December 16, 1998
Football and Ben-Gay
Ant, Special to ESPN.com
So you think gays can't play sports?
My brother Frank thinks so, too. That's why he hates gays, he told me one day.
Not one to miss an opportunity, I had to set the record straight (so to speak). I worded my argument very carefully. "Frank, gays invented sports."
"Nut ah" he replied, scratching himself.
"Take boxing," I said. "Two topless men ... in silk shorts ... fighting ... for a belt and a purse."
He just grabbed his Nerf football and stormed out.
But he knows I'm right. Look at football. I think that sport was actually started by some gay guys, as a great big joke on the straight world. The conversation probably went something like this.
"Hey Bob, let's create a game where no women can play. Just overly muscled men wearing brightly colored, tight-fitting uniforms. The object of the game will be to grab a man clutching a big ball, throw him to the ground and jump on top of him. Then other guys, who 'play' for the same team, will jump on top of him, too. They'll take a break only when a man wearing a fashionable black-and-white outfit blows a whistle and says they've just 'scored.'
"We can call the teams really suggestive names -- Oilers, Rams and Packers. We can even have one player who will do nothing but make passes. The team that finishes first will win some gaudy jewelry -- a ring, maybe. To keep the game alive, we'll send old men out to recruit young boys. And best of all, for the men who just 'like to watch,' we'll make the game soooooo long that wives and girlfriends will get pissed off every time it's played. They'll feel so ignored they'll break up, creating a surplus of available men for us. Doesn't it sound fabulous?!"
Now, don't get all nervous, guys. I'm sure all the homoeroticism is just ironic. I personally find nothing erotic about football. It's too violent to be considered erotic, and most of my friends would agree. (Now, wrestling, on the other hand, is a whole different story; you'd have to be Helen Keller not to see that.)
It's taken me a while, but I have finally figured out why openly gay men are barred from playing most sports. For some odd reason, straight men cannot handle a man they know to be gay, naked with them in the locker room. It's as if they think just because they have their own member, a gay man will want to sleep with them.
Which is ridiculous.
Do straight men want to sleep with every woman they see? If that were true, Janet Reno wouldn't have that horrible look on her face all the time.
Guys, let me go on record with this. A gay man is not going to stare at your unit while you're in the locker room. If anything, he's going to avoid looking, for fear of being "discovered."
Heck, you straight guys probably look at each others' genitals more than anyone I know. Some of you actually believe the size of a man's penis is a factor in determining his manliness, and place in society. The bigger the penis, the prettier the wife, etc. And to compete, those of you who are "not so blessed" drive around in bright-red expensive cars, trying to hide your, er, shortfalls.
Gay men in the locker room are there for the same reason as you: They want to shower and go home. That's it.
The truth is, sexual preference should have no bearing on any sport. If John Elway were to announce he was gay tomorrow, do you think he'd be any less of a quarterback? Do you think he'd be traded? They'd be crazy to let him go. If someone gay is playing football (or any sport for that matter), it's because they want to play football. Not get laid.
If they were looking for sex, they'd be playing on the Internet -- like you right now.