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October 27, 2005 10:56 AM   Subscribe

Meet the only out player in Major League Professional Sports: Sheryl Swoopes, of the WNBA. Will Swoopes's revelation help chip away at the homophobia that is rampant in some locker rooms and fuels much of the negative recruiting that goes on in women's sports? She has her own Nike shoe--the only woman to ever get one, and now, another first for this rarest of athletes – someone who comes out publicly during their career.
posted by amberglow (181 comments total)

 
I doubt it will have much of an effect on homophobia in sports. I think most people reacted to it like I did: a lesbian in the WNBA? Who woulda thunkit? It will, for whatever it's worth, require a male athelete coming out to really sort of effect any shock in the sports culture.
posted by xmutex at 11:05 AM on October 27, 2005


null: "Will Swoopes's revelation help chip away at the homophobia that is rampant in some locker rooms and fuels much of the negative recruiting that goes on in women's sports?"

My guess: No. Good for her, though.
posted by Plutor at 11:10 AM on October 27, 2005


Woah, something weird happened there with my quotamajiggy. Back to the drawing board.
posted by Plutor at 11:11 AM on October 27, 2005


I hope her coming out has some good repercussions, but I can't really care too much. A respected public figure comes out as gay? Great! May Ms. Swoopes be the first of many to stand equal and unashamed. But I'm afraid that her announcement has exactly the same amount of impact on how much I care about professional sports as the fact that the White Sox won the World Series, which is to say, none at all.

If I knew Swoopes personally, I'd send her a congratulations card.
posted by Faint of Butt at 11:15 AM on October 27, 2005


No man has ever come out while still active in the major leagues of football, baseball, basketball or hockey. If an NBA ever player did, commissioner David Stern said, there'd only be one question:

"How many points? How many rebounds? I think that it's a non-issue."


Not so sure about that, but I hope he's right. This is a great story, too bad it's the WNBA and few will notice. It's a strech to call it a professional sport, despite Stern's efforts.
posted by loquax at 11:17 AM on October 27, 2005


I think most people reacted to it like I did: a lesbian in the WNBA? Who woulda thunkit?

I wonder about that--most people already think they're all lesbians, but that's a homophobic and sexist response. If some do actually come out, doesn't that make it clearer that not all are?
posted by amberglow at 11:17 AM on October 27, 2005


The other issue keeping this from being some sort of cataclysm in sports is that the WNBA gets less of a draw than like the Legends of Darts Canadian tour or the International Lawnbowlers League.
posted by xmutex at 11:17 AM on October 27, 2005


My first reaction on hearing this was "So what?" but then again I don't care who anybody fucks, unless it's a friend or family member. And then it's not if you're gay or straight, it's whether you're an asshole. So I suppose I'm not the target audience for this sort of announcement.
posted by quantumetric at 11:20 AM on October 27, 2005


I admire her courage, and I am saddened by the realization that it still requires an act of courage (or a formal press release) just to let people know you're in love with someone.
posted by FYKshun at 11:21 AM on October 27, 2005


Good for her, but not much of a surprise.

Still, it's hard to believe not a single major league baseball player has ever come out. I wonder if the lure of advertising deals is keeping that from happening. If I'm a star player and gay, I might get cut from any soft drink or sportswear deals when the focus on the family dorks come after my team and sponsors.
posted by mathowie at 11:22 AM on October 27, 2005


To be honest, technically my first reaction was "Who? Oh yeah... her." So I suppose I'm still not the target audience for this sort of announcement.
posted by quantumetric at 11:23 AM on October 27, 2005


I'd have to agree with xmutex and plutor: Good for her, and I applaud her bravery, but finding that there are lesbians in women's sports is like finding out that there are potheads on the snowboarding team. Big surprise.

I do think there will be a gay male Jackie Robinson in one sport or the other soon. Somebody so good it'll be impossible to ignore them. And I don't think it'll be much longer. Gayness, (esp. celebrity gayness) is more and more taken for granted these days by most nonfundy Americans. So the time is ripe, if you ask me. Anybody know a gay dude with a good 3-point shot?
posted by jonmc at 11:24 AM on October 27, 2005


If some do actually come out, doesn't that make it clearer that not all are?

Possibly, but probably just the opposite--it might be interpreted as there are so many lesbians in the league that the players are uniquely comfortable coming out.

Of course, I agree that the idea that all WNBA players are gay is blatently homophobic and sexist. I just don't see this reducing that idea.
posted by cloeburner at 11:25 AM on October 27, 2005


I wonder about that--most people already think they're all lesbians, but that's a homophobic and sexist response. If some do actually come out, doesn't that make it clearer that not all are?

That's a bit harsh amberglow. OF COURSE there are gays and lesbians in sport - they're everywhere you know. It should hardly come as a surprise to anyone that there is a lesbian player in the WNBA. What is a surprise is that 25 years after Martina Navratilova "came out" in 1980 so few others have the guts to do so and that it remains an issue.
posted by three blind mice at 11:25 AM on October 27, 2005


It's a strech to call it a professional sport, despite Stern's efforts.

I think you must have a funny definition of professional sport.
posted by dame at 11:26 AM on October 27, 2005


If I'm a star player and gay, I might get cut from any soft drink or sportswear deals when the focus on the family dorks come after my team and sponsors.

On the other hand, you might gain sportswear advertising deals. It's all a trade off.

And FWIW, ex-major leaguers Glenn Burke (RIP) and Billy Bean did come out post retirement. But they were marginal players at best.
posted by jonmc at 11:26 AM on October 27, 2005


amberglow: I know that you tend to think everything is homophobic, so I shouldn't bother, but really: homophobia is the fear or hatred of gay people. How is the goofy response I stated above, which is simply an assertion of the total lack of surprise that a WNBA player is a lesbian, derived from a fear or hatred of gay people? Please spare the hyperbole if you'd like me to take you seriously.

The assertion derives from the fact that among sports in the US the WNBA has had more out-comings than any other league (read your own SI link). It's been more of an issue than in any other sports, well, in history. Therefore the sort kneejerk reaction as I stated above isn't completely out of bounds. There's also been far more issues surrounding homosexuality in women's college basketball as well, largely due I think to the cultural fact that by and large women are more comfortable with homosexuality than men.

All of these things considered I think the response, which mostly anyone had to the news, is pretty well out of the realm of homophobia and sexism.
posted by xmutex at 11:26 AM on October 27, 2005


Good for her, and let's hope she starts a trend.

As pointed out by several above, no one is surprized when a WNBA player comes out (unfair and stereotyped as that may be). I'll be more impressed when high profile male athletes start to come out because so many people will be so shocked.
posted by raedyn at 11:30 AM on October 27, 2005


I'd also like David Stern to be right. Hopefully attitudes have changed.

The only British footballer to come out, Justin Fashanu, committed suicide in 1998, eight years after coming out destroyed his career. There is a BBC obituary, and a more personal recollection by gay rights activist Peter Tatchell.
posted by athenian at 11:32 AM on October 27, 2005


...it might be interpreted as there are so many lesbians in the league that the players are uniquely comfortable coming out.
but if that were so, this wouldn't have been big news, and she wouldn't be the only one ever to do it, no? It would have happened before, and not even be newsworthy.

There's been tons of talk about how the WNBA purposely downplayed and discouraged their lesbian fans for a very long time. There was even a kiss-in at a NY Liberty game purposely to show ...their worst nightmare come true: the lesbian fans, who they'd tried so desperately to obscure in deference to a heterosexual family fan base, ...
posted by amberglow at 11:36 AM on October 27, 2005


amberglow: So, yeah, given that there was a kiss-in at a game to show the dedication of homosexual fans, I think you can understand the lack of surprise that there's a lesbian in the WNBA?
posted by xmutex at 11:38 AM on October 27, 2005


Also, Swoopes isn't some third string pine-rider, she's a star. This is the female equivalent of Shaq coming out, so in our star-obsessed culture, that make sit newsworthy, too.
posted by jonmc at 11:42 AM on October 27, 2005


mathowie writes "Still, it's hard to believe not a single major league baseball player has ever come out. I wonder if the lure of advertising deals is keeping that from happening."

I've speculated about this a bit. There's what, a few hundred MLB players? A few thousand if you count everyone playing AA/AAA ball on the MLB team dimes. Even if you cut that bogus 10% of the population is gay figure to 1% you be able to play a double header just using gay players. But none of them are out. So is it that they are all closeted or is it that the locker rooms all the way from little league thru college/university are so hostile that gay players are self selected out of professional baseball. Rinse, lather, repeat for the NBA,NFL,CFL,NHL,MLS.
posted by Mitheral at 11:46 AM on October 27, 2005


Good for her, but it will still take a coming-out in one of the big 4 (MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL) to make for big headlines and really shake up the sports world. (If it was a baseball player, it would be less of a shake-up).
For someone to be the first to come out and not ruin their career they would have to be a fairly major star, and be putting up some big numbers. After the initial shock, it would then be safe for the rest to follow without much impact.
posted by rocket88 at 11:48 AM on October 27, 2005


if that were so, this wouldn't have been big news, and she wouldn't be the only one ever to do it, no? It would have happened before, and not even be newsworthy.

