Sex and the shower….the real argument.


This week the National Football League’s frenzied media machine has been bombarding us with something that I believe is a non-issue, and that’s the announcement by a wanna-be professional football player that he’s gay.
Big whoop dee do!
First of all he hasn’t even tried out for a team. There’s no guarantee that he’ll even make the cut. I think that his manager made a brilliant marketing strategy move by blitzing the media with this “announcement”. Let’s face it, if no one drafts him the story will be because he was gay. The first team that does ultimately offer him a contract will be applauded by every network, every politician up for re-election and they may even get their own reality show on the Bravo! Channel.
But I digress.
I mean, really. Central casting couldn’t have come up with a better sequel to a lackluster Super Bowl whose best performance was Bruno Mars and The Red Hot Chili Peppers during the half-time show. I say kudos to the NFL for creating much needed traction to keep people interested in their product now that the season is over.
First of all professional athletics has always been about your performance on the field. Are you a play maker or are you a bench warmer? It really does come down to that simple formula. Can you do something on the field that is going to make your team win? Will you help to fill seats? Will you help the owners make more money?
Football is a gladiator sport. Next to boxing and mixed martial arts (MMA for the uninitiated) there is no other sport where sheer brutality is actually applauded. If a person wants to dedicate themselves to this line of work, where you’re always one hit away from a career ending injury, then I say have at it.
But wait a minute! When does only one side of any argument get to control the mic?
What about the showers?
I’m sorry, but this is as valid of a point by non-gay athletes as it is a rallying cry by gay athletes that say no problem exists.
In the movie 42 about Jackie Robinson there was a scene where one of the white players asked Jackie why he didn’t shower with the team. Jackie replied, “Because I don’t want to make the other guys feel uncomfortable.” During that time, and sadly there are remnants still alive today, a lot of white America hadn’t yet welcomed the possibility that blacks weren’t innately inferior to whites. Standing stark naked in a shower with your third leg glistening in the sudsy downpour was a little too “in your face” to people still battling their own prejudices. While he chose to cross many lines in his life, that’s one that he initially chose to not cross.
If I was the only male showering with a bunch of naked female teammates I’d have to keep my eyes in front of me. My natural arousal reflex would be in full…throttle. As a young man amped up on testosterone after a hard fought battle on the field, for me to not look at a glistening wet finely tuned nude woman’s body and not have a reaction is not impossible to do, but it’s asking me to work really, really hard to not do.
This is the concern of many non-gay athletes. The showers are a very private place for reflection and relaxation after a long and physically demanding game. Standing next to a guy who is attracted to other guys in a testosterone fueled environment is very unsettling to some guys. Even the most remote idea of the slightest possibility that another man is attracted to you while in this stage of vulnerability is something that, understandably, is a hard pill to swallow for many.
Yes, there are going to be some guys that have a real problem with this reality, but in a gladiator sport, chalk that up as a workplace hazard. Like in Jackie Robinson’s era, there were some guys that would always hate him simply because he had more active melanin then they had. Likewise, everyone is not going to jump aboard this wagon. They’re just not.
Of course, there have been many other gay athletes in the NFL before and probably currently are now. To the best of my knowledge there haven’t been any complaints of a violation of locker room/shower etiquette. Men have a naturally occurring expanding comfort zone radius when around other men. It’s unspoken, but real. Plus he played in college, so that Michael Sam can manage this I have absolutely no doubt.
Which brings me back to my original point: this is a non-issue. Michael Sam being gay is about as relevant, on the playing field, as the sexual escapades of someone who vigorously practices their heterosexuality on multiple women. There is no moral high-ground in this arena of over-the-top excess often exhibited in professional athletics.
The bottom line is this: if he’s good enough to make a team and can contribute on the field, let the guy play. Furthermore, stop talking about who he wants to be intimate with when he’s off the field. That has no bearings on his performance on the field should he be good enough to make a team.
Likewise, stop trying to brand everyone who has a concern as being homophobic, bigoted or uneducated. I believe that some concerns are warranted for both sides of the argument. We cannot legislate or control opinions. As offensive as some of them may be, that’s the price and benefit of freedom.
What do you think?


One response to “Sex and the shower….the real argument.

  1. Pingback: Sex and the shower….the real argument. | Wellnessfortoday

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