Knicks teammate Malik Rose tells the Times’ Howard Beck that sexual harrassment allegations against C Eddy Curry Suppression Ring are just the latest in “an unbelievable run of bad luck for a very good person”. Indeed, McDonald’s failure to reintroduce the McRib on a permanent basis was troubling to many Americans, but most of us don’t order our chauffers to perform handjobs at gunpoint. While I’d like to presume Curry is innocent of the heinous acts he’s charged with, the Chicago Sun-Times’ Neil Hayes instead wonders, “now that we have elected the country™s first African-American President, can an openly gay football, basketball, baseball or hockey player be far behind?”
Whether a gay athlete would be openly scorned in Chicago or elsewhere might have more to do with the individual involved than his sexual orientation. A star player who represents many of the qualities ” toughness, discipline, leadership, etc. ” fans most admire would be better able to overcome deeply rooted prejudices than an athlete who has failed to earn respect in the athletic arena. Bulls fans, for example, didn™t seem to care if Dennis Rodman wore a wedding dress and pink boa off the court as long as he pulled down rebounds to help fuel the Bulls™ NBA title runs.
What if the Bears finally landed a franchise quarterback who led the team to a Super Bowl victory only to make such a revelation afterward? Might his individual success and the success of the team allow fans to overlook his sexual orientation? What if a Cubs™ player announced he was gay days, weeks or months before hitting a World Series-clinching home run? Would that lessen the impact of the franchise™s first championship in 101 years?
How a gay athlete™s coaches and teammates reacted would impact whether a gay athlete would become a target for ridicule and retribution. Sometimes it seems the bigger the muscles the smaller the minds. In other cases, coaches and athletes can be more tolerant of an individual™s behavior if said player is instrumental to his teammates™ success. Wouldn™t you be more tolerant of a gay co-worker if he was positively impacting your career?
Former Cowboys coach Jimmy Johnson once famously said he would draft Charles Manson if he could run a 4.4 in the 40-yard dash. What about Elton John?
I realize Elton John is a big sports fan (and might know as much about American football as Jerry Jones), but I’d like to think he wouldn’t draft Charles Manson under any circumstances.