Scott’s Turf: Claiming Dignity

Michael Sam rocks!

Coming out of the closet.

This is a trend in athletics that has caught many off guard, some not so much. One thing is for sure, though, that the announcements of high profile players that they are gay has stirred plenty of debate and commentary across the board. Some are for the announcements, some against.

The more troubling trend, though, are the naysayers who claim, vociferously, to not care either way. I know. I was one of those people. As a former college football player, I didn’t care whether any of the linemen that protected my quarterback were white, pink, purple, black, straight or gay.

Then, as I was driving home Thursday night, I asked myself about my own motives in those protestations. I wondered aloud if the issue is not the sexuality itself, but how we on the receiving end of the message perceive its intent.

Yes, these are football (and basketball) players and all that should matter is their performance on the field. But then a strange question popped into my head, and the answer I gave myself showed me why my initial thoughts were simply wrong. I did not get it, and neither do most.

Katherine Webb attending an Alabama football game

from Video

Katherine Webb attending an Alabama football game

When Brent Musberger became fascinated, almost creepily, with A.J. McCarron’s girlfriend at the time, we were not offended by her picture. In fact, most ‘red-blooded’ American men secretly agreed with Musburger; she was very beautiful. The football fans, that inner Neanderthal inside us all would have also called her “hot.” It’s what most men watching thought.

In other articles inside Sports Illustrated and other sports journals, many times a question is asked about the players celebrity crush. No one winces at the answers. No one says “I don’t care” — they do care and they read and determine what kind of “taste” the player has in women. What if a player said “Well, I think Justin Timberlake is hot, he’s my celebrity crush?”

Honestly, you know what would happen. False protestations voiced everywhere we can imagine that ‘we don’t care about that stuff.’ Well, we do.

Further compounding the issue surrounding sexuality in football especially is the level of machismo that is a part of the football culture. It is thicker than Alabama mud. When Jonathan Martin exposed the harassment that had been directed at him, some were appalled, but a majority of people secretly, some more publicly, ridiculed Martin for not being “tough” he was not being a “man.” He was called a “sissy” by plenty of people. As children growing up, anyone who was not able to throw well was said to ‘throw like a girl’ and was also called a sissy. Being ‘feminine’ had no place on the football field.

Jonathan Martin addressing the media

from Video

Jonathan Martin addressing the media

I would like to say that the people talking about Martin in such mannerisms were the minority, or the uneducated, or just simpleton fans. Unfortunately, this attitude extended not only to his own team mates but his own coaches, his own management in the Dolphins front office. Think about those terms for a minute and let them sink in. His “manhood” was questioned. Even worse, commentators versed in sports programming were mimicking these thoughts. They perpetuated the stereotypes. Some of the same commentators who now applaud these announcements ridiculed Martin’s ‘manhood’ last year.

So much of football is wrapped in a misogynistic stereotype of masculinity that it becomes difficult to unravel what is necessary to compete on the field and what is left over from a different time.

You say you don’t care. Then why were so many people disgusted when Michael Sam kissed his significant other after being drafted? Did anyone respond with that kind of vile and vulgar disgust when McCarron kissed Katherine Webb? Would anyone be upset if Marcus Mariota named Mila Kunis as his celebrity crush if asked? Would anyone say ‘we don’t care’ about that?

When the Eagles’ Riley Cooper dropped a specific derogatory racial epithet last summer, he was roundly criticized as he should have been — his actions and words were despicable. Had he used that language on a consistent basis during practice, in the manner which he used it (derogatorily), there would have been hell to pay in the locker room.

Now think about a different word. “Faggot.” It is a constant in many places, especially in the locker room. If you are gay, this word is just as demeaning, just as derogatory as any racial epithet. A constant reminder that you, as a gay man in that locker room, are not worthy.

Michael Sam

from Video

Michael Sam

Sam, Jason Collins and now Chip Sarafin are speaking out, not because they want you to care about their sexuality, but because they want you to no longer care about sexuality at all. No longer should they have to hide in corners keeping their lives a secret, afraid of what people will think.

The culture inside locker rooms has been far too offensive for far too long. These announcements are not about sexuality; they are about a changing world, a changing demographic. The sports world has stuck to the past with the concept of tradition for many years. Change of any type in sports is fought tooth and nail by traditionalists. But football and sports are changing.

I once thought that I did not care about the sexuality of players. I was wrong. I applaud these men for their courage. They are tired of the negativity. For football players who happen to be gay, it’s not about sexuality, it is about dignity. They have reclaimed their own dignity and now have opened up the world for everyone to reclaim theirs.

