Last mission to repair the Hubble telescope Hubble space telescope discoveries have enriched our understanding of the cosmos. In this special report, you will see facts about the Hubble space telescope, discoveries it has made and what the last mission's goals are.
For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
Fill out this form to email this article to a friend
A hateful reminder for athletes who are gay
Hardaway's comments are a reminder that, for all the diversity in race and religion in professional team sports, the topic of sexual orientation somehow remains taboo.
By JOHN ROMANO
Published February 16, 2007
Thank you, Tim Hardaway.
Thank you for being honest.
For being intolerant. For being hateful. For being ignorant.
Thank you for illustrating just how difficult it will be for an active athlete to be openly gay in the NBA, the NFL or Major League Baseball.
Because, for a couple of days there, the dreamers were teasing us. Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban was suggesting a gay basketball player would be a hero and a marketing phenomenon. An article on outsports.com said it wouldn't "necessarily be hard" for an athlete in a major sport to come out.
And then Hardaway, a former NBA All-Star, went on a Miami radio show and set us all straight, so to speak.
"You know, I hate gay people. So I let it be known," Hardaway said. "I don't like gay people, and I don't like to be around gay people. I am homophobic. I don't like it. It shouldn't be in the world, or in the United States."
And just like that, we were reminded why, in 2007, the idea of being an openly gay athlete in a men's locker room is still a big deal.
We were reminded why, in a day when wife beaters and drug addicts keep getting million-dollar contracts, no gay player has felt safe enough to come out.
We were reminded that, for all the diversity in race and religion in professional team sports, the topic of sexual orientation somehow remains taboo.
And all it took was one voice.
One bigoted, accusatory and misguided voice.
"It sort of reminds us that just because Will and Grace is on TV, it doesn't mean there aren't still issues out there," said Brad Luna, a spokesman for the Human Rights Campaign in Washington, D.C.
This is the point where some people will scream. Where they will defend Hardaway's right to say what he pleases and try to shout down anyone who suggests there might have been something wrong with his words.
Look, this isn't about Hardaway. He is certainly entitled to his own opinions, as narrow-minded as they may be. This is about intolerance. And hatred.
No matter what guise is used, there is no excuse for demeaning and ostracizing a segment of the population simply because it differs from your own.
And there may not be another place in society where that type of thinking is more prevalent than in the locker rooms of major professional sports.
A baseball clubhouse would make Darwin's theories sound forgiving. It is not just survival of the fittest, but survival of the toughest and the cruel. Dewon Brazelton was ridiculed behind his back, and sometimes mocked openly, by Devil Rays teammates because he was considered too sensitive and not macho enough. Countless others have suffered similar fates for daring to show vulnerability.
Conformity is the law in locker rooms, and, historically, nothing has been more out of the norm than homosexuality.
Former Padres outfielder Billy Bean, one of the few players to come out after retirement, lived in absolute fear of being outed.
Bean has told the story of chasing his partner, Sam Madani, out a back door of their home when teammates Brad Ausmus and Trevor Hoffman showed up unexpectedly with two six-packs to celebrate Bean's first major-league homer.
He found Madani three hours later sitting alone in his car reading a book.
"My proudest individual accomplishment on a baseball diamond had turned into an occasion of sadness and shame," Bean wrote in his book, Going the Other Way. "That night was one of the few times I ever cried myself to sleep."
Sports Illustrated recently asked hundreds of athletes if they would welcome an openly gay athlete on their team. In the NBA, NFL and MLB, responses were similar. Depending on the sport, 34.8 percent to 39.6 percent said no.
In other words, more than one out of three players would have a problem with it. (Only the NHL had significantly different numbers, with only 18 percent saying they would not welcome a gay teammate.)
"It is never a good thing when someone like this comes out and says they hate gay people," said Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign. "But can there be positive outcomes from this? Yes. There have been people in the NBA and elsewhere who feel compelled now to give their opinions in support, and that's good for us."
We like to believe we are more tolerant. More accepting of others today than we were 10 or 20 or 30 years ago.
To a great degree, that is true. Racism exists, but it is not as virulent as once before. Sexism remains, but it is not as horrific as in previous generations. Homophobia? It trails far behind in acceptance, particularly in the world of sports.
And no matter the rationalization, or the excuses, it remains befuddling.
Is it really so hard to be kind to someone different? To accept them based on the way they treat others as opposed to their sexual preference, color, gender, religious affiliation, economic level or political views?
I'm willing to try. I'm willing to be more accepting.
Even if it means being okay with someone such as Tim Hardaway.