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Page 2 readers sound off on gays in sports
From the Page 2 mailbag
|This week, Page 2 is examining the issue of homosexuals in professional teams sports.
Columnist Jim Caple detailed the degree of homophobia that still pervades major-league baseball, and writer Wayne Drehs recently spoke with Brendan Lemon, the editor of "Out" magazine, who wrote in the May issue of the magazine that he is having an affair with a recognizable player from an East Coast franchise.
We invited your opinions on the subject to find out such things as how you would feel if your favorite athlete came out of the closet and announced he or she was gay and whether you would cheer for gay athletes and proudly wear their jerseys.
Of the 874 letters Page 2 received, 653 (75 percent) said they would support a gay athlete, 192 (22 percent) said they would not and 19 (3 percent) did not offer an opinion.
Here are some of the best responses:
I played football in college with an openly gay player. I had a bit of a problem with it at first, but by the end of the season there was nothing but brotherhood between all the players. Once you see a person's skills, you forget about their sexuality.
Most definitely. I may not agree with what they do, but it is not my place to judge someone else for what they do or who they are. It is truly sad that a majority of people and fans out there could not accept an athlete just because of their sexual preference. If they want to do that, then why not ridicule African-American athletes or any other minority. We are all the same, even with our own little quirks. Be it our sexual preference or our race, we are all humans and should see others for that. Look past the petty things and explore why we really cheer these people -- for their talent, not for their personal life.
I think it is time for a professional athlete to come out. I read the columnists' views on the subject of how difficult it might be for this man. As a gay man myself, I can tell you that coming out is enormously tough for all of us. I realize that the public nature of being a professional athlete adds an extra element of risk, but the possibility of breaking down another barrier would make a difference to all of us. There are plenty of ordinary everyday gay and lesbian people, who work hard, enjoy sports, and do not conform to the stereotypes. An athlete who could serve as a role model would make a difference to young men and women who are struggling with their sexual orientation. I really hope that this man will step up to this challenge.
Actually, I don't care to hear about athletes and their sexual exploits, homo- or hetero-. What bothers me is when people, like yourself, compare homosexuality and the societal stress over someone's sexual behavior to the plight of African-Americans in American society. It is convenient for those who support the homosexual agenda to align themselves with the struggle for justice waged by African-Americans, thereby granting some credibility to their often fallacious civil rights agenda. But the two situations are worlds apart. That is unless you are homosexual and African-American. In that case, God help you.
I am sorry, but I just couldn't do it. Although I am from Texas, my favorite player resides on the East Coast. I don't think Nomar Garciaparra fits the description, because he could be thought of as the Red Sox's biggest star. I just don't think that I could continue to support him and look at him in the same light. Sure, there is nothing the player can do about it; he is gay. But I don't want to be watching a game and thinking, "Oh, boy, there are two outs, bottom of the ninth, one man on, down by one and I sure hope this damn queer can come through." It is just against everything you are brought up to believe about baseball. It is a man's game played by guys who drink a lot and have all these women all over them. That is just the impression guys like Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb and the Mick have given us. There is nothing else we can do about it. We are conditioned as a society to not accept these things, and when they actually do present themselves, we back that up by turning our heads. Although I must say I would love to know, so that if this guy happens to wear pinstripes I can bring my rainbow flag when the Yankees come calling in Fenway against my beloved Red Sox.
Who cares? All I want is to see people who will play hard, try to win and give the fans a good show. What someone does on their own time should be of no consequence to anyone else. Just play ball well, and don't get in trouble with the law. Of course, I wouldn't want them to flaunt it either, just be yourself and have fun making a living that a lot of us dreamed about growing up -- getting paid to play a sport.
Absolutely. People's sex lives are inherently the most private of topics. Judging them on this basis is like judging on the basis of any other deeply personal thoughts or actions -- it's nobody else's damn business. I don't know -- or want to know -- anything about the sex lives of even my closest friends, other than that they have relationships so something's probably going on. Why should I care about a ballplayer's? Or anybody's, other than my own partner? For all I know, my beloved Red Sox are all gay, or jerks, or plotting to overthrow the government. But all I get from them is (hopefully) good baseball, which is plenty.
Personally, I wouldn't feel any particular way about a gay athlete -- I'm interested in athletic accomplishments, not sexual prowess. The only difference it would make to me would be to raise my level of respect for the person who came "out" -- I can't imagine the abuse that guy would suffer.
