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The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Exploiting Sexual Preferences Network?or ESPN, for short

By Tony Pizza

Unless you spent last week trapped in a well, or you avoid sports like a vegan steers clear of a Black Angus Steakhouse, you probably have heard that former NBA player John Amaechi announced to the world that he is gay. According to many former teammates, that news really wasn’t news at all since many of them had a pretty good idea of that fact already. Yet ESPN made Amaechi’s “coming out of the closet” one of its top news stories for two days.

Before ESPN began plastering this story all over its Web site for nearly a week and counting, Amaechi was a forgotten soul — and rightfully so. The guy averaged a trifiling 6.2 points, 2.6 rebounds and 0.32 blocks per game before exiting basketball three years ago — not exactly the Round Mound of Rebound, right? Even for a diehard Jazz fan like myself, the name “John Amaechi” didn’t exactly ring a bell until someone mentioned that he actually played in Utah for two seasons.

For me, hearing about the first NBA player to admit he is gay was as riveting as reading that Michael Jordan was getting divorced from his long-time wife Juanita Jordan, or hearing that John Daly has a gambling problem and that Shaq’s shoe size is 22. In fact, if Karl Malone were having a press conference tomorrow to reveal what he mumbled during his free throws, that would be a bigger deal than if Amaechi revealed that he and Isiah Thomas shared a french kiss after a basketball game.

It’s just not that shocking to hear that a professional athlete admitted he or she is gay.

At first, I didn’t understand why ESPN would even post a story like on the front page of its site and think that the majority of sports fans would even care. Then I found out one vital piece of information that made everything fit together better than O.J.’s bloody glove at a murder scene.

John Amaechi’s new tell-all book (which I refuse to plug for reasons to be explained) is being published by ESPN books. If you’re like me, you’ll need a moment for that to sink in.

ESPN has a vested interest in getting as many people to buy this book as possible. So what does the most influential source for sports in the free world do? It gives the book it’s publishing as much free publicity as possible.

ESPN puts this story on the Internet, and then puts neon lights around it by obligating every one of its analysts, radio personalities and “SportsCenter” anchors to shove the gay NBA player story down our throats until every single media outlet in the country has to report on the story out of fear of being left out of the loop.

Like all gay people who reveal their sexual orientation for the first time, Amaechi took a risk in taking his story public. Luckily for him, he picked the right people to publish his book — because just in case he didn’t make enough money while playing in the NBA, the worldwide leader in sports just made sure he can retire comfortably at the ripe old age of 36.

For anyone in the gay community that is wishing that he or she could have been set up financially for life by coming out of the closet, or for anyone who looks at Amaechi as a hero, it’s about time to change your thinking.

In the end, Amaechi and ESPN didn’t publish a book to shed some new light on the subject of being gay, nor are they making life any easier for future gay athletes. Amaechi helped ESPN exploit the gay community and the hot topic of homosexuality, just so they could make some money off something as unimportant as sexual orientation. And people wonder why this country seems to have such a hard time getting over stereotypes.

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