 

Top photo: Wikimedia

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Scott Reed

Scott Reed

Scott Reed has been a fan of the Ducks from his first days listening to Wendy Ray in 1974 on a scratchy AM radio from Oakridge; forty long years of fandom. He has been a long time contributor to Duck Sports Authority and stumbled into formal writing about the Duck program in 2011 when he looked at the “other side” of the Will Lyles investigation. Long known as “Ducks39” on message boards, he branched deeper into writing for Duck Sports Authority covering games and recruiting for the last four seasons.Scott works for Roush Industries in Portland as the Operations Supervisor. He received a Bachelor of Science in Management from the University of Oregon in 1994 with honors. Scott is also a long time power lifter who spent time as an Assistant Strength Coach at the University of South Dakota.He and his wife live in Beaverton. Scott has two grown sons and two step-sons. In what spare time he has left, he likes to read philosophy and lift weights.

  • hoboduck

    Very nice Scott. Not sure how many will agree with your take and don’t really care.

    “Sam, Jason Collins and now Chip Sarafin are speaking out, not because they want you to care about their sexuality, but because they want you to no longer care about sexuality at all”.
    Says it all.
    Go Ducks WTD

  • Scott Reed

    Well, hobo, if everyone agreed, there would be little point in the commentary. It is easy to preach to the choir… Glad you liked it…

  • Brett Kneitel

    Hey! You stole my macho line! ;-)

    Well done Scott. The lack of understanding, not empathy is what makes me sick.

    All these people want to do is live their lives as they were made to live.

  • hokieduck

    This post was the most succinctly put discourse on this topic that I have read anywhere. Very nicely done, Scott, and Fishduck for addressing this.

    I constantly read in comments on stories that pertain to anything remotely gay-oriented about how dare these people force their sexuality onto them. Why do they have to be “proud” and throw parades? They don’t care, “but they don’t want to have to look at it either.” Nowhere does this kind of commentary (and much worse) proliferate more than on sports blogs. In fact, I noticed that Bleacher Report simply does not allow comments at all on posts made about Michael Sam or any other gay-themed piece.

    Your having the courage to look inside yourself and divine your own homophobia and disclose it in this manner and for this purpose is extremely laudatory. Thank you for a well thought out and well written post.

  • DrSmitty42

    Based on what homosexuals do, it’s impossible to say they have any dignity to begin with. Their mental disease is not enough to force me to stop saying a word I’ve used since I was a kid to describe males lower in the hierarchy. No matter how poisoned you are by the PC police, deep down you know homos don’t garner any respect from other men. It’s a disease and should not be glorified, but instead treated and prevented. There are so many unique public health risks associated with that behavior, it makes me wonder how brainwashed one has to be to accept that kind of vile behavior as normal.

    • maddogsfavsnpiks

      @ Dr Smitty ..wow ! Talk about the pot calling the kettle brainwashed..!
      Think about this if you can…
      What if it was discovered in a few years that same sex attraction was an evolutionary advance that saved the species from rampant over-population and all its resultant scourges and disasters ?
      …and/or…
      What if someone of the same sex happens to be the only being that makes another being feel loved ?

      • DrSmitty42

        Its already been discovered it’s an epigenetic modification (disease) that is likely an effect of pollution. Hardly the next step in evolution.

        • maddogsfavsnpiks

          Haha… Nice try Dr Smutty. Cite reliable, reputable, verifiable sources please. Note: that leaves out Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, Michael Savage, and your favorite inbred brother-in-law’s chiropractor, etc..
          Speaking of pollution and poisons, your values should be quarantined and carefully treated for excessive toxicity .

          • DrSmitty42

            I’m not your secretary. I don’t listen to any of those sources. Go on “pubmed” and search out homosexual epigenetic. You will find many cutting edge, peer reviewed papers on the subject. If you are truly interested in reading them, I will obtain a full text of any you are truly interested in reading. It always amuses me how the liberal crowd immediately falls back on insults when someone dares think differently. Show a little class even if you don’t agree with my opinion.

