Showing posts with label Sports Homophobia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sports Homophobia. Show all posts

August 22, 2016

Andre Gray “Is it Me or are There Gays Everywhere?” So Sorry Now!



(Andre Gray in pic) It might be ok to be a homophobe when nobody knows you,
 is different  when you have fans that pay money to see you play
  
The Burnley striker Andre Gray has apologized after homophobic tweets in which he appeared to condone killing gay people were shared on social media.

One of the messages, written in 2012 when Gray played for non-league Hinckley United, read:  . That tweet, and others containing similar terms, were deleted on Saturday, soon after they started re-circulating online.

Tweet from Gray on
 Twitter: 
“Is it me or are there gays everywhere?
jan 9 2012 1:31am

Responding to the backlash online, the 25-year-old – who scored Burnley’s second goal against Liverpool – issued a statement, writing: “First I want to offer a sincere and unreserved apology to anybody I may have offended in relation to these tweets. The tweets were posted four years ago when I was a completely different person to the man I am now.
“I was at a very different point in my life back then – one that I’ve worked hard to move on from … I have experienced a lot over the past four years and have had to take responsibility for a number of things in my life which has enabled me to mature and grow as a person.”

He added: “I realise I have made some big mistakes, none more so than these tweets, but I would like to stress that I’ve worked incredibly hard to completely transform my life since that time. To clarify, I do not hold the beliefs written in those tweets whatsoever.

“I can assure everybody that I am absolutely not homophobic, and as said previously I can only apologise and ask for forgiveness to anyone I offended. Thankfully I am not the guy I was back then and will continue to work hard both on and off the pitch to become a better person.”

Responding to the original messages, the campaign group Stonewall told the BBC: “While these tweets are of course historic, unfortunately homophobic attitudes and language continue to be an issue in sport, whether that’s on the pitch, in the terraces or on social media.

“It’s extremely important that we work together to kick these attitudes out of sport and create supportive and inclusive environments that enable everyone to feel accepted without exception.”

The Rangers midfielder Joey Barton, however, backed Gray against the criticism, tweeting: “I know @AndreGray7 as well as anyone. And he is 100% not homophobic. One of the nicest lads you could meet. Who hasn’t said dumb things when they were young? … He should be held up as an example to kids from troubled backgrounds.”
Burnley later issued a statement along similar lines, saying: “The club would like to make it clear we do not condone any discriminatory behavior by any employee. The club also fully supports the FA’s Football v Homophobia campaign.

“However, as Andre has made clear in a statement on his personal account, these are social posts from four years ago, and in this time he has completely transformed his life. The player has also apologised and denied he is, in any way, shape or form homophobic. Burnley Football Club will make no further statement on this matter.”

In June the Coventry City defender Chris Stokes was given a one-game ban and fined by the Football Association for tweeting a homophobic term. Stokes also posted an apology online, calling his decision to send the message “a brainless moment from me … I’m really disappointed in myself for using that term. I’m not homophobic at all.” 

August 11, 2016

NBC and It’s Problem with Gay Athletes


Tom Daley and Dan Goodfellow compete in the Olympic men's synchronised 10-meter platform event, Aug. 8, 2016



Many of us have been aware of a problem with NBC and gays, particularly in sports. Outsports.com names particular problems with gays in sports and how NBC deals with their sexual orientation. Its like if NBC was either embarrassed for them or just embarrass to have to deal with these famous athletes just because of who they are which should be none of anyone business but they do have lives and spouses, boyfriends and sometimes even children. Why not just treat them as professionals NBC and forget about the bedroom stuff?


The post below was posted by   on Out Sports

It's been apparent for years.

When Australian diver Matthew Mitcham won gold in the 10-meter platform in Beijing, stopping a Chinese sweep of diving gold on the final dive of the sport's final event, NBC Sports, the perennial broadcaster in the United States of the Olympic Games, failed to mention Mitcham's partner in the stands despite highlighting the partners of other straight athletes. Even worse, the network failed to mention that Mitcham was the only publicly out gay-male athlete at the Games.

When called on it, NBC first argued that the network doesn't discuss sexual orientation (despite the historic nature of Mitcham's win) then offered a terse two-sentence "apology."

Eight years later, nothing has changed at NBC. The network failed to identify Dustin Lance Black in the audience of the men's synchro diving finals as bronze-medalist Tom Daley's fiancé. Not boyfriend, not long-time friend... fiancé. And an Oscar-winning fiancé at that (read: public interest). They are, arguably, the "it" couple of the gay community, yet NBC didn't mention a word.
 
