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“Out of the Mainstream But Into Their Hoops!” (Part Two) or “John Amaechi’s Big Mistake “

Posted by Steve Bzomowski on March 6, 2007

John Amaechi
John Amaechi (from The

(John Amaechi. I know. Old news. At this point all thinking people understand and accept and welcome those of a different sexual orientation. The fear seems to have disappeared once the news broke that gays were not, in fact, training suicide bombers on the steppes of Afghanistan.)

John Amaechi should have come out of the closet in high school. That was his big mistake. Not so much for him, he seems to be doing fine. But it cost us. Damn, it cost us! You see, we were recruiting him when I was at Harvard; in fact, I flew out to watch him practice one day at his school in Toledo. The only other college coach in the gym was Bob Knight’s top assistant at Indiana University, Ron Felling. Would Bob Knight have wanted a gay kid in Hoosierland? I don’t know, Knight’ll fool you sometimes. My “fantasy” is that he would not have. How about all the other coaches “after” him? He eventually went to Vanderbilt but quickly transferred; must have been all those homophobes down South. Maybe all the coaches and all the teams across the country who wanted him to come to their campuses because he was bright, personable, articulate, easy-going, big, strong, oozing with basketball potential and gaining skills rapidly would have turned their backs on him because he was gay. That would have been so great, because at Harvard, we would have taken him in a second, welcomed with open arms his intelligent, athletic, gay self and definitely, DEFINITELY, been on our way to the ever elusive goal: Harvard’s first ever Ivy League basketball championship. John, oh John, why couldn’t you have come out sooner?

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7 Responses to ““Out of the Mainstream But Into Their Hoops!” (Part Two) or “John Amaechi’s Big Mistake “”

  1. Dan Terminello said

    Coming out of the closet? In high school? During the 1980’s? IF you could hide it, you did. For self preservation.


  2. Out of the closet, into the waiting arms of the Harvard basketball coaches, onto fame and glory.

    Late 80s weren’t that different from today, though I’m no expert.


  3. Dan Z said

    I noticed a nice comment about Doc Rivers in Amaechi’s online chat with

    Scott (Dallas-Fort Worth): Who has surprised you most by coming out in support of you?

    SportsNation John Amaechi: I received some really lovely e-mails from some of the training room staff and Doc Rivers and a couple of teammates of mine from college, but nobody in the pros.

    Good for Doc. It sound like he’s was the only NBA player or coach to contact Amaechi directly with support.


  4. I can’t find The Globe piece with extensive quotes from Rivers that was out the day after Amaechi came out but it was so reasonable, so true. I read it out loud to Ellen and that’s exactly what I said: “good for Doc Rivers”!


  5. Dan Z said

    I just found it and read it. In addition to Doc, I was also pleasantly surprised to read Shaq’s comments.


  6. Peter said

    (Hello NTLers in the readership . . . I miss you all.)

    It’s the old coach Peter Roby here. I agree with Steve that had John attended Harvard we would certainly have won that first Ivy Title and perhaps been able to create an environment for John to feel supported and loved enough to be who he wanted to be.
    The hyper masculine culture of male sports is such that we have yet to have an active professional male athlete come out. And the question is… Why? It’s because coaches and the media and so many others associated with male sports equate an athletes effectiveness and value to how tough and how macho and how courageous the athlete is. We hero worship and connect certain traits to what a hero athlete is supposed to be and in such a way that it results in a culture in male sports that is not willing and/or able to support a gay athlete in the locker room.
    Not to mention athletes themselves not wanting to admit that a gay athlete might actually posses the same or more talent and abilities as they themself possess.


  7. Dan Terminello said

    I’m an expert at few things, but being gay is one of them! LOL I’m happy to report that things have improved much since the late 80’s.


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