Well, that's just a hypothetical interpretation that might be made by someone who already assumes the WNBA is made up entirely of lesbians. It doesn't really hold up to nuanced analysis.

I think the bottom line is that there are a lot of factors unique to the WNBA that allow its players and fans to be more open to homosexuality. These factors probably exist to some extent in other female sports, as well. However, most male sports are driven in the exact opposite direction--particularly with regards to conforming to gender roles--and so are extremely unlikely to be open with homosexuality.
posted by cloeburner at 11:49 AM on October 27, 2005


I have to correct: Sue Wicks came out in Time Out NY while still playing, but ... In a database search on Dow Jones Interactive of 6,000 top publications I could find one reference to Wicks' statement, by Judy Van Handel (herself out) in a WNBA notes column in the Boston Globe. ...

Michelle Van Gorp got more press last year.

So--Sheryl is the third, officially.
posted by amberglow at 11:51 AM on October 27, 2005


I think you must have a funny definition of professional sport.

No disrespect meant to the players or the fans, but the league would not exist on the strength of its own popularity and requires massive subsidization from the NBA in order to survive, and there serious questions as to how much longer it will. The vast majority of WNBA players have other jobs, and most make near the league minimum of $30,000, as few play for long enough to achieve higher salaries up to the maximum of $80,000. Besides the point here, but the WNBA does not compete on any level with any of the men's pro leagues in terms of exposure or endorsements.
posted by loquax at 11:53 AM on October 27, 2005


I'm shocked and amazed.

The WNBA is still around?
posted by cccorlew at 11:55 AM on October 27, 2005


Huh. I almost posted this yesterday morning (when the news broke), til I saw that she was partially doing it for money:

Swoopes to endorse lesbian cruise line

I'm all for coming out, of course, but it does put a bit of a damper on it (for me) to know that she likely did it to shill for a fucking cruise line. Cruise lines suck eggs.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:56 AM on October 27, 2005


It's a strech to call it a professional sport, despite Stern's efforts.
posted by loquax at 11:17 AM PST on October 27


It's a sport that people are paid to play. Ergo, it is a professional sport.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 11:57 AM on October 27, 2005


Good for her, but it will still take a coming-out in one of the big 4 (MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL)

How cute. You still think the NHL is in the Big 4. It's about on par with Arena Football right now.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:58 AM on October 27, 2005


This is the female equivalent of Shaq coming out, so in our star-obsessed culture, that make sit newsworthy, too.

That's something of an exaggeration. Viewership and attendance for WNBA games is abysmal. The networks are carrying them because they are required to as part of their agreement to carry NBA games.

League attendance stinks, and is getting worse. 9 our of 13 teams had worse attendance this yar than last year (link).

Swoopes ain't Shaq.

I salute her courage, but in the grand scheme of things this is a Trivial Pursuit question.
posted by DWRoelands at 11:59 AM on October 27, 2005


Still, it's hard to believe not a single major league baseball player has ever come out. I wonder if the lure of advertising deals is keeping that from happening.

I think it's more the treatment they would receive from their teammates, many of whom they interact with naked.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:59 AM on October 27, 2005


It's a sport that people are paid to play. Ergo, it is a professional sport.

You are right. I mispoke, and intended to draw a distinction between the exposure and relevance of the WNBA compared to the major professional sports.
posted by loquax at 12:00 PM on October 27, 2005


This will pretty much destroy the WNBA, or what's left of it.

Sorry kids, but having someone out on your team in not something anybody wants. It can be tolerated, but is not desired. There's a difference between basketball/football/baseball and a sport like golf or tennis. They are team sports. Things that divide teams, destroy teams. This is most certainly one of those things that destroys teams.

Flame me now, and call be all sorts of silly names, but that's the way it is, and most likely to stay for the next long while.
posted by wah at 12:00 PM on October 27, 2005


For someone to be the first to come out and not ruin their career they would have to be a fairly major star, and be putting up some big numbers. After the initial shock, it would then be safe for the rest to follow without much impact. - rocket88

I suspect you're exactly right, rocket.
posted by raedyn at 12:00 PM on October 27, 2005


loquax: I'm pretty sure if you get paid to play a sport that makes it a pro sport. Not a hugely successful obviously, but there are plenty of other sports where pros don't make giant money. I think you are using the aberration as the definition here. But you also said you weren't attempting to imply lack of respect, so I'm happy to drop this particular tangent.
posted by dame at 12:01 PM on October 27, 2005


Oops, didn't preview. Sends happy thoughts to loquax.
posted by dame at 12:03 PM on October 27, 2005


This is most certainly one of those things that destroys teams.

Balderdash. Half the women on my college's soccer team were lesbian or bi, and half were definitely not. They were a very high quality team for many years, making the Division I finals (but never winning).

For men, I might agree (with some reservations). For women, it's really no big deal at all. I'm not sure I understand why, but it's apparent.

Just look at the trends in teenage girls and the massive increase in (reported) female-female sexual activity.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:04 PM on October 27, 2005


What, nobody's posted the Ozzie Guillen kiss photo yet?
posted by aaronetc at 12:08 PM on October 27, 2005


wah -

That mentality is exactly what has kept pro athletes closeted for so long. There's no reason that someone being gay should destroy their team. In fact, we know there's already been gay people on major pro sports teams, and nothing was detroyed. It's homophobia and anti-gay hysteria that might create problems.

Also, your claim "having someone out on your team in not something anybody wants" is bullshit. There are people that wouldn't want that. But there are people that would. Like the other gay guy on the team that thought he was the only one. Or the person with a gay family member that they love that is sick of hearing the homophobic jokes, etc.
posted by raedyn at 12:08 PM on October 27, 2005


Things that divide teams, destroy teams. This is most certainly one of those things that destroys teams.

Homphobia and bigotry divide and destroy teams, not gay people.
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:08 PM on October 27, 2005


Jinx, raedyn.
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:09 PM on October 27, 2005


I think it's more the treatment they would receive from their teammates, many of whom they interact with naked.

From my reading about Glenn Burke, it seems that the other players and management were aware of his homosexuality, but were afraid of public backlash. (side note: Glenn Burke aparently also invented the "high-five," [more likely he merely introduced it to pro-ball, but it's a good tall tale] which makes him a great American.

Also, learning about Tommy LaSorda's blatant homophobia was very saddening and disappointing. Sucks when a childhood admiree turns out to be an ass.
posted by jonmc at 12:10 PM on October 27, 2005


The female equivalent of Shaq coming out would be something completely different from this -- Britney Spears dedicating herself to atheism, or something. American women don't view sports the way American men do, and they don't view homosexuality the same way either.
posted by aaronetc at 12:10 PM on October 27, 2005


She has her own Nike shoe--the only woman to ever get one

The rest are all barefoot? Tsk.
posted by orange swan at 12:14 PM on October 27, 2005


American women don't view sports the way American men do, and they don't view homosexuality the same way either.

Not the same way, but often homophobic in different ways. Porn has made "girl-girl action," very popular among straight men, so some women might dabble in public displays to attract men (I know several women who have said that they make out with female freinds to attract guys) and some straight women veiw gay men as fashion advice dispensing Ken dolls: males devoid of all sexual threat or presence. Both of these veiws are based of prejudices, too. Different ones than the old "fags are gross," variety, but still prejudices.
posted by jonmc at 12:14 PM on October 27, 2005


Sorry kids, but having someone out on your team in not something anybody wants. It can be tolerated, but is not desired. There's a difference between basketball/football/baseball and a sport like golf or tennis. They are team sports. Things that divide teams, destroy teams. This is most certainly one of those things that destroys teams.

I beg to differ. Because she's an attractive woman I think it will be just fine. If Sheryl Swoopes were an unattractive or butch appearing woman it might be different, but she's not. She's an attractive, somewhat feminine, well spoken woman. She'll provide a postive role model to many young women regardless of her sexuality.

Not to mention if you think she was able to keep this a secret from her team, you're kidding yourself.

I doubt this will start a trend in terms of people flying out the closet with press releases, but I do hope it helps professional athletes to live more honestly, less closeted lives. Outwardly normalizing their lives is the ideal situation. Taboos are taboos because no one talks about them. The more people talk openly about their lives the better.

