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Thursday, November 5, 2015

Rod Dreher says no respectable publication would ever wish an athlete to fail for being gay. Rod Dreher doesn't read much sports press.

Reacting to some gay rights' activists' indulgence in a little schadenfreude over antigay baseball player Daniel Murphy's World Series whoopsie, conservative columnist Rod Dreher writes:

What if a Christian wrote that he was glad to see a sports team lose a national championship because the team includes an openly gay star athlete, and we cannot have people cheering for a homosexual? Would we not think that person was a petulant narcissist, and quite possibly a crackpot bigot? Could that person even hope to get a column like that published in a respectable publication?  
Of course not.
Circular reasoning aside, well, let's consider the record.
Mostly, Dreher's "it can't happen because it has never happened" argument is largely derived from the monolithic culture of sports itself. Conservatives, almost without fail, have not had to indulge what so outrages Dreher. They have been able to rely on Big Sport to save them the trouble: to keep it from happening.

Whenever an athlete is accused of being gay -- or even lightly rumored -- they tend to fall all over themselves asserting their heterosexuality. Mike Piazza, most famously, called a press conference to let the entire New York City beat reporter corps know that he dated women. Manti Te'o, when his deceptions about his fake dead girlfriend were revealed, was double-plus emphatic when asked by Katie Couric whether he was gay. Far from it. FAR from it! 
And now there's [Packers QB Anton] Rodgers, who made sure he got an extra "really" in there to shoot down a rumor that he himself had just brought up. It is not enough for an athlete to say that he is not gay. He must make it absolutely clear -- to the guys in the locker room, to the radio bro interviewing him, to all the fans at Lambeau -- that it's the most absurd thing he's ever come across. That him being gay would cut the fabric of space and time. That the question would even come up is embarrassing to the very notion of questions, or words, or thoughts. The logical extension of one of these answers is for a player to say, "Look, if I could have sex with a woman in front of you right now just to show you, I would. I'll probably have sex with a woman the minute I'm away from you people. I wish I didn't have to answer these questions right now, not because I don't want to, but because it takes me away from my true passion, which is having sex with women. These are five minutes I could have spent having sex with a woman. Five minutes I can't get back." 
The number of things that Aaron Rodgers could have been accused of by a random website that he wouldn't have felt compelled to comment on are too numerous to list. But this, this he felt like he had to clarify. In a chest-thumping, lookit, lookit, way. This had to be dealt with.
And in the rare cases where gay athletes have come out, plenty of respectable publications and media outlets have been willing to treat them as freaks.
When the NBA's Jason Collins came out, reactions included this:
ESPN Sportscaster Chris Broussard said that Collins was not “a Christian” because of his sexual orientation:

And there was this:

CBS Sportscaster Mike Francesa called Collins’s announcement “a dramatic attempt to sell a magazine”:

It means less than nothing to me that there is a gay player now out if the NBA. SI going to reveal this this week in—I don’t know why—I guess a dramatic attempt to sell a magazine, I guess.

After Michael Sam won a pick in the NFL draft, this:

Anonymous NFL executives quoted in Sports Illustrated:
“I don’t think football is ready for [an openly gay player] just yet,” said an NFL player personnel assistant. “In the coming decade or two, it’s going to be acceptable, but at this point in time it’s still a man’s-man game. To call somebody a [gay slur] is still so commonplace. It’d chemically imbalance an NFL locker room and meeting room.”
“That will break a tie against that player,” the former general manager said. “Every time. Unless he’s Superman. Why? Not that they’re against gay people. It’s more that some players are going to look at you upside down. Every Tom, Dick and Harry in the media is going to show up, from Good Housekeeping to the Today show. A general manager is going to ask, ‘Why are we going to do that to ourselves?'”
“There are guys in locker rooms that maturity-wise cannot handle it or deal with the thought of that,” the assistant coach said. “There’s nothing more sensitive than the heartbeat of the locker room. If you knowingly bring someone in there with that sexual orientation, how are the other guys going to deal with it? It’s going to be a big distraction. That’s the reality. It shouldn’t be, but it will be.”
In 2007 an NBA player, Tim Hardaway, announced he hated gay people. Prominent conservative columnist and radio host Michael Medved sprang to his defense:

There is no rational basis for discomfort at playing with athletes of another race since science and experience show that human racial differences remain insignificant. The much better analogy for discomfort at gay teammates involves the widespread (and generally accepted) idea that women and men shouldn’t share locker rooms. Making gay males unwelcome in the intimate circumstances of an NBA team makes just as much sense as making straight males unwelcome in the showers for a women’s team at the WNBA. Most female athletes would prefer not to shower together with men not because they hate males (though some of them no doubt do), but because they hope to avoid the tension, distraction and complication that prove inevitable when issues of sexual attraction (and even arousal) intrude into the arena of competitive sports. 

Tim Hardaway (and most of his former NBA teammates) wouldn’t welcome openly gay players into the locker room any more than they’d welcome profoundly unattractive, morbidly obese women. I specify unattractive females because if a young lady is attractive (or, even better, downright “hot”) most guys, very much including the notorious love machines of the National Basketball Association, would probably welcome her joining their showers. The ill-favored, grossly overweight female is the right counterpart to a gay male because, like the homosexual, she causes discomfort due to the fact that attraction can only operate in one direction. She might well feel drawn to the straight guys with whom she’s grouped, while they feel downright repulsed at the very idea of sex with her. 

I welcome more examples from readers.

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