When NBC broadcast the match of Brazilian volleyball player Larissa França, they followed her to the stands where she embraced her wife. NBC commentator Chris Marlowe's color commentary?

"That is her husband. She married Lili in 2013 and Larissa is celebrating with her pals."

Her husband. You can't write this shit. Yet NBC released no public apology, relying on a one-line statement from Marlowe.

At the U.S. Olympic diving trials, diver Jordan Windle was accompanied by his two dads.

"They wouldn't say 'Jordan's dads' during the finals of Olympic Trials," Jerry Windle said. "They just said 'parents.' Then they wouldn't show both Andre and I together like they showed other parents."

Two years ago in Sochi, all of the NBC networks combined offered less than two hours of coverage of LGBT issues, including the new anti-gay law that had been implemented in Russia, during the 18 days of the Winter Olympics. There were mentions of the plight of Russian LGBT people during primetime coverage by NBC Sports, but according to HRC it diminished over time and was mostly pushed away from NBC Sports and onto MSNBC. According to HRC, during two of the Winter Olympic days -- 14 and 17 -- there was no coverage of the issue on any of NBC's networks.

To be clear, this all goes well beyond the Olympics.

For the last few years NBC Sports has employed an avowed proud homophobe, Tony Dungy, as one of its lead NFL commentators. Dungy has raised money to oppose equality for gay people, has said he "disagrees" with Jason Collins being gay and, in a fit of hypocrisy, said he would not want openly gay NFL player Michael Sam on his team.

Of course the network also employs openly gay commentator Johnny Weir. It's the one possible on-air feather in the network's cap. Though Weir's dress and manner leave some reducing him to the role of clown, it's a role he welcomes and plays well while also offering some great figure skating commentary. His antics (while I appreciate them) leave many gay people wishing for less.

Still, it's impossible to make the case that NBC Sports is sensitive to LGBT issues. While NBC has started NBC Out and has a robust NBC-Universal LGBT employee network, that is desperately lost on the coverage NBC provides sports.

While Dungy's continued employment on NBC Sports' cornerstone program is a slap in the face of the entire LGBT community, the subpar job the network has demonstrated covering LGBT athletes and issues at the Olympics over the years is downright inexcusable.

There are plenty of opportunities for NBC to recover. Ten days of LGBTI athletes competing and winning lie ahead. Will the network acknowledge their presence? Simply demonstrate the common courtesy to these athletes they show their straight counterparts?

Frankly, I doubt it. Their failure to properly address the Mitcham snub eight years ago, followed by transgression after transgression, shows very clearly that NBC Sports couldn't care less about gay athletes or gay fans. Maybe ESPN can get in the running to broadcast future Olympics.

May 27, 2016

‘Human Error’Determined in The Padres Gay Men’s Chorus incident



Last Saturday, as part of the "Out at the Ballpark" festivities at Petco Park, the Padres invited the San Diego Gay Men's Chorus to sing the National Anthem prior to a game against the Dodgers. The choir accepted the offer, but, just as they were about to begin performing, a recording of a woman singing the anthem played instead.
Here's video of the incident:
The choir was not given the opportunity to perform and some members claim they were heckled as they left the field.
The Padres issued a brief apology, which the chorus found to be inadequate. The team later determined nothing malicious had happened, though they terminated the employee responsible for the anthem mishap. The chorus asked the team to rehire that employee, however.
MLB invested the incident, and, on Thursday, they announced it was the result of "human error." Here is the league's statement:
Major League Baseball announced today that it has completed its investigation into the unfortunate events of Saturday, May 21st, when members of the San Diego Gay Men's Chorus had been scheduled to perform the Star-Spangled Banner before the Padres' "Pride Night" home game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Petco Park. The review, which was conducted by MLB's Department of Investigations, included a dozen interviews with individuals who were involved in the situation.
The Department of Investigations has concluded that the San Diego Gay Men's Chorus has performed the Star-Spangled Banner multiple times before a Padres game; that Saturday's regrettable situation was a product of human error; that the situation was exacerbated by the fact that the lead entertainment supervisor was involved in a car accident on Friday night and thus was unable to work on Saturday and handle his typical responsibilities; that employees involved in the matter were handling new duties with which they were insufficiently familiar; and that the employees involved had no malicious intentions and, in fact, universally relayed contrition for how the incident unfolded and the adverse impression that it created.
MLB received the full cooperation of Padres management, which expressed its deepest apologies. MLB believes that the Padres' efforts to remedy the situation, including its invitation to the Chorus to return to a future game to perform the National Anthem, are appropriate and has every expectation that the Club's longstanding record of inclusion will be evident in the future.
As unfortunate as this situation is, it's good to hear there was no malicious intent. It was a mistake, plain and simple. Hopefully the Padres and the Chorus can move forward with their relationship.



