Thursday, February 15, 2007

I'm not gay; I read the S.I. Swimsuit Edition!

Sign #4,286 that I am getting older: I received my Sports Illustrated Swimsuit edition today and here I am blogging about it instead of running to my bedroom and...leafing through it , if you catch my drift.

For reasons that are being pondered throughout the blogosphere, Dreamgirls star and insecure music diva Beyonce is on the cover. Okay. I know Jay Z's arm candy is smokin hot, talented and cover girl worthy, but really, the cover girl for the iconic, legendary, career-defining (for supermodels) Swimsuit Issue? And it just so happens that she is wearing her own self-designed suits? This is just a disgusting example of crossover money grubbing; Beyonce's in it to sell her suits (and out-cover arch rival Jennifer Hudson) while SI is trying to sell more swimsuit editions.

Whatever happened to using good old fashioned supermodels to sell the immensely popular edition? (Speaking of which, Leo DiCan't Win-O's new squeeze, Bar Rafaeli, is prominently featured in the issue. Wonder how long it'll be before Tom Brady is picking up those leftovers.)

I find an interesting parallel going on as the arrival of this annual sports periodical's foray into skin mag territory happens to coincide with the firestorm raging over the announcement that a former NBA player has come out of the closet.

Ex-Orlando Magic and Utah Jazz forward John Amaechi told the whole world last week that he is homosexual. That means he was what I will refer to as Gay in the NBA. Not that there's anything wrong with that (how much more difficult would it be to talk about these subjects if Seinfeld hadn't come up with that phrase?) Of course ESPN beat the story to death, mainly because they invented the story in the first place, first with a special ESPN the Magazine exclusive complete with excerpts from Amachei's new book "Man in the Middle"(wink wink) and then the requisite 1,000 follow up stories on Sportscenter, Outside the Lines, The Sports Reporters, Around the Horn, PTI, and

Most people, including current NBA players, interviewed for their responses first replied "who the f**k is John Amaechi?!" Then when their memories were refreshed (marginal NBA player for 6 years, English dude, faded into obscurity quicker than Justin Guarini), most responded with the usual litany of pat answers, ranging from "it wouldn't bother me" if his sexual preference had been revealed while he was still an active player, to "I don't think the world of athletics is ready for an openly gay active player right now." In other words, the usual cliche answers, recycled enough times to fit into easily digestible headlines, stories and bylines.

Then something happened that "shocked" not only the the sports world but spilled over into the realm of the real world: former 5-time NBA All Star Tim Hardaway, at the tail end of an interview with the Miami Herald (and ESPN's) Dan LeB Retard on his Miami radio show, had the audacity to speak his true mind on the subject (a mind that his comments revealed is not filled with many thoughts about social skills or politically correct responses):

"You know, I hate gay people, so I let it be known," Hardaway said. "I don't like gay people and I don't like to be around gay people. I am homophobic. I don't like it. It shouldn't be in the world or in the United States."

Oh it's known, Timmy! Now this response was many things, including stupid, short-sighted, spontaneous and foolish. But another way to describe Hardaway's rant is truthful. Sure he came off sounding like a housemate on the Real World but at least his response was brutally, unequivocally, 100% honest. It's what he feels and he let it be known that is how he feels, idiotic or not. Amaechi himself agreed with this assertion when asked about Hardaway's remarks today:

"Finally, someone who is honest," he said. "It is ridiculous, absurd, petty, bigoted and shows a lack of empathy that is gargantuan and unfathomable. But it is honest. And it illustrates the problem better than any of the fuzzy language other people have used so far."

Amen, John. At least the man was letting everyone know where he stood on the subject, unlike the many athletes who give the cliched "it wouldn't bother me" reply but in the locker room he says " there's no way I would ever want to play with no f-ing --------------(fill in homophobic epithet here.) It's truly amazing to me how these guys can be so disgusted about the prospect of being teammates with a gay player yet have no qualms about sharing their locker rooms with drug users, wife beaters, child abusers, gun freaks, sexual deviants and crooks. Fascinating disconnect.

Anyway, how does all of this relate to the SI issue? I'm not really sure. But the emphasis on sexuality in all walks of life, sports included, helps formulate these thoughts of hate and bigotry in many of these athletes. They see Beyonce on the cover of SI and of course they are going to gather around the issue and ohh & ahh. How do you think Amachei must have felt when things like that happened?. Like an outsider, just like society has deemed him. What needs to be done is the commissioners of all leagues hold diversity training sessions (not led by Michael Scott), which NBA commish David Stern promised to look into as he was banishing Hardaway from the All Star weekend festivities, to make sure the athletes know that there will come a time that they will be playing with an openly gay, active player.

And guys like Tim Hardaway need to learn that there really isn't anything wrong with that.

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