Some people argue that it shouldn't matter, and that's true. But these are the people arguing because they don't want to hear someone say "My partner Millie helps me stay grounded, I couldn't do what I do without her." from some lesbian, but we hear things like that from straigh folks all the time - and they don't even notice it. Because it's NORMAL.
posted by FlamingBore at 12:17 PM on October 27, 2005


There's also LaTasha Byears.
posted by lilnemo at 12:21 PM on October 27, 2005


Meet the only out player in Major League Professional Sports.

The WNBA is NOT a Major Professional Sports League. The only reason it isn't bankrupt is because the NBA funnels revenue to it to keep it on life support and bundles it in with its own TV deals. The ratings, attendance, and name recognition of the WNBA are just not in the same universe as the NFL, MLB, NHL (at least formerly), PGA, NASCAR, college sports, even women's tennis. Hell, ESPN gets better ratings for poker tournaments. Journalists try to act like the WNBA is entitled to be taken more seriously because of political correctness, just like they did with the WUSA (which, by the way, did go bankrupt, because it didn't have a sugar daddy male counterpart league). I have nothing against the WNBA, but it's nothing more than a specialty sports league like professional lacrosse, darts, trick shot billiards, and badminton.

Second of all, is ANYONE surprised at the coming out of a WNBA player? It's common knowledge that the WNBA has a very large lesbian contingent in both its players and its fan base. Gays and lesbians are its most profitable market, and the league even conducts Gay Pride promotions, something I can't imagine a truly major league sport doing. Also, I particularly like this quote from Swoopes' coming out:

"The talk about the WNBA being full of lesbians is not true. I mean, there are as many straight women in the league as there are gay."

If the WNBA were 50% lesbian that would be something like 8-12 times the national average...
posted by TunnelArmr at 12:21 PM on October 27, 2005


The reason why this is bad for the WNBA is because this means that they're less likely to be seen as a "family" sport. Which is unfair, but likely.
And honestly, the amount of impact on athletes in America? Roughly the same as if Sergei Federov came out. Met with a resounding public "Who?"
posted by klangklangston at 12:22 PM on October 27, 2005


What about Latasha Byears?
(Though I guess her story is well different than Swoops's)

I find this whole issue to be nauseating. The free pass to athletes in the homophobia department is utterly ridiculous. I'm a huge sports fan, but watching ex-jocks and sports commentators "debate" the "controversial" issue of homosexuality in professional sports is sad. I really have to believe that the first big-timemale superstar athlete who comes out of the closet will be much more of a hero than a martyr (although he will get his fair share of abuse from the cavedwellers).
posted by kosem at 12:24 PM on October 27, 2005


Crap...sorry lilnemo. Didn't preview for a fifth time...
posted by kosem at 12:24 PM on October 27, 2005


That mentality is exactly what has kept pro athletes closeted for so long.

I think you are calling reality mentality.

There's no reason that someone being gay should destroy their team.

Yes, there is. I just mentioned one. You don't agree.

In fact, we know there's already been gay people on major pro sports teams, and nothing was detroyed.

But not out and held up as an example for the gay community. There is a difference. Heck, I've probably played on teams with gay men before. But the suspicion and the fact are far different.

It's homophobia and anti-gay hysteria that might create problems.

It's not homophobia to not wish to be ogled by someone who, quite naturally to them, wants your bod. There's a reason the mens and womens teams don't bathe together.

There are people that wouldn't want that. But there are people that would. Like the other gay guy on the team that thought he was the only one.

Again, this would lead to a large team schism. But at least they'd have someone to shower with.

Or the person with a gay family member that they love that is sick of hearing the homophobic jokes, etc.

As one of those kind of people, I've grown up enough to deal with (albeit social and malleable) facts like that.
--
Homphobia and bigotry divide and destroy teams, not gay people.

I'm curious how you are keeping gay people and homophobia in seperate buckets. Especially considering the (not insignificant) portion of the gay population that likes to "scare" people.
posted by wah at 12:26 PM on October 27, 2005


There's been tons of talk about how the WNBA purposely downplayed and discouraged their lesbian fans for a very long time.

According to this ESPN.com article (discussed at SportsFilter), "the WNBA marketed a pregnant, married Swoopes to put a heterosexual face on its promotional campaign."

In the same article she says:
"The talk about the WNBA being full of lesbians is not true," Swoopes says. "There are as many straight women in the league as there are gay. What really irritates me is when people talk about football, baseball and the NBA, you don't hear all of this talk about the gay guys playing. But when you talk about the WNBA, then it becomes an issue. Sexuality and gender don't change anyone's performance on the court."
posted by kirkaracha at 12:26 PM on October 27, 2005


I know several women who have said that they make out with female freinds to attract guys

Jesus, I hope you hate out with youngish girls jon. I know it's popular in hs and college to get guys attention, but if these 'girls' you're talking about are near your age (which is near mine), that's pretty sad.
posted by justgary at 12:26 PM on October 27, 2005


hang out, sorry.
posted by justgary at 12:27 PM on October 27, 2005


Oh no! A lesbian seeing her naked is every straight woman's worst nightmare!

Believe it or not, there are lots of straight men and women who don't freak out and assume every gay person they meet is going to come on to them. I would guess Swoopes' straight teammates are included here. Especially since they're probably known or suspected for quite a while. Outed gay players destroying the WNBA? Pshaw.
posted by emjaybee at 12:27 PM on October 27, 2005


Believe it or not, there are lots of straight men and women who don't freak out and assume every gay person they meet is going to come on to them.

I do. I mean, c'mon, I'm hot stuff, how could they resist?
posted by jonmc at 12:30 PM on October 27, 2005


I'm curious how you are keeping gay people and homophobia in seperate buckets. Especially considering the (not insignificant) portion of the gay population that likes to "scare" people.

Are you freakin' serious? What gay folks do you know? And if you know people like this they are probably reacting to what I'm reading is your homophobia.

I don't know ANYONE that does this. Not any boys, not any women.
posted by FlamingBore at 12:32 PM on October 27, 2005


Is Jay Mohr's attitude in this column at SI typical? ...If you are entertained by 7-foot, 225-pound women from Poland who have less basketball skills than the worst NBA D-Leaguer then I guess you are one of the few people who cares. ...
posted by amberglow at 12:38 PM on October 27, 2005


Especially considering the (not insignificant) portion of the gay population that likes to "scare" people.
posted by wah at 12:26 PM PST on October 27


You're an idiot.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 12:43 PM on October 27, 2005


It's not homophobia to not wish to be ogled by someone who, quite naturally to them, wants your bod.

It is, however, pretty stupid to assume every gay man wants your bod. And your concern that you'll be ogled by gay men, is, indeed, homophobic.

On preview: what Optimus Chyme said.
posted by cloeburner at 12:48 PM on October 27, 2005


And if you know people like this they are probably reacting to what I'm reading is your homophobia.

So you are stating that an aggressively "out" reaction would be fairly typical when faced with homophobia?

Now mix in competitiveness on a professional scale and you can quickly see how such interactions would be detrimental to the overall ability of a team to play together at their peak level of performance.

NOTE: I'm speaking mainly here of male sports. Women have, obviously, a different paradigm, i.e how many women do you know that masturbate watching men have sex together?
posted by wah at 12:48 PM on October 27, 2005


Yea! I'm a homophobic idiot.

That didn't take so long. Surely you folks can come up with better slurs than that.
posted by wah at 12:49 PM on October 27, 2005


Surely you folks can come up with better slurs than that.

Ok, you're a lavender fearing hockeypucksucker. Better?
posted by jonmc at 12:51 PM on October 27, 2005


Women have, obviously, a different paradigm, i.e how many women do you know that masturbate watching men have sex together?

Now that's just awesome.
posted by cloeburner at 12:52 PM on October 27, 2005


American women don't view sports the way American men do

Yes, that's right, because all those scores and rules and stuff just confuses us. And could you tell me again how many points a home run is worth -- I forget! *giggle*

...says the woman who recently had to explain to her boyfriend what an RBI is.
posted by scody at 12:53 PM on October 27, 2005


It is, however, pretty stupid to assume every gay man wants your bod.

For sure, I mean, really, what gay man likes to look at naked, muscular, finely toned, sweaty bodies of other men?
posted by wah at 12:53 PM on October 27, 2005


Amberglow: If you're referring to the quality of play in the WNBA, yes, he's right. It really is bad basketball *compared to* the NBA, the European Leagues and the NCAA men's leagues. He's also right that it's marketed extremely poorly, as if it were somehow supposed to be at the same level as the NBA. Neither here nor there with respect to this discussion, but the WNBA will not exist 3-5 years from now. Sad perhaps, but more a comment on priorities when it comes to a limited entertainment budget dollar rather than sexism. Women's college basketball is very popular, and so was women's soccer for a while, although the league was very poorly thought out.
posted by loquax at 12:54 PM on October 27, 2005



For sure, I mean, really, what gay man likes to look at naked, muscular, finely toned, sweaty bodies of other men?


do u have n e pix?
posted by cloeburner at 12:55 PM on October 27, 2005


For sure, I mean, really, what gay man likes to look at naked, muscular, finely toned, sweaty bodies of other men?

