www.mozilla.com Weather Central
Voices
Headlines

Paying for schools -10/19/2014, 1:21 PM

Joining forces for Orman -10/19/2014, 1:21 PM

Research before voting -10/19/2014, 1:21 PM

Davis is moderate? -10/19/2014, 1:21 PM

The most important election in your lifetime -10/19/2014, 1:21 PM

Huelskamp stands out -10/19/2014, 1:21 PM

Kansas farm interests -10/19/2014, 1:21 PM

Keeping unfounded reports from 'going viral' -10/19/2014, 1:21 PM

The age of cynicism -10/18/2014, 9:02 AM

Preventable diseases -10/17/2014, 10:28 AM

Second term needed -10/17/2014, 10:28 AM

Kansans deserve better -10/17/2014, 10:28 AM

Officially killing Americans -10/17/2014, 10:27 AM

New era at FHSU -10/16/2014, 10:01 AM

Roberts is right choice -10/16/2014, 10:01 AM

Crumbling Constitution -10/16/2014, 9:52 AM

Redbelly's future -10/16/2014, 9:52 AM

Kansas deserves better -10/15/2014, 10:23 AM

Remember to vote on Nov. 4 -10/15/2014, 10:23 AM

You almost feel sorry for Sean Groubert -10/15/2014, 10:23 AM

Register to vote -10/14/2014, 10:14 AM

Living on that 70 percent -10/14/2014, 10:14 AM

New bullying problem for schools: parents -10/14/2014, 10:14 AM

Cheerios, marriage equality, the Supreme Court -10/13/2014, 9:49 AM

Wedded bliss -10/12/2014, 5:54 PM

Who is the real fraud? -10/12/2014, 5:08 PM

Teenagers 'make some noise' -10/12/2014, 5:08 PM

Not so private property -10/10/2014, 10:01 AM

Federal funding -10/10/2014, 10:01 AM

Teacher indoctrination -10/10/2014, 10:01 AM

Vote Republican -10/9/2014, 9:49 AM

Non-partisan politics -10/9/2014, 9:49 AM

Teen driver safety week Oct. 19 to 25 -10/9/2014, 9:04 AM

FHSU party -10/9/2014, 10:11 AM

Poverty in America -10/9/2014, 10:11 AM

Let the women serve -10/9/2014, 10:11 AM

Time for new direction -10/8/2014, 9:49 AM

Improving Kansas economically -10/8/2014, 9:35 AM

Water abusers -10/8/2014, 9:35 AM

Play safe on the farm -10/8/2014, 9:34 AM

Where the money comes from -10/7/2014, 10:24 AM

The president's security -10/7/2014, 10:24 AM

Marriage equality -10/7/2014, 10:24 AM

The sins of the father are visited -10/6/2014, 9:02 AM

Cannabis in America: The bottom line -10/6/2014, 9:20 AM

A reason to celebrate -10/6/2014, 9:20 AM

Gov. shields wealthy from paying for schools -10/5/2014, 2:07 PM

Passionate protest in defense of civil disorder -10/5/2014, 2:07 PM

October is time for baseball and, of course, film premieres -10/4/2014, 2:16 PM

Alley cleanup -10/3/2014, 10:01 AM

Will the West defend itself? -10/3/2014, 10:01 AM

Find another school -10/3/2014, 10:01 AM

It's better now -10/2/2014, 9:17 AM

The answer is to bomb Mexico? -10/2/2014, 9:17 AM

Falling revenue -10/2/2014, 9:17 AM

School facilities -10/1/2014, 9:27 AM

Look ahead, not back -10/1/2014, 9:27 AM

Secret Service needs to step up its game -10/1/2014, 9:27 AM

Roosevelts were true leaders -9/30/2014, 9:18 AM

Moral bankruptcy -9/30/2014, 9:18 AM

Expect some sort of change in Topeka -9/30/2014, 9:18 AM

'A tale of two countries' -9/29/2014, 9:59 AM

The last of the Willie Horton ads? -9/29/2014, 9:59 AM

Finding answers to the future of Kansas -9/28/2014, 2:20 PM

College: Where religious freedom goes to die -9/28/2014, 2:20 PM

Honoring Hammond -9/28/2014, 2:20 PM

Do statistical disparities mean injustice? -9/26/2014, 9:53 AM

World university rankings -9/26/2014, 9:52 AM

Kansas experiment -9/26/2014, 9:52 AM

Two anti-choice parties -9/25/2014, 10:03 AM

Not in the same old Kansas anymore -9/25/2014, 10:03 AM

Domestic violence -9/25/2014, 10:03 AM

Back to war we go -9/24/2014, 9:55 AM

Piling on the NFL -9/24/2014, 9:54 AM

Emma Watson looking for a few good men -9/24/2014, 9:54 AM

Renter runaround -9/23/2014, 7:32 PM

Enough is enough -9/23/2014, 9:02 AM

Life of politics in the state -9/23/2014, 9:02 AM

What is and is not child abuse -9/22/2014, 9:30 AM

Cannabis politics and research -9/22/2014, 9:30 AM

Future of The Mall -9/21/2014, 6:14 PM

Multiculturalism is a failure -9/19/2014, 9:52 AM

State education rankings -9/19/2014, 9:52 AM

Kobach gone wild -9/19/2014, 9:52 AM

Bias prevents civil discussion of education issues -9/18/2014, 9:35 AM

Immigration is American -9/18/2014, 9:35 AM

Costs to states not expanding Medicaid -9/17/2014, 10:14 AM

Medicare threats -9/17/2014, 10:12 AM

Green fields in northwest Kansas -9/17/2014, 10:12 AM

Consolidation by starvation -9/16/2014, 9:54 AM

School mergers tricky -9/16/2014, 9:54 AM

Hotel tipping -9/16/2014, 9:54 AM

Abuse video revealed nothing we didn't know -9/15/2014, 9:20 AM

