In the past few days there have been a few people affiliated with the sporting world come out and proclaim that they were gay. This should not be news. In this day and age you would think that we have come far enough that a person’s sexuality should not be a big deal. Even in sports. Obvious I’m wrong which is rather disheartening.
Rick Welts (CEO of the Phoenix Suns) and former Villanova player Will Sheridan have made news recently because they have shared their sexuality with the world. That within itself does not seem like a big deal but the deeper issue is the fact that they felt like they had to keep it a secret from the rest of the world.
Being gay doesn’t affect your ability to run a basketball organization nor does it affect your ability to play basketball so why is being gay in the sporting world so taboo? The fact is that there are many gay men on basketball teams, football teams, baseball teams, ect. Their sexuality does not change their skill set. Either they can play or they can’t.
Charles Barkley recently made this comment to the Washington Post:
“First of all, every player has played with gay guys. It bothers me when I hear these reporters and jocks get on TV and say, ‘Oh, no guy can come out in a team sport. These guys would go crazy.’ First of all, quit telling me what I think. I’d rather have a gay guy who can play than a straight guy who can’t play.”
I totally agree with Charles in most of this statement, I’m just not so sure if gay players can really just come out and tell the world they’re gay without backlash. Sure it’s easier to come out as a CEO like Rick Welts or if you’re no longer playing like Will Sheridan, but I think that it would just be difficult if a current player came out to the world.
I know that Will said that his teammates knew that he was gay and accepted it, but that was his team. Imagine what life would have been like if the entire NCAA knew that he was gay. I would imagine that it would have been rough.
While I don’t think that this SHOULD be news, maybe it HAS to be news. Maybe the more people hear it; the more people begin to accept it. Maybe stories like these give courage to players who are living secret lives because they’re afraid of repercussions. Maybe. I’m not sure if these stories do more harm than good, but what I do know that is being gay in sports is one taboo that the sporting world is going to have to overcome.