The following is an opinion article written by WUSA 9 Sports Anchor/Reporter Dave Owens.
So we wake up this April morning to the news that University of Massachusetts basketball player Derrick Gordon is gay. Bombshell? Hardly. Gordon's brave announcement about his sexuality comes on the heels of Michael Sam, Jason Collins, or Robbie Rogers.
Gordon told ESPN, "I just didn't want to hide anymore, in any way." Society should be ashamed that one of our own felt that way. By all accounts Gordon is a solid student-athlete. That's enough for me. His personal dealings are of no concern to me, unless he ventures into something unlawful.
More importantly, Gordon helps educate our minds. According to Gordon, after he made his announcement, one of his teammates immediately spoke up and said, "We got you; you're one of us."
Pre-Collins, or Sam, or Rogers, there was considerable dialogue about the negative impacts sure to follow such a player's "coming out" especially in one of the four major U.S. sports. Two years ago 49ers defensive back Chris Culliver infamously said during Super Bowl media day that he wouldn't want a gay teammate. About a year ago, Former Steelers Hines Ward said he didn't believe the NFL was ready for a gay player because "there were too many guys in the locker room and guys play around too much." This past February Saints linebacker Johnathan Vilma told NFL Network "Imagine if he's the guy next to me, and you know, I get dressed, naked, taking a shower, the whole nine, and it just so happens he looks at me, how am I supposed to respond?"
Homophobia is ignorance. Period. Gordon's teammates at UMass are proof that the overly dramatic predictions about what would happen in a male locker room if and when a player "came out" are simple human BS (and I'm not talking about bachelor degrees). Certainly, there is ignorance everywhere, but everyone is not ignorant.
Teammates describe Gordon as someone who seemed burdened in the weeks leading up to his announcement. What an awful way to live, thinking that those closest to you might not understand or accept the way you live your life. What a relief discovering that many will embrace you and still support you, and those who don't aren't really worth your time or effort anyway.
As a journalist, I'm encouraged because Gordon moves us one step closer to the day athletes don't have to "announce" anything about their sexuality, leaving us more time to report on issues that truly impact our lives.