John Amaechi, former NBA player, made headlines years back when he “came out” after his retirement. I applaud his decision and bravery to finally admit his sexual orientation to a world that still isn’t quite friendly to homosexuality, even though he wasn’t exactly entrenched in it at the time of his declaration. In his book, Man In The Middle, he even hints that there are current NBA players who are gay behind closed doors. He, being the stand-up guy that he is, did not disclose the names of the few who are, in fact, gay in the NBA.
And, he shouldn’t have to. It wouldn’t be right and, frankly, it’s none of his business. But, wouldn’t it be great to see athletes from all major sports come out of the closet? Besides the WNBA and figure skating (where everyone pretty much assumes you’re gay until proven otherwise), there are currently no gay athletes in the spotlight. I think that sucks. As a person who sees things through a comedic lens a vast majority of the time, I could only ponder the implications of the awkwardness that would transpire from a homosexual’s freedom to express his sexuality along with his jumpshot.
Think about it. Outside of the locker room, which is the most awkward place for a straight to share with a gay, (it’s true, people! C’mon!) there can be some situations where the nervousness would surely peak. For example, John Amaechi was a center in the NBA. For those who aren’t too familiar with the role of a center in basketball, he’s the big guy in the middle that spends most of his time putting his body up against the biggest guy on the other team. Grinding and bumping. Bumping and grinding. A common stance for offensive moves for the center is to play with their back towards the basket. This usually includes the other center to slightly hunch over the player in an attempt to defend the basket. This is called a post up. What if John Amaechi would’ve came out while he was playing? Who would post up on that guy?! With most straight athletes being the paranoid bunch that they are, John Amaechi would be the league’s leading rebounder every year from guys being afraid to box him out.
Speaking of centers, a center in football is the guy in the offensive line that passes the ball off to the quarterback during the snap. If you’re a football fan, you already know how the QB and the C performs this exchange. Sometimes the QB is about ten feet away during the snap, but that’s usually for a kick attempt. Other times, which is most of the time, the QB’s hands are just mere centimeters below the squating C’s man parts. Most straight guys in general have it in their minds that gay guys are very promiscuous and touchy-feely with this promiscuity, which can be debated. So, there it goes: awkwardness example #2.
One of the fastest-growing sports is mixed martial arts (MMA). Over 90% of the fights end up on the ground, largely because of the success of Royce Gracie and his brand of Brazilian Ju-Jitsu. Now, everyone’s doing it hence the “mixed” part of the name. I want to see a fighter who is only a grappler and flamingly gay as hell. Imagine the run-around the other guy would give! I would actually argue that a homosexual man would be more passionate about pinning another guy to submissive, especially if he were a top. I mean, to tell the truth, it’s already gay enough in the Octagon. I like watching MMA fights but mainly more for the strikes. Once it goes to the floor…eh. If you’re a BJJ practitioner who likes to look at it, technically, then watch it. If you’re a gay man who likes seeing shirtless, sweaty men with pretty much only shorts on, going at it on the floor in questionable positions, then watch it.
I’m sure a current player will come out, eventually, and a domino effect would occur after comfort slowly replaces anxiety. If the concern is about, say, AIDS, then why did most of the NBA have no problem with playing with Magic Johnson after his HIV+ diagnosis? The only real concern I can truly think of is the locker room scenario, since the most appealing physique is an athletic one. But, that bridge would have to be crossed when we get to it, right?