Ex-MLB Pitcher Mark Knudson: Swing, Batta-Batta-Batta, Swing!

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    Mar 02, 2013 8:59 PM GMT



    TowleroadFormer Baseball Player Wants Gay Players To Spare His Feelings

    In an op-ed that suggests he hasn't given much thought to the meaning of the words "discrimination," "prejudice," or "ignorance," former Milwaukee Brewers relief pitcher Mark Knudson (seen in this trading card, which can be made larger for more effect) argues that gay sportsmen should stay in the closet to spare homophobes the horror of being uncomfortable.

    Mark KnudsonNo one has said that gays should not be allowed to play in the NFL. What has been said is that having a gay teammate would make some players uncomfortable. That's about their feelings. Feelings aren't right or wrong; they're just feelings. It’s telling someone their feelings are wrong that’s the real wrong.

    So what's being debated here is not actual discrimination, but rather hurt feelings. Just because [retired out football player Esera Tuaolo] felt uncomfortable about his homosexuality inside a machismo-filled, heterosexual-dominated locker room does not mean he was denied any opportunities. In fact, he endured emotionally and has profited handsomely by taking full advantage of his talents and opportunities.

    It's also important to consider that the heterosexual players involved have feelings, too, and they’'e no more or less valid than the feelings of those in the gay community. It's amazing how many people feel free to criticize and tell athletes how they are supposed to feel, as if that’s anyone else's right.

    Perhaps it's time for the homophobes in the locker room to "endure emotionally," Marky? Or are only heteros like you granted the "right" to tell other athletes, gay, straight or otherwise, "how they are supposed to feel"?
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    Mar 02, 2013 9:41 PM GMT
    This point about some straight athletes "being uncomfortable" came up in a post-Te'o discussion on local sports talk radio, about what would happen if an NFL prospect came out. "You just want everyone in the locker room to be... comfortable," the lead talk show host and former NFL player quipped repeatedly, as he advocated for individual shower stalls in locker rooms.

    Gay athletes, the supposition went, are likely to be aroused by SOMEBODY in a shower room chock full o' fellow hunky naked men, thereby making the straight athletes, "uncomfortable." Paraphrasing the host: "If we're ensuring the locker room will be comfortable for gay teammates, then we have to make it comfortable for everyone else, too." Shower stalls was his solution.

    The major fallacy with that is, if I'm a straight NFL player with homophobic feelings, I want nice, long stalls with a nice, big curtain so a gay teammate won't see me showering (anymore). And it doesn't stop there.

    I want nice, big fluffy towels that wrap around enough times that he doesn't know (anymore) what I got going on down there. Or better yet, allow me enough room inside each stall to change into/out of dress clothes in my stall, lest he sees me in my underwear (or I see him). I don't want to be seen in my underwear, or even with my shirt off. No, I don't want to have a locker room stall next to his, or within eyeshot as I bend over to lace up my cleats.

    In fact, I don't want to ride on the team bus alongside him, or share a hotel room when we're on the road. I don't want to do community outreach events with him. I don't want to be in the training room with him spotting me or watching me doing my lunges or stretching or chilling in the ice baths. In fact, I don't want to chest bump him, and I don't want him butt-smacking me in celebration of a fortuitous play. In fact, I don't want him to hike the ball to me, or have me run up his backside as we push for the extra yard.

    I'm the homophobic teammate. Don't I deserve to be comfortable?

    Fallacy #2 assumes the gay NFL teammate cares one iota about anyone's physical endowment when he is in the shower after workout/practice/gameday. As if the gay player couldn't possibly find attraction in anything other than physique and plumbing quality. By the time he has arrived in the NFL locker room, this teammate will have performed at every level from high school through college, and has seen hundreds of genitalia and posteriors covering every depth, breadth, width, length, girth, and circumference known to mankind. If he's not focused enough to get his job done on and off the field by then, then he's not sitting in your locker room.