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Still No Homosexuals In Baseball
May 22, 2002 12:58 PM   Subscribe

Still No Homosexuals In Baseball "Not officially, anyway," notes AP sports writer Jim Litke. Exaggerated rumors in Monday's NY Post actually had Mike Piazza telling reporters yesterday, "I'm not gay. I'm heterosexual." The spark was an upcoming Details article, which asks Mets manager Bobby Valentine, "Are baseball clubhouses ready for an openly gay player?" His answer: "Probably." Has U.S. society really gotten to the point where an openly gay athlete could survive in pro sports?
posted by mediareport (27 comments total)

 
So when Clemens tried to kill him, we should consider that as a hate crime?
posted by matteo at 1:12 PM on May 22, 2002


Is it really an issue? Who cares?
posted by me3dia at 1:24 PM on May 22, 2002


+1 funny, matteo.

I just saw that Romenesko linked to a media spat that arose from the Post's crappy rumor-mongering. Columnist Wallace Matthews looks to have signed his walking papers with this column, which he says the Post wouldn't run.

I wonder about his certainty about pro sports and gay athletes, though. I don't want to be a pollyanna, but it does seem that eventually, the increasing acceptance of homosexuality will have to filter up to male pro athletes.

Oh, me3dia: Who cares? Looks like you do, for one.
posted by mediareport at 1:36 PM on May 22, 2002


In pro sports? Yes, certainly, with too many examples to bother picking any particular ones.

In pro male team sports? That has yet to be demonstrated.
posted by NortonDC at 1:45 PM on May 22, 2002


+1 funny, matteo.

::shudder::
posted by eyeballkid at 2:02 PM on May 22, 2002


Oh, me3dia: Who cares? Looks like you do, for one.

I care that a professional athlete's sexuality is considered an issue, yes. The question of whether "an openly gay athlete could survive in pro sports" is moot, I think, since there most likely already are gay players in male pro sports, and their open-ness is irrelevant to their playing ability. Nor is the question really whether US Society is ready for a gay athlete. It's whether the other athletes are ready to accept a gay athlete. That question has probably been answered in locker rooms across the country, in both the negative and affirmative.
posted by me3dia at 2:10 PM on May 22, 2002


What me3dia said.
posted by rushmc at 2:31 PM on May 22, 2002


> Has U.S. society really gotten to the point where an
> openly gay athlete could survive in pro sports?

Dunno why not. As Norman Mailer pointed out years ago, the T-formation is a buggerer's dream. And the way the quarterback sticks his hand up the center's ass, and the way all those locker rooms are full of pecker checkers... Business as usual, why not out it?
posted by jfuller at 2:44 PM on May 22, 2002


Has U.S. society really gotten to the point where an openly gay athlete could survive in pro sports?

The gay pro athletes who must be out there obviously don't think so.
posted by srboisvert at 3:15 PM on May 22, 2002


This whole gay thing clearly has Al Leiter shook.
posted by palegirl at 4:38 PM on May 22, 2002


Al Leiter?!
posted by ParisParamus at 4:47 PM on May 22, 2002


you're right me3dia, we should stop talking about this, and get back to all the other super-productive discussion that really has lasting social and policy impact!

their open-ness is irrelevant to their playing ability

no one suggested it was relevant

Nor is the question really whether US Society is ready for a gay athlete.

in fact that is exactly one of the questions posed, you can decide you don't want to answer it, but the question does make sense.
posted by rhyax at 7:36 PM on May 22, 2002


Has U.S. society really gotten to the point where an openly gay athlete could survive in pro sports?

There has a been a (relatively) openly gay player in major league ball, remember Glenn Burke, (sadly deceased).
Former NFL running back Dave Kopay came out after retiring as well.
I think Piazza is correct that an openly gay player(especially if he was a good one) would be no big deal. True,there are some vocal homophobes in pro sports, but there's the same in the IT or plumbing industries. You can't let a mouthy minority dictate the tone for discourse simply by being obnoxious.
The average American may not be rushing out to join PFLAG or get in a pride march, but most reasonable people pretty much take homosexuality for granted and could honestly care less, which is how it should be.
posted by jonmc at 7:49 PM on May 22, 2002


jonmc, the question which I'm sure lurks in the minds of many is whether or not the average pro athlete, the embodiment of machismo and male power, can be considered one of those reasonable people who take homosexuality for granted and could honestly care less. The question is especially begged when they're reacting to the fact that a homosexual on their team is in such close proximity to them in such intimate circumstances: locker rooms, showers, sharing hotel rooms on the road and/or during training camps, etc.

Sad as it is to say it, if Mike Piazza came out tomorrow, there would be guys who would be tripping all over themselves to get traded as far away from the Mets as they could get. They may not be as vocal about it as John Rocker, but they'd be on the phone with their agents every hour on the hour trying to make some arrangement.
posted by Dreama at 8:00 PM on May 22, 2002


Sure enough, the Post fired Wallace Matthews today.

I care that a professional athlete's sexuality is considered an issue, yes.

We agree on that, at least. But it's a little unfair to keep smacking down discussion of sexuality in sports when the status quo is so lopsided against queers being themselves in the clubhouse. It's not gay athletes who are the ones making a big deal out of something that shouldn't be.

The question of whether "an openly gay athlete could survive in pro sports" is moot, I think, since there most likely already are gay players in male pro sports, and their open-ness is irrelevant to their playing ability.

