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We’re a basketball blog. We talk about the NBA and, specifically, the Memphis Grizzlies. That’s the whole point of what we do here. We don’t talk about baseball or football or food or politics or religion or zombies (although I really should do a piece on zombies). We discuss the beautiful, poetry-in-motion, played by the greatest athletes in the world, game of basketball. Yet…sometimes we need to look at bigger issues that affect the game. For me, this is one of those times.

Last week, Kevin Arnovitz posted an article on October 11 which you may or may not know, is National Coming Out Day. I urge all of you to go read it if you haven’t already. In this eloquent and thoughtful piece, Arnovitz looks at all of the issues surrounding what will face the first openly gay NBA player once he makes the decision to reveal himself. It won’t be easy — that much should be obvious by the fact that no one has stepped forward so far.

In the testosterone-laden world of men’s professional sports, it is a very pressing question about when an athlete will “come out” while still playing. There have been enough who have done so after their playing careers are over to make it clear that they are not alone by any stretch of the imagination. I don’t think that it is a great leap to equate the first openly gay male athlete in one of the major sports with the likes of Jackie Robinson crossing the color barrier in baseball. If anything, I think it might be an even more daunting wall. He will be the object of derision and jeers in every arena/stadium he goes to. Obviously, that is not right, but that’s just how it will be, just as it was for Robinson. He will face insults from fans, opponents, and probably some of his own teammates. But….once that first brave soul steps out into, more will follow. Probably not immediately. It might take a few years before someone else is willing to take a similar stand.

That is the next big barrier for sports though. Nobody should ever have to hide his or her true self, to live in fear of the truth coming out. Instead, they should be able to live freely, just as everyone else is able to do. It’s time for the stigma to be removed, for the labels to fall into disuse, so that people can just live, rather than live in hiding.

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6 Responses to The Next Great Barrier

  1. HPTMattNo Gravatar says:

    Good stuff. Couldn’t agree more. I, for one, couldn’t care less whether a player is gay or straight. I’ve often wondered why it’s perfectly permissible for female athletes to be “out” when, for males it’s not. The breaking of the color barrier was great, and the breaking of the sexual preference barrier will be equally great.

  2. Chris FaulknerNo Gravatar says:

    Great post, Red. I absolutely agree.

  3. Monique FisherNo Gravatar says:

    Thank you for a brave, thoughtful post. I absolutely agree, too.

  4. TheRealGrizzliesFanNo Gravatar says:

    I have been reading this blog from it’s beginning and have have enjoyed reading most of the blogs, but why are you talking about who will be the first gay NBA player to come out of the closet. This is a meaningless article.

  5. KateeNo Gravatar says:

    I’m late on reading this post but I also thought Kevin Arnovitz did a fantastic job on that article. I completely agree that athletes should be allowed to embrace who they are. It doesn’t change how talented of a player they are whatsoever. I couldn’t disagree more with the commenter that said this was meaningless article. In my opinion, quite the opposite. It is possibly one of the most meaningful articles in a lot of ways. Great work.

  6. [...] known for is being the first former NBA player to publicly come out as a gay athlete. (This is a subject we have mentioned in this blog [...]

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