The world of athletics has long been a source for role models. More than ever, those role models are being held accountable for their views on the LGBT community, and unfortunately, there is a lot of negativity to be cleaned up in sports culture.
Canadian sports anchor Damian Goddard is the latest sports figure to face serious consequences for public homophobia. Sportsnet, a Canadian sports news channel, fired him this week after he used Twitter to join sports agency Uptown Sports in denouncing New York Ranger Sean Avery for coming out in support of marriage equality. Despite agreeing that Avery’s statements are “sad” and “wrong,” Goddard claims, “I’m a devout Roman Catholic. It’s not about hate at all.”
Meanwhile, North Carolina State basketball player CJ Leslie also got himself in trouble for some anti-gay tweets, including “I’m not sayin I hate gays but that’s sumthing that I would not wnt in my locker room…..” and “John Amaechi is to big to be gay…….#imjussayin.” Amaechi, who is openly gay, offered a response to both Leslie and Uptown Sports:
I have heard quite a few people say we shouldn’t be penalising [sic] people like this kid and the hockey sports agent for expressing archaic views from a first amendment rights perspective.
However, I would suggest that as the incidence of these damaging and obtuse perspectives is ever increasing, we should remind those that can’t resist spewing bigotry in 140 characters, that their right to speak exposes them to of [sic] right of balanced and educated people to rip their puny logic and hypocritical perspectives to pieces and call them out as ignorant.
A star athlete, two-time gold-medal gymnast Peter Vidmar, had to step down from an appointed leadership post on the U.S. Olympic Team this past week. Vidmar was criticized for having given $2,000 to support California’s Proposition 8, which denied the right of same-sex couples to marry there, as well as for participating in several rallies against marriage equality. Gay and lesbian athletes did not feel he could appropriately represent them at the games.
This Friday, Atlanta Braves pitching coach Roger McDowell will return to the field after his two week suspension for harassing fans with homophobic gestures and statements. McDowell’s actions also earned him an undisclosed fine from Major League Baseball and mandatory “sensitivity training.”
Just last month, Kobe Bryant was also fined $100,000 for his use of a homophobic slur at a game. He and the LA Lakers have since released a PSA calling for a better world through acceptance of diversity.