Analysis of media issues, politics and current events.
In a comment about NBA player Jason Collins disclosing that he’s gay, former NFL player Hines Ward said that he thinks many of his NFL colleagues would find an openly gay football player too much to handle.
“I don’t think football is ready, there’s too many guys in the locker room and, you know, guys play around too much,” Ward said.
I understand that Ward is giving his analysis of the NFL players’ reaction to the issue, but if his assessment is right, I have two questions”
1) This is the NFL right? Not the dating game?
2) And isn’t it full of men that run and grab other men’s body parts every 30 seconds? What? Are you folks worried there is a guy willing to touch another man without getting paid for it?
Joking aside. To the football players who “are not ready” for an openly gay player: you’re in sport where you are expected to be prepared for things. If you are slow on a game play, you can’t call to the ref “Wait, I wasn’t ready.” You deal with the facts on the ground and move on to the next play. That’s what being a football player, or any sport professional, is all about.
The reason we admire sports professionals is their ability to both seize their ability and seize the moment of opportunity. From a sneak pass to a fumble to a player that’s just too fast to defend, players must deal with what in front of them and adapt. We don’t expect professional players who face challenges to just stop and say “Whoa, whoa.” And someday soon, that challenge could be an openly gay player in front of them.
Plus even beyond sports, “not ready” is the age-old cry of groups who eventually know they’ll have to give up a system of social preferences or benefits that they’ve unequally benefited from. For the NFL, that benefit has been an all-male environment with a socially enforced heterosexual-only facade.” When Ward talks about men worried about not having the freedom to be playful in the locker room, that’s what he’s getting at. That NFL players can horse around in a room safe from the idea that another man could be deriving some sexual pleasure from that.
First of all, get over yourselves. And, of course, that fear you’re describing (being leered at) never happens to women, except by men everywhere. It’s an industry enabled social privilege many of these men don’t want to just surrender. And the the excuse of not being ready is used prolong it. In an example where race and sports meet on this same issue, just listen to color-barrier-breaking baseball player Jackie Robinson.
An April 14, 1957 a Meet the Press clip showed the press asking Jackie Robinson, to comment on the “impatience” of blacks for civil rights –especially when some in society where not ready for such a change, Jackie Robinson replied to the show’s host:
“When they say that the NAACP is moving too fast – you know, I heard that, Mr. Spivak, when I was out in Pasadena, California, trying to get into the YMCA: Take your time. Be patient. Patience is fine. I think if we go back and check our record, the Negro has proven beyond a doubt that we have been more than patient in seeking our rights as American citizens. “Be patient,” I was told as a kid. I keep hearing that today, “Let’s be patient; let’s take our time; things will come.” It seems to me, the Civil War has been over about 93 years; if that isn’t patience, I don’t know what is.”