‘Glee’ on the Gridiron?

If liberals in the sports media have their way, your favorite sporting event will soon be a little more like an episode of “Glee.” Writers and talking heads at outlets from ESPN to NBC Sports are in a full-court press. They want to see openly gay athletes in American sports, no matter what it means for the games, the fans, or the athletes themselves.

Perhaps envious that their news colleagues get to cover – and advocate for – what a Washington Post reporter recently called “the civil rights issue of our time,” sports journalists have been long been obsessed with gay athletes. Commentator after commentator have taken to ESPN’s website to assure us “the issue of sports and homosexuality isn't going away,” to call a football player “intelligent and articulate athlete when he made a stand for gay rights,” and to wonder where the gay Jackie Robinson is.

The current round of “When will a major athlete come out” blather began when, in the run-up to the Super Bowl, San Francisco 49ers cornerback Chris Culliver released poison gas in a crowded subway, killing 234. No, he didn’t really, but the media reaction was about the same. Culliver made some stupid comments about gays not being welcome in the 49ers locker room. Around the same time there was speculation that Notre Dame star Manti Te’o’s girlfriend hoax was an elaborate cover for homosexuality, which Te’o denied. Then it was reported that Te’o was asked about his sexual orientation by prospective coaches during the NFL combine.

So gay athletes became the Big Story, and not just for the sports media.

On March 20, The Washington Post, second to none in its zeal for gay issues, ran am appropriately splashy story on the cover of its style section celebrating high-profile “macho” types like rappers and athletes who support gay marriage. “Tough guys” like Baltimore Raven Brendon Ayanbadejo (more on him below) and Minnesota Viking Chris Kluwe are taking “a stand against homophobia in sports.”

The Post quoted sociologist Michael Kimmel, of the Center for the Study of Men and Masculinities at the State University of New York at Stony Brook (really), saying of these enlightened man’s men: “They do the right thing even if nobody else supports them … A tough guy also always stands up for the little guy. The tough guy isn’t a bully. The tough guy is righteous. Part of being a tough guy is standing up for the underdog — so I see it as perfectly consistent.”

With two out-of-the-closet anchors and a questionable cozy relationship with gay rights group GLAAD, CNN’s pro-gay bias is well established. But bias is more like obsession when the network can’t do a sports interview one of the best pitchers in baseball (who lost the World Series in October) without bringing up – apropos of nothing – gay rights. But there was CNN’s Carol Costello asking Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander if he’d have problems playing with an openly gay teammate. (Answer: he wouldn’t.)

In February, former Chicago Bears quarterback Jim Miller was asked in a radio interview about the difficulty a gay player would have coming out. He said “certain factions of a locker room will not accept it.” Note that Miller didn’t say thathe could accept it. At sports site Deadspin, writer Barry Petchesky published a post, “Who’s The Latest Person to Say Dumb Things About Gay Players In The NFL?” that attacked Miller. “Miller doesn’t like gays; but he’s at least smart enough not to couch it that way,” Petchesky wrote.

Following up with a non-apology, Petchesky explained, “I took a leap as to his personal beliefs that I shouldn’t have, even though I still think it’s a safe bet (When asked if gays should be accepted, Miller said ‘I could care less,’ which is pointedly not a yes.)” And heaven forbid Miller show other than unbridled enthusiasm.

Petschesky wasn’t done. “The emails calling me ‘faggot’ and ‘homo-loving liberal’ lead me to believe that there’s a homophobic contingent that identifies with Miller’s argument, and he’s speaking for them even if he himself doesn’t subscribe.” Gosh, talk about guilt-by-association. Again, it seems nothing short of joining a gay pride parade is enough for some on the left.

Petschesky wasn’t alone in his sneering condescension for anyone who disagreed with him. Liberal Washington Post sportswriter Mike Wise wrote about former Washington Redskin Dave Kopay, who came out in 1975, after his retirement. “He had read a Washington Star story about the hardships of being gay in sports,” Wise said. “He knew the NFL player anonymously quoted was Jerry Smith, his former Redskins teammate with whom Kopay once had a sexual encounter. (Yes, Burgundy and Gold faithful, two of Lombardi’s grittiest, durable players in his one season in Washington had a dalliance. Get over it.)”

Got that sports fans? There’s no room for disagreement. Get over it.

Case in point is ESPNW’s Kate Fagan, who reminisced in an ESPN The Magazine article last October about coming out to college basketball teammates, “Some of whom were Christian.” Those teammates,” Fagan said, “responded with the Christian teaching, “Love the sinner, hate the sin.”

That response “allowed them to transfer the burden of our star-crossed friendship to me,” Fagan wrote. “At first, I counted my lucky stars: My friends were not abandoning me. But then … I began to see how this philosophy played out day to day in the form of sympathetic hugs, prayer sessions on my behalf and awkward silences” that “poisoned my mind, my self-confidence. I eventually walked away from those friendships, but the decision didn't feel voluntary. It felt as if I'd been ushered to the door.”

Hugs? Prayers? What torture! How cruel not throw her a party, maybe announce it during the next game. Because that’s what Fagan and others are demanding. Anything short of celebration is the mark of ignorance and bigotry.

At ESPN in January, while taking an NFL player to task for some “classless” Tweets about an opposing team, Jamison Hensly wrote, “Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo came across as an intelligent and articulate athlete when he made a stand for gay rights in Maryland a few months ago. On Sunday night, he made the biggest (and dumbest) mistake in what has been a magical postseason so far for Baltimore.” How could someone intelligent enough to be for gay rights do something so dumb?

In December, Detroit Tigers outfielder Torii Hunter was quoted as saying that, as Christian, he would be uncomfortable with a gay teammate. CBSsports.com blogger Dayn Perry generously said “Hunter is of course entitled to his personal beliefs,” before taking a shot at those beliefs: “(although one wonders whether he is similarly affronted by, say, shellfish and neatly maintained beards, which are also forbidden by the holiness code of Leviticus).

Great argument. Here’s the problem: The New Testament lifts dietary restrictions, just as it no longer requires the sacrifices demanded in Leviticus. But the New Testament explicitly reaffirms Leviticus’ injunction on homosexuality (I Corinthians 6:9-10 and Romans 1:26).

In that Los Angeles Times article Perry was commenting on, Kevin Baxter wrote hopefully, “As older players retire and younger ones take their place, attitudes in professional sports are bound to change.” Of course they are – young people probably haven’t experienced a time without the media obsession with gays and constant propaganda.

But the article also had this explanation why, of the 4,000 or so professional U.S. athletes, none is out as gay. “Blame the media, says Patrick Burke, a scout with the Philadelphia Flyers and the son of Toronto Maple Leafs General Manager Brian Burke. ‘The media likes to perpetuate this belief that … sports is this barbaric place full of dumb meathead jocks who are just waiting to jump on the first gay athlete they find.’”

Wow, biased, inaccurate information from the media? Who’d a thunk it?

Matthew Philbin
Matthew Philbin
Matt Philbin is Managing Editor of MRC Culture