Here we go again.
The NBA has fined Chicago Bulls center, Joakim Noah, $50,000 for yelling a homosexual slur at a fan during Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Final on Sunday. He was shown on live TV screaming, “Fuck you, faggot!”
As you may recall, Kobe Bryant was fined $100,000 for saying the same thing to a referee last month. The NBA has stated that Bryant’s fine was more because he directed his comments towards a game official. I don’t really see the difference but it’s not for me to second guess the inner workings of the NBA.
Noah should know better than to say something like that, given what happened to Kobe Bryant and the way the NBA is trying to smooth over the league’s image with the gay and lesbian community. They have just released an anti-homophobia commercial with current NBA players in an attempt to show that they are sympathetic to the struggles of the gay community.
Beyond Noah’s supremely bad judgment, what disturbed me most about this story was the reaction of so many fans. They seem to not find anything wrong with his actions. Many fans couldn’t understand what all the fuss was about.
A quick scan of the Twitterverse brought up some pretty shocking results. Many were blaming TNT for having their cameras on Noah in the first place. Like it’s okay to say it as long as you don’t get caught.
Some were saying that using that word is “part of the game.” I know that sports can get very emotional, but there is no room for any kind of slurs. Trash talking is fine but there has to be a limit. It wouldn’t be okay for a white player to go around calling a black player a “nigger.” And it’s not okay to call someone a faggot.
Some were even blaming homosexuals for being too sensitive and we should all just forget about this. After all, they reasoned, we’re “only” talking about gay people, so what’s the big deal? This mindset that somehow homosexuals are not worth caring about or not really “people” has got to stop. Not only is there no room for it in sports, but there really isn’t any room for it in society.
When I wrote about Kobe Bryant’s fine last month I figured that would probably be the last I would write on the subject. I figured everyone would understand that the NBA was serious about this type of language and would act accordingly. I figured that would have been a “teachable moment.” But I guess I was wrong.
Right now the NBA has a full-scale PR nightmare on their hands. And a large part of America has an issue with tolerance. I certainly hope both groups can get it together and do the right thing.