Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Does the NFL Promote or Instill Homophobia?

From ESPN:
The NFL on Wednesday said it would investigate a report that at least one team at the scouting combine asked a draft prospect about his sexual orientation.

Colorado tight end Nick Kasa told ESPN Radio Denver on Tuesday that he was asked a series of questions that touched on sexual orientation at the just-completed combine in Indianapolis.

"[Teams] ask you like, 'Do you have a girlfriend?' 'Are you married?' 'Do you like girls?' " Kasa said in the radio interview. "Those kinds of things, and you know it was just kind of weird. But they would ask you with a straight face, and it's a pretty weird experience altogether."

In the statement announcing it would check into Kasa's claim, the NFL said "teams are expected to follow applicable federal, state and local employment laws."

"It is league policy to neither consider nor inquire about sexual orientation in the hiring process. In addition, there are specific protections in our collective bargaining agreement with the players that prohibit discrimination against any player, including on the basis of sexual orientation," the league said. "We will look into the report on the questioning of Nick Kasa at the scouting combine. Any team or employee that inquires about impermissible subjects or makes an employment decision based on such factors is subject to league discipline."

NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith addressed the league's promised investigation in a statement Tuesday to USA Today Sports.

"I know that the NFL agrees that these types of questions violate the law, our CBA and player rights," Smith said. "I hope that they will seek out information as to what teams have engaged in this type of discrimination and we should then discuss appropriate discipline."
Those are nice words from the NFL, but the problem is the willful ignorance and likely ignoring at the top.  Five will get you ten this is not the first time this has happened and that there are people high up in the league who probably know this type of questioning is going on.  Why would the league ignore it?  I can think of one big and stupid reason:  Football is a macho man's sport and there's no room in it for sissies (i.e, gays).

No doubt, this type of questioning has gone on many, many times and the league probably does one of those "don't violate the law" statements, but then wink, wink, nod, nod, they're not going to punish a team for weeding out or closeting gays.

An investigation?  Anyone think we'll actually hear something substantive come out of this investigation?

There's probably only way homophobia is going to end in sports.  Sports Illustrated writer and NPR contributor Frank Deford mentioned it today in the first line of his story (which was on a different topic): The great social quest in American sport is to have one prominent, active, gay male athlete step forward and identify himself.

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