Gays and professional sports: Charles Barkley stands up for what’s right. Again.

A few days ago, Phoenix Suns president Rick Welts revealed that he is gay. And the whole sporting world exploded yawned.

Okay, that’s not precisely true. There has been a bit of comment and analysis. But so far, no controversy. No homophobic ranting, no athletes stepping up to say that Jesus doesn’t approve, none of that. This is a wonderful thing. That the public response so far has amount to a collective shoulder shrug is evidence that America is finally getting over the idea that sports just isn’t ready for gays in the locker room.

That’s what sports talker Jim Rome said back in 2007, when former NBA player John Amaechi came out, and at the time I sort of agreed with him. Subsequent dumbassery from Tim Hardaway and LeBron James lent credibility to Rome’s argument, although perhaps we were underestimating locker room culture because it is by no means clear that Hardaway and The Decision represented a majority viewpoint even at that time.

In any case, we may now be on the verge of a tipping point regarding gay athletes. As today’s Washington Post column from Mike Wise notes: “sports has undergone a very gay spring.”

First the Lakers’ Kobe Bryant was hit with a $100,000 fine for uttering a gay slur at a referee, an incident Bryant later called a “teaching moment” as he and the club partnered with a gay-rights group to educate others.

Then, there was the New York Rangers’ Sean Avery’s endorsement ad for the Human Rights Campaign’s “New Yorkers for Marriage Equality Campaign,” an instigator in the most testosterone-laden of sports, no less.

Over the weekend, Grant Hill and Jared Dudley, coincidentally two Phoenix Suns players, participated in an NBA public service announcement that denounced the use of the term “gay” as acceptable trash talk on the playground.

It was also revealed that former Villanova player Will Sheridan came out to teammates during his career with the Wildcats, with no ramifications whatsoever.

There’s more. Just announced yesterday: “The San Francisco Giants will become the first professional sports team to jump into the burgeoning anti-homophobia campaign with an upbeat ‘It Gets Better’ video designed to bring hope to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender young people.” And while Atlanta Braves pitching coach Roger McDowell unleashed a homophobic tirade against some Giants fans, which is bad, his actions earned him a two-week unpaid vacation to reflect on how he might be a better citizen in the future. That the institutions of the sports world are implementing zero-tolerance policies is a welcome development, to say the least.

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