Gun Barrel City, Texas
The simple fact that this question is asked and that there will be people whose minds would change if a pro athlete came out is utterly ridiculous. For someone to say that it is OK for these "heros" to sleep with dozens or even hundreds of women, abuse women and children, do drugs to no end, and commit an endless list of crimes and then say it is not all right to be with someone of the same sex is both hypocritical and extremely close-minded. However, I do think that it would be more than likely career-threatening for an athlete to come out during their playing days. Unfortunately, we still live in a society that rings true with all of the drivel printed in the negative answers on this very page from the bigots who would have a problem. Thus, my answers; I would applaud my favorite athlete for coming out of the closet, for his personal sacrifice to pioneer this new era. I would most definitely cheer for gay athletes, and I would proudly wear their jerseys. In fact, to see a person make that sacrifice would probably endear me more to him or her in the way an underdog would. Any person who thinks otherwise, who writes these negative responses here, who would speak out against these athletes openly and boo them if they were to come out, should be ashamed to be even considered a human being, much less a sports fan.
My favorite athlete is Steve Yzerman, and I have to admit that I would have a difficult time if he were to come out of the closet. It wouldn't be difficult for me to accept him, it would be difficult for me to hear what others would say about him. It would be difficult for me to wear his jersey, because I would also become the object of the ire of the ignorant masses. Having said that, my admiration for him wouldn't change. As for athletes in general, their sexuality doesn't matter to me. If you are a real fan, the sexuality of the man hoisting the Stanley Cup, or whatever trophy, shouldn't affect the pride you feel at that moment.
I would not root for a gay athlete, and I certainly would not buy their jersey. However, I would not hate a gay athlete or root against him or her.
Point Beach, N.J.
No, I would not wear their jersey or have that poster on my wall. I would root for him in the sports bar and continue to cheer on my team. Being gay doesn't make him a bad person. Though I would respect his decision, I wouldn't wear the jersey, because I don't want to be affiliated with someone whose morals contrast with my own. Some will say wearing a jersey shows my support for his ability, not his sexual preference, but if I do show that support, my kids might see that as saying it's OK to go against the values taught to them as long as you are a good athlete. That's not what I want to do. Though I do not agree with homosexuality, I do respect that person's God-given right to make his own decisions and will still call that man my brother. I just won't put him on a pedestal.
People speak about the "institution" of sports being greater than the sum of its parts. We overlooked Lawrence Taylor's off-field antics and rightfully inducted him into the Hall Of Fame. We overlook MJ's gambling. We overlook Babe Ruth's womanizing and drinking. For what? For the sanctity of sport. Because no matter what you do -- whether you've released a hateful CD or spent the night with your boyfriend or climbed Mount Everest -- none of that matters once you get to the ballpark. No matter what the sport. If you can play, alleged sins are forgiven and looked past. As well they should be. When we lost Derrick Thomas, did we hear about how much time he spent with the youth programs and charities? No. We got a multipage article on how broke he was. If the media starts a trend, they should stick with it. The purists that argued for LT's induction should be the same ones arguing for everyone to "shut up and let him play" for the first openly gay athletes. But they won't. You know it. I know it. Our media is based on reporting the negative. Always has been. Always will be. Sex sells. Violence sells. Controversial topics sell. And it's all about the money. Who cares who gets hurt as long as the money keeps coming in? So it's not up to us on whether we will accept a gay athlete. The media will tell us what to think. As usual. The funniest part is that you ask if we would accept a gay athlete. The fact is that we already have ... we just don't know it. Ignorance is bliss. That's what the media says.
I would like to think that I would. But when it boils right down to it, I don't know. Gay women athletes, no problem for me. But men? Unless they're figure skaters ... it would be difficult. Although, as long as they're not flaunting it, it wouldn't matter to me. Athletes who preach and constantly talk about finding Jesus and things like that annoy me. If there were a gay athlete always walking around talking about how gay he or she is, then I would certainly not root for that person. It's a question best answered on an individual basis. Just play the game, don't beat your wife, and you're all good by me.
No, there is no place in the sports world for gay athletes. They need to stay in the closet or they will hear it. I will openly boo any athlete who acknowledges being gay. Even if that athlete was one of my favorite players, he would turn into an enemy.
