There is nothing earthshattering in the Valentine's Day PG chat transcript featuring Jerry Micco. He simply makes a few comments about Penn State retaining Rene Portland as their women's basketball coach and former NBA player John Amaechi's coming out. What's interesting is the opportunity for the rest of us to note that while there is a long way to go, the sports world is not entirely filled with homophobic bigots.
Sometimes we need to stop and pay attention to these moments, particularly when most of the attention is focused on the stupidity of bigots like former NBA star Tim Hardaway who has recently claimed that he hates gay people. Duly noted Tim. Thanks for laying your ignorance right out there on the line and getting yourself banished from the NBA All-Star Weekend. Now if the NBA were to put a little more attention on the bigots who aren't so brazen …
Back to Micco. Here's his perspective on Amaechi:
dt: What are your thoughts on Jon Amechi coming out of the closet?
Jerry Micco: Combination of courage and the fact that he wants to sell some books. He wasn't a superstar by any stretch, so the book on its merits doesn't garner much interest until Amaechi says publicly he's gay. Then it's covered heavily by all media. That said, I hope the day comes soon when people don't have to hide this type of thing. I know it's probably not going to happen, but you'd like to think people are tolerant enough to accept folks as they are and judge them on how they treat others and how they do their job on the court, field, etc.
The snark about selling books is most likely not unwarranted. But consider the two standards he lays out … how they treat others and how they do their job on the court. How they treat others comes first. Consider the implications for Pittsburgh's homegrown football thug Joey Porter who recently used gay slurs. How is that for treatin' people? In fact, here's an entire list of anti-gay slurs made by professional athletes. I'm sure quite a few have good Christian mamas who make them chunky soup every weekend, but they don't treat people so good do they?
Micco also express incredulity over Penn State's retention of Rene Portland:
Ralph: Why does Rene Portland still have a job at Penn State?
Jerry Micco: I'm not sure, Ralph. I really can't answer that question because it mystifies me, too. And it's not like there aren't likely candidates out there that would be great for that job (read: Suzie McConnell Serio), so PSU would not have a tough time filling the post. I'm stunned with all that's surrounded Portland that the University just doesn't cut its ties. Again, rather mystifying to me.
There may be great replacements, but Portland is still a winner. So why toss her out just for being a homophobe and violating University policy when you can't guarantee a winning replacement? Its not like Portland offended the base or anything.
FYI, Suzie McConnell Serio is not exactly rah-rah lesbian material herself. She's on the record as defining sexual orientation as a “choice” but acknowledging that her player's personal lives are personal.
I suppose that's progress. It will be nice when more heterosexuals can lay off the uneasy little jabs when discussing homosexuality — we get that you aren't gay and we certainly get that you aren't comfortable discussing it. Let's play ball.