(above : Clemons, clearly not a fan of attracting attention to one’s self)
Inspired by CBS Sports’ Mike Freeman‘s claims that “ a current gay NFL player is strongly considering coming out publicly within the next few months”, Seattle’s Chris Clemons took to Twitter to opine, “I just think something’s should be left at home”, followed by “I think it’s a selfish act…they just trying to make themselves bigger than the team.”) While there’s no “I” in “team”, “team” remains an anagram for “meat”…and there’s no shortage of meatheads who will continue to argue that taking issue with Clemons’ intolerance is in itself, an act of intolerance. One meathead in particular, took to the airwaves of Sirius/XM’s Mad Dog Radio earlier this week to channel John Smoltz in comparing support for what he calls “the homosexual agenda” to condoning “dog fucking”.
If Clemons seriously believes that merely being the person you’re born as (a right afforded to every heterosexual in professional sports, if not every other walk of life) is tantamount to a form of egomania, he’s certainly entitled to his screwy opinion, but there’s something unsettling about the notion the quest to earn a ring for Pete Carroll should take a backseat to social progress. While far from endorsing Clemons’ POV, The Seattle Times’ Danny O’Neil asks, “what if ‘the selfish act’ is coming out as gay in a very public, very political way while on an NFL roster…what defines being gay in a political way? Is it holding a press conference or is it holding hands in public?” Mike Piazza, unavailable for comment.
If a member of a team felt that having someone openly gay as a teammate put the topic of gay rights ahead of the team’s interest, would he be wrong? Not wrong in a moral sense, mind you, but incorrect because the reality is that the first openly gay athlete in an American male team sport is going to become a lightning rod not only for himself but for his teammates. Do the other men in the locker room oppose him, tolerate him or support him? There will be no neutral. There will be no shortage of questions.
But that reality underscores the difficulty facing a gay athlete, not the gay athlete’s teammate.
The first openly gay, active NFL player is not political by choice. Rather, his sexual preference and expressions of affection will be unavoidably political because he is openly gay. Clemons’ Tweets actually recognize this fact. He did not object to any issues of sexual orientation so much as the attention it is accorded. The reality of an openly gay player would become a singularly overwhelming issue for that team.
But whose fault is that? Is it the gay athlete for revealing his sexual orientation or is it society in general and the industry in particular that makes it such an overwhelming issue?