Dale Hansen is the opinionated, sometimes controversial sportscaster for the Dallas news station WFAA TV channel 8. I’ve never been a huge fan of his, partly due to his confrontational manner. But on Sunday, Hansen did something so amazing, so mind blowing, that he finally succeeded in winning me over. He called out the hypocrites who oppose Michael Sam’s presence in the NFL.
While Rush Limbaugh calls Sam’s announcement further proof that heterosexuals are “under assault,” by the LGBTQ community, Hansen presented a poignant and rather blunt opinion of the current brouhaha over a potential NFL draft pick’s sexual orientation. On his show, Dale Hansen Unplugged, he said:
“You beat a woman and drag her down a flight of stairs, pulling her hair out by the roots? You're the fourth guy taken in the NFL draft.
You kill people while driving drunk? That guy's welcome.
Players caught in hotel rooms with illegal drugs and prostitutes? We know they're welcome.
Players accused of rape and pay the woman to go away?
You lie to police trying to cover up a murder?
We're comfortable with that.
You love another man? Well, now you've gone too far!”
Hansen also pulled out a common argument and parallel: that in decades past blacks weren’t afforded the same liberties as whites, and today, the civil rights fight has essentially morphed into gay rights. As one would expect, most of the feedback from Hansen’s segment was positive, peppered with those who still think homosexuality is a lifestyle choice and therefore, a sin. His blistering commentary on the blatant hypocrisy of Sam’s critics is much more stinging than say,delivering the same message (which he did with his usual jocular sarcasm).
Hansen has been a mainstay of Dallas sports for more than 30 years. He broke the story about the SMU pay-to-play scandal in 1986. Since 1988, he’s held a weekly segment called the Scholar-Athlete of the Week, in which he celebrates high school seniors for accomplishments both on the field and in the classroom.
He’s a two-time winner of the Associated Press’ Sportscaster of the Year Award. He’s won the Texas Sportscaster of the Year three times, and sponsors various charities around the DFW Metroplex to help children, schools, those with debilitating diseases. In short, he is the sports man in North Texas, and his words pull weight with viewers who have watched him all their lives.
If only more influential sports announcers and talking heads would follow his lead, this controversy could be put to pasture immediately. Instead, we still have anonymous NFL personnel acting like Michael Sam’s gayness is contagious. They are, as Brian Solomon of Forbes succinctly put it, “more interested in protecting discriminatory work environments and bigoted players than they are welcoming of a player who’s poised to be the NFL’s latter-generation Jackie Robinson.”
And this is exactly the point Hansen intended to make. Players, coaches, owners, general managers, personal assistants…they’re all more worried about how a gay player’s presence in the locker room will affect a team’s morale than how well the guy can play. It doesn't matter if he's Missouri's All-American defensive end, or even if he is the SEC's defensive player of the year. They just can't handle the thought of a gay man naked among a sea of straight men in a locker room.
And yet, they’ll be the first to defend a player accused of rape, murder, or fighting dogs. It’s time to end this ridiculous homophobic behavior and start treating gay athletes with the same respect as their straight counterparts. Until then, the best and most effective thing we can do is to continue to expose Sam’s opponents for the frauds they really are.