Freud would have a feild day with this.
posted by jonmc at 12:59 PM on October 27, 2005


amberglow: Do you love basketball? Have you watched the WNBA's version of basketball? Jay Mohr's comments, acerbic tone notwithstanding, are an inevitable conclusion for someone who attempts to watch the WNBA as purely a basketball league.
posted by xmutex at 1:01 PM on October 27, 2005


What the WNBA should really do is take this is a cue for what could be the real value of their league: hot, girl-on-girl action with occasional basketball. Bring on the bikinis. Tickle fights in lieu of jumpballs. I'd watch it.
posted by xmutex at 1:04 PM on October 27, 2005


It's not homophobia to not wish to be ogled by someone who, quite naturally to them, wants your bod. There's a reason the mens and womens teams don't bathe together.

Jumpin' Jesus on a pogo stick. Maybe I just have low self-esteem, but wtf is up with this fear ostensibly straight men have of being oogled? It's not like a gay man rubbing one out in the bathroom stall of the locker room after seeing my fat, white, hairy ass makes me somehow impinges my masculinity. Of course, maybe I should be weirded out by the thought that any person would find my FWHA desireable but that is a different topic we can discuss in some other thread.
posted by Suck Poppet at 1:05 PM on October 27, 2005


Is Jay Mohr's attitude in this column at SI typical?

Jay Mohr is comedy equivalent of the WNBA, so he really has no room to make judgments.
posted by MegoSteve at 1:06 PM on October 27, 2005


erm, what others have been saying while I'm slowly typing...
posted by Suck Poppet at 1:07 PM on October 27, 2005


Jumpin' Jesus on a pogo stick. Maybe I just have low self-esteem, but wtf is up with this fear ostensibly straight men have of being oogled?

My advice to guys afraid of being ogled by gay dudes? Go to a gay bar or party and let it happen (and it will, but this has more to do with gay men being male than being gay). It's a major league ego boost. And they're not any more sexually voracious than straight guys, they just have more opportunities, which is why they aren't going to relentlessly stalk you if they find you attractive. Too many fish in the sea.

See what exposing yourself to the other can teach you?

bad choice of words? ehh, whatever
posted by jonmc at 1:09 PM on October 27, 2005


Wah: You have issues. Seriously.
posted by ajblust at 1:09 PM on October 27, 2005


It's not like a gay man rubbing one out in the bathroom stall of the locker room after seeing my fat, white, hairy ass makes me somehow impinges my masculinity.

Again, we're not talking about you, or me for that matter. We are talking about professional athletes.

/just trying to keep the context of the discussion in mind.
posted by wah at 1:10 PM on October 27, 2005


Hard to believe she's the first to out herself, she won't be the last but I give her some props for the courage to do so.

wah, are you being cute or something? I'm not gay and I appreciate a well built man's form (but then I was a personal trainer for six years so I understand the effort that goes into getting a body into such condition).
posted by fenriq at 1:10 PM on October 27, 2005


Remimds me of the famous Onion story.
posted by ajblust at 1:12 PM on October 27, 2005


Wah: You have issues. Seriously.

Yea, living in reality is a bitch sometimes. But please, feel free to tell me how everyone is nice and happy and accepting in your world.

Feel free to tell me how mature and enlightened most professional athletes are.

I do find it interesting how very few people in this thread are able to approach this subject with detachment.
posted by wah at 1:12 PM on October 27, 2005


obviously wha is gay.
posted by snofoam at 1:13 PM on October 27, 2005


Again, we're not talking about you, or me for that matter. We are talking about professional athletes.

To rephrase then:

It's not like a gay athlete rubbing one out after seeing a straight athlete's tanned, toned, hairy ass in the shower makes the straight athlete gay somehow. Are you a professional athlete, wah? Why are you projecting your fears on professional athletes?
posted by Suck Poppet at 1:14 PM on October 27, 2005


I'm not gay and I appreciate a well built man's form

As can I. The big difference would be that I don't wish to copulate with said form.

Not being cute, just trying to be realistic about the proposition of complete and total acceptance of gay athletes in professional team sports.
posted by wah at 1:14 PM on October 27, 2005


As can I. The big difference would be that I don't wish to copulate with said form.

Believe it or not, gays, like straights, are able to contain themselves.
posted by jonmc at 1:16 PM on October 27, 2005


I think it's unfair to characterize a straight man's discomfort about showering with a gay man as "homophobia". I think the discomfort is natural and understandable, even for the most liberal-minded men.
posted by rocket88 at 1:16 PM on October 27, 2005


mrgrimm writes "How cute. You still think the NHL is in the Big 4. It's about on par with Arena Football right now"

Actually they have weathered the lockout fairly well, though I might be biased being Canadian and all.
posted by Mitheral at 1:17 PM on October 27, 2005


jonmc: I tried that on Halsted once or twice but it was either the protective aura of the wife or else my ass is truly immune teh gay lust.
posted by Suck Poppet at 1:19 PM on October 27, 2005


I'm just so touched at how these big, tough, macho athletes are so sensitive and delicate that they need, not to be protected from a gay athlete's gaze, but from the knowledge that it's a gay athlete's gaze.

I half expect them to jump up on a chair and squeal "Eeek! A Gay!"
posted by cytherea at 1:19 PM on October 27, 2005


I think it's unfair to characterize a straight man's discomfort about showering with a gay man as "homophobia". I think the discomfort is natural and understandable, even for the most liberal-minded men.

As it's so natural and understandable and certainly not all the product of weird social conventions, I'd appreciate you enlightening us as how this is. I really do not mind showering near someone who is gay.
posted by xmutex at 1:20 PM on October 27, 2005


how many women do you know that masturbate watching men have sex together?

wah, let me introduce you to a little thing called slash fiction....
posted by jokeefe at 1:20 PM on October 27, 2005


jonmc writes "Believe it or not, gays, like straights, are able to contain themselves."

Ya but judging by the constant news stories of rapes, paternity suits, etc., many professional atheletes (at least of the male type) aren't.
posted by Mitheral at 1:21 PM on October 27, 2005


Believe it or not, gays, like straights, are able to contain themselves.

Note the operative word there, "wish" (or "desire").

While I have no doubt that gay men (and women) are fully capable of controlling their actions, I have more than a few caveats about their ability to control their desires.

Merely speaking from my own experience this afternoon of seeing a well built female walking across the street. (sorry, fellas, the only balls I have any desire to touch are my own)
posted by wah at 1:23 PM on October 27, 2005


I have more than a few caveats about their ability to control their desires.

Ah, ok, you're not an idiot, you're insane.
posted by cloeburner at 1:26 PM on October 27, 2005


cloeburner: Relax, wah only wants to touch his own balls. Let him be.
posted by xmutex at 1:27 PM on October 27, 2005


I'm just so touched at how these big, tough, macho athletes are so sensitive and delicate that they need, not to be protected from a gay athlete's gaze, but from the knowledge that it's a gay athlete's gaze.

I half expect them to jump up on a chair and squeal "Eeek! A Gay!"


Then your expectation are quite off, IMHO. My 'half expectation' would be more along the lines of, "Quit looking at me, faggot, or I'll rip your face off."

I hate to be brutal, but, well, as an insane idiot homophobe with issues, I guess that's to be expected...
posted by wah at 1:29 PM on October 27, 2005


rocket88 writes "I think it's unfair to characterize a straight man's discomfort about showering with a gay man as 'homophobia'. I think the discomfort is natural and understandable, even for the most liberal-minded men."

To which xmutex replied "As it's so natural and understandable and certainly not all the product of weird social conventions, I'd appreciate you enlightening us as how this is."

Why not just go whole hog and have co-ed change rooms and showers except for weird social conventions? Would it be hetrophobia for a straight woman not to want to shower with men and vice versa? The best solution would seem to be to provide private facilites such that no-one would need to expose themselves if they didn't want to.
posted by Mitheral at 1:30 PM on October 27, 2005


wah: What method would you employ to rip someone's face off?
posted by xmutex at 1:30 PM on October 27, 2005


wah: So I take it from your comment and its context that you forced yourself on that poor lady?

