Thursday, February 08, 2007

Big Star

King Kaufman's Sports Daily | Salon
As ex-NBA journeyman John Amaechi comes out, it's time for sports leagues to stop accepting intolerance as a given.

Every time a former professional athlete comes out, everyone starts talking about when someone who's still playing will take the chance and be the gay Jackie Robinson. More than four years ago, when former NFL lineman Esera Tuaolo came out, some columnists said it was only a matter of time, and that soon sports would have a gay male star.

Besides former US figure skating champion Rudy Galindo, though, we still have not seen a male athlete of any consequence come out. Amaechi will apparently let on during his Sunday morning interview that he knows of other, current gay NBA players, but not name names--which is, of course, the right thing to do.

Sadly, I would guess that the first person to come out while playing will not do so gladly. I am not about to devote myself to solving the puzzle, but the pieces are all right there to be assembled. Fifteen players per team, 30 teams--that's only 450 people. Eliminate the married ones and the ones with known girlfriends (not that they're all straight, but anyone going to that length is not going to be willingly outed), and you'd be left with a universe of, what, 100 guys? You can't tell me someone won't figure out, and soon, which of these remaining dribblers doesn't appear to have an eye for the ladies.

And that will be very sad. So, gay NBA players, whoever you may be, I implore you: Come out on your own. Yes, it will be difficult at first, if the player and coach reactions to Amaechi's announcement are any indication, but you will be a hero to millions, and if you have enough game, your teammates will just have to learn to accept you for who you are. And hey, you may just get a few fouls called your way out of an abundance of caution.

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