CBS Sports Writer

Mike Axisa joined CBS Sports in 2013. He has been a member of the BBWAA since 2015 and has previously written about both fantasy baseball and real life baseball for MLBTradeRumors.com, FanGraphs.com, RotoAuthority.com,... FULL BIO

March 19, 2016

Pacquiao ReBanned:”We don’t Welcome Gay Haters”


 
Manny Pacquiao has been banned from the popular L.A. shopping center The Grove -- again -- all because of his "statements of hatred" against gay people ... TMZ Sports has learned. 
The battle between The Grove and Pacquiao started in 2012 ... when Manny was banned over an interview in which he reportedly quoted a Bible verse that called for the death penalty for gays. 
The Grove later reversed the ban when it learned Manny had been misquoted. 
  
Fast forward to this week ... when Manny and his 16 person entourage hit the center for a movie in the wake of his newest round of anti-gay statements, which include saying gays are "worse than animals" and posting the "gays should die" Bible verse on his Instagram. 
Grove honchos saw Manny on the property … and after he left, decided they don't want him to come back. 

"These are statements of hatred," Grove owner Rick Caruso tells us ... "A lot of people from the gay community come to The Grove and they have a right not to feel uncomfortable."
"Manny Pacquiao is no longer welcome."
                                                                         -*-
     The hammer continues to fall on Filipino boxing legend Manny Pacquiao following his anti-gay rant last month as he has been banned from the popular L.A. shopping spot, The Grove– again, TMZ Sports reports.
The feud between The Grove and Pacquiao dates back to 2012 when Pacman was banned over an interview in which he reportedly quoted a Bible verse that called for the death penalty for gay people. The ban was later rescinded when Manny claimed he’d been misquoted by the media.
However, things took a different turn this week when Manny and his 16-man entourage hit the center for a movie with the dust yet o settle over his latest anti-gay outburst, in which he claimed on a Philippine TV show that gays are “worse than animals” and later posting a Bible verse on his Instagram account that “gays should die”.
Pacquiao and wife in an Instagram post slamming gays
Pacquiao and wife in an Instagram post slamming gays
The owners of Grove were displeased to see Manny on the property, and after he left they made it clear he wasn’t welcome again.
“These are statements of hatred,” Grove owner Rick Caruso said. “A lot of people from the gay community come to The Grove and they have a right not to feel uncomfortable.”
“Manny Pacquiao is no longer welcome.”
Manny is also feeling the heat back home in Philippines as his popularity continues to head south with suggestions he may pull out of the Senate race.
Credit: TMZ


March 18, 2016

Minor St.Lois pitcher Quitting Because of Homophobic Language

Tyler Dunnington was living the life of a minor league baseball player: shuttling around minor cities on a bus, earning minor paychecks, waiting for a shot at the Majors.

In one big way, however, he was different than most of his teammates.

He was gay.

Dunnington kept his sexuality secret during his 2014 season with the St. Louis Cardinals’ Gulf Coast League. After all, at that time, no professional baseball player had ever publicly come out.

During his time as a high school and college star, Dunnington had endured plenty of homophobia.

But it was one locker room conversation that convinced him to quit the game.

When a Cardinals teammate mentioned his brother was gay, two other players asked him how he could possibly be friends with a gay person, even his brother. The two players then mentioned ways to kill gay people, according to OutSports.

On Wednesday, the website published an email from Dunnington in which he said the homophobia drove him to give up the game he loved.

“I was also one of the unfortunate closeted gay athletes who experienced years of homophobia in the sport I loved,” Dunnington wrote. “I was able to take most of it with a grain of salt but towards the end of my career I could tell it was affecting my relationships with people, my performance, and my overall happiness.

“I experienced both coaches and players make remarks on killing gay people during my time in baseball, and each comment felt like a knife to my heart,” Dunnington continued. “I was miserable in a sport that used to give me life, and ultimately I decided I needed to hang up my cleats for my own sanity.”