Not *completely* irrelevant. I can think of lots of ways a homophobic climate (like a racist climate) could affect a team's performance. And openly gay high school football captain Corey Johnson has already given us a great model of a gay athlete coming out in a thoughtful way. His coach put it best: "No one was asking the opposing teams to do anything more than not make idiotic and inappropriate comments about sexual orientation. That doesn't seem like a lot to ask. We weren't asking them to go to gay pride marches. "

I guess the main thing that struck me is the vehemence some people are using as they insist 1) male pro sports isn't ready for out gay athletes and 2) we shouldn't even be talking about it. That reaction itself seems like one of the things perpetuating the problem. If Johnson and his teammates can do it, why can't the pros?
posted by mediareport at 8:05 PM on May 22, 2002


I'm sure lurks in the minds of many is whether or not the average pro athlete, the embodiment of machismo and male power, can be considered one of those reasonable people who take homosexuality for granted and could honestly care less

Well, one can be a masculine male without being a macho asshole or at least I hope so, since I've been trying to for a while, but that's a whole other conversation.

Actually, aren't you underestimating athletes a bit? Not all of them conform to the "dumb macho jock" stereotype. More of them are college-educated and many pro-athletes travel in jet-set club-hopping circles in their off time- circles where gays are common and accepted. 25 years of increasing media presence has done it's job, at least to some degree.

Sad as it is to say it, if Mike Piazza came out tomorrow, there would be guys who would be tripping all over themselves to get traded as far away from the Mets as they could get.

This sounds like I'm kidding...but not if he was playing well and the Mets were winning*. The ultimate positive thing about sports is that it is the last true meritocracy. Rememeber pro baseball integrated racially before many other fields did.

*as a Mets fan, I say this as a prayer....
posted by jonmc at 8:15 PM on May 22, 2002


Oops. Sorry to NortonDC and anyone else who noticed the sexist "gay athlete" thing, which I should've caught before posting.
posted by mediareport at 8:42 PM on May 22, 2002


Rememeber pro baseball integrated racially before many other fields did.

Pro Baseball was deplorably slow to integrate and the Gentlemen's Agreement is one of the darkest chapters in sports. It took a true hero like Jackie Robinson to accomplish what he did.
posted by Kafkaesque at 8:51 PM on May 22, 2002


baseball is definitely not a meritocracy. not when players like tom wilson get banished to the minors for years and years while lugs like benito santiago are given millions. baseball has had black players as far back as the late 1800s, up until cap anson of the chicago white stockings (now the chicago cubs) refused to play with or against a black player
posted by moz at 9:57 PM on May 22, 2002


Actually, aren't you underestimating athletes a bit?

I'm actually relying on my personal knowledge of pro athletes, founded from my own interactions with a not-small number of them. I count several from MLB, the NFL and NHL as tenants, and have 2 MLB players and 2 NFL members in my immediate family. I've been to parties, awards banquets and charity functions and that's been the attitude that I've measured from the majority of the pro athletes I've encountered.

Not all of them conform to the "dumb macho jock" stereotype.

True, many don't. Many, however, unfortunately, play that part as though they were born to it.

More of them are college-educated and many pro-athletes travel in jet-set club-hopping circles in their off time- circles where gays are common and accepted. 25 years of increasing media presence has done it's job, at least to some degree.

In my experience, this is true more of baseball players and white football players -- but even there to only a small extent. The clubs and circles in which other athletes, especially African-American football players, travel are not very gay-friendly. Again, this is only in my experience.

This sounds like I'm kidding...but not if he was playing well and the Mets were winning*.

We can hope. I'm not as optimistic as you, jonmc. However I do give you credit for being a fan of a great baseball team!
posted by Dreama at 10:14 PM on May 22, 2002


Wow, consider me schooled, dreama.

I still hold out hope though. I'm a cockeyed optimist, I suppose, but if you aren't what's worth trying, right?
posted by jonmc at 10:29 PM on May 22, 2002


lugs like benito santiago are given millions.

Easy there, pal!

Santiago has done great work for my Giants.
posted by Kafkaesque at 10:39 PM on May 22, 2002


for now, kafka. (though that .336 obp is looking pretty honky considering his average.)
posted by moz at 11:12 PM on May 22, 2002


<impersonation voice="Tom Hanks ">

There's no homosexuals in baseball!
There's no homosexuals in baseball!

</impersonation>
posted by ODiV at 4:54 AM on May 23, 2002


I guess the main thing that struck me is the vehemence some people are using as they insist ... 2) we shouldn't even be talking about it.

That's not really what I wastrying to imply. I think it's an important discussion, and I wish it wasn't one we had to have. Maybe I'm just too forward thinking , but it seems to me that if "Will & Grace" can be a hit show, a male professional athlete can be openly gay. (I think female professional athletes would have an easier time, since lesbianism is for some reason less of a stigma in the eyes of most homophobes {possibly because they watch too many fake-lesbian pornos}.)

Of course, I think he'd have to be a damn fine ball player, though. Just imagine the slurs cast down on the field should he play poorly. In that way, sports fans aren't ready for a gay player -- they'll use anything to decry a bad player, and homosexual slurs are pretty easy to come by.
posted by me3dia at 9:01 AM on May 23, 2002


Holding a bat for a lot of time, stroking balls with it and be very happy

Now if this isn't somehow sexual related, I don't know what else. :)
posted by elpapacito at 9:27 AM on May 23, 2002


I think female professional athletes would have an easier time, since lesbianism is for some reason less of a stigma in the eyes of most homophobes

Billy Jean King? Martina Navratilova? I think the ice has been broken there.
posted by rushmc at 5:31 PM on May 23, 2002


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