Recently the NBA, in partnering with GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network), debuted its newest public service announcement, this time dealing with the use of anti-gay slurs. The PSA, featuring Grant Hill and Jared Dudley of the Phoenix Suns, urges viewers to "Think B4 You Speak" and features a group of young men and women giving the vocal buzzer to a trash-talking ballplayer who utters the phrase, "I can do this all day. Your moves are just gay."
As you're likely aware, Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah was fined yesterday by the NBA for uttering an anti-gay slur toward a heckling fan in Miami. Noah was fined $50,000 for the incident, which had such great timing it seems as if it were staged.
Noah's behavior should, in fact, warrant a fine by the NBA. Professional athletes should be able to control their emotions regardless of the situation or environment they may be in. After all, I'm sure Jackie Robinson heard far worse in his day than any modern athlete ever has.
Noah apologized accordingly, accepted full responsibility and paid his fine. End of story. Let's all move on.
The question I have for the NBA is: Why anti-gay slurs?
Sure, the world would be a much better place if everyone would stop making fun of others. After all, name-calling has been around since the beginning of time. I'd be willing to bet all 50 of David Stern's new $1,000 bills that every human, at some point in his or her life, has been called a name, made fun of or been the butt of someone else's joke.
Surely the old "sticks and stones" saying is still around.
The NBA's decision to take a stance against anti-gay language seems like a bit of a stretch from some of the earlier campaigns the NBA formed. Historically, the NBA has taken stances on everything from drugs to social intolerance and can be credited for having a positive impact on some truly great social issues.
Most everyone probably remembers the NBA's massive campaign encouraging kids to stay in school via the "NBA Stay In School Jam," a great cause receiving a great message from the NBA. Unfortunately, the NBA's decision to tackle the supposed widespread issue of hurting other's feelings seems rather ridiculous.
Don't get me wrong, as I'm sure many will. I am not condoning the defamation of any sort of race, religion, ethnicity, sexual preference or any other type of self-defining quality any human being may have. I simply feel the NBA is expending a great amount of resource on an issue they really have no business being involved in.
Treating others with respect isn't a value the NBA should be focused on. It's a simple value that children should learn from their parents. The NBA telling kids to stop saying that something is "gay" is about as meaningful as the NBA telling kids to wash behind their ears.
In a world that is riddled with social issues of epic proportion, the NBA could have chosen to tackle something far more serious. As time goes by, it seems as if the youth of America have suffered a degeneration of sorts. Drugs, sex, violence, education, literacy all continue to be major issues among the youth of America.
The NBA, with its massive following, should focus on issues that could truly use the impact of such a large organization.
Take a look at this (warning, explicit). This was one of the highest trending topics on Twitter yesterday—a group of people photographing themselves with a dead baby. Should the NBA start holding an annual "NBA Don't Take Photographs With Dead Children Jam"?
Or maybe this issue (warning, explicit). Maybe the NBA should start a campaign called "Think B4 You Whack It On A Plane."
Of course it would be ridiculous for the NBA to expend any of it's energy on issues like these. Anti-gay slurs fall into the same category. The NBA should focus on issues like getting kids out of the house to exercise, keeping kids off drugs and encouraging kids to not be involved with guns. Issues like making fun of others should be tackled by parents, teachers and members of community.
As for Joakim Noah, maybe next time an unruly heckler gets under his skin he'll simply turn around and answer with age-old wisdom.
"Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me."