NBA’s anti-homophobia PSA is just damage control
Published: Wednesday, June 1, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, June 1, 2011 17:06
"I can do this all day. Your moves are just gay."
If you're a basketball fan, then you've probably seen this commercial. The 30-second public service announcement, sponsored by the NBA and the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network through the ‘Think B4 You Speak' campaign, features Phoenix Suns teammates Grant Hill and Jared Dudley speaking out against using gay slurs and is popping up during every NBA Playoffs game.
I counted. The PSA aired eight times during Game Five of the Eastern Conference Finals alone.
In the spot, Hill and Dudley mention "using gay to mean ‘dumb' or ‘stupid' is not cool anywhere," that "it's not creative" and it's "offensive to gay people."
The commercial is a step in the right direction for the NBA, a league that has been riddled with homophobia among its star players. But is a PSA telling kids that using the word gay to mean ‘dumb' or ‘stupid' is not cool really going to get the message across? Not really.
The NBA began airing the commercial throughout the playoffs shortly after Los Angeles Lakers player Kobe Bryant was spotted maliciously using a gay slur toward a referee. The PSA didn't stop Chicago Bulls player Joakim Noah from doing the same to a fan.
Maybe the NBA needs to focus its anti-homophobia message more toward its own players and not just to children.
NBA commissioner David Stern issued a $100,000 fine against Bryant after using the slur. Noah was fined as well, but only half as much as Bryant — $50,000 for essentially the same offense.
Why was Bryant fined twice as much? Is it because he, unlike Noah, is a superstar and required to set a greater example?
Stern and the NBA need to make the message more clear to players: if the NBA is serious about not tolerating homophobia, then issue equal fines and punishments across the board. After all, it's not just Bryant who sets an example to young children who follow the sport. It's everyone.
While the ‘Think B4 You Speak' campaign is a good start for the NBA and the GLSEN, the partnership seems to be too little too late and a little too convenient.
Why is the NBA just now coming out in support of the gay community?
Is it because Rick Welts, the president of the Phoenix Suns, recently revealed that he is gay? Is it because two players were caught on camera using gay slurs during nationally-televised playoff games?
Why didn't the NBA ever support the gay community before? There have been plenty of homophobic issues in the past, like when now-retired NBA player Tim Hardaway claimed that he "hates gay people."
The NBA's sudden support for the gay community seems synthetic, transparent and almost insincere.
Until more superstars and players who don't play for the Suns show their support for the gay community, I'm not convinced that the "NBA Cares".