I reiterate, what is the significance of arousing desire in others to my own person? It's not something I have any meaningful control over and, barring actions for which there are laws and mores to which I have recourse, there is no personal effect AFAIK.
posted by Suck Poppet at 1:30 PM on October 27, 2005


While I have no doubt that gay men (and women) are fully capable of controlling their actions, I have more than a few caveats about their ability to control their desires.

Aha! wah is afraid of desires! Those filthy, evil things inside your head-- stamp them out with thoughts of Jesus!

Seriously, dude-- let's take a hypothetical situation here. You've got a friend who's gay. He thinks you're kind of cute. You don't know he's gay, and you don't know he thinks you're cute. But he knows you're straight, so out of respect, he never hits on you or makes his desires known in any way. How are you, personally, in any way threatened or endangered by this situation?

Now, let's take it to the next level. This same friend tells you, "I'm gay." He does not tell you that he thinks you're cute, and he continues to never hit on you or make his desires known in any way. How has the threat or danger to you increased from the first scenario to the second?
posted by Faint of Butt at 1:31 PM on October 27, 2005


xmutex: I'd feel uncomfortable showering with a female teammate with whom I wasn't romantically or sexually involved...even if I wasn't attracted to her in the least. I don't see that as any different to showering with a gay male.
Does that make me gynophobic?
posted by rocket88 at 1:33 PM on October 27, 2005


Is Jay Mohr's attitude in this column at SI typical?

Jay Mohr is comedy equivalent of the WNBA, so he really has no room to make judgments.
posted by MegoSteve at 3:06 PM CST on October 27 [!]


Well played.
posted by COBRA! at 1:34 PM on October 27, 2005


The expression of fear may vary, wah, but it's still fear. A dog barking and snarling as loud as it can doesn't change the fact that it's afraid.

The fact that these apparently tough male athletes are more scare then female athletes says something.
posted by cytherea at 1:34 PM on October 27, 2005


How has the threat or danger to you increased from the first scenario to the second?

And what exactly is the threat? that someone finds you attractive? Heavens to betsy. Be flattered and move on.
posted by jonmc at 1:35 PM on October 27, 2005


Does that make me gynophobic?

No, just repressed. Like the girls who get dressed in the toilet stall, but a little less so. What does it matter? Are you unaware of what naked people look like?
posted by dame at 1:37 PM on October 27, 2005


rocket88: A more apt analogy would be a situation where you'd spent years showering with gay women and then felt distinctly uncomfortable showering with a straight one.
posted by cloeburner at 1:37 PM on October 27, 2005


How many women will shower with men?
posted by smackfu at 1:37 PM on October 27, 2005


rocket88: I'd feel uncomfortable showering with a female teammate with whom I wasn't romantically or sexually involved...even if I wasn't attracted to her in the least. I don't see that as any different to showering with a gay male.

Does that make me gynophobic?


Yes, it does.

At many colleges, at least the ones where you aren't told that the world is 6,000 years old and you don't have to get permission from mommy and daddy to hold hands, they have these things called coed showers and bathrooms.

It's really not a big deal.
posted by cytherea at 1:40 PM on October 27, 2005


No, just repressed. Like the girls who get dressed in the toilet stall, but a little less so. What does it matter? Are you unaware of what naked people look like?

Well, nudity is for better or worse a sexualized state. I remember discussing this with a female freind who said that she'd be less comfortable with seeing friends nude as opposed to strangers. What that means I'm not sure.
posted by jonmc at 1:40 PM on October 27, 2005


At many colleges, at least the ones where you aren't told that the world is 6,000 years old and you don't have to get permission from mommy and daddy to hold hands, they have these things called coed showers and bathrooms.

Well, that's a little unfair. Not everybody who prefers a little modesty and privacy is some kind of religious fanatic. Maybe they just don't feel the need to show the world their goodies.
posted by jonmc at 1:42 PM on October 27, 2005


Well, nudity is for better or worse a sexualized state.

Not inherently. I'm naked at home all the time. And I'm pretty sure none of my roommates find anything remotely sexual in it. It is only sexual for being hidden and all taboo. Like boobs.
posted by dame at 1:43 PM on October 27, 2005


And frankly, for what it's worth. Queer people spend their lives showering with people of their desired gender. From high school, through college and in gyms. If they are athletes, I'm sure they are more than used to it.

And the implication that queers are LESS able to control their desires is offensive on a number of levels. It's amazingly rare to hear of same-sex rape. It exists, I know several people who have been victims, but it's still rare compared to hetero rape reports.
posted by FlamingBore at 1:44 PM on October 27, 2005


Aha! wah is afraid of desires! Those filthy, evil things inside your head-- stamp them out with thoughts of Jesus!

That's just retarded.

You've got a friend who's gay. He thinks you're kind of cute. You don't know he's gay, and you don't know he thinks you're cute. But he knows you're straight, so out of respect, he never hits on you or makes his desires known in any way. How are you, personally, in any way threatened or endangered by this situation?

See, we have a problem here in this conversation. First off, we aren't talking about me, we are talking about (at this point) male professional athletes.

So what do my feelings have to do with that context?

Additionally, your second part of the hypothetical changes dramatically when we are going from a person making a private statement of sexual preference to a high profile athlete making the same statement to millions of people.

The two situations are not the least bit analogous, so using one to shed light on the other is an excercise in futility.
posted by wah at 1:44 PM on October 27, 2005


What dame said. I doubt the pro atheletes that wah fetishizes find shower-room nudity sexual.
posted by cloeburner at 1:44 PM on October 27, 2005


Maybe they just don't feel the need to show the world their goodies.

Thinking that being naked means "show[ing] the world your goodies" ispart of the problem, I think. I mean, being naked for things that require nakedness and then getting dressed again isn't exhibitory. It's just not going out of your way to make doing things harder so as to safegaurd your whatever.
posted by dame at 1:45 PM on October 27, 2005


And I'm pretty sure none of my roommates find anything remotely sexual in it.

Sure they don't. Not buying that, not for a second. If they are attracted to women and have functioning libidos, then there is a sexual component to exposed flesh.

And call me crazy, but I wouldn't want it any other way. If I ever get to the point that seeing exposed girl parts (any girls) isn't exciting, then I check into the rest home.
posted by jonmc at 1:46 PM on October 27, 2005


And what exactly is the threat? that someone finds you attractive? Heavens to betsy. Be flattered and move on.

Well said, jonmc. (I hope you won't be offended to learn that I think of you as the Wise Old Man of MetaFilter, and respect your opinions highly.) I didn't want to scare li'l ol' wah by moving on to the next phase in my hypothetical so quickly, but I may as well:

Your gay friend, whom you now know is gay, tells you, "You know, wah, you're kind of cute, and I find you attractive." How do you respond? A sane, rational heterosexual man would probably say something along the lines of, "That's very flattering, but no thanks. Want another beer?" I won't jump to conclusions about what you would say or do, but I'd like to hear it from you.

Oh, and the whole not-wanting-to-shower-directly-in-front-of-other-naked-people problem was solved recently, with the invention of a clever device known as a "shower stall." Perhaps this hasn't made its way to the world of professional sports yet.
posted by Faint of Butt at 1:46 PM on October 27, 2005


posts tubgirl link for jonmc...
posted by Suck Poppet at 1:47 PM on October 27, 2005


(I hope you won't be offended to learn that I think of you as the Wise Old Man of MetaFilter, and respect your opinions highly.)

*rocks chair back and forth, strokes beard, puffs corncob pipe*
posted by jonmc at 1:48 PM on October 27, 2005


It's all about various levels of discomfort, and how much you're willing to endure. I have a low level of discomfort showering alone, at home. That level increases slightly when I'm showering alone at someone else's house. There's a higher level still when I'm showering at the gym with other men (none of whom are known homosexuals). If one of them was known to me to be homosexual, i'd be less comfortable with that, but not astronomically so.
Sure, I have some hangups and repressions about nudity. Most of us do, to different degrees. My point was: Is it fair to throw the "homophobe" label at those whose limit of discomfort is drawn at showering with homosexuals?
posted by rocket88 at 1:49 PM on October 27, 2005


Your gay friend, whom you now know is gay, tells you, "You know, wah, you're kind of cute, and I find you attractive." How do you respond?

That's very flattering, but no thanks. Want another bong hit?"
posted by wah at 1:52 PM on October 27, 2005


(just for the record, I have no problem with nudity at all. I'll walk around the house naked, change in the locker room, skinny-dip, go to nude beaches, whatever. But I believe in freedom of choice, and I don't belive that people who make different choices than me are automatically screwed up and repressed.)
posted by jonmc at 1:52 PM on October 27, 2005


See, we have a problem here in this conversation. First off, we aren't talking about me, we are talking about (at this point) male professional athletes.

So what do my feelings have to do with that context?


