Two weeks ago we learned that the WNBA’s top overall pick is gay. Last week we learned that a longtime NBA veteran center is gay. Neither news item bothered me at all.
However, what does bother me is what convinced Britney Griner to tell a reporter that she’s out of the closet and why it matters. Ditto for what convinced Jason Collins to exclusively speak about his sexuality to Sports Illustrated.
Why is her sexual orientation more important than discussing if the 6-8 Griner could have a similar impact on the W as did Kareem Abdul-Jabbar when he first arrived in the NBA? Why is Collins’ lifestyle more important as well?
Whether she’s gay or not, whether he’s gay or not is: NOYB or NOMB — none of your (or my) business.
Unfortunately too many male voyeuristic reporters feel it’s their duty to either out the female player or plant suspicious seeds in the public’s mind that said player should be outed. Now we’ll have reporters asking, “Would you play with a gay teammate?” and other questions of that kind.
As a longtime sports reporter, it doesn’t really matter to me what an athlete, female or male, does behind closed doors — it’s NOMB.
I didn’t drive all night through a snowstorm from Indianapolis back to Minneapolis two years ago just to see Griner play the Gophers because she’s gay. I’m not anxious to see her play later this summer for Phoenix because she’s gay, either. I once interviewed Collins when he played for the Timberwolves, and not once did I ask about his sexual orientation.
Perhaps it’s because once I was asked during a job interview shortly after I graduated from college if I had a girlfriend and if I liked boys. Thank goodness I didn’t get that job, perhaps influenced by my shocking facial expression in response to the noisy, intrusive questioner.
My shock and awe has been directed instead over a fired Florida policeman who installed targets at a gun range that had “a faceless silhouette of a person wearing a hoodie and holding a beverage can, a pack of Skittles candy tucked in a pocket. A bull’s eye is on its chest.” The man said on YouTube that the target was a “no-shoot training aid” for when an officer shouldn’t fire his or her gun.
“Using real-life situations as a training scenario is not uncommon,” said Ron King in USA Today. The fact that the target closely resembles Trayvon Martin was only a coincidence.
I’d rather see reporters follow Griner’s and Collins’ lead and themselves come out of the closet as card-carrying homophobics, especially those who cover women’s sports for whom, unless they’re proven otherwise, all female athletes aren’t straight. I guess now that applies to male athletes, too.
Finally, upon meeting former NFL player Esera Tuaolo for the first time several years ago, he told me that he wished I’d covered football when he was playing — perhaps he wouldn’t have been afraid to come out of the closet. He liked my non-NOYB journalistic approach to covering sports.
Back to the future?
I guess if Mike Brown can go back to Cleveland, where he once was fired, why shouldn’t Flip Saunders return to where he was shown the door in 2005?
“I’ve made a wrong decision, and perhaps supporting Flip leaving our organization as coach is one of those things I’ve done wrong,” admitted Wolves owner Glen Taylor last week when he announced that Saunders had been hired as the Timberwolves’ president of basketball operations.
“My house has always been here, so I never really left,” said Saunders, who coached in Detroit and Washington after leaving Minnesota and recently worked as an ESPN analyst. “I still go get coffee at the same place, and all those other things are the same, so that hasn’t changed.
“I think, number one, you have to understand this is a results league, and if you don’t have results, that’s what happens,” continued the thrice-fired NBA coach. “When things first happen, you’re hurt a little bit.”
When he first came to the Wolves in May 1995 as general manager, Saunders essentially became the coach-in-waiting. Nearly eight month later, he replaced the fired Bill Blair. Therefore, is the team president in his latest go-round like Dionne Warwick experiencing déjà vu?
“I’ve talked to [current coach] Rick Adelman; he is our coach. I do expect him to be back,” claimed Saunders. But don’t dismiss the “in-waiting” part just yet.
“I want to really [be] hands on with everything in the organization and try to make it better,” said the new Wolves’ head guy.
I hope this also means diversifying the virtually all-White front office.
Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org.