Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Tolerance is a two way street

The reaction to NBA veteran Jason Collins coming out as the first openly gay athlete in major North American team sports has been predictable on a couple of levels. Almost universally, Collins is being praised for his courage, and rightly so. The traditionally macho world of male pro sports represents one of the gay community's final frontiers to full social acceptance, and the overwhelmingly positive public reaction to Collins' announcement is testimony to the dramatic change in prevailing attitudes over the past 30 years.
What's also predictable, though, is the summary dismissal of alternative opinion. ESPN writer Chris Broussard, a practising Christian, was widely mocked and ridiculed yesterday for saying he can't support Collins on religious grounds. Miami Dolphins receiver Mike Wallace took a public relations beating for saying on Twitter that with all the beautiful women in the world, he doesn't get why guys want to - in his words - mess with other guys. Wallace didn't say that he's against it or that it's wrong; just that he doesn't understand it. Never mind that science still doesn't understand it and that there's a debate within the gay community itself over whether the lifestyle is preordained or a conscious choice, the reaction to Wallace's relatively innocuous comment was sufficiently hysterical that he was compelled to delete the tweet and issue an apology.
Broussard and Wallace might not be enlightened by 21st century western world standards, but they have a right to their religious beliefs and personal opinions, as long as they're not hateful or slanderous. On an issue as morally divisive as this one, understanding and acceptance have to work both ways. Otherwise, we're left with intolerance and hypocrisy.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Anti-Cherry outrage more tiresome than Cherry

Did I miss something on Coach's Corner Saturday night? Did Don Cherry say that women should go back to making babies, knitting sweaters and baking pies? What I heard him say was that he doesn't believe women reporters should be allowed in men's locker rooms - a quaint and admittedly outdated notion that speaks to a generation that came of age when modesty between the genders still counted for something. The visceral reaction from both mainstream and social media commentators was completely out of proportion to what Cherry said, and that he was the number one trending topic on Twitter inside of five minutes flies in the face of his detractors' claims that Cherry is no longer relevant. They're the ones who make him relevant, by hanging on his every word and hoping beyond hope that he'll say something sufficiently offensive to their politically correct sensibilities that they can wallow unrestrained in their sanctimonious moral outrage. That shallow brand of manufactured piety is a lot more offensive to me than a misguided oldtimer's honest opinion that men and women shouldn't see each other with their bloomers off outside the confines of the marital bedroom...While I understand and appreciate the benefits of the Canadiens winning the Northeast division, opening the playoffs against Ottawa seems like a consolation prize after all the build-up towards a potential first round encounter with Toronto. Besides the marquee appeal of a series between hockey's most storied rivals, there was a rebirth of genuine antipathy between the Leafs and Habs this season, and it was building to a hostile crescendo just in time for the playoffs...You can say Vancouver's Henrik Sedin has a consecutive games played streak, but don't call it an ironman streak. Iron Man doesn't play one 22 second shift and then call it a night just to pad a personal statistic. That would be Tin Man, and we all know his deal.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Kaberele for Komisarek - it's win-lose!

Were I the type to engage in April 1st falsehoods, I would perpetrate a Tomas Kaberle for Mike Komisarek pre-trade deadline exchange of liabilities between the Canadiens and the Leafs. Such delicious irony: two failed and expensive experiments returning to their original teams. On further examination, though, the idea is only half-crazy. As salary cap hits, the two are a virtual wash. In real dollars, Kaberle is due a million dollars more than Komisarek is owed in the final years of their respective contracts, but the bigger problem is that Kaberele wouldn't be any more useful to the Leafs than he was to the Canadiens. It's too bad, because Komisarek could give Montreal some much-needed depth and physical presence on the back end. He bombed as a top four blueliner in Toronto, but Komisarek is 31, healthy and a consummate professional, and his contract is the only obstacle to an opportunity to reinvent himself as a useful fifth or sixth defenceman...Never let it be said that Sidney Crosby isn't tough. Crosby took a slapshot square in the face Saturday and reacted to a broken jaw and shattered teeth with less drama than most of us display when we stub our toe. If anything, he looked marginally annoyed...Amazingly, Crosby's busted kisser was only the second most horrific injury in sports over the weekend. The broken leg suffered yesterday by Louisville university basketball player Kevin Ware was so grotesque that it prompted teammates to vomit on the bench and reduced grown-ups watching or working courtside to tears...I'm not going to lie to you. I don't know and don't really care about NCAA basketball, which is why I didn't bother making a bracket before the tournament began. Granted, I might not have done any worse than a lot of the so-called experts this year, but there's still no credibility in picking Gonzaga over Saint Louis because I'd rather be a Bulldog than a Billiken. For now and the foreseeable future, my idea of March Madness is going off my meds between St. Patrick's Day and Easter...Gordie Howe turned 85 yesterday and celebrated by elbowing the Easter Bunny in the face.