News of former NBA player John Amaechi‘s coming out spread faster than a case of crabs at Equinox. While some people praised his decision, others had a more stunted reaction.
According to The Times’ chief sports writer, Simon Barnes, perhaps the biggest disadvantage comes from the nature of the game:
Americans love sports that require giants and basketball is mostly populated by 7ft black men. The players tend to shave their heads to resemble perambulating penises and their boasting of massive sexual appetite is a commonplace of American life… The sport has its being in claustrophobia. There are no open spaces of midfield. You move in a half-second from one cramped attack to another. The great art of basketball is to free yourself from this appalling congestion of limbs and bodies, to escape, spring and fly your own sweet flight. It is a game of intimacy. It is important that no one misunderstands – the intimacy is one of war, not love. No homosexuals wanted in this knot of seminaked, grappling men.
They may not be wanted, but we’re sure they’re there. You just can’t see them.
But, of course, that says nothing for life off the court. Consider, for example, some words from Cleveland Cavalier’s young forward, LeBron James, who took less issue with Amarchi’s anal inclination than with the matter of trust:
We spend so much time together, honestly, that we’re kind of like a family. We take showers with each other after practice. You’re on the bus talking about a lot of things. If you’re sitting there and you’re conversing with us but you’re not sincere about it…you’re kind of hiding it.
As teammates, you have to be trustworthy, and if you’re gay and you’re not admitting it that you are, you’re not trustworthy.
Well, yes, but how can he come out if he expects a backlash from players?
Ameachi’s former coach, Doc Rivers, echoed that sentiment, although to a lesser degree:
[Basketballers] all insensitive at times. There’s no taboo subject in the locker room. I think if he would have come out, they would have got on him jokingly. They would have held no punches and they would have made fun of him just like they make fun of guys here.
But that’s the locker room, and that’s not going to change. And I actually think that when guys do come out, when that day happens, it will make it easier. I can’t wait until it’s not an issue.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem as if that’s going to happen anytime soon. But, at least Amaechi’s out now, which means we can ask him out on a date. We wonder if he goes for scrawny white kids with no athletic ability whatsoever…