At least, that’s the idea of this hilarious Onion article. Who would have guessed that this very tall British homosexual had ever played in the NBA?
Seriously, this is a really interesting story, but the story here is not the one being told by ESPN; rather, it’s the one being told about ESPN.
If you’re not familiar with Amaechi’s story, here’s the condensed version: ESPN’s book publisher signed former NBA player John Amaechi to write a book about his experiences in the NBA as a gay player. The fact that he is gay was not public knowledge, so this book essentially involves him coming out publicly. That’s all well and good, except that ESPN has turned what is really a back-page non-event into a big feature news story.
Regardless of your views on homosexuality, it’s not news for anyone to come out in 2007, NBA player or not. Amaechi wasn’t even a good NBA player, so the storyline of the Onion article isn’t really that farfetched. I vaguely remember him as an end-of-the-bench big man who lasted a couple of years. I’m not even sure this would be an interesting story if the player coming out happened to be Karl Malone, Clyde Drexler, or any other star player, save maybe Michael Jordan.
This is simply a case of ESPN realizing that the period between the Super Bowl and March Madness is typically the slowest of the year in sports news, so this year they decided to make up their own news. They got to break a worthless “story,” prattle on about it on the air, ask every current and former NBA player about it, and finally catch someone who’s not as tolerant as others are. Then they get to start the cycle over again.
Hopefully ESPN will stop patting itself on the back in time for the end of the college basketball regular season and baseball’s spring training, which for me is one of the most exciting times of the year.