Martin Luther King Jr: Why Hasn’t the Sports World Followed His Path to Equality?

David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

It wasn’t too long ago that African-Americans were segregated from the rest of the sport-culture, playing in their own leagues and confronting hate and violence from every block that they encountered. Hatred for the sheer color of one man’s skin grew in the eyes of white America resulting in death and brutality. The Negro Leagues were born out of terror, ignorance and a decay of compassionate souls. The same parallels can be drawn to what is occurring against homosexuals in today’s sports landscape.

I am not comparing an era of racism to today’s prejudice towards homosexuality, but I am drawing a connection between the two built on discrimination and ignorance. 51 years ago Dr. Martin Luther King gave his famous “I have a Dream” speech, preaching that one day equality would be felt among the nation. And 66 years since Jackie Robinson broke baseball’s color barrier one would think that the world has evolved since then. Yet, it hasn’t.

The question that I am posing is why don’t current athletes playing in team sports come out rather than waiting until they are retired from the game? Why are we seeing more and more retired athletes come out rather than current ones?

Is it because we live in a society where derogatory terms are thrown around so easily without any hesitation or remorse?  Where did the negative connotation that aligns itself with homosexuality come from?

As children, we learn from our elders. Whether it’s from our parents, teachers, or coaches we are handed down knowledge and wisdom. A child’s mind is like a sponge and absorbs all the information that is given. So when we are educated about various elements at a young and impressionable age it kind of just sticks there.

Therefore, when athletes make derogatory comments against gays and lesbians, what percentage of the population takes in those words and has it stick to their brain? I am guessing the kids.

If the hatred words stop at the top then they will not trickle down and create another vicious cycle. But this is not an easy task given the track record of comments made by athletes.

Former NBA player Tim Hardaway had an awful take on the subject once upon a time, and former NFL running back Garrison Hearst offered equally appalling commentary on the subject. Even last year at the Super Bowl, San Francisco 49ers cornerback Chris Culliver said:

“I don’t do the guys. I don’t do that. We don’t have any gays on the team. They gotta get up outta here if they do. Can’t be with that sweet stuff.”

It’s our job as members of this community to educate our children so that they will be able to navigate through those words and come out on the other end with an open and understanding mind.

Even though we are making progress as a society in accepting gays and lesbians, there are still a vast majority of Americans who still turn a blind eye and look down upon them.  Homosexuality and sports are still very much taboo in our culture. Are we that scared of the unknown and the differences that shape this country that we turn a blind eye and spit on thy fellow man and woman?

Congratulations to the bravery that it took Jason Collins for coming out, yet he did it during the twilight of his 13-year NBA career. Why did he choose to come out when he was trying to hold on to his NBA career rather than coming out during his playing days?

Until an established superstar comes out like a Tom Brady, LeBron James or a Derek Jeter steps out, the cleats of closeted athletes will never come out onto the playing field. Someone is going to have to break through the mold and the so-called stereotype to conduct a change in the minds of the masses. Once people see that a budding superstar is gay and can play the game at a high level then will we see a transformation in the mindset of the public. We will not refer to them as a gay athlete but just an athlete.

Adam Kreamer is a writer for Follow him on Twitter @adam_Kreamer.

Around the Web

  • Nemesis919

    This article is so nauseating. First of all, who the hell are you or any of your fellow control-freak ideologues to say what people should and should not believe, support or reject? See, you whine for tolerance and equality but sure enough, when it comes to others you hypocritically suggest they need “reeducation.” Maybe you need reeducation. Maybe gay activists now invite more hatred because they insist on indoctrinating people, especially children. Maybe they’d be more accepted, as if they’re not already catered to and given verbal blowjobs on a daily basis…making your entire article moot…if they didn’t base their entire identity on where they like to put their penises and tongues. Maybe if they didn’t insist on being the ministry of propaganda, deciding what can and can’t be said…maybe I’d still stick up for them.

    That’s right, fool, I was raised by liberals who had friends of all races and sexual orientations. But after years of hearing this same “equality” rant from brainwashed fools like you I started goose stepping and saluting the crooked cross.

    And note your sensationalist historical revision, acting like blacks were being offed by whites in record numbers. Total BS, blacks are worse off today than they were before 1964. Their neighborhoods are warzones and because of people like you, again, they feel entitled and have the thought process that they can do no wrong and “evil whites” can do no right. Even if they rape and murder they can always say “racism” and everyone shuts up and goes easy on them. They can rape, torture and kill a young white couple in Knoxville in one of the most brutal crimes I’ve ever heard of and never even be considered as “hate criminals.” Want to know why, fool? Because “hate crimes” don’t protect whites! So much for your equality there, but with such obvious selective outrage being expressed in this article it wouldn’t be surprising if you didn’t care about that one bit. And you might be white, and that might be what you think makes your argument unbiased…but it’s not. You’re a self loather racially. Whites no longer are even allowed to have a racial identity that they can be proud of. If they do, it’s social and financial ruin. But for other races? Totally kosher!

