Whenever he’d guard against routes, hang out with teammates, or shower alongside them, nobody raised an eyebrow. Whenever he’d enjoy team dinners, spot teammates while they benched, or make jokes while riding the team bus, nobody questioned his belonging. Whenever he’d talk with the press, show up early to preseason practices, or proudly don his Titan navy blue and white, nobody took offense.
Leave it to an over-scrutinized admittance of an “abnormal” sexual orientation to undo all the “normal” that Wade Davis did.
When multiple newspapers released the story of ex-NFL cornerback Davis, who spent time playing for the Tennessee Titans, Seattle Seahawks, and Washington Redskins, publicly admitting to being gay leaked out early this month, it quickly became the story that wasn’t for many equal rights activists and fans.
Why is this being written about? What makes this worthy of a press release? Why aren’t there press releases whenever the other 90-something percent of athletes admit to being a heterosexual?
Thoughts like these have surely crossed the minds of at least a few sports fans, most notably those who have grown weary of the constant, yet increasingly-covert discriminatory tactics aimed at those with a traditionally-atypical sexual orientation in the world of sports.
As the rest of the world has slowly begun to embrace the homosexuals, the transvestites, the drag kings, and just about every sexually/gender-deviant possibility otherwise, our little microcosm of athletes and the games they play has chosen to stick to their heterosexual guns.
And what guns they are. As the overt acceptance of homosexuality in the real world continues to climb, sports’ insensitivity to the homosexual athlete has taken a tricky turn for the worst, as the true problem– the acceptance of the entire spectrum of sexual orientation in sports– is swept under the rug in favor of covert dismissal of the topic completely. Sexuality in sports is only brought to the public eye when it perpetuates the “masculine” viewpoint of homosexuals being “not normal.”
Think about the times you’ve read an article on any topic that covered a story with nothing sensational, unique, or unprecedented about it. The number is probably zero or near it, and the reason is obvious: typical, “ordinary” occurrences don’t need to be written about. They have no audience.
That being said, sports’ insistence on writing press releases about ex-NFL players being gay (not even currently on the roster!) employs a subtle tone that resonates with every reasonable fan, but cannot be properly articulated without deep insight into what’s really going on here.
While no hurtful words or negative descriptors are used by sports writers while describing the “coming out” of a gay athlete, it is the unspoken, yet deep messages that hurt the worst. The ones that make many fans ask the exact questions mentioned earlier: if homosexuality is truly no longer an issue in today’s sports’ culture, then why is it covered in the first place?
Because as an aspiring journalist, I can tell you: non-issues are not written about; issues are.
When Davis “came out” to Outsports.com this month, not many saw it coming. The real question, though, is why it mattered whether we “saw it” or not.
Culturally, the realm of sports falls into a “masculine” domain, one that celebrates the traditional viewpoint in nearly all aspects, from politics to sexual orientation. None of this progressive stuff that the rest of the nation is getting itself into.
As many sports fans would agree with, there is little worse than being coined a “faggot.” It cloaks a person in everything un-sports, from excess femininity to “macho man” scarcity.
From his collegiate career at Weber State to his “glory days” of playing for the Titans in the 2000 and 2002 preseasons before retiring in 2003 after blowing out his knee practicing for the Redskins, the retired cornerback probably never thought his name would be etched at the top of an ESPN press release. He was never spectacular enough, with his fundamental defensive intelligence but penchant for getting injured. He was never peculiar enough, with his likably humorous persona albeit often shy personality.
Those in the NFL who knew him best have since “come out” and attested to his good-natured average-ness — but unfortunately, their opinion weighs little on the public reflection of him now.
Wade Davis was normal before the beginning of the month.
It’s amazing what a whisper of a press release can do.