Should There Be A Gay Sports Hall Of Fame?


On Friday night, the first gay athletes will be inducted in to the new National Gay Sports Hall of Fame.  The first class of inductees includes, tennis greats, Martina Navratilova and Billie Jean King, Olympic diving champion Greg Louganis, and Jason Collins, who in April became the first active male professional athlete to reveal his sexual orientation.  Former major league umpire Dave Pallone will also be honored.  Pallone was on the umpire team that umped the first night game at Wrigley Field, which unfortunately doesn’t seem that long ago.  Executive Director Bill Gubrud said “the decision to establish the country’s first hall of fame honoring gay athletes and their supporters is not tied to Collins’ announcement earlier this year.” He said factors such as changing attitudes about homosexuals, particularly among young people, made him and others think this was the ideal time to create an institution that honors the contributions that gays have made in sports. A Chicago site for the actual hall of fame has not been selected, but organizers are in the process of putting together a plan to raise money and find a building.  While the meaning behind the museum is certainly understandable, it might be somewhat misguided.  What seems to make more sense would be to ask all of the established halls of fame in the various sports to set a side a section recognizing the challenges that gay athletes faced and continue to face today.  Furthermore, great athletes should be celebrated for their achievements, not by their differences.  Sandy Koufax faced terrible discrimination when he didn’t want to pitch on the Jewish High holidays.  He was mocked and taunted but ultimately solved the problem on the field by throwing 100 mile per hour fastballs at the heads of anti-Semitic opposing players.  Problem solved.  That is the one and only way to obtain real equality.  While he was proud of his religion, he wanted to be recognized for his pitching ability. The same was true of Martina.  She dominated tennis and made her statement on the court.  While there were rumors about sexuality early in her career, in the end, the only thing that mattered was her performance on the court.  And in the end, that is the only thing that should matter.

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