Ex-MLB pitcher Mark Knudson: Athletes knowing their gay teammates are attracted to them would create awkwardness

Mark-Knudson-BrewersFormer MLB relief pitcher Mark Knudson has an interesting take on the debate surrounding gay athletes in professional sports. In a column he wrote for Mile High Sports, Knudson attempted to put some of his puzzling thoughts into words. He came off as incredibly ignorant.

Knudson argues that gay athletes should remain in the closet for the sake of team chemistry. He says that unlike a “normal workplace,” it is the job of a professional sports organization to maintain a level of “teamness.” In Knudson’s opinion, coming out as gay — which he described as an individual having their own personal agenda — would compromise what the team is trying to accomplish. I’ll let him take it from here:

Just as absurd as comparing workplace environments is the ridiculous claim by some in the gay community that there wouldn’t be any sort of physical attraction for a gay athlete toward any of his straight teammates – which would cause those very uncomfortable situations. He’s gay; he’s not dead. He can’t just flip a switch and turn off his feelings when he walks into the locker room.

Of course he’s going to have feelings of attraction toward a teammate or two. It’s human nature. These are some of the most physically fit and desirable human beings on the planet. The gay athlete isn’t going to notice that? And obviously, the straight teammates are going to feel the same sort of vibe that the attractive girl on the co-ed softball team gets from a few of the men on her team. Attractive people know when they’re being “checked out” and it leads to those very awkward moments. It’s human nature for people to be attracted to other people and it’s not going to stop happening because the workplace environment is a locker room rather than a typical office setting.

If you thought this former Bears quarterback’s take on gay athletes bordered on ridiculous, you should really get a charge out of Knudson’s stream of thoughts. The former Brewers pitcher insists that he feels there is absolutely nothing wrong with a gay athlete playing professional sports, but he used a regrettable analogy in an attempt to make his point.

‘“Every other work place environment has long ago accepted the idea of having openly gay co-workers. What’s wrong with pro athletes?’ The answer is nothing. There’s nothing wrong with pro athletes that isn’t wrong with the attractive woman in the office who is uncomfortable with being gawked at.

Those of you who think like me may have instantly thought of the scene in “American Wedding” where Stiffler is offended that a gay man says he would not sleep with him because “everyone wants a piece of the Stiffmeister.” The difference there is “American Wedding” is a movie, and the dialogue was supposed to be a joke. The fact this is Knudson’s actual take on the matter is disturbing.

H/T Game On!

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  • Jason Chenard

    “Any individual with an agenda that’s even slightly different from that of the team hurts that cause.”  It’s difficult to even know how to parse this.  ‘Agenda’?  Ultimately, the only item on a team’s agenda is to win the World Series, and the gay players want to achieve it as much as the straight ones.

    The “attractive woman” metaphor is puzzling.  Good looking people know they’re good looking.  A pretty woman who works with men is well aware that they notice her.  The issue arises when one of those men behaves in an uncivilized way, which these days doesn’t often happen given the possibility of a lawsuit.  The analogous situation in a locker room would be a gay player saying something inappropriate to a straight teammate, which is almost impossible to imagine happening at this stage.  Far more likely is that a gay player would have to endure homophobic comments from teammates and not complain because he preferred to internalize the abuse rather than being seen as detracting from, sure I’ll use the word: ‘teamness’.
    As to the (and I’ll paraphrase for brevity) “what if he looks at my a** in the shower” angle…  well, I just don’t get it, I guess.  More evolved men take it as a compliment to be considered attractive by anyone.  I have on at least one occasion seen a straight guy hit on by a gay guy, and politely react with  ‘flattered-but-not-interested’.   Seemed like a pretty civilized way for it to play out.Turning it around in an explanatory way (instead of Knudson’s  insulting  metaphor),  I would comment that I have never heard of a gay man  panicking if he thought that a straight woman found him attractive.   Nor have I ever heard of a lesbian being upset if a straight man showed interest, which again would presumably end in “thanks, but you’re not my type”, but would be considered a complement regardless.What am I missing here?

  • SherylSimpson

    wondering….what does homophobia do for “teamness”…?