With an openly gay athlete, Jason Collins, playing in the NBA and Michael Sam likely to make the 2014 roster of an NFL team, the realm of sports -- mirroring the country as a whole, with 59 percent of those polled by the Washington Post and ABC News saying they support equal marriage -- has become far more welcoming of diversity in a relatively short period of time. Many of us -- gay and straight -- anticipate the day when an athlete’s, an actor’s, or anyone’s sexual orientation is not even a footnote let alone a headline.
But we’re not there yet, so it was hardly surprising that the discussion between the program host and Brandt Snedeker, on Monday night’s season premiere of Golf Channels "Feherty," turned to gay players on the PGA Tour -- or more precisely, to David Feherty’s droll remark that, given the silence on the subject on tour, "apparently we have no gay golfers."
The 2012 FedExCup winner begged to differ and brushed off any suggestion that a colleague’s sexuality would have any impact on him at all.
"I don't believe that at all," said Snedeker. "I don't think a gay golfer is going to be that big of a deal. It's not going to affect my life in any way, shape or form. Actually, if there is one, I would welcome him to come out if he felt comfortable doing it. I think it’s a personal decision they need to make on their own."
It is unclear how open the many tour players who have come out as openly Christian would be should a playing partner state his orientation, though Bubba Watson gave an inkling of such views a year ago when he tweeted support for ESPN analyst Chris Broussard’s homophobia. Watson, a vociferous evangelist for his religion aligned himself with Broussard’s ignorant and odious comments when he said, after Collins made his orientation public, that homosexuality was "a sin and a rebellion against God."
Not even a year later, such drivel from Broussard and Watson would garner almost universal condemnation, given the overwhelming public support Collins and Sam have received from the sports world and beyond, and the way golf nation hooted Steve Elkington off Twitter after the idiocy he posted about Sam. Elkington, thankfully for the rest of us, has not tweeted since.
Snedeker, for sure, would stand up for equal treatment.
"The courage this young man [Sam] showed to come out," he said, "is encouraging for everybody out there to take a stand for something they believe in strongly.
"The fact that the tour doesn't have an openly gay player -- I don't know if there is or isn't, but odds are there probably is a gay person somewhere on the PGA Tour," Snedeker added, "and I welcome that day."
To be clear, Feherty, was in complete agreement with Sneds about the likelihood that gay golfers currently played on tour and in his support for anyone with the courage to come out.
"I come from Northern Ireland, a place where hatred is commonplace," David Feherty noted. "I think if two people love each other, the least other people should do is leave them alone."
Feherty also issued a challenge, perhaps to Watson, et al, to step up to the tee.
"It gives other people an opportunity to show their character so you see who they really are," Feherty said. "Oh, get over it."
"Feherty" airs Monday night at 10 p.m. ET on Golf Channel.