          • maddogsfavsnpiks

            The well-known Dr Smith writes, “You will find many cutting edge, peer reviewed papers on the subject.”
            — Papers and research, by boniefide, sex-terrified, moral mongers, sponsored and funded by the Bill Gothard’s of the world…
            — and i’m not a “liberal”, in reference to your other presumption.
            Well, is it science, someone asks ?
            You betcha sonny, guaranteed. And has been for at least 150 years, since the 1870s or so, when psychiatrists and other knowledgeable peer-reviewed awthorities, invented the word “homosexual”, and in the process, declared the eggistance of a whole new class of “deviants”, “sicknesses”, and scapegoats to legally and righteously treat, “cure”, institutionalize, hospitalize, hate, hang, butcher, burn, ostracize and oppress, all the while dividing and conquering the unwitting, laboring populations..
            Of course, these new and reasonable, cutting edge awthorities, are just expressing what the bible has already taught us for hundreds of years.
            Note, for you prehistory buffs, the doctrines of the bible, and “scientific research”, overturned literally **thousands** of previous years of apparently healthy, integrated sexual traditions. Traditions of tolerance, and acceptance of diversity on this continent, such as the “two spirit” tradition, and as documented by numerous anthropologists here and elsewhere, on other continents as well…

          • DrSmitty42

            Molecular biologists have an agenda? You’re off your rocker, man. There have been rapists and murderers throughout history as well (which may well be genetic or epigenetic in nature as well) so your point only serves to point out that homosexuals and other deviant versions like “two spirits” existed. Your point says nothing about the morality of the behavior. I happen to think it’s a vile disease that reaches the level of aforementioned pathologies. Your opinion is as good as mine.

          • A Reply

            My opinion is that you’re a sad old man that should get off of this site.

            Either that, or you’re 12 and having a hard time coping with puberty. At any rate, please leave

          • DrSmitty42

            My opinion is that I’m a happy (healthy/straight) young man who just sees life a little differently than you. It isn’t a rumor that older gay men have to wear diapers. That’s not enough to be revolted by that kind of pathological behavior? I don’t ever have to accept it, just like you don’t ever have to stop doing it. That’s the definition of tolerance, in case you missed it.

          • FishDuck

            That is enough guys. This is a sports site, and political views are NOT welcome here. There are a million other sites for that.

            Scott is no longer with us at FishDuck.com, and I wil begin deleting further comments. This has gone on long enough.

            If you wish to take it up with me…charles@fishduck.com

            FishDuck

          • fairweatherfoul

            You sound like a molecular biologist/politician from Southern Oregon with an anti-gay agenda. You know, the Koch brothers favorite home schooling advocate.

            Your 19th century opinions even caused me to admire the Tree Troll–temporarily.

          • maddogsfavsnpiks

            aww… how sweet (however short-lived) i’ll cherish it as a precious gift, like an iridescent Teal feather falling from barren skies..
            But seriously, why are visitors with the differing opinions and observations considered “trolls” ?
            Is not such labelling also a form of scapegoating ?
            …and obviously, if that kind of stigmatizing of others, of “outsiders”, were followed to it’s logical extreme, wouldn’t we end up with legions of Dr Smittys, where the norm is vile forms of prejudice, with alienation rampant and deepening divisions amongst us.. in short, the makings of a modern, evolved, “kinder, gentler” fascist state.

          • FishDuck

            That is enough guys. This is a sports site, and political views are NOT welcome here. There are a million other sites for that.

            Scott is no longer with us at FishDuck.com, and I wil begin deleting further comments. This has gone on long enough and I should have cut if off earlier.

            If you wish to take it up with me…charles@fishduck.com

            FishDuck

          • DrSmitty42

            I love southern Oregon! It’s a safe and nice place to live. Lots of white people, too. I’m sure that’s just a coincidence.

          • DrSmitty42

            I’m not your secretary. I don’t listen to any of those sources. Go on “pubmed” and search out homosexual epigenetic. You will find many cutting edge, peer reviewed papers on the subject. If you are truly interested in reading them, I will obtain a full text of any you are truly interested in reading. It always amuses me how the liberal crowd immediately falls back on insults when someone dares think differently. Show a little class even if you don’t agree with my opinion.

    • A Reply

      “…it makes me wonder how brainwashed one has to be to accept that kind of vile behavior as normal.”

      You mean like trolling? This kind of trolling is pretty damn vile but everyone has come to accept it as normal (though certainly not on this site)

      At least it’s comforting to know that you don’t really believe any of these things you’ve said.

      • DrSmitty42

        If it helps you sleep at night, I’m just a troll. If you’re interested in reality, I %100 believe the things I write. Everyone is entitled to their morality and you perceive mine to be as warped as I do yours.

    • fairweatherfoul

      “It’s a disease and should not be glorified, but instead treated and prevented.”

      The Nazis had the same attitude. The Nazis put a purple triangle on each person they ‘thought’ was gay. Now, almost everyone acknowledges they know someone gay, and only other Nazis admit they know Nazis.

      No one seems to know you here.

      • DrSmitty42

        I don’t know any gays other than work acquaintances, and I would never spend my valuable time with people of such low moral character.