Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Flagging the NFL's homophobic culture

Kansas City Chiefs running back Larry Johnson recently made news when he used a homophobic slur in reference to his coach in several posts to his twitter account. The NFL is hardly considered “gay friendly,” and Johnson’s tweets are indicative of an ongoing homophobic culture in the league. To the NFL and Chiefs’ credit, Johnson was suspended for one game. However, as the Kansas City Star’s Randy Covitz writes, the reprimand is vague and notes only that Johnson was suspended for conduct “detrimental to the team,” leaving it unclear whether he was suspended for the slur or criticism of the coach. The NFL and the Chiefs had the opportunity to bring the problem of homophobia in the NFL to the forefront of public dialogue, but chose not to; their obscure language denied a voice to a persistent and troubling problem within the league. When team and league officials fail to acknowledge even the most overt gay-bashing, the persistent and dangerous homophobic culture remains unchecked . No one thing will change the hostile climate, but until a voice is given to the problem, we wonder if it’s reasonable to expect current gay players to come out of the closet.
-Erin Whiteside

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