Thursday, May 6, 2010

The NFL Team Asks Draftee 'Gay or Straight?'

Geno Atkins Geno Atkins was asked during the NFL draft if he were straight or gay.

Via Outsports, the new defensive tackle for the Cincinnati Bengals, Geno Atkins, told reporters that the only "unusual" question he was asked during the draft was whether he was straight or gay. Atkins didn't disclose his answer, but it's a bit odd that the Bengals would even ask the question in the first place.

Outsports surmises that this questions was probably just a one-time thing and not standard procedure for the NFL, but the fact that the Bengals even thought to ask is indicative of how difficult for the NFL to accept non-straight players.

In fact, in a 2004 book by then-New York Times writer Mike Freeman, he interviews anonymously a closeted NFL player that goes by the pseudonym Steven Thompson. In an update last year, Freeman noted that homophobia, particularly in the African-American community, is still rampant in professional sports like the NFL.

The parallels between the military and the NFL seem obvious. Both are hyper-masculine institutions that often mistake sexual orientation with the ability to effectively master a physical job. It may be a long time before we see an openly gay NFL player, but I hope it's sooner than I think.

UPDATE: Thanks to commenters for pointing out that the Bengals couldn't have been the ones that asked the question because they didn't meet with him before drafting him. According to this NFL story, Atkins says he "couldn't recall which one."

Cross-posted.

5 comments:

Matthew said...

Geno Atkins was drafted by the Bengals, but interviewed my many teams. As far as I can tell, he says that was the weirdest question he was asked...but he doesn't say who asked it. It probably wasn't the Bengals, since he would be less likely to reveal something embarrassing by the team that actually selected him.

brandon said...

if you actually look at interviews that atkins gave after he was selected, he said he hadn't even spoken with the bengals before he was drafted. get your facts straight.

Kay Steiger said...

Hi Brandon, regardless of when he was asked the question, he was still asked. It's that he was asked at all I take issue with. Such questions shouldn't be asked in employment situations, just as age, race, marital status, etc. are inappropriate.

Matthew said...

Kay, given that the question was indeed in bad taste, and that is reflects poorly on who asked it...isn't it also important not to misrepresent who asked it?

brandon said...

I'm with matthew. I agree that it never should have been asked, as it has no effect on how well he'll play, which should be all that teams are interested in. I'm merely saying that misrepresenting the Bengals as the team who asked that question was irresponsible.

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