The Cardinals said they are taking their former pitcher’s claim that he quit baseball over anti-gay comments “very seriously.”

“This is very disappointing and our hope is that every player, staff member and employee feels that they are treated equally and fairly,” Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak told ESPN in a statement. “Given the nature of these allegations, I will certainly look into this further.”

The Cardinals have also said they will work with Billy Bean, a former major league player who came out as gay after his playing days were over and now is MLB’s first ambassador for inclusion, on the issue.


During his seven-year career in the Majors, Bean once skipped his partner’s funeral to keep anyone in the San Diego Padres organization from learning that he is gay.

Last August, David Denson, a young player in the Milwaukee Brewers’ farm system, made history by becoming the first openly gay active player on a team affiliated with Major League Baseball.

“Talking with my teammates, they gave me the confidence I needed, coming out to them,” he told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “They said, ‘You’re still our teammate. You’re still our brother. We kind of had an idea, but your sexuality has nothing to do with your ability. You’re still a ballplayer at the end of the day. We don’t treat you any different. We’ve got your back.’

“That was a giant relief for me. I never wanted to feel like I was forcing it on them. It just happened. The outcome was amazing. It was nice to know my teammates see me for who I am, not my sexuality.”

Some argue, however, that Glenn Burke, an outfielder for the Los Angeles Dodgers in the late 1970s, was actually the first openly gay big leaguer, although MLB did not recognize him as such.

Many in baseball have pointed to Denson’s coming out as a sign that the sport is becoming more accepting.

“I think the time is coming for a team to have an active gay player,’’ Arizona Diamondbacks president Derrick Hall told USA Today last week. “I’m confident there are players playing now that are gay.

“I’m looking forward to that day when we can point to one or many players, and say, there’s an example of our inclusion, openness and acceptance.”

Yet, Dunnington’s experience arguably shows how far the game still has to go.

In his email to OutSports, however, the former minor league pitcher expressed regret for leaving the game — and for not coming out while still playing.

“After a little over a year of being gone from the game I’ve come to realize I thought I was choosing happiness over being miserable. That is not necessarily the case,” he wrote. “My passion still lies in baseball, and removing myself from the game didn’t change that. Most of the greatest memories I have are with this sport. After gaining acceptance from my friends and family I realized I didn’t have to quit baseball to find happiness.”

“I not only wanted to share my story but also apologize for not using the stage I had to help change the game,” he added. “Quitting isn’t the way to handle adversity, and I admire the other athletes acting as trailblazers.”

Dunnington is now hoping to return to baseball by joining a team’s front office.

 
washingtonpost.com


April 6, 2015

Teenage Basketball Player Chased Out of Court After Coming Out


                                                         

A TEENAGE basketball player has told how he was chased out of a school by boys calling him a "f****t" after he came out in the US.

Dalton Maldonado, from Floyd County in Kentucky, had been beaten in an away game with his team from Betsy Layne High School when an opponent hurled a gay slur as they left the court.

"Hey number three, I hear you're a f****t," the player shouted, the 19-year-old recalled to Outsports.
  
His quick reply - "Yeah baby, can I have your number?" - confirmed the rumours and he told his friends he was gay after breaking down in the changing room minutes later.

Dalton never planned to come out while competing in basketball leagues and had only told his parents that week.

After getting changed, he and his team made their way back to the bus that would take them back to their hotel, but some of the opposing team were waiting.

After shouting "f****t", they tried to board the bus before jumping in their cars so they could chase him as it pulled away.

"Members of the other team were pounding on the windows of our bus, yelling 'let him off the bus' and screaming 'f****t'," Dalton told The Independent.

"I felt a little threatened at first, but more so when they started following the bus."
The chase continued through the city of Lexington until the coach of the opposing team intervened. Dalton plays for Betsy Layne High School in rural Kentucky Dalton plays for Betsy Layne High School in rural Kentucky

Police were called to the hotel Dalton and his team were staying at and for the rest of the four-day tournament, held in December, the group had to be escorted to games.

Some of the younger players were so frightened that they returned home early, he said.

As awful as that experience was, the teenager said he shared his experience because of the way his friends rallied around him afterwards.

"My teammates were amazing through the whole ordeal," Dalton told The Independent.

"They stuck by my side and were there for me…I had grown up with these boys.

