The news was met with a yawn.
Wade Davis, who played four preseasons with NFL teams and has since retired, has acknowledged that he’s gay. The announcement received little attention because the former defensive back never made a regular-season roster and was forced to hook up with NFL Europe. It would have gotten tremendous fanfare had Davis emerged from the closet during his playing career.
And therein lies the problem. They are fearful of being ostracized by teammates and perhaps even the fans and front offices. They worry that those with whom they share locker rooms will shun them. They are concerned that it would simply ruin their careers.
Their trepidation is justified to a great extent. Ignorance about gay people has spewed from the mouths of American athletes in the past. Some have expressed fear at sharing a shower room with an openly gay teammate.
It’s time for the ultimate test. The hope here is that in 2012 we’ve gone beyond such ridiculous notions and that professional sports has caught up with the rest of society in generally accepting gays.
There will be a few protests from homophobics if a current baseball, football, basketball or hockey player announces he is homosexual. But it seems that for the most part there would be nothing to fear but fear itself. Titans star Jevon Kearse, who played alongside Davis, said as much.
“It’s just becoming more acceptable, which is a good thing so they can come out and not feel secluded,” Kearse told the Associated Press.
Several former professional athletes have announched their homsexuality well after retirement. Golden State Warriors CEO Rick Welts is also openly gay. But we’re still waiting for a current athlete to come out. There are many who are keeping a secret. After all, an estimated 10 percent of American males are gay. To believe that the percentage of homosexual athletes is significantly lower is simply naive.
One would hope that team and league administrators would have the guts to fine or suspend players who complain about having a gay teammate. The guts to emerge from the closet should be met with applause rather than condemnation. And the athlete in question should be fully supported. That is the only way professional sports can move forward as an all-inclusive part of American society.