Columnist Mark McGuire of the Albany Times-Union paper in upstate New York posits that having an openly pro gay male athlete will happen sooner than most people think. As he wrote in his Sunday column:
The first openly gay player in a major North American team sport will be revealed in the not-too-distant future.
No, that's not based on any inside information, but rather cognizance of a changing cultural landscape. He could be a pro right now, or just a kid in high school. But he's out there. His time of hiding grows short.
McGuire interviewed me for his column and I could not put a time frame on when this would happen, but do agree that the culture is changing quickly and at some point in the not too distant future we will have what people often call the "gay Jackie Robinson."
McGuire is not naive, but he writes that we can't escape the demographic trends that show young people more and more comfortable with gays and lesbians to the point where issues like gay marriage to them are no big deal.
He spoke with various coaches and players and found support for an openly gay athlete, even if it was kind of backhanded in one case.
But if you don't think there will be an openly gay team player here soon enough, if you question like many whether an often homophobic sports culture could handle it, listen to Bryan Kehl.
The New York Giants linebacker by way of BYU is a Mormon who served a two-year mission in Toronto. He "disagrees" with homosexuality, and calls it a "choice." That said, check out what he had to say next.
"If I had a teammate that chose to live that way, then that would be fine. There are a lot of my teammates who do a lot of things that I don't agree with as it is," he said. "If there is a guy who can hold his own as a football player, I think that's the bottom line. Because that's what guys care about."
If one ignores the use of the word "choice," Kehl is saying he would be fine with a gay teammate. Andrew Smith, a quarterback and running back for the University of Albany added:
"If it happened, that would be great, but I don't know. It would be good for the world, good for everything. But it's different cultures. ... I don't think there will be discrimination as long as they can play."
I am not sure why the idea of a male team sport athlete coming out is seen as somehow impossible. Electing a black president just 10-15 years ago seemed impossible, as did the idea of a a state like Iowa allowing gays to marry or the Red Sox winning the World Series. We do the "impossible" all the time and quickly forget what the fuss is all about. The same will happen in sports and it's great that mainstream media columnists like McGuire keep raising the issue.