Love and Basketball: Homophobia in Sports

yimOn the night of the NBA all-star game, I though it would be a good time to address Tim Hardaway’s (a 5-time All-Star) controversial comments made during an interview on 790 the Ticket radio show earlier this week. Host Dan Le Batard was discussing John Amaechi, a retired NBA center who recently became the first NBA player EVER to come out of the closet and announce that he is homosexual. When asked how he would “deal” with a gay teammate Hardaway responded,

“First of all I would’t want him on my team. Second of all, if he was on my team I would really distance myself from him because I don’t think that’s right and I don’t think he should be in the locker room when we’re in the locker room… Well, you know, I hate gay people. I let it be known I don’t like gay people. I don’t like to be around gay people. I’m homophobic. I don’t like it, it shouldn’t be in the world, in the United States, I don’t like it.” (listen to entire audio clip here.)

Hardaway has since paid some serious consequences for his comments. Not only did NBA commissioner David Stern ban Hardaway from all associations/appearances with the NBA but he was also fired by the Continental Basketball Association, and by Trinity Sports, of which he was the Chief Basketball Operations Advisor. But Hardaway was not saying anything new; the late Reggie White (hall of fame defensive end for the Greenbay Packers) made similar comments back in 1998. And let’s be real, anyone who’s ever played organized sports is probably familiar with similar expressions of homophobia. It’s no surprise that of the four major sports - Football, Basketball, Baseball and Hockey - only 6 players (including Amaechi) have ever come out of the closet. What might surprise you is that and the majority of these players have been Black.

We have addressed homophobia in earlier posts, but I thought this incident would give us a chance to re-visit the discussion. The LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Tran-sexual) community endures comporable levels of discrimination that Black people face in this country, and furthermore, this incident reveals the extent to which Black LGBTs have been silenced in discussions of the struggle for Black equality. People don’t often mention that the Black Panther party was at the forefront of gay-rights, advocating for unity/solidarity between the Black and LGBT communities. If he were alive today, Huey Newton would have been the first to denounce Hardaway for his disparaging comments. Why don’t we see more open discussions about sexuality in the Black community? Is the NBA/Black community ready for openly gay athletes, members?

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Published on February 18, 2007 at 11:08 pm. 74 Comments.
Filed under men's issues, sexuality, sports.