Perennial soccer bad boy, Joey Barton, has become quite a vocal young man these days. His Twitter account is all a-twitter with his observations, and he speaks freely, and eloquently, to the media.
His public persona has historically been one of violence and vitriol. I don't think anyone knew that Barton was so eloquent or analytical.
The issue of homosexuality in professional sports has been on and off the radar for over thirty years. It seems that progress is made, then everyone becomes complacent with the improvement, or reduction in hatred, and nothing happens again until another incident or person stirs the pot.
We're not the homophobic neanderthals that we're made out to be and I know that, at Barnsley, if anyone did come out he would have no problem whatsoever. But the media scrum that would follow would be a different matter...
Yes, there are soccer players who are homophobic; but hardly all of them. One famous English defender extraordinaire is alleged to throw around the word "faggot" as an insult regularly. This very famous player is active in the movement to eradicate racism from sports. Oddly, though, he does not endorse any players' movement to take a stand against homophobia.
Homosexuality is often equated with femininity in men. Smart people know femininity is not any indication of sexual preference; but, then again, most people are not smart.
Soccer is considered un-manly in the United States. It's fag-gy, if you will allow me the word.
When soccer players embellish fouls by rolling around like children in a sandbox, they earn the disrespect of everyone. Serie A, the Italian soccer league, is perhaps the most rough and tumble league in Europe. Italian players, however, more often behave like opera stars than athletes. Their descendants in Argentina are similar: fantastic athletes who bring just a little too much drama to sports - something most American men will never accept.
At this point, however, I beg you to watch how often NFL players now embellish hits after the whistle in the hope of having a penalty called. I saw it repeatedly during the NFL playoffs this season and was surprised by it. It seems so un-American! NFL players now see the value of embellishment, and don't really care what any American fan thinks of it. If it gives a team an edge, a player is expected to do it. There is no rule in the NFL against embellishment, unless an official called unsportsmanlike conduct. There are rules in soccer against embellishment, it is a foul and can result in a yellow card.
But, I digress . . .
The English FA has endorsed a campaign against homophobia. I wrote about it in 2004. See, England's Football Association Fights Homophobia
Barton insists that soccer players in England are not, as a whole, homophobic. He believes that in some of the lockers rooms he's worked in, any player who came-out would likely be supported by the majority of his teammates.
Perhaps it is true that today's professional athletes have a more accepting attitude about homosexuality than past generations?
I hope so!
See, article at Sabotage Times.