Last night the NBA ran this PSA during halftime of the Bulls and Heat game:
This comes on the heels of the Pheonix Sun's president Rick Welts revealing he is gay and Kobe Bryant (my favorite player) calling a referee a "fucking faggot" and subsequently being fined 50 thousand dollars and apologizing. To say that this was nice timing for this commercial would be akin to saying Michael Jordan was pretty good at basketball. Of course what was a positive feeling for me quickly turned sour when Grant Hill re-tweeted numerous tweets from his followers in which they called him a "fag" for making the commercial. Some even went so far to imply that they were no longer a fan of his because he had made the PSA. I quickly realized that although the advertisement was thought provoking and a good PR move, I was left with more questions about whether sports really is moving in the right direction in terms of accepting homosexuality.
No offense to Grant Hill, but this is kind of expected from him (Duke guy, class act), where is LeBron? Better yet, where is Kobe? Where are young stars Derrick Rose and Kevin Durant? While they are ushering in a "new era" into the NBA couldn't they assist in ushering out a history of homophobia that has plagued the NBA? Why couldn't the Heat's "Big Three" had taken a few minutes out of their day to all film the commercial together? I'm afraid its simply because they don't want to. It isn't "cool" yet. It is cooler to say "pause" (as Dwight Howard did in a presser) or "no homo" after you say anything that could be perceived as homosexual.
I don't mean to imply that any of these stars hate or even dislike homosexuals. I think it is more a reflection on major sport's and society's views towards homosexuals. Today's stars don't want to lose twitter followers or jersey sales by speaking out against using derogatory language towards homosexuals. It is easier to say you are "cool with em' " or avoid the topic all together. No active player in any of the three major sports has ever come out publicly and those who have come out in retirement said they feared resentment from the other coaches and players. Why is this? Why did Kobe call the ref a "faggot" instead of an "asshole" or a "piece of shit"? Why is referencing someone as a homosexual on the field or court considered to be the ultimate insult? Why did I call my opponents "gay" in little league and why didn't the majority of coaches and parents seem to mind?
I certainly don't have these answers. One thing I do know though is that although the occasional Grant Hill public service announcement is nice, the NBA, NFL and MLB are going to have to make a concerted effort to curb players, coaches and fans feelings towards homosexuality or risk falling behind the times and stopping progress.