The Story That Writes Itself
Here’s a Mad Lib that should save sports journalists a lot of time in the years ahead.
Today (Sam, Jim, Jordan, Jason, Alexei, Miguel, Pat) became the first athlete to announce that he is gay in the world of professional (football, baseball, basketball, hockey, soccer, curling, badminton).
While the response of the other players in the league remains to be seen, what is not in doubt is the tremendous (courage, bravery, fortitude, sense of self) it took to make this stunning admission. According to (experts, ESPN the Magazine, award-winning columnists, the scientific community), most of the league is expected to take the news in stride.
Of course, if (Jackie Robinson, Nelson Mandela, Ghandi, Abraham Lincoln, Rocky Balboa) has taught us anything, it is that (hate, prejudice, bigotry, religious extremism) does not go quietly into the night. Sad as it may seem, we can expect that some from (red states, rural areas, the Deep South, Utah, Awana Clubs) will darken this bright day with their (homophobia, rigid views, antiquated traditionalism, fear of the Other, Carman CDs).
As we ask ourselves the question “Why should this even be newsworthy in today’s world?” we pledge to you (around the clock coverage of this epoch-making event, cover stories in all the major weeklies, a special documentary this Friday on “Coloring Outside the Lines,” a shocking expose on Tim Tebow’s former Bible study leader).
Now is the time to see how far we have really come as (a nation of liberty, a special civilization, a welcoming society, a people worthy of our permanent seat on the UN Security Council). I for one believe (the future is now, the past is in the past, there is no gift like the present). If you cannot celebrate (marriage equality, the power of love, being true to yourself), then don’t be surprised one day if you wake to find yourself (on the wrong side of history, alone in a prison of hate, shunned by all polite society, wishing you were never born). But on this day, we stand with our brother in letting it be known in every locker room in every gym in every county in this great country: (all you need is love, we can work it out, come together, let it be).
You get the gist.
This post is not really about homosexuality. Of course, that’s the subtext: Michael Sam, a football standout at Mizzou and future NFL draft pick, came out of the closet over the weekend. I’m glad he was treated well by his coach and teammates. I hope he is treated with respect by future players, fans, and general managers. I’m not writing to bash a recent college student, as much as I disagree with his sexual choices (assuming he is a practicing gay man). I disagree with the sexual choices most professional athletes make.
The problem is that our ascendant moral logic amounts to an imposition: affirm me or else. It used to be that tolerance meant granting to your intellectual, political, or religious opponents the right to be wrong (as you see the wrong). Now tolerance means the freedom, if not the obligation, to utterly shame those you deem intolerant. Ours is a supremely moralistic age. I would call it puritanical, except I don’t want to insult the Puritans.
I heard Colin Cowherd (whom I often enjoy) say he was going to try not to be sarcastic in talking about those who don’t support gay rights, but it would be really hard. I heard him talk about how Sam would be accepted in the NFL because unlike in baseball, the players had been to college and have been educated to overcome such prejudices. Besides there aren’t as many Hispanics, who can be very religious. Sure, some players from the rural South would still hate on Sam, he opined, but the vast majority would not. Whenever the “first gay athlete” story breaks it becomes an excuse to strengthen a dozen prejudices in the interest of purportedly breaking through another. The narrative is nice and tidy because it’s already been written. Rinse, blather, repeat. All that’s left is for 72 hours of self-congratulatory punditry and the presumption that no thinking person can reach any other conclusion than that the celebration of sexual expression in virtually any permutation is the crowning achievement of all enlightened peoples.
There is no conversation any longer, just condescension. No acceptance of diverse viewpoints, just personal obliteration for anyone who dares to question Oceania’s Ministry of Truth. The talking heads and the purveyor’s of cultural correctness don’t feel the need to make arguments anymore. They don’t feel the need to listen either. After all, who can refute a sneer?
No need to prove your dogma when stigma will do.