    What were you saying about equality again? What? I’m sorry, I don’t speak hypocrite.

    Bottom line is, whether you’re smart enough to get this or not…and I doubt you are…this approach is counter productive. It always has been. It always will be. All you’re doing is shifting the hate toward someone else. I think a person has every right to choose a sexual partner, regardless of gender, and I think they have every right to be happy and do whatever behind closed doors. but once you make it the very center of your identity…then we’ve got a problem.

    Just as there is no actual true equality in nature, it hasn’t even ever existed here in these times you must view as being “enlightened” from behind whatever gated community wonderland you must live in. Meanwhile, back on Earth…kids like me were having to walk to bus stops in ghettos and barrios and taking beatings because of incitements to hatred from morons like you. And by obligating people to accept blacks, gays…whoever…you’re only going to cause resentment.

    There’s absolutely no reason why anyone needs to come out, especially just to coax others out to serve whatever agenda you deem righteous. All you’re doing is throwing more fuel on the fire and creating more and more people like me, people who grew up on the indoctrination you’ve eaten up that now reject it out of sheer principle. Because it’s expected. If you’re asked “do you like blacks/gays/whoever” the only acceptable answer is “yes…” which is just a challenge to humanity’s rebellious spirit. Tell me I have to like something, I’ll hate it. Because you’re no authority. You’re just another lamestream parrot kissing minority ASStroids. You have no thoughts or opinions of your own, and you’re not even up to date on “special interest group” relations. No one even CAN discriminate against gays, blacks or whoever. You’ll get into trouble, which is completely wrong and unconstitutional. You SHOULD be able to discriminate. Now, it’s stupid to, sometimes. Like passing up a Michael Jordan simply because he’s black would have been idiotic…best player of all time, arguably.

    Sometimes discrimination is saying I’ll support that gay guy, because he doesn’t rub it in my nose every 5 friggin’ minutes over Perez Hilton, who judges female beauty pageants just so he can push his sexual agenda, ruining the chances of a frontrunner all out of a petty political disagreement. The biggest non-issue of our time, by the way. A distraction to all the other REAL problems going on in this country…you people make me sick.

    Go have a few drinks and drive. And don’t forget to text your friends while doing 70 down the highway. People like you, hypocrites with selective outrage, have only made things WORSE. You’ve created more gay bashers than the Catholic church and more racists than the ku Klux klan. And guess what? IT STILL ISN’T THAT BAD!

    Not yet. But you keep pushing it and you’ll get the “villains” you seem to be wishing for and fantasizing about. Everyone needs a bogeyman when pushing an agenda, just hope it isn’t capable of killing you with the flick of a finger.

  • Nemesis919

    This is the new hysteria. Racism, and the so called, non-medically diagnosed “phobia” of homosexuality. Even your rhetoric gives you away. To suggest someone’s not right in the head, as if any emotionally driven ideologue has the medical credentials to make such a diagnosis. I suppose in the future people will be locked up in mental institutions for not accepting homosexuality…because that’s how you scumbags are. no different than the Stalins and the Hitlers…you just haven’t come to power yet. But you’d be just as bad and every word out of your smug, hypocritical mouths suggests this. Every time.

    What makes it worse is one of these things DOES still exist, it’s just it effects people on the other side of the line who you probably don’t even consider human, the only straight whites left with any testicular fortitude whatsoever. No equality for us! And even white women…you’[re only a step above white men. If a black or a gay steps into the waiting room of your job interview just get up and walk out. No chance, no matter how qualified.

    This nations is a bloody, bitter civil war waiting to happen. I just hope I die before it begins. And one more thing…I haven’t watched sports in years because of my political leanings. But after years of infighting, bickering and backstabbing in politics I just couldn’t stand it anymore. I didn’t want to hear the word “race” or “racist” or “homophobe”…I didn’t even want to hear our own rhetoric any longer. So I calmed down and turned on ESPN for the first time in a decade. I love football…not black people…but if they can play, I’ll watch them. Because again, discrimination goes two ways. I started watching again to get away from these topics of neverending misery with absolutely no end seemingly in sight. But even in the sports world you’ve got to ruin everything with your stupid little political agendas.

    There are no words to properly express how much I loathe your F-ing guts. I hope you die in screaming agony.