"I knew no matter what they'd be there for me and support me - they're like family."

Dalton said he did not want to identify the school team who chased him because he wanted to bring positive attention to the support people get when coming out, not get anyone "bashed".

He thinks homophobia in sport is a problem "in general" but that should not stop people coming out.

"Be who you are, do what you think you're ready to do," he said.

"If it's support you are worrying about, just look at my wall or Twitter. The world will support you, and to the people that don’t…they don’t deserve you in their life."

March 29, 2014

Anti Gay 49’s Chris Culliver Arrested on Hit and Run



BAY CITY NEWS - Chris Culliver 
A controversial member of the San Francisco 49ers is back in the hot seat again.
Chris Culliver, who made news after making anti-gay remarks at last year's Super Bowl, is reported to have been involved in a hit-and-run of a bicyclist in San Jose, according to KTVU.com.
Police said that a bicyclist had been hit Friday morning at Tully and Senter roads by a vehicle that fled the scene. A witness followed and attempted to stop the vehicle in the hit-and-run, and the driver, reportedly Culliver, got out of the car and threatened the witness with brass knuckles, KTVU reports. He then got back into his car and struck the witness’ car.

Police responded and arrested Culliver without incident. Police said they found brass knuckles in Culliver’s care.
                                                                 
   

The Niners released a statement to KTVU:
"The 49ers organization is aware of the recent matter involving Chris Culliver," the statement released to KTVU. "We will remain in contact with Chris and the local authorities as we continue to gather the facts regarding this situation. As this is an ongoing legal matter, we will reserve further comment at this time."
Culliver was booked on charges of felony hit-and-run, reckless driving causing injury, felony possession of brass knuckles and misdemeanor hit-and-run for striking the witness' vehicle.
Culliver was booked into Santa Clara County Jail in lieu of $36,000, according to Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Kurtis Stenderup.
He is scheduled to appear in Santa Clara County Superior Court in San Jose on April 11, according to county jail records.
The bicyclist suffered minor injuries that were not considered life-threatening and was treated and released at the scene, police said.
Bay City News contributed to this report.

January 6, 2014

Senior Holyfield Reprimanded by younger Holyfield for Making Homophobic Remarks

Retired boxer Evander Holyfield has been reprimanded by Big Brother after expressing his homophobic point of view.
The 51-year-old made the comments when Luisa Zissman asked him whether any boxers had come out as gay. 
The former Apprentice star quickly tried to warn Evander to not continue what he was saying as he insisted being gay was a choice.
Homophobic comments: Evander Holyfield compared being gay to having a handicap
Homophobic comments: Evander Holyfield compared being gay to having a handicap
Telling off: Evander was called in to the Diary Room to be told off for his comments
As they lay in bed Luisa, still handcuffed together, Luisa became increasingly concerned with what the devout born-again Christian was saying.
  
But Evander persisted saying: ‘All I’m trying to say, you know handicap people are born, you can’t say because they are born that way you can’t fix them.’
Luisa told the heavyweight that she didn't think the two things were comparable, but he maintained his view. 
He said: 'Yes it is a choice. C'mon, how can you not say you ain't gay unless you sleeping with the opposite sex?'
He was then called to the Diary Room where he was told his behaviour was unacceptable and he was reminded that he had been told before entering the house that offensive comments would not be tolerated.
Warning: Luisa told him it would be best if he kept his opinions to himself
Warning: Luisa told him it would be best if he kept his opinions to himself
Evander tried to justify his comments saying he said he wasn’t going to mention it to anyone else, it’s just his opinion. 
However, while he was the first Celebrity Big Brother housemate to receive an official warning, people took to Twitter to complain that the  dressing down wasn’t enough of a punishment. 
One user Andrew O’Connell wrote: ‘@bbuk Evander Holyfield & his bigoted & draconian opinions don't belong inside the big brother house or anywhere in 2014. Get him out!’
Topic raised: Unaware of his opinions Luisa started the conversation by asking if any boxing stars had ever come out
Topic raised: Unaware of his opinions Luisa started the conversation by asking if any boxing stars had ever come out
Twitter users also took expressed their shock at what he had said and to question why Channel 5 chose to air it. 
User Liam Allen wrote: I just lost all of my respect for Evander Holyfield... What a disgusting thing to say.
Another called Jackeyy agreed: ‘Well that's all respect for Evander Holyfield gone out the window.’
Not giving up: Evander, who is a Christian, persisted with his point of view
Not giving up: Evander, who is a Christian, persisted with his point of view
Kirrsten wrote: ‘Evander Holyfield's comments were disgusting but Channel 5 were at fault too for showing the clip. They could& should have cut it out. #cbb’.
The four-time world heavyweight champ is probably most famous for having his ear bitten off by Mike Tyson during the infamous Bite Fight in Las Vegas in 1997.
Since his conversion to Christianity, he started professing his faith  everywhere, reminding the public before and after his fights that he is a born-again Christian.
A spokesperson for Channel 5 has been contacted for comment. 


