Homophobia Rampant In Men’s Sports

Gay SportsMONTREAL, CANADA – Mark Tewksbury and American Gary Veatch resumed their longtime rivalry in the pool this week.
After Tewksbury had avenged a loss dating to the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, the two talked about how wonderful it was to be out of the closet and competing in the first Outgames.
I couldn’t help but wonder if they would have been a lot happier if they could have come out while they were competing as world-class athletes.
While it’s great to see the competition this week, the Outgames are yet another reminder that gay athletes are marginalized,
especially when it comes to men’s sports.
While nobody expected the games to be a box-office smash, one participant told me he wasn’t disappointed because “these games are mostly for the participants; it’s not like you’re seeing world-class performers.”
That’s not to say that there aren’t world-class gay athletes. The problem is that most of them are justifiably afraid to come out of the closet.
While there are prominent lesbians who have come out on the WTA and LPGA Tours, there is still a shadow of homophobia hanging over men’s sports.
The LPGA has always adopted a defensive attitude about its lesbian players. When media members arrive to cover LPGA events, they are inevitably encouraged to visit the tour’s travelling daycare, which is to reassure folks that the tour includes women with traditional values and kids.
Little has changed since I was a teenager. When a coach wanted to denigrate a player’s performance, he would compare the athlete to a girl. If he wanted to emphasize his point, he would use one of the derogatory terms applied to homosexuals.
Times haven’t changed much. Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen trotted out one of those words this summer to describe a player on an opposing team and baseball, which would have reacted in a decisive manner if Guillen had uttered a racial epithet, merely slapped him on the wrist.
Dave Meggysey gave the term “out” a twist when he wrote Out of Their League, a memoir based on his experiences as a closeted gay playing in the NFL. Meggysey’s experience should have opened doors for gay athletes, but the reality is that in most men’s sports, gay athletes remain deep in the closet because they know coming out will almost certainly signal the ends of their careers. This will always be the case until some high-profile athlete – an athlete who is too good to discard – comes out of the closet.
It would be easy to say you need an athlete with the guts to make such a move, but in the current climate in North America, it’s a question not of guts, but of survival. It’s easy to say sexual orientation doesn’t matter, but to too many people, it does.
It’s sad that sports tolerate drug addicts, wife-beaters, rapists, racists and assorted other miscreants, but has no tolerance for athletes whose sexual orientation differs from the majority.
N.D.G. teams on the move: For the first time in its history, the N.D.G. minor baseball league is sending two teams to the national championships in the 11-12 and 13-14 age groups.
Russell Martin Sr., the father of Los Angeles Dodgers catcher Russel Martin and former coach in the N.D.G. organization, threw out the first pitch at the provincial final last Sunday. It was a split-finger fastball in the dirt that was well blocked by the N.D.G. catcher Michael Fitzsimmons. Russell Sr. said he wanted to see how well the kid blocked.
from The Gazette

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