Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Hochman: Keeping Hostility to Yourself

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Hochman: Keeping Hostility to Yourself

Article excerpt

There have been around 2,000 men to ever play for the St. Louis Cardinals. Some of them were gay. Closeted Cardinals, like the minor leaguer Tyler Dunnington, who quit baseball because homophobia in the clubhouse "was affecting my relationships with people, my performance, and my overall happiness."

Wednesday on OutSports.com, Dunnington revealed he was gay, and he spoke of fellow Cardinals minor leaguers who vocally shared ideas about "killing gay people. ... Each comment felt like a knife to my heart."

In St. Louis, opinions collided. Some people felt awful for Dunnington; some felt Dunnington himself was awful, and so much in between. (Two outlier opinions, retweeted by @BestFansStLouis: "#TylerDunnington you don't matter. Quit making excuses for YOUR failures." And, "Well he shouldn't be killed. But. He should have separate locker rooms.")

Regardless of one's personal opinions about homosexuality, there is a teachable moment from the Dunnington news: In most locker rooms from a St. Louis high school to the St. Louis Cardinals there is someone who is gay, and we should approach it as such with the things we say. They're there. So cease meanness.

"At all levels of sport, it can reverberate," said Micah Porter, a state champion high school track coach in Colorado who made headlines when he came out of the closet. "When those words are said, it tears apart the whole purpose of sports."

Over at Mizzou, we saw the Tigers football team accept defensive star Michael Sam, who the team knew was gay. It was a historic case- study, if you think about it. No, things weren't perfect in Columbia for Sam, but for the most part, the team provided him with a welcoming environment, and the kid thrived, winning the SEC's co- player of the year award.

On talk radio Wednesday, it was wondered if the Cardinals minor leaguers would've actually acted less homophobic if they knew their teammate was gay as if by knowing their teammate would be offended, even by something meant to be joking and harmless, they would keep it to themselves. The point is, it shouldn't matter if the teammate is out or not. It's 2016. A sports team should provide an environment where no one should feel uncomfortable, and there is a difference between having your beliefs, and taking those beliefs and shoving them in someone's face.

It was fascinating to hear former Rams Pro Bowler D'Marco Farr, now a radio personality, who said Wednesday: "If any of my teammates are out there, and I said something stupid when I was 23, 24, 25, I apologize. …

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