Yes, and I think the public would, by and large. We have openly gay actors. We have openly gay musicians. We have openly gay congressmen. There would definitely be more pressure on a member of a team, as opposed to a diver or tennis player. But would it be any more than they already deal with trying to stay in the closet? If an individual is willing to come out, I think the public would support him. That is, as long as (like Jackie Robinson), he can play. Then the only reason to not want him around is because you're homophobic. If the DH rule can be welcomed in baseball, there's no reason gay players shouldn't be.
Absolutely! Actually, a lot of us here in Portland have. The Portland ABL team, the Power, not only marketed to the lesbian community, several of their players were out. And the info we had was that the Power had one of the most supportive fan bases in the ABL. While I completely understand athletes who choose to remain in the closet, I do wish the sports media (other than the show "Sports Night", which was great) would get behind this idea more "openly", but I'm not holding my breath.
I would definitely accept a gay athlete, but I also realize that for a gay athlete to come out in the four major sports, this individual must be one of the greatest players in the league. Otherwise, it will be nearly impossible to prevent his team from simply dropping or refusing to play him. We are at a stage in our society, where we have failed to acknowledge anyone who does not follow the status quo. This idea needs to be thrown out the window. Unfortunately only the strongest of individuals will be capable of even attempting to right this ship, but once this first individual steps forth to the masses, his life will be utter hell. Only 15 to 30 years down the line will this man be recognized as one of the greatest men to ever step onto a field, regardless of ability to play the game. Heck, this man will go down as one of the greatest Americans to have ever lived.
My belief in Jesus Christ and his holy book prohibit me from accepting homosexuality as an "acceptable lifestyle." I hate to use the cliché, but God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve. Political correctness dictates that those of us whose religious beliefs teach us that homosexuality is evil and wrong are gay-bashers, racists, homophobic, and mean. This is not the truth. I don't hate gay people, I hate homosexuality. I pray for them and certainly would never condone violence against them. Still, I will never accept their lifestyle because my Lord and savior tells me not to. In this day and age, openly Christian ballplayers are just as persecuted as openly gay players would be. There exists a terrible double standard that I fear will never be cleared up mainly because the large percentage of editors, reporters, and TV people are liberal.
I don't care if the guy is gay, just win some games is all I ask. But for that matter I didn't want to hear about Wilt's 20,000 women either. I don't care who the players are having sex with, their personal lives are none of my business. Give me a team filled with homos and heteros, whatever, but just give me a team that brings me home a championship.
Sure, I would accept a gay athlete and so would my two boys. We all see athletes as athletes. The only problem, if I was a teammate, would be in the locker room. I would be uncomfortable with a woman walking through while I was in the shower and I would feel the same way with a gay person.
This shouldn't be a problem for anyone living in the 21st century. Hasn't anyone ever heard of Ian Roberts before? He came out while playing professional rugby in Australia in 1994. Not exactly the most feminine of sports or the most tolerant society toward gays. If Aussies can deal with a star player coming out in an incredibly macho and physically brutal team sport like rugby, Americans, and their wimpy excuse for sport in baseball (more like a children's game than a sport, I think most would agree), should have no problem at all accepting this.
Long Beach, Calif.
Yes. I must agree with Jim Caple, though. It would take an athlete with strength and courage on par with Jackie Robinson to weather the emotional (and, unfortunately, physical too) beating he will endure. Male athletes are brutal. As with any society as a whole, individual ballplayers can be sensitive, perceptive, and insightful. They can be forward-thinking, accepting, even enlightened. Get 25 together and they become a microcosm of "The Public:" Rash, given to hysteria and just plain stupid. Add to that the fact that all 25 are men, all 25 fall into the 20-40 age group, and all of them have grown up using their bodies to get through school and make a living, and the idea of introducing a homosexual man into their midst is just plain insane. I was one of those guys. I made all the gay jokes. I talked all the locker room talk. If I were gay, I'd have been terrified at the thought of admitting my homosexuality to my teammates. Thinking back to my high school baseball team, I can think of three guys who would have stood with me after the fact. I can think of six or seven more who would be understanding enough not to join in on the emotional beating I'd get. There'd be another five who would simply not talk to me anymore. And then, there would be three who would not let up until I was either off the team or dead. And there are three guys like that on every team, in every men's sport. If you want proof, I suspect you'd get an honest reaction from Chad Curtis of the Texas Rangers. I suggest you give him a call. But as for the question of whether or not I'd support a gay player, I say again, yes, I would. Unless of course, he hit into too many double plays or kept leaving runners on base or got picked off of first in the ninth inning of a tie ballgame with my favorite team trailing by a run. But that's true of any ballplayer.