http://www.dailymail.co.uk/ 

By FAY STRANG

January 4, 2014

Fmr.Minn.Vikings Chris Kluwe is Confident He was Fired for Being Outspoken on Gays

AP927507780700-580.jpg
On Thursday, Deadspin published an essay by the former Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe, in which he writes that he is “pretty confident” that he was released by the team before this season because of his outspoken support for same-sex marriage and gay rights.
Kluwe accuses Vikings special-teams coordinator Mike Priefer—who was, essentially, his immediate boss in Minnesota—of directing “homophobic language” toward him after he became a high-profile public advocate for marriage equality. And he alleges that former Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier (who was fired this week following a losing season) and current general manager Rick Spielman both attempted to curtail his statements on various political issues, ranging from gay rights to opinions about the Catholic Church. He calls Priefer a “bigot,” and Frazier and Spielman “cowards.” (In a statement, Priefer denied Kluwe’s allegations, writing, “I want to be clear that I do not tolerate discrimination of any type and am respectful of all individuals. I personally have gay family members who I love and support just as I do any family member.” Neither Frazier nor Spielman has responded. In a separate statement, the Vikings promised to “thoroughly review the matter,” but said that Kluwe was “released strictly based on his football performance.”)
Kluwe was cut by the Vikings in May, after eight seasons, and is just now giving his version of the events that led to his departure, having demurred about the specifics for several months. He did not play in the N.F.L. this season, despite trying out for several teams.
In September of 2012, Kluwe became considerably more famous than is normal for an N.F.L. punter when he wrote an open letter to Emmett C. Burns, Jr., a delegate in the Maryland state legislature, which was published by Deadspin, to wide notice. Burns had previously criticized the Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo for making public statements in support of marriage equality. Kluwe came to Ayanbadejo’s defense, arguing in passionate and colorful language for his peer’s right to speak his mind, and for the right of gays and lesbians to marry. Kluwe’s prose turned him into a hero of the gay-rights movement. The best example of the dramatic and persuasive appeal of his style is worth quoting here:
I can assure you that gay people getting married will have zero effect on your life. They won’t come into your house and steal your children. They won’t magically turn you into a lustful cockmonster.
The letter was both crude and charismatic, and appealed to a progressive kind of N.F.L. fan—one who believes that professional sports can be at the forefront of social change, rather than pulled along against its will. After it was published, Kluwe was suddenly two things: a high-profile activist in the midst of the most dynamic year for gay rights in the nation’s history, and a professional punter in the midst of the N.F.L. season. It was not unreasonable to think that this might make for a complicated situation. Yet, from the outside, at least, not much happened: Kluwe punted that season for the Vikings and, indeed, as he predicted, no one magically turned into any kind of lustful monster. It seemed like a marker of progress.
Now, if Kluwe’s account is correct, that good news no longer holds. Assuming that Kluwe is telling the truth about specific facts of his 2012 season, we are confronted with further evidence that an N.F.L. locker room is a toxic place, intolerant not only of differences in sexual orientation, but, as we’ve seen from the bullying allegations against Richie Incognito in Miami last year, hostile toward any kind of difference at all. Kluwe alleges that Priefer said, “We should round up all the gays, send them to an island, and then nuke it until it glows,” in front of a roomful of players. If this is true, and went unremarked upon by the people present for over a year, it is mark of shame not only for the Vikings, but for the league as a whole. Meanwhile, if Kluwe’s larger argument is