In Sports Commentary

The major professional sports leagues are getting ready for an active athlete to come out. (PHOTO:

Pro sports ready for openly gay athlete

The National Football League is getting ready for it. So is the National Basketball Association and Major League Baseball. Even the National Hockey League is getting prepared.

If you didn't know better, you might think some kind of major labor strife is on the horizon and the leagues are getting ready to handle it. But it's not labor strife that is causing this high level preparation.

It's the guy who is about to come out of the closet.

It may well be that the heat of the debate about same-sex marriage is creating the climate, but speculation is also hot and heavy that some prominent, active, male athlete is about to come out, as well.

This anticipation has spawned all kinds of activity, including games trying to predict the sport and the player who will come out. It's also spawned its share of homophobic idiots hiding behind their blogs.

The New York Times had an article last week about how the four professional leagues are preparing to handle whatever happens.

Each league is partnering with unions and with various LGBT advocacy groups to develop response plans for what they all apparently believe is going to be a reaction of of gigantic proportions.

And the expectation is that the reaction is going to come from three areas: the public, the press and the athletes.

I think the public reaction is going to be fairly predictable. You'll get your God-fearing fire breathers who think this is the end of all sports and all things American. You'll get the justice standard bearers who condemn the righteous as bigots.

The press is going to foment. Members of the media love nothing more than conflict and if it doesn't exist they will find a way to create it. Microphones will be thrust into the faces of talking heads on all sides of the issue. Rush Limbaugh will proclaim the "Death of Football" and Anderson Cooper will provide a friendly national forum for the athlete who comes out.

The reaction of professional athletes is a little more difficult for me to anticipate. If I had a dime for every anti-gay joke I've heard in a locker room I'd be a rich man. The world of pro sports is macho, full of preening, snapping bath towels and ribald humor. I don't think athletes are going to welcome this news without a little bit of an "I don't want to get involved" reaction.

When this happens there's going to be a lot of shouting about progress and how far we have come, but that's a little overwrought.

Real progress will be when a gay professional athlete is only concerned about his performance on the field and the rest of us cheer or boo for the way he plays.


AndrewJ | April 16, 2013 at 12:39 p.m. (report)

Gotta love society these days. Almost 17 trillion dollars in debt as a nation, and "who is gay and playing pro sports" is the hot topic. Sigh.

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