::nod, nod:: In that case, you really should have said so in the first place. "I think gay folks are just fine and dandy, but most pro athletes are reactionary, regressive Neanderthals, so a gay male professional athlete may wish to consider his own safety before outing himself" is a perfectly legitimate opinion, when phrased properly.
posted by Faint of Butt at 1:54 PM on October 27, 2005


Well, that's a little unfair. Not everybody who prefers a little modesty and privacy is some kind of religious fanatic. Maybe they just don't feel the need to show the world their goodies.

It's not about privacy/modesty, as that would imply discomfort with nudity with both sexes. It's not about religion, except, perhaps, puritanism.

It's about growing up and being an adult. Well, it might be about not leaving the seat down and piss all over the floor, but that happens in women's restrooms far to often.
posted by cytherea at 1:55 PM on October 27, 2005


but most pro athletes are reactionary, regressive Neanderthals, so a gay male professional athlete may wish to consider his own safety before outing himself" is a perfectly legitimate opinion, when phrased properly.

But aren't we edging back into stereotype territory? Atletic ability dosen't negatively correlate with intelligence and critical thinking skills.
posted by jonmc at 1:56 PM on October 27, 2005


Is it fair to throw the "homophobe" label at those whose limit of discomfort is drawn at showering with homosexuals?

I think the word "homophobia" has taken on two distinct meanings; the original one involving simple fear of homosexuality, and a new one that is more of a sexual-orientation analog of "racism."

A homophobe of the second sort is almost always the first kind; discrimination and hatred are usually products of fear and misunderstanding. In your example, I think the person could technically be described with the first, but not neccesarily the second, definition of homophobia.
posted by cloeburner at 1:56 PM on October 27, 2005


But aren't we edging back into stereotype territory? Atletic ability dosen't negatively correlate with intelligence and critical thinking skills.

Of course we're edging back into stereotype territory. I was just trying to indicate that I seem to have a higher opinion of the average person, and the average professional athlete, than wah does. If wah is a stinky rotten homophobe, I'll jump into the fray, but if he just thinks pro athletes are dumb and like to beat up gay people, well, I've got better fights to pick.
posted by Faint of Butt at 1:59 PM on October 27, 2005


Sure they don't. Not buying that, not for a second. If they are attracted to women and have functioning libidos, then there is a sexual component to exposed flesh.

Nope. Just asked my slutty boy roommate. Me naked on way to shower, not sexy. His caveat was that a new persin might think so for about a month. Then, not sexy.

And I'm gonna have to disagree with you, jon, but saying that showering naked at someone else's house involves any discomfort at all is repressed and weird. Culturally sanctioned, sure. But kids don't start off that way, and people who were not made to feel bad about being naked don't, so I'm going with a "sign of someone else screwing you up."
posted by dame at 2:02 PM on October 27, 2005


That's very flattering, but no thanks. Want another bong hit?"

What the hell? What happened to the ripping off of faces?
posted by xmutex at 2:03 PM on October 27, 2005


"Oddjack has pooled together a list of suspects based on passed rumor, innuendo, and guilty-by-association reasoning who we suspect will be the next professional athlete to publicly admit their homosexuality."
posted by ericb at 2:06 PM on October 27, 2005


See, I'm gay, and I've changed and showered in front of other women and they've changed and showered in front of me. And see, I don't find nudity inherently sexy. 'Cause if I just want to see naked tits or pussy, I got my own--raw nudity is very much a been there, done that kind of thing.

It's how someone approaches you with the nakedness, that's the sexy part. Slightly uncomfortable straight lady who you know is and won't ever be even close to being attracted to you showering after a workout? Not sexy. Confident gay lady showering while giving you sultry looks? That would be more sexy.

So I don't get off in locker rooms, and even if that did give me pleasure I wouldn't out of a sense of basic decency. Seems to me if you're freaking out about teh gheys ogling your oh-so-sexy-sexy-they're-gonna-jump-me-bod, you oughta worry about them on an individual basis, instead of assuming that all of 'em are perverts trying to catch a glance of your naked wang.
posted by schroedinger at 2:09 PM on October 27, 2005


Ahh, the joys of backhands.

Whatever. Read this article. Take away the obvious bias of the reporter and you'll see many of the same sentiments that I've expressed in this thread regarding the likely outcome of an out gay man in professional sports.
posted by wah at 2:17 PM on October 27, 2005


"She has her own Nike shoe--the only woman to ever get one

The rest are all barefoot? "


No, the rest got a pair. She's the only woman to ever get one.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 2:19 PM on October 27, 2005


wah, you know, it is possible to represent an opinion without revealing your own biases. You may wish to work on that.
posted by dhartung at 2:45 PM on October 27, 2005


Uh the shower thing would be a big deal except that professional athletes walk around naked in the locker room even when female heterosexual sports reporters are there.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 2:48 PM on October 27, 2005


This was great news, despite the low profile of the WNBA (I really enjoyed seeing the games at Madison Square Garden, the atmosphere was great, but yeah, the basketball itself doesn't compare with the NBA, and the marketing has been awful). It was especially heartening because:
There's been tons of talk about how the WNBA purposely downplayed and discouraged their lesbian fans for a very long time.
Yes, of course there are lesbians in the league, but it's a big step for a star like that to come out. Good for her, and I hope it inspires others.

Does wah remind anyone else of a certain banned user who used to reliably show up in gay-themed threads to flaunt his homophobia?
posted by languagehat at 2:52 PM on October 27, 2005


Would it be hetrophobia for a straight woman not to want to shower with men and vice versa?

Several years ago, when I was staying in the University of London dorms over the summer break, the bathrooms were, indeed, co-ed. Since we had no choice in the matter, guys & girls took showers at the same time. No lives were lost, to my knowledge. (I don't know if this arrangement persists.)
posted by thomas j wise at 2:52 PM on October 27, 2005


And I'm gonna have to disagree with you, jon, but saying that showering naked at someone else's house involves any discomfort at all is repressed and weird.

That was rocket88, not me. I was talking more about getting naked in the locker room or not walking around nude in front of others. And like I said, I happily do both and more, but I don't judge others too harshly if they don't.

Me naked on way to shower, not sexy. His caveat was that a new persin might think so for about a month.


Well, there you go. Anything loses it's charge if it becomes that commonplace. But if I was in a world where I was constantly seeing new female naked bodies in the flesh, would equal sexual overload. Het male, that's just the way I'm wired.
posted by jonmc at 3:11 PM on October 27, 2005


(This is halfway back in the thread now, but...)

scody, are you seriously claiming that gender plays no role in the perception or audience make-up of American sports? The fact that you enjoy/know sports more than your husband notwithstanding -- I enjoy sports more than my wife does, so we cancel each other out.
posted by aaronetc at 3:18 PM on October 27, 2005


No, I'm refuting the ridiculous sweeping generalization that "American women don't view sports the way American men do." This implies that American women view sports in one way, which happens to be in opposition to the way American men view them. This is quite clearly bullshit. I love sports, and I get all worked up about "my" teams far more so than most women or men I know (the only signficant exception being my ex-husband, who is really a true fanatic). Sports are a significant part of many, many women's lives, both as participants and as spectators/fans. Maybe not as many women as for men, but to state that "we" look at sports differently as a gender is silly at best and wildly misinformed at worst.
posted by scody at 3:35 PM on October 27, 2005


oh, and the opposite is also true: sports mean nothing to many, many millions of American men.
posted by scody at 3:42 PM on October 27, 2005


sports mean nothing to many, many millions of American men.

Perhaps, but they're all communists.
posted by jonmc at 3:44 PM on October 27, 2005



oh, and the opposite is also true: sports mean nothing to many, many millions of American men.


I imagine a future where sports mean nothing to no one, and everyone showers alone or in pairs. Utopia!
posted by thirteen at 3:48 PM on October 27, 2005


I imagine a future where sports mean nothing to no one, and everyone showers alone or in pairs. Utopia!

*sniff*
But I wanted to shower with multiple shower buddies at once!
*sniff*
posted by raedyn at 3:51 PM on October 27, 2005


I imagine a future where sports mean nothing to no one, and everyone showers alone or in pairs. Utopia!

*clubs thirteen with Louisville Slugger, gags him with jockstrap, binds him to chair with Air Jordan laces, and forces him "Clockwork Orange" style to watch ESPN*

It's for your own good.

(all kidding aside, at it's best, athletics is as much an art as poetry or music. Just watch a Randy Johnson fastball or Ali's rope-a-dope)
posted by jonmc at 3:56 PM on October 27, 2005


*puts wah into virtual killfile*. life is too short to waste it arguing with willful ignorance.

anyway. i had a completely sideways reaction to reading about her coming out:

what i find interesting is that she considers herself to be gay now, even though she was previously married to a man (whom i presume she was attracted to when she got married), and never felt any same-sex attraction before meeting her current partner.

is the word "bisexual" just not in the dictionary of some monogamous folks?
posted by piranha at 4:00 PM on October 27, 2005


Het male, that's just the way I'm wired.

