Editor’s note: The following article contains profanity.
Chances are, calling someone a “fucking faggot” is going to result in unhappy repercussions, and if you’re Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, you’re going to be fined $100,000 and have the news splashed all over the Web and tabloids.
The issue here is not that Bryant cursed — albeit the curse was a rather vulgar one — it’s that he should know better.
He’s been a player in the NBA for 14 years. He should be well-versed in what is and isn’t appropriate on the court and what behavior the NBA won’t tolerate. With the current political and social climate and with gay rights a hot-button issue Bryant should have known his words would cause a stir.
Of course, in the heat of the moment and being momentarily angry at being called for a technical foul by a referee, one might let an angry word or curse slip. It’s competitive sports, but Bryant is a professional athlete with hundreds of cameras and plenty of microphones within range. He should know better.
If the noun Bryant used would’ve been different, the backlash would have been on a much smaller scale. The word “faggot” has a long and painful perception as a blatant derogatory term used against homosexual men. It was probably not the best slur to use when the NBA is making attempts at promoting a gay-friendly image.
This controversy comes at a time when the NBA is trying to present a more LGBTQ-friendly front, according to a Thursday article from Yahoo! News. The NBA is teaming up with the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network to tape a public service announcement that will air during the NBA Finals.
Joe Solmonese, president of Human Rights Campaign, an LGBTQ civil rights organization, spoke with Bryant via telephone and said he applauded Bryant’s heartfelt and speedy apology, according to an article updated Thursday on ESPNLosAngeles.com,
“He told me that it’s never okay to degrade or tease and that he understands how his words could unfortunately give the wrong impression that this is appropriate conduct,” Solmonese said in a statement, according to the article.
Competitive sports and competitions in general are known to be grounds upon which vocal vulgarities slip. Emotions and athletic abilities are strained and stretched, and outbursts occur. But on a professional level and in an arena surrounded by media, one must be more in control of one’s emotions and be aware of what comes out of one’s mouth.
Though Bryant’s words weren’t meant as they were said, they were still “nonetheless wrong,” Bryant said in the article.
We don’t want people, especially youngsters with big hoop dreams, to think hurtful, homophobic and derogatory language is acceptable because Bryant used such language. It’s not acceptable.
Andrea Bolt is a senior news-editorial journalism major from The Woodlands.