Will The Recent Actions of Jordan and Swoopes Be Held Against Them?

By Gregory Moore
Updated: October 26, 2005

SAN ANTONIO, TX.– � It�s something that is an unwritten assumption in the world of sports. Lesbianism and women�s sports seem to go hand in hand. It is something that may not be talked about in open circles but the inferences are definitely there for the world to see. Yes America there are women who are gay who are athletes and Black America we have them amongst us as well. One of the now more prominent gay athletes has emerged from the shadows and her name is Sheryl Swoopes.

I have never been homophobic and so Swoopes� sexuality isn�t my concern. Without sounding like I am trying to �pimp� myself out there for marriage, I just believe in the sanctity of a male/female union as being the proper way to go through life. Yet that is my preference and my choice. At one time Swoopes wanted that as well but she has found love and companionship with someone of her own gender. You would think that this would not be a big deal but it is in the Black community. Whether Sheryl understands it or not, her decision does indeed affect a lot of people and she will be seen in a different light because we have always been a very traditional part of the American landscape. Yet this is a taboo subject that I know isn�t talked about in many households. I know that there will be people who will hold Swoopes� decision against her and look at her as a freak, not being Black or any other the thousands of negative thoughts that could be going through an individual�s mind.

What Swoopes has done was brave to say the least. She undoubtedly understands the ramifications of coming out of the closet will do to her and her 8-year-old son. In her personal life she has to deal with some very tough issues. On the court of public opinion, she will definitely face some tough challenges as she moves forward with this decision. The question to ask is will the Black community hold her choice against her?

I want to continue my line of thought and turn to Michael Jeffrey Jordan. No, Michael isn�t gay but he is also facing some serious questions in the Black community. Jordan recently appeared on 60 Minutes and on the Oprah Winfrey Show promoting his new book. In the 60 Minutes interview, Jordan told Ed Bradley a lot of things about why he is trying to take his life back from the public and why it has been a difficult time during his playing career to be �normal�. Yet just recently I did a radio show with a Black audience who thought that Jordan needed to be even more visible and many of the callers felt that Jordan was being a sell out to the white man, that he was turning his back on the Black community. So I ponder the same question about Sheryl�s sexual orientation on the same plane as Jordan�s success: Is his success being held against him by the Black community?

For the better part of an hour, I had heated debates with the show host and numerous callers who want to believe that Jordan has an obligation to help the Black community. I have got to go on record and say this for probably the umpteenth time in my writing career. No professional athlete owes his ethnic community a damn thing because that community says so. The perception that the Black community has about wanting to force these athletes to bow down and adhere to the mission impossible rules of Black existence is just mind boggling. Now don�t get me wrong in my assertion. We all have an obligation to help our community survive and that befalls on these individuals of athletic splendor. Yet that has nothing to do with the social ills that have plagued this community for eons.

What has boggled my mind is the fact that we have educated Black people who honestly believe that Jordan has no love for the African American community. What I have asked several individuals is to bring me proof of such actions. Talking as a caller on a radio show is one thing but when you have no viable proof of any accusation, you are no better than the little boy who cried wolf. As I had told this particular show host, none of us knows what Jordan has done with his money on a charitable level. For all any of us know, Michael could have very well given anonymous donations in the millions to various Black groups like the NAACP, the UNCF, the hurricane relief effort, etc. For all we know he might silently be behind various charities in Chicago and other areas. Did anyone want to hear those statements? No. Why did they not want to hear them? Because they want a �show me� style of acceptance.

So Jordan�s problem with the Black community is going to be the same that Sheryl will face in coming years. What it seems to me is that unless our professional athletes adhere EXACTLY to what the Black community wants, they will be shunned no matter what they may do for the common good. Whether Swoopes can deal with the prejudice of being gay is a question that only she and her family will be able to answer. Does Jordan have an obligation to be the next Jim Brown on the political arena? That�s his decision and not anyone else�s. Yet if it is one thing that I found out about my Black community this week it is the fact that we are more hypocritical of our own and would rather devour them rather than to understand them. That�s not just an assumption. It seems to be one of the few vices that African Americans have in the world and it really shows up when our sports heroes do not meet our expectations.