Athletes on fields, courts, pitches, tracks, rings and rinks, are not equal. Some are faster. Others are stronger. A few are simply better than everyone else. This is how sports work. Without inequality, there is no competition.
But the second the whistle blows or the final buzzer sounds, the sport ends and the unequally gifted are no longer athletes. They’re people. Just like everyone else in the world, born with certain unalienable rights including life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as well as certain fundamental rights including the right to privacy, the right to procreate and the right to marriage.
It’s this last right, the one to marry, that’s found its way to the top of our minds again with battle over California’s Proposition 8 finally making it to our nation’s Supreme Court.
In 2008, I honestly didn’t give Proposition 8 the attention it deserved. I immediately dismissed Prop 8, assuming it had the same chance of winning as one of those poor souls Don King paraded in front of Mike Tyson in the 80s that would be obliterated before you had a chance to grab some popcorn. It had everything stacked against it:
- Common sense
- The Constitution
- The separation of church and state
- The state, California, stereotyped as too liberal and accepting of others
Unfortunately, I forgot that I lived in the bubble within a bubble known as San Francisco and a vast majority of California (at least geographically) didn’t care about any of those things. Prop 8 did the unthinkable and unreasonable and won. It wasn’t a Don King lackey at all. It was Buster Douglas in Tokyo.
And yet, even in victory, Proposition 8 didn’t make sense.
Shortly after Prop 8’s passing, the Cornell educated Keith Olbermann, who became famous on ESPN’s SportsCenter and Fox Sports, delivered a special comment on MSNBC’s Countdown that summed it up perfectly.
What is it to you?
It’s an important question for all of us to consider.
The ability to grant the right for any human being to marry another human being of their choice is in the Supreme Court’s hands now. And while the highest and fairest court in the world overturning an unethical constitutional amendment that takes a fundamental right away from a certain group of people seems like a forgone conclusion, the unthinkable has happened before. We need to get this one right. Even if it’s on a personal level.
So the next time you’re at a stadium or sports bar, take a good look at the players and the people around you. Not at the city on their jerseys, the logos on their hats or the color of their skin. Look at their faces. Look into their eyes. See them for what they are at their core. Human beings.
The people around you come from all walks of life. The odds are, a good amount of them are even homosexual. But despite petty differences, you all found yourselves in the same place, at the same moment, to share a common love of sport. Shouldn’t all these human beings also have the right to express and share love through legal marriage? Even after the right to marry is granted to every one of us, these two questions will remain important when we consider how we treat and respect others:
What is equality to you?
What is love to you?