violated knowing that the man is probably being a creep. I feel like that is exactly how a straight player would feel if a gay player were in the same locker room. Even if the player that came out of the closet was a superstar and let his game do the talking, I have a hard time believing that the answer to this question is as simple as saying ” its the 21st century, nobody cares”.
I feel like acceptance of homosexuality will happen everywhere else before it happens in sports. ” It’s baseball season” will no longer be allowed to be used as an excuse for grabbing another dude’s ass.