Lessons from 13 years ago -9/15/2014, 9:20 AM

The zero option -9/14/2014, 1:31 PM

Why branding ISIS matters -9/14/2014, 1:31 PM

School efficiency -9/14/2014, 1:31 PM

Favors and loot for sale -9/12/2014, 10:10 AM

The 'college experience' -9/12/2014, 10:10 AM

Ellis schools -9/11/2014, 10:10 AM

myTown Calendar

SPOTLIGHT
[var top_story_head]

Now is the time for a sports hero to speak up

Published on -3/11/2013, 10:29 AM

Printer-friendly version
E-Mail This Story

"Now is the time ..." -- Martin Luther King, Aug. 28, 1963

Brendon Ayanbadejo is wrong.

It is painful to say that. Ayanbadejo's heart is in a good place and the advice he gave last week on MSNBC's "The Ed Show" was practical and well intentioned. But mainly, yes, it was wrong.

Here's the back story. It seems NFL prospect Nick Kasa recently told ESPN Radio that he was asked in an interview with a team he won't specify whether he is married, if he has a girlfriend and whether he likes girls. It was a spectacularly stupid line of inquiry for two reasons.

One: It has nothing to do with his abilities as a football player.

Two: It's fresh evidence of the NFL's estrangement from the 21st century, coming as it does in the wake of Chris Culliver of the San Francisco 49ers -- repeat: the San Francisco 49ers -- dismissing the notion of a gay player by saying, "Can't be with that sweet stuff. Nah ... can't be ... in the locker room ..."

Enter Ayanbadejo, a Baltimore Ravens linebacker and outspoken proponent of gay rights. What, he was asked, should a prospective player do if he is gay and some team asks if he likes girls? Ayanbadejo's advice? Lie.

"I think players need to say that they're straight right now," he said. "You need to get drafted as high as you can get drafted, get the money while you can."

"Maybe later," he added, "once you establish yourself and when we break down some of these walls in the NFL, then players will be more comfortable to really be who they are." Eventually, he said, perhaps football will see "our Jackie Robinson, our pioneer for gay rights and equality."

But the thing is, Jackie Robinson did not come along after the walls had been broken down. He was the one swinging the sledgehammer. The idea that progress must wait for an opportune time, that a trailblazer should defer trailblazing till he makes some money, reflects a misunderstanding of what social change is and how it is made.

Truth is, the timing is never right in the view of those whose prerogatives and prejudices are challenged. Martin Luther King once said he'd never participated in a campaign that someone didn't consider ill-timed.

So that closeted gay football star, that closeted basketball, hockey or baseball player still trying to prove he "likes girls," ought to be guided less by the words of Brendon Ayanbadejo than by the words of an old children's singsong:

"Come out, come out, wherever you are."

That is, yes, a very easy thing to say if you're not the one being asked to risk money, career, ostracism, family, maybe even physical intimidation. But if heroism were without risk, everybody would be a hero.

And that is exactly what the active player in one of the four major sports who comes out of the closet right now will be. He will debunk the bass-ackward "thinking" of the Chris Cullivers of the world and become a beacon for every high school quarterback, two guard and first baseman now living alone and scared in the prison of a secret sexuality. He might even save that child's life.

In his first speech as leader of the Montgomery bus boycott, Martin Luther King said, "There comes a time when people get tired." He could not speak again for 20 seconds. At that simple statement, his audience erupted, overwhelming him with shouts and cries releasing the pent-up frustration and swallowed-down rage of people who'd finally had their fill of the everyday indignities and petty humiliations of their lives.

What we are waiting on, then, is not some mythical moment when the timing is right for a gay athlete. Rather, what we are waiting on is an athlete who has gotten tired. Tired enough to take a risk, tired enough to be brave.

Because when people get that tired, change comes. And then the timing takes care of itself.

Leonard Pitts is a columnist

for the Miami Herald.

lpitts@miamiherald.com

digg delicious facebook stumbleupon google Newsvine
More News and Photos

Associated Press Videos

AP Breaking News
AP Nation-World News

View this site in another language.