I'd heard about John Amaechi's book Man in the Middle coming out recently. He literally comes out as one of only four men, to this point, in the major American sports (basketball, baseball, football, hockey) to admit that he is a gay man.
Of course he's been out of basketball for a few years now. I can't imagine the type of scrutiny that he would've suffered if he disclosed his sexuality when he was an active player. Actually I do. Perhaps some players would've stuck by his side, but I'm sure he would have been ostracized.
When his book came out I thought--well we know that there are much more gay men in organized sports. People might not be comfortable with that notion, kind of a don't ask don't tell mentality. I didn't think he was a big enough name to really illicit attention.
A few players have been asked questions, none really taking the bait. Well that is until Tim Hardaway, former Miami Heat/Golden State Warrior, made the statement below Tuesday on a Miami radio broadcast. I'm including an excerpt from a posting I found on ABC News:
"You know, I hate gay people," Hardaway said during an interview on "790 the Ticket."
"You know, I let it be known I don't like gay people. I don't like to be around gay people,"
"First of all, I wouldn't want him on my team," he said. "I think the majority of the players would ask for him to be traded or they would want to get traded."
The show's host said: "You know that what you're saying there though, Timmy, is flatly homophobic."
Hardaway replied, "I am homophobic. So yeah, I don't like it."
When reading the article I learned that Shaquille Oneal has given his support to John Amaechi. Shaq has always been his own man. I'm not surprised by the support from the gentle giant.
Hardaway offered an expected apology after all of the heat he's been taking regarding his comments. I know that Commissioner David Stern issued a statement that the NBA in no way backs the comments made by Tim Hardaway.
"I want to apologize for my comments … regarding gays. My comments were offensive and I regret making them. I'm sorry to anyone I have offended."
The sentiments expressed by Tim Hardaway, though offensive, are probably reflective of how a good percentage of organized athletes would react to having a gay team-mate. Hardaway expressed his opinion in a public forum, with a lack of sensitivity. However, that is his opinion, and though I don't share his sentiments I think he has the right to express it.
Perhaps Tim putting his foot in his mouth will open up dialogue where more players feel comfortable about expressing their reaction to the thought of having a homosexual team-mate. I can only hope that people discussing such an issue, and John being courageous enough to broach this issue, will help people to be more open-minded towards homosexuality.
Finally, I did notice a couple of people took a look at his picture (had this conversation earlier today at work) and I didn't hear anyone say well you could tell he was gay (from how he looked). I haven't heard any of his former team-mates assert anything along those lines either. I think people who might have not been exposed to (or more likely not aware that they were being exposed to)--can see that being gay has little to do with feminine or masculine traits, but with who you'd invite to your bed.