Newly acquired Tigers outfielder Torii Hunter has never been one to shy away from an opinion, especially when it comes to expressing his Christian beliefs.
Over the weekend, Hunter was quoted by Kevin Baxter in a Los Angeles Times piece entitled “In pro sports, gay athletes still feel unwelcome” that having an openly gay teammate would be “difficult” and “uncomfortable” citing his Christian beliefs:
Spikes later said he was joking. But former Angels outfielder Torii Hunter, among baseball’s most thoughtful and intelligent players, isn’t kidding when he says an “out” teammate could divide a team.
“For me, as a Christian … I will be uncomfortable because in all my teachings and all my learning, biblically, it’s not right,” he says. “It will be difficult and uncomfortable.”
David Brown of Yahoo! Sports later credited Hunter for his honesty but ultimately believed that Hunter needed to come to terms with a few things:
One, after playing nearly 2,000 major league games, Hunter probably has had at least one gay teammate already. Two, when has the sexual orientation of any teammate (assuming they’ve all been straight) mattered in how many games a team has won? Did the Tigers get to the World Series in 2012 because Justin Verlander is in a relationship with Kate Upton? How would it matter if Verlander dated someone named Bob Upton?
Three, using Christianity to hide behind bigotry is totally unfair to Christians who don’t consider being gay “not right.” And even a literal, so-called “fundamental” reading of the Bible requires some interpretation. People believe what they want to believe. Saying you don’t like gays because you also say you’re Christian just isn’t good enough.
The topic of homosexuality and sports is without a doubt a very sensitive subject but something that certainly shouldn’t be pushed aside.
Could it be divisive for the team, especially in the locker room? It could given certain personal factors in the club house. Not to mention I’m sure there are still players out there who hold the same hostilities towards homosexuals as Tim Hardaway. But like anything else in sports, if that gay player can hit home runs and make great defensive plays like Brown mentions looking past the personal differences would probably more than likely happen.
h/t: Los Angeles Times, Yahoo! Sports