When I was growing up, my mother forced me to play sports. I played basketball for two seasons and soccer for one season. I was such an embarrassment! I still cringe. Once the soccer ball was coming at me in the air, and instead of head bumping it like I guess you’re supposed to, I lifted my arms and screamed. I swear to god! It hit my arms like a volleyball. Everyone laughed. Even the parents on the sidelines! Okay, especially the parents on the sidelines.
I always was more into Luke Perry than community sports . . .
That was the only time I ever spent around boys, because all my friends growing up were girls. Some of the players teased me, sometimes because I was gay but mostly because I just sucked so bad. But I have to say, most of them were decent and accepting, even if I thought dribbling had something to do with your spit.
What my time with straight boys between the ages of 10 and 12 taught me is that they have sport heroes. I’m sure many of them consider Kobe Bryant to be one of their heroes. So when he got caught on camera calling a referee a “fucking faggot” during a game last April (and got fined $100,000 for it) he did a disservice to his young fans by empowering their use of anti-gay speech as a means to hurt people. Which, in case the world hasn’t noticed, young people are kinda prone to do.
It’s good to see that Kobe has finally realized how far his influence reaches, because after he saw a Twitter follower tweet, “you’re gay” to a male fan who couldn’t resist sending Kobe a complimentary tweet, the Lakers star shot back, “Just letting you know@PacSmoove @pookeo9 that using ‘your gay’ as a way to put someone down ain’t ok! #notcool delete that out ur vocab."
Not cool. With a hashtag in front of it, no less! He’s speaking to this generation of young fans in the clearest way they’ll understand. And if Kobe doesn’t think it’s cool, maybe they won’t either.
When another tweeter reminded Kobe of his own anti-gay outburst, Kobe tweeted back, “exactly! That wasn’t cool and was ignorant on my part. I own it and learn from it and expect the same from others.”