The following quotes go to the heart of why gay athletes have trouble being honest with their teammates and why articles like this are necessary.
San Francisco 49ers running back Garrison Hearst: "Aww, hell no! I don't want any faggots on my team. I know this might not be what people want to hear, but that's a punk. I don't want any faggots in this locker room."
The Chicago Cubs pitcher Julian Tavarez, after being booed by San Francisco fans, said: "Why should I care about the fans? They're a bunch of assholes and faggots here."
After NBA star center John Amaechi disclosed he was gay, NBA player Tim Hardaway said: "First of all I wouldn’t want him on my team. and second of all, if he was on my team I would really distance myself from him because I don’t think that’s right and I don’t think he should be in the locker room when we’re in the locker room. Something has to give. If you have 12 other ballplayers in your locker room that's upset and can't concentrate and always worried about him in the locker room or on the court or whatever, it's going to be hard for your teammates to win and accept him as a teammate."
Can you picture Hardaway as a helpless defenseless virgin while Amaechi had his way with him right there in the locker room and in front of his fellow team members too “worried” to come to his rescue? Can you imagine network television having to put an extra 30-second delay on a telecast just in case Amaechi decided in the middle of the game that Hardaway was so attractive that he might lose control and play grab-ass with him instead of making that crucial three pointer?
In the spirit of “you're damned if you do and damned if you don’t,” LeBron James expressed a problem with closeted gays on his team saying, "With teammates you have to be trustworthy, and if you're gay and you're not admitting that you are, then you are not trustworthy. So that's like the No. 1 thing as teammates — we all trust each other… It's a trust factor, honestly. A big trust factor."
Englishman John Amaechi didn’t even take up basketball until he was 17 years old. It would be an understatement to say he’d entered the sport a little late in life, so people scoffing at his desire to be an American basketball star would be considered reasonable. Of course if you’d ever met the six-foot-10, 270-pound athlete in person, it’d probably lessen the shock of his latter achievements.
Among his considerable list of accomplishments by the time he’d turned 30, he’d crossed the Atlantic several times to become not only a famous European basketball star but also a well-known American one. The twice First Team Academic All-American for Penn State went on to become an undrafted NBA starter for the Cleveland Cavaliers in 1995-96. He also played in France and Italy. Amaechi is the only British player to be inducted into the U.S. Basketball Hall of Fame after incredible seasons in Cleveland, Orlando, and Utah.
Among the four major American sports, John is only the sixth pro athlete to talk openly about being gay and the only one so far within the NBA. Averaging 6.2 points and 2.6 rebounds a game, Amaechi has proven that being a homosexual team player should be about as controversial as being left or right-handed.
Nowadays John is a British TV personality, helps run and fund the Amaechi Basketball Center in Manchester, and is a best-selling author for ESPN Books with his autobiography Man in the Middle.
In a way LeBron had a valid point a few paragraphs back. If you’re a team you should be able to trust each other with anything. A good example of how this actually helps a squad comes in the form of…
After Sims left Bloomsburg University he became an unusual legend, as much for his athletic accomplishments as for the fact that unless you knew him personally you’d never believe he was gay. If any stereotype fit him it’d be a college jock. Conversation leaned toward the coming game, the opponents' strengths and weaknesses, which cheerleader might get lucky next, what professors he would like to sack in the parking lot, and where and when he wanted to turn pro. Sims was known for a lot of things, not the least of which was that he could bench press 225 pounds, not 10, not 20, but nearly 40 times. He was captain of their Division II football team playing defensive tackle, and at a hulking six feet tall and 260 pounds, he wasn’t exactly what you’d call your clichéd “faggot” by a long shot.