Following the Indiana Pacers’ Game 6 victory in the NBA Eastern Conference Finals on June 1, star center Roy Hibbert made comments that many people deemed offensive.

When asked about assisting teammate Paul George with guarding Miami Heat superstar LeBron James, according to Yahoo! Sports, Hibbert said, “I really felt that I let Paul down in terms of having his back when LeBron was scoring in the post or getting to the paint, because they stretched me out so much. No homo.”

“No homo” is a slang expression used prominently in mainstream rap music and by young American males as a way of distancing themselves from words or actions that could be viewed as homosexual.

After he released what appears to be a sincere apology, Hibbert was fined $75,000 and is receiving harsh criticism from members of the media, league officials and fans alike, according to Yahoo! Sports.

While I cannot begin to understand how hurtful homophobic slurs can be to members of the gay community, I believe categorizing Hibbert as a homophobic villain is overkill. The comments were certainly in poor taste and as someone in the spotlight, Hibbert should have known that joking about such a sensitive topic would not be warmly received.

But to me, Hibbert’s “no homo” statement was nothing more than an off-color joke and clearly does not reflect his genuine beliefs with regard to homosexual lifestyle. Sure, he should have to accept the consequences, but there is simply no reason to villainize someone for making an off-the-cuff joke after winning the biggest game of his life.

Comparatively, in an interview with shock jock Artie Lange prior to Super Bowl XLVII in January, San Francisco 49ers cornerback Chris Culliver made comments drastically more malicious than Hibbert’s. According to Yahoo! Sports, Culliver said, “...we don’t got no gay people on the team, they gotta get up out of here if they do. Can’t be with that sweet stuff. Nah…can’t be…in the locker room man. Nah.”

Despite what clearly reflects genuine personal anti-gay beliefs, Culliver’s homophobic comments did not result in a fine. However, he did receive similar criticism to Hibbert.

It is apparent that any time an athlete says something of poor taste, he is instantly classified as a homophobe, racist or whatever his comments may have implied.

Certainly there should be backlash in instances where an athlete makes hateful and intolerant comments against a minority group — such as with Culliver — but I believe there needs to be discretion shown before society jumps down the throat of an athlete for his comments. I sincerely doubt, based on his buffoonery, anyone truly believes Hibbert is a homophobe.

People give athletes too much credit. These guys are in the public eye for no reason other than superior physical talents. Calling their dumb jokes “homophobic,” for example, implies that they were using their stardom to subtly express personal beliefs, which I believe is highly unlikely.

Some may argue that because professional athletes are often viewed as role models, they should behave as such. Well, I believe that people who view athletes as heroes need to change their perspective. The same way politicians are not elected based on their vertical leap or jump-shot accuracy, athletes’ words should not be analyzed with a fine-toothed comb.

Athletes’ line of work has them practicing their craft in a schoolyard-like atmosphere every day. This environment is one where joking and ridicule is a fact of life, and things are acceptably said on the field, court or course that would be poorly received elsewhere.

Professional athletes are the last people we should be looking toward for professionalism. If you want someone to be mad at, blame the politicians who are unwilling to give homosexuals equal rights — not a guy getting paid to dunk a basketball who happened to make a bad joke.

Patrick Ryan is a UF English senior. His columns appear Thursdays.

(15) comments

scott

"I believe categorizing Hibbert as a homophobic villain is overkill. "
Cry me a river. So holding someone accountable is villifying them? Athletic leadership should be about taking responsibility not deflecting it.

"“No homo” is a slang expression used prominently in mainstream rap music "

So its common and that makes it ok? How many other words are used in Rap that would result in a fine?

"I sincerely doubt, based on his buffoonery, anyone truly believes Hibbert is a homophobe."

based on what?
so a straight male, that is apparently a fan of this player, doesn't feel threatened by him, and therefore his opinions are ok? gotcha.

" Well, I believe that people who view athletes as heroes need to change their perspective." .... Ok. This might qualify as dumbest comment of the year. Are you seriously suggesting we stop holding athletes to accountability standards because they are just "jocks". Are you implying that being nice to people and not using homophobic slurs requires intelligence rather than respect and manners? Or are you saying stupid people should be allowed to break the rules as long as they are entertaining us?


I hope you can tell what I think of your intelligence.

scott

Also, Chris Cullver's words did not include a gay slur, even though the content was itself questionable.

Also you say ""If you want someone to be mad at,"

This is perhaps the most offensive thing about this post.
This isn't an issue of politics. This is an issue about the offensive slur he used.

Your entire piece you try to deflect from this. You attempt in a variety of ways to make it seem like LBGT population has the problem.

His choice of words are what he is being held responsible for.

Nothing about your piece addresses that, and instead you try throughout to subtly shift the focus of the piece from him, onto the gay people that are just being so darn unreasonable.

This was a truly pathetic column.

I haven't been on UF's campus in a while, but I expected them to teach their students about how to form coherent arguments a little bit better than this drivel.

Lets Be Real

@scott

First and foremost let me begin by saying that I have nothing against homosexuals or any other minority group for that matter. I have friends and family in just about every race and/or sexuality you could think of and I love them all to death. With that said I wholeheartedly disagree with your attitude towards this article and the subject as a whole.

The phrase “no homo” is always given in a light-hearted manner and is used primarily as a joke. There is no malicious intent behind this phrase whatsoever, nor was there any when Roy Hibbert used it in his television interview. I can see how your ignorance in the matter may have led you to believe it had malicious intent but I can assure you that was not the case.

