August 24, 2012; Detroit, MI, USA; Los Angeles Angels right fielder Torii Hunter (48) at bat against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Hunter's anti-gay statements could have deeper effect


Tigers outfielder Torii Hunter is a guy that has always seemed to enjoy playing the game. As we found out in Kevin Baxter’s Los Angeles Times report, that joy is contingent on their being no openly gay teammates in the clubhouse.

According to Baxter’s story, which sheds light on the issue of their being no openly gay athletes in the MLB, NBA, NFL or NHL, when he talked to Hunter about his feelings regarding the possibility of having an “out” teammate, he churned out the following statement:

“For me, as a Christian … I will be uncomfortable because in all my teachings and all my learning, biblically, it’s not right. It will be difficult and uncomfortable.”

While Hunter’s astonishing selfishness and inability to look beyond a teammate’s sexual orientation should be a personal issue for him to deal with, the fact of the matter is that the issue becomes much larger when he says things publicly that could discourage his teammates from being who they are.

As Baxter points out in his article, about 4,000 athletes spent time on the rosters of the four major sports in 2012, so the chances are, in his 16 seasons in the Majors, Hunter has unknowingly spent time with a “closeted” gay or bisexual teammate.

It is easy to understand why those teammates did not come out publicly to their organization. It’s because of players like Hunter. Players like Hunter and Tampa Bay shortstop Yunel Escobar, who was suspended for three games while with Toronto last season for wearing eye black displaying a homophobic slur in Spanish, make it hard for players to come out because they fear being being treated differently.

Like a lot of homophobic people, Hunter blames his intolerance on his religion, which is even more shameful. Your religious choice does not come with a get-away-with-being-homophobic-free card.

While some MLB teams like the Dodgers, Giants, Phillies, Red Sox, Orioles, Mariners, Cubs and Rays have been busy progressing beyond discrimination by making videos for the “It Gets Better” campaign — a program that creates support for LGBT youth suffering from bullying — players like Hunter and Escobar are taking the sport backwards.

Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports

Even Rangers pitcher Derek Holland landed in hot water last season when a homophobic slur was sent out from his Twitter account in response to someone calling him a “pathetic excuse” for a pitcher. Holland denied that he sent out the tweet, claiming that he was on the mound or in the dugout at the time. He blamed the act on a hacker.

Last season the Rangers also created two public service announcement anti-bullying videos, and though it did not address LGBT students specifically, it was a genuine video from the club and is being shown in schools in the DFW area.

Outfielder David Murphy and shortstop Elvis Andrus star in the videos. Murphy’s is in English and Andrus’ is in Spanish.

Like Hunter, Murphy is a well-known Christian in the sport, but Murphy focuses on stopping bullying, rather than becoming a bully himself.

Due to his statements, that’s exactly what Hunter has become. He has discouraged his teammates from being themselves by telling them that it would make him feel weird.

If Hunter wants to remain a fan favorite, he should think about how his actions affect other people, apologize and retract his statements.

Until he does, someone needs to ask him if his uniform is 100 percent cotton.

 

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Tags: Derek Holland LGBT Rangers Torii Hunter

  • Eric Reining

    I agree. Religion is generally the basis for these types of statements, but it doesn’t make it any less ridiculous. It’s 2013. Sports needs to rid itself of this neanderthal mentality.

  • Mark Whitmore

    What always amazes me is how quickly those with differing viewpoints
    would categorize others as being close-minded. Mr. Owens, I realize
    it’s the popular thing today to liken gay rights as a modern-day civil
    rights movement, but many, perhaps even a majority, of people agree with
    Hunter.

    He didn’t state any dislike for professed homosexuals. He stated his discomfort with a lifestyle that is at odds with his personal convictions. I agree with Hunter, and I’m not a homophobe, a neanderthal, or close-minded,nor do I need a journalist student using his bully pulpit of a sports blog to promulgate an issue of morality, when the subject matter should be hot-stove league material.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/David-Robertson/100001585705679 David Robertson

      No, a majority of people do not agree with you or Torii. And at the end of the day, being anti-gay is a negative view, that is hurting people that don’t deserve it. And yes, saying homosexuality is wrong is stating you dislike it. And that makes you homophobic. Stop making excuses and own up to your bigotry.

      • Mark Whitmore

        We agree that saying homosexuality is wrong is the same as saying I dislike it. Call me a homophobe or a bigot. I couldn’t care less. The problem with your point of view is that it’s based on what you would like to be correct and acceptable, and morality doesn’t work that way. Wrong is still wrong, regardless of how many deluded individuals like yourself want to rattle their sabres proclaiming otherwise.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/David-Robertson/100001585705679 David Robertson

          Morality is a catch-word that is subjective. Homosexuality isn’t wrong and homosexuality isn’t a negative. Being anti-gay is a negative. Being pro-gay isn’t inherently negative. There is a reason one is inherently connected to negativity and the other isn’t. You choose to be a negative person, fine, but the majority of us do not want such negativity in our lives nor the lives of others.

        • Eric Reining

          Mr. Owens, I realize it’s the popular thing today to liken gay rights as a modern-day civil rights movement, but many, perhaps even a majority, of people agree with Hunter.

          I agree with Hunter, and I’m not a homophobe, a neanderthal, or close-minded [...]

          We agree that saying homosexuality is wrong is the same as saying I dislike it. Call me a homophobe or a bigot. I couldn’t care less.

          Mmkay, these are three statements, two of which contradict each other.

