OK, now that
Seriously, though, it's sad to be reminded periodically of how little we've actually accomplished in terms of tolerance in our society. I believe that Mr. Hardaway's sentiments are echoed, though not necessarily spoken aloud
, by a great many other professional athletes. And that's unfortunate.
People are products of their environment, as Mike Greenberg said this morning on ESPN Radio. He grew up in Greenwich Village, saw same-sex couples holding hands all the time, and grew up thinking "so what?" I'm a (heterosexual, not that it matters) professional musician, and a good portion of my friends and colleagues are gay (including some people who would absolutely shock you to your core if you knew). I've been around a huge diversity of people all my life, and I for one embrace all the differences among us - they're what make us all unique and interesting. Tim Hardaway clearly grew up in an narrow-minded atmosphere of bigotry and hatred, and his comments come from his history just as much as they do from ignorance and fear.
Here's the thing: any prejudice or phobia is born of fear. Whether it's toward someone whose skin color, national origin, sexual orientation, weight, gender, or political or religious beliefs differ from a person's own, or if they avoid snakes, small spaces, or going out of the house, it all stems from fear.
A wise person once told me that average, reasonably well-adjusted people in society simply go about the business of living their daily lives, unconcerned with how other people choose to live theirs even if they don't agree with those choices. Intolerant people who are actively hating homosexuals (or any other "different" group), and who react with anger or violence, are very much afraid of something. As this person said to me, "the homophobic men who are verbally or physically bashing gays are almost always
closeted gays themselves." Remember Chris Cooper's stunning performance in "American Beauty?" That's who I think of at times like this.
Please understand, I am not
in any way implying anything about Mr. Hardaway. All I am saying is that in my personal opinion, instead of issuing what's probably the lamest and least heartfelt apology I've heard this side of Terrell Owens, Mr. Hardaway should try to figure out what he's really afraid of, so that he doesn't keep actively perpetuating his ridiculous, outdated macho athlete stereotype. Maybe then he could be part of the solution instead of part of the problem.