Gay athletes in an unknown league

The country appears to be divided on whether or not people should utter the words "gay" and "sports" in the same sentence.

Because of the taboo nature of the subject, it is difficult to fully determine the extent of homosexuality within the sports world.

Bill Konigsberg, a writer for ESPN who is openly gay, published an article in which he claimed it was very difficult for a gay athlete to come out of the closet.

"So why are we still here at step one, with nary a gay male athlete to look up to? I can answer that one: It's scary. It's scary to step out on a ledge where no one has been before."

And he has a point; it is incredibly difficult just to admit one's homosexuality in the community, let alone while the media's spotlight is fixated directly on one's personal decisions.

How many of us would have ever expected four-time Gold Medalist Greg Louganis to come out in 1994? Who could have expected David Slattery, former General Manager of the Washington Redskins in the 1970's, to admit he's gay in 1993?

For these athletes, coming out can be one of the difficult decisions to make because of the possible effect it has on family, friends and fans.

If an NBA superstar came out, how would that affect his fan base? Although many wouldn't mind because of his on-court performances, there might be an altered attitude towards him for the rest of his career.

Basketball is a contact sport; and it's that form of interaction that could be driving the majority of casual fans away from idea of homosexuality in athletics. Sports Illustrated reported that 65 percent of Americans felt more accepting of gay athletes competing in non-contact sports such as golf or tennis and less accepting of gay athletes that compete in contact sports.

In a Sports Illustrated survey of 979 random individuals this year, 62 percent of Americans believed that there is little coverage of gays in sports because America itself is not ready for that type of social buzz.

America is incredibly divided on the issue.

Forty-four percent of Americans believe it is a sin to engage in homosexual behavior, whereas 46 percent believe otherwise.

America calls itself a free country with liberty for all, but by creating an environment that admonishes people for coming out, America has stripped people of the right to lead normal lives and subsequently earn money in a career field such as sports.

"I'm an honest man. I do not lie about it, yet ironically by not saying anything I sometimes feel dishonest," said Konigsberg. "Basically, my choice is either to correct people, or simply say nothing. I've done the latter. Until now."

Not everybody has the courage to admit who he or she is to the world without fear of retribution or alienation, and those who aren't comfortable coming out should not be faulted.

The blame should be placed on America for creating an environment of homophobia. America speaks out against the abuse of human rights, but often keeps quiet on crimes committed against the homosexual community, forcing them to live a lie.

Sports athletes should have no fear, just as Konigsberg had no fear when he declared that he was gay.

America: Go into the locker room and talk it over, shake it off and move on. Fans need to see progress and a successful game plan is currently being shut out.