          I’ll first say (a) that I don’t think Tyler was writing this as part of his “bully pulpit”; to be clear, I think those who share your viewpoint represent the bully on this issue. It’s people like you who make it seem like there’s something inherently wrong with being gay, and that’s a problem.

          (b) You go from saying you’re not a homophobe to then saying you couldn’t care less if that’s what you’re being classified as. Contradiction. If you didn’t have a problem with gay people, you wouldn’t have taken the time to share your diatribe. Tyler didn’t write this to antagonize anyone’s belief systems.

          And lastly, as I mentioned in my first comment: It’s 2013. It’s a bit ignorant to assume a “majority” of people share in a position of hate against people who don’t have any kind of deleterious agenda.

          I know there’s some book that was written ca. 2000 years ago that says what’s right and what’s wrong, but we’re now living in the age of wisdom, and we should move forward amicably.

          • Tom Jones

            Of course Tyler was just being a politically correct little journalism puke. He knows he pads his own position by taking this holier than thou approach to Hunter’s comments.

            Hunter’s comments, although hiding behind his Christianity was pretty shallow and lame, were no inciting “hate”. You, Eric, throw that label out like you are God-Almighty in your defense of Tyler.

            No, Tyler was way over the top in trying to make a mountain out of a mole hill. Hunter was being honest, and is getting slammed, so what you and Tyler are saying is that freedom of thought and speech is not a good thing if it doesn’t fit your PC agenda, which makes you both little Nazi pukes.

            What if I said that being on a team with a born-again Christian who was always shoving his faith in people’s faces and embarrassing his non-Christian teammates by giving God the credit for a victory in post-game interviews really makes me uncomfortable and I wish I didn’t have to have that in the locker room? Am I guilty of Christian hate-speech? Of course not, but that’s about how lame you and Tyler were in your over-the-top reaction to Torii’s honesty.

            I’m for free thought and free speech, and you little Nazi pukes aren’t. I can live with that.

          • Eric Reining

            I agree that this is a mountain out of a molehill situation. But my main motive in responding on this topic has much less to do with defending Tyler than with the ignorance that can be spewed when people are allowed free reign on Internet sites, strapped with a keyboard in front of them.

            I am not against the idea of Hunter speaking his mind; I’m against what he said. There’s a colossal disparity between the two concepts.

            Again, this isn’t a huge deal, but any time a player — even if he thinks so in private — comes out and dishes out anti-Semitic remarks (Delmon Young) or anti-gay remarks (Torii Hunter) or racist remarks (John Rocker), it shows who they really are as people. And it’s not good.

            As for your last point, I’m not sure if you were directly referencing Josh Hamilton or if it was just a general statement, but yeah, I hate that shit. I’m not a big “god” person anyway, but it’s certainly not something I ever need to hear during or after a baseball game. I’m more concerned with hearing what pitch the player hit for the game-winning home run.

            As far as your little “Nazi pukes” motif, it’s pathetic. Cool your jets. I’m not big on the whole name-calling thing, because, well, I’m not in 6th grade anymore. You are also better than that nonsense.

            If you’d like to read about some baseball and share some other thoughts, check out some of my articles and maybe we could illuminate each other a bit.

          • Tom Jones

            Okay. Reasonable response. I apologize for the Nazi pukes reference. I’m not generally a name-caller, but I do think “thought-control” through punishing, or bashing, those who happen to have politically incorrect (according to the mainstream media) views is a problem in this culture. Therefore, you see a lot of media types sounding like they are totally shocked when somebody says something even remotely non-PC these days. You just get the feeling that they know that they better publicly denounce all non-PC speech or conduct or they might go the way of Jimmy the Greek. So, you have a bunch of “holier than thou” media types who want to make sure they go on record as denouncing the sin of the day, and the sinner, and make sure you know where they personally stand on the issue. Do we care? No, but their bosses might.

            For that reason, and probably because Tyler is young and I was thinking, “Wow, this little snotty-nosed kid thinks he has it all figured out!”, I came down pretty hard on him. I just get tired of what I still consider “over-the-top” reactions to things like Hunter’s comments, which was far from hate speech and was pretty innocuous really, IMO. I think you calling Hunter anti-gay is even questionable. Are you saying that a guy shouldn’t feel uncomfortable if he knows he is showering with a guy that might be checking out his ass? Why is that anti-gay rather than just a normal reaction from a heterosexual male? Torii was very, very careful not to sound angry at gays and not to sound inflammatory while still being honest. I think being honest is probably where he went wrong.

            No, I wasn’t talking about Hamilton in particular, but we do agree on how irritating it is to hear someone interviewed who just can’t seem to miss the opportunity to give their Christian witness. While they are praising Jesus for their success, what do they say to their Christian brothers on the other team who just got the crap beat out of them? Just once I would like to hear one of those guys respond after a loss with something like, “Well, I need to go to my prayer closet because I think Jesus must have been really pissed-off at me today!” Do these guys really think God chooses sides in sporting events? A lot of that on the PGA tour now, too, regrettably.

            I’m cooling my jets, now. Peace out. Go Rangers.

  • Brad Waters

    This is crazy. I feel that I have been discriminated against by reading this. I am a Christian and it is my belief, based on the scriptures in the Bible, that homosexuality is wrong. Why are Christians being persecuted for voicing their belief on the issue? It is because the gay rights folks know the only way to push their agenda is to be loud and shout things like “hate” and “bigot”. Well I for one have heard enough of this crap. If you are gay, then be gay. If you aren’t and support their way of life, then support it. But stop calling Christians names when they voice their religions indifference with something. It is not like Hunter called them an offensive name. If you are going to preach on tolerance, then be tolerant that not everyone will agree with you.