correct, and he was indeed released by the Vikings because of an ideological conflict with his coach, the league should consider instituting systemic reforms to help insure that players are able to take public positions on issues like politics and religion without the threat of possible retribution. Of course, such a thing would not be simple—some views, after all, are more tolerable than others. What if one of Kluwe’s teammates, rather than speaking out in favor of same-sex marriage, instead mounted a public campaign to oppose it, citing his deeply held views as a Christian? Going further, what if that player had been as gleefully incendiary and obscene in his opposition to gay marriage as Kluwe was in his support of it? If the Vikings stood by that player’s right to speak out, would they be accused of protecting a homophobe?
Meanwhile, if Kluwe is wrong, and he was cut, as the Vikings claim, solely because of his diminished performance on the field—or in part because of his expense as a veteran with a high minimum salary—this is simply a football story. Kluwe admits that he made mistakes on the field in 2012, and concedes that, by some statistical measures, like total and net punting yards, he performed slightly below his career averages. Yet Kluwe maintains that this was due in part to instructions from Priefer, who asked him to dial back the distance on his punts and increase their hang time, in order to give his teammates a better chance at getting down the field to cover the return. This tactical change, Kluwe argues, diminished his stats, the very numbers that the Vikings cited when they cut him.
There is, of course, another version of this story, one in which the Vikings decided to cut Kluwe for a combination of factors, which included salary considerations, on-field performance, and his outspoken stance on political issues that, in their content and tenor, may have alienated some portion of the team’s paying customers. This story is, not incidentally, also about the ways in which modern athletes have, in effect, cut the middlemen out of the storytelling process—using friendly Web sites and social media to speak directly to the public. This is in many ways an overdue liberation, especially for athletes who are inclined to engage with contentious social issues.
Yet it is easy to see how Kluwe’s impassioned (and profane) stance on a contentious public issue may have made some of the business people in the Vikings organization uneasy. Today, Kluwe told ESPN, “In the ideal N.F.L. world, you show up to play on Sundays, and that’s it—they take you out of your box and put you back in. Until we get past the idea that money is the overwhelming influence and you can’t live your life at the same time, people will view activism as a distraction.” Had Kluwe been a star quarterback, running back, or linebacker (really almost anyone but a punter, who, along with place kickers, are viewed, rightly or wrongly, as more replaceable than other players), perhaps his off-the-field activism might have been tolerated. In a better world, of course, his proud stand for gay rights would not have been considered a “distraction,” but instead an extra mark in his favor. Maybe that wasn’t the case. But even as late as June, after Kluwe had been released, the members of the Vikings organization were saying the right things. It was, of all people in this story, Priefer who said to a columnist for the local Minneapolis affiliate of ESPN Radio:
I have a lot of respect for Chris Kluwe. I think, based on what he’s done in his career, as a man and as an athlete, and for anybody that stands up for what he believes in like Chris did, I have a lot of respect for guys like that.
This was part of the version of the Chris Kluwe story that served as such a hopeful possibility last season—the idea that there was space in professional sports for a player to be an activist for gay rights, and, at the same time, just another guy in the locker room and on the field. Now, that balance seems less tenable. As Kluwe himself pointed out on Thursday, based on what he’s just written, he’ll probably never be welcome in the N.F.L. again.
POSTED BY 
Photograph by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images.

