“How many hands does the God have? – A hundred. – Well, if the God can’t solve all problems with his one hundred hands, what can you do with yours two?”
~ A character in the movie “Paheli”
Yesterday I came across an interesting video on the Spiegel website. It talks about a press conference where those attending discussed homosexuality in sports, notably in football. Dr. Theo Zwanziger was present, too. After watching it, I simply could not pass on an opportunity to comment on some things.
First of all, a curious title that says, “Homosexuality In Football: With his statement, Lahm has caused a stir and further discussions.” Of course, I immediately started watching the video because I could not quite understand what he could have said. I imagine many would be surprised to find out that the statement in question is, in fact, the one that he made in the interview to Frankfurter Rundschau a couple of days ago, which can also be found in the second part of this interview (the second part is coming up, I promise.) I have translated it as part of the Focus Online article. I wonder how Focus Online had gotten to that piece before the whole interview was published. Oh, well. That is not what’s important at the moment. I am going to quote just a small portion of that post:
A different social climate still reins in football. “In the stadium, things are rarely politically correct,” says Lahm. “Sure, politicians can come out, but they don’t have to play in front of 60, 000 people week after week and then it can get only worse. “
Lahm has said the same thing more than once. An example would be one of the chapters in his book, not to mention an article or two. He states the facts. He has also mentioned that he would not give advice on that matter because he is afraid of what might happen. Frankly, I believe that to be a completely normal reaction. Me neither, I would not give anybody such an advice. That is a great responsibility. Whether or not a person decides to come out, it is solely his/her choice. So, what advice are we talking about?
I am sure that everyone has seen how fans can “greet” those whom they do not like. For example, when Manuel Neuer came to Bayern, they let him know they did not like him. (Granted, it was a certain group of fans, but they did cause a stir.) I can only imagine the reaction to a statement about someone’s homosexuality. The pressure would be enormous. That would constantly be in the media. Does an athlete need that? An individual should decide for himself whatever Lahm, Dr. Zwanziger, Mario Gomez, Manuel Neuer, Jogi Löw say.
So, now John Amaechi, a former basketball player (NBA) and currently a political activist, as well as a psychologist, says how wrong Lahm’s statement is. Amaechi is openly gay, and if I am not mistaken, he came out in 2007 AFTER finishing his professional career. To be honest, I do not think that a person who has done it after finishing his career should be advising, and what is more frustrating to me, criticizing Lahm for stating the facts and expressing his opinion. Amaechi also mentions that people look up to Lahm because he is the captain of two teams. Well, that is precisely the reason why Lahm has to be careful. In fact, in the interview that Lahm gave to a gay magazine about five years ago, the author pointed out right away that – and I am paraphrasing – the activists should not look for something earth-shattering in this interview. The reason for it is the following: Lahm, being a person like all of us and having his point of view, also represents his club and his fans, hence he has to be careful.
Now more than ever, he has to think about the team, he has to think about the atmosphere within the team. And I am not even talking about 60,000 spectators. Lahm can do only so much. I know people who admire him as an athlete but completely disagree with him because of their PERSONAL views. In other words, they have heard his statements about homosexuality in football many times, but still they are far from jumping on the bandwagon of acceptance.
If Lahm does not have a right to “advise” against coming out, what right does Amaechi have to advise for it? Simply because he has done so? It was HIS choice. He is not another person. What frustrated me even more is that, if again I am not mistaken, Amaechi says that many homosexual players can kick Lahm’s butt. Where does this come from?! What has he done? Amaechi also refers to Lahm’s statement about how football is like a fight of gladiators. Well, duh. People love you and hate you, you win and lose. What does it have to do with homosexual players kicking his butt?
On a side note, I was surprised to see that Dr. Zwanziger got on Lahm’s side even though their views on the subject are different, calling him one of the most tolerant people. Is there anyone who doubts that? Just a friendly reminder: Lahm did get a prize for his work towards tolerance. Plus, Lahm was the first player of the National Team who spoke on the issue. Perhaps, Amaechi should look more into that.
The only positive thing, I guess, is the fact that the theme might become less of a taboo.