Gays in Sports: A Common Sense Perspective

Brittney Griner, the finest women’s college basketball player of all time, has come out as gay. And not surprisingly, nobody really gives a sh*t. Griner is affable, a “cool kid” by all accounts, and… wait for it… a woman.

ESPN’s LZ Granderson editorialized today that there is no perfect time for a gay male player of one of the four major sports to come out, just the perfect guy. Citing such heroes as Rosa Parks, Jackie Robinson, Elizabeth Cady Stanton & Lucretia Mott, and others, he makes a good point.

However, and we’ve written quite a bit about this issue here at The Stain in recent months, there’s an elephant in the room. Look at societal history in the United States, hell, the World, and you should be able to plainly see that man’s booksmarts have always far exceeded man’s streetsmarts. To paraphrase a couple of old jokes, we put a man on the moon in the 60s but it wasn’t until the 70s that we realized it would be a good idea to put wheels on luggage. The space program spent supposedly spent a huge sum of money developing a pen that would work in zero gravity. In fairness, the Russians got that one right. They brought a pencil… at the cost of roughly a nickel.

Where is the common sense? Look at all of humanity’s incredible accomplishments. Jonas Salk discovered a vaccine for polio in 1955. In 1903, the Wright brothers successfully accomplished powered flight. There are too many to mention. The steam engine, electricity, the telephone… I mean, think about it. With about a dozen pokes onto a keypad, you can talk to anyone in the world who also has a telephone. Pretty amazing, isn’t it?

Now, look at this. In 1963,  President John F. Kennedy called for a bill to give all Americans equal access to public facilities. Really? It took until 1963? If you were born on this day in 1963, you would be 50 today. What this means is that an enormous part of the population, numbering in the billions, were actually alive during a time when it was deemed commonplace for certain human beings to not be allowed to be in the same public establishments because they were of a different race. If the world began in 1910, you might think that it took humanity half a century to get it right. No biggy. I mean, how often do we get it right the first time, anyway.

In 1776, the American Colonies adopted the Declaration of Independence. Already at war with Britain over oppression in the form of unfair taxation among other things, it was nearly a century later that slavery was finally abolished.

History is full of incongruency between accomplishment and shockingly obtuse ideals. Knowing this, can it really be much of a surprise that it’s considered newsworthy should a man playing one of the “Big Four” sports come out as gay while still active in his career?

Granderson theorizes that for a couple of weeks, it would be kind of a big deal. Some would call the first openly gay male, for the sake of argument let’s say football player, a hero. Some by a more unsavory expletive. And then it would go away.

He’s probably right.

He also compares the ensuing media frenzy to be much like the circus that followed Tim Tebow around all of last NFL season. I think he’s probably wrong. Because people are still talking about Tebow, and it’s been way more than a couple of weeks.

What we are lacking as a society in terms of how we view sports is the ability to see the big picture.

It comes in the wake of an awful tragedy at the Boston Marathon, but what happened at last night’s Boston Bruin’s game gave me hope that we will one day get it. In summary, joined by the Color Guard from the Boston Fire Department, about 20,000 fans in attendance joined singer Rene Rancourt in belting out the Star Spangled Banner. In a moment of sheer brilliance, whether choreographed or otherwise, Rancourt let the fans take the lead for nearly the whole thing. If you’re in the mood to have your bones chilled (in a good way), grab your Kleenex and click here.

A gay male athlete in one of the big four sports comes out. How big of a deal is it really?


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