For those of you who don't know, former NBA point guard Tim Hardaway popped off on Dan LeBatard's radio show in Miami yesterday with an anti-gay riff that indicates exactly why gay male athletes stay so far in the closet they might as well be in Narnia.
Hardaway's proclamation that he hates gay people, is homophobic and would distance himself as much as possible from his teammate simply underscores the issues that gay athletes face. Naturally, Hardaway apologized just as his comments received enormous airtime on ESPN.
The fact is that athletes tend to be disdainful of sex between two men or between two women. Only in tennis and golf, individual sports, is homosexuality even moderately "accepted." In team sports, the opposite is the rule. Women's basketball programs have collapsed because of alleged or actual lesbianism (see Texas' decline in the 1990s), although to be fair a few lesbian predator coaches have plagued the sport for years and that small element has had a large impact. Hockey teams have shunned players who were molested by their youth coaches (hockey had a big stir about 5 years ago when one player exposed his former youth coach as a serial paedophile), and the molested players were innocent victims of sexual deviants, not gay participants in consensual sex.
But mainstream media, and mainstream America, both reject arrant homophobia. Hardaway's comments are offensive and dumb. Then again, not many professional athletes will retire and win Nobel prizes in the hard sciences.