Mark Knudson, a former relief pitcher for the Milwaukee Brewers, decided to weigh in on the issue of openly gay professional athletes, with a piece in Mile High Sports.
We have to admit, we haven’t read such a calm and cool explanation of an incredibly stupid opinion in a long time. Seriously, it’s incredible how reasonable Knudson sounds.
Initially, Knudson recalls Esera Tuaolo, the NFL player who came out after leaving the game. Apparently Knudson, who played a completely different sport, is intimately familiar with Tuaolo’s experiences with the NFL—enough so that he can affirm he was never discriminated against:
Maybe I missed something, but I’ve yet to hear about any athlete being denied any opportunity based on his or her sexual orientation. Discrimination is wrong, and most of us believe gay people should have every right afforded every straight person.
No one has said that gays should not be allowed to play in the NFL. What has been said is that having a gay teammate would make some players uncomfortable. That’s about their feelings. Feelings aren’t right or wrong; they’re just feelings. It’s telling someone their feelings are wrong that’s the real wrong.
But Knudson really gets going when he explains why it’s so hard for pro athletes to accept a gay player, and why we probably shouldn’t ask them to:
In a normal work environment, people are individuals with jobs. In pro sports, it’s all about as George Karl puts it, “teamness.” Individualism and personal agendas might be okay in a normal workplace, but it’s not okay in team sports. Teamness is what fans demand from the teams they pay to watch. Any individual with an agenda that’s even slightly different from that of the team hurts that cause.
Just as absurd as comparing workplace environments is the ridiculous claim by some in the gay community that there wouldn’t be any sort of physical attraction for a gay athlete toward any of his straight teammates – which would cause those very uncomfortable situations. He’s gay; he’s not dead. He can’t just flip a switch and turn off his feelings when he walks into the locker room.
Of course he’s going to have feelings of attraction toward a teammate or two. It’s human nature. These are some of the most physically fit and desirable human beings on the planet. The gay athlete isn’t going to notice that? And obviously, the straight teammates are going to feel the same sort of vibe that the attractive girl on the co-ed softball team gets from a few of the men on her team. Attractive people know when they’re being “checked out” and it leads to those very awkward moments. It’s human nature for people to be attracted to other people and it’s not going to stop happening because the workplace environment is a locker room rather than a typical office setting.
We should salute Esera Tuaolo and other gay athletes who are able to keep their sexual orientation private during their playing days. It’s got to be very difficult to do, and yet it’s what’s best for the team.
So apparently, Major League Baseball is a more intense atmosphere than the U.S. military, which has fairly seamlessly integrated gay and lesbian members?
And if you’re curious, this is what Mark Knudson looked when he was one of the most desirable human beings on the planet.
h/t: USA Today