Now I can see you reading this and saying, "I clearly am not the only one that feels this way, do you even watch the news?" To which my response would be, "It's the media... their job is to find anything semi-controversial and blow it out of proportion." They are attempting to appeal to all of those ultra-sensitive liberals out there such as yourself, in order to make a good story and boost their ratings. The mere fact that they had segments on this issue on ESPN is outrageous and just plain pathetic to me.

Do you want to know why ACTUAL malicious slurs and comments still exist? Because people like you feed into them. The whole purpose behind people doing these things is to incite a reaction. And there will always be narrow-minded people out there that feed into this and give them exactly what they are looking for, rather than laughing in their face and proceeding with whatever you are doing.

The main idea is people just need to stop being so sensitive, which is what I believe this article is saying. Roy Hibbert’s comment was just taken way out of context. The fact of the matter is you don't just get offended, you CHOOSE to be offended. Turn the other cheek and I can assure you that you will be the one who gets the last laugh. After all protesters/people with malicious intent are the idiots who are standing on a street corner on a Saturday afternoon holding a sign hoping to piss people off.

P.S.

You lost all credibility in your argument by insinuating that Hibbert’s comment was more degrading than Culliver’s simply because it was classified as a “slur”. By the way I’d really like to know what defines a slur, because I have yet to find this magical list. Maybe tomorrow I’ll decide he word “white” is offensive and you can add that one to it.

scott

@author...
“no homo” is always given in a light-hearted manner and is used primarily as a joke"

Yes you idiot. We have determined YOU think its a funny joke.

Its not. Its a slur. If you can't get that through your head, then just get used to people calling you a bigot.

scott

So you would be comfortable calling Sen. Kelvin Atkinson a homo?

Do you think if you walked into the senator's office and called him a homo he would think it was "a funny joke".

If you really think its ok to call people that, then you have lost all credibility.

scott

If this had been the word "n------" it wouldn't have been a funny joke.

Its a slur. Apparently you are too immature to admit this.

scott


"You lost all credibility in your argument by insinuating that Hibbert’s comment was more degrading than Culliver’s simply because it was classified as a “slur”.

As if You had any to begin with.

Its a pathetic small man that cannot take responsibility for his actions.

Words like this affect communities and kids are bullied repeatedly being called "homos"...

Your words are sick. They contribute to sickness. You do you University a disservice.

Lets Be Real

Your ignorance is quite amusing to me, it is also amusing to watch you take my words and manipulate them into situations that benefit your argument when in all reality they share no relevance in the topic at hand.

NOBODY is being called a "homo" in any of this you feeble minded idiot, the sooner you can get my point through your thick skull (which will probably be never because you have nothing better to do with your life than continue an argument with an empty opinion supported by nothing but ad hominem attacks and irrelevant parallels) the sooner you will realize what is actually going on here. The name calling you refer to is predicated with malice which is entirely different from the issue at hand. If your reading comprehension skills were up to par you would've seen that, but you became flustered and allowed yourself to go off on a tangent that was completely different from the matter at hand. No one said bigotry was okay, those were your words my friend. Hopefully one day you will educate yourself and learn how to develop a logically sound argument.

JWE1340

No homo = that's what she said.

scott

" Hopefully one day you will educate yourself and learn how to develop a logically sound argument." I've had classes in logic in both math and philosophy departments.

Romulan

Liberal nutjobs don't have senses of humor. And they seem to suffer from this delusion of believing that gay people are a special breed whose feelings require special handling or - next thing you know - another 15-year-old gay boy will have hanged himself in his closet, and it will all be YOUR fault.

I don't find the comment any different from a double entendre that could be heterosexual in nature. For example... I see a girl dressed as a Hershey's kiss on Halloween. I say "You look good enough to eat. Oh! -- ha ha - not like that!" Get lives, people.

ohflattery

Between this piece and the one on banning blackface being sad I have never been more disappointed in the Alligator. Hibbert is being held accountable for his words, and I certainly hope that one day you are held accountable for yours.

fancy pants
fancy pants

@ohflattery

Why are you so devastatingly disappointed?

"Being held accountable" does not equate to being demonized excessively. Imagine that you were caught "cheating" on an online quiz by taking it in a group. You were then subsequently expelled from the university, and your story exploded all over the internet about how you have no ethics, no sound employer should ever hire you, etc., severely damaging your reputation. According to your logic, you were "being held accountable." However, do you think that situation took things too far, and would you feel victimized and treated unfairly harshly?

Both of the authors of these two articles expressed explicitly that they do not think the incidents were tactful/appropriate/acceptable. They are just arguing that the collective public response was too sensitive and harsh. If it disappoints you that anybody would have the nerve to say such a thing, you're going to have a very difficult time in the real world.

Romulan

I would agree that the 'humorous' statement was in bad taste and possible offensive to decent people, especially if their children might have heard it, and it reflects badly on the entire league. But was it 'HATEFUL' to gay people as some would like to believe? No, it was R-rated humor in what should probably be a G or PG venue. It was uncouth, vulgar, etc. but not hateful. It would just be laughed at if part of an HBO late-night comedy routine. A fine is probably appropriate for being publicly borderline-obscene.

DartsAndQuarrels

Pretty dishonest to portray the $75,000 fine as resulting entirely from Hibbert's use of the phrase "no homo" and not... you know... calling the media "Mother fuckers."

Oh well.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language. Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated. Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything. Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person. Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts. Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.