That depends ... Could he throw a baseball more than 90 mph with his left hand with some degree of accuracy? Flippancy aside, it would absolutely take a very special individual to come out as a pro athlete on a major-league team. The comparisons to Jackie Robinson sound accurate enough to me. Sure, it takes courage to face down a runner barreling into home, but the kind of courage it would take for the subject of this letter to come out transcends sports. That would be a role model I'd like to see for the children in this country.
San Diego, Calif.
At first, I was struck at how ridiculous the question was, until I read "... would you proudly wear their jerseys?" I would be afraid to wear his or her jersey ... afraid that people would think that I am gay, afraid that bigots would physically attack me. And then I knew the magnitude of the bravery and moral courage required of, especially a male athlete, to "come out."
My answer is rather complex, which makes it impossible for me to flat out say "yes" or "no." No. 1, what purpose does it serve for us fans to know who is gay? Does every gay person make it known that they are gay? No. Why should we care? I am a health teacher at the high school level, and this is an issue that I deal with every year in my classes. I don't think it matters one way or the other. Straight people as a whole don't overtly go out of their way to say "I'm heterosexual." With that, why would it matter to the fans about someone's sexual preference be it straight or gay? My stand has been and always will be the fact of: it's not that they are gay that I am concerned with, it's why do some, not all, want us to know? I don't care what people do in their bedrooms, why a person thinks I do, I don't know. Why would a person who is gay want us to know? For attention? To make excuses for life's failures? (blaming others who are homophobic) For respect? Why would a heterosexual want people to know? For the same reasons? I respect any human who keeps their personal matters to themselves. I'll be honest, it's the extreme overexaggerating homosexuals who many people find unaccepting. I don't wanna know someone's sexual preference by look, persona, or voice tonality. I have taught, worked with, played sports with, and lived with gay people. Funny thing is that it was never an issue and the only way I found out is because they told me as a friend. Being that we as fans are not the players' "friends," I see no point in knowing about their preference in dating. Every gay friend I have will vehemently claim that "they can tell who is gay ... they just know." I truly believe that based on my gay friends, so again why should I, the fan, know or care about anyone else who's gay?
The perception about the "straightness" in sports is incredible. Everyone is now trying to guess who the gay baseball player is ... as if this guy in question is the only gay athlete on a professional team! Regardless of one's personal beliefs concerning homosexuality, these people have a right to live their lives and have the job that they love and excel at, even if that is a professional sport. And for those who say, "That's fine they needn't bring attention to the fact that they're gay," don't forget that most of these professional sports organizations have public events where the players bring their wives and/or girlfriends. Thus, allowing the gay athletes to participate like anyone else means being out ... bringing their partner along to such events. Thus, in order to be full and complete members of their organization, they must be "out," and the organization and the public must support this. Any and all gay athletes should be supported wholeheartedly ... not as a societal acceptance of the homosexual lifestyle (though I have no issue with that, there are many who do), but as an act of fairness, equality, and the American way. I hope the particular ballplayer in question does come out and breaks the barrier. He will pay a price, unfortunately. But I hope he sees that it's worth it, for the dignity of many other gay athletes, for the dignity of the sport, and for the dignity of himself.
First question: If you knew a woman who was pregnant, (who had eight kids already, three who were deaf, two who were blind, one mentally retarded) and she had syphilis, would you recommend that she have an abortion? Question No. 2: It is time to elect a new world leader, and your vote counts. Here are the facts about the three leading candidates: Candidate A: Associates with crooked politicians, and consults with astrologists. He's had two mistresses. He also chain smokes and drinks eight to 10 martinis a day. Candidate B: He was kicked out of office twice, sleeps until noon, used opium in college and drinks a quart of whiskey every evening. Candidate C: He is a decorated war hero. He's a vegetarian, doesn't smoke, drinks an occasional beer and hasn't had any extramarital affairs. Candidate A is Franklin D. Roosevelt
Candidate B is Winston Churchill
Candidate C is Adolph Hitler And by the way: Answer to the abortion question if you said yes, you have just killed Beethoven. Give me 50 home runs a year, .320 average, and 120 RBI and I don't care if you make skirts or wear one. And if you hit .220, the bus to the minors is leaving soon. If you can play, you can stay. Who are any of us to judge another? We barely know ourselves. Your right hand will never know what it's like to be your left. I will never know what it's like to carry another man's weight and to bare his commitments. But I don't have to make it more difficult for him.
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