It shouldn’t be a surprise, in our current red-blue-right-wrong-yell-scream climate, that people are defending the indefensible efforts by teams to question incoming players regarding their sexuality. Some defend the question based on the fact that the locker room consists of men who are in various states of undress. Some defend the question based on the notion that, if the goal is simply to elicit a reaction, anything goes.
Both positions defy the fact that the NFL has said that it’s inappropriate to ask, “Do you like men?” While the lack of effective steps to punish and deter offenders raises questions about whether the NFL views potentially illegal interview questions to be as potentially detrimental to public confidence in the game of professional football as, say, football air pressure, the inappropriateness of the question has been resolved conclusively by the league.
That’s not stopping various hot-take dog-whistlers from trying to cater to their bases by saying the things that will get the intended audience to say, “Hell yeah” and/or to further bemoan “politically correctness run amok.” It’s predictable. It’s forced. It’s hokey. And it’s wrong.
Not just morally wrong, but logically wrong. Gay men have moved freely within locker rooms for decades. The vast majority have chosen to remain discreet about their sexuality because: (1) it’s irrelevant to their job; and/or (2) unenlightened heterosexual members of the locker room may equate homosexuality with a proclivity to attempt to have sex with any male mammal who happens to be within reach.
So, under the theory offered by those defending the question based on its substance, the goal is to get gay players to voluntarily out themselves to strangers, which will allow sexuality to be added to the spreadsheet that includes height, weight, and 40-yard dash time, apparently resulting in a balancing test that has the G.M. weighing football factors along with “propensity to establish a wide stance in a bathroom stall.”
Under the theory that it’s all being done to get a reaction out of the players, the fact that the teams (and the players) would think that this is the kind of question that should prompt any reaction at all shows how outdated the NFL mentality really is. Ideally, “do you like men or women?” would prompt a response no different than if a player were asked, “do you like Coke or Pepsi?” The fact that questions about sexuality would be regarded by the team, by the player, and by those defending the question on this basis as something that would provoke a negative reaction says plenty about team, player, and those defending the question on this basis.
“Do you like men?” should prompt no reaction at all. “Do you like men?” has nothing to do with football, or any employment. The fact that “do you like men?” is still being asked, for either reason, shows that too many people associated with sports (and associated with talking about sports) fail to understand just how irrelevant, inappropriate, and offensive the question is.
The fact that anyone connected to the NFL sees any type of value, direct or indirect, in asking “do you like men?” suggests a level of homophobia and Archie Bunker pigheadedness that will be eradicated not by seminars and counseling sessions but by actual discipline and, if necessary, litigation.