Friday, February 16, 2007

Thoughts on Hardaway

I have been contemplating the uproar created by Tim Hardaway's candid remarks about gays and finally decided to write about it.

First of all I have no problem with gays. On this very page I said that I didn't care if Charlie Crist is gay. It just isn't anybody's business.

That said, I'm pretty upset with the media coverage of the Hardaway remarks. If we took the entire population of current and former NBA players I would venture to guess that Tim Hardaway is probably in the 10th percentile or lower in terms of intelligence. He's a guy that made a living shooting and passing a basketball, he's not a politician or a policy wonk. Prior to this incident his most famous utterance was "I got skillz". I don't know why anyone who has ever heard Hardaway expound on anything would expect him to say something intelligent about a controversial and complex issue.

I guess my problem is with the idea that Hardaway somehow represents all NBA players and their attitudes which is of course as simplistic as it is asinine. I am sure that some players feel the way he does, and I'm sure that there are players that are uncomfortable with the idea of sharing a locker or shower room with a gay player, though probably not as intensely as Hardaway. I am sure there are others that don't have a problem with it, just as I am sure that there are more than few that are gay themselves.

So what does this episode "prove" besides the fact that Tim Hardaway is dumb? By the way, I don't think he's dumb because of his personal feelings, he's entitled to them. He's dumb because a public figure needs to be cautious about what he/she says and Hardaway obviously doesn't understand the climate he's living in. I feel kind of sorry for him because he's obviously clueless.

Another angle to the story that has me a little dismayed is the people that say that it should be no problem to have a gay teammate. I have heard this phrase countless times in the last two days:

It's not like, just because a guy is gay that he's going to be watching you in the shower room or making passes at you.
Obviously gay men are not attracted to every man they see just like straight men are not attracted to every woman they see. But there is a reason we have separate facilities such as locker rooms at country clubs and gyms for men and women. It wouldn't be kosher for a male coach to shower or hang out in the locker room of a women's basketball team. Even though the coach would, in most cases, not be attracted to every woman in that locker room or make a pass at any of them. But still it would be creepy for the women, no?

I don't know if I'm doing a good job of explaining myself but it would seem that a relatively routine situation that previously (and perhaps naively) was void of any sexual tension would suddenly be loaded with it, whether the gay player was attracted to any of his teammates or not.

I guess I agree with Charles Barkley who just said on ESPN, that he has played with gay players, had no problem with gay players but pondered why he even has to know whether they are gay or not. I thinking that there is an inherent logic to "Don't ask, don't tell" in some environments.

And I guess it all comes down to that. It seems to me that gay activists aren't just after tolerance of their lifestyle but a validation of it. Of course there is huge debate about homosexuality and whether it's a learned behavior or a trait one is born with. I don't think it matters one way or another. Let's put it this way. Some people prefer vanilla ice cream. Some prefer chocolate. Now we aren't always eating ice cream, it's not what defines us. But when we it we have a preference. We may have been born with that preference or we may have acquired it but either way why should anyone care what our ice cream preference? Why as a Vanilla lover should I condemn the chocolate lover? Why should the chocolate lover always have to be talking about his chocolate ice cream preference trying to convince everyone that it's so great?

Having sex, just like eating ice cream is, in the end, a behavior and a state of mind. And one we only engage in it part of the time. That's my principal opposition to putting sexuality at the same level as race or ethnicity. If you are black you are black all the time. If you are Hispanic, you are Hispanic all the time. It's not a behavior, it's not a choice, it's not a preference.

I think everyone is entitled to eat the kind of ice cream they want to eat and if someone sees someone else eating a different flavor that's fine but perhaps we should all just generally avoid discussing our ice cream preference in places where it frankly isn't appropriate or necessary, like on the job.


Alex said...

Yes, validation, because being a homosexual is not a part time thing. It's who they are, beyond a purely sexual preference. Nowhere is this more evident than in the issue of marriage. "Straight" marriages are more than just two people having heterosexual sex. It's a partnership, recognized by society, that carries a lot of benefits and obligations. Homosexuals are denied many of those benefits and obligations: filling taxes as married, $500k real estate sale exemptions, the right to make decisions for loved one's care, etc. If we agree that gays are full members of society, then they should be entitled to the same benefits we enjoy. Don't call it marriage, don't have it sanctioned by the church. I'm sure most gay couples can't care less what is called as long as they get the benefits.

Homosexuals aren't trying to convince anybody that their "lifestyle" is better -the chocolate vs. vanilla argument. They are just saying we should all enjoy the ice cream equally.

It all comes down to whether, when somebody says "I'm gay", we only see the sexual part and not the love and partnership part.

Henry Gomez said...

I am on the record as saying that the government should not be in the business of sanctioning what is ostensibly a religious institution. I don't think married couples should derive any benefit (or penalty as in the Marriage Penalty which you conveniently forgot to mention) that single people don't derive.

But what about my point about about sexual tension in an environment where you are often disrobed? We even have discomfort when we go to the doctor. My wife never went to male gynecologist because of this discomfort.

If she went to a female doctor I'm sure she would not want to know that the doctor was a lesbian. Not that the doctor would be attracted to her but it does bring a factor into play that doesn't need to be.

And let's be honest. In the case of gay men, most are not looking for marriage. There's an aspect of this that I didn't mention but that's the fact that I think men are dogs. Gay, straight, it doesn't matter. Men are a lot more sexually charged and driven than women. Of course there are exceptions (we all can probably come up with an example of a nymphomaniac woman or an asexual man) but generally that's true.

So the idea that a gay man wouldn't ogle you in the shower is probably a little bit of a stretch. Just as any straight man would ogle a bunch of nude women showering if he had the chance.

As an aside, I never took my clothes off in front of anyone outside of my house until I began school in Miami and we had to swim. The idea was really weird to me. I never was comfortable with common shower rooms or any other place where there were other nude males. In college I had to to "get used to it" because the bathroom of my fraternity house had one big shower room with about 12 shower heads. I suppose it saves space and that's why there aren't separate shower compartments but a lot of this would go away if we simply had private places to disrobe and shower.

Alex said...

On that i definitely agree withh you. If people are uncomfortable showering in front of another person, they should not be made to. Absolutely.

I'm sure teams can find a way to provide for separate showers.

Yes, the marriage penalty too. I know of some gay couples who would have traded that for keeping $500k instead of $250k on a house sale.

ziva said...

There's a reason for married couples getting tax breaks, it is to promote a stable environment in which to raise children; something society depends on. Is there an argument that married heterosexual couples usually provide the best environment for children? And I'm not talking about just material goods, but also the fact that children need both parents, a male father and a female mother for role models. That's biology and commen sense. And for the record, I could care less who people sleep with, but I do think that ones sex life should be private, period.

Henry Gomez said...

I'm against any type of social engineering through taxation policy. For one thing it's a violation of the equal protection clause of the constitution. Secondly there are always a lot of unintended consequences with such measures. I believe it's better to have fair and low tax for all citizens.

ziva said...

I agree with you Henry, although I agree with the premise, I'm also opposed to social engineering. However, I do believe that was the legislators intent or at least their justification for the code.