Hysteria is warping into confusion over the weekend’s draft of the first openly gay football player into the NFL.
ESPN commentators Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless on Monday night vigorously disputed punishment meted out to a Miami Dolphins defensive back Don Jones who was fined by the team and suspended from football activities for having the temerity to post an opinion on Twitter about Michael Sam’s televised kiss with his boyfriend, Vito Cammisano.
What exactly was he being punished for?
In a tweet, Jones called the kiss “horrible.” In a flash, the Dolphins called Jones a homophobe. Then the team hit him with a fine and announced he would be routed into some kind of sensitivity training until he learns all homosexual relationships are prima facie just as valid as heterosexual relationships and that expressing opinions otherwise is unacceptable in 21st century America (and possibly how to match plaid socks with a fetching beret).
Smith called foul.
“I think it’s a very, very dangerous thing when people see something and they have a problem with what they’re seeing and they express themselves, and ultimately they’re fined,” he said.
Bayless noted that the Dolphins were in a more sensitive position than other teams, thanks to last season’s ridiculous hazing scandal, but essentially agreed with Smith’s take.
But what was most interesting about the nearly 10-minute dialogue was watching two men who discuss sports for a living trying to work their way through the uncharted territory of gay social mores visa vis the National Football League. And being more than a little lost.
Check it out here. It’s worth the time.
While stressing repeatedly, repeatedly, repeatedly – and even more repeatedly – that they had no problems with homosexuality or gays themselves, both were clearly uncomfortable with the television coverage and the way “the kiss” was repeated on a seemingly endless loop, leading viewers to wonder whether they were tuned in to the biggest event of the NFL offseason or the finale of “The Bachelor — Fire Island.”
“I was watching the NFL draft!” Smith said.
That’s what the rest of the country thought, too.
And that’s the rub. The vast, vast majority of football fans have no more than a passing, mildly prurient interest in the sex lives – straight or otherwise – of the men on the field. And if the 249th-picked Sam ever plays on any given Sunday, his prowess in third-down situations will be all that matters — not his prowess in bed.
“The kiss” wasn’t just a kiss, and Jones was right.
But now he’s just another baker or a photographer forced to cater to gay couples no matter what their religious beliefs. A Silicon Valley exec pushed out of his job for having the same opinion as the president of the United States — before the president “evolved” sufficiently.
Punished all, for having an opinion that differs from the current mob,
And that’s horrible — and confusing.