May 6, 2013

NFL Punter and Gay Advocate Chris Kluwe is Been Cut Down by the Minn. Vikings



AP
  •   NFL punter Chris Kluwe, whose expletive-laden public battle with a government official over gay marriage turned him into the most vocal athlete in politics and kicked off the year football (and the rest of the pro sports world) finally tackled gay rights, was cut by the Minnesota Vikings on Monday — just days after he hinted that his advocacy was forcing him out the door. Fellow advocate and Super Bowl champion linebacker Scott Fujita retired a month after coming out in full support of gay players in the locker room in The New York Times. And Brendon Ayanbadejo, the linebacker who championed equal rights on the steps of the Supreme Court, was let go by the Baltimore Ravens, only to turn around the next day and hint that as many as four active NFL players might be coming out together, before the new season begins this fall. Indeed, the league's roster of outspoken gay rights supporters has been depleted, and just when the NFL appears to need them most: Football is preparing for its own Jason Collins moment, amidst outright bigotry, and prominent players questioning whether players are really ready. But were these less prominent advocates released because of the NFL's big gay issues, or because they weren't good enough? And will the real Pro Bowlers please stand up for a new reality where the NBA has already broken ground?

 Kluwe had a year remaining on his contract, but the NFL doesn't do guaranteed contracts, and Minnesota ranked 22nd in the league in punting average in a breakout year for punters. He put the writing on his social media wall on opening night of last month's NFL Draft, when no team picked openly gay kicker Alan Gendreau — but the Vikings did select UCLA punter Jeff Locke
"It's a shame that in a league with players given multiple second chances after arrests, including felony arrests, that speaking out on human rights has a chance of getting you cut," read a text message from Kluwe, obtained by NBC's Pro Football Talk on the Sunday after the draft. And in typical Kluwe fashion — remember that "lustful cockmonster" open letter to a Maryland politician last September? — he told The Minnesota Star Tribune's Chip Scoggins over the weekend that he would rather be cut for being outspoken about gay rights than play football: 
Now, I would hope that I would get the chance to play football again, because I think I can still play. But if it ends up being something that costs me that position, I think making people aware of an issue that is causing children to commit suicide is more important than kicking a leather ball.
Those comments aren't unlike what Ayanbadejo — the backup Ravens linebacker who made more headlines for his stance on gay rights in the locker room and in Washington at the big anti-gaySuper Bowl and beyond — said when he said he was cut a month ago. "I make a lot of noise and garner a lot of attention for various things off the football field. When that starts happening, why do you have that player around?" Ayanbadejo told Newsday on April 4 — a pretty serious assertion that he walked back the next day.
But was Kluwe cut because he wasn't worth the $1.45 million the Vikings were slated to pay him, or because he was talking more about a new political dialogue than than punting strategy? That depends on who you ask. Ask ESPN's Kevin Seifert, and you'll see the Vikings got rid of a player whose 39.9-yard net average and punts downed inside the 20 yard line put him in the middle-to-bottom of the league. Going by Bleacher Report's Lead NFL Draft writer Matt Miller, the Vikings got rid of the eighth best punter in the league, "a good directional punter who limits touchbacks (two on the year) and keeps the ball from being returnable when at all possible."
That's... not entirely clear from a player evaluation perspective. But as the second week of Jason Collins's coming out begins, America's first major team-sport athlete is still looking for a job, too. This is raising questions in the sports world that are less driven by statistics than poor taste. This is where the seedy underbelly of sportswriters talking about "marginal" players start comparing gay people with non-gay people, and look for answers that aren't there. NBC's Mike Florio first floated the rumor that NFL team officials "want to know whether Manti Te'o is gay," prompting anunderwhelming NFL investigation. When Florio responded to a CBS scoop that "a current gay NFL player is strongly considering coming out," he suggested that a gay player could use his sexuality to his contractual advantage
For a marginal player who may be on his way out of the league, the indirect benefit of coming out could be getting another chance to play from a team that chooses to embrace diversity — or that doesn’t want to be perceived as shunning it.
Florio was smacked down for that observation, and his notion that having a gay teammate would be a general distraction for any team. Token players for a team looking to pump its diversity was seen as ridiculous, because no sport, no matter how many role models it produces and no professional athlete would want any part in this kind of affirmative action.  But "marginal" players like Collins could be setting the stage: "The fact that Collins is an underwhelming player HELPS," argues Deadspin's Drew Magary. "If it's not a big deal to many people for such a low-end player to come out, it will be less of a big deal when a bigger name follows suit. Collins will absorb some of that scrutiny and send it back harmlessly into the atmosphere, where it will disperse."
So why are all the non-gay gay-rights advocates among the playing ranks still so marginal, and why aren't they playing anymore? To be fair, there are some Rob Gronkowskis and other stars out there being generally awesome about this whole thing, and the Indianapolis Colts are even more awesome, but Kluwe appears to have influenced his Vikings teammates to be more open, even as former stars like Hines Ward admit the opposite: "I don't think football is ready, there's too many guys in the locker room and, you know, guys play around too much," Ward, the former Pro Bowler turned commentator, said after Collins's announcement. That's better than what his former Steelers receiving mate Mike Wallace said the same day, but still: If the NFL is in fact having "internal conversations about how to prepare for the moment when one of its players publicly discusses his homosexuality," where are the conversations on the outside, and who's going to start them? "Lustful cockmonster" might be extreme, but it's not grounds for breaking a contract, and it sure is a better conversation starter than another day at church, or a WNBA player with another thoughtful essay in the Times. If the NFL is truly ready for its breakthrough moment, it doesn't need benchwarmers — it needs all-star advocates. Of the 179 reactions to the Collins news from pro athletes rounded up by Outsports.com, only 24 were NFL players — and only 17 of them were active. Today, the league is down to 16 bold enough to speak, and hardly any loud enough to be heard.
 theatlantic.com.

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