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Keep That Hard-On Away From Hardaway

By Benjy Lipsman in News on Feb 16, 2007 1:57PM

2007_02_sports_hardaway.jpgWe're a liberal bunch here in the Chicagoist offices. Liberal even for Chicago, which is a blue city, in a blue state. So sometimes it really amazes us that people have such different views on certain topics.

For example, we were absolutely stunned at the comments made recently by retired NBA star Tim Hardaway. During an interview with Dan Le Batard on Miami sports radio station WAXY-AM, Hardaway was asked about former NBA player John Amaechi's admission that he was gay, ahead of his book, Man in the Middle, being released later this month (excerpt from ESPN the Magazine).

At first Hardaway, a Chicago native, discussed not wanting to have a gay teammate, and that if he had one he'd distance himself from the guy. Then he fired off the "shot heard 'round the world."

You know, I hate gay people, so I let it be known. I don't like gay people and I don't like to be around gay people. I am homophobic. I don't like it. It shouldn't be in the world or in the United States.

WTF?!?! Did he actually just say that? On the radio, where is can be replayed endlessly?

Even if that's how he feels, you'd think he'd avoid saying such a thing on their air. While some commend his honesty, the whole "if you don't have something nice to say..." rule our moms taught us clearly should have been in play. There is no excuse for such comments, and it certainly makes us cringe to think he picked up such attitudes in our home town.

But it brings up the bigger issue of gays and pro sports. There has yet to be an active player in any of the major pro sports league who has come out. With attitudes like Hardaway's, along with countless others who've expressed concerns over trustworthiness, or worries about getting hit on in the locker room.

We don't quite see the issue. Do these pro athletes never use public bathrooms or the locker room at a gym? Do they get hit on by every female reporter who enters the locker room? Do they hit on every female reporter? Do they know every sexual like and dislike of all their teammates, or feel that they should know?

OK, so a gay man might see your dick. Big deal! That doesn't mean he wants you to be his bitch. It's not going to turn you gay. Get over yourselves, guys.

It's sad that the pro sports world remains such a macho place that players who are gay have to keep their sexuality hidden. Perhaps one day, things will change and players can be who they are without fear of verbal attacks like Hardaway's, or teammates distancing themselves, or even teams waiving players. Because of such issues, many speculate that the first openly gay player will have to be one of their sports' big stars. Somebody who means too much to the league and his team to be pushed out of the game.

Something we find ironic with this whole gays in sports issue is that in many ways it parallels the arguments for keeping blacks out of sports. The NBA and NFL are now majority black leagues, and many of baseball's biggest stars wouldn't have been able to play in the league just 60 years ago. How would Tim Hardaway feel if somebody said what he said, only substituting "black" for "gay?" How would he feel if people wanted to exclude him from his livelihood, and claimed they hated him and everybody like him, because of things beyond his control. Because of what he was, not who he was?

We understand that some might find the gay lifestyle "wrong" because of their supposed religious beliefs, but the same players who use that excuse to justify gay bashing certainly don't hold their womanizing teammates to similar standards. It's nothing more than an excuse to hide behind their hate. And it shouldn't be tolerated at any level, by any sport.

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