Wednesday, February 07, 2007Former NBA player John Amaechi joins the rarefied category of openly gay professional athletes. From Sports Illustrated:
Former NBA center John Amaechi, who spent five seasons with four teams, on Wednesday became the first NBA player to publicly come out. His admission comes three years after his playing career ended, making him the sixth professional male athlete from one of the four major U.S. sports -- basketball, baseball, football, hockey -- to openly discuss his homosexuality. Amaechi details his life in his autobiography Man in the Middle, which will be released Feb. 14.However, I'm a bit confused by the logic of Cavs' LeBron James' reaction to the news, which I think sheds an important insight into the emotional politics of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell":
NBA commissioner David Stern said a player's sexuality wasn't important. "We have a very diverse league. The question at the NBA is always 'Have you got game?' That's it, end of inquiry," he said. LeBron James, however, said he didn't think an openly gay person could survive in the league.On the one hand, James appears to be saying trust is the number one factor in team cohesiveness, and he says a gay player who is not honest with his/her teammates about sexuality violates that trust - yet he also says he "didn't think an openly gay person could survive in the league"? Unless James is being misquoted, to me that sounds entirely contradictory. Is he saying he'd feel more comfortable playing alongside a closeted player, or an honest [openly gay] player? Or does he mean that a player's homosexuality, open or not, is in itself a violation of team trust? To me it sounds like a mealy-mouthed way of saying gays are unwelcome on James' team, out or not: 'damned if you do, damned if you don't.'
"With teammates you have to be trustworthy, and if you're gay and you're not admitting that you are, then you are not trustworthy," James said. "So that's like the No. 1 thing as teammates -- we all trust each other. You've heard of the in-room, locker room code. What happens in the locker room stays in there. It's a trust factor, honestly. A big trust factor."
Amaechi apparently did well enough for himself during his [closeted] career in the majors that sexuality certainly needn't have been an issue - and good on him for having the courage to stand up and be counted in a still-hostile environment.
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