Here we go again. This time it's Chicago Bulls player Joakim Noah, who yelled an anti-gay slur at a fan who was "taunting" him.
He was fined $50,000. But where is that money going? To shelters for homeless youth, many of whom are queer, and do not feel safe in their own homes? To employment programs for transgender folks, who are the most severly underemployed group in the nation? To support high school gay-straight alliances? The players who behave like this and the organization that supports them acts as though "heat of the moment" is an acceptable justification, are not recognizing that when famous athletes say something, anything, it is taken seriously, it is internalized and it is repeated by fans. And those seeds of negativity towards a group of people come out amplified. If my favorite player Joakim Noah thinks calling someone a "f*g" is the worse insult he can use, then people who are queer must be bad, people it's okay to ridicule.
Ironically, on the same night the slur was uttered, the NBA aired a public service announcement twice, saying that negative uses of the word "gay" are problematic. Well good. But when is the NBA going to say, this is not just a problem, it is unacceptable, and start suspending players that engage in hateful rhetoric?
And when are players going to honor the "professional" part of professional athlete and start acting like it?