Homophobia in sports and the Random Ten

I imagine it's a nationwide story given the number of sportswriters who have devoted either ink or electrons to it, and the amount of time local sports radio has given to it. I'm talking, of course, of Tim Hardaway's homophobic comments on the Dan Le Batard Show a couple of days ago.

It was bound to happen--former NBA player John Amaechi came out and was promoting his book, so on sports radio, the question for any former player was obvious--did you ever play with someone who you knew was gay, and would it bother you? The answers, pre-Hardaway, were about what you would expect--a lot of "not that I was positive about," and a few "I don't care as long as he can shoot/defend/rebound, etc."

And then there was Hardaway.

Hardaway is certainly not the only bigoted NBA player out there, past or present. For all I know, he may be in the majority. But he was the first to open his mouth and say something stupid on the subject, and the pleasant result has been that no one publicly has stepped forward to agree with him or back him up.

Could we have said that ten years ago?

Much of the debate on sports talk radio over the last few days has been over whether a professional athlete can come out while active, and the answer from the talking heads has largely been no, based on the assumption that there would still be too much hostility in the locker room and from fans (especially on the road, where the jeering would be intense), but having watched this unfold, I think they may be wrong on this.

Part of it is because while there would no doubt be loud-mouthed fans slinging homophobic slurs at an openly gay player, there would also be people in the stands shutting them up. Sports fans are not universally homophobic, something that's been emphasized to me in the short time I spent lurking on the fan forums at CBS Sportsline. Sure, there were people pulling out the expected homophobic crap, but there were also a surprising number of people shutting them down and calling them out. The world has changed, and continues to change, sometimes faster than we expect, and on this issue, I see a tipping point approaching where homophobia will be considered, rightly so, as offensive as racism.

Here's the Random Ten--turn on your computer's music player, put it on random, and list the next ten songs to appear. No skipping the Def Leppard.

1. Sick As Your Secrets--Veruca Salt
2. Definition--Black Star
3. Pride (In the Name of Love)--Nouvelle Vague
4. Ripple--Grateful Dead
5. I've Found a New baby--Squirrel Nut Zippers
6. Stardust--John Coltrane
7. Whiskey Gone--Paul Brill
8. Who Drove the Red Sports Car?--Van Morrison
9. Renegade Master--Fatboy Slim
10. Let's Talk Dirty in Hawaiian--John Prine
Special Bonus Track: Sleep All Day--Jason Mraz. I'd like to do that, but alas, I have to grade.

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