I do nopt subscibe to that bio-determinism bullshit. It's a cop out. So that argument isn't going to get you anywhere.

Well, there you go. Anything loses it's charge if it becomes that commonplace.

And if you often showered with people of both sexes it would become commonplace. And not sexy.

That was rocket88, not me. I was talking more about getting naked in the locker room or not walking around nude in front of others. And like I said, I happily do both and more, but I don't judge others too harshly if they don't.

I know. And my point is it's just that kind of weirdness that is behind the locker room business or anything. It's part of a creepy, repressed whole. But of course you don't judge. You only judge the smart and pretty. You'd be happy to come up with some way to defend Himmler.
posted by dame at 4:06 PM on October 27, 2005


wah, you know, it is possible to represent an opinion without revealing your own biases. You may wish to work on that.

So might metafilter. The original comment from me.
Sorry kids, but having someone out on your team in not something anybody wants. It can be tolerated, but is not desired. There's a difference between basketball/football/baseball and a sport like golf or tennis. They are team sports. Things that divide teams, destroy teams. This is most certainly one of those things that destroys teams.

Flame me now, and call be all sorts of silly names, but that's the way it is, and most likely to stay for the next long while.
And I'm sorry, but the idea that somehow "opinions" and "biases" are not intimately related, is, well, factually inaccurate.

Additionally, my biases in regards to homosexuality are pretty much neutral to positive. My opinion as to how homosexuality and professional sports mix is regardless of that.

How many times did I express a negative image of homos? How many times was I attacked for my opinion?

This place is ridiculously biased towards homos, making it quite unlike the real world.
posted by wah at 4:08 PM on October 27, 2005


You'd be happy to come up with some way to defend Himmler.

Well, as my hero Jim Goad said the Nazis created the worst real-life horror film known to man, but it at least deserved an Oscar for set design.

(don't dare me, I don't blink)

But of course you don't judge.

Because we all have our weird issues that we're walking through this world working out, if not about sex then about something else. Barring reductio absurdum (or however you say it) examples like Himmler, I'm in no position to look down on anyone for theirs as long as their not harming anybody.

Perhaps telling everyone to take the let-it-all-hang-out route would cure some hangups, but is one kind of conformity better than another ultimately?

You only judge the smart and pretty


I am smart and pretty, miss. That's not ever what it's been about.
posted by jonmc at 4:14 PM on October 27, 2005


i'm not saying people can't have issues, dear. Just that it is, in fact, an issue. Anyway, I have to go get drunk now. Kisses.
posted by dame at 4:19 PM on October 27, 2005


How many times did I express a negative image of homos?

Well, for one, I don't think you're supposed to call them "homos."

This place is ridiculously biased towards homos, making it quite unlike the real world.
posted by wah at 4:08 PM PST on October 27


yeah dude that sucks stop posting thanks in advance
posted by Optimus Chyme at 4:22 PM on October 27, 2005


yeah dude that sucks stop posting thanks in advance

Actually, it's part of the reason I read this place. Like the tag says, "the plastic.com it's okay to like".

And looking back on the rest of what you've chymed it with, may I say, "go suck a dick".

You are welcome.
posted by wah at 4:29 PM on October 27, 2005


Dear wah,

Faggot is to spic as wop is to gook, i.e. they're words people don' t use in friendly conversation, unless you're explaining why you shouldn't use them.

Don't hate... participate!
posted by mrgrimm at 4:30 PM on October 27, 2005


metafilter: ridiculously biased towards homos.
posted by cloeburner at 4:39 PM on October 27, 2005


"Faggot is to spic as wop is to gook, i.e. they're words people don' t use in friendly conversation, unless you're explaining why you shouldn't use them."

And I didn't use it in friendly conversation. I used it like it would be used in a lockerroom. Here, let me quote Garrison Hearst for you.

"Aww, hell no! I don't want any faggots on my team. I know this might not be what people want to hear, but that's a punk. I don't want any faggots in this locker room."

--Garrison Hearst, San Francisco 49er running back
Fresno Bee (Oct. 27)


[here]

And just a quick FYI, I made up the hypothetical comment before reading the real one.
posted by wah at 4:43 PM on October 27, 2005


There's a women's NBA? Who knew?
posted by fixedgear at 4:48 PM on October 27, 2005


I think the quote you're looking for is Hamlet, Act III, Scene ii, line 239.
posted by cytherea at 4:51 PM on October 27, 2005


Man, at the risk of lugging my own pilory to this thread: Wah got hit unfairly, with a lot of undeserved bullshit. From reading him, he doesn't sound like he's arguing that what's normal is what's good (though he is arguing that it's natural, and that has its own problem).
And what's he's saying is true for a lot of sports teams. There's already homoerotic inbonding that goes on. And since pretty much everyone in the locker room will joke about which of the two buddies'd be the butch and which'd be the bitch, what tends to frighten straight people there is that the joking that's routine might have been real. And noting that people tend to riff on things that they've got at least some discomfort about, especially as in-group bonding, that means that if someone was serious about their sexuality, everything uncomfortable that's been said might have become true.
Again, I'm not saying that's how it should be or that this is the total experience of everyone who's ever been in a locker room, but that describes an experience that I think a lot of people have had. There's a reason why it's called "locker room humor."
Think about having opposite sex roommates that you're not attracted to. After a while, there are jokes about fucking between you (if only jokes about why it won't ever happen). If you know someone's not going to find you attractive, it's a lot easier to joke about fuckin' 'em, because you don't care.
I've had gay friends that I could joke about fucking the same way that I would for any other person in my group of friends, but it's because we're comfortable enough with each other as friends.

ARG! NO DATA!
posted by klangklangston at 5:29 PM on October 27, 2005


klangklangston, that's more or less what i read wah's original comment to mean, and it's what he eventually ended up returning to.

in between that, however, he talked a lot of shit about "the gay population" and made a lot of stupid generalizations, and he got called on it.
posted by cloeburner at 6:09 PM on October 27, 2005


I'm using "American women" and "American men" as social science terms, not as individually applicable labels. American women, in the aggregate, view sports differently than American men, in the aggregate, do. You've still done nothing to refute this. I have not claimed that all American men -- or American men in general -- love sports, I'm saying these two groups, at the aggregate level, view sports differently.

If this is not the case, why is the American sports industry not gender-balanced?
posted by aaronetc at 6:17 PM on October 27, 2005


My. wah's still in here slugging it out, I see.

Are we in MeTa yet?

Just checking.
posted by jokeefe at 7:23 PM on October 27, 2005


First off, I guess I'm not clear on what you actually mean by "view sports differently." Do you mean it narrowly -- i.e., actual viewing habits of men (vs. women)? Do you mean it more broadly and abstractly -- e.g., the social/cultural/personal/biographical meaning that sports has for men (vs. women)? If it's the former: yes, of course, more men than women watch/comsume sports on the whole. News at eleven. (But I think it's worth breaking that down to examine closer, anyway -- I would bet that women make up a higher percentage of viewers/spectators for baseball or basketball, for example, than for boxing. Which should tell you that there are a lot of more complex issues at work in this question that aren't addressed simply by making the broadest possible assertion based on the aggregate.)

What I dispute is this implication that women don't view (by which I assume you mean like/care about/find meaning in) sports "the way" that men do (and/or that we women who do like sports are responding based on a different set of criteria than men). I am asserting that for women who do care about sports (of which there are millions of us), sports carry many, most, or even all of the same meanings in terms of personal/tribal identity, competiveness, entertainment, family/community history, etc. You conclude that because, on the whole, a smaller percentage of women are "into" sports (for lack of a better term) than men, women therefore view sports differently than men. I am arguing that despite the fact that on the whole, a smaller percentage of women are "into" sports, there are significant similarities between the ways in which pro-sports men and pro-sports women view sports.

Or to put it another way: why else would I have been a passionate Broncos fan since the days back when #7 was worn by Craig Morton? I know you can't honestly believe it's because I think the guys look cute in their tight pants. Seriously, I'm curious: how, specifically, do you think I view sports that's so different from how you view them? How, for example, did you watch the World Series last night in a way that was substantively different from how I (or the elderly woman back in Chicago holding the sign "I've waited since 1917 for this!", or hundreds of thousands of other women) watched it?

If this is not the case, why is the American sports industry not gender-balanced?

