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Bryant Gumbel addresses gays in sports tonight on HBO

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Tonight Bryant Gumbel will offer a closing commentary on his HBO Real Sports show about gays in sports. He talks very positively about the issue, but he says he feels like he shouldn't have to talk about it because it shouldn't be a big deal. It's the veil sports reporters have hidden behind for years; But it is an issue, so thankfully he is offering his thoughts. HBO was kind enough to share the commentary with us in advance:

Finally tonight, did you ever feel like not making a big deal out of something, because it shouldn’t be, but you mention it anyway? That’s kind of how I feel right now in extending some praise to Sean Avery, when I doubt he even wants it. Avery is a veteran hockey player who recently recorded an endorsement for the legalization of same sex marriage, which in the macho world of pro hockey, proved to be a very big deal indeed.

Avery’s stand, combined with the recent announcement by Phoenix Suns President and CEO Rick Welts that he’s gay has me wondering just when such news items in sports will become commonplace. It’s 2011. Folks in politics, entertainment, business, education and every other aspect of life have already moved past dramatically caring about someone’s sexual orientation, so why is the sports world still lagging when the law says it needn’t be and logic says it shouldn’t be?

Look, I know it’s easy for me to sit here and hope for the day when someone else sticks their neck out, but amid estimates that perhaps two-to-six percent of all guys are not heterosexual, it is sad and absurd to think of just how many athletes today might be feeling compelled to essentially hide in plain sight at games we all enjoy – simply because of their sexual orientation.

Jocks don’t like to talk about homosexuality and when they do it’s often in crude terms. That could have changed long ago, but so far it hasn’t and it’s time it should. Which is why Sean Avery is to be applauded for showing some courage on this issue and for not making a big deal out of something that shouldn’t be.