JEFF PEARLMAN

Coming October 2022: "The Last Folk Hero: The Life and Myth of Bo Jackson"

Homo

An amazing thing happened after Game 6 of the NBA Finals.

Actually, after after Game 6 of the NBA Finals.

After the Pacers beat the Heat.

After Pacers center Roy Hibbert used the term “homo.”

What happened? Everything.

The league fined Hibbert. Hibbert issued an apology, and reached out to Jason Collins, the NBA peer who recently came out. The reaction was—universally—negative, and Hibbert felt it 1,000 times over.

Amazing.

Sports have long been a place where derogatory gay comments weren’t merely accepted, but embraced. Faggot, homo, queer—all terms used repeatedly to describe opponents who sucked; who were weak; who had no game. The language was, simply, part of the landscape, and nobody much cared.

No longer. Now, calling someone (or something) a “homo” or “fag” carried nearly the same weight as calling someone a “n—er.” It’s not quite there yet, but it’s getting closer. Which, really, is amazing, considering how common homophobic language was across the spectrum.

I dig it.