This is a red herring. Why is Congress not gender-balanced? Not because "women view voting differently than men."
posted by scody at 7:38 PM on October 27, 2005


Forget Sheryl Swoopes; Sulu came out.
posted by xmutex at 8:45 PM on October 27, 2005


I'm not making a qualitative judgment about how women perceive or process sports in the abstract, nor am I saying any of this is gender-inherent. I'm saying that, in the aggregate, American women consume less "sports" (that is, sports media, live sports, sports merch, sporting goods) than do American men, and that female American sports figures have less cultural significance for American women than male American sports figures do for American men; I also suspect that these two things are related. All this is to say, there is no female equivalent of Shaq in sports.

I think the very fact of the reaction to this news in the media -- i.e., very little of any kind -- demonstrates that Swoopes is not Shaq's equivalent "in our star-obsessed culture," as jonmc said. Imagine if Shaq himself came out -- don't you think it would get a little more coverage? Is there a female athlete with anything close to the cultural presence of Shaq? My point is that simply being the best player* in the female pro basketball league does not make her Shaq's "equivalent." To find a women whose coming out would have the same cultural impact as Shaq coming out, you have to leave the confines of sports culture.

(An unscientific check: I just looked at cbsnews.com; their section of top sports stories does not include this one, while their entertainment section and toppest top stories section includes "Kate Moss Out of Rehab.")

* I do not endorse the view that Shaq is the best player in the NBA, or that Swoopes is the best player in the WNBA.
posted by aaronetc at 9:10 PM on October 27, 2005


American women consume less "sports" (that is, sports media, live sports, sports merch, sporting goods) than do American men, and that female American sports figures have less cultural significance for American women than male American sports figures do for American men; I also suspect that these two things are related. All this is to say, there is no female equivalent of Shaq in sports.

I agree with all that, aaron; I just didn't see that communicated by your initial statements. Thanks for clarifying.
posted by scody at 10:15 PM on October 27, 2005


what i find interesting is that she considers herself to be gay now, even though she was previously married to a man (whom i presume she was attracted to when she got married), and never felt any same-sex attraction before meeting her current partner.

is the word "bisexual" just not in the dictionary of some monogamous folks?
posted by piranha at 4:00 PM PST on October 27 [!]


Piranha, Swoops did an interview on the local news tonight (I'm in Houston) where she said that she chose to be gay. She said that she doesn't think people are born gay, but that they make a conscious choice, which is what she is now doing. Personally, I think she's only doing this for the money, as she's just been hired as a spokeswoman for a gay cruise line.
posted by Serena at 10:42 PM on October 27, 2005


Serena: Well, that helps you make the choice to be gay. All that sweet, sweet homosexual cash...
posted by klangklangston at 1:20 AM on October 28, 2005


You guys are so cynical -- next you'll tell me that Anne Heche was just in it for the publicity.
posted by aaronetc at 6:26 AM on October 28, 2005


And I didn't use it in friendly conversation. I used it like it would be used in a lockerroom. Here, let me quote Garrison Hearst for you.

"Aww, hell no! I don't want any faggots on my team. I know this might not be what people want to hear, but that's a punk. I don't want any faggots in this locker room."

--Garrison Hearst, San Francisco 49er running back


I guess if an athlete doesn't like black people it would be okay to ostracize them as well.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 7:31 AM on October 28, 2005


Optymus, you can keep trying to portray his arguments in bad faith, or you can try to understand what he's getting across.
But then, that'd be a novel thing for you, wouldn't it?
posted by klangklangston at 7:46 AM on October 28, 2005


I attended a WNBA game once, and even if a significant percentage of the players aren't gay, the fans definitely are.
posted by ejoey at 8:00 AM on October 28, 2005


Good for her. I hope she inspires others.
posted by agregoli at 8:23 AM on October 28, 2005


klangklangston, the "point" he's making (that openly gay athletes will probably cause some consternation in locker rooms at first, if I may phrase it in a less asshattish way) is obvious and uncontroversial. The way he's making it and defending it is obnoxious and reveals what certainly looks like underlying homophobia. The late unlamented 111 used to take a similar approach (see, for instance, here). I think there are better causes to spend your indignation on.
posted by languagehat at 9:29 AM on October 28, 2005


that openly gay athletes will probably cause some consternation in locker rooms at first, if I may phrase it in a less asshattish way

Actually, if you want to make a point out of it, I would say that no male professional sports team with a publicly acknowledged gay member will win a championship within my lifetime.

The (main) reason being the internal turmoil that such a situation would engender.

And if by 'consternation' you mean fist fights, and by 'probably' you mean 'definitely', then you have me pegged (so to speak).

The way he's making it and defending it is obnoxious and reveals what certainly looks like underlying homophobia.

Homophobia is the 'gay card' and it gets played way too much. Right up there with the 'anyone who brings up any negative social aspects to homosexual activity is obviously gay themselves'.
posted by wah at 3:53 PM on October 28, 2005


I would say that no male professional sports team with a publicly acknowledged gay member will win a championship within my lifetime.

How old are you? I'll gladly take that bet. (Of course, you do realize that the only way for you to win is to die.)

Actually, I'll make it easier. I say it'll happen within 20 years in either the MLB, NFL, NHL, NBA, or MLS. (If you think MLS shouldn't count, I'll ask you to explain why.)

I think 20 years is a reasonable time. I'd post it here, but I don't want to spring for the $50. I'll split it the fee with you, though. How about a $500 bet? (I do not make much money, but I hope to be able to afford $500 in 2025.) I think it's an interesting enough bet to be worth posting there. I think you're absolutely wrong, but I think it's an interesting bet.
posted by mrgrimm at 6:05 PM on October 28, 2005


Sports Illustrated's Homosexuality and Sports Survey from April 2005.

Of course, people are always likely to lie a bit to sound holier (or actually, more tolerant, which is less holy?) than they really are, but some surprising numbers in there:

Question - YES - NO

It is OK for male athletes to participate in sports even if they are openly gay 86% 14%

It is OK for female athletes to participate in sports even if they are openly gay 78% 22%

It's OK for homosexuals to participate in sports provided they are not open about their sexuality 40% 61%

Having an openly gay player hurts the entire team 24% 76%

I would be less of fan of a particular athlete if I knew that he or she was openly gay 24% 76%

Having an openly gay athlete hurts the entire sport 23% 78%

I would enjoy the sport less if I knew a player was gay 21% 79%

Positive portrayals of gay athletes in the media may encourage children to become gay 19% 71%

Openly gay athletes should be excluded from playing team sports 14% 86%

Americans are more accepting of gays in sports today than they were twenty years ago 79% 22%

posted by mrgrimm at 6:16 PM on October 28, 2005


Optymus, you can keep trying to portray his arguments in bad faith, or you can try to understand what he's getting across.
posted by klangklangston at 7:46 AM PST on October 28


What he's getting across is that inborn characteristics are fair game for discrimination. There's no difference between thinking gays shouldn't be on teams and thinking minorities shouldn't be on teams.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 9:14 AM on October 29, 2005


mrgrim: I sense some national cognitive dissonance. But then, that's not too surprising. Once, while talking to a gay friend about working out at the gym, he told me that he actively avoids the university gym at busy times for his workout, because he is very uncomfortable in the locker room, and that he prefers to go to the Y in the gay village, because he knows that the environment is safer for him.
posted by djfiander at 12:06 PM on October 29, 2005


What he's getting across is that inborn characteristics are fair game for discrimination.

Funny you would post that on a thread about Swoopes, who is quite candid about her choice to be a lesbian.

Not surprising that you still read my posts in bad faith, but there ya go.

But whatever, there's more interesting posts here.
---
While it goes against my standard policy to get in bets with people named after characters from Twisted Metal, I could certainly entertain the notion of a long term bet on this subject.

I'm (as of yesterday) 31, and probably won't make it much past 50, so 20 years is an equitable timeframe for such a wager.

However, there is one term that would have to be agreed upon.

I say it'll happen within 20 years in either the MLB, NFL, NHL, NBA, or MLS. (If you think MLS shouldn't count, I'll ask you to explain why.)

The MLS shouldn't count, for one, it's likelihood of even being around in 20 years is in question, and is really not a major sport in this country, regardless. Besides, limiting the scope of the bet makes it more likely for me to win. ;-)

So, if you are comfortable for leaving soccer as the red-headed stepchild of professional sports, I'm amenable to the terms (i.e. if, before the end of calendar year 2025, a NFL, NHL, MLB, or NBA team wins a championship with a publicly acknowledged gay member, you win. If none does, I win.)

Email me at "roy.m.taylor AT gmail.com" and we'll go from there.

Have a good one, and sorry for the slow response, I'm on assignment somewhere that my net access is quite limited.
posted by wah at 5:58 AM on November 1, 2005


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