Cyd Zeigler Of OutSports.com Thinks Kobe Got Off Easy And Knows For A Fact There’s A Guy Guy Playing In The NBA

April 15, 2011 – 11:00 am by Michael Bean

On Thursday, we featured Kobe Bryant’s fledgling attempt at an apology for barking out an anti-gay slur at NBA referee Bennie Adams during the Los Angeles Lakers’ Tuesday night win over San Antonio. Bryant was fined $100,000 for the incident but was not suspended by the NBA. On Thursday, Cyd Zeigler, the co-founder of OutSports.com, got his turn to weigh in on the subject. He was a good interview, explaining that he used to not care about words as much as he did actions, but that he finally reached a tipping point with Bryant’s homophobic remark.

Zeigler joined XX 1090 in San Diego to talk about whether or not he still thinks this issue is a big deal in the minds of most people, how he thinks Kobe is not at all remorseful for his actions, why he’s finally fed up with the homophobic name-calling, if he thinks this is a big deal because just it’s Kobe Bryant involved, how he thinks it’s a joke that Bryant wasn’t suspended, and how he knows for a fact that there is at least one gay player in the NBA.

If he thinks that this issue is still a big deal to most people:

“Well obviously people still care because two nights ago an NBA star used an anti-gay slur, and he’s paying the price for it in his image and out of his pocket — though you can hardly say that $100,000 from a guy that’s worth $150 million is much out of his pocket. But people obviously care. Sexual orientation is still an issue. A couple of years ago, people in this state voted against our right to legally marry, to legally be with the people we wanted to spend the rest of our life with. So clearly people care.”

Whether he thinks Kobe is truly remorseful and has learned something from this incident, or if he thinks he’s just covering his bases from a PR standpoint this last few days:

“Listen, first of all, he’s not going to write the check. And he’s appealing it! I don’t think he’s learned a thing. I think he’s saying the right things, he’s making the right phone calls, but like you said, he’s appealing the fine. If I did something that I was truly remorseful for, I would call a press conference and say I’m sorry. I would say exactly what I was going to do to repent for it, and I would not appeal the fine. The fact that he’s appealing the fine says ‘I disagree with this decision, it’s time to move on.’ The Human Rights Campaign claimed he showed remorse to them, but the Human Rights Campaign, they’re a tiny little organization in this country, so I want to see him say it, and I want to see what he’s going to do to make up for this.”

Why are folks in the gay community up in arms about words that are said, particularly by athletes:

“It’s a great question. I have been the guy for the last ten years running Out Sports, I have been the guy who’s always said ‘oh come on, he didn’t mean it.’, or ‘oh come on, this is a joke’, or ‘oh come on, this is not a big deal.’ I’ve always been that guy until Wednesday morning when I woke up and it was, to me, the straw that broke the camel’s back, it was the moment where I’ve had enough. I’ve had enough of this word. Listen this word doesn’t hurt me. I’m a big boy; I’ve been out and gay for over 15 years, I have a loving partner; this word doesn’t hurt me. The people it hurts are the closeted guys in the NBA who hear this word and say this is why I can’t come out and live myself respectfully. It hurts the kids in high school who are hearing this word everyday on the football field and the basketball court. It doesn’t hurt me, it doesn’t hurt the Human Rights Campaign, it hurts the kids and the guys in the closet who have to date women in front of their friends, and sneak around with their boyfriends when they’re not looking. That’s who it hurts.”

If he thinks this is a big deal in the media and for outfits like Out Sports because it’s Kobe Bryant involved:

“Well I think it’s a big deal no matter who says it. Other people have said it — Larry Johnson in the NFL said it a few years ago and got caught. People have said this word and gotten caught and gotten in trouble. I think the reason you and I are talking about it  and the reason ESPN spent so much time talking about it yesterday is because it’s Kobe Bryant. And that’s what changes it. To me and to a lot of other gay people, it doesn’t matter who says it. If TNT and a lot of cameras catch you saying it and you’re playing for Charlotte or, I don’t know, Oklahoma City, then it’s the same thing. But the reason that we’re talking about it is because it is Kobe. And that’s why we’re talking about it.”

So does he agree that the punishment is tailored to who the responsible party is:

“Well that’s up to the NBA. To me, the punishment is….to me, the word is the same if the intent is the same, and the punishment should be the same. And frankly, I think Kobe got off easy.  I would have suspended him, because at some point you have to get serious about this. The NBA clearly is not serious about this. Everybody’s happy to issue a statement and slap him on the wrist. But that fine is equivalent to a $100 parking ticket to somebody making $40,000 a year. It’s barely a slap on the wrist, it’s more like a wagging of the finger. So clearly the NBA is not serious about this.”

But who really cares in today’s day and age what a jock basketball player says — aren’t we all over that kind of stuff these days?:

“Again, I’m with you. This is how I felt for years. But I’m telling you, I talk to closeted athletes all the time, and they talk about the atmosphere in sports. And that’s why they have to go and date cheerleaders instead of dating the person they want to date. I’m tired of opening up my email and computer and seeing another kid kill himself because he hears this word. I’m tired of it, it shouldn’t be happening anymore. If somebody called somebody else the N-word on an NBA court and cameras caught him, he would be suspended for multiple games.”

Whether he knows  for a fact that there’s a gay guy in the NBA:

“Yes.”

Do you know for a fact that there’s a gay guy in the NFL:

“No.”

Do you know for a fact that there’s a gay guy in hockey:

“Yes.”

Baseball?

“No.”

Soccer?

“I mean, it’s soccer. Come on.”

Listen here to Zeigler with Scott & BR on XX 1090 in San Diego

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